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Onyeama: Qatar To Invest $5bn In Nigeria’s Economy

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The oil-rich state of Qatar is to invest a total of $5 billion in Nigeria’s economy, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Godfrey Onyeama, has disclosed.

Onyeama, who spoke Sunday at a send forth dinner in honour of Nigeria’s Ambassador-designate to the State of Qatar, who is also the outgoing Director of Protocol (DOP) at the State House, Ambassador Yakubu Ahmed, also stated that recent career ambassadorial appointments made by the gederal government was based on merit, experience and professionalism.

The minister further said there had been discussions with Qatar on partnership with Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), for significant investments in the region of $5 billion in the Nigerian economy.

According to him, ‘‘Qatar is a weighty and strategic country and very strategic in that part of the world and we are putting our best feet forward to advance the interest of our country economically and in other areas.”

He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had visited the State of Qatar in 2016 and the Emir of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hammad Al-Thani, reciprocated with a State visit in 2019.

Onyeama also explained that only trusted hands with a track record of diligence, experience and professionalism in the Foreign Service were recently appointed career ambassadors by the federal government.

The minister said the appointment of Ahmed and other career ambassadors were predicated on posting dedicated and keen Foreign Service practitioners to serve as image makers of the country.

He said: ‘‘Ambassador Yakubu Ahmed is a dedicated professional with a penchant for rigour and detail. He is very capable and one of the best in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is personable, affable, extremely friendly, dispassionate and objective.

‘‘He is going to head a very important mission, a very important country, reckoned to be one of the richest countries in the world, per capita, and there’s a lot we will be doing with the State of Qatar.”

Also speaking, the Deputy Chief of Staff, Adeola Rahman Ipaye, described the honoree as a ‘‘perfect gentleman, very even-natured and always well turned out’’.

Ipaye said he had no doubt that the newly appointed ambassador would serve the country well in Qatar, adding that: ‘‘We are further encouraged that when he completes this assignment, he would return to serve Nigeria in a higher capacity.’’

In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, while congratulating the outgoing DOP on his appointment, lauded Ahmed for excellent service to the State House and the nation.

‘‘He served this institution and the nation with the deepest sense of responsibility and it is very important that we establish a tradition where the system appreciates those who have served it well and those who will continue to serve it well,’’ he said.

Umar urged the new envoy to keep very fond memories of his time at the Presidential Villa, assuring him of the prayers and goodwill of all the staff.

Responding, Ahmed thanked President Buhari for the great honour and privilege of making him his principal representative in Doha, Qatar.

The Ambassador-designate pledged to deplore his energy and skill to the promotion of the existing cordial relationship between Nigeria and Qatar, particularly in the areas of economic, political, cultural and consular affairs as well as other key areas.

Ahmed, who joined Nigeria’s Foreign Service in 1993, said during his years in public service he had learnt that ‘‘patriotism, selfless service, diligence, determination and perseverance will always result in the achievement of the desired objective’’.

According to him, these virtues would be his ‘‘watchword’’ in the pursuit of Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives and the attainment of national interests.

The Ambassador-designate singled out for appreciation the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, and the state Chief of Protocol, Ambassador Lawal Kazaure, saying he had learnt a lot working under their mentorship.

He expressed gratitude to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Secretary, State House for giving him the opportunity of a memorable work experience in the State House.

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Economy

Cost of Servicing Nigeria’s Debt to N10.43 Trillion by 2025

Nigeria’s debt servicing was estimated to hit N10.43 trillion by 2025

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Nigeria’s debt servicing was estimated to hit N10.43 trillion by 2025, according to the 2023-2035 Medium Term Expenditure Framework & Fiscal Strategy Paper.

In 2021, Nigeria budgeted N3.32 trillion for debt servicing but spent N4.2 trillion in the first 11 months of the year, representing an increase of 37.9%, or N1.15 trillion.

While between January and April 2022, the country has already spent N1.94 trillion on debt servicing, against a retained revenue of N1.63 trillion. Meaning, Africa’s largest economy is presently spending more than its generating on debt.

Rising interest payments on debts might wipe out Nigeria’s entire earnings, said Ari Aisen, an IMF representative in Nigeria.

Aisen said, “The biggest critical aspect for Nigeria is that we have done a macro-fiscal stress test, and what you observe is the interest payments as a share of revenue, and as you see us in terms of the baseline from the federal government of Nigeria, the revenue of almost 100 per cent is projected by 2026 to be taken by debt service.

“So, the fiscal space or the amount of revenues that will be needed and this, without considering any shock, is that most of the revenues of the Federal Government are now, in fact, 89 per cent and it will continue if nothing is done to be taken by debt service.”

Similarly, Patience Oniha, the Director General of the Debt Management Office, said the country’s high debt servicing cost is affecting investment in the real economy.

According to the DMO DG, “High debt levels lead to heavy debt service which reduces resources available for investment in infrastructure and key sectors of the economy.”

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance Ahmed Zainab said the country is presently struggling with the rising cost of servicing debt despite the increase in revenue.

She said, “Already, we are struggling with being able to service debt because even though revenue is increasing, the expenditure has been increasing at a much higher rate, so it is a very difficult situation.”

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U.S Senate Passes $749 Billion Inflation Reduction Act

The United States Senate has voted in support of President Joe Biden’s $749 billion Inflation Reduction Act expected to rein in America’s over 40-year high inflation rate, support American families by reducing everyday energy costs and compel the richest corporations in America to pay their taxes.

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The United States Senate has voted in support of President Joe Biden’s $749 billion Inflation Reduction Act expected to rein in America’s over 40-year high inflation rate, support American families by reducing everyday energy costs and compel the richest corporations in America to pay their taxes.

Explaining the significance of the bill, the President said it will reduce the federal deficit by over $300 billion and cap seniors’ out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs at $2000 a year, no matter what their drug bills would otherwise be, seniors citizens will not pay more than $2000.

Also, 13 million Americans presently under the Affordable Care Act, will save $800 on their health insurance premium a year.

“This bill tackles inflation by lowering the deficit and lowering costs for regular families,” President Biden declared.

Americans earning below $400,000 a year will not pay any new taxes while the wealthiest corporations will now be paying 15% on income, estimated at $40 billion in 2020. The bill will ensure America invests $369 billion in clean energy and addresses the climate crisis.

“It also gives consumers a tax credit to buy any electric vehicle or fuel cell vehicle, new or used, and a tax credit for up to $7,500 if those vehicles were made in America.

“This investment in environmental justice is real. It also provides tax credits that will create thousands of good-paying jobs — manufacturing jobs on clean energy construction projects, solar projects, wind projects, clean hydrogen projects, carbon capture projects, and more — by giving tax credits for those who build these projects here in America,” President Biden stated.

Speaking on the milestone, President Joe Biden said “I ran for President promising to make government work for working families again, and that is what this bill does — period.”

President Biden would be expected to sign the Act into law once the House of Representatives passed it.

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Economy

NRC Suspends Train Service on Lagos-Kano, Ajaokuta Routes

The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has suspended train services on the Lagos- Kano and Ajaokuta routes.

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Lagos-Ibadan Train Services - Investors King

Following the recent terrorist attacks in various parts of the country, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has suspended train services on the Lagos- Kano and Ajaokuta routes.

Also, train services were reported to have been suspended at Ajaokuta station along the Warri-Itakpe route by the NRC after the attack on some passengers by gunmen on Monday.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Transportation and the NRC, the train services would be suspended until the security of those routes is assured.

The Managing Director for NRC, Fidet Okhiria, who confirmed the news about the suspension, noted that the corporation did not stop train services on the Warri-Itakpe route.

Okhiria said: “We have not stopped (services), rather what we said was that we are not going to be stopping at the Ajaokuta station.

“This is because on Monday, while passengers were leaving the station with their private cars and buses, they had people shooting at them. So we said we will not stop there again for passengers.

“The train is still running, but for now we will not be stopping at Ajaokuta because they have some concerns there.”

Investors King recalls that the NRC had, on 29th of March, suspended train service operations on the Abuja -Kaduna axis as a result of a terrorist attack that left about 8 dead, injured many and led to the kidnap of about 200 persons.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has hinted that as soon as all security measures are put in place, train services for the Abuja -Kaduna axis would resume.

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