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.
Envoy Considers Establishment Of Chinese Banks In Nigeria To Boost Economy
Mr Cui Jianchun, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, says he is in talks with Chinese owned Banks to establish operations in Nigeria.
This, the envoy said, is to boost Nigeria’s economy and expand trade relations between the two nations.
Cui made this known on Tuesday in Abuja while addressing Journalists during the commemoration of the 2021 Chinese Moon Festival and China-Nigeria Cultural week.
According to Cui, the establishment of Chinese Banks in Nigeria will also be one of the key areas of discussion during the China-Nigeria Binational Committee meeting, which he is also pushing for the establishment.
He said that an efficient financial institution was a key driver to achieving a strong economy, one Nigeria can learn from China’s experience.
“Before my departure from Beijing to Abuja, I talked to several banks in China. When you list the World’s 10 big banks, six are in China.
“The Banking sector is very important, because, without money, we cannot build our industries.
“What I am thinking here is best to talk to the governor of Central Bank and how we can allow the Chinese Banks to run office here and now, they are doing the feasibility studies on that.
“I am working hard that in the Bi-national meeting, I hope we can make a big decision and give a big push to let the banking industry and insurance industry because financial integration and institutions are key.
“If you go to China, you will find our banking industry is very powerful, not only for business but the change in the way of life.
“Because of the COVID-19, the Banking Industry is a little hesitant, but I told them Nigeria has a lot of human resources and as long as we work together, we can do big things.
“And that is why it is important to invest in the banking industry, to solve this problem,” Cui said.
Extolling the extant China-Nigeria trade relations, Cui noted that the volume of trade between China and Nigeria is nearly 20 billion US Dollars, with an increase from 2020’s 19.2 billion dollars.
Cui said the Chinese economy is restoring to the normal post-COVID-19 pandemic and both governments are working hard on how to expand imports and exports.
Speaking on the event, Cui said the China’s moon festival is a very important and significant one for China as it symbolises family reunion, national peace and social harmony.
The envoy said the 2021 celebration is also a special one as it coincides with the 50th Anniversary of China-Nigeria’s bilateral relations.
He said that both countries also share Oct. 1 as their National Days.
He said it is also on that note that the Chinese Embassy is honouring 50 Nigerian employees of Chinese Companies in Nigeria for their outstanding performance and contribution to strengthening diplomatic ties.
Dr Ifeoma Anyanwutaku, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, also lauded the Nigeria-China relations.
She said the relations had recorded great successes over the past five decades.
“The five decades of co-operation had since witnessed several cultural activities and exchanges in the spheres of arts, music, dance, exhibition, cultural administration, training and capacity building of cultural officers.
“And recently, the development of Cultural Industries centres in Nigeria, among others.
“I must add that China, through the youth-oriented programmes such as the photos competition and similar activities in the past is surely a dependable ally.
“In redirecting the energy and mind of our youth to creative ventures, thereby furthering the Nigerian government’s policy of lifting a hundred million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years”, Anyanwukatu said. (NAN)
Lagos Prohibits Open Cattle Grazing, Sanwo-Olu Signs Bill Into Law
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Monday, assented to the bill prohibiting Open Cattle Grazing and Trespass of Cattle on Land, signing the legislation into law 11 days after it was unanimously passed by the State House of Assembly and transmitted to the Executive arm for authorisation.
By implication, it is now criminal in Lagos for cattle rearers to occupy unapproved public areas and private land with their livestock for grazing. The law also prohibits the act of moving cattle round public places by herders.
The signing of the anti-open grazing law by the Governor followed the decision of Southern Governors’ Forum last August, setting the September deadline to pass the law across member States.
There have been crises witnessed in some States, resulting from alleged open grazing.
Although farmer-herder crisis is not pronounced in Lagos, the anti-open grazing law is expected to prevent the spillover of the menace into the State.
Sanwo-Olu, who assented to the bill during the State’s Executive Council meeting in Alausa, directed the security agencies to swing immediately into action and enforce provisions of the law.
He said: “By the powers vested in me as the Governor of Lagos State, I am signing the bill on Open Cattle Grazing and Trespass of Cattle on Land into law to prohibit issues associated with open grazing of livestock.”
The Governor also signed legislation transforming the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) into a full-blown agency.
The development coincided with the commemorative month dedicated to raising awareness on gender-based violence in the State. The Governor and members of the State’s cabinet wore attire with purple shades to support the campaign against sexual violence.
The DSVRT legislation provides for the establishment of Sexual Offenders’ Register that would help the State efficiently tackle violations in the communities.
After signing the law, Sanwo-Olu said: “Raising awareness about domestic and sexual violence is an important piece of working to end the cycle of violence. It is important to reiterate the State Government’s zero tolerance to all forms of sexual and gender-based violence. We will not rest on our oars until the menace is reduced to the barest minimum in Lagos.”
The Governor appointed Mrs. Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi as the Executive Secretary of the new agency.
Vivour-Adeniyi was the coordinator of the response team before the legislation was signed into law.
ECOWAS Imposes Sanctions on Guinea Junta Over Coups
West African leaders have decided to impose travel bans and freeze the financial assets of members of Guinea’s ruling junta and their families after a coup more than a week ago.
The decisions were announced Thursday after an Extraordinary Summit on Guinea in Ghana’s capital, Accra. Mediators with the regional group had traveled to Guinea to meet with junta leaders and check on the condition of deposed President Alpha Conde.
ECOWAS president Jean Claude Brou said the West African leaders have also insisted that there should be no “need for very long transition for the country to return to democratic order.”
The targeted sanctions come after Guinea’s coup leaders set a number of conditions for releasing Conde, according to the foreign minister of Ghana.
ECOWAS had already warned it will impose penalties on the junta in Guinea unless it immediately releases Conde, who has been held at an undisclosed location since being detained during the Sept. 5 coup in Conakry.
“We are coming to address a burning issue in the region,” said Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the current chair of the regional bloc, ahead of the summit. He was joined by presidents or high-ranking officials from eight of the other 15 ECOWAS countries.
Members of the ECOWAS delegation that visited Conakry after the coup presented their reports at Thursday’s meeting, said Ghanaian Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway. The junta has set a number of conditions for complying with the demands of regional mediators, she said but declined to disclose what they are.
The delegation has spoken with Conde’s doctor “who ascertained that indeed physically, he’s very well,” she said. However, she said, the ex-president is still coming to terms with the fact that his government has been toppled after more than a decade in power.
“For anybody who has gone through such a traumatic experience like he did, mentally, it’s not the best, not to say that mentally we found anything wrong, but he was quite shocked; he’s still in a state of shock,” she added.
Meanwhile, in Conakry, junta leaders were also set to meet with mining company representatives on the third day of a special summit to chart Guinea’s political future. Junta leader Col. Mamady Doumbouya has sought to reassure the country’s most vital economic sector that the political changes will not impact existing mining projects in the country, which has the world’s largest reserves of bauxite.
Guinea’s coup leaders have yet to make public their proposed timeframe for handing over power to a civilian transitional government, nor have they outlined how quickly new elections can be organized.
Conde had sparked violent street demonstrations last year after he pushed for a constitutional referendum that he used to justify running for a third term, saying term limits no longer applied to him. He ultimately won another five years in office last October, only to be toppled by the coup 10 months later.
At the time he came to power in 2010, he was Guinea’s first democratically elected leader since independence from France in 1958.
The regional bloc also planned to tackle concerns over whether a second member state, Mali, is making enough progress toward a return to democracy more than a year after a military takeover there.
In Mali, the ruling junta led by Col. Assimi Goita has committed to holding new elections by February 2022, though mediators who recently visited have expressed concern about whether that deadline now can be met.
Goita overthrew Mali’s president in August 2020 and then agreed to a civilian transitional government and an 18-month timeframe for holding a vote. However, only nine months after the first coup he effectively staged a second one, firing the civilian interim leaders and ultimately naming himself as president of the transition.
ECOWAS has not reinstated Mali’s membership in the bloc, marking the first time since 2012 that two of the 15 member states are suspended concurrently.
ECOWAS President Brou said there was the need to revisit the organization’s 2001 protocol on good governance “because a lot of things have changed or improved.”
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