By Eric Elezuo
When Nigerians entered the year 2017, they had expectations of good tidings, and an atmosphere of general change for good. However, not everything the people and government hoped for came to pass. It was a situation of the good and the bad. Some of the situation hitting the people directly while the government to some extent was at the receiving end of some. Here are a few of the economic events that shaped 2017 for the country.
Crash of Etisalat Nigeria and Birth of 9Mobile
Weeks before one of the giant telecommunication networks in Nigeria, Etisalat, finally change its name and brand to 9Mobile, there were skirmishes and feelers emanating from various corners that all was not well with the giant company which launched with a lot of fanfare in 2008 as 0809ja.
The change, according to investigation, was not just as a result of rebranding, but as a result of some agreements gone sour, which led to the final collapse of the company, from it another was born.
The change of name, it was gathered, was approved at a management meeting, with the public relations consultant to the company, Chain Reactions, confirming the development.
“9Mobile was unanimously adopted by the company as its new brand name,” an Etisalat Nigeria official was quoted as saying.
The Vice President, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, Etisalat Nigeria, Ibrahim Dikko, had recalled that at the launch of the company in Nigeria in 2008, ‘0809ja’ was adopted to affirm the “Nigerianness” of its origin and the company’s sphere of influence.
However, the Nigeria Communications Commission said that aside changing its brand name to ‘9Mobile’, Etisalat Nigeria must also change its logo and colour.
It was also hinted that the possible adoption of 9Mobile as a new brand name by Etisalat Nigeria might be an internal decision of the telecoms firm to meet a three weeks ultimatum given to it by the parent company in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates.
Etisalat’s road to extinction started after it was discovered that the telecom organisation default on the repayment of a $1.2bn loan. For this reason, telecoms regulator decided check the financial health of other operators.
Etisalat Nigeria’s lenders have taken control of the management of the company and placed the shares in the custody of a loan trustee.
Suspension of Oando by SEC and Suspension of SEC DG by Finance Minister
Following weeks of misunderstanding between oil giants, Oando, managed by the irrepressible Wale Tinubu, and Securities and Exchange Commission, over issues of legibility, the oil company ended up dragging the regulatory agency to Appeal Court to fight against the technical suspension imposed on it
This was a follow up of the oil company’s earlier approach to the Federal High Court in Lagos to challenge SEC’s suspension of its shares and an audit of its business activities by forensic experts hired by SEC.
Though Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the lower court earlier granted an interim injunction restraining SEC from carrying out the audit, the same judge, in a ruling on November 23, 2017, struck out Oando’s suit, saying he had no jurisdiction to entertain it.
The judge said the appropriate forum to ventilate the issue was the Investment and Securities Tribunal.
But displeased with the decision, Oando, through its lawyer, Mr. Seyi Sowemimo (SAN), went before the Court of Appeal seeking the reversal of Justice Aikawa’s ruling.
He said the judge erred in law to decline jurisdiction because “the suit touched and concerned the operation of a company incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act.”
As matters were being determined, and SEC bent on conducting forensic test on activities of Oando, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun promptly suspended the Director General, SEC, Mounir H. Gwarzo, to the surprise of stakeholders.
Mrs. Adeosun’s actions prompted the House of Representatives to resolve to probe the allegations of corruptions against the commission, even as SEC vowed to continue with the forensic exercise on Oando’s activities.
Mother of all Fuel Scarcity Hits the Nation
Weeks to the Christmas festivities, the nation was thrown into another excruciating fuel scarcity as long queues resurfaced in various filling stations across the nation with marketers, NNPC and the Federal Government trading blames.
The Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA) claimed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) lied to Nigerians when it accused the body of hoarding Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) or petrol resulting in the shortage
DAPPMA’s Executive Secretary, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, explained that it can neither confirm nor dispute NNPC’s claim of having sufficient product stock, but can confirm that the products are not in the tanks of its members.
The NNPC was accused of assuming the role of sole importer, and that forms the reason behind the hitches in product distribution, saying that 80 percent of the country’s functional product receptive facilities are owned by its members and such do not currently hold products.
In the wake of the imbroglio, the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) has summoned the Minister of State for Petroleum and the Group Managing Director, NNPC, to appear before it on January 4; an indication that the fuel crisis will linger till 2018.
Meanwhile, organised labour had threatened to embark on strike if the ongoing fuel shortage ravaging the nation extends to next year. Nigerians await the outcome of the meeting which may decide how the crisis will be resolved.
The fuel crisis has further worsened poverty, put productivity on hold, and deprived a lot of people the joy of embarking on their usual Christmas pilgrimages to their various country homes.
Nigeria Triumphs Over Biting Recession
After over a year of existing in utopia with regards to biting recession which Nigeria fell into in 2016, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced on September 5 that the country has finally stepped out of recession.
The body said the recession was the worst the country had had in more than two decades, notching up growth of 0.55 per cent in the second quarter of 2017.
In its report released, the data showed that the economic recovery was driven by improved performance of oil, agriculture, manufacturing and trade sectors of the economy. It said since the first quarter of 2016, the Nigerian economy had contracted for five consecutive quarters.
According to the report, the West African powerhouse slipped into recession for the first time in more than two decades in August 2016.
“In the second quarter of 2017, the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 0.55% (year-on-year) in real terms, indicating the emergence of the economy from recession after five consecutive quarters of contraction since Q1 2016,” it said. Nigeria, which depends on oil sector for 70 per cent of state revenues and 90 per cent of export earnings, has been battered by lower oil prices since mid-2014, which have slashed government revenues, weakened the currency and caused dollar shortages, frustrating business and households. The nation’s economic woes were exacerbated by militant attacks on key oil infrastructure in the restive Niger delta, slashing output.