The Presidency has rebuked the Financial Times’ Africa Editor, David Pilling, over an article on President Muhammadu Buhari government published on January 31, 2021.
In an open letter to The Editor, Financial Times, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said, “The caricature of a government sleepwalking into disaster (What is Nigeria’s government for? January 31, 2022) is predictable from a correspondent who jets briefly in and out of Nigeria on the same British Airways flight he so criticises.
“He highlights rising banditry in my country as proof of such slumber.
“What he leaves out are the security gains made over two presidential terms.”
According to Shehu, “the terror organisation, Boko Haram, used to administer an area the size of Belgium at inauguration; now, they control no territory”.
He said, “The first comprehensive plan to deal with decades-old clashes between nomadic herders and sedentary farmers-experienced across the width of the Sahel–has been introduced: pilot ranches are reducing the competition for water and land that drove past tensions.
“Banditry grew out of such clashes. Criminal gangs took advantage of the instability, flush with guns that flooded the region following the Western-triggered implosion of Libya.
“The situation is grave. Yet as with other challenges, it is one that the government will face down.”
In his article titled, ‘What is Nigeria For?’, Pilling had written:”On the British Airways flight between London and Nigeria’s administrative capital of Abuja, one of the airline’s most profitable routes, nearly all the space is taken up with flatbeds. The unfortunate few making their way to a crunched economy section at the back must trudge through row after row of business class.
“Evidently, there is plenty of money to be made in Abuja’s corridors of power. Nigeria’s economy may be flat on its back, but the political elite flying to and from London will spend the flight flat on theirs, too.
“Next year, many of the members of government will change, though not necessarily the bureaucracy behind it. Campaigning has already begun for presidential elections that in February, 2023, will draw the curtain on eight years of the administration of Muhammadu Buhari, on whose somnolent watch Nigeria has sleepwalked closer to disaster.
“Buhari has overseen two terms of economic slump, rising debt and a calamitous increase in kidnapping and banditry—the one thing you might have thought a former general could control. Familiar candidates to replace him, mostly recycled old men, are already counting their money ahead of a costly electoral marathon. It takes an estimated $2billion to get a president elected. Those who pay will expect to be paid back.
“There are some promising candidates. If Yemi Osinbajo, the technocratic vice-president, were miraculous to make it through the campaign ticket and emerge as president, the hearts of Nigerian optimists would beat a little faster.
“But that may be to underestimate the depth of Nigeria’s quagmire. The problem is not so much who leads the government as the nature of government itself.
“Nigeria’s administration is fuelled by oil — though not its economy; more than 90per cent of output is generated from non-oil activities. But for decades, the business of government — whether military or, since 1999, democratic — has been to control access to oil revenues and earn patronage by spreading petrol-dollars to federal and state supplicants.
“Outside oil, government raises a petty amount of revenue, proportionally much less than other African states. Since the provision of services is so dire, no one who can afford to pay taxes is willing to do so. Nigerians with money opt out of the system.
“They send their kids to private school, attend private hospitals, employ their own private security and generate their own power. The state borrows ever more heavily to fund what little capital expenditure there is and service mounting debts. Like a giant leech at the top of the body politic, government is essentially there to fund itself.
“This thwarts the aspirations of millions of highly capable Nigerians. Officials extract ‘rent’ by controlling access to business opportunities. The objective thus becomes to slow down investment not speed it up.
“Almost all the energy, drive and wealth creation in Nigeria happens outside government. New unregulated businesses in the booming tech sector, fashion, design and the creative arts are flourishing. Every day, tens of millions of Nigerians somehow get by, despite the efforts of those supposedly looking out for them.
“As is said of India, Nigeria grows at night while the government sleeps — hardly surprising that some libertarian tech entrepreneurs want the government to withdraw and leave the private sector in charge.
“In reality, the government is not too big. It is too small. The federal budget — not counting money transferred to states — is about $30billion, derisory for a population of more than 200million people. Only trust in government — and a willingness to pay taxes — can redress this balance.
“Nigeria desperately needs an administration whose energies go not into preserving its own privilege but into providing public goods — basic education and health, rule of law, security, power, roads and digital infrastructure. It must remove distortions and subsidies that direct entrepreneurial activity from production to arbitrage.
“The chances of a corrupt system reforming itself are slim. But if Nigeria’s ruling class cannot manage it, any remaining faith Nigerians have in their system of government will evaporate. That way lies disaster.”
Nigeria’s GDP Grew By 3.11% In Q1 2022, NBS Affirms
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 3.11per cent in the first quarter of 2022.
The NBS made this known via its Nigerian Gross Domestic Product Report Q1 2022 released, last Monday.
According to the report, Nigeria’s GDP grew by 3.11per cent year-on-year in real terms in the first quarter of 2022.
The NBS noted that the development showed a sustained positive growth for six consecutive quarters since the recession witnessed in 2020 when negative growth rates were recorded in quarter two and three of 2020.
It added that the first quarter 2022 growth rate further represents an improvement in economic performance.
The NBS stated: “The observed trend since Q4 of 2020 is an indication of a gradual economic stability.
“The Q1 of 2022 growth rate was higher than the 0.51per cent growth rate recorded in Q1 of 2021 by 2.60per cent points and lower than 3.98per cent recorded in Q4 of 2021 by 0.88per cent points.
“Nevertheless, quarter-on-quarter, real GDP grew at -14.66per cent in Q1 of 2022, compared to Q4 of 2021, reflecting a lower economic activity than the preceding quarter.
“In the period under review, aggregate GDP stood at about N45.317million in nominal terms.
“This performance is higher when compared to the first quarter of 2021 which recorded aggregate GDP of about N40.014million, indicating a year-on-year nominal growth rate of 13.25per cent.
“The nominal GDP growth rate in Q1 2022 was higher relative to the 12.25per cent growth recorded in Q1 2021, and higher compared to the 13.11per cent growth recorded in the preceding quarter,” the report read.
RSG Launches RIV-CARES Programme …World Bank Rates Rivers High
The Rivers State Government has launched the state COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (RIV-CARES) Programme.
The state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike performed the launching at the NBA Secretariat in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Speaking through his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, the governor said the programme was to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the poor and vulnerable households and support micro and small-scale enterprises as a means of stimulating economic growth post-COVID.
According to the State Chief Executive, “the state government had signed in for the programme, made provisions in the 2022 Budget for Result Areas and signed Funds Release Policy, which is an assurance to the World Bank that funds shall be released for the implementation of the programme”.
Wike said the launching of the RIV-CARES Programme would create awareness for the people of the state and engender expression of interest by beneficiary households, communities and operators of micro and small businesses (SMEs).
The governor, who encouraged the Rivers people to take advantage of the opportunities provided by RIV-CARES to enhance their means of livelihood and reduce the spate of poverty in the communities, commended the World Bank and the Federal CARES for their support to the state.
In her remarks, the Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Mrs. Titilola Kuna Cline, said in a bid to check the negative effects of COVID-19 pandemic on livelihoods, food security and micro and small businesses, the World Bank in partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria and the state governments, introduced the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES) Programme.
She said the state scaled through rigorous preparatory stages and qualified to participate in the programme whose objective was “to expand access to livelihood support and food security services, and grants for poor and vulnerable households and firms”.
According to her, the stages include, signing of subsidiary loan agreement and fund release policy by the government.
Others include the establishment of the RIV-CARES Steering Committee, establishment of State- CARES Coordination Unit domiciled in the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning and preparation of work plan.
“The NG-CARES, after domestication of programme implementation manual now known as RIV-CARES programme has the State Coordination Unit (SCU) saddled with coordinating implementation of RIV-CARES programme in the state and reporting to Federal-CARES supporting unit and the World Bank in Abuja.
“It is also a bridge between the delivery platforms and the State-CARES Steering Committee and for delivery platform under three Results Areas (RA1-3).
Cline listed the three areas to include cash transfer unit, labour intensive public works and community-driven development social (CDD-S) Plus.
The rest are, FADAMA and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Also speaking, the representative of the World Bank, Mr. Aso Vakporaye, said the programme must succeed in order to kick out poverty from the state in view of the fact that failure to kick out poverty would make life difficult for the entire citizenry.
He, therefore, thanked the governor for making it possible for Rivers State to participate in the programme.
Similarly, the World Bank and the Federal Government have rated Rivers State high in the implementation of the COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus scheme by the state government.
Representative of the World Bank Task Team Leader, Mr.Aso Vakporaye said this, yesterday, in Port Harcourt at the official flag offand implementation of the Rivers State COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (RIV-CARES) Programme in the state.
Vakporaye, who is also the chairman of the Federal Government’sFederal-CARES Technician Committee,confirmed that Rivers State has met the requirements for the implementation of the programme.
He said alot still remains to be done,adding that the state needs to release more money for the implementation of the programme.
Also speaking, theTechnical Head of State CARESCoordinating Unitand Secretary,RIV-CARESSteering Committee,Mrs Imaonyeni Ephraim, said the programme would improve the livelihood of the poor and vulnerable people in the state.
She said the programme, which runs for two years,was open to many beneficiaries.
The flag off was performed by the state Deputy Governor,Dr.Ipalibo Harry Banigo, onbehalf of Governor Nyesom Wike.
By: John Bibor
PDP Elects Senatorial Candidates For 2023 Elections
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Rivers State, last Monday, held its primary election to elect candidates who will fly its flags for the Senatorial election in 2023.
The election, which took place at the three senatorial headquarters of the state, saw the emergence of the state Deputy Governor, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo, as the candidate for Rivers West Senatorial District, Chief Allwell Onyesoh won the primaries for Rivers East Senatorial District while Senator Barinaada Mpigi secured a return ticket to represent Rivers South East Senatorial District.
Speaking before the deployment of electoral officers and materials for the election, the state PDP Chairman, Amb Desmond Akawor, welcomed members of the electoral committee from the PDP National Headquarters, and briefed them on the successes so far recorded in the state House of Assembly and House of Representatives primaries.
Akawor said though some form of consensus had been reached concerning the senatorial aspirants, the party would still observe due diligence by ensuring that proper primary election was conducted at the three senatorial district headquarters, urging the electoral officers to be discrete in handling their assignment.
Chairman of the PDP Electoral Committee for the Senatorial Primary, Hon Donatus Etim, commended Governor Nyesom Wike for the enormous work done in strengthening the electoral process in the state, thereby making it possible for successful primaries to be held in the state.
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