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Exit From Recession Excites FG, Senate …Makarfi Says ‘Statistics Not Reality’

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The Federal Government has welcomed exit of Nigeria from recession, but with caution and optimism.
It said it would continue to drive economic growth by vigorously implementing the Economic Recovery & Growth Plan (ERGP) launched earlier this year by President Muhammadu Buhari.
A statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Mr. Laolu Akande said National Bureau of Statistics broke the news.
He said: “The overall economic plan and direction of the administration has resulted, among others, in sustained restoration of oil production levels.’’
The sustenance, he explained, was made possible because of the enhanced security and stability in the Niger Delta.
He backed up his statement with that also released by the Economic Adviser to the President, Dr. Adeyemi Dipeolu, on the analysis carried out on 2nd quarter 2017 economic performance of National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
“The figures released by NBS for the second quarter of this year (Q2 2017) show that the economy grew by 0.55% from -0.91% in Q1 2017 and -1.49% in Q2 2016.
“This in effect means that the Nigerian economy has exited recession after five successive quarters of contraction,’’ Dipeolu said.
This positive growth was attributable to both the oil and non-oil sectors of the economy, he said.
Growth in the oil sector which has been negative since Q4 2015 was positive in Q2 2017 as it rose by 1.64% as compared to -15.60 in Q1 2017; an increase of up to 17 percentage points.
“This improvement is partly due to the fact that oil prices which have improved slightly from the lows of last year have been relatively steady as well as the fact that production levels were being restored.’’
According to NBS, the non-oil sector grew by 0.45% in Q2 2017, a second successive quarterly growth after growing 0.72% in Q1 2017.
“This increase which was not quite as strong as it was in Q2 2016 reflects continuing fragility of economic conditions.
“However, given that nearly 60% of the non-oil sectors contribution to GDP is influenced by the oil sector, growth in the oil sector will help boost the rest of the economy.
“The positive growth seen in agriculture when the rest of the economy was contracting was maintained at 3.01% which is encouraging especially if seasonal factors are taken into account.’’
Manufacturing growth, he said, was also positive at 0.64% and although lower than the previous quarter’s growth of 1.36%, it was a noticeable improvement over the -3.36% experienced in Q2 2016 and a continuation of the turnaround of the sector.
Solid minerals which remained a priority of the Administration also continued to grow and in Q2 2016 by 2.24%.
Generally, industry as a whole grew by 1.45% in Q2 2017 after nine successive quarters of contraction starting in Q4 2014.
“This positive development was somewhat overshadowed by the continued decline in the services sector which accounts for 53.7% of GDP. Nevertheless, electricity and gas as well as financial institutions grew by 35.5% and 11.78% respectively in Q2 2017.
“The GDP figures give grounds for cautious optimism especially as inflation has continued to fall from 18.72% in January 2017 to 16.05% in July 2017.
“Foreign exchange reserves have similarly improved from a low of $24.53 in September 2016 to about $31 billion in August 2017.’’
“In the same vein capital importation grew by 95% year-on-year driven by portfolio and other investments but also notably by foreign direct investment which increased by almost 30% over the previous quarter.
“Foreign trade has also contributed to improving economic conditions with exports amounting to N3.1 trillion in Q2 2017 while imports which increased by 13.5% amounted to N2.5 trillion in the same period. The overall trade balance thus remained positive at N0.60 trillion.’’
The analysis shows that unemployment remained relatively high but job creation was expected to improve as businesses and employers increasingly respond more positively to the significantly improving business environment and favourable economic outlook.
“Besides, as key sectoral reforms in both oil and non-oil sectors gain traction, the successful implementation of ERGP initiatives such as N-Power and the social housing scheme will boost job creation.
“Food inflation also bears watching as it has remained quite high and volatile due mostly to high transport costs and seasonal factors such as the planting season.
“Investments in road and rail infrastructures, increased supply and availability of fertilizers and improvements in the business environment should contribute to the easing of food prices.’’
Dipeolu said that the end of the recession was welcomed but economic growth remained fragile and vulnerable to exogenous shocks or policy slippages.
Similarly, the 8th Senate, yesterday applauded the report by the National Bureau of Statistics indicating that Nigeria’s economy has officially exited recession.
The Senate in a statement by Chairman of its Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, stated that it was truly commendable that after five consecutive quarters of contraction, the economy grew by 0.55 per cent in the second quarter of 2017.
Abdullahi also stated that the improved performance of the trade, manufacturing, agriculture and oil sectors was an indication that with carefully aligned policy and legislative interventions, Nigeria’s economy could thrive beyond current forecasts and expectations.
The statement partly read, “The Senate received Q2 NBS economic report with great excitement. We are delighted that government’s response to the economic recession has begun to yield tangible results.
“The public will recall that in the days following the announcement of the 2016 recession, the Senate initiated steps and tabled 21 recommendations that it submitted to the executive for immediate action. We also listed out economic priority bills, many of which have now been passed, or at the final stage.
“We are also happy to note that many of the economic recommendations, specifically in the areas of retooling our agriculture and trade policies were adopted. This shows that the ‘all hands on deck’ approach was necessary from both branches of government.”
Abdullahi further noted that although the nation was now out of the recession, the Senate remained committed to seeing that the unemployment rate and high cost of living in the country were brought down.
He added, “The rising unemployment in the country is an issue that is of much concern to all of us. Additionally, the rising cost of food prices and basic services in the country still affects millions of households. This is why we will continue to work on our laws, specifically in the areas of access to credit to promote more opportunities for small business owners; and opening up more sectors to private sector participation, so that there will be more competition in our markets — which will lead to lower prices.
“We will also continue to work with the executive to ensure that our policy and legislative objectives, specifically as they relate to the economy, are well aligned.”
However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged Nigerians not to see every statistics as an indication of reality, following yesterday’s report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that the nation has exited the economic recession that worsened living conditions in the past two years.
The NBS had in its 2017 second quarter report yesterday indicated that the Nigerian economy has exited recession, having notched up a growth output of 0.55 per cent in the oil, agriculture, manufacturing and trade sectors.
According to the bureau, “In the second quarter of 2017, the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP grew by 0.55 % (year-on-year) in real terms, indicating the emergence of the economy from recession after five consecutive quarters of contraction since the first quarter of 2016.”
Expectedly, the report has continued to elicit diverse reactions with some stalwarts of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) basking in ecstasy.
In an exclusive chat with newsmen on the issue, Chairman, National Caretaker Committee of the PDP, Senator Ahmed Makarfi said it is the wish of every Nigerian for the country to overcome the current hardship, warning however that statistics differs from reality.
“PDP is not praying for the country to be in recession. Statistics may indicate one thing, but reality is different,” he said.
Makarfi’s position is not out of tune with that of millions of Nigerians struggling to eke out a living in the past few years following the crash in the price of crude oil in the international market.
It would be recalled that the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) had said that Nigeria has exited its worst economic recession in more than two decades, notching up growth of 0.55 per cent in the second quarter of 2017.
In its report released, yesterday, the data showed that the economic recovery was driven by improved performance of oil, agriculture, manufacturing and trade sectors of the economy.
It said that since the first quarter of 2016, the Nigerian economy had contracted for five consecutive quarters.
According to the report, the West African powerhouse slipped into recession for the first time in more than two decades in August 2016.
“In the second quarter of 2017, the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 0.55% (year-on-year) in real terms, indicating the emergence of the economy from recession after five consecutive quarters of contraction since Q1 2016,” it said.
Nigeria, which depends on oil sector for 70 per cent of state revenues and 90 per cent of export earnings, has been battered by lower oil prices since mid-2014, which have slashed government revenues, weakened the currency and caused dollar shortages, frustrating business and households.
The nation’s economic woes were exacerbated by militant attacks on key oil infrastructure in the restive Niger delta, slashing output.
The crisis is heaping pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office in May, 2015 on an anti-corruption platform.
His government is also grappling with separatist agitation in the country’s South-East, farmer-herders clashes in the central, Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast and kidnappings and militancy in the South.
Analysts said the outlook for more growth looks positive for Nigeria.
“You can see that there have been improved performances in non-oil sectors in the second quarter,” said Bismark Rewane of the Lagos-based Financial Derivatives Company.
“The prospects for more robust growth are bright. I hope the current economic diversification efforts which see efforts being given to agriculture and mining will be sustained,” he said.
He said the nation’s economy would also buoy if ongoing truce with Niger delta militants was intensified.
“If there are no attacks on oil facilities and production is increased and Nigeria earns more money, then the economy will stabilise.”
Nigeria’s oil output has ramped up to an average of two million barrels per day from a low of 1.3 million in 2016 following government peace talks with the oil rebels.

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UBA Appoints Bawuah As First Female CEO For Africa Operations …Announces Six Other Executive Appointments …As Oni Retires From Group Board

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The Board of Directors of the United Bank for Africa Plc, Africa’s Global Bank, has today, announced the appointment of Mrs. Abiola Bawuah, as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of UBA Africa.

Bawuah will also join the Group Board as an Executive Director, overseeing the Group’s operations across the African continent, outside Nigeria.

UBA operates in 19 African countries beyond Nigeria, in addition to global operations in New York, London, Paris and the UAE.

Bawuah, a Ghanaian national, is the first female CEO of UBA Africa.

Her appointment further demonstrates UBA’s commitment to diversity.

The UBA Group Board now includes eight female Directors.

Prior to her appointment, Bawuah was Regional CEO, West Africa, supervising the Group’s operations in nine subsidiaries, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.

She previously held the role of CEO, UBA Ghana.

Speaking on the new appointment, the Group Board Chairman Mr Tony O. Elumelu said, “Abiola has contributed significantly to the growth of UBA Africa for close to a decade.

She brings a wealth of experience in commercial banking, and stakeholder engagement.

It also gives me great pleasure that with her appointment, the UBA Group Board has now become a majority female board.”

The UBA Group also announced the following executive roles:

Chris Ofikulu becomes the Regional CEO, UBA West Africa.

Ofikulu, who has over two decades of banking experience spanning corporate, commercial, and retail banking.

Uzoechina Molokwu will take on the role as Deputy Managing Director (DMD) of UBA Ghana, subject to local regulatory approvals.

He was previously the Executive Director, Business Development – UBA Côte d’Ivoire and has over 23 years banking experience.

Ayokunle Olajubu will be the Managing Director/CEO UBA Liberia, subject to local regulatory approvals.

He currently drives compliance across Africa subsidiaries andcomes with 30 years banking experience in Nigeria and other African countries,including Sierra Leone, Cote D’Ivoire and the Gambia.

Theresa Henshaw has been appointed as CEO of UBA UK, subject to local regulatoryapprovals.

She was previously the DMD, Business Development, UBA America and joined the Group as ED, Business Development at UBA UK.

Usman Isiaka, currently CEO, UBA Sierra Leone, will be the Deputy CEO in UBA America, subject to local regulatory approvals.

Adeyemi Adeleke, the former CEO of UBA, UK is now the Group Treasurer.

Adeleke will be working to unlock the immense value in the Group’s multi-jurisdictional balance sheet, leveraging on its presence in 24 countries within and beyond Africa.

In addition to the executive appointments, UBA has announced the retirement of High Chief Samuel Oni, an independent non-executive Director, from the Board following the expiration of his tenure.

He joined the UBA Group in January 2015 and served on the Board of the Group for eight years.

The Group Chairman, Mr Tony Elumelu expressed his appreciation to High Chief Oni, for his commitment, leadership and extensive contributions to the UBA Group and on behalf of the Board, wishes him the very best in all his future endeavours.

Operating in 20 African countries and in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France and the United Arab Emirates, United Bank for Africa provides retail, commercial and institutional banking services, leading financial inclusion and implementing cutting edge technology.

UBA is one of the largest employers in the financial sector on the African continent, with 25,000 employees group wide and serving over 37million customers globally.

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Naira Swap: Reps Reject Extension, Threaten Emefiele’s Arrest

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The House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on New Naira Re-design and Naira Swap Policy has added a new twist to the controversy surrounding the deadline for the validity of old notes by rejecting the 10-day extension granted by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the exchange.
The committee described the extension as a mere political gimmick to further deceive Nigerians and worsen their economic and social livelihood.
Recall that the CBN had earlier fixed January 31 as the deadline for the exchange of N200, N500 and N1000 old naira notes.
The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, however, yesterday, said President Muhammadu Buhari gave permission for the deadline to be extended till February 10.
But the Ad hoc Committee, chaired by the Majority Leader, House of Reps, Alhassan Doguwa, in a statement in Abuja, yesterday, rejected the extension, insisting that the CBN must comply with sections 20 sub 3, 4, and 5 of the CBN Act.
The Lower House, had during its sitting on Tuesday, last week, following the outcry by Nigerians, constituted the Ad hoc committee to look into the issue.
Doguwa said, “The 10-day extension for the exchange of the old naira notes is not the solution. We as a legislative committee with a constitutional mandate of the House, would only accept clear compliance with Section 20 Sub-section 3, 4, and 5 of the CBN Act and nothing more.
Nigeria as a developing economy and a nascent democracy must respect the principle of the rule of law. And the House would go ahead to sign arrest warrant to compel the CBN Governor to appear before the Ad hoc committee.”
According to him, under his chairmanship, the committee would continue its work until it gets the demands of Nigerians addressed in accordance with the laws of the land.
While describing the extension as a mere political gimmick to further deceive Nigerians and worsen their economic and social livelihood, Doguwa insisted that the CBN governor must appear before the House or stand the risk of being arrested on the strength of legislative writs to be signed by the Speaker on Monday (today).
He also said the policy was capable of frustrating the forthcoming general election.
“Security agencies and their operations especially at the state level are generally funded through cash advances and direct table payments of allowances to operatives during elections,” he said.

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2023 Election Failure’ll Polarise The Polity, Set Democracy Backwards -Wike

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Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has urged Nigerians not to allow the 2023 general elections to fail.
He said the failure of the 2023 elections would increase political polarisation, exacerbate social fault lines and set Nigeria’s democracy backwards.
Governor Wike gave the charge at the 2023 Port Harcourt International Conference, sponsored by Rivers State Government, with the theme: Deepening Democratic Culture and Institutions for Sustainable Development and Security in Nigeria”, held at Obi Wali International Conference in Port Harcourt, last Thursday.
The governor, in a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Media, Kelvin Ebiri, noted that barely one month away, Nigerians are hoping and praying for the 2023 general elections to herald the deepening of democratic culture, the rule of law and good governance in the country.
Governor Wike, however, insisted that the opportunity to elect a new President of the federation and 30 State Governors should be a success because it will consolidate and strengthen the roots of democracy in the national life of Nigeria.
“In a democracy, periodic elections are the only legitimate means for the peaceful transfer of power from one party to another. Since 1999, Nigeria has had six general election circles, but none was considered substantially clean and fair.
“The outcome of the 2003 general elections was rejected at different levels by the opposition and the losers, and litigated up to the Supreme Court. The outcome of the 2007 elections led to protests, riots, the loss of several lives, and the destruction of property in particular sections of the country”, he noted.
Governor Wike also recalled that even President Musa Ya’ardua had promised necessary electoral reforms when he publicly denounced the process that brought him to power because it was severely flawed.
According to him, the 2011 general election also suffered a similar experience and was litigated by the opposition to the Supreme Court.
“None of the defeated contestants believed they lost fairly and blamed the umpire, the security agencies and politicians for undermining our democracy with brazen electoral fraud”.
Governor Wike noted further that the 2015 general election, though considered rigged, recorded some improvements with the use of the smart card reader and the emergence of opposition candidates as the winners of the presidential.
The governor said the 2019 general election was equally problematic and rejected as highly compromised by the opposition and litigated up to the Supreme Court.
“In Rivers State, we battled the military in the 2015 and 2019 re-run and general elections with pure courage and determination to secure our victory and retain our mandate with the sweat and blood of innocent citizens”, he said.
Governor Wike pointed out that when the government compromises the integrity of elections through election management agencies, it denies citizens their constitutional right to elect the leaders they want and can hold accountable.
Conversely, he emphasised, when elections lack integrity, the leaders who emerged from outside the people’s will are illegitimate.
According to him, “Such leaders without trust are likely to be authoritarian, divisive and incapable of effective governance. Serial election rigging threatens our democracy and constitutes an existential challenge to the nation’s future stability.
“Therefore, deepening democratic culture and institutions for sustainable development and security is important to us as a nation, and free and fair elections with integrity remain the only path to achieving this objective”.
Speaking further, Governor Wike said the new electoral law, especially with the provisions of the use of technology, holds the prospect for a brighter democratic experience for Nigeria if implemented effectively.
However, he stressed, that beyond the legal regime, political parties’ internal practices and external electioneering behaviour must conform to democratic norms and standards.
“The efficiency of the judiciary in interpreting and enforcing the existing regulatory regime, including the laws, regulations and guidelines beyond reproach and the capacity and consistency of INEC and the security agencies to be firm, impartial and independent in the discharge of their functions are most crucial.
“Safeguarding and deepening our democracy lies with every citizen. We must have the courage to stand up for justice, the rule of law, an independent and courageous judiciary, and our rights and freedoms to vote and be voted in a transparent election”, he stated.
Presenting his keynote address, former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who titled his paper: “Respecting the Principles of Democracy”, noted that Nigeria’s democracy has gone through twists, dives and turns since political independence.
He said the best of the country’s history has been the sustenance of democracy since the military transfer of power to an elected government in 1999.
He however, observed that there may be reasons to doubt how much lessons the leaders and followers have drawn from the country’s past and how far they are willing to go to deepen, widen and strengthen democracy and democratic practice.
The former president declared that the ways in which the political class have practised democracy have deepened contradictions, negative coalitions, distrust, disloyalty and unpatriotic tendencies within and between communities and constituencies all over the country.
He stated that this means that there is a deep structural and philosophical problems that must be deal with.
Chief Obasanjo informed that if the practice of democracy is superficial and opportunistic and it is designed to pursue a struggle of limited objectives, it would precipitate variants of fractured engagements that cannot address structural and philosophical contradictions and challenges.
“In fact, the order of the day would be community against community, religion against religion, leader against leader. Ordinary citizens are then dragged into the directionless, meaningless and opportunistic personal or narrow ambitions of leaders. The end result will be confusion, diffusion, distraction and possibly leading to separation and disintegration”, he said.
The former president stressed that democracy is possible in Nigeria and the people have the capacity to build a culture of democratization. However, he insisted that Nigerians must recognise and accept the fact that it is an evolutionary process with principles.
“Without retracing our political steps to the right direction, the current process will either not produce the right leaders or it will leave so many broken blocks on the path to governance and attract resources and energy away from the task of rebuilding Nigeria and consolidating our democratic practice.
“The result will be democratic quagmire, increased corruption, insecurity and survival of the fittest, richest and better connected with little or no recognition of merits. The implications and cost of such a scenario to our present and future can best be imagined. I pray that God will grant us the wisdom to do what is right for our country and people at all times and more so now”, he said.
In his opening remarks, former Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who was the chairman of the occasion, said the theme of the conference addresses itself to the imperative of enhancing democratic governance to the benefit of Nigerians and the country.
Fayemi pointed to the scholarly assertions of late Claude Ake, on feasibility and possibility of democracy wherein there has to be enduring democratic culture and democracy being structured to be developmental in nature.
He observed that Nigeria’s democracy is bedevilled by lack of party based politics, issued based politicking, untamed political violence, winner take all mentality, growing influence of money in politics, exploitation of loophole to subvert the will of the people and social media and spread of fake news.
“Though, there are some political milestones achieved since 1999, there is no doubt that we still have a longway to go in building a robust culture of power and politics that is both democratic and sustaining”, he said.
As part of the event, there was the unveiling of the book, “Bridging Rivers”, under the chairmanship of former governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili.

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