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World Bank Presidency: 39 Ex-Chiefs Endorse Okonjo-Iweala

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The quest of Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to lead the World Bank received a boost Wednesday with her endorsement by a group of former World Bank officials .

In an open letter, 39 former managers and economists called on members of the Bank’s executive board to make their decision on merit, when the board considers more than one candidate for the job for the first time.

“We believe that Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala has outstanding qualifications across the full range of relevant criteria,” they said.

Okonjo-Iweala, a former World Bank managing director, and Jose Antonio Ocampo, a former Finance Minister of Colombia, are competing with the US nominee Jim Yong Kim, a public health expert and president of Dartmouth College.

Under a tacit agreement, the US picks the World Bank president, always an American, and Europe puts a European at the helm of the International Monetary Fund, the Bank’s sister institution.

The World Bank plans to select the successor to outgoing President Robert Zoellick by April 20, the start of its spring meetings with the IMF.

Writing in their personal capacity ahead of the candidate interviews next week, the ex-bank officials said, “we care too much for the institution and for its historic development mission not to speak up.”

The letter was signed by a number of Europeans, including Francois Bourguignon, who was the development lender’s chief economist in 2003-2007, as well as Barbara Kafka, an American who served over 33 years at the bank in a range of posts.

Tunisia’s central bank chief, Mustapha Nabli, a former head of the Bank’s Middle East and North Africa region, also signed. His country has not endorsed a candidate.

Okonjo-Iweala “would bring the combination of her experience as finance and foreign minister of a large and complex African country with her wide experience of working at all levels of the Bank’s hierarchy in different parts of the world, from agricultural economist to managing director,” the letter read.

While the other two candidates also have strong qualifications, “she would be the outstanding World Bank president the times call for,” it added.

Ocampo, an Economics professor at Columbia University in New York who has written extensively on growth and development issues, is being endorsed by a global cross-section of economists.

An internet petition supporting his candidacy, on economist Kevin Gallagher’s Triple Crisis blog had more than a hundred signatures from academic economists, former central bank chiefs and the heads of international agencies.

In a Financial Times opinion article published online, Ocampo defended his candidacy, citing his “36 years in development.”

Ocampo outlined his vision for “a brave new World Bank,” which he said could fight poverty “not only with economic growth and job creation, but also by addressing inequalities that have risen in most countries in recent decades, and by eradicating all forms of gender inequality.”

The favoured US candidate for the post, Kim, is supported by Canada, Japan and South Korea, where he was born.

Meanwhile, the President and Chairman in Council of the Nigeria Institute of Management (NIM), Dr Michael Olawale-Cole,  has canvassed support for Nigeria’s candidate for World Bank presidency, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Olawale-Cole, who featured at a forum yesterday in Abuja, however, expressed regret, that Nigeria would miss Okonjo-Iweala’s proficiency, if she got the job.

He expressed fears that international politics could affect her performance, adding that the World Bank presidency position could be beneficial to Nigeria, if Okonjo-Iweala won it.

“We are very supportive of her going; on the side, we are not happy because we’ll be losing her in the work place here in Nigeria and her contributions.

“Because going by antecedents, she has some passion for this country; so, we’ll be losing her if she gets the job; but if she can get it, it will be a good sales point for Nigeria.

“My anxiety is that a couple of things might not work in her favour, but if she gets it, we will be very happy.’’

Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister of the Economy recently joined the race for the World Bank presidency alongside Dr. Jim Yong Kim, a South Korean, and Jose Ocampo of Colombia.L-R:Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sampson Parker displaying a syringe, Managing Director, Pan Africa Health Foundation, Auston Novotry,  Executive Secretary of the Foundation, Amenya Wokoma and NAFDAC Director General, Paul Orhii during a facility tour of the Rivers State Syringe and other Medical Devices Factory in Port Harcourt, yesterday.

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90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”

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We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.

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Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW

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Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.

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