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Tinubu’s Ministers Fault Subsidy Removal, Floating of Naira

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Two ministers, on Friday, blamed the current food crisis in the country on the unintended consequences of the two reforms introduced by the Federal government on petrol subsidy and forex.

Minister of Agriculture, Abubakar Kyari, attributed the food shortage in the country to the devaluation of the Naira, which has made the nation’s currency very weak, compared to the CFA franc, the currency used by eight other states in the West Africa sub-region.

Kyari made the disclosure on Friday at the National Assembly in his presentation before the Senate committees on Finance, Appropriation, Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions.

The former acting national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) lamented that the devaluation of the naira had put neighbouring countries at an advantage to buy cheaper farm products from Nigeria which are now consequently smuggled across the border by peasants.

He said: “What we are faced with today is the undocumented export of food to our neighbouring countries. Today, one CFA is N2.50, that is to say, 100 CFA is N2,200. That used to be N400 a few years ago. When you look at our neighbouring countries, all four neighbouring countries around us, the CFA is their currency and because of the devaluation of the naira, our food is the cheapest around the neighbourhood. So, you find a lot of undocumented exports, smuggling across our porous borders to these neighboring countries.”

The minister, who said the Federal government might be compelled to again seal up the borders against the country’s neighbours, expressed concern over unrestrained exportation of certain farm produce by nationals of China, India and Turkey who earned foreign exchange from it while the country earns nothing in return.

He said: “The other angle that we have over the period is the unavailability of foreign exchange. A lot of investors, Indians, Chinese, Turkish, that are operating in this country buy our crops that are sought after outside, like soya beans and buy them at exorbitant prices just to earn foreign exchange.  When they go outside there to earn foreign exchange, the worst part is that most of these monies are not repatriated back to us.

“Export is a good thing for us but when you don’t earn the foreign exchange and it is not repatriated back to us, and government doesn’t have any income from it, I am sorry, that is not a good sign.

“So, what we are trying to do here is to ramp up production. I think it is an issue of economics, between supply and demand, but unfortunately we have to see how we can secure food for our 230 million citizens and at the same time if this economic situation continues, then you have to seal up the borders which is against the ECOWAS issue.”

Kyari’s counterpart in the Ministry of Budget and Planning, Atiku Abubakar Bagudu, noted that the removal of fuel subsidy is also affecting planting by farmers.

Bagudu said: “The benefits of fuel subsidy reforms have to be supported by measures that will guarantee food production and stability.

“From our perspectives, particularly from budget and planning, there are places today in about 18 states in the country where you can still plant rice for the dry season farming, including the constituency of the chairman of the national planning in five local governments where, if care is not taken, not for reasons of insecurity, 70 percent of the planting areas might not be cultivated because of fuel cost.

“It is the same thing in a number of places in the constituency of my brother, Senator Adamu Aliero. The balancing of the reforms and ensuring the necessary measures are implemented urgently in order to ensure that we support the reforms is the point made by Senator Aliero. And the commendable act of removing fuel subsidy needs to be supported by measures that support domestic production in order to achieve the full impact.”

As the senators grilled members of the Economic Management Team, they asked the Federal Government to end the pain of Nigerians by applying urgent, workable solutions in its economic recovery policies.

With the inflation rate at 28.92 percent, increased hunger, an exchange rate of about N1,500 to the United States dollar, insecurity and scarcity of food, the lawmakers said President Bola Tinubu and his economic team must respond with measures that would yield faster results.

The team, which was led by the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun, appeared before the joint Senate committee co-chaired by senators Sani Musa and Adetokumbo Ashiru.

The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Yemi Cadoso, was also in attendance.

The senators grilled the ministers for over three hours, seeking explanations for the current economic hardship, particularly inflation, exchange rate crisis, insecurity and food scarcity that have forced Nigerians to start protesting publicly in some states of the federation.

They noted that the sufferings faced by Nigerians have continued to worsen in spite of constant assurances by government that its interventions were yielding fruits.

For instance, Senator Orji Kalu told the team that the manufacturing and agricultural sectors “are practically dead.”

Kalu said the “rush for dollar” in Nigeria had reached an embarrassing level where some goods and services were now priced in the United States’ currency in Nigeria.

“The use of dollar in Nigeria should be an abomination. I can see even shops in Abuja advertising their goods in dollars. Are we going to dollarise our economy?

“What are your plans to stop the threat by Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to embark on a protest?” he said.

Senator Abdul Ningi observed that Nigerians had heard more speeches and promises from government officials than solutions to their sufferings.

He said: “The rhetoric continues. This is typical of us. The dollar has been criminalised. Most of us in government are involved. And it even starts from the CBN.

“People are stealing this dollar and know nothing will happen to them. This issue of dollar bribe is from top to bottom.”

But the finance minister, Edun, while reassuring the senators that the government’s interventions were yielding results, expressed the sympathy of Tinubu with Nigerians and called for more patience to allow his administration’s measures to mature.

The governor of the CBN, Yemi Cardoso, in his submission, said the apex bank had no magic wand to address the free-fall of the naira, just as he admonished Nigerians to reduce consumption of foreign goods.

He also attributed the high demand for the greenback to medical tourism and high demand for education in foreign lands.

Cardoso reiterated the government’s belief that the inflation rate would drop to around 21.4 percent later in the year.

For the exchange rate crisis, Cardoso said one way the elite could help the government in resolving it was to reduce their appetite for using foreign currencies, especially the dollar.

He disclosed that foreign investors had begun to restore confidence in the economy as a result of the measures introduced, which had seen an inflow of over $1 billion lately.

Cardoso said: “The Nigerian foreign exchange market is currently facing increased demand pressures, causing a continuous decline in the value of the naira. Factors contributing to this situation include speculative forex demand, inadequate forex supply, increased capital outflows and excess liquidity.

“To address exchange rate volatility, a comprehensive strategy has been initiated to enhance liquidity in the FX markets. This includes unifying FX market segments, clearing outstanding FX obligations, introducing new operational mechanisms for BDCs and IMTOs, enforcing the Net Open Position limit, Open Market Operations, adjusting the remunerable Standing Deposit Facility cap, among others.

“Distinguished senators, these measures, aimed at ensuring a more market-oriented mechanism for exchange rate determination, will boost foreign exchange inflows, stabilise the exchange rate, and minimise its pass-through to domestic inflation.

“Indeed, they have already started yielding early results with significant interest from Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) that have already begun to supply the much-needed foreign exchange to the economy.

“For example, upwards of $1 billion in the last few days came in to subscribe to the Nigeria Treasury Bill auction of one trillion naira which saw an over-subscription earlier this week.

“Our measures aimed at improving USD supply into the Nigerian economy have significant potential in taming the volatility of the exchange rates. However, for these measures to be sustainable, we must, as a country, moderate our demand for FX.

“It is also clear that the task of stabilising the exchange rate, while an official mandate of the CBN, would necessitate efforts beyond the bank itself. It will also include actions by corporates and individuals to reduce our frequent demand for the dollar for business and personal needs.”

When asked to tell Nigerians when the exchange rate would stabilise or drop significantly, the governor replied that he did not know.

“Our measures on exchange rate, well, we don’t know when it will go down, but can I assure you that as the measures kick in, rates will go down ultimately?

“We have to moderate our demand for FX as well,” Cardoso added.

Source: Eyewitness

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Whiz Kid, Abdul-salam, Seeks Assistance to Prosecute M.Sc Studies in Scotland

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By Eric Elezuo

Teslim Abdul-salam, a 24-year-old Nigerian, from Oyo State, has sent a save our soul message to well meaning Nigerians to come to his aid in his quest to become a Global Energy Leader and establish a Youth-led Sustainable Energy Company in Africa.

Abdul-salam made this disclosure during an exclusive chat with The Boss. He noted that he intends to extend his high flying academic sojourn with an opportunity to obtain an M.Sc degree in Energy Economics and Finance at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, the admission he had already secured.

On why he thinks he is qualified for assistance from well meaning Nigerians to pursue the Masters honours, Abdul-salam said:

“My name is Teslim Abdul-salam, a 24-year-old Petroleum Engineering graduate from the First Technical University, Ibadan, Nigeria. I graduated with a Second Class Upper and have furthered my education with masterclasses in Leadership for Young Engineers from Guardian of the Nation International (GOTNI), Abuja, and in Business Management from the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

“Additionally, I hold diplomas in French Studies and Entrepreneurship Studies from the First Technical University, Ibadan.

“Throughout my academic and professional journey, I have achieved notable accomplishments. I received the Tech-Upreneur (Entrepreneur) Ambassador award in 2020, led a team that qualified for the Hult Prize Regional Entrepreneurship Competition in Cairo in 2020, and was among the Top 100 out of 17,000 applicants in the International Breweries Foundation (IBF) Kickstart Entrepreneurship Contest in 2019.

“I possess strong skills in public speaking, data analysis, business writing, and digital marketing. Currently, I run a digital freelance business in Nigeria.

“My long-term vision is to become a Global Energy Leader and to establish a Youth-led Sustainable Energy Company in Africa. I am a passionate advocate for climate action, focusing on making clean energy accessible and affordable for underserved communities in Africa.”

His avalanche of distinguished achievements notwithstanding, Abdul-salam is unable to move closer to his dreams of becoming a better person, and contributing his quota to the making of a better Nigeria with the MSc in Energy Economics and Finance, and therefore, seek financial assistance or sponsorship.

“I have been offered conditional admission to the MSc in Energy Economics and Finance programme at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. However, I am unable to meet the financial requirements for the programme.

“I am reaching out to request assistance in obtaining a scholarship or financial support to cover the tuition and living expenses for my postgraduate programme. This opportunity is crucial for me to achieve my goal of becoming a Global Energy Leader and contributing significantly to sustainable energy solutions in Africa. Any support or guidance you can provide would be immensely appreciated,” he said.

With the importance this administration has attached to education, it will not be out of place if the likes of Abdul-salam are assisted to achieve noble objectives in science, management, finance among a host of other academic disciplines that can turn the fortunes of the nation, and reduce youth restiveness in the country.

Abdul-salam needs your assistance. Please, help!

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FG Endorses Groundbreaking Clean Cookstoves Project, Partners GreenPlinth Africa

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In a landmark move towards sustainable development and environmental conservation, the Federal Government of Nigeria through the National Council on Climate Change has officially endorsed a revolutionary initiative aimed at addressing global climate crisis, environmental challenges and improving livelihoods across the nation.

Under the auspices of GREENPLINTH AFRICA LIMITED, in collaboration with strategic partners, an ambitious Article 6.4 project has been launched to distribute 80 million clean cookstoves free of charge to households throughout Nigeria.

This initiative, the largest single clean cooking systems project in the world, marks a significant step forward in combatting the adverse health and environmental impacts associated with traditional cooking methods, such as indoor air pollution and deforestation.

The provision of clean cookstoves is set to transform the lives of millions of Nigerians, particularly women and children, who are disproportionately affected by the harmful effects of traditional cooking practices. The adoption of clean and efficient cookstoves by households will lead to improved indoor air quality, reduce respiratory illnesses, and largely contribute to mitigating climate change through lower carbon emissions.

In a statement by Dr. Olawale Akinwumi, president and CEO of GREENPLINTH AFRICA LIMITED, the Director General of the National Council on Climate Change, Dr. Salisu Dahiru recently issued a formal Letter of Endorsement (LoE) for the Improved And Efficient Cooking Energy Solution For Nigeria – a Programmatic Article 6.4 Project.

Dr. Dahiru, who is also the Designated National Authority (DNA) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Focal Point in Nigeria averred that the project would result in greenhouse gas emission reduction and more importantly lead to sustainable forest development and job creation in Nigeria.

According to him, besides reduction in domestic emissions, the project will decrease upper respiratory infections, thereby leading to improved health conditions; and equally enhance the nation in achieving sustainable development and the goals of Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Speaking on the importance of the project, Dr. Victor Fodeke, vice president and GMD of Greenplinth Africa Limited stated that the initiative will particularly benefits vulnerable communities, women, and children, who bear the brunt of health issues linked to traditional cooking practices. “Nigerians will experience tangible benefits while collectively contributing to global efforts in combating climate change”, he said.

Dr. Fodeke, a former Technical Adviser on Climate Change to the African Union (AU), declared that in addition to the deployment of clean cookstoves, the project includes an ambitious afforestation campaign, with plans to plant a staggering 4 billion economic trees across the nation. This initiative not only aims to combat deforestation but also to promote sustainable land management practices, enhance biodiversity, and create economic opportunities for communities across Nigeria – stimulating economic growth by creating new avenues for employment and income generation.

“The Article 6.4 Clean Cookstoves Project will be a foreign exchange earner for the Nigerian economy. This is first time anywhere in the world that efficient clean cookstoves project of this magnitude is being launched to be fully funded for every household, and 100% financed by Carbon Credits.

“Our PANDA Cookstove is also the first clean cookstove in the world to be launched with the co-benefit of Innovative Tree Planting and Nurturing to eliminate or reduce Poverty, Hunger, and Diseases,” he concluded.

The Federal Government’s endorsement of this groundbreaking Article 6.4 initiative underscores its commitment to fostering sustainable development, environmental stewardship, and the well-being of its citizens.

The Improved and Efficient Cooking Energy Solution for Nigeria is a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Global Climate Action Portal (GCAP) registered Initiative.

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Court Denies Binance Executive Tigran Gambaryan Bail

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Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court Abuja, on Friday, refused to grant bail to an executive of Binance Holdings Limited, Tigran Gambaryan.

Justice Nwite held that Gambaryan is likely to jump bail if granted to him.

The company and its executive were arraigned on a five-count charge bordering on money laundering before Emeka Nwite, judge of a Federal High Court in Abuja.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Moving an application, Counsel to the Defendant, Mark Mordi, argued that the court had the power to grant bail to the defendant and impose conditions to ensure his presence in court.

The prosecution counsel, Ekele Iheanacho, however opposed the bail application, stating that the defendant is a flight risk.

He stated that the defendant attempted to obtain a new passport, which he claimed was stolen, and this is a suspicious act given the proximity to his colleague’s escape from custody.

He added that the court cannot risk granting Gambaryan bail, especially as he is not attached to any community in Nigeria.

“The fact that the passport of the defendant is with the complainant does not guarantee that he will remain in Nigeria because the defendant is not only an American citizen but also an Armenian citizen by birth.

He urged the court to refuse the application and instead remand him in EFCC custody to ensure his safety and prevent potential flight risk.

Delivering ruling, the judge said several factors including the nature of offence and its severity must be considered when trying to decide whether or not bail should be granted to the defendant applicant.

Justice Nwite agreed with the depositions made by prosecution and was of the view that the applicant will jump bail if bail is granted to him.

He subsequently ordered that the trial be given an accelerated hearing.

After the ruling, the EFCC called its first witness, a staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

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