The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday itemised measures he said the Executive must take to take Nigeria out of recession.
The measures include the partial sale of the Nigeria LNG Limited and the reduction of government shares in upstream oil joint venture operations.
He also recommended the sale of government’s stakes in financial institutions like the Africa Finance Corporation and the privatisation and concession of major/regional airports and refineries to private operators.
According to him, the current economic recession transcends political parties, as well as religious and socio-cultural divides.
The Senate president noted that the economic problem facing the nation was a collective problem and should be treated as such.
He stressed that the Executive must begin to take steps to show not only Nigerians but the international community as well as local and foreign investors that the nation was ready to reform and do business.
Saraki said, “The Executive must immediately put in place a leadership-level engagement platform with the private sector. This must be one that is pro-business and shows unequivocally that the government is ready to partner the private sector towards economic revival. This is a critical signpost towards market confidence, which is a key ingredient to help us revamp the economy out of recession.
“The Executive must raise capital from asset sales and other sources to shore up the foreign reserves. This will calm investors, discourage currency speculation and stabilise the economy.
“The measures should include part sale of the NLNG Limited; reduction of government’s shares in upstream oil joint venture operations; sale of government’s stake in financial institutions e.g. Africa Finance Corporation; and the privatisation and concession of major/regional airports and refineries.”
The Senate President also insisted that the Executive should consider tweaking the pension funds policy within international best practice safeguards to accommodate investment in infrastructure and mortgages.
He stated, “The Executive and CBN must agree on a policy of monetary easing to stimulate the economy and harmonise monetary and fiscal policies until economic recovery is attained. We must ensure that local government borrowing does not crowd out credit for the private sector.
“The Executive must re-tool its export promotion policy scheme with export incentives such as the resumption of the Export Expansion Grant; and introduce export-financing initiatives. The Executive is urged to engage in meaningful dialogue with those aggrieved in the Niger Delta and avoid an escalation of the conflict in the region.
“The National Assembly is very ready to play any role in the process and offer ideas on approaches that will deliver quick win-win in order to move the region and the economy forward.
“The Executive must as a deliberate response consider immediate release of funds to ensure the implementation of the budget for the near short term to inject money into the economy.”
However, the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress faulted the call by Saraki and other prominent Nigerians for the sale of some national assets.
The General-Secretary, NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, and President, TUC, Mr. Bala Kaigama, stated this in separate telephone interviews with our correspondents on Tuesday, while reacting to the call.
Ozo-Eson and Kaigama said that those in the forefront of the move to sell the national assets were being motivated by a desire to acquire them.
Ozo-Eson advised the key players in the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to avoid taking advantage of the economic situation to loot the remaining national assets in the country.
He insisted that acquisition of national assets by those in power was partly responsible for the current economic situation in the country.
He added that selling the NLNG, airports and other assets would only compound the nation’s economic woes as had been demonstrated by the woeful performance of the power sector.
The NLC general-secretary said, “Selling national assets is not going cure the economy. Part of the crisis we are in is as a result of the national assets they distributed to themselves.
“They should not use the economic situation as a pretext for looting what is left of the public assets. Selling the NLNG, airports and all those other assets will not be the way to bail out the economy from this crisis. It will rather compound it as has been demonstrated by what they did with power, and other assets.
“We are opposed to the sale of those assets because they just want to take them over the way they have taken over the power sector and it is not functioning. So, that cannot be the excuse. We are opposed to it. What we will do if they go ahead is a matter that we will discuss at that point in time.”
Kaigama said that those behind the clamour for the sale of the national assets would only distribute them to their cronies.
He said that the administration should concern itself with the provision of a road map to get the economy out of recession rather than the ploy to sell the assets.
Kaigama stated “Well, I don’t know what they mean by that because these are very vital national assets. Are they saying that as soon as we sell these assets, we will be out of recession?
“Otherwise, why don’t we work out a plan that will get the economy out of recession and not this kind of fire brigade approach? Obviously, that is what it is going to head to because they will sell them to their cronies. The TUC is not in support of this.”
Rather than sell the assets, the Federal Government should borrow from the International Monetary Fund, according to the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission.
The Acting Chairman of RMAFC, Mr. Umar Gana, said this in a statement made available in Abuja on Tuesday.
Gana said the opinion of the agency was different from that of business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who had in an interview with a cable television, CNBC Africa, advocated the sale of NLNG and other federation assets as a way of augmenting government revenue shortfall as a result of the current economic recession.
He said, “It is the considered view of the commission that Nigeria’s assets such as the NLNG and other strategic national resources should not be sold to meet short-term financial obligations.
“It will be recalled that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria indicated in a media report that the sum of $10bn would be realised from the sale of these assets. The commission is of the strong opinion that the same amount could be borrowed from the IMF and the revenue from these assets could be used to amortise the loans over an agreed period.
“It should be noted that after the amortisation of the loans, those assets would still be owned by the federation in addition to their regular dividends and revenues.”
Gana argued that it would be unwise for the Federal Government to dispose of its crown jewels that were generating revenues that keep the Federation Account healthy over the long-term.
He said since the assets were generating revenues, the government could borrow from the IMF and amortise the loan with revenues emanating from the assets.
Gana also counselled that instead of selling off vital assets generating funds for the federation, wealthy Nigerians should be encouraged to set up their own liquefied natural gas projects since was blessed with abundant natural gas reserves.
Over 1M Nigerians Have Completed Online Voters Card Pre-Registration – INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) affirmed that over 1 million additional voters have completed their online pre-registration for the ongoing nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) within the last four weeks across the country.
INEC’s national commissioner, and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said this through a statement released in Abuja on Monday.
Of the 1 million new eligible voters, 259,450 people have completed their registration in Osun State and it is currently been followed by Edo state with 98,286 new voters.
These two states were closely followed by Anambra state with 65,014, followed by Bayelsa with 63,250, and later Lagos State with 61,991, this came as Yobe with 1,893, followed by Sokoto State with 2,453, Jigawa 2,593, and Zamfara with 2,769 were some of the least stare registered.
The state’s distribution of the online fresh registration released by INEC in Abuja on Monday showed the weekly update provided by INEC for week four which also reveals that the commission received 1,135,395 applications.
The figure of the total applications received includes those for voter transfer, requests for replacement of Permanent Voter Cards, and update of voter information record, etc.
According to the commission, the distribution of the 1,135,395 total applications by age group showed that 740,063 of them were youths between the ages of 18 to 34 years.
The applications from the middle-aged of between 35 to 49 years old were 278,042; the elderly from 50 to 69 years were 102,578; while the old from 70 years and above were 14,712
The distribution by occupation indicated that artisan constituted 75,877 of the total applications; farming/fishing – 81,096; public servants -25,298; business -230,551; house wives -25,816; students 355,227; civil servants 44,093; traders 97,624; others/not specified 199,813.
Also, the distribution by gender showed that females constituted 492,449 of the received applications while males were 642,946 as well as showed that 12,274 of the applicants indicated to be persons living with disabilities.
Okoye, providing an update on the online pre-registration which started nationwide on June 28, disclosed that the commission, also on Monday, commenced physical registration at its 811 state and local government area offices nationwide.
According to the statement, “As of 7 am today, Monday, July 26, the number of new registrants has risen to 1,006,661. The detailed distribution of the registrants by age, State/FCT, gender, occupation, and disability for week four of the exercise has been uploaded on the commission’s website and social media platforms.
“However, the distribution by age still shows that 740,063 (or 73.5 percent) are young Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 34. As earlier announced by the commission, physical or in-person registration begins today, Monday, July 26 at our 811 state and local government area offices nationwide.
“The exact locations of the designated centers have already been uploaded to our website and social media platforms. For further details, citizens are encouraged to contact our state offices through the dedicated telephone numbers provided in the uploaded publication.
“‘Nigerians who pre-registered online can now complete their registration at those centers based on scheduled appointments. In addition, other Nigerians who prefer to register physically/in person can now do so at those centers.
“Both online pre-registration and physical/in-person registration will continue simultaneously until the suspension of the CVR exercise on June 30, 2022, to enable the commission to clean up the data and compile the voters’ register for the 2023 General Election.”
Okoye appealed to all citizens who wished to register to approach any of INEC’s state or local government area offices nationwide to do so, as the commission entered the next phase of the CVR exercise.
Oyo State Budgets N330M Monthly To Support Community Policing In LGAs
Oyo State Governor, Seye Makinde has said that the state has set aside a monthly budget of N330 million to be spent on security across the 33 local governments in the state.
The governor who disclosed this in Ibadan said each local government in the state is expected to spend N10 million to support the security of lives and property in their domain.
He said part of the measures was the instruction to local government chairmen to involve traditional rulers as well as other voluntary residents in policing their areas.
Each local government is to spend N10 million monthly on this security arrangement.
Makinde explained that the initiative amounts to spending N330 million in the 33 local government areas, besides other efforts the state government had put in place to tighten security.
“We said each local government should set up a security committee, which should include traditional rulers and voluntary people willing to police their areas.
“I encouraged them to budget N10 million to service the committee every month. For the entire state, that’s N330 million per month by all local governments, excluding what we are doing generally at the state level,” the governor told a group on a visit to him during the recent Muslim festival.
“On security, most of the data in the past months shows that things are now improving. The Igangan incident, some days ago, was only falsified by some people who were saying that Fulani herdsmen had invaded Igangan again. The truth is actually about the NCS and smugglers. They know each other.
“Customs officials were accused to have entered Igangan, which is not a border town. But we are working with Federal authorities and they have arrested most of them.
“The gun that was collected is still with us. I said I won’t release it until I get the attention of the Federal authorities.
“In the Constitution of Nigeria, Oyo State is a federating unit. We are not saying Federal agencies should not carry out their operations here. But they must tell us; they must inform us. They may not disclose the details of the operation to us, but we must know about it.
“If we had known about the operation, we would have pre-informed the security detail in the town and those who died could have been alive. The Amotekun Coordinator that died in Igboora would have still been alive today.
“How can you go operating in an unidentified vehicle in a town where the security tactics have been heightened? As they wanted to enter the town, they were confronted because we have heightened security in all of those places.
“So, we will keep appealing to them and to our people that false information won’t help anybody. Nobody will profit politically from the security issues we are faced with. It is our collective responsibility. The people will play their part and the government will play its own part,” Makinde said.
Security Operatives Arrest Sunday Igboho in Cotonou, Benin Republic
The security operatives in Cotonou, Benin Republic have arrested Yoruba freedom fighter, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho.
An anonymous source privy to the arrest disclosed on Tuesday morning.
According to the source, Sunday Igboho was arrested in Cotonou while trying to travel to Germany from the West African nation.
President Buhari-led administration is now working with the Benin government to repatriate him to Nigeria.
The source said, “Sunday Igboho has been arrested in Cotonou. He was arrested about an hour ago.
“He was supposed to travel to Germany through Cotonou this night. He wanted to leave Africa through Cotonou. He was arrested by security operatives in Cotonou.
“They are planning to bring him back to Nigeria.”
It would be recalled that the Department of State Services had declared Igboho wanted after its operatives carried out a bloody midnight raid on his residence in the Soka area of Ibadan, Oyo State.
DSS Public Relations Officer, Peter Afunnaya, had advised Igboho to turn himself in to the nearest security.
“Those cheering and eulogizing him may appeal to or advice him to do the needful,” Afunnaya said. “He should surrender himself to the appropriate authorities. He or anyone can never be above the law.”
Pelumi Olajengbesi, one of the lawyers representing Igboho and others arrested in his House, told SaharaReporters he had not confirmed the news of Igboho’s arrest in Cotonou.
“I will contact Yomi Aliu (SAN) to verify the news,” he said.
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