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Ministry of Finance Incorporated: Can Takang Deliver?

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Walter Duru, Ph.D

Nigeria’s President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has just appointed a new leadership for the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI), an asset holding and management company under the Federal Ministry of Finance, with mandate as the sole manager of all federal government investment interests.

According to a statement by Presidential Spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, former Finance Minister, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman is reappointed as Chairman of a 10-man Board of Directors of MOFI, while Dr. Armstrong Ume Takang is also reappointed to serve as the Managing Director/CEO of the organisation.

The other appointees include Tajudeen Datti Ahmed, Executive Director, Portfolio Management; Femi Ogunseinde, Executive Director, Investment Management and Mrs. Oluwakemi Owonubi, Executive Director, Risk.

The non-executive directors are Mr. Ike Chioke, Ms. Chantelle Abdul, Mr. Alheri Nyako, Mr. Bolaji Rafiu Elelu and Mrs. Fatima Nana Mede.

To describe the team as perfect is an understatement, as, when something is described as sweet, it is also important to state what it tastes like. The crux of this article is the appropriateness of the person of the Managing Director, Dr. Armstrong Ume Takong, saddled with the responsibility of the day-to-day running of the organisation.

In the ever-evolving landscape of finance and governance, the appointment of a CEO/Managing Director plays a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of an organization.

Dr. Armstrong Takang emerges as the ideal candidate for the leadership role at the Ministry of Finance Incorporated, bringing with him a wealth of experience, a proven track record, and a vision for transformative change.

Dr. Takang’s academic background, marked by advanced degrees in Computer Science, Finance and Business exposure/experience, sets the stage for his understanding of the intricate dynamics within the financial, business and investment sector(s). He is well equipped with strategies for exploring progressive solutions to economic challenges.

With an impressive career spanning over decades, Dr. Takang has honed his leadership skills in both public and private sectors. His tenure as the Chief Executive Officer of a leading multinational corporation showcased his ability to navigate complex landscapes, implement strategic financial planning, and drive sustainable growth. These experiences uniquely position him to bring a fresh perspective to the Ministry of Finance Incorporated.

One of Dr. Takang’s standout qualities is his commitment to transparency and accountability. In an era where financial governance is under intense scrutiny, his track record of implementing robust financial controls and ensuring adherence to international standards is commendable.

This commitment to transparency not only fosters trust but also aligns with MOFI’s mission to uphold the highest standards of fiscal responsibility.

Furthermore, Dr. Takang’s innovative approach to problem-solving sets him apart as a forward-thinking leader. His past initiatives, such as spearheading digital transformation in financial processes and advocating for sustainable financial practices, underscore his ability to embrace change and leverage technology for efficiency gains.

In an era where agility and adaptability are crucial, Dr. Takang’s progressive mindset positions MOFI for success in the face of evolving economic landscapes.

As a leader, Dr. Takang places a premium on talent development and team collaboration. His previous roles have seen him cultivate high-performing teams by fostering a culture of continuous learning and collaboration.

This emphasis on human capital is pivotal for the MOFI, ensuring that it can effectively navigate the challenges of an ever-changing global economy.

Beyond his professional acumen, Dr. Takang is known for his civic engagement and commitment to corporate social responsibility. His involvement in community development projects demonstrates a holistic understanding of the impact businesses can have on society. His previous positions, leadership roles and achievements speak volumes for him.

Prior to being MOFI’s CEO, Takang was the CEO of Growth Alliance Partners (GAP), a pan-African firm focused on providing post-investment value-add services to Private Equity backed businesses. He helped to turn around several businesses to create shareholder value.

His decades-long career in investment consultancy and public reforms traverses the public and private sectors across Africa, and in the US, where he worked at the New York Office of the KPMG.

He was Team Lead for a Private Banking Group, managed the Integrated Financial and Economic Management Information System (IFEMIS) Project in Nigeria, and led the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).

Many do not know that Dr Armstrong was pivotal in designing and implementing several national initiatives like the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), the Office for Nigerian Content Development in ICT under NITDA, the ICT component of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)/Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), among others.

He is not new in the political environment, particularly, within the Ministry of Finance. He was Special Adviser to the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, as well as Lead of the MOFI Transformation Team. It is a terrain that he is very conversant with, and this will ease stakeholder engagement, particularly, when there is a proper stakeholder management strategy in place.

Dr. Armstrong Takang’s appointment as the CEO of MOFI is a strategic move toward ushering in a new era of financial leadership, inclusivity, and discipline in managing public investments.

His blend of academic excellence, extensive experience, commitment to transparency, innovative thinking, and emphasis on talent development makes him the perfect fit for steering MOFI towards greater heights.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the leadership of MOFI, as announced, is a perfect combination. The transformations that MOFI has experienced in the last eleven months, under the leadership of Dr. Shamsudeen Usman as Chairman, and Dr. Armstrong Takong as Chief Executive Officer is evident and must not be paused.

As the financial landscape continues to evolve, Nigerians expect that Dr. Takang’s leadership must not only meet the challenges of the present, but proactively shape the future of financial governance.

It is safe to conclude that Mr. President’s decision to reappoint the duo of Shamsudeen Usman and Armstrong Takong is an act of patriotism.

Permit me to also single out Mr. Ike Chioke, the Group Managing Director at Afrinvest West Africa Limited, who also made the list, as a non-executive director.

With the calibre of persons on the present MOFI leadership team, failure is not an option.

MOFI is expected to support the Federal Government’s efforts towards addressing economic challenges, while spurring the renewal of the economy. There is no better time to be relevant.

Expectations are very high, and Nigerians are in a hurry to see results. Let Federal Government’s investments work for the country.

The time to act is now!

Dr. Chike Walter Duru (Assistant Professor of Communication) is a communication expert, researcher, public relations, and stakeholder engagement consultant. He could be reached on: walterchike@gmail.com.

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Business

Multiple Fibre Cuts Bar MTN’s 87m Customers From Calls, Data

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MTN Nigeria has attributed the recent network disruption encountered by its customers nationwide to several instances of fibre cuts.

On Wednesday, the 28th of February, 2024, MTN subscribers encountered difficulties in making calls or accessing data services. The issue reportedly began around 1:39 PM on that day.

In a response communicated through X, MTN Nigeria attributed the network problem to multiple fibre cuts. The company assured its customers that its engineering team is diligently working to restore normal services.

The statement issued by MTN reads: “Dear Customer, you may have experienced difficulties connecting to the network due to a significant service outage caused by multiple fibre cuts, impacting both voice and data services. Our engineers are actively addressing the issue, and services are gradually being restored in some regions. We apologize for any inconvenience caused and appreciate your patience and understanding as we strive to fully restore service at the earliest.”

Funso Aina, Senior Manager of External Relations at MTN Nigeria, echoed similar sentiments, stating, “Our customers have encountered challenges in connecting to the network due to a major service disruption caused by multiple fibre cuts, affecting both voice and data services.”

According to the Nigerian Communications Commission, the number of mobile subscriptions on the MTN network has increased to 87.04 million.

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Business

Binance Addresses Unusual Currency Movement

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The cryptocurrency trading platform Binance has made adjustments to its trading operations to address an unusual movement in currency values. Despite reports suggesting that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other government agencies ordered Binance to impose restrictions on Nigerian traders selling USDT, Binance has distanced itself from such claims. In a report published on Wednesday by the Binance Blog, the platform clarified that its peer-to-peer (P2P) product remains operational but with some adjustments.

Binance explained that to safeguard users and prevent potential abuse, their system automatically halts trading during periods of significant currency movement. They noted an instance of temporary suppression of prices that briefly reached their system limit late at night. Prompt adjustments were made to allow trading to continue seamlessly. The platform highlighted their stringent measures to protect users, such as real-time monitoring, immediate removal of non-compliant advertisements, and permanent exclusion of bad actors from utilizing the P2P product. Continuous market surveillance ensures the swift removal of abnormal prices, supported by a fixed security deposit.

Furthermore, Binance emphasized their collaboration with legislators and authorities to uphold transparency in cryptocurrency trading and its impact on financial markets. They underscored that foreign exchange rates are influenced by various complex factors beyond Binance’s control. Despite this, they reiterated their commitment to engaging with regulators, policymakers, and stakeholders to facilitate open and transparent dialogue about managing the evolving cryptocurrency and financial markets landscape.

Binance encouraged users and the community to disregard any unfounded fears or uncertainties and expressed gratitude for ongoing support as they navigate dynamic market conditions. They pledged to provide updates through official channels as necessary.

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Again, CBN Hikes Import Duty Rate To N1,493.23/$1

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Less than a day after reducing the rate, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) increased the exchange rate used for calculating Customs duties at the country’s seaports by 1.4 percent on Saturday morning.

According to information from the official trade portal of the Nigeria Customs Service, the Customs duty rate has been adjusted upwards from N1,472.756 per dollar to N1,493.23 per dollar as of Saturday, February 17, 2024.

This adjustment represents a 1.4 percent rise in the Customs duty rate, resulting in an increase of N20.474 compared to the previous rate.

This move contradicts the directive from the House of Representatives, which called on the apex bank to maintain the Customs and excise duties exchange rate below N1,000 per dollar. The House proposed pegging the rate at N951.941 per dollar, believing that reducing the rate would stimulate activity in Nigerian ports, curb inflation, and enhance economic stability.

The decision to raise the Customs duty exchange rate means that importers will incur higher costs to clear their goods, as import duties are linked to the dollar.

The new rate aligns with the official CBN foreign exchange rate of N1,493.73 per dollar as of Saturday, February 15, 2024, as announced by Customs management.

Earlier this year, the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Adewale Adeniyi, stated that the Service would solely use the exchange rate from the official Central Bank window for clearing imported goods and would refrain from arbitrarily adjusting the exchange rate.

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