President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday urged Nigerians to come out in large numbers to vote for the various candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) during Saturday’s governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections.
According to him, security agencies will be on ground to ensure smooth and peaceful exercise.
The President in his message to Nigerians on the forthcoming gubernatorial elections, also pointed out that next Saturday’s election is as important as the February 23rd Presidential and National Assembly elections.
While urging youths not to allow themselves to be used for violence, he warned would-be ballot box snatchers and other electoral offenders to desist from the act.
He said “The second and final phase of the 2019 general elections comes up on Saturday, March 9, with Nigerians voting for governors and members of Houses of Assembly in the states.
“Let me once again extend my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives or sustained injuries as a result of accidents or criminal violence during the elections.
“The onus is once again on qualified people to turn out in large numbers to exercise their civic rights.
“With the presidential poll behind us, let us not become complacent, and fail to vote in the gubernatorial poll.
“The forthcoming elections are as important for good governance as that of the presidency and the National Assembly.
“Indeed, governance at the state level is closer to us, and should touch our lives more directly. That is why it is vital for us to participate in the choice of who governs us at the state levels.
“I, therefore, urge you to troop out massively on Saturday to elect your governors and state lawmakers.
“As a member of the All Progressives Congress, I recommend those standing on the platform of the party to you, as we are guided by progressive ideals, and we will not disappoint you.
“Equally, I urge you to comport yourself properly, as you turn out for the election.
“Avoid all deviant behaviours like ballot stuffing, ballot snatching, and any other action that does not conform with best electoral practices.
“I assure you that the security agencies will be on hand to protect voters, and ensure that the process is not undermined in anyway.” he said
The President went on “Let’s make the gubernatorial polls much better than the presidential, which Local and International observers have adjudged to be free and fair.
“May I repeat my appeal to our young people: do not allow yourselves to be used to cause violence or to break the law or otherwise disturb the peace.
“I have pledged a decent and credible electoral system for our country. I stand by that promise.
“Let us together do the right thing on Saturday, so that the best hands can emerge at the states, and take us faster to the Next Level,” he said.
Tunde Ayeni, the former Chairman of Skye Bank (now Polaris Bank), and Timothy Oguntayo, the bank’s former Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, were arraigned before an Abuja High Court on Wednesday.
They are standing trial on a four-count charge on allegations of fraud amounting to the sum of N456.6billion.
According to the charge, the offences were committed between January 2014 and December 2016, and involved depositors’ funds.
The offences contravene the provisions of section 96, 97 and 315 of the Penal Code Law.
They, however, pleaded not guilty.
Meanwhile, Ayeni and Oguntayo are already standing trial on different charges before the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Ahmed Raji (SAN) and E.O. Akoni (SAN), counsel for the defendants, appealed to the court for bail. In response, Justice Valentine Ashi granted the request and admitted them to bail in the sum of N500million each, and two sureties in like sum.
The sureties must resident in Abuja or have landed property in Abuja. (SaharaReporters)
A three-man panel of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja has reserved ruling on the ex-parte motion filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, seeking an order granting them access to inspect the electoral materials used for the February 23 poll.
It promised to return in one hour’s time to deliver its ruling.
The panel is led by Justice Abdul Aboki, while Justices Peter Ige and Emmanuel Agim are members.
The applicants’ legal team is led by Mr. Livy Ozoukwu (SAN), but Chief Chris Uche (SAN), made submissions on behalf of the team.
As expected in an ex parte hearing, the respondents – President Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Congress and the Independent National Electoral Commission – were absent and not represented by their lawyers.
Uche said during the Wednesday’s hearing that the ex parte motion contained six prayers, one of which sought the tribunal’s leave to bring the motion up in the tribunal pre-hearing session.
He added, “Prayers 2 to 6 are in summary seeking orders of this honourable court to allow the inspection and production of election documents used by the Independent Electoral Commission for the conduct of the presidential election to enable the applicants to institute and maintain an election petition.”
But during the proceedings, members of the panel expressed reservations about whether the tribunal could grant some prayers contained in the application for orders allowing them to scan and photocopy electoral materials as well as allow them to conduct forensic examination and forensic audit of the materials.
While rising to prepare the tribunal’s ruling, Justice Aboki, requested the applicants’ legal team to submit the said authorities within the one hour period the panel gave to finish writing the ruling.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is targeting to have Microfinance Bank branches in all the 774 local governments of the country.
The capital base of the new NIRSAL Microfinance Bank will initially be N5 billion and as a first step, the apex bank said this new Microfinance banks which is a collaboration between the Bankers Committee, NIRSAL and NIPOST will see the establishment of seven Microfinance banks in the six geopolitical zones and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Thereafter the number will be scaled up to 50 Microfinance banks which are expected to become operational in the second phase of the launch of NIRSAL Microfinance bank. The first seven branches to be opened will be located in Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Bauchi, Kaduna, Enugu and Lokoja in addition to the one in Gwagwalada Abuja.
Governor of the CBN Mr. Godwin Emefiele made this known on Wednesday at Gwagwalada, in Abuja when he embarked on a facility tour of Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) microfinance bank, an agribusiness initiative which provides risk for framers.
According to Emefiele, “we are just inspecting one out of the first seven and we are scaling up to the next 50 in the next phase. We believe that before the end of this year, we would have moved substantially in making sure that they are set up and be able to provide finance to small businesses. This is collaboration between NIRSAL, bankers Committee and NIPOST and I want to say that we really need to set up Microfinance Bank that will reach out to the unbanked.”
The CBN Governor lamented the lack of access to cheap finance by small businesses but noted that with the presence of a Microfinance bank branch in each local government across the country, the problem would be tackled.
Emefiele told journalists that “the biggest problem small businesses always have, is access to credit; and I am happy that with the establishment of this microfinance bank which would be in at least one local government and we are talking about the 774 locations in all the country, we would be able to have a financial institution that will help deepen financial inclusion to make it easy for people to access credit particularly the small and unbanked people because we have always said that these are the very weak”.
The creation of NIRSAL Microfinance Banks across the country he said “is to improve access to credit and the technology that would be used will be a fintech technology. We have already set a target for ourselves that by 2020, the rate of financial inclusion must increase to 80 percent from about 48 percent a year and a half ago. So this is just part of our initiative to deepen financial inclusion in Nigeria.”
Mr. Emefiele said the hurdles of collateral for loans and interest rate, have been removed as the asset being financed will serve as collateral.
According to him, “we know that those who are weak in terms of those who are unable to access credit, the big issue for them is inability to provide collateral. So they will be able to access credit without providing collateral. The asset that we are financing for them will act as the collateral which will be registered in our national collateral registry as something that is eligible to serve as collateral for loan”
He added that “the loan is going to be disbursed from our AGMEIS scheme which is five per cent of profit after tax that is being set aside by the banks to support the small and medium enterprises that will be in agriculture or those that are into different type of small businesses that badly need to raise finance to be able to set up and earn livelihood. Interest rate for this will be at five percent and the loan will be for tenure of seven years with two years moratorium.”
Reacting to concerns raised in some quarters that the creation of NIRSAL Microfinance Bank across the country will crowd out other Microfinance Banks, the CBN Governor assured that the fear of crowding out is unfounded stating that “the existing microfinance banks are doing their best. I have heard this is an attempt to crowd them out. This is not an attempt to crowd them out, but to complement their services and see to it that whatever service is being provided by these microfinance banks should be seen to be fair to their customers.”
Emefiele also said he has heard about “the rural communities where the microfinance banks charge very prohibitive interest rate. But here, we are talking about making funds available to these people. This will help to create some form of competitive landscape so that those kinds of practices will no longer arise.”
The Lagos State Government on Wednesday clarified reports making the rounds that it had declared March 8 as Public Holiday for Civil Servants.
The clarification was made by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Kehinde Bamigbetan, in a statement.
A report currently circulating on social media platforms had suggested that the State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, had declared Friday as public holiday to enable Lagosians prepare for the March 9 Governorship and House of Assembly elections.
But the Government in the statement by Bamigbetan said that civil servants are expected to be at their various duty posts on Friday, and disregard any information to the contrary.
Bamigbetan reiterated that just as earlier announced by the State’s Deputy Governor, Dr. Idiat Adebule, all public and private schools in the State are expected to proceed on the second mid-term break on March 7 and 8, 2019 and resume academic activities on March 11, 2019 in accordance with the revised School Calendar for 2018/2019 Academic Year.
Not less than 37 political parties in Kwara state on Wednesday openly declared support for the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq in the March 9th governorship election.
The parties under the umbrella of Kwara Like-Minds Political Parties (KLPP) equally threw their weight behind all the APC House of Assembly candidates at the polls.
Addressing reporters in Ilorin, spokesperson of the parties Prince Oladele Sunday directed their members to vote en masse for all APC candidates during the Saturday polls.
Oladele said: “We are at a critical stage in our country but most especially our dear state is already in political labour room and KLPP has joined hands with APC and other stakeholders in taking a successful delivery of liberated Kwara.
“Today is not meant for an unending discussion but to let the whole world know that when the Kwarans are dying slowly in the hands of political tyrant, KLPP showed up. When Kwarans are groaning and gnashing their teeth under the bad governance in the state, posterity will be fair to us that KLPP showed up.
“Let us all ‘show up’ so that we can all move from ‘o to gee’ to ‘o to pe.’”
Chairman of APC Hon Bashir Bolarinwa said: “The forthcoming governorship and House of Assembly elections are equally important to APC.
“It is important to us as party and the people of Kwara state. I want to say here that out of 55 political parties that are functional in the state, today there are above 35 have openly declared to identify with us.
“What that simply means is that all of them as members of these political parties are directing their members and appealing to the people of Kwara state to vote on Saturday for the governorship candidate of our party.
“Further to that all the 24 House of Assembly candidates of APC will on Saturday be candidates of their parties as well.”
President Buhari today reassured Nigerians that he would not let them down in his second term in office. He said this when he received the leadership of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), who paid him a congratulatory visit at the state house in Abuja.
According to him, he would work harder in the next four years to address the challenges facing the country. “This is my last lap, I will try to work harder. I assure you, I will not let you down.” he stated
Chairman of the ACF’s board of trustees, Alhaji Adamu Fika who led the delegation, said the visit was to congratulate the president on his victory at the polls.
Joseph Sanusi. Charles Soludo. Muhammad Sanusi II. Since the return of democracy in 1999, no governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has served two terms. Is Godwin Emefiele about to be the breaker of the CBN tenure jinx?
Appointed by former president Goodluck Jonathan on June 3, 2014, Emefiele will end his tenure as CBN governor in less than three months from Wednesday.
TheCable understands that the president has been duly informed, but as a former general who has learnt one or two things from Sun Tzu, Buhari is best at keeping his cards to his chest and watching speculations run riot in Africa’s biggest economy. After all, Tzu said: “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
Rumour mills have been very busy second-guessing the next line of action of President Muhammadu Buhari. They have even come up with a list of possible replacements for Emefiele, suggesting that he has received a letter asking him to go “in two weeks”.
While Buhari may want to fall like a thunderbolt and shock Nigerians with his move on the leadership of the CBN, TheCable highlights what the past four to five years mean for Emefiele’s chances as second term CBN governor.
APPOINTED BY JONATHAN, RETAINED BY BUHARI
Only a few top shots survived the administrative purge that came with change in government from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP’s) Goodluck Jonathan government to the All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership of Muhammadu Buhari.
Of those few, Solomon Arase, former inspector general of police; Yemi Kale, statistician general of the federation; Joe Abah, director general, Bureau for Public Sector Reform; and Emefiele, easily come to mind.
These few have shown that Buhari is not entirely against the appointees of a previous government as seen in Nigerian politics before 2015. As long as value is presented, Buhari does not mind keeping a Jonathan appointee in office.
QUICK FACT: Buhari is the first Nigerian president since 1999 who did not reshuffle or fire any member of cabinet for four years.
BUHARI AND SECOND TERMS
If we have learnt anything from Buhari’s many interviews and acts of office, it is clear that the president prefers steady trusted hands than new untested ones — no matter the level of experience they bring to the table.
Speaking in an interview with THISDAY, Buhari gave us an insight into how his experience has shaped his decision-making process. He explained why he has not changed any of the service chiefs despite their “disappointing” performance.
“I have been a governor, I have been a minister, I have been a head of state, I came back, I tried to come back to this office three times but lucky on the fourth time,” Buhari had said.
“I am measuring the options critically, when you have a case of emergency, if you don’t wait for an appropriate time to do it, then you create competition within the service, there are so many ambitious people waiting, only one man can be chief of army staff in the army, only one man can be the inspector-general of police”.
While one may say this is a security matter, and service chiefs appointments are not measured in terms, we have found that Buhari prefers continuity to change, when it comes to matters of appointment.
Elias Mbam: As the chairman of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Mbam served out his term in November 2015, less than a month after Buhari unveiled his ministers. Rather than change Mbam, Buhari preferred him as a steady hand at the helm of the revenue mobilisation team.
Yemi Kale: In 2011, Goodluck Jonathan appointed Kale as statistician-general of the federation, taking over from Rasaq Sanusi. Kale served out his five-year term in 2016, and was expected to be replaced by Buhari. But the president renewed his appointment after a period of silence and speculation.
Uchechi Orji: Orji was appointed by Jonathan in 2012 as the Managing Director of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA). Also after a five-year tenure, Buhari was expected to replace him in 2017, but the president renew his appointment for another five-year term.
Segun Awolowo: This was a special case. Segun Awolowo’s tenure as executive director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) came to an end in 2017. He continued in office, following Buhari’s silence.
Boss Mustapha, the secretary of the government of the federation (SGF), then issued a memo dated December 4, 2017, stating that all head of MDAs, whose tenure had expired should hand over to the most senior director. Awolowo eventually handed over before he was re-appointed by President Buhari.
Buhari has replaced some other heads of MDAs at the expiration of their tenure, but he has also given renewed terms to many.
DOES EMEFIELE DESERVE A SECOND TERM?
Exchange rate regime: Following a fall in crude oil prices from 2015 through to 2017, Nigeria experienced a currency crisis which forced the CBN to an attempt devaluation of the naira. But the president opposed the idea, saying he will “not kill the naira”. CBN under Emefiele managed to hold the currency for 16 months while depleting reserves as oil prices hit a record low of $27 per barrel.
Eventually, the CBN devalued the local currency to mirror the realities in the local economy. The naira fell from 197 per dollar to 283 per dollar on the first day of what was called a “managed” float of the naira. The local currency went as high as N520 per dollar. It was a tough time for Emefiele’s CBN.
The former Zenith Bank CEO introduced policy suites to mitigate the problem in the FX market, restoring the naira from 520 per dollar to 360 on the regular. And for the first time in Nigeria’s recent electoral history, the naira has been stable before, during and after a presidential election.
While we have the official CBN N305/$1 rate and N360/$1 rate — the CBN claims Nigeria does not operate multiple exchange rate regime. In all these, the president and the CBN governor align on the management of the exchange rate system. A plus for Emefiele.
Buoyant Reserves: When Buhari took office, Nigeria’s foreign currency reserve was at $29 billion. Following the crude oil crash, the reserves went as low as $23 billion territory in October 2016.
Less than two years after, with the aid of crude oil and shrewd management, the Emefiele-led CBN had doubled the foreign reserves, bringing it to $47.6 billion in May 2018 — the highest since the oil crash.
Rice farming policy: Did you get the news? Nigeria is now the highest producer of rice in Africa. This definitely did not happen overnight. Following the shortage of forex to import rice, and other farm produce, the CBN and the federal government flagged off the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) to make finance available for smallholder farmers, especially rice farmers.
The poster boys for that policy are the Kebbi rice farmer, who have gone a long way in delivering on LAKE Rice, Olams, and many other rice brands popular in Nigeria today. The CBN says it has disbursed at least N120 billion for these farmers, who make a large chunk of the number of people Buhari flaunts as employed by his government.
Many ministers, including the minister of agriculture and the minister of power, works and housing have claimed that Buhari has employed millions of farmers through the ABP. Emefiele would be smiling.
Politics of Everything: Emefiele, while speaking at the annual bankers’ dinner of 2018, said he is not a politician and would not be light on those who play politics with CBN policies.
“I am not a politician, but people should be very mindful when they open their mouths to say what is untrue because we would come out as central bank to attack it particularly if you use data incorrectly,” Emefiele had said.
Fortunately for him, one of Buhari’s opponents was one of those who spoke ill about CBN policies — and Emefiele did not spare Atiku Abubakar, former vice-president.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Atiku had said Emefiele has not pursued the right policies as CBN governor, stating that he would change the governor — if he is elected president.
Emefiele was quick to desecrate Atiku’s economic plan, describing it as a road to perdition.
“It will certainly lead to capital flight, lead to massive depreciation or devaluation of the currency and ultimately to currency crisis in Nigeria and I think we should all know that it is a road to perdition to ever go in that direction,” he had said.
In government, politics trumps everything, and in this regard, Emefiele seems to have done just fine, in fighting Buhari’s enemy. After all, the enemy of my boss is my enemy. (The Cable)
Our attention has been drawn to an article published by Sahara Reporters alleging that MMA2’s term is 12 years and is about to expire.
While we find this very surprising, we will like to set the records straight by stating that Bi-Courtney Ltd. entered into a Concession Agreement with the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for the Build, Operate and Transfer of the MMA2 for 36 years.
It is obvious that MMA2 is the most well designed and run terminal in the country operating on very limited revenue. It is a masterpiece in the provision of public infrastructure through private capital.
Whilst the writer of the article set out to mislead the public through very untruthful and malicious statements, the peddlers of this baseless story have refused to come to terms with the fact that MMA2 has thrived in the face of operational challenges battling the concession including FAAN’s flagrant breach of concession agreement.
For the avoidance of doubt, the facts are stated as follows:
The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) offered Bi-Courtney a 36-year lease in a letter dated 12th of October 2006 and an agreement was duly signed on the 2nd of Feb 2007 by the Minister of Aviation.
The agreement was further confirmed at a meeting held on 7th of July 2009 chaired by the former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria – His Excellency, Late Mallam Umaru Musa Yar’adua, GCFR, in attendance with the Honourable Minister of Aviation, Secretary General to the Federal Government, Attorney General of the Federation / Honourable Minister of Justice, Honourable Minister of Finance, MD/CEO of FAAN and the Chairman of Bi-Courtney amongst others.
A statement by the spokesperson of Bi-Courtney, Eniola Ade-Solanke, stated that the clear provisions of the concession agreement between Bi-Courtney and the Government upholds the operation of the MMA2 terminal for an undisputed period of 36 years.
Since inception, FAAN has not complied with the agreement to handover the GAT which is a property of Bi-Courtney. FAAN through its actions has consistently breached its obligations in the concession agreement and has caused Bi-Courtney a loss of over N250B.
The erroneous claims against the Chairman of Bi-Courtney in making frantic efforts in the Presidency to frustrate a takeover of the terminal is not unconnected to purported attempts to stir up a false sense of alarm and acrimony against the concession.
The public and media should stop listening to naysayers who have no interest in the growth and development of Nigeria. MMA2 remains the best terminal in Nigeria and no terminal that has been built compares with it. The appropriate thing is to encourage Bi-Courtney and other private investors and developers to save FAAN from itself and its abysmal management of airport infrastructure.
It is of interest to also note that the fictitious claim of alarm and panic causing instability amongst Bi-Courtney staff bears no iota of truth and is absolutely non-existent. Bi-Courtney remains a key employer of labour in the aviation industry committed to providing an environment for strong corporate health without fear, pressure or prejudice.
Bi-Courtney reassures all air operators and the travelling public of its commitment to providing first class service and maintaining the highest standard of professionalism through continuous investment in power generation, critical infrastructure development, passenger facilitation and modern technology in the aviation industry. As operators of the most efficient airport terminal in the country today, the safety, security and comfort of our users and personnel continue to remain top priority for us at MMA2.
… Fetes Distributors
President of Dangote Industries Limited, Aliko Dangote, has restated his Group’s commitment to Nigeria’s economic development through continuous innovation, value creation and investments.
This is just as he disclosed that Dangote Cement’s exports to other countries are targeted to rise to $600m annually, with the management intensifying efforts at actualizing the planned increase.
Declaring that his massive investments in Nigeria’s economy is borne out of his firm belief in her vast economic potential, Dangote said “by next year we will be the largest exporter of cement in sub-Saharan Africa with about $600 million worth of cement export to other African countries with limited access to limestone. In addition, we also have new terminals coming up at Onne and in Lagos and we are hopeful the congestion at Apapa will soon be behind us helping us meet our export targets.”
Speaking at the 2018 Dangote Cement Distributors’ Award Night held in Lagos, he said that Dangote Group is committed to ensure that Nigeria becomes self-sufficient in all the sectors where it operates, such as cement, agriculture, mining and petroleum.
“Let me reiterate that our continuous efforts to innovate, create value and invest in Nigeria are borne out of our firm belief in the vast economic potential of Nigeria. This has also informed our desire to invest massively in agriculture in some states across the country. Our target is to ensure that Nigeria becomes self-sufficient in all the sectors where we play; cement, agriculture, mining and petroleum. We are leaders in all the sectors where we play, and this demands continuous improvement and partnership with you, our customers.”
“We are front-runners in keying into the diversification of the economy by the Government. We have continued to roll out massive agricultural projects across the country. We have started in rice, while plans are underway for dairy farming. Our push for backward integration in providing our own raw materials on a massive scale has led to the planned investment of $4.6 billion over the next three years in sugar, rice and dairy production alone.
That will eliminate the country’s reliance on imported food, and the foreign exchange outflow that comes with it,” he added.
Dangote, who commended the award winners for their commitment, noted that the ceremony was to celebrate the Group’s valued customers and distributors for their unflinching partnership in ensuring that Dangote cement products remained the first choice for construction purposes across the country.
Said he; “Tonight, we celebrate excellence for 2018 performance and I am hopeful 2019 customers award ceremony will be an even bigger event. We have worked with our customers to agree on targets, we will also be giving out bonuses and working together to achieve our collective goals and objectives. We value our customers and we will continue to treat them as king, because without them we don’t have a business.
“You have made Dangote Cement become a household name and the product of choice among cement users in Nigeria. Our cement plant in Obajana, Kogi State, is already the biggest in Africa. We are building the fifth line, and hopefully it will come on stream early next year and will make its production 16.25 million tonnes. The cement plant and its sisters in Ibese, Ogun and Gboko, Benue have long been the bedrock of our leading role in the cement sector.”
He said Dangote Cement’s strict adherence to best global standards in producing its range of cement products has made them market leaders as the products; BlocMaster, 42.5R, 42.5N and Falcon are all top-of-the-range brands developed to ensure that cement users have a choice on the type of product suitable for their specific needs. According to him, a lot of research and tests went into the development and production of these products as “we are determined to offer our customers the best quality and experience either in building personal houses or in commercial construction works.”
The overall National Best Growth customers rewarded were D.C. Okika Nig. Ltd, Lafenax Nig. Ltd., Gilbert Igweka Global Concept, Chinedu & Sons Ltd, and Kazab Heritage Ltd while Corporate Customers such as CCECC Nig. Ltd, ITB Concrete, Julius Berger Nig. Ltd, Dantata & Sawoe Construction Company, EXTEX Group and Setraco Nigeria Ltd were given recognition awards.
In her reaction, the overall national winner, Mrs. Beatrice Okika, of D.C. Okika Nigeria Ltd thanked Dangote Cement for honouring her and other winners with diverse gifts which she said has encouraged her to do more volumes. She described Dangote Cement as the perfect partner in business with lots of incentives.