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Ajaokuta Steel Complex to Create 500,000 Jobs – Buhari, while reflecting on the Season 

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Nunc Dimittis: Buhari Advocates Regular Gulf of Guinea Summit To Ensure Peace, Security

President Muhammadu Buhari, in the course of the week, said the Ajaokuta Steel Complex would provide about 500,000 estimated jobs for Nigerian youths.

The president revealed this during his one-day state visit to Kogi on Thursday, even as some youths said would have been happier, if the jobs are provided now.

The President also spoke of the determination of his administration to position Kogi as an industrial hub, as well as a solid mineral power base.

He explained how the Federal Government achieved the resolution of all legal entanglements that had bogged down the progress of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex.

According to him, the project stands to benefit the people of the state immensely.

“It is like the President is now running the extra mile, as time runs against his tenure”, a youth, Johnson Edafe whose view was sought said, stressing that Nigerians are more interested in the empirical, rather than in the hypothetical.

Also Read: Ajaokuta Steel Coy to Generate $1.6bn Annually – Buhari

The president had earlier hosted the leadership of the FCT and representatives of the FCT community, who paid him Christmas homage at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, at the beginning of the week.

During the Christmas homage, Buhari lauded the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Mohammed Bello for exhibiting the virtues of transparency, honesty and integrity while managing the affairs of the FCT.

According to the Nigerian leader, he deliberately appointed Bello as FCT minister and refused to redeploy him because of his good character.

He said Bello had proven to be a better manager of both financial and human resources.

Buhari also told his guests that he would not be hanging around the FCT, after May 29, 2023, in order not to meddle in the affairs of the office of his successor.

He reiterated that he would return to Daura, Katsina State, his hometown, at the end of his tenure.

According to him, his decision not to make Abuja a permanent abode is to allow his successor a free hand to operate and run the affairs of government.

The president also told members of the FCT community that he had not built a new house in Daura or anywhere and hoped to live in his same house of many years.

The president also inaugurated the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) newly acquired Estate in Idu-Karmo, Abuja, on Wednesday.

At the event, Buhari said the befitting accommodation would enhance productivity and coordination of activities of staffers of the agency in view of the increasing number of personnel facing new challenges and responsibilities

He also used the opportunity to charge security agencies that would be engaged with various support services in the 2023 general elections to maintain a high sense of professionalism.

Buhari urged the agencies to handle the distribution and monitoring of classified materials and other logistics ‘‘professionally and in accordance with Standing Operation Procedures.’’

While reiterating his earlier directive to security agencies to remain apolitical, the president said they must desist from behaviour that could bring disrepute to their organisations and the country ‘‘by compromising the democratic process.’’

On Wednesday, the Nigerian leader heaped praises on the newly promoted Commander, Brigade of Guards, Maj.-Gen. Mohammed Usman.

He described him as an outstanding officer who was serving the nation with great zeal.

The president, assisted by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya and the wife of the Commander, Dr. Rekiya Usman, decorated the officer with the rank of Major-General.

Speaking shortly after the ceremony in the Presidential Villa, the president recalled his tumultuous military career marked with coups, counter-coups and detention.

He described Usman as a very lucky officer to have risen to the height of his military career with distinction and without hiccups.

The president also expressed sadness over the passing of Prof. George Obiozor, the President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, worldwide.

He extended heartfelt condolences to Obiozor’s family, the government and the people of Imo as well as Ndigbo, at home and in Diaspora.

The president said that the contributions of the unique leader and strong proponent of peace and a stable polity, who also held other strategic public positions, would never be forgotten.

On Friday, Buhari hosted the Senate President, Dr. Ahmed Lawan at the State House, Abuja.

Lawan, who spoke to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting revealed that the president would sign the 2023 appropriation bill on Tuesday.

Lawan said that he discussed some national issues with Buhari, including the president’s recent additional loan request, the legislature’s support to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ahead of the general elections and the 2023 Appropriation Bill.

Buhari had on Saturday paid tribute to the late Pope Benedict XVI who was greatly admired globally for his selfless leadership and renowned learning as a theologian.

He commiserated with Pope Francis, the Catholic Church in Nigeria and around the world, as well as all Christian faithful mourning the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

He also lauded the deceased for his dedication to advancing inter-faith dialogue and peace.

According to Buhari, the late Pontiff will be remembered as a true servant of God.

The president concluded the week under review with his administration’s last New Year message released by his media aide, Malam Garba Shehu in Abuja on Saturday.

He reassured Nigerians that under his watch, their collective will and votes in the 2023 general elections would be fulfilled.

Buhari thanked the almighty God who saw Nigerians through the year 2022 and had given them the opportunity to see another New Year.

”It as an opportunity to reflect on the past year, reposition, and move forward in the new year,” Buhari said. 

Economy

FG Threatens To Open Borders for Cement Importation Over Price Hike

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Palpable fear has gripped cement manufacturers following the Federal Government’s threat to throw open the nation’s borders for cement importation if the product manufacturers fail to bring down the cost.

The Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Mr Ahmed Dangiwa issued the threat on Tuesday in Abuja at a meeting with Cement and Building Materials Manufacturers.

The meeting was summoned to address the astronomical increase in the cost of cement nationwide.

The minister expressed concerns that in the past couple of months, the country had witnessed a recurring alarming increase in the prices of cement and other building materials.

“Clearly, this is a crisis for housing delivery. An increase in essential building materials means an increase in the prices of houses.

“We are not the only country facing this challenges, many countries are facing the same type of challenges that we’re facing, some even worse than that.

“But, as patriotic citizens, we have to rally round the country when there is crisis, to ensure that we do our best to save the situation,” he said.

The minister added: “Honestly speaking, we have to sit down and look at this critically and know how you should go back and think of it.

“The government stopped importation of cement in other to empower you to produce more and sell cheaper

Bags of cement

“Otherwise the government can open the borders for mass importation of cement, the price will crash, but you will have no business to do”.

Dangiwa said the reasons given by cement manufacturers for the price increase – high cost of gas and manufacturing equipment – were not enough for such astronomical pricing.

He expressed his displeasure at the position of  Cement Manufacturer Association of Nigeria (CEMAN) that the association “does not interfer with the pricing of cement”.

He said the association should not just fold  its arms when things were going wrong.

“One person cannot be selling at N3500 per bag and another selling at N7000 per bag and you cannot call them to order.

“The association is expected to monitor price control, otherwise the association has no need to exist,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Salako James, Executive Secretary, CEMAN, said the housing policy of the administration of President Bola  Tinubu was laudable and every responsible Nigerian has to key into it.

He, however, identified some areas of concern and appealed to the government to look into them to tackle the issue of cement pricing.

Salako identified the challenges of gas supply to heavy users like the cement industry and urged the government to create a window whereby gas will be bought with Naira instead of dollar.

He also complained about the distribution channel, stressing tha there was a great difference between the price from the manufacturers and the market price.

He, therefore called for government intervention to help stabilise the situation and bring sanity to the economy.

At the end of the meeting, the minister directed that a committee should be constituted to review the situation and come out with implementable resolutions that would benefit the common Nigerian.

The three major cement producers, Dangote Plc, BUA Plc, and Lafarge Plc were represented as well as other industry stakeholders.

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Economy

Cement Price Can Be Lower Than FG, Manufacturers’ Projection — Association 

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…Warns that high price could lead to corner-cutting and building collapse

The National Association of Block Moulders of Nigeria (NABMON) says the agreement between the Federal Government and three major cement manufacturers that a 50kg bag of cement, for now, is not supposed to sell for more than N7,000 to N8,000 is faulty.

The National President, Mr Adesegun Banjoko, said this on Tuesday in Lagos.

Recall that the parties, at a meeting on Monday, said that the ideal price of  a 50kg bag of cement for now should be between ₦7,000.00 and ₦8,000.00 depending on location.

They agreed that the current higher prices of cement in parts of the country were abnormal.

The main manufacturers of cement in the country are Dangote Plc, BUA Plc and Lafarge Plc.

According to Banjoko, there is no reason for the price of cement to be sold even at the projected prices, since limestone, which is a key ingredient, is readily available in Nigeria.

He expressed fears that the high price would lead to corner-cutting and building collapse.

The NABMON president expressed the belief that the government and manufacturers could do better and offer lower prices.

Bags of cements

He suggested a reduction or elimination of customs duties on other imported materials used in cement production, adding that this would incentivise manufacturers to lower their prices.

He, therefore, proposed a target price of ₦3,500 to ₦5,000 per bag.

Banjoko said, “There are three issues that make me disagree with the government and the main manufacturers.

“First, limestone is sourced in Nigeria; agreed they have some few other materials they bring in from abroad.

“But if the government is really concerned about life and property lost to building collapse, they should either remove custom duties on such items or reduce them by half to encourage the manufacturers to come down to between N3, 500 and N5, 000.”

He also advised the government to temporarily halt road construction projects that use cement.

Banjoko said that this would free up available cement for vital projects and potentially reduce demand, leading to lower prices.

The NABMON president warned that the high price of cement had added to the existing tensions in the country.

He urged the government to act cautiously with essential commodities like cement, emphasising its impact on public well-being.

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Economy

NGX: Bullish Sentiment Persists, Investors Gain N329bn

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Stock Market Gains N18bn; FTN Cocoa Processors, Prestige Assurance lead Losers’ Chart 

…Unilever Nigeria Plc, Julius Berger lead Losers’ table 

Bullish sentiment persisted on Thursday at the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. (NGX) equity market, as the market indices rose by 0.58 percent.

Specifically, investors gained N329 billion or 0.58 percent, as the market capitalisation closed at N56.961 trillion, as against N56.632 trillion recorded on Wednesday.

The All-Share Index also appreciated by 0.58 percent or 601.72 points to settle at 104,100, compared to 103,498.28 posted in the previous session.

As a result, the Year-To-Date (YTD) return rose to 39.22 percent.

Continuous buy interests in the shares of BUA Cement, BUAFoods, and Geregu kept the market in the positive terrain.

A total of 284.49 million shares valued at N6.91 billion were exchanged in 8,168 deals, as against 426.86 million shares valued at N12.11 billion exchanged in 8,654 deals.

However, analysis of the market activities showed trade turnover settled lower relative to the previous session, with the value of transactions down by 42.89 percent.

Guaranty Trust Holding Company(GTCO) led the activity table in volume and value with the trade of 56.61 million shares worth N2.22 billion.

Transcorp followed with 33.17 million shares valued at N418.31 million, while United Bank of Africa(UBA) traded 18.38 million shares worth N442.96 million.

Also, Mutual Benefits Assurance sold 16.76 shares valued at N11.48 million and AXA Mansard traded 12.51 million shares worth N75.57 million.

On the gainers’ table, University Press Ltd.(UPL) led in percentage terms of 9.96 percent to close at N2.87, followed by Juli Plc by 9.84 percent to close at N1.34 per share.

Mutual Benefits gained 9.38 percent to close at 70k, Daar Communications rose by 8.82 percent to close at 74k, while Honeywell Flour garnered 7.50 percent to close at N4.30 per share.

Stock Market Gains N18bn; FTN Cocoa Processors, Prestige Assurance lead Losers’ Chart 

Conversely, Unilever Nigeria Plc led the losers’ table by 9.80 percent to close at N16.10, Julius Berger lost 9.64 percent to close at N50.60, while Morison Industries Plc shed 9.60 percent to close at N2.23 per share.

May & Baker Nigeria Plc depreciated by 6.52 percent to close at N6.45 and National Salt Company of Nigeria (NASCON) dropped 5.37 percent to close at N59.04 per share.

Market breadth closed negative with 26 declining stocks outnumbering 23 advancing ones.

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