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New Media Bill Meant to Gag Press Freedom – Stakeholders

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  • New Media Bill Meant to Gag Press Freedom – Stakeholders

Media practitioners have insisted that the Nigerian Press Council (Amendment) Act Bill is aimed at gagging press freedom.

This comes as Senate President Bukola Saraki has argued that the proposed legislation aims to curtail fake news.
At a public hearing on the bill in Abuja on Monday, media stakeholders under the aegis of Nigerian Press Organisation (NPO), argued that if passed, it will restrict press freedom in the country.

According to an argument advanced by the Senate committee, the new bill seeks to “expunge perceived draconian provisions of the extant law, amend some to fit current sensibilities, and insert new clauses to situate the practice of journalism inna modern context, in line with global standards.”

It further argued that it “would grant autonomy to the NPC, while creating an institutional framework for the enforcement of ethical codes and standards, as regulated by practitioners themselves.”

However, President of NPO, Nduka Obaigbena, who spoke on behalf of other media organs of the body, said, rather than engage itself in regulating the media, the Senate should “exercise its constitutional obligations as spelt out in Section 22 of the Constitution, by passing laws that will promote transparency, accountability and open government, such as mandatory delivery of the State of the Nation Address by the President and State of the State by Governors on specified days of the year.

“The Senate should ensure there is a law in Presidential and Governorship Election Debates before elections; complete transparency in election funding, including public declaration of sources of election finance by all candidates and political parties and ensuring the integrity of our electoral process.”

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who was represented by the Senate spokesman, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said the upper legislative chamber is advancing the empowerment of NPC to deal with “adverse impact of the so called fake news on the polity, and the potential to heighten tensions with respect to the various subnational conflict situations currently being experienced.”

Saraki said a revived NPC, will be “in a special position to safeguard Nigeria’s democracy from both extremes of the media spectrum. This is why we are working to ensure that the guiding Act endows the Council with all the powers it requires in order to carry out its mandate without hindrance.

“To this end, the bill is an attempt to correct existing deficiencies, revolutionise the NPC, and promote high ethical and professional standards for the Nigerian journalist.”

The position of the Senate President and sponsor of the bill, who doubles as chairman of the Senate committee on Information and National Orientation, Suleiman Adokwe, that the enactment of the bill will be in the interest of the press, was punctured by Obaigbena.

Obaigbena said since the case has advanced to the Supreme Court, the action of the Senate to repeal and reenact the Act, will be subjudice. He maintained that they opted to honour the invitation of the Senate committee out of respect for the parliament.

Attempts by the committee chairman, Adokwe to explain the novelty of the bill, was outrightly rejected by media stakeholders who were present at the hearing.

The existing NPC Act, was established through a military decree in 1992, when Ibrahim Babaginda held sway as head of state.

Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Guild of Editors (NGE), Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), International Press Council (IPC), Institute for Media and Society and Media and Law Centre, were represented at the hearing.

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.

Gold

Gold Hits Eight-Month Low as Global Optimism Grows Amid Rising Demand for Bitcoin

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Gold Struggles Ahead of Economic Recovery as Bitcoin, New Gold, Surges

Global haven asset, gold, declined to the lowest in more than eight months on Tuesday as signs of global economic recovery became glaring with rising bond yields.

The price of the precious metal declined to $1,718 per ounce during London trading on Thursday, down from $2,072 it traded in August as more investors continue to cut down on their holdings of the metal.

The previous metal usually performs poorly with rising yields on other assets like bonds, especially given the fact that gold does not provide streams of interest payments. Investors have been jumping on US bonds ahead of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, expected to stoke stronger US price growth.

We see the rising bond yields as a sign of economic optimism, which has also prompted gold investors to sell some of their positions,” said Carsten Menke of Julius Baer.

Another analyst from Commerzbank, Carsten Fritsch, said that “gold’s reputation appears to have been tarnished considerably by the heavy losses of recent weeks, as evidenced by the ongoing outflows from gold ETFs”.

Experts at Investors King believed the growing demand for Bitcoin, now called the new gold, and other cryptocurrencies in recent months by institutional investors is hurting gold attractiveness.

In a recent report, analysts at Citigroup have started projecting mainstream acceptance for the unregulated dominant cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.

The price of Bitcoin has rallied by 60 percent to $52,000 this year alone. While Ethereum has risen by over 660 percent in 2021.

 

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Extend Gains to $64.32 Ahead of OPEC+ Meeting

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Oil Prices Rise to $64.32 Amid Expected Output Extension

Oil prices extended gains during the early hours of Thursday trading session amid the possibility that OPEC+ producers might not increase output at a key meeting scheduled for later in the day and the drop in U.S refining.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigeria oil is priced, gained 0.4 percent or 27 cents to $64.32 per barrel as at 7:32 am Nigerian time on Thursday. While the U.S West Texas Intermediate gained 19 cents or 0.3 percent to $61.47 a barrel.

“Prices hinge on Russia’s and Saudi Arabia’s preference to add more crude oil production,” said Stephen Innes, global market strategist at Axi. “Perhaps more interesting is the lack of U.S. shale response to the higher crude oil prices, which is favourable for higher prices.”

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies, together known as OPEC+, are looking to extend production cuts into April against expected output increase due to the fragile state of the global oil market.

Oil traders and businesses had been expecting the oil cartel to ease production by around 500,000 barrels per day since January 2021 but because of the coronavirus risk and rising global uncertainties, OPEC+ was forced to role-over production cuts until March. Experts now expect that this could be extended to April given the global situation.

“OPEC+ is currently meeting to discuss its current supply agreement. This raised the spectre of a rollover in supply cuts, which also buoyed the market,” ANZ said in a report.

Meanwhile, U.S crude oil inventories rose by more than a record 21 million barrels last week as refining plunged to a record-low amid Texas weather that knocked out power from homes.

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Crude Oil

Oil Dips Below $62 in New York Though Banks Say Rally Can Extend

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Oil

Oil Dips Below $62 in New York Though Banks Say Rally Can Extend

Oil retreated from an earlier rally with investment banks and traders predicting the market can go significantly higher in the months to come.

Futures in New York pared much of an earlier increase to $63 a barrel as the dollar climbed and equities slipped. Bank of America said prices could reach $70 at some point this year, while Socar Trading SA sees global benchmark Brent hitting $80 a barrel before the end of the year as the glut of inventories built up during the Covid-19 pandemic is drained by the summer.

The loss of oil output after the big freeze in the U.S. should help the market firm as much of the world emerges from lockdowns, according to Trafigura Group. Inventory data due later Tuesday from the American Petroleum Institute and more from the Energy Department on Wednesday will shed more light on how the Texas freeze disrupted U.S. oil supply last week.

Oil has surged this year after Saudi Arabia pledged to unilaterally cut 1 million barrels a day in February and March, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicting the rally will accelerate as demand outpaces global supply. Russia and Riyadh, however, will next week once again head into an OPEC+ meeting with differing opinions about adding more crude to the market.

“The freeze in the U.S. has proved supportive as production was cut,” said Hans van Cleef, senior energy economist at ABN Amro. “We still expect that Russia will push for a significant rise in production,” which could soon weigh on prices, he said.

PRICES

  • West Texas Intermediate for April fell 27 cents to $61.43 a barrel at 9:20 a.m. New York time
  • Brent for April settlement fell 8 cents to $65.16

Brent’s prompt timespread firmed in a bullish backwardation structure to the widest in more than a year. The gap rose above $1 a barrel on Tuesday before easing to 87 cents. That compares with 25 cents at the start of the month.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and oil trader Vitol Group shot down talk of a new oil supercycle, though they said a lack of supply response will keep prices for crude prices firm in the short term.

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