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Killer-Phone Number: Matters Arising

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In recent times, the advent of Information technology in the country has rather been used to circulate rumours instead of the promotion of education and the likes.

Sometime, one begins to wonder what those in the information industry in the country are doing and even their effort to curb these menace.

Even among respective villages/ communities, there are always ways of getting to the root of some rumours, especially the case of accusation like witchcraft and murders. The leaders will summon each and every one and agree on a particular measure to adapt in order to find out the truth.

At times, they go as far as consulting deity (depending on their believe system) to enable them know the culprit. They also do some local investigations among other things.

But in Nigeria, it is a different ball game. Her leaders forget in a hurry the particular issue (rumour) that caused panic among its citizens,once it dies down.  No one cares to find out the facts in the rumour.

I know that there is this saying that “in any rumour, there is an atom of truth”. But the Federal Government, Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) and other agencies in Information/Communication business in the country never considered that old saying.

The issue of killer beans was treated carelessly without the leaders setting up committees to find out the true position of the rumour.

No long ago, the rumour of Acid rain threw many in heavy panic, some nearly committed suicide than to allow the rumoured acidic rain touch them. So many things happened then.

Also the recent rumour of the killer number (09141) on Wednesday September 14, 2011. the situation caused no little stir among members of the public.

Many people sent swift text messages across to their loved ones, charging them sternly not to answer or reply any call from a five digit number, especially 09141. in fact, all network providers in the country raked in more money in their coffers due to the repeated calls and text messages, warning against any five digit number. There was even rumour that between seven to 10 persons have been reported dead.

The Federal Government was swift to react that day through NCC’s spokesman, Reuben Mouka, who said that it is “unimaginable that somebody will die while receiving a call”, and that phone call can not kill. He even stressed that only very gullible people that would believe such rumour.

Many applauded the moves. But it is beyond issuing a statement from his air conditioned office in Abuja. It calls for an immediate setting up of committee with the sole task of getting to the root of the matter.

There are several agencies whose duties revolve around communication/information and also security operatives who could have been drafted into groups to visit those states to find out the actual fact concerning the rumoured death of some Nigerians.

Nothing stops them from making few arrests in connection with the rumour, but as usual, “nothing will happen”. The killer phone number rumour was hot to the extend that some network providers advised their subscribers who called to know the true position of things not to answer any call from five digit number to be at the safer side.

Cases like this demand strong Federal action to dig deep into it, in order to prevent future occurrence. Until such investigations are made, one cannot rule out public reaction about a particular outbreak or development.

No wonder the Bible said in (Psalms 11 verse 3) if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? KJV. If the activities of NCC as the major manager of the country’s information/communication is under-reported what can other agencies do?

The NCC ought to be a vibrant commission with trained foot soldiers that are ready to browse even the creeks and mangroves in pursuit of details about some rumours. Those who are ready to stake their necks in an attempt to unveil or track down those behind the act.

If rumours of whatever nature is being peddled, the NCC and others should see it as a matter of importance, and carry out a well informed public enlightenment campaign, to drive home their claims. The issuing of a statement about the alleged five digit killer phone number is not out of place, but concerned authorities should learn how to add colour to issues, as well as back it with facts.

Some Nigerians, like the Etisalat Head, regional Sales, South South/South East, Mr. Enekwachi Aja, who reacted promptly, described the rumour as a pure lie. Mr. Aja, was swift to hint that 09141, represented September 14, 2011.

At this point, many who read The Tide Newspaper on Friday, September 16, 2011 got relieved. He said that some lazy people were only trying to make themselves popular by spreading the rumour.

The Etisalat bigwig, blamed part of the ugly incident on poor educational background of some members of the public, adding that death cannot come through phone calls.

Now that the country is always faced with diverse kinds of rumours, it will not be ambiguous for the NCC and those who are saddled with information/communication control/management to tighten its grip on all network providers in the country for proper scrutiny.

Whether acidic rain, killer beans or phone number, let there be a deliberate attempt by the concerned authorities to unmask those behind the act. They should also see the actions of the unseen hands as sabotage and should urgently adopt a radical approach that will permanently prevent future occurrence, if the business of information/ communication management of the country means any thing to them.

A word, they say, is enough for the wise, even as a stitch in time, saves nine.

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Lawmakers Want CBN To Halt Naira Devaluation

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The House of Representatives has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to urgently put in place a policy to check further devaluation of the naira to the United States dollar and other international legal tenders.
The House decried that while the Nigerian currency was losing value, others in Africa were appreciating.
At the plenary on Wednesday, the House unanimously adopted a motion moved by the Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Pensions, Mr Bamidele Salam, which warned the CBN of the implications of further devaluing the naira.
The motion was titled, ‘Matter of urgent public importance on the need for the Central Bank of Nigeria to urgently put in place monetary policies to stop the free fall of the naira against the dollar and other international legal tenders’.
Salam recalled that the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, while addressing the Bankers’ Committee at a summit on the economy in Lagos earlier in February, informed the committee about the naira devaluation against the dollar.
The lawmaker also quoted Emefiele as saying at the summit that the official exchange rate stood at N410 to the dollar.
“That is 7.6 per cent weaker than the rate of N379 published on the central bank’s website,” Salam noted.
According to the lawmaker, while the value of the naira relative to the dollar had declined by nine per cent in the last six months, the South African rand and Ghanaian cedi had appreciated by 11.4 per cent and one per cent, respectively.
Salam also recalled that the CBN adopted multiple exchange rates in 2020, in a bid to avoid an outright devaluation. 
He noted that the official rate used as a basis for budget preparation and other official transactions differed from a closely controlled exchange rate for investors and exporters known as the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Rate Fixing Methodology.
He stressed that the naira had traded in a tight range between N400 and N410, while the NAFEX rate was different from the parallel market, considered illegal by the CBN, where the naira closed at 502.
Salam said, “The House is concerned that devaluation is likely to cause inflation because imports will be more expensive any imported goods or raw material will increase in price; aggregate demand increases, causing demand-pull inflation. Firms/exporters have less incentive to cut costs because they can rely on the devaluation to improve competitiveness.
 ”The concern is that the long-term devaluation may lead to lower productivity because of the decline in incentives.
 ”The House is further concerned that devaluation of the naira makes it more difficult for Nigerian youths especially in the IT sector, whose businesses are online and must necessarily transact businesses in the US dollars. 
“It also reduces real wages. In a period of low wage growth, a devaluation that causes rising import prices will make consumers feel worse off “.

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Four West African Countries To Buy Nigeria’s Unutilised Electricity

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Four West African countries, Niger, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso, are collaborating to buy the unutilised power produced in Nigeria. 
The Chairman of the Executive Board of the West African Power Pool (WAPP), Sule Abdulaziz, disclosed this at the WAPP meeting on the North core project in Abuja, on Wednesday. 
Abdulaziz, who is also the acting Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), said the four countries were collaborating to make the power purchase from Nigeria through the North core Power Transmission Line currently being built.
He explained, “The power we will be selling is the power that is not needed in Nigeria.
“The electricity generators that are going to supply power to this transmission line are going to generate that power specifically for this project. So, it is unutilised power”.
He said Nigeria was expecting new generators to participate in the energy export for the 875km 330KV Northcore transmission line from Nigeria through Niger, Togo, Benin to Burkina Faso.
Abdulaziz said, “In addition, there are some communities that are under the line route, about 611 of them, which will be getting power so that there won’t be just a transmission line passing without impact”.
The WAPP chairman noted that the project, funded by World Bank, French Development Council and the African Development Bank, had recorded progress, adding that the energy ministers would be addressing security issues for the project at another meeting in Abuja.
He said, “Nigeria has the greatest advantage among these countries because the electricity is going to be exported from Nigerian Gencos (generation companies). 
“So, from that, the revenue is going to be enhanced and a lot of people will be employed in Nigeria”.
The Secretary-General, WAPP, Siengui Appolinaire-Ki, said the cost of the project was about $570 million, adding that part of the investment in each country would be funded by that particular nation.
According to him, the countries in the partnership, including Nigeria, are also being supported by donors.
He said the funding agreement was ready as partner countries were awaiting the disbursements.
Appolinaire-Ki, however, said the donor agencies had said they needed a Power Purchase Agreement between the buying and the selling countries to be executed before releasing the fund.

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Reps Probe N275bn Agric Loans Under Yar’Adua, Jonathan, Buhari

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The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate the disbursement of loans and credit facilities by the Federal Government in the agriculture sector since 2009.
The period under review covers the administrations of the late Umaru Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan as well as the present President, Muhammadu Buhari.
The resolution was sequel to the unanimous adoption of a motion moved by Hon. Chike Okafor at the plenary last Wednesday, titled ‘Need to investigate disbursements of all agricultural loans/credit facilities to farmers from 2009 to date to enhance national food security’. 
Okafor said, from 2009 to date, the Federal Government had approved the disbursement of funds to farmers in various schemes to the tune of over N275billion, ranging from Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme to the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, to help farmers improve agricultural production and guarantee food security in Nigeria.
The lawmaker also noted that apart from increasing food supply, the schemes were to grant agricultural loans to large and small-scale commercial farmers to lower the prices of agricultural produce, generate employment and increase foreign exchange earnings.
He said, “The House is aware that since the approval, most farmers have not been able to access the loans due to stringent requirements being demanded by banks from prospective borrowers and the alleged siphoning of over N105billion meant for farmers by management of NIRSAL.
“The House is concerned that food production has not attained the expected level, despite the approval of over N275billion facilities to farmers. 
“The House is worried that the projected diversification of the economy from oil production to agricultural production and increase in agricultural output, food supply and promoting low food inflation will not be achieved if farmers are unable to access loans meant to increase agricultural production”.
Adopting the motion, the House resolved to mandate the Committee on Banking and Currency to “investigate disbursements and compliance of all agricultural loans/credit facilities to farmers from 2009 to date to enhance national food security in the country”.

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