Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose has criticised President Mohammadu Buhari-led administration over its plan to borrow funds to finance the 2017 budget, saying such will spell doom for the nation’s economy.
The governor spoke yesterday at the Government House in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, during the distribution of 7,000 eye-glasses to indigent Ekiti people with bad eye-sight.
Buhari had last week Tuesday presented a budget of N7.298 trillion to a joint session of the National Assembly for 2017 fiscal year.
Fayose, who was reacting to the Federal Government on recent confession that 2016 budget of over N6trillion, had performed at only about 40 per cent said: “If we borrow this much to finance 2017 budget, it means we will continue to borrow even till 2019 and the rate at which this government is borrowing money, I hope they will not plunge Nigeria into eternal debt, enslavement and misery. This has been the fear of many who are against borrowing of $30 billion loan. And they will continue to borrow without attempting to concretely tackle the dwindling rate of our currency.
“What the Federal Government is doing is in the wrong direction. You see, one sad thing is that once the head is wrong, the whole body would not be right. The Federal Government under Buhari does not have what it takes to lead this country economically and beyond. They themselves confirmed that the 2016 budget performed at about 40 percent or below.
“So, that is to tell you that they lack the vision, and don’t know what they are doing and are only deceiving Nigerians.”
On the motive behind the distribution of the eye-glasses, Fayose said the scheme was meant to benefit poor and visually impaired people who cannot afford eye-glasses and whose bad eye-sight was affecting their performance at work or handiwork.
He said: “We have done this before and these are the benefits that can get to the common people. The benefit is for those with impaired sight for a long time and couldn’t get solution. We have taken this to them tested them and diagonised the recommended glasses. And today we are giving the glasses to them. You cannot imagine that people can wake up without a N100 in their pockets, not to talk of affording a eyeglass of N7,000. The project is targeted at 7,000 people and is costing government about N59million. This project continues and we’ve already included it in next year budget.
Mrs. Teniola Oso, who spoke on behalf of the management of the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital (EKSUTH), which power the scheme said: “the Oju Ayo programme is a form of poverty alleviation programme directed at the poor in our communities who out of poor vision and near blindness has lost all means of survival resulting into poverty and its associated challenges.
“The programme is for all people living in Ekiti State without racial or political colouration. Our team visited all the local governments in the state to test people in need of reading glasses within a period of 16 days, where those in need were identified diagnosed and processed leading to this distribution ceremony today”.
Meanwhile,the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has described the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as an irresponsible and corrupt organisation that cannot prosecute any meaningful fight against corruption, saying, “corruption can never fight corruption.”
The governor, who commended the judiciary for standing firm against the EFCC tyranny, said the way and manner the commission has been going about shopping for court orders against Nigerians should concern lovers of rule of law in the country.
Reacting to the Monday’s Federal High Court, Abuja judgment, ordering the EFCC to release all his properties based on the order of the court made on July 20 and August 2, 2016, Governor Fayose, who spoke through his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka said, “It is the height of irresponsibility and fraud for the EFCC to have approached Justice Okon Abang for a similar order and concealed the fact that the order obtained from Justice Dimgba elapsed on September 3, and had failed to approach the same court for an extension.”
The governor said; “The EFCC and its corrupt elements fraudulently approached Justice Abang, knowing that the judge himself is fraudulent as established by the Court of Appeal and the same EFCC has even moved to the Federal High Court, Akure in search of another order, ostensibly because they have realised that the judge in the Federal High Court, Ado Ekiti won’t play ball.
“Justice Dimgba gave interim orders on July 20, and reaffirmed on August 3, and the orders were made to last for 45 days to enable EFCC carry out its investigations. Instead of going back to the same court, the EFCC ran to Justice Abang, a judge already adjudged to be fraudulent by the Appeal Court to obtain another order.
“Should we now say that 45 days was inadequate for the any meaningful investigation to be carried out by the EFCC if indeed the commission was interested in investigating anything? Didn’t EFCC carry out its investigation before going to court to seek order to seize the properties?”
Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the congestion in Nigeria’s correctional facilities on the country’s Judiciary, explaining that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOS) was not allowed by law to reject inmates sentenced to correctional centres or to release them.
Aregbesola, represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated this while delivering a paper at a policy advocacy conference entitled, “Decongestion of Correctional Centres: Status Quo”, organised as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Order of The Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria, Lagos Metropolitan Council, which was held in Lagos, adding that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justice system. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary, however, as it affects the NCOS we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contribute to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistence of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonging trial but the IGP has mandated officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police are being hampered by a high level of distrust between the citizens and their police institution,” he stated.
Also at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. Paschal Uwaezeapu, stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as the government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering the neighbour then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from a family. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice, without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, KSM William Adebisi, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on the congestion of prisons.
“The government needs to take the matter seriously as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the company and behavioural change of the inmates,” he stated.
FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer
The Federal Government has announced plans for a Eurobond issuance in the International Capital Market (ICM) to raise $3billion.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said, yesterday, that Virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, and September 20, 2021.
It said, “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.
“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons why a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.
“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3billion but no more than $6.2billion.”
According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”
The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.
“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.
“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.
“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.
“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.
“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two (2) exchanges and their respective market capitalization.
“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”
The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo&Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.
The last time Nigeria accessed the ICM was November 2018.
Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media
The Federal Government has tasked the media to put Nigeria first in the reportage of the country’s activities, particularly the fight against insecurity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja during the ceremony of the renaming of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Headquarters Building after the former Managing Director and Board Chairman of NAN, late Wada Maida.
Mohammed said it may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace.
“In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first”, Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said if one picked up most newspapers, watched most television stations or listened to most radio stations in the country, one will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war.
While acknowledging that there were challenges in the country, especially in the area of security, Mohammed, however, said the Buhari administration had not only acknowledged the challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges.
“A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
“To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme tagged,‘A Week in and For Nigeria’ during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in the diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
“Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media.
“Even when some media organisations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: Be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers”, Mohammed added.
Mohammed congratulated the family, friends and associates of the late Maida for the great and much-deserved honour done to him.
He commended the management and staff of the NAN for coming up with the idea to immortalise the late Maida.
“The Federal Government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realising the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalised by the organisation he served so well in his lifetime”, Mohammed stated.
Mohammed prayed that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Maida, even as he prayed that the soul of the departed continues to rest in peace.
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