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2023: Experts urge FG to improve energy, value addition, suitable business environment



Experts in the financial sector have called on the Federal Government to improve the nation’s energy sector, value addition for agricultural products and provide suitable business environment to rebound in 2023.
They spoke in separate interviews with newsmen on Sunday in Ibadan, while reviewing the 2022 economic performances.
A financial expert, Mr Tunji Adepeju, said that the country still has the carryover effect of COVID-19, after the lockdown, the ongoing Russia and Ukraine War.
“It has affected a lot of economies, not only Nigeria, but the rest of the world,” Adepeju said.
He said that some of the challenges facing the country grappled included flooding in some states.
According to him, this forced a lot of farmers to abandon their places and led them to the IDP camp; with these, we had a lot of problems as far as food is concerned.
“Coupled with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)’s strike, which extended for eight months, affected not only the students, but businesses operating in the school’s environment and many people were out of jobs due to this.
“Also, a high rate of oil theft came to light officially, which was one of the setbacks for the Nigerian economy; even, to the extent that some pipelines were diverted, some were created from the upstream and people were just bunkering oil.
“It affected what the government had budgeted as oil production per barrel per day, as this target couldn’t be met; this, in turn affected the revenue projection,” Adepeju said.
According to him, in 2022 the country also had problems arising from the political parties’ primaries and toward the end of the year, we redesigned the Naira. All these had their effect on the economy.
“To a large extent, one will say poverty is still very much with us. While some people are living in the opulent, majority of the people are living in poverty,” he said.
“On ways forward, Adepeju said the new administration coming on board after the general elections, have a lot of work to do.
“It may have to remove fuel subsidies and people would have to pay the real price; even, now, lots of people are not buying at N175 or N180, but as high as N250 per litre or N300 per litre in some places.
“As Nigerians, we may have to prepare our minds for the removal of subsidies, because, in the end, it will pay us better.
“The government can not find education alone. The incoming administration has to do a lot to improve transportation; on road, rail and water and provide energy for the populace.
“Government should not pay lip service to agriculture; roads to the farms have to be in good shape.
“Stop turning farmlands into GRA, that is Government Reservation Area, which would be shared among top government functionaries and civil servants, to be sold later on at very exorbitant prices.
“To provide inputs for farmers and encourage value addition, even animal husbandry, government needs to make policies that will make it viable,” he said.
On foreign exchange rates, Adepeju said there was nothing much that the government could do until our refineries were working, because “a lot of dollars go into importation of petroleum products”.
He said, “If our refineries start to work in the first quarter of the year 2023 most likely the exchange rate will drop.”
On currency redesign, Adepeju lamented that some bank executives were not making things to work well, because not many Nigerians have seen the new naira notes.
“If things will go on well, the banks need to push out the bulk of these new naira notes into circulation. The ATMs are still dispensing the same old naira notes.
“Those who want to frustrate the CBN’s Naira redesign project should rethink,” he advised.
Another financial expert, Mr Sola Famakinwa, said that the country’s economy faced a great challenge in 2022 due to high inflation rate and insecurity.
“Others are low revenue in oil, effects of Russia and Ukraine War leading to a hike in food and oil prices,” Famakinwa said.
He cited the World Bank Report that puts Nigeria’s inflation rate as the highest in the world.
“The Report also says an additional six million are now below the poverty line. In 2023, the government should come up with policies that would help the country to overcome the present challenges.
“Also, government should encourage small businesses and the private sector by reducing the tax rate, raising capital with low interest rates, as well as improving the energy sector.
“Increase its export to gain more foreign exchange, improve oil production and reduce oil theft and improve security in the country.
“And fight corruption in both public and private sectors. All these would help to rebound the Nigerian economy,” Famakinwa said.
Also, Dr Kingsley Obiora, the Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), identified COVID-19 as part of the issues affecting the global economy, including Nigeria, as it metamorphosed from a public health crisis to a global economic crisis.
Obiora said that inflation had remained above comfortable levels and that the exchange rate had been under pressure for a while.
“While some have been scapegoating the CBN for the recent dollar exchange rate, it is good to bear in mind that exchange rate mostly reflects our collective decision and action, rather than the policies of the CBN itself,” he said.
Obiora noted that the demand and supply of U.S dollars in the 70s and 80s, compared to now, had increased significantly, hence, the high exchange rate.
The CBN deputy governor said that data from the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, indicated that the numbers of Nigerian students studying abroad increased from less than 15,000 in 1998 to over 71, 000 in 2015 and by 2018 the number had risen to 96,702 students, according to the World Bank.
“Today, a sizable amount of foreign exchange requests, received by Nigerian banks for school fees and even, for primary and secondary schools education are from the neighbouring African countries.
“In light of the above, it is no wonder that foreign education cost the country a whopping 28.65 billion dollars from 2010 to 2020, according to the CBN balance of payments statistics.
“Even, with this staggering amount, it all appears that we are still ever willing to send our children abroad for education that they can acquire at home,” Obiora said.
He said that, according to the UK’s Home Office, which monitored students’ visas to UK, Nigerian students received 8,354 visas in 2019, “and by June 2022, this same office had issued 65,929 visas to Nigerian students.
“If you assume that each of these students needs 40,000 dollars per annum for tuition, flight, accommodation, clothing, food and educational materials, as well as general upkeep, it means that we, as a nation, would need to send an additional £2.3 billion to UK every year.
“These are the realities that put our exchange rate under pressure,” Obiora said.


Ogun Govt sympathises with victims of Ado Odo/Ota over rainstorm destruction



…’We’re in touch with IBEDC for prompt action’

Ogun State  Government said it  is in touch with the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) to ensure the immediate fixing of poles damaged as a result of rainstorm occasioned by Sunday’s downpour in some parts of Sango in Ado Odo/Ota Local Government Area of the state.

The government, in a statement signed by the Special Adviser on Media, Hon. Kayode Akinmade said a team from the state government was in the area on Monday to physically ascertain the extent of damage and to know how to engage with IBEDC, as well as sympathising with victims.

Akinmade noted the cables had not been energised before the destruction, which saved lots of lives.

“Our team went on physical site inspection of the affected area on Monday to ascertain the extent of the damage and to know how to engage with the IBEDC team.

“We are currently working with the IBEDC team led by the Regional Manager and the Technical Head for the Ogun Region. Some of the less affected feeders have been restored and energised while the clean-up of the most affected areas has already started.

“Most of the poles on the roads have been removed while the remaining will be taken out today (Wednesday). We are working with IBEDC to ensure there will be full restoration of power in Sango Ota before the week runs out.

“The government is not relenting in its effort to make sure that we restore power to Sango Ota and its environs and we can assure the citizens that we are on top on the matter.

“We, therefore, commiserate with those whose properties were destroyed by the fallen poles, as the government urged those living in the area to remain calm.”

Residents of lyana lyesi, Osuke Town, Egan Road, lyana Ilogbo, Ijaba, Ijagba, Itele, Lafenwa, Singer, Joju, Alishiba, Oju Ore, Tollgate, Eledi, Akeja, Abebi, Osi Roundabout, Ota Town, Ota Industrial Estate, Igberen, lju, Atan, Onipanu, Obasanjo, Lusada, Arigba, Odugbe, Ado-Odo, Igbesa, Owode. Olokuta, Hanushi, Bamtish Camp Lufiwape, Eltees Farm, August Engineering, Spark Cear Soap Ayetoro, Amazing Grace Oil, Christopher University, Royal Garden Estate were affected by the disaster.

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Ortom urges Alia to work with SGF for more democracy dividends in Benue



By Titus Atondu, Makurdi

The former Governor of Benue State, Chief Samuel Ortom, has called on his successor, Governor Hyacinth Alia to work in synergy  with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF), Sen George Akume for sustainable democracy dividends to the state.

 Ortom made the call in Makurdi  while speaking at the public lecture organised by his former aides on the occasion of his 63rd birthday.

Ortom described Sen George Akume as a true father, his leader and mentor and attributed all his achievements in life to the SGF.

He  also thanked Governor Hyacinth Alia for his good will message on his birthday and warned that Benue state has not had the position of SGF in the past and called on Governor Alia to embrace and work with him to enable the state to benefit from the position.

“Benue is our state, we have no other state and no one will come from anywhere to bring peace to Benue.

“Alia must sheathe his sword and find ways to work with the SGF so that all of us can enjoy the dividends of that position,” Ortom maintained.

He noted that elections were conducted and won, litigation were entered and God gave him victory saying, “It is his responsibility to do the needful so that Benue state will be at peace.”

Ortom expressed worry  that Benue is under siege and the governor alone or the SGF and himself cannot fight it alone without working collectively. He therefore noted that, “We are available if we are called upon to support or add value to the peace efforts of the government so that our people can live and enjoy the dividends of democracy.”

He  enjoined Benue people to pray for their leaders, Ortom said, “If I had my way, I would have given everyone the opportunity to be the Governor even in a few days.

“The challenges are enormous. You would not understand the challenges we go through but when you are there, you will understand the issues better.

“Nigeria is passing through very difficult times and that was what I was fighting against and I’m happy that people appreciated what we were doing,” he explained.

He appreciated his former appointees for organising the celebration of his 63 birthday anniversary in his honour.

“I’m very humbled by this special lecture on my 63 birthday celebration. This is not my first but this is the first time I’m witnessing a lecture and I must say that I’m pleased and enriched with all that was said here.

“I was taken unawares. You have made me know that I am appreciated. I thought I was used and dumped. I’m grateful to God for the eight years in office. I did everything with the fear of God, with equity, justice and fairness.

“I must have stepped on toes and those I know and those I didn’t know, I ask for forgiveness. I am humbled by this programme and further encouraged by your presence, kind words and prayers,” Ortom testified.

Guest Lecturer, Prof Samuel Aghalino, in the department of History and International Studies, University of Ilorin who is also the President Historical Society of Nigeria said, “Ortom was that Governor with a face cap. Anyone with a face cap is a revolutionary.

“Ortom played a significant role in extending politics beyond the borders of the state.

“He is one of the few politicians that stood in defense of his people, and was passionate in standing for human value while also demonstrating uncommon leadership.

“He was committed to the wellbeing of his people and stood vehemently, against the then government for murdering justice, fairness, equity and accountability, adding that Ortom expressed a rare readiness to cooperate with the investigations.

“He was a servant leader at a great cost to himself. At a time, during the Buhari administration, the doors of Aso Rock, the seat of power was shut against him for speaking the truth to power and holding the powerful accountable. I wonder how he survived.

“Ortom believes that politicians do not have to strive to be perfect to provide good governance to the people because only God is perfect. In his mind, you only have to love the people, therefore when it comes to democratic considerations, Ortom represents the school of thought that existence must take precedence over essence in governance.”

He said Ortom will be remembered by his people for the numerous things he has done and still doing.

Nigerian NewsDirect reports that the lecture was graced by prominent personalities like the former Attorney General of the federation and minister of Justice, Mike Aondakaa, Speaker, Plateau State House of Assembly, Gabriel Dewan, Member representing Apa-Agatu Federal Constituency, Pastor, Ojotu Ojema, Former Deputy Governor, Engr Benson Abounu, representatives of the Tor Tiv, Professor James Ayatse, Ter Gwer Dominic Akpete, the Ochidoma, Ogabaidu John Elaigwu represented by Dr Chris Ijale among others

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Katsina Gov. tasks corps members on nation building, cultism



By Matthew Denis

The Governor of Katsina State, Mallam Dikko Umaru Radda has tasked National Youth Service Corps members deployed to the State for the one year national service to strive towards nation building.

This is contained in a statement signed by Director, Press and Public Relations, Eddy Megwa, to the governor and made available to journalists on Wednesday.

He also lauded the immense contributions of successive batches of corps members to the socio-economic development of Katsina State over the years, especially through corps members community development service projects and also increasing the manpower needs in schools and in the industrial sector across the State.

Governor Raddah disclosed this at the NYSC Katsina State Orientation Camp, while speaking through his Deputy, Alhaji Farouk Lawal Jobe during the swearing-in ceremony of the prospective corps members deployed to the State.

The Governor urged the corps members to embrace the opportunities of the orientation course to prepare themselves for leadership responsibilities.

“I challenge you to live up to the standard already set by your predecessors. It is my belief that the orientation lectures will stimulate you to strive for the socio-economic development of our country.

“I urge you to see the opportunity of your call to service as a rare opportunity and your commitment to the Oath of Allegiance to your fatherland”, he said.

He also advised the corps members to shun cultism, political and religious intolerance with other forms of anti-social behaviour.

The NYSC Katsina State Coordinator, Hajiya Aisha Muhammad in her address stated that the orientation course is the first among the cardinal programmes of the NYSC, which was designed to prepare corps members for the challenges of the service year and beyond.

She added that the orientation course, which is a regimented environment has over the years been able to inculcate in the youth, the spirit of positive citizenship, leadership values including the ideals of commitment to national assignment, patriotism, integrity, diligence and loyalty to the fatherland.

“I enjoin you to obey all camp rules and regulations as any erring corps member will be referred to the Camp court for appropriate sanctions in line with the provision of the NYSC by-laws,” She added.

The Coordinator also said a total of 1,410 prospective corps members comprising 715 males and 695 females were deployed to the State.

The Director General of National Youth Service Corps, Brigadier General YD Ahmed who was among the dignitaries that witnessed the swearing-in ceremony earlier in the day implored the corps members to take full advantage of the NYSC Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) programme and acquire at least a skill while in camp.

The DG added that skills acquisition is the remedy to the increasing youth unemployment in the country.

General Ahmed who urged the corps members to be security conscious at all times also advised them to obey the cultural beliefs of their host communities.

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