​Ndume’s detention unacceptable

The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has reacted to the detention of Senator Ali Ndume and objected to its dubious legality under the law as well as in practice. 

They noted the dangerous  precedent set by the obvious bias in the ruling of the court that ordered the Senator’s detention.

“The evidence of bias is apparent in the order for Ndume’s detention while Senator Abaribe, former Deputy Senate President Ekweremmadu and others who stood bail for Nnamdi Kanu who was standing trial for treason were not ordered to forfeit the bail terms.

“This order further confirms the concerns for an entrenched moral corruption in the nation’s criminal justice administration system that is twisted to suit certain sectional interests of judges.

“Otherwise, there is no justification whatsoever, in a court, presumably the temple of justice applying same laws differently on citizens of the same country based on ethnic or sectional favours, CNG said in a statement signed by its Spokesperson Abdul-Azeez Suleiman.

The Group while fuming over what it described as professional impunity displayed by some judges, reminded the nation’s justice administrators that the law will fail to protect the society of it allows fanciful considerations to deflect the course of justice.

“There is nothing more bias than a situation where people of certain sections are not called to forfeit bail bonds entered on behalf of a terror group leader who has jumped bail while enforcing same on another person who stands surety for a financial offender just because he comes from an unfavoured section of the same country,” the statement said.

​Senate receives Buhari’s request to confirm INEC Chair for second term

The Senate on Tuesday received a request from President Muhammadu Buhari to confirm the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, for a second and final term in office.

The request was contained in a letter dated 21st October, 2020, and read on the floor by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan.

The letter reads: “In accordance with the provision of Section 154(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), I am pleased to present for confirmation by the Senate, the nomination of Professor Mahmood Yakubu for appointment as Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission for a second and final term.

“While hoping that the Senate will consider and confirm the reappointment of the nominee, please accept Distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

Meanwhile, the President in a separate letter, requested the upper chamber to confirm Professor Abdullahi Abdu Zuru as National Commissioner representing the North West in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

It reads:“Pursuant to paragraph 14 of Part I(F) of the Third Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), I am pleased to present to the Senate for confirmation, the appointment of Professor Abdullahi Abdu Zuru as National Commissioner, representing North West in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).”

“The Senate is invited to note that, this request is sequel to the resignation of Abubakar Ahmed Nahuche, National Commissioner representing North West, who served for four (4) years in the Commission,” Buhari added.

​Why FG stepped down restructuring of Nigeria by El-Rufai

The Kaduna State Governor and Chairman, APC restructuring committee, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai has revealed that the draft bill produced and submitted by his committee in January 2018 was stepped down for fear of politicization ahead of 2019 general elections.

But he was quick to add that some interested members of the ruling party were making frantic efforts to get the draft bill presented to the National Assembly for consideration before the end of the tenure of the present administration.

The Governor spoke while fielding questions at a panel discussion of the ongoing 26th Nigerian Economic Summit (NESG) holding at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.

He explained that the Committee made bold recommendations at the time and made a draft bill available for onward transmission to the National Assembly, which every lawmaker could take up and sponsor as a private bill.

According to him, we do not need Executive Bill to start action on the draft bill submitted by the Committee.

He insisted that it is position of the Party and the President to see the draft bill passed into law but assured that consideration of the bill would soon take-off.

For him, the consideration could be done in piece meal as we do not require an omnibus amendment of the constitution to restructure the country.

This is even as the Governor took a swipe at fellow northerners who are opposed to restructuring, saying that they are doing so for selfish purpose.

He pointed out that there is a difference between the position of northern elders forum against restructuring and northerners as a region.

The governor argued that there are over a 100 million northerners whose interest are at stake and maintained that whatever advantages an individual is getting for himself does not apply directly to the entire north.

“We have the highest number of out-of-school children. We have the highest poverty rate. We have the lowest JAMB cut-off rate. So, what are the advantages in the north in the current situation? As the governor of Kaduna State, I have had to look at these issues and try to see how I can get the people of my state up on the ladder. I think you need to differentiate the knowledge from a few and the voice of the silent majority” he said.

El-Rufai, however, regretted that certain people present restructuring in a derogatory way in a manner that portrays all the northerners as backward people.

“The way some people present restructuring is so insulting and derogatory. We should have an honest conversation on what is working and what is not. We don’t have anything to benefit making derogatory remarks on against a particular group of people because of restructuring.

“If there are northern leaders today by virtual of the fact that I am a governor, I must be there. So, who are these northerners against restructuring? Who are they? Who are they speaking for? So, let us have a very honest, unemotional conversation without looking down on people or insulting them or framing them” he noted.

On insecurity in the southern Kaduna, the governor posited that the violence in northern Kaduna is more devastating than the insecurity in southern Kaduna as perceived by the public.

He, however, declined to speak in details about the real causes of the violence, promising that he would make himself available only if a separate session would be arranged to discuss the issue.

“Though, the violence in southern Kaduna has been over-reported, the insecurity in northern Kaduna—- Birnin Gwari, is more than the ones in southern Kaduna. But the newspapers based in Lagos and Abuja choose to focus on southern Kaduna rather than what is really happening” he said, adding that the crisis is over 200 years old and cannot be tackled in a minute,’’ he added.

On population, El-Rufai argued that population can only be controlled through the education of the girl-child.

According to him, countries that controlled birthrate through legislation are now reversing it.

“There is a lot of debate on that because countries that have tried to curtail demographic growth like China have now reversed themselves. Singapore even pays you to have children. The current thinking in the developing economics is that population growth is not bad if you can ensure that population growth rate is faster and the population is educated and healthy.

“But at the state level we are all trying our best to reduce fertility level. And what is the best way? The best way is to educate girls. If you make sure that your girls are educated you immediately reduce fertility level. The way is to ensure that the girls get at least senior secondary school level because now they take their fate in their own hands. They start at least from the age of 18” he submitted.

​Amaechi apologies for Abuja-Kaduna train breakdown

Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi has apologised to Nigerians for the breakdown on the Abuja-Kaduna rail locomotives which occurred between November 18 and November 20.

The minister made the plea on Monday at the Moniya rail station during the routine inspection of the ongoing rail project in Ibadan.

“I want to apologise to Nigerians over what happened at the Abuja-Kaduna rail station.

“We now have new locomotives and we have called the Chinese because we never expected the mechanical fault at this early stage.

“On behalf of the Federal Government, the ministry and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), we apologise to Nigerians and I have instructed the NRC to fix it or invite the Chinese.

“If this is happening now, then they should bring back our old locomotives, it will just affect turnaround times because we get the new locomotive to increase the turnaround time,” he said.

Amaechi called for an increase in the pace of work by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) adding that Covid-19 pandemic was no longer an excuse.

The minister said although the CCECC were doing well, they need to increase their pace to enable the ministry to deliver the project on schedule.

The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Mrs Madeleine Ajani, said there was a significant improvement in the ongoing work from what it was in October.

Ajani said the ministry was not shifting their date of the commissioning but would rather put more pressure on the CCECC to enable them to achieve their targets.

She explained the need for Lagos to have standard gauge train due to the population adding that in less than one and a half hours that the train would move from Lagos to Ibadan.

Ajani said that the establishment of the Standard gauge railway would also decongest both the road transportation and movement of cargo from the ports while people living in Ibadan could come and work in Lagos on a daily basis

The Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation, Mr Fidet Okhiria, said there was an improvement in the construction output by the contractors adding ”hopefully by December some of the stations would be completed’’.

“We also need to have more stations so that passengers will not need to wait for the train to leave Ebute-Meta Station before getting to Agege station which means that the two trains can be in a section.

“This can be done with the help of signal and communication hence train should be able to communicate with train as well as station should be able to communicate with station simultaneously.

“The delay in the rail construction along Apapa ports corridors is due to the Oando pipeline along Apapa corridor,” Okhiria said.

He disclosed that the train would start operating from Lagos to Moniya in Ibadan by Dec. 7.

According to Okhiria, 24 coaches, four passenger locomotives, nine freight locomotives and shunting locomotives had arrived Lagos while two of the freight locomotives would be transferred to Warri for a project.

​Recession won’t last long — FG

The current recession will not last long, the federal government has said.

Addressing the 26th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES#26) organised by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group in concert with the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, the Minister, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said that the nation would exit the current recession lasted early next year.

The trend of the growth, though still negative, she argued, suggested: “this would be a short-lived recession, and indeed by the fourth or, at worst, the first quarter of 2021, the country will exit recession.”

She said that by the fourth quarter of this year or in the first quarter of 2021, Nigeria would exit recession.

This is Nigeria’s second recession in five years, but the Minister said the Federal Government expected the recession to be shallow and recovery to be V-shaped.

She said the recession was occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic which ravaged the entire world.

According to her, many other countries were also forced into recession because of the virus, stressing that with the outbreak of COVID-19, the Nigerian economy was experiencing sustained growth.

Mrs. Ahmed stated that the growth in the economy had been onnquaryerky basis, until the second quarter of 2020, when the impacts of the COVID-19 hit the economy hard.

Explaining that Nigeria was not alone in the woods, the minister noted that the nation had outperformed economies like the United Kingdom and others who went into recession in the aftermath of the pandemic.

She said that while the economy had entered into recession in the third quarter, the trend of the growth suggested that “this would be a short-lived recession, and indeed by the fourth or, at worst, the first quarter of 2021, the country will exit recession.”

The National Bureau of Statistics, NBS had on Saturday said that Nigeria’s economy had slipped into another recession, the second time since 2016 and the purportedly the worst since 1987

According to NBS, the economy shrank again in the third quarter, just like it did in the second quarter.

The nation’s economy posted a second consecutive negative growth, contracting by 3.62 per cent in the third quarter.

The minister said that the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recently published Quarter (Q3) 2020 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimates showed improved performance than the preceding quarter.

According to her, “Nigeria’s GDP declined by -3.62% (year-on-year) in real terms in the third quarter of 2020, following a much larger contraction of -6.10% in Q2 2020.

“Following the traditional definition, this second consecutive contraction in GDP means the Nigerian economy officially entered a recession at the end of Q3 2020, as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the national response to contain its spread, manifested across several sectors of the economy.

“While the decline of -3.62% (for 2020 Q3) and -2.69 percent (for the first 9 months of 2020) are unfavourable, it was better than the -6.01% earlier forecast by the National Bureau of Statistics and outperformed outturns from several domestic and international forecasts.

“Furthermore, this COVID-19 induced recession follows the pattern across the world where many countries have entered similar economic recessions.

“You will recall before the impact of COVID-19, the Nigerian economy had been experiencing sustained growth which was improving every quarter until Q2 2020 when the impacts of COVID-19 started to be felt.

“Other countries already in a recession like Nigeria include Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Russia, Spain, UK, and the USA.

“Most of these countries have recorded contractions much deeper than the Nigerian economy.

“It is also expected that South Africa that recorded a decline of over -50% in Q2 2020 compared to Nigeria of -6.10% will also enter a recession once its Q3 2020 results are announced.

“While the economy entered a recession in Q3 2020, the trend suggests this will be short-lived and by the end of the fourth quarter, we will return to positive growth.

“The exit from recession, it is anticipated, would be earlier than Q2 2021 forecast by the National Bureau of Statistics and some other domestic and international analysts.

“You will recall that the 2016 recession lasted for 5 quarters but, if trends continue, the current recession should last just one quarter.

“Our expectations of a quick exit, which would be historically fast, is anchored on the several complementary fiscal, real sector and monetary interventions proactively introduced by the government to forestall a far worse decline of the economy, and alleviate the negative consequences of the pandemic.

“While there is always a lag between intervention and outcome, we can already see benefits on the economy as recorded in the better-than-expected results for Q3 2020.”

Why the economy fell into recession again — Buhari

Declaring the submit open, President Mohammadu Buhamadu Buhari, who was represented by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo said the country slipped into the current recession as a result of the severity of the global downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic including lockdowns, disruption in global supply chains, business failures and rising unemployment after 12 successive quarters of positive growth.

‘‘It is no longer news of course that the economy officially entered into recession with the release of the 3rd quarter figures on Gross Domestic Product by the National Bureau of Statistics which showed a decline in growth by -3.62% in that quarter.

‘‘ We must bear in mind that this decline was after 12 successive quarters of positive growth and came about as a result of the severity of the global downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic including lockdowns, disruption in global supply chains, business failures, and rising unemployment.

‘‘We can all recall of course that during the lock-down, farming did not take place, businesses were closed, schools were closed as were hotels and restaurants.

‘‘Also, airlines stopped flying while inter-state commerce was disrupted.. the economy only began to recover when these activities resumed, and if we are able to sustain the nearly three percentage point increase from the second-quarter decline of —6.1% the performance in the 4th quarter could take us into positive territory.

‘‘It was to mitigate this impact that the Federal Government introduced the Economic Sustainability Plan. All the programmes in the ESP are reliant on the private sector playing a key role in creating and conserving jobs and the production and delivery of services in agriculture, housing, solar power, and digital technologies to mention just a few of the sectors. To take the example of agriculture, with the support of the banking sector, the Federal Government is working to organise finance for farmers and we are also guaranteeing uptake of produce. On its part, the private sector is responsible for the desired local production, provision of services, and associated logistics across the agricultural value chain.’’

Osinbajo, who recommended a partnership with private sector panacea to the current economic challenge, said: ‘‘We expect that the larger companies and firms operating in all sectors of the economy will also build on this spirit of partnership by supporting small businesses especially by including them in value chains as suppliers, distributors, contract manufacturers, and service providers amongst other things.’’

Adopt Chinese model, NESG urges FG

Earlier in his remarks, the Board Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Ighodalo, Mr. Asue Ighodalo urged the government to desist from explaining away and blaming the current economic decline on a “global pandemic,” adding that China has recorded economic growth despite the fact that COVID-19 pandemic started from China.

Still on China’s economic feat as a result of long-term planning and consistency in policy implementation, Ighodalo said, “And, as easy as it would be to explain away our continuing decline with the words “global pandemic”, I would challenge us to bear in mind that while the Nigerian economy is expected to contract by nearly 5%, the Chinese economy is on track to grow by over 1%, this year.’’

“This is despite China being the epicentre of the pandemic, with almost twice as many cases and four times as many deaths as we experienced.

“The Chinese economy, in fact, has not contracted since 1976. Its growth streak has lasted for over four decades, through the global financial crisis, trade wars with the United States, and now a pandemic that tore through their country first, before splintering out to others.

“China has shown us what a serious nation can do when it looks back on its history, resolves “never again” to fail its citizens, and forges forward with a sense of urgency, discipline and purpose.

“It is essential to note that this comparison with China is not misplaced.

“In 1983 Nigeria’s per capita income was double that of China, and today, despite its population, China’s per capita income is over five times that of Nigeria.

“So while there are many plausible rationalisations for the state of our economy, I would urge us to engage throughout this summit with the example of China etched firmly in our consciousness.

“They put behind them the failed “Great Leap Forward” policy that caused tens of millions of Chinese deaths and fixed their eyes forward on the task of becoming a global superpower.

“There was the audacity to their vision. It is also time that we put audacity to our vision.

“Please note that this is not an argument for us to copy and paste the Chinese model. Far from it, however, we must copy the Chinese spirit.

“A plan that worked for China four decades ago is unlikely to offer a viable blueprint for our own development today.

“The world has changed. However, if China can consistently grow and pull millions of her people out of poverty, why can’t we?”