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‘I’ll Fight To Win World Bank Top Job’

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Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, yesterday in Abidjan said she would fight to win the position of the World Bank President, after getting fresh endorsements from  African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States  (ECOWAS).

The AU on Monday in Addis Ababa, endorsed Okonjo-Iweala as its candidate for the top job, while ECOWAS Heads of States on Tuesday in Abidjan, also declared their support for the former Managing Director.

The endorsements buoyed the chances of the former Managing Director of the World Bank, who had spent over 20 years working as a staff of the Bank and rose to the position of a Vice President.

Okonjo-Iweala, in an interview with the West Africa correspondent, said she had the track record of leading the bank, “in spite of the odds of history”.

On U.S. President Barack Obama’s endorsement of another candidate, she said: “Let’s give it a good fight, with a level playing ground we still stand the chance to win. ’’

Obama had endorsed a South Korean-born medical doctor, Jim Yong Kim, for the top job.

Our  correspondent quotes Okonjo-Iweala as saying that: “President Goodluck Jonathan endorsed my candidature and sent me immediately to the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, where I was received and a communiqué was issued.

“I was also at the extra-ordinary meeting of the ECOWAS Heads of States in Abidjan and the family declared to support my candidature as well. ’’

The Tide gathered that the former managing director had also extended her campaign to Asia to woo interests.

Some financial experts said election of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Minister of Finance, as the President of World Bank, would bring development to developing nations.

They said this in separate interviews with our correspondent in Lagos last Wednesday.

Our correspondent reports that the African Union, had during its just concluded summit in Addis Ababa, endorsed the nomination of Okonjo-Iweala for the president of the bank.

Dr Olumide Owoade, a senior lecturer, Department of Economics, Lagos State University, said that the election of Okonjo-Iweala as the World Bank president would promote the country’s business interest at the international level.

He said that her election would also place the country on the competitive advantage over other African countries.

Owoade said that the position would enable her to present the nation’s economic problems to the IMF for necessary financial assistance.

“If the minister of finance is elected as the next president of the World Bank, it will make the country to be closer to the IMF which will have positive influence on the economy,” he said.

Dr Samuel Nzekwe, the immediate past President, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), said that the election of Okonjo-Iweala as the World Bank President would make the country to be more recognised internationally.

He said that the position would enable the international community to begin to explore the investment opportunities in the country.

Nzekwe urged the Federal Government to aggressively put in place adequate measure for infrastructure development, good governance and security to woo the investors.

“The ability of the government to have a good framework in place will make the emergence of Okonjo-Iweala as the World Bank president to have positive impact on the nation’s economy,” he said.

Also, Mr Eddie Osarenkhoe, the former President, Finance Houses Association of Nigeria (FHAN), said that Okonjo-Iweala’s election would be beneficial to African countries.

He said that this would help the country in sourcing for external loans to revamp the decaying infrastructure.

Osarenkhoe said that it would also attract new foreign investors into the country, which he said, would provide jobs opportunities for the unemployed youth.

“I believe that if Okonjo-Iweala is elected as the World Bank President, it will promote the nation’s economic activities and enhance good performance,” he said.

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Nigeria’s Revenue-To-GDP Ratio Lowest, Private Sector Choking – World Bank

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Nigeria’s revenue-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio, which fell to between five and six per cent last year, is the lowest in the world, the World Bank said on Monday.
The Country Director for Nigeria, World Bank, Dr Shubham Chaudhuri, said this during a panel session at a virtual public sector seminar with the theme ‘Nigeria in challenging times: imperatives for a cohesive national development agenda’ organised by the Lagos Business School.
Chaudhuri, who stressed the need for private investment for the country to realise its potential, said the private sector in the country ‘is struggling to breathe’.
“In Nigeria, I think the basic economic agenda is about diversification away from oil because oil has really been like resource curse for Nigeria on multiple dimensions,” he said.
He noted the aspiration of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by the end of the decade.
He said, “Nigeria is a country with tremendous potential. If you look at the synopsis for this panel, it suggests that Nigeria is at a critical juncture – almost at the moment of crisis.
“Despite all of that, Nigeria is still the largest economy in Africa. So, just think about the potential that Nigeria has because of its natural resources, but more than that, because of its dynamism and all of its population. Nigerians are more entrepreneurial by nature.
“No country has become prosperous and realised its potential, eliminated poverty without doing two simple things: investing in its people, and unleashing the power of the private sector in creating jobs by investing and growing business. And then, of course, the basic function of the state is to provide security and law and order.”
According to Chaudhuri, to invest in people entails basic services, basic education, primary healthcare and nutrition, among others.
He said, “On this, Nigeria at the moment ranks sixth from the bottom in terms of the human capital index that we produce every year.
“So, obviously, there is a huge agenda in terms of investing in human capital. Nigeria spends more on PMS (premium motor spirit) subsidy than it does on primary healthcare in a year, and we know who the PMS subsidy is benefitting.”
He indicated that despite the country’s huge potential to attract private capital, the non-oil part of the economy ‘is not growing that robustly and certainly not generating revenues that the government needs’.
Chaudhuri said, “So, we see as priorities investments in human capital. But for that, one needs revenues. And there again, Nigeria unfortunately has the distinction of having about the lowest revenue-to-GDP ratio in the world.
 ”The standard rule of thumb is that for government to provide the basic services and law and order, it needs between 15 to 20 per cent of GDP as being revenue, and this will be both at the federal and state levels combined.
“In Nigeria, it was eight per cent in 2019. In 2020, in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis and with the fall in oil prices, that went down to about between five and six per cent.
“So, domestic revenue mobilisation is huge. And then the third is enabling the space for private investment. You have to fix the power problem. Power is like the oxygen of an economy. In Nigeria, the private sector is struggling to breathe.”

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CBN Stops Sale Of Forex To BDCs

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as announced immediate discontinuation of sale of Foreign Exchange (forex) to Bureau de Change (BDC) operators in the country.
Mr Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor , made this announcement yesterday, while presenting a communique from the apex bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja.
Emefiele said that the decision was informed by the unwholesome business practices of the BDCs, which he said had continued to put enormous pressure on the Naira.
He  said ,  henceforth,  the apex bank would sell forex to deserving Nigerians through the commercial banks.
“ The BDCs were regulated to sell a maximum of 5000  dollars per day,  but CBN observed that they have since been flouting that regulation and selling millions of dollars per day.
“The CBN also observed that the BDCs aid illicit financial flows and other financial  crimes.  The bank has thus, decided to discontinue the sale of forex to the BDCs with immediate effect.
“We shall, henceforth,  channel all forex allocation through the commercial banks,” he said.
He urged the commercial banks to ensure that every deserving customer got their forex demand,  adding that any bank found circumventing  the new system would be sanctioned.
“Once a customer presents all required documentation to purchase forex, the commercial banks should ensure they get the forex.
“Any customer that is denied should contact the CBN on 0700385526 or through the email- cbd@cbn.gov.ng “ he said.
The Tide source reports that stakeholders have been calling on the CBN and its MPC to take urgent steps to halt unending depreciation of the Naira.
Recently,  a past President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN),  Mr Okechukwu Unegbu,  urged the MPC to focus on policy decisions that would curb rising inflation and stabilise the Naira.

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RSG To Privatise Songhai, Fish Farms

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There are strong indications that the Rivers State Government has concluded plans to privatise the moribund Songhai Farm in Tai and Fish Farm in Buguma.
The State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Amb. Desmond Akawor, gave this indication while appearing in a phone-in radio programme organised by Silverbird Communications in Port Harcourt at the weekend.
He explained that the previous administration in the state failed to put in place a sustainability programme for these farms, hence they went moribund.
In order to reverse the situation, he said that the present administration was now contemplating a rehabilitation scheme to be driven by a privatisation policy to enable those investments come on stream.
He said the scheme had reached an advanced stage and is to executed by the State Ministry of Agriculture.
On the issue of job creation, Akawor said the administration of Chief Nyesom Wike was using the various construction projects around the state to empower the youths.
He explained that the government had floated a special scholarship scheme in Law and Medical Sciences to create opportunities for young people in various professions.
He called on the opposition to desist from de-marketing the state through propaganda as it’s capable of scaring investors away from the state.
Akawor insisted that the Wike led administration has provided an enabling environment for businesses to thrive through infrastructure and improved security.

By: Kevin Nengia

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