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Tasking Nigerian academics on finding solution to the nation’s economic woes

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It is not an understatement to say that Nigeria’s economic problems have overwhelmed the current leadership of the country. Otherwise why would a loaf of bread that was sold at N300 a few months ago now sell at N1,500 and still counting.

Foodstuff generally has become luxury. Many families go to bed with empty stomachs on a daily basis and we don’t seem to see anything wrong with that.

And in the midst of this,our politicians are still cruising in affluence at the detriment of the poor masses,and we continue to pretend that all is well.

Everyday the current federal government led by Sen Ahmed Bola Tinubu continues to bring up one funny policy or the other. The latest being the payment of salaries to unemployed persons in the country. A nation that lacks such a database. At the last check the nationwide Census that so much money was sunk in the last administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was dumped at the zero hour for reasons Nigerians are yet to understand.

Political watchers are asking if the employed in the country are paid at all, before mooting unemployment allowances to applicants. Before now,it was student loans, the current myth is salaries to unemployed persons.

The question is, which of the policies have seen or will see the light of the day?

Where exactly have we gotten it wrong? Everything seems to be topsy turvy in Nigeria. Are we lacking human or material resources? The answer is capital NO. Then what is the problem?

We may be forced to believe and adduce that the missing link remains good leadership. And how do we get good leadership when our general elections are fraught with brazen irregularities, intentionally induced by ‘good-for-nothing politicians’ in connivance with corrupt  Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials who do not mean well for this country.

Why is it that every system that worked in the other climes shall never work in  Nigeria and still we pride ourselves as the giant of Africa? Our citadels, talking about the ivory tower, are almost like tourist centres. Lecturers are denied research allowances deliberately to stop them from carrying out their statutory roles of teaching, learning and research. Day in, day out, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) fights for survival.

It was recently revealed that most lecturers, including professors have been on the same salary scales for over fifteen years and only God knows if relief will ever come their way. Not to digress so much from the focus of this discourse, the fact remains that despite all odds, lecturers of Nigerian universities still come up with wonderful research findings, which in most cases are neglected or outrightly abandoned.

For instance, Prof Falilatu Taiwo Ademiluyi of the Chemical Engineering Department of the Rivers State University (RSU)  had after a painstaking research come up with the findings the fuel could be gotten from cassava as against crude oil, which she said is fast dwindling. According to the astute professor, cassava can be found in virtually all the 774 local government areas of the country, to simplify the production of fuel in Nigeria.

But have the authorities concerned taken cognisance of this all-important research finding,not to talk of putting it into practice? This, she said, would save us from the endless turnaround maintenance of the imported giant refineries that has over the years become obsolete and alleviate the sufferings of the masses. To what extent has this research finding been put into use?

Another renowned scholar, Prof Emmanuel Akubugwo of the Department of Biochemistry, Abia State University (ABSU) had in his inaugural lecture titled,”Living with Death:Fact or Fantasy” posited that man would be better off if he cultivates the attitude of living friendly with his environment. This, Prof Emmanuel Akubugwo said, could be achieved by maintaining a healthy lifestyle devoid of hazardous drugs, among others.

The question again is what have our leaders been doing with plethora of sound research from our Universities? Another Researcher from the Rivers State University, Mechanical Engineering Department, Prof Barinaadaa Thaddeus Lebele-Alawa after his research on thermal power, submitted that thermal power is critical to the development of any nation. In fact he described thermal power as the bedrock of human civilisation.

Again, where is that research finding and what has the Nigerian government done with it? These are just a few  emanating from some of our reservoirs of knowledge, across the country.

It is worth mentioning that all the universities across Nigeria are rolling out research findings on a daily basis and our political leaders are globetrotting looking for solutions or Messiah to our nagging economic problems. Is it intentional, omission or commission? Whatever be the case, someone should remind our leaders that technology is not transferable, you either develop your own to soothe your peculiar needs or you steal another person’s (country’s) own. And no wonder, Ajaokuta Steel industry has remained uncompleted for decades, with trillions of Naira sunken.

The Federal Government, ably led by President Ahmed Bola Tinubu should constitute a high power Committee, composed of intellectuals and technocrats to garner all the research findings from our universities,with a view to harnessing them for the development of the country. This is critical because posterity will not forgive us if we fail.

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Nigerians, economy will be liberated — Tinubu

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…Says no more payments of ransom to kidnappers

…As economic policies beginning to yield positive results

…’We must root out the scourge of kidnapping’

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has declared emphatically that there will be no more payments of ransom to either kidnappers “nor toward those policies which have trapped our people economically,” assuring that Nigerians and their economy will be liberated.

Tinubu stated these far reaching positions in an opinion reacting to the abduction of 276 Chibok school girls in the North east ten years ago by Boko Haram. The title of the write up is: Ten years since Chibok – Nigeria will no longer pay the price.

The President further declared that the scourge of kidnappings must be routed once and for all.

“As president, I have been clear that ransoms stop. Resolution through payment only perpetuates the wider problem. This extortion racket must be squeezed out of existence. Meanwhile, the costs for perpetrators must be raised: They will receive not a dime, and instead security services’ counter action.”

According to Tinubu when in March, 137 school children were again tragically taken from a school in Kaduna, northwestern Nigeria, ten years after Chibok the shadow of Chibok loomed large again, because everybody wondered why such an atrocity should still happen.

“This time, unlike Chibok, the girls and boys were brought back a fortnight later, the security and intelligence agencies deployed immediately to rescue them. Nevertheless, legitimate concerns over kidnappings persist in Africa’s most populous country. Success in Kaduna has brought families relief and praise for the military, yet the government bears no illusions.”

According to him, Boko Haram or any other criminal gang engaged in kidnapping don’t operate on the basis of any ideology, instead kidnapping has become an illegal industry rewarded with ransoms where perpetrators collect huge ransoms to further perpetuate their evil, adding that within days of the Kaduna attack for instance, the abductors were demanding 1 billion naira ($600,000).

“But compressing the kidnap for ransom market only addresses the pull factors. If we are to avoid funneling the same people into other crimes that cause normal Nigerians to feel insecure, we must address the push factors.”

The President identified the pull factors which must be addressed to discourage the continuation of the criminal elements as poverty, inequality, and a paucity of opportunity, because without addressing the issues criminal gangs can find easy recruits among those without either a job, or the prospect of one.

“Some 63 percent of Nigerians are multidimensionally poor. They are bearing the economic consequences of a failure by successive governments to get to grips with the Nigerian economy. Fiscal and monetary albatrosses have grounded the country’s flight, when surging demographics demand high economic growth to just maintain current standards of living,” Tinubu said.

He disclosed that it is in response to creating a conducive environment to stimulate economic growth for a surging population and check pervading poverty that his administration took some drastic steps by way of economic policies whose initial impact seem to have worsened the economic plight of citizens but now gradually yielding positive effect.

Just like with the kidnapping matter he also had to take some tough policy decisions on the economy as well to arrest the economic rot that lies at the heart of insecurity.

“A decades-old fuel subsidy was exhausting paltry public finances. By 2022, the cost had ballooned to $10 billion — more than the government’s combined spending on education, health care, and infrastructure in a budget of $40 billion. Currency controls that artificially propped up the naira deterred investment and led to shortages of foreign exchange. For decades we have been financially ransoming ourselves. When my government took office last May, we faced a pile of debt obligations.

“Just as with kidnappers, we had to be tough with the economy. Unsustainable market distortions had to be removed. As expected, floating the naira caused it to plunge. Given Nigeria is a net food importer, the average shopping basket has consequently risen in price. The removal of the fuel subsidy, in a country where many businesses and households rely on generators for power, has also had far reaching effects.

“These reforms have caused pain across Nigeria; they are still painful. Yet there is no better alternative: These and other difficult reforms are necessary to arrest the economic rot that lies at the heart of insecurity.

“Green shoots are now visible. In the first quarter of this year, foreign currency inflows have almost matched those for the whole of last year. A multi-billion forex backlog at the central bank has been cleared, giving foreign investors’ confidence to invest in Africa’s largest economy, safe in the knowledge they can repatriate earnings. The naira has begun to stabilise after its initial downward trend and has made huge gains against the dollar.

“Talk of macroeconomics might seem remote from the challenge of insecurity. But without the fundamentals in place, it is impossible for an enabling environment where the private sector thrives, jobs are created, and opportunity is spread across the country. It is how we ensure children can go to school without fear,” the President said.

Reiterating that no more ransom payments and no going back on major economic policies taken so far that have already started impacting positively on the economy.

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StanbicIBTC declares N2.20 dividend to shareholders

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StanbicIBTC Nigeria has declared to pay its shareholders a final dividend of N2.20 per ordinary share of 50k each, totaling N28.51 billion for the period ended Dec. 31, 2023.
Mr Chidi Okezie, Company Secretary, StanbicIBTC, announced this in a disclosure sent to the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. (NGX) on Thursday in Lagos.
Okezie said that the proposed dividend, to be paid in April 19, is subject to deduction of appropriate withholding tax and approval.
He said that shareholders whose names appear in the register
of members as at the close of business on April 19 would be paid their dividend.
According to him, this is in addition to the interim dividend of N1.50 paid in September 2023, thus bringing the 2023 total dividend to N3.70.
Okezie said, “The register of shareholders will be closed from April 22 to April 26.
“On May 17, dividends will be paid electronically to shareholders whose names appear on the register of members as at close of business.
“On April 19, shareholders who have completed the e-dividend registration and mandated the Registrar to pay their dividends directly into their bank accounts would be paid.
“E-dividend registration shareholders who are yet to complete the e-dividend registration are advised to download the Registrar’s E-dividend Mandate Activation Form.
“Shareholders with dividend warrants and share certificates that have remained unclaimed or are yet to be presented for payment or returned for validation are advised to complete the e-dividend registration or contact the Registrars,”Olezie said.
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NERC increases electric tariff

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By Matthew Denis

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has granted permission for electricity tariff hike for customers categorized under Band A classification.

During a press briefing in Abuja on Wednesday Musliu Oseni, NERC’s Vice Chairman, announced that customers will now pay N225 per kilowatt-hour, up from the current rate of N66.

According to Oseni, customers represents 15 percent of the 12 million electricity customers in the country.

He explained that the commission had also downgraded some customers on the Band A to Band B due to non-fulfilment of the required hours of electricity provided by the electricity distribution company.

“We currently have 800 feeders that are categorised as Band A, but it will now be reduced to under 500. This means that 17 percent now qualify as Band A feeders. These feeders only service 15 percent of total electricity customers connected to the feeders.”

According to him the commission has issued an order which is titled April supplementary order and the commission allows a 235 kilowatt per hour.”

He added that the review will not affect customers on the other Bands.

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