LATEST ARTICLES

THE MUHAMMADU BUHARI MOTHER AND CHILD HOSPITAL IN MAKURDI, BENUE STATE

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In continuation of the fulfilment of his campaign promise of affordable healthcare for Nigerians, do you know that a 120-bed Mother and Child Hospital has been built by the Buhari administration in Makurdi the Benue State capital?

The well-furnished and equipped facility, which has been named as Muhammadu Buhari Mother and Child Hospital, will soon be commissioned by the President himself after which it will commence operations.

Very importantly, it is gratifying to know that this new hospital will not only restrict itself to Mothers and Children but will treat other adults with health issues that can be treated there. And it is also remarkable that the administration is building similar hospitals across all the states.

About yesterday…Friday August 2019

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By Malam Ibrahim sheme

Malam Nasiru El-Rufai has shown tremendous leadership values in his intervention in the traffic gridlock yesterday. I said exactly that to my friend who was travelling to Kaduna with me after the governor walked past my car window acknowledging cheers from victims of the gridlock, scores of whom followed him enthusiastically. Even if he did not help clear the jam (but he did!), his presence alone – as the leader of the state – was enough balm on the bruised psyche of the commuters. He boosted our morale, raised our hopes, and assured us about the future. At that material time, that’s all what matters. I immediately saw in him a presidential material, i.e. if they don’t hand it over to Tinubu on a platter of gold!

What amazed me most was the distance the big man (I insist he is not a diminutive person as some insinuate) covered on foot. The beginning of the gridlock and its end were very long, maybe 30km, and Malam covered them all on foot! And his walk was brisk, energetic, jaunty even though he wore a babbar riga, as if he was enjoying it. I wondered how healthy he was physically and emotionally as to do that. Even younger elements like us would have to think thrice before daring to trek that long. He must have been inspired by the passion to bring comfort and solace to us, the stranded citizens. And he did so, selflessly. Some other Excellency would have turned back from the beginning of the gridlock or ordered for a helicopter to come and pick him. Some would even pretend that their tooth was suddenly aching again. But Malam was there from evening to morning, offering sympathy, smilingly reassuring everyone. He must have melted the hearts of many, including those that disagree with him on the political scene.

But then it is his style to be there just when it matters. Malam has always virtually walked into trouble – I mean trouble spots. Any time there is a crisis somewhere in his state, more so the recurring communal type, he will quickly dash there and be physically involved with the effort to solve it. He wouldn’t stay back in his cozy, air-conditioned offices receiving updates from minders. Somehow this works; it helps douse the tension. And it actually did so last night as admirers kept hooting, “Sai Malam! Sai Malam!” I heard several people, in spite of the debilitating situation in which they were caught, saying loudly that after Buhari it should be El-Rufai’s turn to become president. I laughed at the Nigerian’s propensity to mix politics with hardship and still enjoy the admixture.

It is a style other leaders, especially President Buhari, would do well to emulate. I remember that as Zamfara burnt with all those terrorist killings by bandits, the issue of the President needing to be there on ground (or even to go for commiseration) was tops in many people’s analysis of the incident.

Call it populism or whatever. Malam Nasiru is THAT type of leader the people want. He wouldn’t be sipping green tea as his Rome burns!

Kudos to Malam. I doff my hat to him multiple times!
Sheme is a successful journalist and author. Publisher of Fim magazine, Director communication, National open university. Abuja

Press Briefing By South West Peoples Alliance: Don’t Just Probe Obasanjo On Power Sector Malfeasance, Prosecute Him Too

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Date: Friday, 9th August, 2019.

I warmly welcome everyone who has found it necessary to be here with us today. I most especially welcome the esteemed members of the press to this briefing.

Gentlemen of the press, I should start by stating that this conference has become necessary due to the conversation on probing the power sector started by the Young Nigerian Professionals who delivered a Press Conference on Sunday last week in the nation’s capital, Abuja, about the decision of the House of Representatives to probe the power sector spending in the country.

The group had called for unrelenting efforts by the House in that probe, while noting the necessity of accountability as a nation if we were to make any progress.

At their very auspicious conference, the YNP called on Nigerians to monitor the planned probe of all power contracts from 1999 to date, which the House of Representatives is about to kick-start, and ensure that the process is thorough and that all those culpable in the mismanagement of the funds earmarked for power in Nigeria are brought to justice.

Let me start by saying that we agree wholeheartedly with the body of young professionals on this issue. But we will like to take the discussion further by demanding for specific interrogation of key individuals in the whole power mismanagement saga.

It’s our belief that there are known actors that were responsible for overseeing the sleaze that took place in the power sector spending since 1999.

The most prominent, as every Nigerian possibly knows, is former President Olusegun Obasanjo – who is reported to have spent a whopping sum of about 16 Billion Dollars on power, with nothing worthy or credible to show for it.

We would like to commend the House of Representatives for its decision to again re-investigate the power sector spending. It is our belief that what the House is set to do represents justice for the people of Nigeria who have had to bear the burden and pain associated with the poor power situation in the country.

Until this investigation and other related efforts that ensure transparency and openness are undertaken, Nigeria cannot really move forward or record any significant progress.

The unearthing of the sleaze that took place in the power sector is key if we want to start a new footing that ensures proper accountability going forward.

While we are confident that the investigation by the House of Representatives would unmask the fraud that was committed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his cronies in the power sector; we demand that the House should, upon the completion of its investigation, endeavor to submit the name of the former President and his conspirators to the country’s anti-corruption agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), for full prosecution.

The ultimate goal is not to undertake a futile ‘name and shame exercise’, rather we want to see a situation where all those involved would face punishment for their crimes against the country.

While he and his co-travelers must be made to return all stolen monies, we demand that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo live up to his avowed commitment to transparency by coming forward to explain his role in the alleged mismanagement of power funds; without directing all those who seek to hold him to account to a self-serving and delusional book whose account has not exonerated him of active involvement in the sleaze.

No doubt, only a comprehensive prosecution that is in tandem with justice will send a strong message to all those who have either managed or still managing our resources that Nigerians will no longer tolerate any corrupt act by anyone, no matter how highly placed. This is the only way we can sanitize the power sector and begin to reset the country.

Thank you.

Signed:
Oseni Owolabi Ajimomuya (Chairman)
Ismael Lanre Oguntoyinbo (Secretary)

Jonathan never won any election, even in Bayelsa — Nabena

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By chibueke obigidi 9/8/2019

The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Yekini Nabena, has said former President Goodluck Jonathan never contested and won any election even in his home state of Bayelsa.

Yekini said no amount of “falsehood and rigging” of the November 16, governorship election in Bayelsa State could stop PDP’s defeat at the poll, adding that the PDP had become very unpopular and stood rejected in the state.

Addressing a press conference yesterday in Abuja, Nabena cautioned Jonathan to be mindful of making misguided comments so as not to ridicule his personality.

Jonathan was quoted a few days ago as saying during the PDP Elders’ Advisory Council meeting at Government House, Yenagoa, that the APC was not on ground in Bayelsa and could not win the forth coming governorship election.

Jonathan added that the large number of aspirants on PDP’s platform indicated the dominance of the party as the preferred platform for election.

But the deputy image maker of the APC said, “Former President Jonathan has never contested any election and won. Even that of 2015, he contested as a sitting President, he lost woefully. The recent 2019 senatorial election in Bayelsa State, APC defeated Jonathan’s candidate in his senatorial district.

“Jonathan is attempting to rewrite history on presidential elections conducted under his watch in Bayelsa State while he was president. He never won, as votes never counted. Aided by security agents, election results were simply announced by the election body in favour of the PDP.”

The Hard Facts! Ahmadu Bello Sardaunan Sokoto

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Complied by an unknown writer
1. Ahmadu Bello was born on June 12, 1909 in Rabbah, present day, Sokoto State.
2. He was the son of a concubine.
3. His father died when he was 6 years old.
4. He was the only surviving son of his father and mother, Mariyamu.
5. He was a great grand-son of Shehu Uthman dan Fodio, the great Fulani jihadist.
6. He got his Islamic and Arabic education as a teenager from Mallam Garba who was the Imam of Rabbah village.
7. He finished at the age of 16 top of his class.
8. He attended the Teacher’s Training College, Katsina (later Barewa College) where he was a School Prefect and Class Captain.
9. Thereafter, he graduated as a Teacher in 1931 with a credit equivalent Grade III result.
10. He was appointed by the Sultan of Sokoto to work as a teacher at the Sokoto Middle School, where he was once a student and taught from 1931-1934.
11. He was appointed a rural administrator (District Head) at the age 25 in 1934.
12. He gave birth to a daughter after his death (posthumously).
13. He became a candidate for the succession to the throne of the Sultan of Sokoto at the age of 29.
14. He made attempts to become the Sultan of Sokoto but was not successful, losing to Sir Siddiq Abubakar III who reigned for 50 years until his death in 1988.
15. The new Sultan immediately made Sir Ahmadu Bello the Sardauna (Warlord) of Sokoto, a honourary title and promoted him to the Sokoto Native Authority Council, these titles automatically made him the Chief Political Adviser to the Sultan.
16. Later, he was put in charge of the Sokoto Province to oversee 47 districts.
17. In 1943, a drama played out when he was thrown before the Sultan’s court for misappropriating jangali (cattle) tax for the Gusau region where he was the Councillor.
18. He was sentenced to 1 year in prison, but spent 3 months in jail.
19. By 1944, he was back at the Sultan’s Palace to work as the Chief Secretary of the State Native Administration.
20. In 1949, at the age of 40, he was nominated for a seat in the Regional House of Assembly.
21. He spoke impeccable English, and respected many European values.
22. Sir Ahmadu Bello keenly encouraged female education.
23. In 1954, Sir Ahmadu Bello became the first Premier of Northern Nigeria.
24. He never had material accumulation instincts, did not accumulate wealth and gave out whatever came into his possession. He was scrupulous and prudent with public finance but generous with his own money.
25. In 1955, he made his first pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
26. The ‘Work and Worship’ motto on the Northern Nigerian crest was adopted by him.
27. He chose to remain the Premier of Northern Nigeria and gave the position of Prime Minister to his hand-picked candidate, the late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, who was then the Deputy President of the NPC.
28. Sir Ahmadu Bello never sought the leadership of Nigeria.
29. He once stated that he would rather be the Sultan of Sokoto than to be the leader of Nigeria.
30. At various times, he made inflammatory statements about the Ibos as He once referred to them as the ‘Jews of Nigeria’ whose sole purpose is to dominate wherever they find themselves.
31. In 1959, Queen Elizabeth II (b.1926) made him a Knight of the British Empire (KBE), and that explains the ‘’Sir’’ in his title.
32. In 1962, he became Pioneer Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria.
33. He founded the Bank of the North (now Unity Bank).
34. He founded the Northern Nigerian Development Company.
35. He established the 16,000-seater Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna.
36. He established the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna (the only military university in Nigeria).
37. He established the University of Northern Nigeria, which stretched from Samaru in Kaduna State to Funtua in Katsina State, on the 4th of October, 1962 now known as Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
38. By the beginning of 1966, it was quite clear that the Sardauna was one of the most powerful figures in the country, and many believed that he was actually the most powerful, even much more powerful than the Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.
39. His party, Northern People Congress (NPC), held sway over 29 million out of 55 million Nigerians.
40. On his way to Umrah (the Muslim lesser pilgrimage), he received a letter with threats to kill him.
41. The letter was said to have stated: “We have arranged to kill you and the Prime Minister (Alhaji Tafawa Balewa).”
42. As a devout Muslim, the Sardauna believed that giving his life in the service of Northern Nigeria was worth the sacrifice and that death was a certain end.
43. He later said of the threat: “Don’t worry, continue to get useful information. I know what to do.”
44. On the evening of 14th January, 1966, armed soldiers, led by Major Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, arrived at his residence at Lugard House, Kaduna, with the message of death.
45. He told his family to stay away in safety but they would have none of that. They all trooped behind him as he came out of the family quarters and in a matter of seconds, he was surrounded by the soldiers led by Nzeogwu who fired at his babban riga . And immediately, blood sputtered from the point of impact through the beard on his face.
46. At that point, his first and eldest wife, Hafsatu, threw herself at him in a final embrace. They were both shot.
47. He was believed to have been killed instantly when a bullet penetrated his spinal cord.
48. Brave till the very end, he had faced the soldiers and introduced himself as the Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of the Northern Region.
49. He once referred to Nigeria as the ‘mistake of 1914′ but he later worked for and gave his best for the new nation of Nigeria.
50. He died leaving £10 in his bank account. Equivalent of 5,000 naira in tod. May he soul continue to rest in perfect peace. Allahumma Amin Reply Forward

Wamakko Versus Maccido : Tribunal adjourns for Judgment as Counsels adopt final addresses

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The National Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal sitting in Sokoto on Thursday adjourned to an undisclosed date for Judgemnt in the Petitions filed by the defeated Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party  ( PDP), Senator Ahmed Mohammed Maccido,  against the winner of the February 23, 2019, Sokoto North Senatorial District Polls , Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko .

The Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Peter Akhimie Akhihiero,  said while adjourning the matter , ” the matter has been adjourned for Judgment.  The date will be communictated in due course .”

The Counsels for the Petitioners and the Respondents had earlier adopted all their final written addresses .

The Lead Counsel of the 1st Respondent,  Dr Hassan Liman, SAN, said ,” in accordance with the Rules of the Court and the Electoral Act, the 1st Respondent has filed his written addresses dated 17/7/2019 and filed on the same date .

” We have also filed a reply to the Petitioners’  written address on 1/8/2019 . We hereby adopt the said two addresses as our final argument in this Petition .

” We are urging the Court to dismiss and strike out the Petition for being Statute -Barred as it was filed out of time, as well as lacking in merit. “

Lead Counsel for the 2nd Respondent,  Chief Jacob Ochidi , also stated that , the 2nd Respondent has filed his final written address on 2/7/2019.

Ochidi explained, ” I herebey adopt the written address as the argument of the 2nd Respondent in this Petition.

” I am also urging the Tribunal to strike out the petition for being Statute – Barred , resolving all the issues of the 2nd Respondent.

” To dismiss same petition for lacking in merit and award substantial cost in favour of the 2nd Respondent, against the Petitioners. “

Similarly, Lead Counsel for the 3rd Respondent,  Barrister Henry Eni-Otu, told the Court that,his Client has filed his final written address on 18/7/2019.

He averred ,” I want to adopt it as the argument of the 3rd and urge the Court to strike out the petition for being Statute-Barred .

” I am also praying the Court to dismiss the Petition in its entirety  for being unmeritorious and speculative ..”

The Lead Counsel of the Petitioners,  Dr Ibrahim Abdullahi said the Petitioners have filed their written address on 25/7/2019.

” We respectively adopt the same written address, making particular reliance on legal arguments.

” I am also urging the Court to resolve all the issues against the Respondents, to hold that , the Petition is not Statute-Barred and to grant the reliefs of the Petitioners. “

Responding, Dr Hassan Liman , SAN, commended the Chairman and menbers of the Tribunal for being diligent and working assiduously to ensure smooth proceedings.

MODEL DIVISIONAL POLICE HEADQUARTERS IN KATSINA TOWN

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In its ongoing remodelling of police infrastructure across the country, do you know that the Buhari administration has just built a Model Divisional Police Headquarters in Katsina town?

The new police structure is part of the 120 model stations currently being built across Nigeria by the administration, and it is widely expected that, apart from enhancing the good image of the police, the new infrastructure will motivate them to work better.

Finance Ministry Denies Budget Padding

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The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has refuted allegations of budget padding by some ministries, departments and agencies.

The minister, who said the federal government has taken steps to increase transparency in the budgeting process, noted that the funds in question were only wrongly captured in the budget estimates submitted to the National Assembly.

Recall that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management has alleged that N206,242,395,000 found its way into its budget without its knowledge.

 But, the Special Adviser to the minister on Media and Communications, Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi, in a statement made available to our correspondent, said the funds in question were only wrongly captured in the budget estimates submitted to the National Assembly.

ASUU Threatens Fresh Crisis Over ‘No Work No Pay’

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Academic Staff Union of Nigeria Universities (ASUU) has alerted Nigerians about a fresh crisis it claimed would surpass all previous ones in Nigerian universities.

To this end, ASUU sought intervention of stakeholders and well meaning Nigerians to prevail on the federal government to pay members across the country their withheld eight months salaries.

The chairman of ASUU, University of Ilorin branch, Prof Moyosore Ajao, raised the alarm at a special congress of the local branch held at the university’s main auditorium.

The university’s lecturers had staged a solidarity rally within the campus before retiring to the auditorium where they addressed the newsmen on: “Casualisation of Intellectual Workers In Nigeria: Prelude To Our Response”.

He said, “Though we have resumed work in our university, government’s ignoble stance of withholding our eight months’ salaries based on its ill-advised policy of ‘No work, No Pay’ is set to trigger fresh crisis.“In the coming days, the union would respond by considering to invoke the ‘No Pay, No work’ policy and would abandon the works that have accumulated for those period which government has falsely claimed, through Chris Ngige, that our members have not worked.”

He said members of the public are “put on notice again that a fresh crisis, which would surpass all previous ones, is looming in Nigerian universities, saying the union members would not continue to do free work.

He added, “Our union and its members should not be held responsible for the consequences that its actions, in response to the crude wickedness of the Nigerian state, would have on all stakeholders.

“As a law-abiding union, we have heeded the directive of the court which directed that we resume to our duty posts while the substantive matter is being heard. However, after resumption from strike and to our utmost dismay, government decided, that half salaries be paid to our members for the month of October, 2022. This development is unacceptable and would be resisted by our union.

“The fact is that academics are not casual workers. Only casual workers receive pay prorate”

There will be no shortage of food in Nigeria – FG assures

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The Federal Government on Monday assured the citizens that the country had enough to eat and there would be no shortage of food.

The Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, gave the assurance on Monday in Abuja at the fifth edition of the President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) Administration Scorecard 2015-2017 series.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the scorecard series is organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture to showcase the achievements of President Buhari’s Administration in over seven years of being in office.

Responding to questions after his presentation, Abubakar said the inflationary trend, a global phenomenon and the flood disaster notwithstanding, the country would not experience food shortage.

“Absolutely, we have enough to eat in this country, there is no shortage of food.

“There can be an increase in prices Yes, it is better to have inflation than to have no food.

“We are self-sufficient in rice and we are the number one producer of rice in Africa and number four in the world.

“We are also the number one producer of cassava and yam as well as the number two producer of sorghum after America and number three producer of millet.

“We have enough to eat and we will continue to have enough to eat,’’ he stressed.

The minister said the inflationary trend the country was witnessing was not peculiar to Nigeria but a global crisis.

He attributed climate change and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine-Russia war as among the reasons for global inflation.

`Three weeks ago a friend of mine living in London, said to me that it usually costs him like five pounds to fuel his car for a week.

“He said now it is costing him about 100 pounds to fuel the same car for one week,’’ he said.

On the destruction caused by flooding to many farmlands, the minister said farmers were embarking on aggressive dry season planting to mitigate the effects.

He said the ministry was already distributing fast-growing seeds in areas where flood waters had receded and the moisture there would assist the plants to grow rapidly.

The minister added that they had harnessed some of the flood water which would be used for the dry season farming.

Economic outlook from Emefiele’s positive lens

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The curtain falls, in a matter of weeks, on one of the most turbulent years the global economy has experienced in recent decades.

While some economies have long adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic, many could not model the Russia-Ukraine conflict as a risk factor in their outlook analysis until towards the middle of the second quarter when the crisis degenerated into a full-blown war.

At best, a few countries could only adapt to the reality of the unexpected supply chain disruption and heightened energy crisis while many, especially in Africa, have had to pay a costly price for the shocks.

From Europe to America and Asia to Africa, households have had to bear the brunt of the harsh cost of living crisis that has left many people poorer than they were at the turn of the year. From the United Kingdom to the United States, the consumer price index (CPI) has seen the fastest growth in over four decades.

In the face of global efforts to ease the food and energy price crisis, projections by leading development organisations highlight possible more downside risks. The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, at the weekend when he spoke at the Bankers’ Night, also pointed to an “increasingly bleak” global economic outlook.

“The short-term outlook of the global economy is increasingly bleak as the lingering effects of the pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions and economic fragmentation are worsened by the uncertainties triggered by the eruption of the Russian-Ukraine war. Accordingly, the IMF projects that more than a third of the global economies will suffer a recession within the next two years, especially as the US, EU and Chinese economies stagnate. In emerging markets, growth forecasts have been revised downward for China, India, Mexico, Turkey, and South Africa reflecting country-specific factors, uncertainties in the financial conditions, and rising spillover effects of global geopolitical tensions.

“As external conditions flounder, inflationary pressure is expected to worsen and become more persistent in many economies. The rate in key advanced economies is projected to remain historically elevated at double-digit levels up to 2023q3 at the earliest. As such, tight monetary conditions will remain prevalent over the short-term, straining financial markets in many EMDEs and exacerbating the underlying vulnerabilities,” Emefiele told bankers who gathered in Lagos.

But the CBN boss was rather more optimistic about the local economy and pointed to what he called a good short-term outlook. The optimism, according to him, is based in findings from extensive simulations conducted by the apex bank.

First, the governor highlighted the prospect of non-oil performance as a major factor that would shape the economy, arguing that the GDP growth rate is projected to remain positive in the remaining quarter of 2022 and during 2023.

“The performance of the non-oil sector will be buoyed by the continued efforts at entrenching indigenous productivity in high-impact real sector activities, especially agriculture, MSMEs, and manufacturing. Domestic aggregate demand is further expected to be bolstered by the anticipated budgetary outlay and the surge of electioneering spending in the next few months. From 3.54 per cent in quarter two of 2022, growth is projected to reach 3.7 per cent in quarter three and 3.47 by the fourth quarter,” he stated.

Emefiele was concerned that inflation expectations are rising as existing structural rigidities are compounded by global factors and elections-associated liquidity upsurge.

For the rest of the year and towards mid-2023, he said: “Nigeria’s rate of inflation is projected to remain elevated and above the 12.5 per cent growth-aiding threshold.” He, however, disclosed that the bank’s in-house model-based simulations suggest that the inflation rate could fall steadily to less than 15 per cent by end of 2023.

Of exchange rate, he noted: “Though the CBN has so far managed to maintain exchange rate stability, the current capital flow reversals from emerging markets are expected to continue to exert considerable pressure on market rates. This pressure could be amplified by the forthcoming elections, especially as the political marketplace heats up. Notwithstanding these pressures, the CBN is determined to maintain its stable exchange policy stance over the next few months through innovative policy measures to manage the demand and supply of foreign exchange.”

He also looks forward to a strengthened balance of payment, especially with the fast-growing non-oil export receipts and efforts to reverse the poor performance of the oil sector. The sector has buckled under theft, which has reached a worrisome level in the past year. It is expected that the government would double down efforts to combat the scourge in the coming months to increase earnings from the oil sector.

Indeed, the non-oil sector is becoming the golden goose. But the Central Bank has effectively commenced tapering its development funding amidst aggressive monetary tightening, which has taken the benchmark interest rate to 16.5 per cent, the highest in recent history. These may have an overreaching impact on the vibrancy of the non-oil sector and possibly weaken its outputs and job-creation capacity.

But the governor promised that the monetary framework would remain supportive of the real sector including agriculture within the context of its price stability objective.

“The monetary policy will remain focused on the objectives of price, monetary and exchange rate stability. Our policy stance will, accordingly, remain tight to curtail inflation pressure, regulate capital flows and buoy the naira-dollar exchange rate. Monetary policy decisions will remain balanced, judicious, research-driven, adequate and supportive of the real economy, subject to underlying fundamentals,” he revealed.

Nigeria’s interest rate is at an all-time high in recent times. But with the rise of the hawks across the globe, Nigeria stands between the jaw of a shark and a lion’s claw. Earlier in the year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank raised the alarm that the emerging markets could see a massive outflow of capital to developed economies if they do not respond appropriately to the hawkish move by the Federal Reserve System and other leading central banks.

This year, the Fed has raised its benchmark by 3.75 per cent, cumulatively. A policy option to rate increase means more devastating inflation, a higher exchange rate crisis and an increase in capital outlook. The options before the monetary authority have been that of two equally deadly poisons but Emefiele has insisted that the economy would not survive uncontrolled inflation hence the aggressive interest hike to restore short-term stability while the bank works with the fiscal authority to fix the supply side rigidities.

As the head of the monetary authority, Emefiele is not expected to cast doubt on the prospect of the economy. But whether one agrees with his position is a matter of perspective and interpretation of the economic indicators. In terms of direction and magnitude, the first measure of economic performance (GDP) looks bright.

Last quarter, the output recorded 2.25 per cent growth, the first time in six quarters that economic growth would lag behind the average population growth. The growth was also about 1.3 percentage points less than 3.54 per cent growth recorded in the second quarter.

For the first time in the life of the administration, the economy has grown steadily for eight consecutive quarters. The IMF had projected the country’s economy to expand by 3.2 per cent this year and slow down to three per cent next year as against the 3.4 per cent it finished last year. Interestingly, the recent growth leans more on the non-oil sector even as crude production falters.

Last quarter, for instance, oil production output fell to 1.2 million barrels per day (mbpd), from an average of 1.43 mbpd recorded in the previous quarter. Oil production shot up from 1.56 to 1.72 mbpd in the first quarter of last year. Since then, the production level has been on a ‘reducing balance’.

Inadvertently, Nigeria could be on a path to building the inclusive growth it deserves. But the recent flooding, which swept away 332,327 hectares of land, is a blight on the growth prospect. Already, growth in the agricultural sector came behind the average performance last quarter.

The sector recorded 1.34 per cent (year-on-year), an increase of 0.12 per cent points from the corresponding period of 2021, and an increase of 0.14 per cent points from the preceding quarter, when growth was 1.2 per cent. For a sector that contributes 29.67 per cent to the overall real GDP and creates about 35 per cent of employment, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) modelling, this speed of growth is obviously short of what is required to drive inclusive growth.

Perhaps, the country’s Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) 2022 gives a snapshot of the support gap in the agriculture sector. Of the 133 million or sixty-three per cent of Nigerians that are multidimensionally poor, 72 per cent live in rural areas where farming is an economic mainstay.

Over the years, the condition of rural communities has been identified as a cause and effect of the low incentives given to agriculture and the recent may have even increased the complexity of finding solutions to the challenges confronting the rural areas, where about 80 per cent of the country’s citizens live. Shouldn’t this be modelled into the growth plan in the coming year?

Thirteen Years Without History

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VIEW FROM THE GALLERY BY MAHMUD JEGA

Imagine, just imagine, that someone delivered a sharp knock on your head that wiped out thirteen years’ memory from your brain’s hippocampus. You will be a walking zombie with no idea where you came from, how you got here, or what you are supposed to do. Even animals are better than you, because they have an organised way of passing the benefits of memory and experience from one generation to another. On Animal Planet channel, you often see how a mother lioness teaches its cubs what it means to be a lion, the best foods, best hunting grounds, how to bring down prey, how to kill it, where to start eating the carcass in case a stronger animal snatches it away, and which dangerous animals to avoid, including male lions from another pride.

In Nigeria however, we staggered along for 13 years with only a minimal teaching of History in our basic schools. A former executive secretary of Nigeria Educational Research Council [NERC] once explained that this was done at the time Nigeria adopted the 6-3-3-4 system, which he said necessitated the merger of many school subjects. History, Geography and Government were then merged into a new subject called Social Studies, which emphasized the teaching of current issues over past ones. Pray, how can one know the meaning of the present without knowing the cascade of events, episodes and persons that brought it about?

Not that we were not warned. When the idea of merging some subjects was first mooted, with the consequent relegation of History and Geography into themes, Dr. Yusuf Bala Usman said, “Without History, we do not know who we are. Without Geography, we do not know where we are.”

Nigerian society immediately reaped the wages of this lacuna. Several historically false narratives were soon created by some groups in Nigerian society and politically elevated to the level of gospel truth. A ready example of this is Mr. Nnamdi Kanu and his Indigenous Peoples of Biafra [IPOB] movement, which managed to rally many South Eastern kids to their cause by painting the historical Biafra as an Eldorado. Was it? One only had to read books and novels written by some of those who experienced it, such as Eddie Iroh’s trilogy Forty-Eight Guns for the General, Toads of War and Siren in the Night, Nelson Ottah’s Rebels Against Rebels, Dr. Bernard Odogwu’s No Place to Hide: Crises and Conflicts in Biafra; Chukwuemeka Ike’s Sunset at Dawn, Elechi Amadi’s Sunset in Biafra, Chinua Achebe’s Girls at War and Cyprian Ekwensi’s Survive the Peace to get a different idea. If anyone wants out of Nigeria, he should better look for a more pleasant alternative.

In the wake of deadly farmers/herders’ clashes leading to much loss of lives in the North Central states, I heard the Governor of Benue State saying that Sheikh Usman Danfodio planned to seize the fertile Benue valley from native settlers and resettle Fulani pastoralists there. Did he? Danfodio, his brother Abdullahi, his son Muhammadu Bello, his daughter Nana Asma’u and many of their associates together wrote hundreds of books, pamphlets, poems and letters. Murray Last described them as the most literate leaders in pre-colonial Black Africa. Pray, where in these voluminous works did they ever mention the Benue valley and about resettling people into it? Was grazing land a problem 218 years ago, and was it ever listed as one of the motives of the Jihad? In my own lifetime, I knew when most of Northern Nigeria was shaded in the Geography Atlas as Sudan Savannah. As recently as the late 1960s, big game regularly crossed the Jega to Birnin Kebbi road, which was thickly forested. If not because History was relegated in the curriculum, how could anyone transplant a 21st Century problem back into the early 19th Century?

I heard a “professor” authoritatively saying in a social media post that Danfodio promised to dip the Qur’an in the sea. This man should attend a JS 1 Civics class. Despite its relegation too as a theme, any teacher of Islamic Studies will quickly point out that no Muslim, much less Danfodio, will dip the Qur’an into water, fresh, brackish or saline. This claim has however flourished in Nigerian politics for years.

The Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana probably had Nigeria in mind when he said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In 2000AD, when I was editor of New Nigerian, I tried to convince a Northern elder statesman to grant me an interview on his life. He asked me why I wanted to hear about his life, and I said we wanted our readers to know the mistakes that were made in the past so that we will not make the same mistakes again. That was my mistake. It must have sounded to him like I was saying his generation ruined the country. He immediately stood up, swore that he will not grant me an interview and yelled, “Everyone should go and make his own mistakes and learn from them!”

Geez! Imagine a world where every generation has to repeat the same mistakes and discover everything anew for itself. When we were in Form 1, our History teacher taught us that before humans discovered how to start a fire, they waited until bush fire roasted wild animals before they dined on them. Humans then discovered how to make fire by accident because one day, while he [or she] was cracking two stones to make a tool, the friction started a fire. It was one of the biggest leaps in human history. Imagine if we had no safety matches today and are still waiting for lightning to start a fire for us to cook.

In order to avoid such a calamity, Federal Ministry of Education Thursday last week launched the restoration of History as a stand-alone subject in the basic education curriculum. It was not the first time it did that. Minister of Education Malam Adamu Adamu first announced this step in 2016 but it apparently took six years before it finally happened. Also launched was a program of training of basic education level History teachers. Universal Basic Education Commission’s [UBEC] Executive Secretary Dr. Hamidu Bobboi said at the event that 3,700 teachers have been selected to be given a crash course in the teaching of History. I hope they are able to cope, if the young ones among them were only taught Social Studies in school.

Will they have the fire of our Form 1 History teacher Mr. Awe, who taught about Ghana, Songhai, Mali, Kebbi and Kanem Borno empires as if he was there? Mr. Awe was at his best discussing Mansa Musa of Mali. He said, unforgettably, that the price of gold in Cairo crashed to a very low level for ten years when Mansa Musa passed through the city on his way to and from Mecca. Not all our History teachers had Mr. Awe’s passion. We had an Indian History teacher, Mr. Sharma, who taught the subject absent mindedly. He taught about West African civilisations “Mende, Loko, Susu and Shabror” straight from the textbook. He listlessly listed each World War 1 participant nation’s “motives for going to war.” He said, “Austria/Hungary: Serbia has to be destroyed if Austria-Hungary is to remain a single unit. She wanted a short war, knowing that she will be destroyed in a long one.” Up until today I cannot make sense out of that statement. Mr. Sharma also taught that the First World War was caused by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip’s assassination of Austro-Hungarian Crown Prince, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. That was the trigger, but not the cause. Some teachers did great disservice to the teaching of History. Dr. Abdurrahman Umar’s History teacher in the old North Eastern State once said in class, “Mansa Musa died in 1327. How he died, do not ask Mr. Ayodele because I was not there!”

Students themselves are a problem. When Minister Adamu first announced the reintroduction of History as a stand-alone subject back in 2016, News Agency of Nigeria [NAN] posted a story in which two students told its reporter that they do not like History because it has too many dates and they have to “cram” them. Very good. They apparently prefer to cram vehicle plate numbers, GSM phone numbers, bank account numbers and Premier League match statistics.

Which reminds me. In the 1980s when I was a university teaching assistant, a final year student presented a seminar paper in which he said Christopher Columbus landed in America in 1942. I asked him if there was anything wrong with that date. He looked at it for several minutes and said, “There is nothing wrong with the date. I saw it in a textbook.” He couldn’t have. In 1942, America was on the verge of becoming the world’s pre-eminent power with millions of its troops pouring into Europe, North Africa and Asia to fight in World War Two. The correct date was 1492. Probably due to students’ phobia for dates, he shaved nearly 500 years off North American history. Here, we only shaved off 13 years, but we will probably need one or two generations ahead before we can repair the damage.

NEW NUCTECH CARGO SCANNERS TO CHECK INFLUX OF ARMS COMMISSIONED

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As a strong measure to halt the increasingly growing influx of arms and ammunition into Nigeria, do you know that the Buhari administration has just procured 3 mobile Nuctech cargo scanners to help curtail this scourge?

The 3 scanners, which were deployed to Apapa, Tin-Can and Onne seaports in Lagos and Rivers states respectively and which also cost the administration about N8bn were commissioned simultaneously by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed on Tuesday, November 22, 2022.

With their ability to see through all cargo in all containers, these special kind of scanners have the ability to automatically spot any prohibited item that is concealed without any manual inspection by officers. This will essentially make it harder for smugglers who count on human weaknesses to smuggle in weapons.

How Nigeria Spent N241bn On Solar Electricity For Rural Areas

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In about three years, the federal government has funded the delivery of 52 megawatts (MW) of solar electricity across rural areas to the tune of N241.8billion with grants provided by the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The latest milestone is from the analysis of scorecards of the Nigerian Electrification Programme (NEP) being implemented by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA). To implement the programme, the World Bank provided $350million, AfDB provided $200m.

As of October, 1,022 connections had been energised and being utilised in communities across the 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

An analysis of this shows that it has deployed 995,396 Solar Home System (SHS), 67 mini grid projects, 26 container solar energy pack for hospitals. 

While the NEP handlers received 569 applications from solar power developers, it signed the grant agreement with 267 developers and seven others for the energising education power contract projects in seven universities and a teaching hospital.  

The implementation of the NEP has created 1,151 jobs so far and saved 249,193 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the records show.

According to a 2020 World Bank report on energy deficit, Africa has a huge energy deficit of over 600 million people without access to electricity and about 900m without access to clean cooking energy. Of this population, Nigeria, being the most populous country on the continent, is heavily impacted and overtook Congo DR as the country with the highest people without access to electricity in late 2020.

Despite the gloomy picture, authorities have launched various programmes to improve access to electricity. For instance, the Federal Ministry of Power is driving a wider Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) scheme, projecting to have 30,000MW of electricity by 2030, of which 30 per cent of it will come from renewable energy sources. So far, the national electricity grid is about 5,000MW with a significant chunk of the over 200m people not having access to electricity, while over 50 per cent of those with electricity are underserved. 

Also worried by this, the federal government, in August 2022, launched the Energy Transition Plan (ETP) amidst calls to move from fossil fuel and halt climate change. However, the plan, launched by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at a virtual global ceremony, will require Nigeria spending about N4.222 trillion above business every year for the next 38 years to achieve a global access to energy by 2060 and a carbon-neutral energy system by 2060.

Core at the launch was how the government will raise this funding requirement amidst a shift from oil-dependence, rising inflation and other macro-economic issues.

Driving rural solar power, creating jobs

As part of contributing to the ETP basket, the managing director of the REA, Salihijo Ahmad Salihijo, said the implementation of the Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP) of the agency, was an initiative taken to increase electricity access to Nigerians, whose homes are far flung from the national electricity grid.

He said, “Electricity has been provided for 5million Nigerians through 1,022 connections with at least 52MW of renewable electricity generated in the off-grid sphere across the 36 states and the FCT.”

The NEP has five components, comprising $213m for solar hybrid mini grid project, $75m for standalone Solar Home Systems (SHS), $250m for the Energising Education Programme (EEP) for 15 universities and two teaching hospitals. 

The two others are $20m for Energy Efficient Equipment to fund appliances that can generate funds like pop-corn making machines; and $37m for technical assistance and capacity building. 

REA officials were part of a wider entourage from Nigeria that were recently at the COP27 in Egypt, where country leaders discussed the future of energy, fossil fuel amidst rising complaints of climatic conditions, including historic flooding that ravaged several parts of Nigeria.

The Nigeria Electrification Programme has created jobs as outlined in the report. On how the grant has been disbursed so far, the report shows that, for every connection to the mini grid component, contractors get a naira equivalent of $600m, which is 60 per cent grant to cover for their project cost as a means of boosting electricity access, especially with renewable energy.

Out of the $550m NEP fund, the REA has disbursed $64.8m to contractors, with over $397m commitment made for procurement of equipment for the contractors.

For the mini grid, we have 267 grants signed with private developers but more people can come and join, we want more. 

80m Nigerians without access to electricity 

At least 80m Nigerians do not have access to electricity, the REA stated. However, with the NEP, budgetary project and other interventions, officials at the REA targets providing electricity to 80million unserved and underserved Nigerians.

The NEP works as a concept of public-private partnership (PPP) to support electrification in a way that customers pay back the project cost overtime, just as contractors get funded based on their performance in delivering a project.

The contractor identifies a project and delivers it and test-runs it for three months. It is verified and a 60 per cent subsidy payment is made to the contractor.

“When we travel to other countries and tell them about the NEP, they want to learn from us. We are now setting standard operating procedures and key performance indicators for our staff. We are about to recruit new staff. There hasn’t been any recruitment since the agency came into life, it only had a few replacements,” said the REA head, Salihijo.

Another component of the programme is the energising hospitals which came up after the COVID-19 to light up some health care facilities. So far, the REA said 26 health care facilities had been completed.

“There is also a solar home system for rural homes where we give contractors a boost to enable them make it affordable to end users. We only pay the grant fully after it is delivered by the contractor and we have gone to the site to verify that the project is actively energised and supplying electricity to the community,” noted Salihijo.

On energising education, the second phase is coming shortly and covers seven universities and one teaching hospital. 

“We just signed the contract to build the seven power plants recently, and it is meant so that each household can take 15 appliances in the universities,” Salihijo added.

There will also be a third phase targeting eight universities and one teaching hospital using captive power plants, which the school will operate and utilise.

A summary of the project’s impact when fully delivered shows that 109,000 Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) will be energised. Three federal university teaching hospitals will have uninterrupted power supply, while 15 federal universities will be electrified. For the health sector, 100 treatment/isolation centres will have reliable power and 400 primary health care centres (PHCs) will have reliable power.

However, the current status shows that 4,795 are MSMEs connected, three teaching hospitals have been connected while three others are undergoing procurement process. There are 14 federal universities whose projects are on procurement, and 14 treatment/isolation centres have been completed while procurement is ongoing to energise 400 PHCs.

W/Bank lauds Nigeria’s solar power access model

The World Bank has commended Nigeria for the Nigeria Electrification Programme, saying it’s a long-term vision that is sustainable. 

Commenting on the scorecard so far, the World Bank Task Team Lead for NEP, Arsh Sharma, said: “NEP is the World Bank’s flagship energy access engagement that serves as a model for many sub-Saharan countries for its innovative, yet flexible design. It presents the culmination of several factors, including a capable implementing entity, clear regulation and a driven private sector.”

Also speaking, the World Bank Co-Task Team Lead for NEP, Jon Exel, said: “The Nigerian government is focusing on long-term sustainability, which encourages inclusiveness, the scale of the market and the willingness to tackle electricity issues. This is what we see in Nigeria.”  

Atiku Promises Improved Fundings, Support For Creative Sector

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Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has promised to support the creative industry with the necessary incentives, if elected into power in the 2023 general election.

He made the commitment in Lagos during a roundtable discussion with stakeholders in Nigeria’s creative, cultural and innovative industry.

Some of the speakers at the discussion panel include top entertainment entrepreneur, Ayo Animashaun; award-winning director, Kenneth Gyang; ace creative director, Papa Omotayo; Talent Manager and Music Executive, Efe Omorogbe, media entrepreneur, Agatha Amata among others.

Atiku said the industry has what it takes to crash the unemployment rate and generate huge revenue for the country if necessary support is given.

Among other things, Atiku said he will create an enabling environment for the players in the industry by providing proper fundings, training and capacity development.

He said the fundings would be liberalised and distributed through banks or agencies in order to make it easily accessible for players in the industry.

“This industry is a livewire for our economy. A sector that provides employment, especially for the youths, is not one to be toyed with. This sector can provide us huge revenue if well harnessed.

“The way forward is to increase funds for the arts and liberalise the process of acquiring that fund, if you give me the opportunity, I will do it because it is essential.

“I reject direct CBN intervention and encourage the private sector to be part of this, the government cannot develop all the funds needed,” he said.

While noting that he understands the challenges in the industry because he owns radio and television outfits, Atiku called for collaboration with the stakeholders on how to address identified loopholes in the sector.

He commended the stakeholders for their patriotism which he noted has kept them to keep providing jobs and contributing to the economy despite the many challenges and lack of sufficient support for them.

While noting that the government alone can’t provide the fundings needed to grow the sector, the former Vice President promised to collaborate with the private sector to grow the creative industry.

“I commend the presentations so far, I understand your challenges which I am also facing because I own a television and radio station, I face the same problem of access to water and electricity as well as bad roads, so I want you to regard me as one of you.

“I look forward to a close collaboration with you on how we can develop the sector and explore the potential, it is a multi-billion income creating sector.

“If we work together, we can make it, I look forward to another meeting before the elections to agree on some modalities on how things will be done,” he said

Atiku’s running mate and Delta state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, commended the experts who spoke at the session for identifying and proposing solutions to the challenges in the sector. While assuring them that Atiku is a promise keeper, Okowa said Nollywood would manage the Delta state owned film village in Asaba which would be commissioned by the former Vice President in December.

He urged Nigerians to turn out en masse to vote during the forthcoming elections in February.

“There would be a new Nigeria if we work together to defend our land and take pride in it.

“We can make Nigeria work again through collaboration with the aim to rebuild the foundation,” he said.

Earlier, creative entrepreneur, Omorogbe, said the major challenges confronting the music industry were piracy and Nigerians’ unwillingness to pay music royalties.

He said less than 10 per cent of music consumers paid royalties which was not encouraging.

According to him, the Nigerian music industry remains so huge, yet to be properly tapped.

Executive Producer of Hip TV, Animashaun noted that the enabling environment for the creative industry must be created for businesses to thrive.

“We do not have the enabling environment to perform at the best capacity; this makes it so difficult to carry out major projects,” he said.

Filmmaker Gyang, said that if the industry must function optimally, the incoming President needs to create a national endowment fund for practitioners in the creative space just as practised in other climes.

“If funds are created for filmmakers, it will enable us to tell our stories as a country in the most dignifying way,” he said.

Founder, Africa International Film Festival, Chioma Ude, said there was a need to have more film festivals to showcase Nigerian and African creative content.

She said training and capacity building should be prioritized and upscaled.

Abuja-Kaduna Rail service starts in 7 days- FG

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The Federal Government says train services between the Abuja and Kaduna route will resume within seven day from Nov. 27.

Minister of Transportation Mua’zu Sambo disclosed this on Sunday while inspecting the test running the train route.

The minister said that this was to enable passengers to get used to the new requirements for enjoying the train service.

He said: ”The issue of whether the train will start tomorrow or not, we have not said the train services will start tomorrow.

”I want to be very categorical about that. Now, we have introduced a new system before you buy a ticket.

”Your purchase of a ticket requires you to provide a phone number and a national identification number in order to profile, because that is the beginning of the security checks.

”So, at any point in time when a train moves from one station to another we know who and who are on board.

” If you don’t have an NIN you are not going to board our train. It is as simple as that.

”If you are a minor, an adult will pay for you and will register for you and an adult can only register for not more than four minors.”

Sambo added that: ”Now, we want to give sufficient time for the Nigerian public to listen to these and assimilate this new system, because if we start tomorrow, a lot of people will be disgruntled.

”Definitely between three, four, five days, certainly not more than a week.”

He assured Nigerians that 90 per cent arrangement had been completed for the smooth commencement of the services.

Sambo added that the remaining 10 per cent measures would be achieved in a couple of days for the smooth commencement.

”I think we are 90 per cent ready as far as what we are set out to do is concerned.

” The remaining 10 per cent I am sure would be achieved in the next couple of days for full resumption of train services.

”Certain concrete measures that are feasible include the ticketing. Security starts from ticketing so now you don’t buy a ticket unless you have a valid phone number and you have a NIN.

”And if you are a foreigner you also have a means of identification you can use which is produced by the National Identity Management Commission.

”Having secured your ticket, you will not get access to the lounge until the machine reads the barcode in your receipt.

”Your details will show and your complete profile will show on the screen. Only then will you be allowed to go into the lounge. This is what we call customer profiling,” Sambo said.

According to the minister, there will be increased number of security personnel some of which may not be wearing uniform in order to guarantee the safety of passengers.

He said: ”The other thing is that, for every journey the train is monitored every second and the train driver can see up to a certain distance.

”If there is any threats on the track, that would enable him march the break before getting to the perceived threat.”

Sambo explained that there would be reduced number of trips on the route and as the traveling population picked, the number of trips would increase.

”But we will certainly not travel at night,” he said.

He further said that some other sensitive equipment which would not be disclosed had also been put in place to ensure safety of life and property.

On fares, he said discussions were in place and the fares could be increased.

”My assurance to Nigerians is that even I will be using the train, and other of my counterparts who have homes in Kaduna.

”Infact, from next week they will start using this train so I am giving Nigerians full assurance that a human being can give that this train is safe for them to use.

”There is absolutely nothing to fear. We have learnt from what has happened and life is about learning lessons and adopting measures with the lessons.

”As a responsible government, we have seen those lessons and we have devised appropriate measures to counter it.

”Like I always say that I was not going to allow this train to resume until everybody in captivity was released and to the glory of God I have achieved that.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that train services along the corridor was halted due to terrorist attack on March 28 which led to loss of lives and kidnap of some passengers.