Wednesday, 17 January 2018
Business and Economy

Business and Economy (749)

Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday signed the 2017 appropriation bill of N7.44 trillion into law.

He described the event as “an important milestone’’ in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

The budget christened; “Budget of Economic Recovery and Growth’’ has projected revenue of N5.08 trillion with deficit of N2.36 trillion.

A total of N2.98 trillion was earmarked for recurrent non-debt expenditure, while N2.17 trillion was earmarked for contribution to the development fund for capital expenditure exclusive of capital expenditure in statutory transfers.

A total of N434.41 billion was earmarked for statutory transfers; N1.84 trillion for debt service and N177.46 billion for sinking fund for maturing bonds.

The acting president said the appropriation act was an important milestone in the administration’s economic recovery and growth plan.

He thanked the Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives and the entire leadership of the National Assembly for completing the work on record time.

He said that the process of passing the 2017 appropriation bill in the National Assembly was smoother than that of 2016, as there were no allegations of errors or mistakes.

He added that there was improvement in the quality of interpretation and presentation.

Osinbajo also commended the Ministry of Budget and Planning on the “remarkable improvement over a single budget cycle.’’

He lauded the collaborative spirit between Ministries, Departments and Agencies and the various committees of the National Assembly and their leadership during the budget defence process.

He noted that there were few reported cases of acrimony or hostile wrangling during the budget defence process.

He said that reports indicated that the sessions were done in a friendly atmosphere, an indication that the nation’s democracy was maturing well.

The acting president said that the final presentation and signing of the budget was delayed due to disagreements between the executive and the NASS on changes made in the proposal.

According to him, the executive took the view that the changes fundamentally affected some of its priority programmes and would make implementation extremely difficult and in some cases impossible.

He said that the leadership of NASS “adopted a commendably patriotic and statesmanlike approach on engagement in resolving these critical issues.’’

Osinbajo said that the leadership of NASS had promised to re-instate budgetary allocations for all the important executive projects.

He listed the projects to include the railway standard gauge project, Mambilla power project, the second Niger Bridge and the Lagos-Ibadan expressway among others.

Osinbajo said the reinstatement would be through an application for virement by the executive which NASS had agreed to expeditiously consider.

“It is as a result of that understanding and the outcome of our detailed engagements that we are able to sign the 2017 appropriation bill into law.

“I am also pleased to mention that in our discussion with the NASS we have jointly resolved to return to a predictable January to December fiscal year.

“It is a particularly important development because this accords with the financial year of most private sector companies, underscoring the crucial relationship between government and the private sector,’’ he said.

Accordingly, Osinbajo said that the 2018 budget will be submitted in by October 2017 while the leadership of NASS has committed to work towards passing it by before the end of the year.

The appropriation bill was submitted to the acting president on May 17, after it was passed by the National Assembly.

Posted On Tuesday, 13 June 2017 00:20 Written by

Less than one week after armed men killed a personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), and in the process abducted his principal, who is a Chinese national, armed men suspected to be Fulani on Friday evening reportedly killed 39-year-old Mrs. Magdalene Tunar in Uluoke, near Auchi in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo on her way from farm alongside her husband and two children.
Narrating the incident, her husband, Wilson Tunar, said the two armed men, he suspected to be Fulani herdsmen had accosted them on their way from farm.He said: “I usually park my car somewhere along the farm route because of the terrain. So, we were moving towards where I parked, when two men suddenly came out of the bush and moved towards us with gun pointing at us.
“On sighting them, my wife inquired to know what was happening and the next thing I heard was the sound of gun. They shot her on the stomach.“When she fell, they pointed the gun at my children, but I shielded them by pushing them behind me.

 “It was a miracle, when I heard the click of the trigger, but nothing happened. I grabbed a wood close by and fought them with it and I got injured on the neck by a knife from one of them. They, however, fled when I overpowered them.
“I rushed my wife, who was still alive, to Iyamoh Health Centre, but we were advised to go to Faith Foundation hospital close by, as they were incapable of taking care of her.
“Again at Faith, we were referred to Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH). It was on our way there that she died.”Tunar said activities of herdsmen have become increasingly problematic in the area and appealed to security agencies to help protect lives and properties of people in the area.

“Three persons were abducted in the same area, same Friday, by these people. Though two cars were snatched in the process, but the vehicles have been recovered, while the persons were yet to be found.”

As at filing this report, The Guardian could not get confirmation from police on the abduction, as the Police Public Relations officer, Moses Nkonbe, said he was yet to get details from the area, where the incident happened.

Posted On Sunday, 11 June 2017 14:58 Written by

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday in an FCT High Court, Maitama, opened its case against Dr Fortune Fiberesima, former President Goodluck Jonathan’s chief physician.

Fiberesima was alleged to have abused his position as the chief physician to the former president in 2012 in awarding contracts valued at N258.9 million and N36.9 million to companies where he had interests.

NAN reports that he was arraigned on a six- count charge bordering on abuse of office by influencing the award of contracts to companies where he had interest.

EFCC said the offences were contrary and punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

The contracts are reclamation of land at the State House Medical Centre and supply of medical consumables.

He was granted bail on April 25 on the same condition by EFCC administrative bail, of two directors in government service with landed property in Abuja.

In addition, he was ordered to deposit to the court registrar his international passport.
At the resumed sitting, EFCC brought two witnesses out of nine billed to testify in the matter

The first witness, Mr Aminu Abubakar, retired director, Maintenance, State House, was led in evidence by Hussaina Gambo (Mrs) EFCC counsel.

He told the court that the contract for the reclamation was awarded in February . 2013 to a company named TE and C Ltd at N358.5 million to be completed within 16 weeks.

Abubakar said that at the completion of the contract, certificate of practical completion was issued to the contractor.

The witness also told the court that he was invited to EFCC and DSS in 2015 and 2016 respectively to answer questions in relation to the project.

When cross- examined by Mr Granville Alibo (SAN) counsel for the defendant, the witness said that the defendant was never a member of the Tenders Board.

“Even in the award of contract, the defendant never sat as a member of Tenders Board which reports to the Permanent Secretary of the State House,’’ the witness said.

He also told the court that he did not know if the payment of the contract was completed but that the process for payment was completed before he left service.

Another witness, Rukiyat Odekunle, told the court that the contract to supply medical consumables was awarded to one Mr Ibomaedomi and Global Services Ltd at N36 million.

Odekunle said she was the director of procurement at the State House when the contract was awarded.

When cross examined by Alibo, she also said that the defendant was never a member of the Tenders Board, adding that the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) did not object to the contract.

The judge, Justice Peter Affen, adjourned the matter until July 13 for continuation of hearing.

Posted On Friday, 09 June 2017 00:17 Written by

The Federal Government last night warned Nigerians against making statements capable of undermining the country’s peace and security.

The warning came after the ultimatum issued by some  youth groups in the North for the Igbo to leave by October or face a mass action.

They also informed northerners living in the East to return home.

The signatories to the declaration by the group are: Nastura Ashir Sharif of Arewa Citizens Action For Change; Shettima Yerima of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum; Aminu Adam of Arewa Youth Development Foundation; Alfred Solomon of Arewa Students Forum; Abdul-Azeez Suleiman of Northern Emancipation Network; Joshua Viashman of Northern Youth Vanguard; Mohammad A.  Mohammad of Northern Youth Stakeholders Forum; Mohammed Tasiu Pantami of North East Assembly and Nathaniel Ajegena Adigizi of North Central People’s Front.

The groups claimed that they were incensed by the activities of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) which have repeatedly called for a break-up of the country without being cautioned by the elders from the region.

The groups said they were further angered by the May 30 shut down of the South East by the separatist group to mark the 50th anniversary of the Biafra declaration.

But general condemnation yesterday greeted the Arewa groups’ action.

Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed in a statement said Nigerians were “free to reside in any part of  the country, as the government has the capacity to maintain law and order.

“He said there was no reason for any Nigerian to feel unsafe anywhere in the country, warning that the government would not tolerate any threat to the unity, peace and security of the country under any guise.

”There is zero tolerance for actions and speeches capable of inciting one part of the country against another, and the security agencies are fully on the ground to deal decisively with any individual or group that engages in incendiary activities.”

Mohammed advised Nigerians, irrespective of where they reside, to go about their daily activities without fear.

Earlier at a briefing after the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the minister said: “Nigeria is not new to one group or another issuing such threats.

“The issue of one or two groups issuing statements that is capable of destabilising the polity and then being responded to by another group, I think did not just start today or did not start yesterday.

“What I want to assure you is that security organizations are very very much on top of this matter.”

On whether the ultimatum given by the groups was discussed at the FEC, he said: “No.”

Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai ordered the arrest of the youth groups leaders who issued the ultimatum.

El-Rufai, who described the northern youths leaders and their action as irresponsible, said his government would not allow Kaduna State to be used to threaten the safety and property of its citizens of Igbo extraction.

The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) also called for caution against unguarded statements capable of breaching the peace and unity of Nigeria.

The governor, who spoke through his media aide Samuel Aruwan, said Kaduna State Government believed in and would uphold the right of every Nigerian to live safely and develop his/her full potentials within its territory.

He said: “The Kaduna State Government takes exception to the fact that the ‘northern youths’ did their irresponsible press conference in Kaduna. This government has been consistent in taking action to punish hate speech and incitement. People who may feel unhappy about irresponsible comments or actions that have taken place in other states must know that two wrongs cannot make a right, and they cannot use our state to do or say things that threaten the peace.

“KDSG has therefore ordered the arrest, investigation and prosecution of the signatories to the statement.

“Even people who may feel unhappy about irresponsible comments or actions that have taken place in other states must know that two wrongs cannot make a right.

“Reckless disregard for the rights of other citizens drips through the press statement by these “northern youths” who have chosen to use the discourse around restructuring to promote their own agenda of hate, division and incitement. This sort of opportunists cannot be allowed to distort debate, or turn it into a pretext for a barely-disguised agenda of displacement and dispossession of some citizens.

“We will not tolerate such irresponsible statements and conduct in our state. The statement issued by the “northern youths” violates the laws of Kaduna State. Therefore, the Kaduna State Government has directed that its Ministry of Justice should prepare charges and prosecute the signatories and anyone complicit in arranging this egregious assault on the rights of fellow citizens.

“Preparatory to prosecution, the police have been directed to immediately arrest, interrogate the signatories to the statement and investigate all the circumstances and persons that may be implicated in the matter.

“The Kaduna State Government urges all residents to ignore the threats from the “northern youths”. We are in contact with the leadership of the Igbo community in Kaduna, and we delighted to say that this community, like all our other communities, believes in the strength of the constitutional order to protect all citizens.”

The ACF’s statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Muhammad Ibrahim Biu,  said ” the ACF wishes to draw the attention of all concerned, to note, that our democratic system of government which is anchored on law guarantees free movement of all Nigerians to any part of the country and to also pursue their legitimate livelihood devoid of any hindrance or molestation by any group or individuals.

“Furthermore, the system allows settlement of all grievances through our elected representatives in both the National and States Assemblies and the Law courts. Any act to the contrary, is therefore, a breach of law and order that are not helpful.

“ACF appreciates the frustrations of the Northern Youth Groups with the activities of MASSOB and IPOB members, but would not encourage any act that is not in conformity with the law by any  group or individuals which will do no one any good.

“ACF, therefore, appeals for caution over unguarded utterances or statements that are capable of jeopardising the unity, peace and corporate existence of Nigeria.”

Posted On Thursday, 08 June 2017 10:11 Written by

South African’s National team have arrived Nigeria safely.

The Bafana Bafana landed in Lagos at the Muritala mohammed International airport at about 7;50 pm on Wednesday night.

The South Africans are in the country ahead of Saturday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against the Super Eagles in Uyo.

The foreign team were received by the duo of Paul Bassey and Gideon Akinsola who are top officials of the Nigeria Football Federation(NFF)

They will then proceed to Uyo for the AFCON qualifier against the Super Eagles.

Twenty four Super Eagles players are already in Uyo sweating it out in training ahead of the weekend clash.

Posted On Thursday, 08 June 2017 01:29 Written by

• Players not interested in injury stories from Bafana camp

Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr is of no illusion that Saturday’s African Nations Cup qualifier against South Africa will be an easy task. The Franco-German, who pointed at the fact that the Bafana Bafana has not lost any of their matches in the last two years, posits that Saturday’s encounter may be a little difficult.

Speaking at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo after his team’s first training session yesterday, Rohr, however, assured that his team would live up to the bidding.

“The game will be difficult. It will be a big challenge to beat the South Africans. It will be difficult with the young players that we have. Our captain, Mikel Obi and our first choice goalkeeper are out of the match,” he said.

Also speaking on the game, Team Captain, Ogenyi Onazi said the Eagles were working hard to win the match, stressing that the memory of 2015 AFCON miss was still fresh in their mind.

“We expect to win the game. We know what happened here in Uyo during AFCON qualifiers 2015 with the South African team. It is not going to be a do or die affair but we are here to make up for the past,” he said.

Reflecting on the introduction of new players in the Eagles, Onazi said both the old and new have adjusted to the team’s pattern, as they are all professionals. Meanwhile, the players have said they are not distracted by the reported injury problems in the South African camp.

Super Eagles Media Officer, Toyin Ibitoye disclosed that the players, who could not make it to France, have gradually understood the game plan of the coach. He enjoined Nigerians to support and encourage the players, assuring that all hands were on deck to ensure the Eagles claimed the three points in Uyo.

“We are not concerned by any strategy South Africa will deploy for the game. Rohr has assured that he will assemble a formidable team for the game. We are not concerned by anything that happens in our opponents’ camp.

“The Eagles coach would be having a conference on Thursday to let Nigerians know of his plans for the game.” He revealed that by yesterday morning’s training only three players has not arrived, adding that the team had a full squad in the evening.

The match in Uyo is the first Group E match of AFCON 2019 qualifiers with the Eagles also expected to take on Libya and Seychelles.

Posted On Wednesday, 07 June 2017 11:35 Written by

South Africa’s economy contracted in the first quarter of this year, pushing the continent’s largest economy into its first recession since 2009, the official statistics agency reported Tuesday.

“The South African economy moved into recession with the reported decrease of 0.7 percent in GDP (gross domestic product) during the first quarter of 2017, following a 0.3 percent contraction in the fourth quarter of 2016,” said Stats SA.

The biggest contributor to the negative GDP growth were the trade, catering and accommodation industry, which shrank by 5.9 percent and accounted for -0.8 of a percentage point to GDP growth.

The manufacturing sector decreased by 3.7 percent as unemployment climbed to a record 27.7 percent, the highest joblessessness rate in 14 years.

Only the mining and agriculture sectors posted growth rates of 12.8 percent and 22.2 percent respectively in the first quarter.

South Africa’s economy has been experiencing weak growth in recent years.

In April it lost its investment grade when the world’s two major rating agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor’s downgraded its sovereign debt to junk status after President Jacob Zuma’s dramatic ministerial shake-up that saw respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan axed.

The two ratings firms cited political and economic instability as grounds for the downgrades.

Posted On Tuesday, 06 June 2017 19:05 Written by

Nigeria’s total debt rose to N19.15 trillion ($62.91 billion) as of March 2017, from N17.36 trillion at the end of last year, the Debt Management Office said on Monday.

Africa’s biggest economy, which slipped into recession last year for the first time in 25 years, raised $1 billion in February and $500 million in March from Eurobond sales.

The government intends to use the money raised to plug its budget deficit and fund infrastructure development. The record N7.44 trillion 2017 budget was passed by lawmakers last month but is yet to be signed into law by the presidency, Reuters reports.

The government planned to spend N6.1 trillion last year as part of its bid to increase capital expenditure, but struggled to fund its budget. The 2017 plan projects a deficit of 2.21 trillion naira, implying a deficit equivalent to 2.18 percent of Nigerian GDP.

The external component of Nigeria’s debt stood at $13.80 billion at the end of the first quarter, against $11.40 billion at the end of December, the debt office said on its website.

Local debt fell to N11.97 trillion, against N13.88 trillion last year.

Posted On Tuesday, 06 June 2017 02:28 Written by

Suspected militants drove a van into pedestrians at high speed on London Bridge on Saturday night before stabbing revelers on nearby streets, killing at least six people and wounding close to 50.

Armed police rushed to the scene and shot dead the three male attackers in the Borough Market area near the bridge, as authorities urged Londoners on Twitter to “run, hide, tell” if they were caught up in the violence.

The attacks came just five days ahead of a national parliamentary election on Thursday. The ruling Conservative Party suspended national campaigning on Sunday, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said.

“Following updates from police and security officials, I can confirm that the terrible incident in London is being treated as a potential act of terrorism,” May said in a statement as events unfolded.

The killings also occurred less than two weeks after a suicide bomber killed 22 people at a pop concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande in Manchester in northern England.

An armed police stands on Borough High Street as police are dealing with an incident on London Bridge in London, Saturday, June 3, 2017.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

“Sadly, six people have died in addition to the three attackers shot by police,” Mark Rowley, Britain’s top anti-terrorism officer, said. The three attackers had been wearing what looked like explosive vests that were later found to have been hoaxes.

The BBC showed a photograph of two possible attackers shot by police, one of whom had canisters strapped to his body. Hours after the attack the area remained sealed off and patrolled by armed police and counter-terrorism officers.

The London Ambulance Service said 48 people had been taken to five hospitals across the city and a number of others had been treated at the scene for minor injuries.

Streets around London Bridge and Borough Market, an area that is a major transport hub and is packed with bars and restaurants, was busy with people on a night out.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan spoke of a “cowardly attack on innocent Londoners and visitors to our city enjoying their Saturday night.”


Witnesses described a white van careering into pedestrians on the bridge.

“It looked like he was aiming for groups of people. I froze because I didn’t know what to do,” Mark Roberts, 53, a management consultant, told Reuters. He saw at least six people on the ground after the van veered on and off the pavement.

“It was horrendous,” he said.

A taxi driver told the BBC that three men got out of the van with long knives and “went randomly along Borough High Street stabbing people.”

Witnesses described people running into a bar to seek shelter.

“People started running and screaming, and the van crashes into the railing behind. We went towards Borough Market and everyone went inside (the bar). Everyone in the bar started pushing people from the exits,” one witness, who gave his name as Brian, 32, told Reuters.

Another witness, who declined to be named, his white top covered in blood, described a scene of panic in the bar.

“They hit the emergency alarm. There was a line of people going down to the emergency exit. And then people started screaming coming back up,” the 31-year-old said.

“Around the corner there was a guy with a stab wound on his neck … There was a doctor in the pub and she helped him. They put pressure on the stab wound.”

BBC radio said witnesses saw people throwing tables and chairs at the attackers to protect themselves.

The BBC showed dozens of people being escorted to safety through a police cordon with their hands on their heads.

Islamic State, losing territory in Syria and Iraq to an advance backed by a U.S-led coalition, sent out a call on instant messaging service Telegram early on Saturday urging its followers to launch attacks with trucks, knives and guns against “Crusaders” during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Similar attacks, in Berlin, Nice, Brussels and Paris, have been carried out by Islamist militants over the past two years.

May was due to chair a meeting of the Cobra security committee later on Sunday.

U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter to offer U.S. help to Britain. The White House said he had been briefed on the incidents by his national security team.

French president Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter that “France is standing more than ever side by side with the UK.”

The incident bore similarities to a March attack on Westminster Bridge, west of London Bridge, in which a man killed five people after driving into a crowd of pedestrians before stabbing a police officer in the grounds of parliament.

Several witnesses also reported hearing gunshots around London Bridge.

“We were in an Uber (taxi) going towards London Bridge and suddenly we saw people running. The Uber stopped, we asked people what was going on – people said there was shooting,” said Yoann Belmere, 40, a French banker living in London.

“Now the area is completely closed with police cars going one way and ambulances going the other,” he told Reuters.

The Manchester bombing on May 22 was the deadliest attack in Britain since July 2005, when four British Muslim suicide bombers killed 52 people in coordinated attacks on London’s transport network.

Posted On Sunday, 04 June 2017 12:52 Written by

•Says President is recovering fast

First Lady Aisha Buhari sent some cheery news home yesterday from London about her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari: he will return soon.

And he’s recovering fast from his ailment.

But she wants Nigerians to keep praying for him.

Hajiya Aisha is currently in London to be with the President.

She gave the update on the President’s health in a message to the 23rd Annual Ramadan Lecture of Ansar-ud-deen Society of Nigeria (ADS) held in Abuja.

The First Lady, who left for London about five days ago, was represented at the lecture by her Senior Special Assistant on Administration, Dr. Hajo Sani.

“My husband is recovering very fast. And very soon, he will return to the country to resume his official duties,” she said.

“I thank Nigerians for their prayers for my husband. Please, do not relent in your prayers.”

The message sparked shouts of Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!! Allahu Akbar!!!(God is great) by the Muslim faithful.

She added:”The President will be back very soon.”

She said she was “hopeful of observing this year’s Eid-el-Kabir festival at the ADS Mosque in Maitama as she had been doing even before getting into office.”

The president returned to the United Kingdom early last month for a fresh round of treatment.

The president’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in announcing his departure on his Twitter handle on May 7 had said: “PMB travels tonight for medical follow-up. Length of stay to be determined by London doctors. Govt to function normally under VP.

– Femi Adesina (@FemAdesina) May 7, 2017

In his sermon at yesterday’s lecture, the Chairman of ADS Northern States Council of Missioners, Sheik Muhydeen Ajani Bello asked a state governor and others wishing  Buhari dead to desist from such thought.

He said: “There is a governor going about wishing Buhari dead. Let us ask him: If Buhari dies, is he going to replace him?

“We need not wish our leaders dead. If we keep talking like this, it is not good. By the grace of God, the President will return very soon.”

Deputy Speaker of the House of Representative Lasun Yusuf who also spoke at the event, singled out two of the achievements of the President.

He said: “The coming of President Buhari into power has succeeded in bringing sanity to our governance. If that is the only thing he has achieved, he has done well.

“When you mention Buhari, no matter how intelligent or crooked you are, you will shiver.

“Secondly, the President has also shown that government can be run in an open and transparent manner.”

He said Nigeria can get out of the economic woods through “long term investment with back up innovations.”

In his address, the National Vice President of ADS, Alhaji Ibrahim Adebayo Yusuf urged Muslims in leadership positions to protect public trust despite the economic recession.

He said:  “Public trust has two meanings-a general meaning and specific meaning-but we must jealously protect it.

“The general meaning has to do with all commands and prohibitions of Islam while specific meaning is everything that every individual is obliged to take care of, uphold, and fulfil, including protecting the rights of others.

“Let me as an individual say that, Allah in Quran 23:08 has admonished all believers to faithfully observe trust and covenants. Upholding trust in Islam is a virtue whether public or private.

“It is public knowledge that among the best virtues of our noble Prophet Muhammed are honesty integrity and upholding trust and covenants in his public and private life. So, as Muslims, we  have a good example to follow.”

Posted On Sunday, 04 June 2017 03:17 Written by
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