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Post Covid-19:At UBA Africa Conversations, Global Leaders Seek Path To Economic Recovery

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Global leaders at the second edition of United Bank for Africa (UBA) African Day Conversations, have emphasised the need for meaningful collaborations between governments and the private sector as a panacea for the quick recovery of the economy of the African continent post Covid-19.

 

The leaders which included the President of Liberia, H.E George Weah; United States Senator Chris Coons; the President & Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Export–Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK), Professor Benedict Okey Oramah; President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer; spoke on Monday at the virtual Leadership Panel which was moderated by the Chairman, UBA Plc, Tony Elumelu.

Other leading voices who made up the panel were the Founder, Africa CEO Forum, Amir Ben Yahmed; the Secretary-General of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP)H.E George Chikoti; Administrator, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Achim Steiner and Donald Kaberuka.

While moderating, Elumelu, who is also the Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, spoke on the need to mobilise everyone and explained the necessity to discover a more fundamental solution to Africa’s challenges through collaborative efforts.

This is the time for us to deal with the situation we have and also forge a better situation for everyone, acting again collectively,” he said. “This is not the time for finger pointing but for collaborative effort by governments and organizations to fight the pandemic globally.”

Continuing, Elumelu pointed out that all hands must be on deck if the African continent is to have a quick recovery from the pandemic, adding “There is need to flatten the curve, we need global co-operation to stem global depression. Africa requires a large stimulus package, and we need long-term solutions to prevent a cycle of debt.”

In his submission, the Liberian President, George Weah, established how collaborations worked in his government in an attempt to stem the sufferings brought about the coronavirus pandemic.

“In Liberia we have taken measures to ease the financial burden on vulnerable business in the informal sector by providing small loan assistance to SMEs and traders. In addition, we are working with commercial banks to manage the repayment of loans as well as to create stimulus packages for citizens.”

On his part, US, Senator Chris Coons, said, “It is important to take a moment to look at how African leaders have reacted to the pandemic. In order for us to recover from this pandemic, we must develop a vaccine that is free and affordable and freely distributed so that full economic activities can return. There are ways we can invest in debt relief, invest in infrastructure and human development. This is no time to be looking backwards. We recognise the power of collective collaboration on the continent.

While pointing out that the pandemic poses an opportunity for Africa to be independent and promote its growth and development as a people without external help; Prof. Benedict Okey Oramah, on his part, said  COVID 19 has taught Africa that there comes a time when every group of people will fend for themselves.

He called for the swift implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, adding, “The priority of government should be to make sure that the AfCFTA gets implemented without delay. If there was any doubt about the importance of that agreement, this pandemic has told us that this is the way to go.

Continuing, Oramah said, “The pandemic has shown so many weaknesses we have across our continent. We know that hunger is looming if we do not do anything. If we allow hunger to take over from the COVID 19 pandemic, we will begin to see political problems filling in. For Africa the problems go beyond health challenges to other areas such as food supply. Hunger is looming and if action is not taken, Africa will see political problem. Africa has become the epicenter of the economic devastation that this pandemic has unleashed upon us.”

While disclosing that Afrexim has made available $200million to supply fertilizers and grains amongst others across Africa, the Afrexim boss added that “If Africa allows hunger takeover the people, it will see an increase in insecurity, which will take a long time to overcome.”

George Chikoti of ACP, said that the huge task of economic recovery on the continent, rests on both the government and the private sector. “The responsibility of COVID-19 does not rest on the government alone, the private sector needs to play a big role in lifting the burden of the pandemic. African governments need to accept the support of the Private Sector in alleviating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa,” he said.

“We have been able to release $25m to all member states. One of the major challenges is to make sure that in all countries, we have agricultural activity and high productivity. What we should learn from the impact of this pandemic is that the international community can look at how well they can fund all these initiatives that come from our countries, Chikoti added.

Achim Steiner of the UNDP noted that Digital connectivity is very essential as it is a crucial opportunity to connect all schools across the continent, adding that emphasis on Healthcare is also very important. “Digital connectivity is very crucial to connect schools to the internet. We need to address inequality; also, the virus has put a spotlight on Africa’s healthcare system. Africa needs to look at intermediate strategies like micro-insurance to ramp up this sector. Healthcare has the ability to make a large percentage of the occupation fall into extreme poverty.

“What we need to look at is to find a way for government as a regulator and also as an investor, to leverage private sector investment into these areas” Steiner said.

Peter Maurer, President, ICRC, said there is the need to look at pandemics as part of a broader health system which needs stabilisation; A lot of vulnerable populations in Africa have been heavily infected by the pandemic. “We must do more than life-saving. This pandemic has illustrated the weakness of health, water, sanitation and social systems, and we have to heavily invest into the stabilization of these systems.

Throwing more light on this, Maurer said, “Two things need to follow after live saving during the pandemic. First, the pandemic has illustrated the weak situation of health, water and food systems and we need to heavily invest both by the public and private sectors to stabilize the health sector. Secondly, investment has always gone into the more developed parts of Africa and not the fragile parts. We need Private Public Partnerships and investments by multi-corporate institutions to develop these areas’ he noted.

Amir Yahmed said the crisis is going to be a super accelerator of already existing trends. “We have to get away from the commodity driven model which has failed in creating prosperity. Secondly, self-reliance should be one of the major objectives. The pandemic is wake up call for Africa – Creating new streams of revenue and self-reliance by the African continent”

“We need to use this crisis to take Africa to the next level. This crisis is going to be a super accelerator of already existing trends. I think it has to be a wake-up call for us to attain goals we haven’t reached. Create new revenues for the economy. We also need to attain self-reliance. Self reliance is an important goal. Africa manufactures [only] 2% of what it produces. We need to use this crisis to take Africa to the next level. Invest in digital infrastructure, digital education, agriculture is another opportunity we need to grab. We need to get the AFCTA working,” Yamed said.

Donald Kaberuka on his part opined that “What we need (for this crisis) is something unusual, it is not business as usual. It is not marginal action, it is radical action.”

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Atiku Hails Judgment on Full Financial Autonomy for LGs, Says It’s a Win for Nigerian People

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The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 general elections, and a former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has hailed the judgment of the Supreme Court, ordering that henceforth local government allocations be paid direct into various local government accounts, saying it is a win for the people of Nigeria.

The Waziri Adamawa made his views public via his social media handle, saying categorically that “I align with the decision of the Supreme Court that the structure of the Nigerian government is portioned in three layers, and of these, the local governments should be centres of development.”

He wrote:

The judgment of the Supreme Court earlier today affirming fiscal autonomy to local government councils in the country is a win for the people of Nigeria.

The court’s ruling is a step in the right direction and a major corrective action in greasing the wheels of national development across the country.

The decision by the Federal Government to consolidate disbursements of local councils’ revenues into the state government accounts was a decision that was borne out of politics of hasty compromise.

I align with the decision of the Supreme Court that the structure of the Nigerian government is portioned in three layers, and of these, the local governments should be centres of development.

I also share the belief that fiscal autonomy to the local governments should not be limited to revenues from the Federation Accounts, but indeed, should apply to Internally Generated Revenue from the respective local government authorities.

Many of our states, especially those in the ultra urban areas with high density economic activities, have become notorious in muscling local councils from generating revenue on items that border on motor parks, outdoor advertising, rents and many more.

The verdict of the court is in tandem with the core functions of the Supreme Court as an arbitration court between and among governments. -AA

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Supreme Court Grants LGAs Full Financial Autonomy

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The Supreme Court of Nigeria has ruled that the 774 local government areas (LGAs) be given a full financial autonomy across the federation.

A seven-man panel of Supreme Court Justices led by Justice Garba Lawal delivered the ruling on Thursday, July 11, 2024.

The apex Court initially heard the suit between the Federal and State government on the autonomy of local government on June 13 and reserved judgment.

The suit marked SC/CV/343/2024 was filed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), and it sought full autonomy and direct fund allocation to the 774 local government areas (LGAs) in the country.

Fagbemi requested the Supreme Court to order that funds for LGAs managed by caretaker committees appointed by governors, rather than elected chairmen and councillors, be withheld.

However, the 36 state governors, represented by their attorneys general, oppose the suit on various grounds, including their argument that the Supreme Court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case.

In its ruliing on Thursday (today), the Supreme Court ordered that full financial autonomy be granted to the LGAs, recognizing them as an independent segment of the federation.

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Wike vs Ireti Kingibe: Time to Stop the Bully

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By Eric Elezuo

It is an understatement to say that there’s no love lost between the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Nyesom Wike, and the Senator representing the FCT, Mrs. Ireti Kingibe. Their relationship has turned more soured than the proverbial cat and rat. In fact, both cannot see eye to eye, in as much as they are saddled with the same responsibility of promoting and developing the FCT.

While Kingibe, one of the four female senators in the Senate, is operating on the mandate of the people, having been duly elected under the Labour Party in a well contested election in the 2023 General Elections, Wike is an appointee of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

No one has been able to explain the origin of the beef between the two political figures, but source close to The Boss, has said that differences in political affiliation may have triggered the initial animosity before it blossomed into full time hatred and cross verbal attacks, leading to the bullying of the Senator.

Senator Kingibe had complained earlier in the life of the administration that the FCT has shun all her approaches to synergise for the benefit of the Abuja residents, since she’s a direct interface of the people as an elected representative. But Wike, in his response tackled the Abuja Senator, asking her to stay away from him that he does not wish to be friends with her.

Wike had lambasted the Senator, accusing her of blackmailing him instead of communicating her problems through the right channels or better still focusing on her oversight functions.

He stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja, stating that the lawmaker is aggrieved because the Senate President snubbed her for the position of the Senate Committee on FCT.

“I don’t want to be personal…she’s the Senator for FCT. She went around saying ‘oh, oh Wike is busy scraping roads…I should leave the roads till when the potholes come?” Wike said.

“Somebody wants to be your friend and you say ‘I don’t want to be your friend. Is it by force?’ The problem is that she wanted to be Chairman, Senate Committee on FCT and the Senate President said ‘I’m not giving you’.

‘What are you going to supervise me? You cannot supervise me. What is her interest, that I must see her? If I have a problem I’ll go and see her. I don’t have a problem. Nobody can intimidate me. Look, I was a Minister before. I became a governor of one of the most important states in Nigeria and she thinks that the only way you can bring me down is to go to Channels, TVC, saying the Minister is not carrying me along.

“I don’t have the back to carry. It’s not about blackmailing. Do the right thing. You know her problem? She ran election with my friend Philip Aduda and she sees me taking Philip everywhere instead of her being the Senator. Should I abandon my friend because he failed election?” Wike queried.

However, while the Senator has refused to stay bullied, Nigerians have said that time is now to tame the bully, and save the bullied from any further acts of disrespect.

Kingibe has made it clear however, that she is not in any interested in the friendship of Wike, who she only knows from a distance, but in working together to answer to the needs of the FCT residents, whom both of them have been mandated to serve at the moment.

Speaking on Arise News interview, the Senator reviewed as follows, taking into cognizance that Wike addresses her as one, who claims her senatorial role:

“That’s what he says. I am the senator, but he said in interviews that I claim that I am the senator of the FCT, and he is not obliged to deal with me. But I am saying that by sections 122 and 124 of the Evidence Act, he is bound by the judicial notice of the occupier of the seat of the senator of the FCT.

“I am also saying that section 24 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, imbues on him a duty, that is, the honourable minister, (I am not calling any names because anybody who is the minister is bound by those same laws and duties) to abide by the constitution, to respect all its ideals, institutions and legitimate authorities entirely.

“So just the same way that some Nigerians would have voted for the president, and some would not have, but as soon as he is declared the president, he becomes the president for everybody, and nobody can pick and choose who would rather be the president. And therefore, same applies to all offices regardless of party or any other position.”

She added, “Please what constitutes friendship between two people who have never met each other? I have never sat in the same room with the minister except in the senate committee. So how does friendship arise? Why would I want to be the friend of somebody I do not know?

“The truth of the matter is that the minister refuses to speak or communicate in any way with the senator representing the Federal Capital Territory. So, how are the wishes and the needs of the people to be communicated to him? Please tell me if you know a way.”

Responding while inaugurating the construction of Mabushi Bus Terminal, Phase I, in Abuja, came hard on the senator for her remarks threatening to unseat her as a serving senator in the next election.

Referring to her as a nameless person, Wike asked her to go hug the transformer, in a most derogatory attempt to inform that she does not matter in the scheme of activities in the FCT.

Wike said: “I overheard somebody in Arise this morning. Unfortunately, I hear the person is a member of National Assembly and it is unfortunate I say so. With all due respect, what you don’t know, you don’t know, what you know you know, and the good thing for you is to tell people you don’t when you don’t know, then people will educate you.

“The Honorable Minister of State and my humble self have not been in office for more than 11 months and the person is angry that they are praising us. If you don’t want to or you are angry about that, go and hand yourself in a transformer. If we have done well, we have done well. If we haven’t done well, we haven’t done well. I’m proud to say that in the short time that Mr. President has appointed us, we have done well.

“You said there are no hospitals and there are no hospitals. You, as a legislator, what have you done? How many bills have you sponsored for us to improve our education and health sector?

“I challenge that legislator. If you are very popular, 2027 come and run under Abuja, we will fail you. Do you think that what happened last time, will happen again? It will not happen again. Luckily for me, I am the FCT Minister now. So that is my territory and I’m not afraid.

“So, People should be able to come out and be able to accept the truth. We are not begging for anybody to become our friend, we have so many friends that we cannot even carry along. So how can we go and beg people to become our friends? We are not interested in that.

“If you are angry that people are praising us, by next year your BP level will go very high because the praises you would see would be too much.”

Many legislators were at the event, and they clapped for the minister at the remarks.

In another commissioning activity, the Senate President was on hand to deliver a speech, but ended up talking down on his colleague.

“I saw one of the legislators on television talking about you (Wike) and mentioning the fact that she was not carried along.

“Well, she is a member of the Senate. Once a decision is taken, she is bound by the decision. So, please ignore every distraction (from her) and be rest assured that no matter what you do, not everyone will praise you. Others will still try to find faults,” Mr Akpabio told Mr Wike, who was beaming with smiles.

Many other Senators were present at the event.

But Nigerians have come hard on the FCT Minister for his unguided utterances against an elected public officer, who is also a septugenarian, accusing him of lacking respect and playing God in the affairs of men.

In their response, the Labour Party, FCT branch, accused Wike of falling out of line, saying that Kingibe did nothing  y calling his attention to main needs of the Abuja residents.

The FCT chairman of the party, Comrade Diugwu Chukwuemeka, said by Wike’s outburst, he showed that he is not at home with the peculiarities of the FCT, nothing that the area is a conglomeration of different persons from across the length and breadth of the country.

“Does he not know that he is a tenant in FCT merely appointed by  the president and  if Mr. President decides to remove him, he will be removed without any ceremony,” the LP chairman queried.

On his part, the National Chairman of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Dr Ajuji Ahmed, described Wike’s attack on Senator Kingibe as verbal violence.

He said that Wike does not have the power to stop other politicians’ re-election because he is not the one that brought such politicians to the office in the first instance.

“That (the attack) amounts to verbal violence because there is no reason why he (Wike) should do that. He is not in the LP. It was LP that elected her. He has nothing to do with LP and he is not the entire electorate of the FCT. There is no way somebody can stop someone from being re-elected in three years time. It’s not a savoury statement.”

Also speaking, a Chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA), Chief Chekwas Okorie, also described the verbal exchange between Wike and the FCT as bad.

He appealed to the two public officers to sheathe swords and collaborate for the overall progress of the FCT.

“For me, it is all politics. But it is unfortunate that they allowed their political differences to affect their service to the people.

“The senator representing FCT represents all Abuja and the entire Abuja has one FCT minister.

“It is the National Assembly that presides over Abuja. One would have expected the two to work together. But it is bad that they are fighting each other,” he said.

However, in total condemnation of Wike’s bullish approach to the administration of the FCT and attacks on Kingibe, the women of Abuja have held a protest, asking that Wike be checkmate in his untoward utterances against Kingibe.

“We, the Concerned Women of FCT, Abuja, are therefore calling on all women in Abuja to rise against Wike’s antics,” the women noted.

While Nigerians expect the legislators to come to the rescue and support of their colleague, the contrary is playing out, encouraging Wike’s bullish attitude. But Nigerians are stepping out of their comfort zone to curb the menace.

Nigerians also understand that Wike’s bullish stance extends to his Rivera State primary constituency, where he is slugging it out with the incumbent governor of the state, Mr. Siminalayi Fubara, over the control of the state. The state has,  in recent months, been a subject of political intrigues and violence as the parties fight for supremacy.

But time will tell.

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