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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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Remittances To Africa Projected to Drop By 5.4% in 2021: UNECA

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According to a new report from United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), remittances to Africa are projected to drop by 5.4 percent to $41 billion in 2021 from $44 billion last year.

The report notes that the bleak situation has been compounded by the high cost of sending money to Africa from abroad, as the cost of remittances to Africa remains the highest in the world at 8.9 percent.

Remittances are an essential part of economic activity in low and middle-income countries (LMIC), including Africa. Due to the economic crisis induced by the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown, global remittances are projected to decline sharply by about 20 percent in 2020. For Africa, remittances are projected to drop by 5.4 percent to $41 billion in 2021 from $44 billion last year, according to a new report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) projects remittances.

The report, titled “African regional review of the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration”, notes that the projected fall is mainly due to a fall in the wages and employment of migrant workers, who tend to be more vulnerable to loss of employment and wages amid the pandemic.

The report adds that the bleak situation has been compounded by the high cost of sending money to Africa from abroad as the cost of remittances to Africa remains the highest in the world at 8.9 percent.

“A migrant sending $200 to his/her family in Africa pays an estimated nine percent of the value of the transaction, indicating that the continent is still far from achieving the three percent target set out in Sustainable Development Goal 10,” the report stated.

This signals huge deficits in millions of African households depending on their friends and relatives abroad for a financial lifeline, thus threatening a perpetuation of macroeconomic imbalances on the continent.

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development and Sustainable Development Goal indicator 10(c) provides that countries should, by 2030, reduce to less than three percent the transaction costs of migrant remittances and eliminate remittance corridors with costs higher than five percent.

In response, some African countries have taken action to lower the costs of remittance transfers by offering diaspora bonds to investors and relaxing foreign exchange controls to allow for electronic and mobile money transfers at reduced costs.

“It should be noted, in that regard, that the use of digital money transfer platforms reduces transfer fees in Africa by an average of 7 percent,” says the report.

“Private financial institutions also offer incentives to encourage members of diaspora communities to use their services, including low transaction fees for remittances, and facilitate diaspora-initiated projects, especially in the real estate sector. These measures all promote the financial inclusion of migrants and their families.”

The report recommends that member States support migrants and their families through adopting laws and regulations to facilitate the sending and receiving of remittances, including by fostering competition among banks and other remittance handling agencies to establish low-cost transfer mechanisms.

In addition, the report recommends that African countries make every effort to reduce the transfer costs associated with remittance payments by making more extensive use of digital transfer solutions, such as MPESA, and by streamlining the regulatory constraints associated with international money transfers.

Finally, the report concludes that the African States should also engage with destination countries to identify ways to enhance the provision of basic services to migrants in those countries as remittances are a primary source of national income for at least 25 African countries, all of which have large diaspora populations.

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Nigeria’s Inflation Rate Declines to 17.01 Percent in August 2021

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Lagos Nigeria - Investors King

Prices moderated further in Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, in the month of August despite rising costs and growing economic uncertainties.

Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures inflation rate, grew by 17.01 percent year-on-year in August 2021, representing a 0.37 percent decrease when compared to the 17.38 percent recorded in the month of July 2021.

On a monthly basis, inflation rate increased by 1.02 percent in August 2021, slightly higher by 0.09 percent than the 0.93 percent filed in July, the National Buruea of Statistics (NBS) stated in its latest report.

Prices of goods and services continued to drop on paper in recent months even as costs are hitting record highs across most sectors in Nigeria.

Naira has plunged to a record-low against the United States Dollar and other global currencies following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s decision to halt sale of forex to Bureau De Change Operators in an effort to curb illicit financial flows and forex supplies to the black market.

Naira plunged to N560 per United States Dollar at the black on Wednesday to set a new record low against the greenback and subsequently dragged on cost of import goods and profit of import dependent businesses.

Food Index also rose at a slower pace in August 2021 even with Nigerians complaining of over 50 percent increase in the price of food items. Food composite index rose by 20.30 percent in August, at a slower pace when compared to 21.03 percent recorded in the month of July 2021.

The rise in food index were caused by increases in prices of Bread and cereals, Milk, cheese and egg, Oils and fats, Potatoes, yam and other tuber, Food product n.e.c, Meat and Coffee, tea and cocoa, according to the NBS report.

On a monthly basis, the food sub-index grew by 1.06 percent in August 2021, representing an increase of 0.20 percent from 0.86 percent filed in the month of July 2021.

Looking at a more stable food index guage, the twelve-month period ending August 2021 over the previous twelve-month average, food index increased by 0.34 percent from 20.16 percent achieved in July 2021 to 20.50 percent in August 2021.

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Glo to Reconstruct 64km Ota-Idiroko Road Using Tax Credit Scheme – Fashola

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Tax Credit - Investors King

Mobile telecommunications giant, Globacom, has offered to reconstruct the 64 km Ota-Idiroko road in 2022, using Federal Government’s Tax Credit Scheme.

The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, announced this on Wednesday during an inspection tour of the ongoing reconstruction of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

“From Ota to Idiroko, we don’t have a contract there, but Chief Mike Adenuga of Globacom has offered to construct that road using the tax credit system.

“So, that has also started, they are doing the design, and hopefully, by sometime early next year, they should mobilize to site. The real reconstruction is going to happen if we have a deal with Glo,” Fashola said.

He said that FERMA would carry out rehabilitation works on the Ota-Idiroko road between October and December.

“But between now and December, FERMA has gone to take measurements there and they will move there from the end of September if the Ogun State Government does two things.

“Clear all the squatters, traders, and the settlers on the road and help us manage traffic and the governor as at last night has committed to doing that for us,” the minister said.

He said efforts were on to bring in Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc and Unilever to reconstruct the Badagry link to the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta road under the Tax Credit Scheme of the Federal Government.

The minister said that the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta road had become a problematic road due to years of neglect by previous administrations, as such the highway required a huge investment.

He commended Gov. Dapo Abiodun for his passion for fixing roads in Ogun State, adding that the reconstruction of the failed portions of the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta road would be completed by December at the cost of N13. 4 billion.

The minister added that the project would be handled by the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA).

He called on federal lawmakers representing Lagos and Ogun States to ensure increased budgetary allocation for the roads to ensure their speedy completion to ease the hardship on road users.

“When people say Fashola is looking away, I am not looking away, I just can’t find the money,” he said.

He also called for support of citizens for parliamentarians to ensure more borrowing for infrastructure upgrades because the future depends on development strides today.

Also speaking during the inspection tour, Gov. Dapo Abiodun of Ogun said that the project became necessary because Ogun is the industrial hub of the nation that needed good roads for interconnectivity to boost commerce.

He said: “We have given the commitment that we will relocate traders, we will control and manage traffic, whatever that it is we need to do, we will ensure that we begin to bring succor and needed relief to our people.

“The state of that road today is pitiable. I went on that road myself and I felt bad for our citizens.”

Abiodun said the state government was ready to borrow to reconstruct the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta Road should there be a delay in the Sukuk funding for the highway.

“If this Sukuk bond would not happen immediately, the state government is willing to go and borrow against that promise so that we can mobilize the contractor,” he said.

He thanked Fashola for the efforts to reconstruct roads in the state and pledged the support of the state government in fixing the highways.

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