​COVID-19: Another lockdown’ll wound economy — CBN

…Worries over rising public debt
The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, yesterday warned the Federal Government (FG) against imposing another total lockdown of the country, saying such a move would be catastrophic to Nigerians and the economy.

Meanwhile, the apex bank has retained the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) at 11.5 per cent, the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) at 27.5 per cent, the Liquidity Ratio (LR) at 30 per cent and the asymmetric corridor of +100/-700 basis points around the MPR.

These were contained in the statement of the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, at the end of the apex bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) first meeting of the year in Abuja yesterday.

Consequences of total lockdown

Emefiele stated: “While expressing understanding of the public health dilemma of the recent spike in infections (COVID-19), MPC encouraged the government not to consider a wholesome lockdown of the Nigerian economy so as not to reverse the current gains of the stimulus earlier provided in 2020.”

Giving more reasons why a total lockdown is not advisable, he explained: “As long as we see that there is second wave of COVID-19 even in Nigeria, while we are trying to convince government not to adopt the wholesome lockdown because that will be catastrophic for everybody and the economy, we would extend by 12 months again interest rate of five percent for CBN intervention funds.

“It will result in losses for us particularly if we see yields going up but we think these should be also CBN contributions to ensure that interest rate particularly for our intervention funds which are targeted to either households, or SMEs, Agric, Health sector, pharmaceuticals, that will increase manufacturing output, we would continue to support it, we would continue to do so”.

Why policy rates were retained

Speaking on the rationale for retaining the MPR and other policy rates at current levels for the second time since September last year, the CBN Governor stated: “The MPC was of the view, that whereas there may be wisdom in loosening, given that the impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in constrained activities, disruption to supply chain and suppress aggregate demand, an accommodative stance may be required to stimulate credit expansion and boost recovery in the short term.

“The Committee was also of the view that an expansionary policy would enable the monetary authorities to convince the financial institutions to reduce loan pricing and defer interest and principal repayments to critically affected obligors in a sustainable manner.

“On the flip side, MPC also opined that an aggressive expansionary stance may worsen both inflation and the negative real interest rate, thereby resulting in negative consequences on exchange rate.

“With regard to tightening, MPC concluded that this may run contrary to its objectives of providing affordable credit to households, MSMEs, Agriculture, and other output growth and employment stimulating sectors of the economy.

“MPC was therefore of the view that it should pursue its current stance of systematic synchronization of monetary and fiscal policy accommodation through its developmental finance initiatives, aimed at mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Nigerians.”

Injects N2trn into the economy

Stressing that the monetary policy in 2021 will be focussed on measures to boost economic growth, Emefiele disclosed that the apex bank has already injected N2 trillion into the economy through its various intervention funds.

He said: “In light of the on-going synchronized efforts by the monetary and fiscal authorities to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bank has committed substantial amount of money towards this objective. Indeed, total disbursements as at January 2021 amounted to N2.0 trillion.

“COVID-19 Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) meant for household and small businesses, wherein we have disbursed N192.64 billion to 426,016 beneficiaries. We have also disbursed N106.96 billion to 27,956 beneficiaries under the Agri-Business Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS), while in the Health Care Support Intervention Facility, we have disbursed N72.96 billion to 73 project that comprise 26 pharmaceutical projects and 47 Hospitals and Health Care Services Project in the country.

“To support the provision of employment opportunities for the Nigerian youth, the Central Bank of Nigeria also provided financial support through the Creative Industry Financing Initiative and Nigerian Youth Investment Fund amounting to N3.12 billion with 320 beneficiaries and N268 million with 395 beneficiaries, respectively.

“On enhancing power supply, the Bank has so far, provided N18.58 billion for the procurement of 347,853 electricity reading meters to Discos in support of the National Mass Metering Programme.”

Concerns over N32trn debt

The MPC also expressed concern over the nation’s huge public debt which stood at N52.2 trillion as at the end of September last year, the committee advised the FG to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to boost economic growth and government revenue.

Emefiele said: “Committee expressed concern over the rising public debt stock, as recurrent expenditure remained relatively high, compared with capital expenditure, thus, signalling future debt servicing challenges.

“To improve Government revenue sources and investment in capital, the Committee called on the Government to take advantage of the take-off of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which could boost domestic production and generate sizeable revenues for Government, as well as improve domestic productivity and competitiveness.”

Repatriation of export proceeds

Speaking of efforts by the CBN to foreign exchange supply into the country, Emefiele said the apex bank has set a deadline of January 31st this year for all exporters to comply with the requirements of Form NXP by repatriating proceeds of their exports into the country.

He said: Going forward we will give more support to export sector financing at a concessionary interest rate so that these people and companies can generate export proceeds that will come to fund our obligations in the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window.

“And we are going to ensure that if you are an exporter you must complete the NXP form. Because if you want to import into Nigeria today, tangible items, you must fill Form M, IF you want to pay for intangible items, you must fill Form A, by our regulation, if you want to export, you must fill NXP. “We will no longer tolerate any situation where people want to conduct export activities, without filling the NXP. form.

“We have held several engagements with Nigerian Customs, we have held several engagements with the shipping lines, and they have committed that no export will be done without completing NXP, because NXP is the only way we can regulate the export activities taking place in the country.

“Through NXPs we will know those who have repatriated or those who have not repatriated their export proceeds into the country.

“We have been begging, cajoling, through moral suasion, telling those who have exported to repatriate their export proceeds.

“The CBN will not tolerate it if you conduct an export activity and you keep the dollars abroad. You are by law mandated to repatriate those export proceeds into Nigeria.

“If you refuse to, the CBN has the powers by law to prevent you from conducting banking activities in the Nigerian banking industry, and we would do so. We have a target of January 31st for everybody to comply”.

​Borno Gov Zulum welcomes new service chiefs

Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, has welcomed the appointment of new service chiefs, while expressing gratitude to outgoing service chiefs, particularly chiefs of army, and Air Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai and Air Marshall Abubakar Sadique with whom Borno government worked more closely in the fight against Boko Haram.

Zulum spoke briefly last night in Maiduguri, when some journalists sought his reaction to President Muhammadu Buhari announced on Tuesday afternoon, that he had accepted the resignation of his (now retired) service chiefs, and had appointed Major General L.E.O Irabor as Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru as Chief of Army Staff, Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo as Chief of Naval Stafff and Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao as the Chief of Air Staff.

“The outgoing service chiefs have been with us in the last six years, and during these eventful and challenging years, they immensely contributed to ongoing peace building efforts through the fight against Boko Haram.

“Our rebuilding and resettlement efforts are only possible because of the combined efforts of Lieutenant General Buratai as Chief of Army Staff, Air Marshall Sadique as Chief of Air Staff, of course, with so much contribution from other service chiefs, intelligence bodies, police, paramilitary and volunteers.

“We can’t ignore these huge contributions, but then, as we all know, everything has an appointed time, we thank all the outgoing service chiefs for their contributions and we wish them the best in future endeavours.

“As for the incoming, especially, Gen L.E.O Irabor who is Chief of Defence Staff and General Attahiru, the COAS, both of them have worked here in Borno as theatre commanders of Operation Lafiya Dole, they know all the issues and I am sure they will hit the ground running.

“The Borno State Government will accord them the same maximum support we gave their predecessors, and we will continue to our own roles in supporting the military with logistics as we have been regularly doing, we will sustain our mobilisation of communities for intelligence gathering, funding operations of thousands of volunteers, praying for our troops and volunteers in front lines and supporting their families as we have been doing” Zulum said.

​Supported maize farmers in Kaduna record increase in yields

Maize farmers assisted with improved inputs and new technologies by the APPEALS Project in Kaduna State have recorded a significant increase in yield last year. 

The Chairman of Biye Cluster Farmers Association in Giwa LGA of the State, Alhaji Adamu Aliyu Shika made this known to the Pre-6th Implementation Support Mission team led by the Project National Coordinator, Alhaji Mohammed Sani Jobdi last week during the field visit. The field visit was part of on-the-spot assessments of the Project intervention areas in the state.

Alhaji Adamu Aliyu told the team that most of the group members recorded increase in productivity and harvested more bags compared to the previous year. For example, the Biye farmers Association, he said harvested 206 tons of maize as against the 156 tons before the project’s intervention, adding that they had negotiated with an off-taker who has agreed to buy the maize at the prevailing market prices. 

In his response, the National Project Coordinator, Alhaji Mohammed Sani Jobdi has expressed his satisfaction with the increase in Production recorded by some beneficiaries of the project in the state. Describing the farmers testimonies as encouraging, he urged them to continue to adopt and practice the technologies and new methods introduced by the project.

​Stop telling lies to Nigerians, Rep Member blasts Lai Mohammed

The Member representing the Ethiope federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon Ben Igbakpa, has tongue-lashed the Minister for Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed to stop telling “lies to Nigerians,” in the discharge of his official duties.

The lawmaker also described as disappointing the utterances of the minister in the defense of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration saying, “He is just telling lies and is even instigating problems to the current administration.”

Speaking to Vanguard yesterday, the lawmaker said: “I am surprised that when people get into office they forget that they are from somewhere and they act as if they will never leave the office.

“I am sure that if the minister was to be on the other side he won’t be talking the way he’s talking because all the things he’s saying as senseless and unpatriotic.

“Patrotism is not about standing with the President. It is about standing with the people and the constitution but the utterances of the minister have been very very disappointing in recent times.

“I remember when he was on the other side against former President Good luck Jonathan bit today, he seems to be eating his vomit.

“For me, his utterances of late do not make any sense and I just choose to ignore him, because he doesn’t give Nigerians the reason he was appointed as Minister for Information which I believe there are specific functions attached to which is to tell Nigerians the truth and propagate the positives activities of the government he represents.

“But for Lai Mohammed, he is not doing any good, maybe because there is nothing much to showcase and other is that he is just telling lies, he is even instigating problems because some of his utterances are not statesmanlike and very disappointing.”

​Breaking: Buhari sacks Service Chiefs, appoints replacements

President Muhammadu Buhari has accepted the immediate resignation of the Service Chiefs, and their retirement from service.

This was contained in a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina in Abuja Tuesday.

According to the statement: “Those involved are the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.

“President Buhari thanks the outgoing Chiefs for what he calls their “overwhelming achievements in our efforts at bringing enduring peace to our dear country,” wishing them well in their future endeavours.

“The new Service Chiefs are Major-General Leo Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff; Major-General I. Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral A. Z. Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff; and Air-Vice Marshal I.O Amao, Chief of Air Staff.

“The President congratulates them new Service Chiefs, and urges them to be loyal and dedicated in the discharge of their responsibilities.”

​Don’t negotiate with Myetti Allah to return to South West, Yoruba leaders warn S/W governors

Prominent Yoruba leaders have warned the six governors in the South West zone not to negotiate the continued stay of Fulani herders in their states, urging them to toe the path of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) by issuing eviction notice to the violent herders.

The leaders under the aegis of Yoruba World Assembly said if they allow the herders to stay, it means residents in the zone are still not safe because the herders will still continue their atrocities.

Led by Chief Taiye Ayorinde, the leaders through the Secretary General of YWA, Dr Victor Taiwo, the Yoruba leaders also warned the Federal Government not to toy with the corporate existence of this country by arresting Chief Sunday Adeyemo aka Igboho noting if they do, they have assaulted the whole Yoruba nation and not Sunday Igboho.

YWA which is an umbrella body of 15 other associations said this while speaking with newsmen ahead of a security summit fixed for February 4,2021 in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

While calling on all governors in the zone to see the issue as a collective struggle devoid of political coloration, he said the same method used in 1840 when Fulani elements from Ilorin were repelled by combined Yoruba forces, drawn from all supporting towns of Oyo power, in line with defence arrangement perfected by Yoruba leaders led by Alaafin Atiba should be adopted.

On the meeting of the South West governors in Akure Taiwo said,”It is too late to cry when the head is off. We have had enough of Myetti Allah people. We don’t think anything good can come out of it.”

“They have killed us, messed us up enough. We have had enough patience in the land. Brigands come killing, maiming our people. To now come and say you’re meeting with Myetti Allah is a concession that they are the ones causing mayhem.”

“The only way forward is to protect ourselves. These people are incorrigible because they have godfathers who are propping them. They have given them license to do whatever they like.”

“Buhari is a tribalistic Fulani man and he is not pretending. He doesn’t care what happens to others as long as Fulani exist. So, why are you negotiating with them. They have done enough havoc to us. We only need to protect ourselves”.

​I remain an APC member, there’s need for good people in APC, PDP to merge — Okorocha

Former Governor of Imo State, and the Senator representing Imo West Senatorial District, Rochas Okorocha, yesterday, said that he is still a member of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

Okorocha stated this in Owerri through a statement from his Special Adviser on Media, Sam Onwuemeodo, after a meeting with members of APC of his rescue mission and that of Daniel Nwafor’s leadership where he reacted to report that he is planning to form a new political party.

According to Okorocha: “Our Party is APC. Don’t be confused when I said that there were bad people and good people in both APC and PDP. And that the good people in the two parties should come together for the good of the nation. I was talking about a movement and not party.

“I have not left APC. I am still in APC. Nobody has stake in APC more than me. The worst insults I had in Imo and in the South-East in 2015 were because of APC and President Muhammadu Buhari. APC was formed by President Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, myself and few other people. But those on congratulation trip, have taken over the Party.”

Okorocha said that “Daniel Nwafor and others duly elected as the executives of the party remain as such. Those who want to destroy the party lied to President Buhari. The judgements on the issue all stated that the NEC of the party or the governor, cannot remove the Party Excos. The party Executives can only be removed by Convention.

“Whatever they do here without the duly elected Party officials in the State, including the planned registration exercise, expected to begin on Monday, would be null and void. We do not recognize Governor Uzodinma’s APC in Imo. That’s not APC in Imo State. How many APC members are among his more than 120 appointees? None of Course.”

​Maternal, child mortality: I’ll change the narrative in Lagos —Sanwo-Olu

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has expressed commitment to change the narrative of maternal and child mortality indices in Lagos, just as he renewed his promises to provide affordable accommodation to the masses in the state.

Sanwo-Olu said this while commissioning Nigeria’s first Edge-Certified Lagos State Eco-Friendly affordable public housing scheme, comprising 252 units of two-bedroom bungalows, unveiling a new Maternal and Childcare Centre, and the School of Anesthesia, located in Idale, Badagry Local Government Area, and Badagry General Hospital, respectively.

He said: “I am immensely proud to handover the newly constructed and equipped four-floor 110-bed Maternal and Child Centre, and the School of Anesthetic Studies, Badagry, to the people of Badagry.

“Maternal and child mortality is so close to my heart that I am ready to do everything within my personal and official capacity to put an end to it in Lagos State. In most developing countries including Nigeria, there are disturbing maternal, newborn and child mortality indices, but under my watch, Lagos State will change the narrative.

“Through consistent action and smart investments, our women will no longer die while giving birth; we will eradicate infant and under-5 mortality in our State.”

While noting that his administration would not pay lip service to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, Sanwo-Olu said that his administration was taking steps to ensure that residents have greater access to all they need for a peaceful and prosperous life in every sphere.

The Governor disclosed that the facility, since commencement of operation late December, 2020, had recorded 3000 out-patient clinic attendance, adding that 49 normal deliveries and 60 caesarian sections were also carried out at the centre.

He said: “With the inauguration of this Maternal and Child Centre, the people of Badagry and adjoining communities now have increased access to quality and safe healthcare, reduction or even complete eradication of maternal and infant mortality as well as general improvement in all maternal and child health indices in this local government.

“All these benefits will in turn have a positive ripple effect on the development of socio-economic indices of Badagry.”

​Int’l Education Day: Adefulire commends Buhari over reduction in out of-school-children

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, Princess Adejoke Orelope Adefulire, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari on the drastic reduction in the number of out-of-school children in the country.

Adefulire’s commendation came against the backdrop of the recent revelation that the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria has reduced from a 10.1million in 2019 to 6.95 million in 2020.

Recall that the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu had disclosed during his ministry’s annual press briefing that the reduction was through the Federal Government’s Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) initiative.

Reacting to the development in a statement she issued to mark the 2020 International Education Day, Princess Orelope Adefulire said the reduction in the number of out-of-school children was a reflection of the importance attached to education by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

She also commended the Minister of Education, the World Bank, and other stakeholders who contributed to the achievement.

The International Day of Education is being marked on Monday 25 January this year.

The day is being marked under the theme ‘Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation,’ in recognition of the unprecedented disruptions of learning by the pandemic across the world.

Princess Orelope-Adefulire noted that like all other countries, Nigeria has not been spared the negative effect of the pandemic on her educational system.

But she noted that the recent decision of the Federal and State Governments to reopen schools is a step in the right direction while appealing to all stakeholders in the educational sector to ensure strict adherence to all protocols fashioned out to stop the spread of COVID-19.

She said: “In this vein, I commend our leaders at the national and sub-national levels for their commitment which has resulted in the safe return of our children to schools across the country as well as our teachers for helping to keep our wards safe by ensuring that they adhere to all the necessary protocols to limit the spread of COVID-19.”

Adefulire promised that her office will continue to contribute its quota as well as support other stakeholders in efforts to achieve Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promotion of lifelong learning for all.

Civic Reception in Honour Of Comrade Silas Adamu Grounds Kafanchan

Kafanchan, the political capital of Southern Kaduna came alive on Saturday as it was thronged with several dignitaries who were on ground to honour newly elected President of the Atyap Community Development Association (ACDA), Comrade Dr. Silas Adamu.

The reception, tagged “Civic Reception For Comrade Silas Adamu by Friends, was held at the Wonderland Hotel, Kafanchan.

The event attracted several dignitaries, including the Senator representing Southern Kaduna, Senator Danjumah La’ah, who was the Chief host.

Others spotted were the Agwatyap, Sir Dominic, former Minister of Environment, Mrs Lauretia Mallam, Chairman of Zango Kataf Local Government Area, Dr. Elias Mamza, SOKAPU President, Honourable Jonathan Asake who was represented by his PRO, Comrade Luka Biniyat and former Kaduna State Commissioner, Mr
Bawa Magaji.

Others spotted were representativesof Medical Health Workers Union of NIgeria (MHWUN) from all over Nigeria, representatives of Tsaunin Kura GRA Residents Association (Sabo GRA), Elder Tagwai Emmanuel, Daniel Meltu, Jonah Adua Kure and Okpani Jacob Onjewu Dickson.

At the event, Senator.Danjumah La’ah described the ACDA President as an embodiment of peace, adding that he was proud to host the reception.

According to him, Comrade Adamu is a shinning light and he is optimistic that his emergence will translate to progress for Atyapland.

“I have known Comrade Adamu for long and know his antecedents. I am optimistic that his tenure will bring good news to our people,” he said.

Speaking further, he called on all Atyaps and by extension, Southern Kaduna to unite in protecting their interests.

In his remarks, ACDA President, Comrade Adamu thanked his friends for organising the reception in his honour.

“To the committee of friends who organised this lavish reception, I am grateful and pray God replenishes all you have committed to making it a tremendous success.

“Just as you are celebrating me, you will also be celebrated for success which will come shortly.

“Thank you all.for coming here from far and near to celebrate with me. I pray for God’s blessings upon all and journey mercies back to various destinations,” he said.