May 27, 2020
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April 28, 20201500

Nigeria gets another N1.1 trillion IMF loan to fight Covid19

The International Monetary Fund, IMF, has approved N1.1 trillion (US$3.4 billion) for Nigeria, Daily Mail can report.

The IMF made this known on Tuesday evening in a statement where the bank said the loan is being granted as part of the “emergency financial assistance under the Rapid Financing Instrument to support the authorities’ efforts in addressing the severe economic impact of the COVID-19 shock and the sharp fall in oil prices.”
The Bank noted that COVID-19 outbreak has magnified existing vulnerabilities, leading to a historic contraction in real GDP growth and to large external and fiscal financing needs.
Once the impact of the COVID-19 shock passes, the authorities’ commitment to medium-term macroeconomic stability remains crucial to support the recovery and ensure debt remains sustainable, it further noted.
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved Nigeria’s request for emergency financial assistance of SDR 2,454.5 million (US$ 3.4 billion, 100 percent of quota) under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) to meet the urgent balance of payment needs stemming from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, it explained.

The near-term economic impact of COVID-19 is expected to be severe, while already high downside risks have increased, the statement added.

According to the IMF, even before the COVID-19 outbreak, Nigeria’s economy was facing headwinds from rising external vulnerabilities and falling per capita GDP levels.

The pandemic—along with the sharp fall in oil prices—has magnified the vulnerabilities, leading to a historic decline in growth and large financing needs, it pointed out.

The IMF financial support will help limit the decline in international reserves and provide financing to the budget for targeted and temporary spending increases aimed at containing and mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic and of the sharp fall in international oil prices.

The IMF remains closely engaged with the Nigerian authorities and stands ready to provide policy advice and further support, as needed, it said.

Following the Executive Board’s discussion of Nigeria, Mr. Mitsuhiro Furusawa, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, issued the following statement, that, “The COVID-19 outbreak—magnified by the sharp fall in international oil prices and reduced global demand for oil products—is severely impacting economic activity in Nigeria.

“These shocks have created large external and financing needs for 2020. Additional declines in oil prices and more protracted containment measures would seriously affect the real and financial sectors and strain the country’s financing.

“The authorities’ immediate actions to respond to the crisis are welcome. The short-term focus on fiscal accommodation would allow for higher health spending and help alleviate the impact of the crisis on households and businesses.

“Steps taken toward a more unified and flexible exchange rate are also important and unification of the exchange rate should be expedited.

“Once the COVID-19 crisis passes, the focus should remain on medium-term macroeconomic stability, with revenue-based fiscal consolidation essential to keep Nigeria’s debt sustainable and create fiscal space for priority spending.

“Implementation of the reform priorities under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, particularly on power and governance, remains crucial to boost growth over the medium term.

“The emergency financing under the RFI will provide much needed liquidity support to respond to the urgent BOP needs.

“Additional assistance from development partners will be required to support the government’s efforts and close the large financing gap.

“The implementation of proper governance arrangements—including through the publication and independent audit of crisis-mitigating spending and procurement processes—is crucial to ensure emergency funds are used for their intended purposes.”

 


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April 6, 20201540

Buhari orders withdrawal of $150m from Sovereign Wealth Fund, as FG begs World Bank, IMF for loan

President Muhamadu Buhari has given approval for the withdrawal of $150m from the Sovereign Wealth Fund for distribution to the three tiers of government.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this on Monday, in Abuja during a media briefing on the fiscal policy measures to tackle the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy.

She said the amount would be withdrawn from the stabilisation fund component of the Sovereign Wealth Fund.

The fund is currently being managed by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority.

Zainab said the need to withdraw the amount was to cushion the negative impact of the drop in revenue on the federation account.

She said, for instance, that since January, revenue inflow into the account has been on a decline – a situation that has affected the amount distributed to the three tiers of government by the Federation Account Allocation Committee.

The finance minister also said the government would be approaching international finance institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, African Development Bank among others to seek an additional fund to tackle the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Nigeria.

Buhari had last month set up a Special Ministerial Task Force to seek ways and advise on the general economic outlook, stimulus plans, and packages to save the Nigerian economy.

The task force headed by Ahmed is made up of the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba; Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Silva; Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emiefele, and the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari.

 


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February 16, 20201220

African debt is on the rise, and that fact is causing tensions to spark in unexpected places.

Total external debt for sub-Saharan Africa jumped nearly 150% to $583 billion in 2018 from $236 billion 10 years earlier, according to World Bank data. Many now worry the debt load is becoming unsustainable as the average public debt increased from 2010-2018 by 40% to 59% of GDP.

It’s a problem across the low-income developing world but is particularly acute in the subregion, where the fast-growing debt accumulation has outpaced other developing areas. The trend has been driven by a number of factors, including cheap money in more advanced economies so investors have been keen to seek yield in African countries promising up to 8% or 9% on eurobonds, said IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva, in a panel discussion at the World Bank in Washington, DC this week. The problem, she noted, is 8% to 9% isn’t cheap for many countries paying out the yield.

The IMF and World Bank are especially worried about the lack of transparency, weak debt management, and a lack of capacity in an increasing number of low-income countries. “We are faced with a duality. Sophistication of lending instruments is going up. Multiplicity of sources is going up—and capacity to handle is falling behind,” said Georgieva.

Both institutions are also worried about the impact of China which, while still not the largest lender, has become a hugely influential source of capital in African countries that have few options due to their weak economic balance sheet. This is particularly true because China offers a convenient package of funding and execution through its state-owned enterprises for much-needed infrastructure projects across the continent. The problem, said World Bank president David Malpass, is the lack of transparency.

“One of the practical problems we’re dealing with right now is some of the new lenders, the non-Paris Club lenders—and so I guess when we say that, people should sometimes read China into that,” said Malpass. “They’ve escalated their lending, which is good in a way. We want more lending into developing countries.  But…oftentimes their contracts have a nondisclosure clause that prohibits the World Bank or private sector from seeing what the terms of the contract are.”

WB vs AfDB

But Malpass grabbed most headlines for his attacks on the Asia Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the African Development Bank (AfDB), blaming them for “a tendency to lend too quickly and add to the debt problem of the countries.” He added: “In the case of Africa, the African Development Bank is pushing large amounts of money into Nigeria, South Africa, and others without the strongest program to sustain it and push it forward.”

The AfDB immediately hit back,describing Malpass’ comments as “inaccurate and not fact-based.” It added: “It impugns the integrity of the AfDB, undermines our governance systems, and incorrectly insinuates that we operate under different standards from the World Bank.”

The AfDB argued the World Bank has significantly larger operations on the continent of $20.2 billion in 2018 compared with the AfDB’s $10.1 billion. One AfDB insider speaking on background said the bank had been caught unawares of Malpass’ statement. There was little doubt it was premeditated, as Malpass repeated it in a tweet after the event.

It comes at an interesting time for both institutions. Malpass, who took the role a year ago, as a former Trump advisor and previous World Bank critic, has recently revealed he’s splitting the World Bank’s sub-Saharan Africa unit into two, West/Central Africa and East/Southern Africa, with two vice-presidents. This is widely seen as the bank likely doing more business in the region—and it could be going up head-to-head with the AfDB more often and in a less collegial fashion than it has traditionally.

As for the AfDB, its president Akinwumi Adesina of Nigeria is on the verge of being reelected this May to run the bank for another five years by its shareholders. Its biggest shareholder is Nigeria, and its next largest is the United States, which picked Malpass to run the World Bank.

(Quartz Africa)

 


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February 8, 2020370

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) says it is targeting N8.5 trillion revenue for the country in 2020.

The Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mr Muhammad Nami, disclosed this at the 2020 Corporate Plan Retreat in Abuja on Friday.

Nami said that the 2020 target was slightly lower than the 2019 target by about N300 billion.

He explained that the N8.5 trillion target was broken down into oil tax target of N3.698 trillion and non-oil taxes target of N4.8 trillion.

He stated that assessing the service’s performance in the recent past, one could look at 2020 target as ambitious but it was achievable.

The FIRS boss assured that the target was achievable and realisable especially with the ongoing reforms and business process re-engineering that were currently taking place in the service.

According to him, these reforms are aimed at improving both filing and payment compliance, re-activation of dormant taxpayers through aggressive intelligence gathering and information sharing  and blocking of leakages.

“In 2019, the FIRS achieved total tax revenue collection of N5.263 trillion against target of N8.802 trillion which translated to about 60 per cent target achievement for the year.

“The performance was slightly lower than the 2018 collection of N5.32 trillion by N57 billion. Oil tax collection for the year was N2.111 trillion which was 49 per cent achievement of its annual target of N4.301 trillion and accounted for 40 per cent contribution to the total collection.

“On the other hand, non-oil taxes collection for the year was N3.152 trillion which was 70 per cent achievements of the annual target of N4.501 trillion and accounted for 60 per cent contribution to the total collection,” he explained.

On the retreat, the chairman noted that the event was a flagship in the service’s planning cycle and a platform where staff and management review the performance of the service in the immediate past year and map out goals and strategies for achieving set objectives for the current year.

He reiterated the commitment of the service in working to realise President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision at taking 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years by collecting robust revenue to develop infrastructure.(NAN)


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January 30, 2020400

 

President Buhari to resign on what basis? Just because some characters think that President Buhari should resign, then they expect him to quit. That call does not represent the opinion of the country.

This is the opinion of an arm chair critic, known for making stray comments.

If a leader like President Buhari needs to resign, there are millions of other Nigerians who need to resign, including Senator Abaribe who unlocked the door to enable the escape of traitorous and treasonable suspects.

He signed the bond for the court to release Nnamdi Kanu on bail, from which moment the suspect disappeared into the thin air.

Senator Abaribe has failed repeated deadlines to return Kanu to the court for trial, yet he has the effrontery with which to accuse someone of failing to the bidding of the law.

This is a man who should have replaced the suspects he failed to produce in the correctional facility.

Abaribe’s party raped the nation and left it collapsing in 2015 and President Buhari is fixing things up all the years he is in office.

President Buhari is working hard to keep Nigeria and Nigerians out of the harm terrorists have unleashed in the entire Sahel and Sub-Saharan Africa with the support of Nigerians and our foreign friends, he is going to finish off these terrorists. He alone can do it.

Signed: Garbaw Shehu, President Mohammadu Buhari’s aide on Media


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January 3, 2020700

An estimated 26,039 babies will be born in Nigeria on New Year’s Day, UNICEF said today.

Nigerian babies will account for almost 7 per cent of the estimated 392,078 babies to be born on New Year’s Day globally – the third highest number of babies in the world, after India and China.

“The beginning of a new year – and this year, a new decade – is a chance for us to reflect on our hopes and dreams for the future of Nigeria – especially for those who stand to inherit this country; its children,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Nigeria Representative. “As we start each new year, we are reminded of the potential of each and every Nigerian child embarking on her or his life’s journey—if only they are given that chance to survive and thrive.”

Fiji in the Pacific will most likely deliver 2020’s first baby. The United States, its last. Globally, over half of these births are estimated to take place in eight countries:

  1. India — 67,385
  2. China — 46,299
  3. Nigeria — 26,039
  4. Pakistan — 16,787
  5. Indonesia — 13,020
  6. The United States of America — 10,452
  7. The Democratic Republic of Congo — 10,247
  8. Ethiopia — 8,493

Each January, UNICEF celebrates babies born on New Year’s Day, an auspicious day for child birth around the world.

However, for millions of newborns around the world, including in Nigeria, the day of their birth is far less auspicious, and sadly is often their last.

In 2018, 2.5 million newborns died in just their first month of life around the world; about a third of them on the first day of life. In Nigeria, this was 318,522 deaths. Among those children, most died from preventable causes such as premature birth, complications during delivery, and infections like sepsis. In addition, more than 2.5 million babies are born dead each year – with more than 400,000 stillborn deaths taking place in Nigeria annually.

Over the past three decades, the world – including Nigeria – has seen remarkable progress in child survival, cutting the number of children worldwide who die before their fifth birthday by more than half. In Nigeria, this number has been cut by about 500,000 between 1990 and 2018. But there has been slower progress for newborns. Babies dying in their first month of life accounted for 47 per cent of all deaths among children under five in 2018, up from 40 per cent in 1990. In Nigeria, these figures are 29 per cent, up from 21 per cent in 1990.

UNICEF’s Every Child Alive campaign calls for immediate investment in health workers with the right training, who are equipped with the right medicines to ensure every mother and newborn is cared for by a safe pair of hands to prevent and treat complications during pregnancy, delivery and birth.

“Too many mothers and newborns are not being cared for by a trained and equipped midwife or nurse, and the results are devastating,” said Peter Hawkins. “We can ensure that millions of babies survive their first day and live into this decade and beyond if every mother has good pregnancy care and every baby is born into a safe pair of hands.

“That means having well-equipped facilities with well-trained staff who can be there to welcome every Nigerian child into this world safely and healthily. This is especially critical as we now only have 10 years to deliver on the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”


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December 17, 20192830

 

Senate President, Ahmed Lawan has been fingered for supervising and giving tacit approval for the insertion of a whopping N264 billion into the 2020 appropriation bill before President Mohammadu Buhari for his assent.
This revelation came to light by one of the aggrieved senators who said recent happenings in the Senate “bear” the hallmark of recklessness and “a desire to fleece the country for 2023 political ambition .”
This is coming on the heels of another unilateral approval by Lawan to enable President Buhari obtain future purse draining loan of $30 billion.
In return, Lawan has obtained N37 billion from the president for the renovation of a section of the National Assembly as a quid pro quo. That was equally tacitly approved by the executive.
Nigeria’s total external debt stands at $27.16 billion and domestic debt stands at $56.72 billion according to Debt Management Office.
National Bureau of Statistics has urged every time in its reports to curb excessive borrowing and taste for borrowing for consumption, pointing out that it is also responsible for poor showing infrastructural investment due to excessive servicing.
The International Monetary Fund, IMF, had few years ago denied Nigerian government loan for fear of it inability to properly service it due to slowing revenue.
If the Lawan-led National Assembly approved the loan request, the nation’s total debt stock would rise to about $97billion (about N30 trillion) thus serving as a cliffhanger for Nigeria’s economy.
In the main, details of the illegal insertions into 2020 budget showed that, “supply of goods to Katsina,” would cost N6 billion.
The goods described here are, fertilizers, N500 million,  rice also allocated N500 million and “maize and beans in Katsina,” all got allocations of N500 million each.
Also, the lawmakers used general term in vague form as “supply of tricycles, motorcycles, sewing machines” with each to cost ₦500 million or “supply of new Toyota Hiace buses, utility vehicles SDG intervention” which is to gulp ₦1.92 billion.
This allocations were inserted into the budget of the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs (OSSAP–MDGs), an office under the presidency, which had an initial proposal of ₦34,006,614 as its budget.
In order to “take something home for themselves,” the lawmakers increased the budget vaguely from that  ₦34,006,614 to
₦5.106 billion, showing a stupendous difference of ₦5.072 billion.
Also, the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), an agency under the Ministry of Trade and Investment, had its budget increased to ₦14.85 billion from ₦11.02 billion.
The increase was justified to be spent on similar vague projects such as “rehabilitation, surface dressing and construction of drainages of rural roads in selected locations in Isuiwato/Umunneochi federal constituency” for ₦500 million.
Also the lawmakers proposed the “supply of mobile kiosks, mobile kitchen and modern SME tools entrepreneurial training for prospective entrepreneurs in Nigeria” for ₦730 million.
Even the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA), which is under the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation had its budget raised from the ₦3.73 billion to ₦5.46billion under similar vague and fake projects.
Similarly, another vague allocation was inserted into the BCDA appropriation. ₦100 million was inserted for “youth empowerment in Yobe East Senatorial District” while “supply of tricycles and sewing machines in Yobe East Senatorial District” would gulp ₦50 million.
Premium Times had reported, copiously quoting an ICPC report, titled Constituency Projects Tracking Group (CPTG), which tracked 424 projects from 2015–2018 zonal intervention projects between June and August, 2019, across 12 states and the FCT, describing the budgets of SMEDAN and BCDA — two agencies fingered for budget overwriting  — as “conduits for embezzling funds.”
The lawmakers cleverly used such fictitious descriptions to denote the insertions and duplicated them across ministries and agencies too numerous to mention and track down.
Senate Committee Chairman on Appropriation, Ibrahim Barau, notoriously known for his recklessness and ‘playing balls’ as a willing tool justified the budget increase during presentation before the lawmakers when he said the top-up would offset the infrastructural deficit in the country.
But it has long been proven by ICPC and other budget monitoring groups as well as aggrieved lawmakers that no such thing was intended when the president presented the budget before them.
Besides, the budget would be wholly financed from external borrowing and so the makers of the budget walked on tight rope to get a near finish appropriation document before the lawmakers.
The president’s initial proposal was ₦10.33 trillion. Not a few Nigerians raised eyebrows when the lawmakers passed the bill
after inserting “new projects” increasing it up to ₦10.594 trillion (₦10,594,362,364,830) with curious justifications.
An aggrieved lawmakers told Daily Mail Online upon enquiries that not everyone in the committee was carried along as Barau imposed himself because he was working under the orders of the Senate president.
In fact, the insertions were done in Barau’s house after collecting it from Lawan.
Daily Mail Online could not independently verify these claims but efforts to reach Barau proved unsuccessful as his phone rang out without response.
There was also no response from the office of the Senate president when enquiries were made through text messages as at the time of going to press.
Already the tacit approval of N37 billion for the renovation of the section of the National Assembly complex is causing ripples among the senators as they compete for projects in the name of their companies.

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December 16, 2019820

The trial of Mohammed Dangana, a staff of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, continued on December 16 before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja with the third witness, Adedeji Adelabu, a bureau de change operator, telling the court that he purchased dollars to the tune of $9.8 million from the defendant.

Dangana, an executive assistant to the Financial Controller, ECOWAS Commission Secretariat, Abuja, is under prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 15-count charge, bordering on criminal diversion of funds, misappropriation and money laundering to the tune of over N587.7 million.

According to Adelabu, all the naira payments made for the purchase of the estimated $9.8 million were done at the agreed rates to the various accounts provided by the defendant. He said the payments were dully confirmed received as instructed, with the dollar proceeds given to them accordingly.

The witness gave details of some of the transactions involving the defendant to the tune of $1 million on June 30, 2016 and another transaction of $1 million on July 4, 2019 at the prevailing rate of N347 to a dollar.

Adelabu added that other transactions were done afterwards and that in total, an approximate sum of $9.8 million was purchased and all payments were made as directed by the defendant.

When asked about his relationship with Cactus Facility Management Company, into which several millions were paid, he said he had no relationship outside the instructions given to make payments to the account.

The witness told the court that payments were made into various accounts, including Dashad & Co, Rite Option Ventures Ltd, Crossgains Trading and Investment Ltd, Cactus Facility Management Company, Saldano Chambers, ECOWAS account and others.

The matter was adjourned until December 17, 2019, for continuation of trial.


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October 17, 20192500

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October 16, 20191030

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) plans to, in 2020, spend about N4 billion on procurement of land for offices and fencing of hectares of land acquired in different parts of the country.

The 2020 Appropriation Bill, which President Muhammadu Buhari presented to the National Assembly last week, shows that a large chunk of the EFCC’s capital allocation would be expended on the procurement and fencing of large hectares of land in different parts of the country.
If approved, the EFCC would use N63,612,773 to fence its 1.8 hectares of land at Pwoyi village in the Federal Capital Territory;  N141, 127,926 to fence 50 hectares of land for its proposed Academy at Orozo , a Nasarawa State community and another N3,371,940 for the fencing of land for its proposed office in Benin, Edo State.

The EFCC has also proposed to procure an expanse of land for its exhibit park at Maiduguri, Borno State, for N7,225,585 and an unspecified size of land for “future development” at its Gombe office for N12,042,6421. It also intends to purchase office buildings at its Port Harcourt Zonal office for N115, 609,385. The EFCC also plans to spend  N22, 265,818 on procurement of land for what it termed “permanent development in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital while also proposing the sum of N20,472,492 to compensate locals at Piwoyi village in the FCT to “cover cost of economic trees, farmlands, etc.”

The anti-graft agency further proposes to spend N24, 085,284 to compensate locals at Orozo village in the FCT to cover cost of economic trees, farmlands, and the same amount (N24,085,284) for the same purpose at Kwandere, a community near Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital.

With agency report