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How 10trn intervention funds by previous administrations damaged Nigeria’s economy — Cardoso

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…As CBN raises benchmark interest rate to record 22.75%

…Forensic analysis fingers $2.4bn false FX claims

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has explained that an estimated sum of N10 trillion naira interventions funded by the CBN by previous administrations has done a great harm to the economy.

Speaking during the first Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting of the year, Cardoso noted that the interventions dome in time past has two dysfunctions.

According to him, the interventions are time wasting and are areas the CBN has no business dealing with since it lacks expertise.

He also added that the interventions created a lot of distortions in the economy through inflows of money supply.

“The interventions are estimated to be over 10 trillion naira. What was the budget of the federal government of Nigeria? What was the budget of the largest state in Nigeria? This would tell you the extent of damage it has done to the economy,” he lamented.

Recall that Cardoso last year at the Annual Bankers dinner held in Lagos said the CBN under his watch will not focus on programmes outside its mandates.

He said, “I am aware that events over the past few years have also put the CBN in a bad light. These issues can be attributed to various factors, such as corporate governance failures, diminished institutional autonomy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, a deviation from the core mandate of the Bank, unorthodox use of monetary tools, an inefficient and opaque foreign exchange market that hindered clear access, a foray into fiscal activities under the cover of development finance activities. There was also a lack of clarity in the relationship between fiscal and monetary policies, among other challenges.

“Hitherto, the CBN had strayed from its core mandates and was engaged in quasi-fiscal activities that pumped over 10 trillion naira in the economy through almost different initiatives in sectors ranging from agriculture, aviation, power, youth and many others. These clearly distracted the Bank from achieving its own objectives and took it into areas where it clearly had limited expertise.

“Under my leadership, the Central Bank of Nigeria will vigorously address these issues. We will tackle institutional deficiencies, restore corporate governance, strengthen regulations, and implement prudent policies. We assure investors and the business community that the economy will experience significant stability in the short-to-medium term as we recalibrate our policy toolkits and implement far-reaching measures,” He had promised.

His recent statement, thus, brings even more limelight to his fidelity to focus strictly on monetary policy.

…As CBN raises benchmark interest rate to record 22.75%

Following the two-day meeting, Cardoso stated that the committee had unanimously agreed to adjust the asymmetric corridor around the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) to +100 to -700 from the previous range of plus 100 to -300 basis points. Additionally, the cash reserve ratio was raised from 32.5 percent to 45 percent.

Addressing journalists at the end of the two-day meeting in Abuja, Cardoso said the committee voted to adjust the asymmetric corridor around the MPR to +100 to -700 from plus 100 to -300 basis points and raised the cash reserve ratio from 32.5 percent to 45 percent.

He said, “All 12 members of the committee decided to further tighten monetary policy by raising the MPR by 400 basis points to 22.75 percent from 18.75 percent. Adjust the asymmetric corridor around the MPR to +100 to -700 from plus 100 to -300 basis points.”

“The committee also raised the cash reserve ratio from 32.5 per cent to 45 per cent while retaining the liquidity ratio at 30 per cent.”

At the last meeting in July 2023, the MPC, headed by the former acting governor of the apex bank, Folashodun Shonubi, increased the monetary policy rate by 25 basis points to 18.75 percent, from 18.5 percent in May last year.

The capital requirement ratio was retained at 32.5 percent while the liquidity ratio stood at 30 percent.

Since then, the MPR has risen from 13 percent in May 2022 to 18.75 percent in July 2023 when the last MPC was held.

Analysts’ expectations had been divergent ahead of the first MPC meeting, but the new rate surpassed all projections by financial experts.

According to a Reuters poll released on Friday, Nigeria is expected to implement two aggressive interest rate hikes in less than two months to control inflation and strengthen the naira, following a few missed monetary policy sessions.

It said the policy rate is expected to increase by 225 basis points to 21.00 percent despite the local currency still trading near its record low on the black market.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had said interest rates needed to be reduced to increase investment and consumer purchasing in ways that sustain the economy at a higher level.

…As forensic analysis reveals $2.4bn false FX claims

The Governor also disclosed that contrary to wide speculations $2.4 billion of FX claims were not valid after the bank instituted a forensic audit of the claims.

Cardoso made this known when he announced that the Apex Bank has paid an additional $400 million of valid foreign exchange (FX) backlog to individuals and businesses who were genuinely identified.

He stated, “In terms of the backlog, we are committed to clearing the backlog of identified and genuine requests that are pending. We are committed to doing that and I can tell you that just today, we paid out $0.4 billion to those that were identified, and we are committed to continuing doing so in one form or the other to those genuinely identified and proven cases.”

The Governor of the CBN upon assumption into office was faced with an FX backlog in the region of $7 billion. However, the Governor stated in an interview that the legitimate FX obligation of the bank stood at over $4 billion of which the bank had cleared around $2.3 billion with up to $2.2 billion remaining.

Under the guidance of Yemi Cardoso, the CBN has implemented a series of reforms with the goal of rebuilding trust in the bank, stabilising the naira, and managing inflation.

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Ogun Assembly passes Assembly Commission Amendment bill

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The Ogun House of Assembly on Wednesday passed the State House of Assembly Service Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2024.

The passage of the bill followed  presentation of the Committee’s report by the Chairman, House Committee on Establishments and Public Service Matters, Mr Babatunde Tella at plenary in Abeokuta.

Tella moved the motion for its adoption, seconded by Mr Adeyanju Adegoke and supported by all the members.

The bill was later read and adopted clause by clause before the Committee of Whole.

The Majority Leader, Mr Yusuf Sheriff, moved the motion for the third reading of the bill, seconded by the Minority Leader, Mr Lukmon Adeleye and supported by the Whole House through a unanimous voice vote.

Consequently, the Deputy Clerk of the House, Mrs Funmilayo Adeyemi, took the third reading of the bill before the lawmakers.

The Speaker, Mr Oludaisi Elemide, directed that the clean copy of the bill be forwarded to Gov. Dapo Abiodun for his assent.

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Abuja court gives EFCC go-ahead to arrest ex-Kogi Governor, Yahaya Bello

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A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, ordered that a warrant be issued to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for immediate arrest of former Governor of Kogi, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.

Justice Emeka Nwite, in a ruling on EFCC’s ex-parte motion, held that after listening to the submission of commission’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, and reading the affidavit in support of the motion, including the exhibits and written address, he was inclined to grant the application.

It was earlier reported that a High Court sitting in Lokoja on Wednesday, restrained the EFCC from arresting, detaining and prosecuting Bello

Justice I.A Jamil, who gave the order in a two-hour judgment delivered in suit no HCL/68/M/2020, held that infringing on Bello’s “fundamental human rights is null and void.”

The judge, who dismissed the commission’s application challenging the jurisdiction of the court, said: “By this order, the EFCC is hereby restrained from arresting, detaining and prosecuting the applicant.

“This is a definite order following the earlier interim injunction given.”

However, in a ruling delivered by Justice Nwite on Wednesday, the judge ordered that a warrant be issued to the commission for Bello’s immediate arrest.

He also directed that the former governor be produced before the court on April 18 for arraignment.

“It is hereby ordered as follows:

“That an order of this honourable court is hereby made directing and/or issuing a warrant for the immediate arrest of the defendant for the purpose of bringing him before this honourable court for arraignment.

“That case is adjourned to 18th day of April, 2024 for arraignment,” he declared.

NAN reports that the EFCC, in the motion ex-parte marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/98/2024 dated April 16 and filed April 17, sought six orders.

These include “an order granting leave to the complainant/applicant to effect service of the charge together with the proof of evidence on the defendant by substituted means to wit; by pasting the charge at the last known address of the defendant within the jurisdiction of this honourable court being: 9, Benghazi Street, Wuse Zone 4, Abuja.

“An order directing and/or issuing an arrest warrant for the immediate arrest of the defendant for the purpose of bringing him before this honourable court for arraignment.”

In the alternative, the anti-graft agency sought an order issuing and directing the publishing of a public summons requiring/ commanding the defendant to appear before the court on a named date, among others.

The conflicting orders came after the EFCC had appealed against the initial order, and the appeal was scheduled for hearing on April 22 in Appeal No: CA/ABJ/CV/175/2024 between EFCC and Alhaji Yahaya Bello.

The Yahaya Bello Media Office had, in a statement signed by Onogwu Mohammed, alerted the nation to a siege on the former Governor’s Abuja residence.

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Zulum approves N1.3bn scholarship for 997 nursing, midwifery students

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Gov. Babagana Zulum, of Borno has approved the release of N1.3billion as scholarship for 997 nursing and midwifery students from the state.

Zulum stated this on Wednesday while inaugurating the scholarship programme at the College of Nursing and Midwifery, Maiduguri.

He said that out of the 1,080 nominations, 40 from each of the 27 local government areas of the state, 997 qualified to benefit from the scholarship.

He also announced that the 997 beneficiaries of the scholarship would receive automatic employment after graduation.

The governor said that the support was to encourage the students to complete their studies so as to bridge the workforce demand in the state’s healthcare system.

“The government has allocated  N1,305,189,000 for scholarship, with a breakdown of N124,149,000 earmarked for tuition fees, the remaining N1,181,040,000 will be disbursed as monthly stipend of N30,000 to each beneficiary throughout their studies,” Zulum said.

He added that N201 million bursary allowance would be given to 2,010 nursing and midwifery students who did not benefited from the scholarship, and directed that each of them should receive N100,000.

Zulum, who stated that ongoing construction of two colleges of nursing would be completed this year, inaugurated a lecture theatre complex and a 3,000-capacity multipurpose hall at the college.

Earlier, Lawan Wakilbe, the Commissioner for Education, said that the government had approved over N6 billion scholarship, out of which about N2.7 billion was disbursed to students from the state studying in higher institutions across the country.

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