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Ministry Official Alleges Neglect of Calabar Port

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From a money spinner, the Calabar Port is turning into a revenue loser following its littering with wrecks and an abandoned rig worth millions of dollars.

Activities were low. Two “critical” wrecks and the abandoned Delta Queen Rig were seen there.

A senior official of the Ministry of Finance (FMoF), who pleaded not to be named, said the Federal Government and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) should put the port into good use to revamp the economy.

The port, he alleged, has become an avenue for siphoning public fund.

He urgedPresident Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Minister of Transport, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, and the NPA to transform the port because of its importance to the nation.

The official said the port used to ba a money spinner. He told The Nation that between 2008 and last year, NPA generated $117,178,000 and over N2.2 billion from the port.

The breakdown of the amount generated in dollars and naira as exclusively obtained by The Nation is as follows: $26,529,000 and N203,438,000 in 2008.

Between 2009 and 2011, it was $37,522,000 and N898,737,000. In 2012 and 2013, it made $26,946,000 and N581,109,000. Between 2014 and last year, the port realised $26,197,000 and N540,942,000.

The official said: “It is sad that the multi-billion dollar investment at the port was rendered useless by the past management of the NPA.

“The amount generated between 2008 and last year by the agency showed that if the NPA is compelled to pay adequate attention to the port, more revenue would accrue to the government.

“If the several billions of naira collected by the NPA were judiciously invested in dredging the port, the channel will not remain shallow and difficult for big vessels to approach.

“It is sad that up till today, its channel remains shallow, and investors at the port have continued to count their losses,” the official said.

He accused some top past NPA officials of only interested in awarding contracts for dredging and re-dredging of the port without corresponding development of its infrastructure.

He alleged that poor work was done on the dredging of the channel.

The government, the official, lost a lot of revenue through the frequent dredging of the port.

But investigation revealed that the port has a comparative distance advantage to the Northeast than any port in the country.

While the distance between Cross River and Taraba states is 711km and the transit time is nine hours, 58 minutes; the distance from Port/Harcourt, Warri and Lagos to Taraba is 773km, 901km and 1,160km, and it takes 10 hours, 49 minutes; 12 hours, 4 minutes and 14 hours 24 minutes from each of the states to Taraba.

Findings also revealed that the distance from Cross River to Gombe state is 983km and the transit time is 13hrs,58mins; the distance from Port/Harcourt, Warri and Lagos to Gombe is 1,060km, 1,034km and 1,240km respectively, and it takes 14hrs, 15mins; 14hrs, 40mins and 16hrs 39mins from each of the states to Gombe.

Also, the distance from Calabar to Bauchi is 910km and the transit time 13 hours, 14 minutes. Whereas the distance from Port Harcourt, Warri and Lagos to Bauchi is 965km, 939km and 1,145km, and it takes 13 hours, 10 minutes; 13 hours, 36 minutes and 15 hours 34 minutes from each of the states to Bauchi.

Investigation further showed that the distance between Calabar and Adamawa is 865km with 11 hours, 57 minutes transit time. But the distance from Port Harcourt, Warri and Lagos to Adamawa is 927km, 1,055km and 1,314km, and it takes 12 hours, 49 minutes; 14 hours, 4 minutes and 16 hours 23 minutes from the states to Adamawa.

The story is the same from Calabar to Borno and Yobe states.

“There is no gain saying that Calabar Port is very strategic to the economic development of Nigeria particularly the Northcentral, Southsouth and Southeast regions of the country.

“Besides, when functional, it will increase the volume of vessel traffic and cargo throughput in the port, decongest Lagos ports and reduce cost of doing business for Calabar-based businessmen who spend additional transport cost to take delivery of their consignments in Lagos and Onne ports.

“The port is strategically located for imports and exports for distribution to other ports along the West/Central and Southern African coastline. The location of Calabar Free Trade Zone (CFTZ) in close proximity with the port speaks volumes for itself,” the official said.

He identified erosion, the length and the dredging of the 84km channel, the wrecks, the abandoned rig, insufficient tugs and pilot cutters, the deplorable Calabar/Itu/Aba road and the low height limitation of the Ikom bridge as the port’s major challenges, which should be fixed by the government to turn it to profit.

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.

Economy

COVID-19: CBN Injects N3.5 Trillion into the Economy

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CBN

CBN Stimulates the Economy With N3.5 Trillion as COVID-19 Impact Thickens

The Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday said it has so far injected N3.5 trillion into the Nigerian economy following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Africa’s largest economy.

Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, disclosed this on Tuesday after the nation’s monetary policy committee meeting.

So far, he said N216.87 billion was injected through the real sector funds; COVID-19 Targeted Credit Facility N73.69 billion; AGSMEIS N54.66 billion; pharmaceutical and healthcare support fund N44.47 billion; and creative industry financing initiative N2.93 billion.

Breaking down expenditure, under the real sector funds, he said 87 projects that comprises of 53 manufacturing, 21 agriculture and 13 services projects were funded.

While in the healthcare sector, 41 projects which include 16 pharmaceuticals and 25 hospitals and health care services were funded.

Under the Targeted Credit Facility, he explained that 120,074 applicants had received financial support for investment capital.

The Agri-Business/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS) intervention has been extended to a total of 14,638 applicants, while 250 SME businesses, predominantly the youths, have benefited from the creative industry financing initiative,” he said.

In addition to these initiatives, he said, the CBN was set to contribute over N1.8 trillion of the total sum of N2.3 trillion needed for the Federal Government’s one-year Economic Sustainability Plan, through its various financing interventions using the channels of Participating Financial Institutions.

Meanwhile, the monetary policy committee lowered interest rate by 100 basis points to stimulate growth and broaden economic productivity. The benchmarkt intrest rate was lowered from 12.5 percent to 11.5 percent.

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Labour to Begin Strike as FG Refuses to Back Down on Petrol Price, Electricity Tariffs

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Ayuba Wabba

Labour to Embark on Industrial Action to Force FG  to Reverse Increase in Petrol Price, Electricity Tariffs

The sudden increase in prices of fuel and electricity tariffs despite the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the Nigerian people has forced the Nigerian labour union once again to announce an industrial action to compel the Federal Government to emulate other economies easing COVID-19 impacts through various palliatives and measures.

Labour union on Tuesday set Monday for what it described as “unprecedented mass action” and “total strike” to get the government to reverse the hike in petrol pump price and the increased electricity tariffs.

At a meeting with members of the National Administrative Council, Presidents and General Secretaries, the Nigeria Labour Congress National Executive Council (NEC) agreed to embark on a total strike against what they described as anti-people policy.

While the ultimatum given to the federal government by Trade Union Congress (TUC) expired on Monday, TUC has extended it till Monday in line with NLC announced industrial action.

NLC President Ayuba Wabba, who read the communique of the meeting, said: “NEC resolved to reject in its entirety the issue of hike in electricity tariffs by almost 100 per cent as well as the fuel price increase in the name of full deregulation.

“This decision is premised on the fact that these twin decisions alongside other decisions of government including the increase of VAT by 7.5 per cent, numerous charges by commercial banks on depositors without any explanations will further impoverish Nigerian workers and citizens.

“Therefore, this increase, coming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, is not only ill-timed but counter-productive.

“NEC also observed that the privatisation of the electricity sub-sector seven years down the line has not yielded any positive result. Whereas, the entire privatisation process, the entire sector was sold at about N400 billion, we are surprised that government within the last four years injected N1.5 trillion over and above the amount that accrued from this important asset.

“Therefore, NEC came to the conclusion that the entire privatisation process has failed and the electricity hike is actually a process of continuous exploitation of Nigerians.

“On the issue of the refineries and also the increase in the pump price of PMS, this particular issue had been on the table for more than three decades and the argument has not changed.

“Whether it is the name of full deregulation or subsidy removal, what is obvious is that it is fuel price hike and this has further eroded the gains of the N30,000 minimum wage because it has spiral effects which include the high cost of food and services and the reduction in the purchasing power of ordinary Nigerians.

“While demanding that our three refineries should be made to work optimally, NEC also concluded that government has business in doing business because the primary purpose of governance is about the security and welfare of the people and if in other countries, governments are maintaining refineries, and they are working optimally for the benefit of the people, Nigeria cannot be an exception.

“In the light of these, NEC decided to endorse the two-week ultimatum given to the Federal Government to reverse those obnoxious decisions and also pronounce that the action proposed by the Central Working Committee is hereby endorsed by the NEC that 28th of September should be the date that those decisions should be challenged by the Nigerian workers, our civil society allies and other labour centres.”

“We’ll meet. We don’t want anything that will cause more financial pain to workers.”

Speaking on the matter and the reason for industrial action, TUC’s  President Quadri Olaleye and Secretary-General Comrade Musa-Lawal Ozigi, urged to Nigerians to get ready for the “unprecedented mass action”.

TUC said it resolved to work with the NLC and civil society allies because of the magnitude of the situation. Hence, it suspended the previously planned strike to join force with NLC and others.

Consequent upon this, the ultimatum which should expire by midnight of today (yesterday) has been shifted to 28th September 2020 for effective and maximum effect.

“We want to use this opportunity to call on Nigerians, especially those in the informal sector, to bear with us while the industrial action lasts.

“There is no need for the pains we bear. It is a needless one. They ask us to tighten our belts while they loosen theirs. Services are not rendered yet we are compelled to pay estimated bills.

“You will recall that this government during its electioneering campaigns in 2014 told the world there is nothing like subsidy. We were told that they will build refineries. All that is history now.

“We run a mono-economy and any hike in fuel automatically will have an adverse effect on us, yet successive governments tow that path because they are not creative.

“As at today, about eight states are yet to commence the payment of new minimum wage and its consequential adjustment even though the President signed it into law on April 18, 2019. We have written letters to the governors and also engaged them in dialogue but all to no avail. Sometimes we wonder if these people have a conscience at all.

“The Congress hereby appeals to all Nigerians to get ready for the unprecedented mass action against corruption, obnoxious policies, rape and other violent offences, breach of the collective agreement, unemployment, etc.

“We also call on the USA, UK, Germany, Spain, etc to support our struggle by placing indefinite visa ban on our political leaders whose stock in trade is to loot and impoverish the masses and the country. We can no longer take it. Enough is enough!”

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Economy

AfCFTA Must Be Backed by Legal Framework to Yield Desired Results -Lawan

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For AfCFTA to Achieve Expected Results, it must be Backed With Legal Framework

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has said for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to yield desired results, it must be backed by necessary legal frameworks, right policies and robust implementation.

The Senate President made the statement when the delegation from the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat led by Wamkele Keabetswe Mene visited him in Abuja.

Ahmad Lawan, who was represented by Prof Ajayi Boroffice, said Nigeria’s signed the AfCFTA agreement to benefit Africans and reduce the huge unemployment and underemployment facing the continent from South to West and East to North.

This high unemployment rate and underemployment rate, according to him, had led to the migration of some of Africa’s top brains and experts. He said the economies of African nations had been characterised by weak economic productivity, low efficiency and limited resources.

He described AfCFTA as “a step in the right direction for the growth of African economies, through limited restrictions, leading to the stimulation of trade, commerce, and industry”.

“In signing the AfCFTA, and depositing the instrument with the African Union Commission, our countries made a statement on the determination of our collective economic fate.

He, therefore, said the fate is now in our hands to deepen growth and development on the continent through requisite legal frameworks, right policies, and robust implementation.

The initial momentum from the signing of the agreement needs to be continued, for a greater continental impact, to benefit Africans, both on the continent and outside it,” he said.

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