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Presidency Clarifies Buhari Stance on Opening Grazing

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Cattle farming

President Muhammadu Buhari is opposed to open grazing of cattle, the presidency said yesterday in an apparent effort to douse the rising critique of its statement on Monday, quoting the president as querying the legality of Southern governors’ ban on open grazing.

Presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, while fielding questions on ARISE NEWS CHANNEL, said many people misconstrued Buhari’s views on the Southern governors’ resolutions at their May 11 meeting in Asaba, Delta State as an endorsement of open grazing.

Hours before the clarification from the presidency, the Monday statement had drawn flaks from the Southern governors; the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere; and some senior lawyers.

The presidency statement by Shehu had questioned the legality of the Southern governors’ resolutions, in which they, among others, banned open grazing of cattle in the South.

The statement quoted Buhari as dismissing the ban, while accusing the 17 Southern governors of not proffering any solution to the intractable farmer-herder conflicts, largely driven by open grazing of cattle.

The presidency announced Buhari’s approval for ranching and revival of grazing reserves nationwide.

But the Chairman of the Southern Governors’ Forum and Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, yesterday fired back at the presidency, warning that no land in the South will be ceded to those he described “as a band of invaders masquerading as herdsmen under any guise.”

The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) also maintained its earlier stance that the ban on open grazing was in the best interest of all Nigerians.

But Benue State Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, yesterday kicked against the presidential decision to revive grazing reserves, saying that the reserves, created when Nigeria had a population of 50 million have since been taken over by airports, schools, roads, hospitals and other infrastructure.

Some senior lawyers also faulted Buhari’s opposition to the open grazing ban, alleging ethnic bias.

However, in an effort to douse tension generated by his statement, Shehu told ARISE NEWS Channel that Buhari would want to see an end to the archaic practice of open grazing of cattle.

He added that the objective of the president and that of the governors fully align.

However, he stated that the only difference between the positions of both parties is the approach to achieving the aim, adding that the president is insistent that it should be done in an organised manner.

He said: “The president wants to see an end to open grazing; he wants to see ranching; but he wants it in a way that’s organised and he has a plan for it and the plan will take off in June.”

According to him, all the ongoing attacks on the president are from people who are in the mood for a public fight.

He said states that were able to meet the minimum requirements would be encouraged to embark on ranching, and expressed optimism that those opposed to ranching will change their minds when it becomes fully functional.

Shehu said the president viewed open grazing as old-fashioned and was looking forward to a replacement for the medieval practice.

But he reiterated that banning open grazing without an alternative is not a good approach to the issue.

He said the president was worried about the crisis generated by the matter, adding that the generalisation of every herder as criminals is not the right thing to do.

While admitting that the ranks of the nomads had been infiltrated with people now bearing AK-47 rifles to kill and maim, Shehu called for calm as the issue won’t be solved by public show of strength.

“Let us stop this shadow boxing. You just brought one or two people here who said things that nobody said from our own end. Did the president say he didn’t support…? He’s opposed to the way the governors have chosen to do it,” he said.

On state policing, Shehu said the president was initially concerned that governors who are unable to pay salaries to their workers want to give guns to police set up by them, adding that if it is what Nigerians want, the president would have no option but to support it.

“You hire a policeman. Give him a gun and for one year, you don’t pay salaries, like you are doing to your teachers, that’s a problem,” Shehu stated.

Besides, he added that to implement state policing will require amending the 1999 Constitution, and Buhari has never rejected constitution amendments.

On restructuring, he stated that the All Progressives Congress (APC) wasn’t against devolution of power, as that is the work of the legislature to do.

He also dismissed speculations that Buhari was interested in extending his tenure, saying that those raising doubts over whether or not elections will hold in 2023 are doing so because they are unelectable.

Shehu also said he was not aware of any shoot-on-sight order against Igbo, adding that the rumour is meant to provoke unnecessary public anger.

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Economy

Kenya Receives $750 Million Loan from World Bank to Boost Economic Recovery

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World Bank Loan - Investors King

Kenya has received a $750 million loan from the World Bank to support its budget and help the East African economy recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the multilateral lender said on Friday.

The Kenyan government has been pushing hard to secure foreign funding to fill a wide budget deficit before its financial year closes at the end of this month.

The $750 million disbursement is part of World Bank’s Development Policy Operations (DPO), which lends cash for budget support instead of financing specific projects.

The bank said some of the funds would go towards setting up an electronic procurement system for government goods and services to improve transparency.

The World Bank said the concessional loan will have a 3.1% annual interest rate. Typically, World Bank loans have zero or very low interest rates and have repayment periods of 25 to 40 years, with a five- or 10-year grace period.

On Thursday, Finance Minister Ukur Yatani presented to parliament the 2021/22 budget, with a deficit of 7.5% of gross domestic product, reduced from 8.7% for the current fiscal year ending this month.

The finance ministry forecasts a economic growth of 6.6% this year, recovering from 0.6% in 2020 when sectors like tourism and related services collapsed due to restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The World Bank forecasts Kenya’s economy will grow 4.5% this year, and 4.7% in 2022.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, who took the helm in 2013, has overseen a jump in public borrowing. Total debt stands at 70% of GDP, up from about 45% when he took over – a surge that some politicians and economists say is saddling future generations with too much debt.

The government has defended the increased borrowing, saying the country must invest in its infrastructure, including roads and railways.

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FG Spends N612.7 Billion on Domestic Debt Servicing in Q1 2021

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Naira Exchange Rates - Investors King

The latest report from the Debt Management Office (DMO) has revealed that the Federal Government spent a total sum of N612.71 billion on domestic debt servicing in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021.

In the report released on Wednesday, the DMO said the Federal Government paid holders of mature Nigerian Treasury Bills (NTB) N17.23 billion in January, N12.3 billion in February and N5.49 billion in March 2021. Indicating that the Federal Government paid a combined sum of N35.03 billion to NTB holders in Q1 2021.

Similarly, the Federal Government paid N537.783 billion to holders of Federal Government of Nigeria bonds in three instalments of N201.95 billion in January, N79.26 billion in February and N256.58 billion in March 2021.

The Federal Government also paid N308.38 million in three tranches to subscribers of mature FGN Savings Bond. FG paid N111.65 million in January, N97.074 million in February and N99.65 million in March 2021.

Another N8.16 billion was used to settle FGN Sukuk Rentals in March 2021. No payment was made in January and February 2021.

The Federal Government released N31.44 billion as principal repayment “in respect of promissory notes during the quarter under review.

A monthly breakdown revealed that a total sum of N219.29 billion was released to service domestic debts in January, N123.09 billion in February and N270.33 billion in March. Therefore, bringing the total amount spent on domestic debt servicing in the first quarter of 2021 to N612.71 billion.

Nigeria’s total debt rose to N33.1 trillion in the first quarter of 2021, according to the report released by the DMO.

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Economy

Togo, Niger, Others to Acquire Nigeria’s Idle Electricity

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Electricity - Investors King

Four West African nations are collaborating to acquire unutilised power produced in Nigeria, stated Sule Abdulaziz, the Chairman of the Executive Board of the West African Power Pool (WAPP).

Abdulaziz, who doubled as the acting Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, listed the four West African nations as Niger, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso.

He said the nations were collaborating to make the purchase via the Northcore Power Transmission Line presently under construction.

Abdulaziz disclosed this at the WAPP meeting held on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said, “The power we will be selling is the power that is not needed in Nigeria.

“The electricity generators that are going to supply power to this transmission line are going to generate that power specifically for this project. So, it is unutilised power.”

The WAPP chairman said the country was expecting new generators to take part in the energy export for the 875km 330KV Northcore transmission line from Nigeria through Niger, Togo, Benin to Burkina Faso.

Abdulaziz said, “In addition, there are some communities that are under the line route, about 611 of them, which will be getting power so that there won’t be just a transmission line passing without impact.”

He further stated that the project, financed by the World Bank, French Development Council and the African Development Bank, had recorded progress, saying that the energy ministers would be addressing security issues for the project at another meeting in Abuja.

He added that “Nigeria has the greatest advantage among these countries because the electricity is going to be exported from Nigerian Gencos (generation companies).

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