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After Grim Economic Data, Buhari Appeals for Patience, Promises Real Change




Following the grim economic data released on Wednesday by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) confirming Nigeria’s slide into recession, rising inflation, unemployment and plummeting foreign capital importation, President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday pleaded with Nigerians to be patient with his administration, assuring them that the pains they are currently going through would soon give way to development.

Buhari, who reminded Nigerians that his administration’s “change” mantra was aimed at restoring the nation on the path of integrity and prosperity, said this in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, during the inauguration of the Osogbo Government High School built by the administration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola.

The president urged Nigerians to be patient and persevere for a while, promising that the pains would soon give way to development.

He said his administration was working hard to avoid the mistakes of the last administration in tackling insecurity and corruption and to revamp the economy, which has been badly affected by the drop in the price of oil, reported the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Buhari said: “We promised Nigerian people positive and progressive change during our campaign. We are not and shall not be deterred from that noble undertaking.
“But as we have learnt from history, change has never been attained by any nation on a bed of roses, but rather through patience, perseverance and steadfastness.

“We are quite aware of the pains and inconveniences that have been the lot of the citizenry in the past one year as we strive to faithfully implement our programmes in fulfilment of our change agenda.

“We are however comforted by the real change and progress we have made in fighting corruption and restoring integrity to government; providing security for lives and property; and positioning the government for effectiveness and especially deregulating the oil sector.

“We must also not forget the fiscal discipline that has now characterised government business at all levels. This indeed is how it should be and we are determined to introduce and implement actions and measures that will entrench the change mantra in our individual lives, just as we are doing in curtailing excessive waste and rent seeking in governance.

“We are determined to remain on track as we strive to deliver to rescue the country from past mistakes in fulfilment of our promise of improving the conditions of our people and making Nigeria a prosperous country.”

Also rising in defence of the administration, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) said yesterday that the country’s economy under Buhari could not be equated to the reckless fiscal policies that were the vogue when the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was in office.

Reacting to the call by the PDP for Buhari to resign on account of the dire economic situation, APC blamed the present state of affairs on the reckless policies of the previous administration.

APC assured Nigerians that the Buhari-led administration was solidly committed to resuscitating the economy in the quickest possible time and in the best interest of the people.

A statement by the National Secretary of the APC, Hon. Mai Mala Buni, criticised the PDP for trying to divert the attention of Nigerians from the genuine efforts being made by government.

“The statement by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday was the latest in the party’s insensitive plot to deflect attention from the voodoo economics and reckless fiscal policies the country was subjected to during its 16-year rule.

“For the umpteenth time, the PDP lacks the moral basis and credibility to comment or condemn the government on the economy after the mess it left behind. Instead, the PDP must apologise to Nigerians.

“The warning signs were glaring to the immediate-past administration but it chooses the path of economic sabotage by looking the other way and squandering the country’s commonwealth – a reckless decision that has brought the country to its knees.

“Nigerians will recall that even the immediate-past Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, confessed that the zero political will to save under the immediate-past administration was responsible for the challenges facing the country.

“Happily, the President Buhari administration has embarked on a well-thought economic agenda, policy actions, appropriate fiscal governance, and socio-political reforms to revamp the economy and tackle the nation’s current challenges in the short to long term.

“Under the new flexible foreign exchange policy introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in June 2016, we now have a single market-determined exchange rate which enables suppliers of foreign currencies to bring in their money and take the same out at market-determined rates.

“The new foreign exchange policy being implemented will ensure our economy recovers in the medium to long term.

“As contained in the assented 2016 National Budget, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is aggressively formulating and implementing policies aimed at diversifying Nigeria’s economy from oil to other sectors such as agriculture, mining and manufacturing.

“The administration is also proactively tackling increased attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta region which has led to disruptions in crude production,” it observed.

The party noted that in line with the critical infrastructure focus of the Buhari administration, it voted an unprecedented 30 per cent of the 2016 budget to capital projects.

“As the administration works assiduously to build a new solid foundation, credible image and pull the country out of the present hardships, the APC appeals for patience and cooperation from Nigerians,” he said.

The ruling party also announced that it had constituted a caretaker committee to run the affairs of the Gombe State chapter of the party.

A statement by Mai Mala Buni said that it had accepted the resignation of Mr. Karu Ishaya and Mr. Sallau Manu Pindiga as the state deputy chairman and secretary, respectively.

The party also said that it had decided to relieve Muhammad Magaji Doho and Dauda Manu of their positions as state chairman and state legal adviser, respectively.

The caretaker committee is headed by Hon. Lawan Shetima with Alhaji Sule Yakubu as state secretary.

Also, the Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Muhammadu Badaru Abubakar, said yesterday that the way out of the economic downturn is for Nigeria to expand its economy and make it more competitive.

The governor, who spoke to journalists at the APC national secretariat in Abuja, shortly after being inaugurated to chair the committee of the Ondo State governorship primary, said the present hardship would have been averted if past leaders had started cutting their expenditure and import bill to save for tomorrow.

“The problem with the past leaders was they should have started cutting expenditure. For instance, what Obasanjo did with cement was good. We stopped importation of cement into Nigeria. Why do we have to import rice, why do we have to import maize, why do we have to import wheat? Why do we have to import milk?

“At the time the going was good, the government was supposed to have given credible intervention like what Obasanjo did with the cement to encourage the production of rice,” he said.

Also commenting on the nation’s economy, the former governor of Kaduna State and the Caretaker of Committee Chairman of the PDP, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, advised Buhari to assemble an economic team, irrespective of party affiliations to find a solution to the present economic situation in the country.

Makarfi, who spoke in ‎an interview in Kaduna yesterday, said there was need for all hands to be on deck to find solutions to the economic hardship facing the country.

“We are all Nigerians, we must know that things are tough today. I read a letter written by Cardinal Olubunmi Okojie to the president in the newspapers expressing the same concern.

“This is not an issue for one political party alone. Long before that letter, and as a matter of fact, before the president was sworn into office and to be candid, my personal belief was that the country was facing a serious problem and that we were heading into more serious problems.

“So all hands needed to be on deck. There is a time to play politics, and there is a time, whether you are the party in government or not, we should not play politics with certain issues,” Makarfi said.

Making further reference to Okojie’s letter to Buhari, Makarfi said: “If the economy is bad, it is the political class that is to be blamed.‎”

He was of the opinion that other than the political class, the military, which was in power for several years, should also share part of the blame, “because they did a lot of damage to the system”.

He said: “Let us own up to the wrong we have done and let us collectively repent and come together for the sake of the ordinary man and woman and even those that are not ordinary and save our nation from economic doom.‎”
He said working together to salvage the country “doesn’t mean we should become a one party state and it doesn’t mean we should agree on political matters, but we should realise that the country’s survival is foremost”.‎

He said he shared the views expressed by Cardinal Okojie ‎in his letter to the president on the state of the nation, noting the problems of the economy were more structural and had been there for a long time, even before 1999.

“Of course, there are issues that you can reduce to the last five, seven or 10 years or so. That is why I say it is a collective thing if it is failure, because you can extend this failure to as far back as you can remember,”‎ he said.

He however stressed that this was not the time to start apportioning blames, “rather it is time to come together and salvage the country and do the needful”.

“In any case, people voted for this government, because they were dissatisfied with the last administration. If they were satisfied they would have returned all the past administration at all levels.

“Having not returned them, because people believed that things will improve with this government, it will be good to go forward and see what we can do and improve on our economy.

“It should not be seen as failure to say look, ‘the issue at hand now requires that we should come together and salvage our country’, ‎in fact it is not a sign of failure,” he said.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.


COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations



African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations



China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns



President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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