- N760.17b Refund: NLC to Name Indicted Governors
Workers are angry with governors who blew their state’s share of the N760.17 billion Paris Club loan refund.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s comment on how states failed to pay salaries despite the huge cash injection has provoked the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). It is threatening to “name and shame” governors who failed to spend the refund on salaries and pension.
Besides, the President should demand that the governors account for the money before any further release is made to them, the NLC said yesterday.
NLC President Ayuba Wabba said it was unfortunate that despite their promises to pay workers’ salaries and pension, the governors refused to live by their word.
He said that some of the governors had even refused to disclose how much they received and how it was spent.
Wabba accused the Chairman of the Governors Forum, Zamfara State Governor Abdulazeez Yari, who made a commitment on behalf of his colleagues of not spending the money judiciously.
He said the President was reacting to its letter asking him not to approve the release of the third and last tranche of the fund to the governors until they account for what they have received.
Wabba said: “It is our letter he was reacting to. At our CWC meeting, we called on him not to release the last tranche of the Paris Club refund to the states because the governors have not kept their word.
“You remember that Chairman of the Governors Forum alluded to the fact that they are committed to using the money to address the liability of pension and salaries. Unfortunately, the Chairman of the Governors Forum has not lived up to those words.
“As you are aware, our workers in Zamfara have shut down the state. He himself who made the pronouncement could not honour the words that he pronounced on behalf of his colleagues. That is to show the level of deceit that is actually in the system and that is why we decided to write to the President to ensure that there is a level of accountability to show that he is actually on the same page with the governors.
“Before the second tranche was released, they made commitments and used the payment of workers salaries and pensions as a bait to get the President to approve and get the money across to them. But immediately they got the money, majority of them diverted the money. Right now, we have a standard data as to what the situation is in all states of the Federation.
“Let me make the point that some has actually judiciously untilised their own, but some states… have refused to make available how much they received.”
Wabba recalled that at the Kogi State House of Assembly, a member raised a motion to demand accountability on the Paris Club refund “and that resulted in the chaos we witnessed in the Assembly. That member had his head broken and the Speaker removed. That is the level of decay that is prevailing in some of those states.
“It means that Mr President is in touch with the real issues that is happening in every state. The fact that he is aware that some of the governors have not utilised the money in the direction that he appealed to them means that he is aware of what is happening.”
The NLC chief spoke also on the use of consultants to get the refund.
He said: “We learnt that about 5 per cent was deducted from source and used for the payment of consultants which eventually ended up in people’s pockets. We are also aware of those who diverted the money to build hotels and pay mortgages. It is really a bad situation.
“If we must fight corruption, those issues are issues that we must follow up and fight to their logical conclusion.
“In some of the states, our members used the Freedom of Information Act to demand how these money was utilised, but there has been no responses and I think that is most unfortunate. We have records of those states. We have also promised that we are going to name and shame those states that have not adequately utilized the bailout.
“We are working on the data and once they are ready, we will make them, available and we are going to engage states that have not transparently utilised the bailout fund for the purpose that it was meant for and for the benefit of their people. That is where we are now… that is why the situation of workers have not improved.
“ Let me emphasied that some states have done extremely well and we are going to point this out very clearly.”
CBN Predicts 2 Percent Growth for Nigeria in 2021
Despite the economic recession and numerous uncertainties encompassing Nigeria in recent months, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said the nation will grow by 2 percent in 2021.
Speaking at the 2020 bankers’ dinner organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Godwin Emefiele, the Governor, CBN, said implemented government intervention programmes will aid the nation’s recovery by next year.
Emefiele further stated that the intervention efforts represent around 3.5 percent of Nigeria’s current Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He said, “Our actions in 2021 would be guided by the considerations that emerged from the Monetary Policy Committee meeting of November 23 & 24, 2020, which sought to address the major headwinds exerting downward pressure on output growth and upward pressure on domestic prices.”
On fast declining foreign reserves, the Governor said the institution has adopted a demand management framework designed to boost the production of items that can be produced locally and aid conservation of external reserves.
“Due to the unprecedented nature of the shock, we continued to favour a gradual liberalisation of the foreign exchange market in order to smoothen exchange rate volatility and mitigate the impact which rapid changes in the exchange rate could have on key macro-economic variables,” Emefiele stated.
The CBN projection came few weeks after the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)’s report showed Africa’s largest economy contracted by 3.62 percent in the third quarter following a 6.10 percent decline posted in the second quarter. Nigeria officially slid into the worse economic recession in almost 30 years and the second economic recession under the current administration.
While, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has projected that Nigeria would rebound from the recession in this final quarter or the very first quarter of 2021, falling revenue generation, rising capital flight amid weak demand due to the negative impact of coronavirus on earnings, household incomes and lack of jobs remain a concern.
COVID-19 Vaccine: Crude Oil Extends Gain to $48 Per Barrel on Wednesday
Oil prices rose further on Wednesday as hope for an effective COVID-19 vaccine and the news that the United States of America’s President-elect, Joe Biden has begun transition to the White House bolstered crude oil demand.
Brent crude oil, a Nigerian type of oil, gained 1.63 percent or 78 cents to $48.64 per barrel at 11:50 am Nigerian time on Wednesday.
The United States West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil rose by 1.36 percent or 61 cents to $45.52 per barrel.
OPEC Basket surged the most in terms of gain, adding 3.16 percent or $1.37 to $44.75 per barrel.
This was after AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech announced the positive results of their trials.
Moderna and Pfizer had claimed over 90 percent effective rate in trials while AstraZeneca said its COVID-19 vaccine was 70 percent effective in trials but could hit 90 percent going forward.
“The possibility of having a vaccine next year increases the odds that we’re going to see demand return in the new year,” said Phil Flynn, senior analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.
Also, the decision of President-elect Joe Biden to bring Janet Yellen, the former Chair of Federal Reserve, back as a Treasury Secretary of the United States is fueling demand and strong confidence across global financial markets.
“President-elect Biden’s cabinet choices, particularly Janet Yellen’s Treasury Secretary position, are adding to upside momentum across a broad space of asset classes,” said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates.
Seyi Makinde Proposes N266.6 Billion Budget for Oyo State in 2021
The Executive Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, has presented the Oyo State Budget Proposal for the 2021 Fiscal Year to the Oyo State House of Assembly on Monday.
The proposed budget titled “Budget of Continued Consolidation” was said to be prepared with input from stakeholders in all seven geopolitical zones of Oyo state.
Governor Makinde disclosed this via his official Twitter handle @seyiamakinde.
According to the governor, the proposed recurrent expenditure stood at N136,262,990,009.41 while the proposed capital expenditure was N130,381,283,295.63. Bringing the total proposed budget to N266,6444,273,305.04.
The administration aimed to implement at least 70 percent of the proposed budget if approved.
He said “The total budgeted sum is ₦266,644,273,305.04. The Recurrent Expenditure is ₦136,262,990,009.41 while the Capital Expenditure is ₦130,381,283,295.63. We are again, aiming for at least 70% implementation of the budget.”
He added that “It was my honour to present the Oyo State Budget Proposal for the 2021 Fiscal Year to the Oyo State House of Assembly, today. This Budget of Continued Consolidation was prepared with input from stakeholders in all seven geopolitical zones of our state.”
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