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Save Naira from obscene dollar-monetised presidential primaries- VON DG tasks Buhari



Save Naira from obscene dollar-monetised presidential primaries- VON DG tasks Buhari

Director-General, Voice of Nigeria (VON) Osita Okechukwu, has pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly come to the rescue of Nigeria’s currency, the naira before politicians depreciate it out of recognition.

He said that a nation’s currency is one of the critical indices of measuring the general health of its economy, stressing that when the currency nose-dives it leads to hype-inflation, gross unemployment and abject poverty, thereby worsening the nation’s security.

Also read: UNBELIEVABLE: Naira appreciates, exchanges to 418/ dollar as NGX rebounds, gains N346bn

In a statement on Sunday, in Abuja, Okechukwu, who is also, a founding member of All Progressives Congress (APC) decried the dollar rain during the recent Presidential primary of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the National Stadium Abuja.

He cited the withdrawal comments of Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, a financial guru, saying that President Buhari should support the use of the consensus method to ensure that the forthcoming APC presidential primary does not follow the PDP’s highest bidder dollar rain.

In his speech before withdrawing from the PDP primary, the former banker, Hayatu-Deen, said, “it is, therefore, based on personal principles and with great humility that I have decided, after wide consultation, to withdraw from this contest, which has been obscenely monetised.”

“Albeit, our sister opposition political party has every constitutional right to elect whoever they want as their flag bearer; the Dollar rain is worrisome as noted by Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, who dubbed it obscenely monetised presidential primary.

“Sincerely, I congratulate His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar on his emergence from the opposition party primary. But, as a patriot and stakeholder in the Nigeria project, I am worried by PDP’s induced Dollar Rain, which led to unprecedented depreciation of the naira,” he said.

Therefore, Okechukwu called on Buhari to consider the consensus option to be adopted in the APC presidential primary election to save the naira.

He lamented the monumental harm PDP’s dollar rain did to the nation’s economy, saying “if that could happen in a party with about 731 delegates, imagine what will happen if APC with about 2, 322 delegates is allowed to indulge in Dollar Rain.”

His words: “If the Naira is already bleeding because of dollar rain on 731 delegates; please better imagine the degree of depreciation of the Naira if another blitz of dollar rain is allowed to be splashed on 2,322 delegates? This is the farming season, as such the Buhari’s Agrarian Revolution would also be at risk if the naira is allowed to depreciate further. Prices of fertilizer, seedlings and other farm implements will hit roof top.”

On why he is calling for consensus instead of direct and indirect mode of primary election, which are more democratic than consensus, the DG VON said: “All the three are democratic and are in our law books.

Please, is it not paradoxical that the governors and ex-governors who oppose consensus had adopted the same consensus and even outright imposition to select their successors?

To me they have lost the moral high ground to oppose Mr President from adopting such legal mode of primary election.

One’s appeal is that politically correct aspirant should be consensually presented.”

Okechukwu dismissed insinuations that with Atiku the APC will not adhere to the rotation convention of electing a presidential candidate of Igbo extraction or a southerner.

APC is Brand A1, and we follow the rule of law and rotation convention.

“Methinks His Excellency Atiku Abubakar’s opportunistic victory will have little or no impact on APC’s election of a presidential candidate from among Ndigbo aspirants or by extension the southern belt aspirants.

I don’t think Mr President I know even going by consensus will deny the south their turn.”

Reminded of the possibility that with APC Southern presidential candidate Atiku will sweep the northern votes, OKechukwu wondered what new tangible thing Atiku was bringing to the table in the face of the prevailing daunting economic scenario.

He said Atiku is used to sharing money, but that today there is little or none to be shared, adding, “Most importantly, one, northern voters are sophisticated, having voted for Chiefs MKO Abiola and Olusegun Obasanjo, with all indicators they will vote southerner this time around so as to shame the PDP for breaching the rotation convention in their constitution.

“Secondly, there are number of northern voters who are patriots who believe sincerely on the ancient doctrine of equity, natural justice and the imperative of unity of our dear country.

Forgoing south is the best solution to smoothen the polarization in the land.

Thirdly, the dormant Igbo voters in Kano, Lagos and other towns plus core non-Igbo APC voters will be woken up to trounce Waziri Adamawa at the poll.”



MAN Warns: Cash-strapping may lead to 25% Drop in Sale of locally-made goods



MAN Warns: Cash-strapping may lead to 25% Drop in Sale of locally-made goods

 The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) on Friday in Lagos, warned that Cash-strapping may unwittingly lead, to a 25 percent drop, in the sale of locally-made goods.

The Director General, MAN, Mr. Segun Ajayi-Kadir, stated this, emphasizing the need for the CBN to intensify efforts at ensuring a seamless transition from old naira to new naira notes, as anything to the contrary would be inimical to manufacturing.

He said if the current hardships being experienced in accessing money persisted for the next three weeks, there would be a possible drop of 25 percent in monthly sales of made-in-Nigeria goods.

He noted that as purchases from the retail end, mostly transacted in cash dry up; there would be a sharp drop in wholesale purchases leading to a glut of unsold inventories in factories.

He added that the situation which was no good for manufacturing, for the government and for the ordinary citizen would lead to compounded crippling lack of patronage for the domestic manufacturer.

Ajayi-Kadir also stressed that the development would also deny government the revenue that would have accrued from consumption taxes and result in the disruption of the daily life and need of the average Nigerian.

“To be clear, there is no doubt that the currency redesign is desirable; there are socioeconomic and political imperatives for the change.

“It is a critical element of the CBN cashless economy policy that should have far-reaching positive results for the economy.

“However, the continued scarcity of the newly redesigned naira notes is quite worrisome.

“With our growth prospects heading further south, we can ill afford a downturn in our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“The negative impact it portends for local producers, the agricultural and distributive segments of our economy is huge.

“It may worsen the bashing our economy has received from both external and internal shocks in recent times,’’ he stressed.

Ajayi-Kadir cautioned that adequate measures should be put in place to ensure a smooth currency transition, particularly in the unbanked areas of Nigeria.

He charged the CBN and Bureaux de Changes to be most engaging at the highest level at this time.

According to him, there is a need for strategic communication and joint operations to ensure widespread and sustained availability and circulation of the redesigned naira notes.

“It is baffling to approach a bank only to be told that there are neither the old nor the new naira notes.

“We hope that the resumption of payment across the counter in the banks and the intensification of the CBN special cash swap arrangement in remote areas will yield positive results.

“I hope that what the country is experiencing is temporary pain and that government will do well to bring the hardship to an end immediately.

“We must make haste to ensure that the price to be paid for this otherwise laudable policy does not outpace the gains,’’ he also cautioned.

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Disdain Towards Nigerian Passport: My regret as Foreign Affairs Minister – Onyema



Disdain Towards Nigerian Passport: My regret as Foreign Affairs Minister – OnyemaDisdain Towards Nigerian Passport: My regret as Foreign Affairs Minister – Onyema

…Shed tears, when he saw Nigerian girls forced into prostitution in Libya***

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, says his regret as minister is the disdain with which Nigerians are being treated outside the shores of the country and upon siting their international passports.

The Minister disclosed this in Abuja at the 22nd edition of the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration Scorecard Series (2015-2023) organised to project the achievements of the government.

Onyema was responding to a comment by a journalist who expressed displeasure about how Nigerians travelling abroad were being subjected to harassment upon sitting on their green passports.

The Minister agreed with the position of the newsman and attributed the challenge to the desperation of many Nigerians who took desperate and illegal measures to travel out of the country.

“If there is one thing that I look back to with the greatest regrets in my seven and half years in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is the situation of Nigerians in foreign countries,” he said.

The minister gave some of the instances he had witnessed and had to wade in to rescue trapped victims in the middle of the desert.

“I went to Libya and I actually shed tears when we went to this camp where they were holding Nigerians.

“There is that whole issue of slavery and of course, all the exploitations that go with it and they told us that there were only a hundred or two hundred Nigerians there,”

“So, we went to the yard and it was one of the most touching things I ever experienced.

“We have all these young boys, 13, 14, 15 years old and they all came out, over a hundred of them and they all stood up to attention,” he narrated.

The minister continued: “As soon as they saw us, they started reciting the Nigerian national anthem and tears came to my eyes.

 “We were told that the girls were used as prostitutes at night.

“When we saw them, the girls told us there were more Nigerians and we insisted they should bring them out.

“Lo and behold, twenty minutes after, they brought out another set which was about 200 Nigerians.

“The President gave directives, that we should charter planes in order to get them out and we did.”

Onyema attributed the despicable situation to the push factor leading a lot of young Nigerians to take desperate and ridiculous risks through the deserts and the high seas.

He said when they even finally got to their so-called dream countries, they got involved in drugs and all sort of crimes which made it difficult for Nigeria’s passport to be respected.

“Those of us in government have to blame ourselves, particularly in the immigration and even in foreign affairs,” he said.

Onyema narrated another scenario where the U.S., Ambassador to Nigeria came to show him the list of Nigerians that were issued visas through Note Verbal to go to the U.S. but they never attended the events they were scheduled for, but absconded.

He said he was also shown the list of those who were not respecting their visa deadlines and requirements, including top Nigerians.

The minister said all the illegal acts and sharp practices contributed to the manner Nigerians were being treated with disdain abroad when they cited their passports.

“In order to reverse the situation and ensure Nigerian passport is given the due respect it deserves, we all have to work hard and behave ourselves.

“We are all suffering from this because we have people with genuine missions seeking to travel abroad looking for visas and they are denied.

“It is a challenge for each and every single one of us and it is impacting negatively on our country.

“We all have the responsibility to salvage the situation,” he said.

Onyema said President Buhari had never rested on his oars on the issue because whichever country he travelled to, he stressed to Nigerians in Diaspora to be good ambassadors of their country.

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Digital Economy Crucial to Nigeria’s Dev’t — Pantami



Digital Economy Crucial to Nigeria’s Dev't — Pantami

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami on Thursday said the sector was crucial to the realisation of Nigeria’s full potential.

Pantami said this in Abuja at a two-day workshop on Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS), a flight demonstration within the Nigerian Airspace by Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Ltd using the NigComSat-1R payload, the L-Band.

The NigComSat-1R navigation (L-Band) payload provides Navigational overlay Services, which have disruptive applications in the aviation and non-aviation sectors.

The event was organised by the SatNav Africa Joint Programme Office (JPO), in collaboration with the ANGA programme and NIGCOMSAT and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).

The overall aim was to provide a knowledge-sharing platform to support stakeholders’ decision-making in the creation of synergies.

This is to enable the collective reaping of benefits provided by SBAS in the continent, including safety, efficiency and environmental protection benefits.

The minister said communication and digital technology was the key enabler of other sectors like security, defence, health, agriculture, education and aviation.

“The satellite covers part of the Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean, it covers parts of Asia and Europe.

”Our satellite here in Nigeria has the capacity to provide the navigation overlay services.

The Nigerian Communications Satellite has the capacity to support the implementation of the SBAS not only in Nigeria but in the whole of Africa with 54 countries,” Pantami said.

He, however, urged African nations to consider the Nigerian Communication Satellite when the need arises.

Pantami also said the deployment of SBAS by using the navigation overlay services would significantly improve accuracy of signal, its availability and integrity.

“I have directed NIGCOMSAT to collaborate and reach out to the aviation sector to ensure successful implementation of SBAS in Africa,” he said.

The Managing Director of NIGCOMSAT Ltd, Mr Tukur Lawal said the success of the flight demonstration underscored the need for collaborative efforts by the relevant agencies.

He said that this would facilitate the efforts of the Federal Government in meeting the desired goals of a digital Nigeria, which he said would bring unprecedented results.

”For NIGCOMSAT Ltd to contribute its own quota in digital economy and industrial revolution, we cannot remain in the comfort zone, but rather look for areas of exploring the market both local and international.

”We will give all the support needed and innovations that will meet and convert all weaknesses to successes,” Lawal said.

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