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Assets Sale: NLC Plans Nationwide Protests, Enlists 20 Lawyers

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The Nigeria Labour Congress has said it will mobilise Nigerians for nationwide protests to resist the plan by the Federal Government to sell strategic assets under the guise of using the funds to be generated to get the country out of recession.

The President of the NLC, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, said the consequences of the proposed sale of the strategic assets would be more grievous if Nigerians did not stop the government from carrying out the policy.

He made the comment on Monday in Abuja while inaugurating a think-tank of the NLC and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, entrusted with the responsibility of leading the intellectual engagement with the Federal Government on the contentious move to sell the country’s assets.

According to him, the NLC is making preparations to battle the Federal Government in courts to prevent the planned sale of the assets, explaining that the congress had secured the services of 20 volunteer lawyers, who had offered their services to the NLC on the issue.

The members of the 10-man NLC’s ‘Think-Tank on Socio-Economic Issues’ are a former President of ASUU, Dr. Dipo Fashina; Prof. Toye Olorode, Dr. Mohammed Aliyu, Dr. Mustapha Usman and Dr. Isaac Nwogugu.

Other members of the committee are Dr. Yemisi Bamgbose, Mr. Issa Aremu, Mr. Sonny Atuma, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, and Mr. Auwal Mustapha, who is the secretary.

Wabba stated, “While it is important to rescue our country from the current economic recession, sale of our commonwealth and strategic assets is certainly not a move in the right direction, and all Nigerians must have the courage to oppose it.

“All the (national) assets are under threat depending on the interest of who is speaking; the NLNG, refineries, all the assets are presently under threat. If we work together, then we can try to defend these assets. It will take the effort of all of us to stop them.

“Nobody will buy what is not profitable. That is why people are looking in the direction of the most profitable.”

Wabba stressed that the problem with Nigeria was corruption, which had become endemic in both the private and public sectors, and not the economic model to use.

The NLC president believed that politicians, who stole so much money and had been hiding the loot, were looking for ways to buy the assets with their looted funds.

Wabba assured Nigerians that organised labour was united in the quest to preserve the nation’s strategic assets for Nigerians and future generations.

“We are sure of ourselves; this is of concern to every citizen. We should not allow the bidding of those few who don’t mean well for the country. On the issue of selling out, we are on the same page, we will do everything possible to try to work together.

“We shouldn’t be discouraged because of the fact that we envisage sabotage or an effort to undermine the struggle. In every struggle, there would be moves to sabotage such,” he added.

ACF, economists oppose sale of national assets

Meanwhile, opposition against the plan of the Federal Government to sell some national assets continued to mount on Monday as the Arewa Consultative Forum and the Nigerian Economic Society condemned the proposal, asking the Federal Government to rescind its decision to sell the assets.

The NEC stated that the decision of the government did not make economic sense in the face of the current challenges.

It faulted the argument by the government that the proceeds of the sale would be used to fund the 2016 budget, noting that the sale of the assets would further widen the level of income inequality in the country.

The President, NES, Prof. Ben Aigbokan, stated this in an interview with journalists on the forthcoming national conference of the society on Monday in Abuja.

Aigbokan described the approach being adopted by the government as “generationally irresponsible”.

The conference, scheduled to commence on Tuesday (today), has as its theme ‘‘The developmental state and diversification of the Nigerian economy’’.

The NES president added, “It is an irony that the government is planning to sell some of our national assets at this time because it is a contradiction of one of the policies of government, which is sustainable development.

“The economics of selling national assets now at a time of economic recession is very poor because we will not get a good value for these assets, because people understand that the county is in need of money.

“If you sacrifice our national assets now because we are in need of money, what do you leave for the future generations?

“So, generationally, it is irresponsible to sell these assets without subjecting the decision to a referendum because all Nigerians have a stake in them.”

Also, the ACF on Monday argued that it was needless for the Federal Government to sell off national assets to bail out Nigeria from its current economic woes.

The pan-northern socio-political organisation, through its National Publicity Secretary, Muhammadu Ibrahim, argued that the bloated allowances of public officers, which he said accounted for 40 per cent of the national budget, should be converted to capital allocation to boost the economy.

The ACF argued that selling off national assets to service the economy was completely “unwise” as such move never yielded the desired results in the past.

The statement read in part, “The growing calls by some prominent politicians and business tycoons on the Federal Government to consider the selling of strategic, viable national assets as an option to take the economy out of recession at this material time are inappropriate.

“Past privatisation did not yield the desired result in terms of judicious use of proceeds by the government or management of the assets by the new owners. Moreover, the amount to be realised is not worth the exercise.

“Government enterprises like the Nigeria Airways, Nigeria National Shipping Line, Ajaokuta  Steel Company, NITEL, PHCN, etc, that were sold to selected Nigerians and their foreign collaborators in the spirit of privatisation, only succeeded in converting public enterprises to private ones, and some later became comatose. The ones that survived, their service delivery cannot be said to be better.

“ACF therefore considers it unwise for the Federal Government to contemplate the selling of our major national assets like the crude oil refineries, federal airports, NLNG, while we can use them as security against needed funds to boost the economy, as the recession is considered to be temporary.

“In addition, ACF wishes to suggest that unnecessary allowances of public officers and overhead cost that form over 40 per cent of our annual budget should be converted to capital allocation to boost the economy.

“This is the time for national sacrifice in order to bequeath an enduring legacy to the next generation. Positive change usually comes with painful necessary sacrifice.”

On its own, the National Union of Textile, Garments and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria has cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari against the sale of the nation’s assets.

A member of the National Executive Council of the NLC, Mr. Issa Aremu, in a statement in Kaduna on Monday, said Nigeria was not short of resources, arguing that the nation lacked “genuine resourceful leaders at all levels”.

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

Government

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

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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

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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

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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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