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Nigeria’s Economy In Bad Shape, UNDP Admits

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Amidst declining revenue and foreign exchange earnings coupled with rising debt service payments, a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report on Imagine Nigeria, has declared that the country’s economy is in very bad shape.
According to the report, to be launched, today, the COVID-19 pandemic has been detrimental to Nigeria’s economy, now made worse by a decline in revenue and foreign exchange earnings due largely to the fall in oil prices and reduced demand.
The report also noted that the decline in revenue meant an overdependence on borrowing and an increased debt service payments with more than half of the annual Federal Government revenues being used to service debts.
The report said “Beyond the short-term challenges for the oil sector, principal forex earner for Nigeria are the longer-term concerns as the world makes determined moves to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.
“Unemployment, underemployment and their effects on poverty have remained a bane for Nigeria. If no urgent measures are deployed soon, Nigeria with its teeming population is certain to fall in desperate times. Already, the World Bank projects that about five million Nigerians will fall below the poverty line,” UNDP said.
The report regretted that the manufacturing sector which could have provided succour is also battling challenges such as poor power supply, multiple taxation and inadequate infrastructure.
“This does not mean progress has not been made in the sector as measures such as faster business registration time, improved imports and exports systems have been introduced. If more appropriate interventions are deployed, the manufacturing sector is sure to experience growth and be able to contribute more than the 12.82per cent it contributed to the economy in 2020” the report noted, adding that if agriculture sector can be more productive it can surpass the oil sector if the challenges of poor adoption of improved farming methods, inadequate infrastructure and insufficient credits are addressed.
“Like other factors, Nigeria is faced with a serious infrastructure deficit. This cuts across housing, water, power, telecommunications and transportation network”.
Reacting to the UNDP verdict, Founder/CEO, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE),Dr Muda Yusuf, noted that Nigeria’s economy is characterised by diverse economic vulnerabilities, which have had devastating effects on businesses.
He listed such headwinds with terrible effects on the economy; to include unprecedented surge in energy prices with huge adverse effects on economic players across all sectors; as well as high levels of currency depreciation and currency volatility; as well as increasingly weak fiscal space; acute foreign exchange scarcity with very profound effects on investors across all sectors.
Yusuf said that above all, Nigeria’s rising public debt and debt service burden; worsening security situation as well as elevated political risk as a result of political transition processes and activities are not helping the nation’s recovery strategies. These adverse developments are further compounded by growing fuel subsidy burden; weak infrastructure; falling investors’ confidence and depressed purchasing power.
Also speaking, Chairman, Apapa branch of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Frank Onyebu, said, “To say that Nigeria’s economy is wobbling is to put it mildly. Sometimes, it feels like an understatement.
The economy can be said to be in a state of comatose.
“Factors responsible for this are numerous and include a hostile investment environment, complete dilapidation of infrastructure, insecurity and corruption to mention but a few.
“The economy can best be retooled by the creation of an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. The government should start by investing massively in infrastructure. The government may choose to concession some of the infrastructure since it doesn’t have currently enough resources.
“The worsening insecurity in Nigeria is a major problem for investors in the economy. Many Industrialists especially those who are in the agro-allied sector are grappling with challenges getting raw materials from the crop producing areas of our country. This has continued to negatively impact capacity utilization, turnover, cost of production and the value delivery to shareholders. Some now source raw materials from neighbouring West African countries.
“Insecurity has also created a very serious country risk and reputational problem for our country”.
The figures released by the Finance Minister, Mrs.Zainab Ahmed, during the presentation of the 2023-2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework, painted a gloomy and disturbing picture of the state of government finances, suggesting that the government is on the brink of bankruptcy.
Debt service to revenue ratio for the first four months of the current year is over 100percent.
“The implication of this is that the actual revenue of government over the period is not sufficient to service debt.
“Therefore, financing of the operations of government – personnel cost, overhead cost, capital expenditure and even part of the servicing of the debt will have to come from additional borrowing. These portend severe vulnerabilities for the Nigerian economy.

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NIMASA Delivers Marine, Transport Building To Port Harcourt Varsity

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The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has handed over the complex housing the Institute of Marine and Transport Technology to the University of Port Harcourt, in Rivers State.
A statement from the agency indicated that the building was initiated by its previous leadership.
“The initiative dated back to 2012/2013 when the former Director-General of the agency, Dr Dakuku Peterside, decided to build a maritime training institute.
“The initiative is not peculiar to the University of Port Harcourt. It is present in all the six geopolitical zones of the country.
“Any investment in education is definitely worthwhile. Research has shown that lack of education is relatively responsible for maritime crimes in the Niger Delta Region.
“We hope beneficiaries of this Maritime institute will be instrumental in making Nigeria a major maritime nation,” the statement said.
It quoted the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Abraham Georgewill, who was represented by the VC Administration, Prof. Clifford Ofurum, as thanking NIMASA for selecting the university as the location for the maritime institute.
Ofurum assured NIMASA that the university would provide adequate faculty to ensure courses were accredited and recognised globally.

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Wigwe’s Family Announces Burial Plan

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The family of Herbert Wigwe has announced the burial plans for the Wigwes.
Wigwe, alongside his wife, Chizoba, and son, Chizi, died in an helicopter crash in the United States on February 9.
The crash also claimed the lives of a former Chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, Abimbola Ogunbanjo, and two crew members.
According to the plan, the funeral ceremony will commence on Monday, March 4, 2024.
Meanwhile, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, City of David, where Herbert used to be a staunch member before his demise, was conspicuously missing from the list of churches scheduled to host two of the programmes.
According to the funeral plans, on Thursday, March 7, a combined Service of Songs will take place at RCCG, Ressurection Parish at Jakande Estate, Lekki, Lagos State while a combined funeral service will be held on Saturday, March 9, at RCCG, Lion of Judah Parish, Isiokpo, Rivers State.
The absence of the City of David parish on the list has, however, raised concerns despite the acknowledgement of the late Wigwe’s immense contribution to the parish while he was alive.
The Pastor in Charge of the parish, Idowu Iluyomade, had paid glowing tributes to the late bank chief while reacting to his sudden demise.
Iluyomade, who described the deceased as God’s general, added that he donated generously to the church.
Speaking during a service titled: “Barrier Shattering Thanksgiving (Sunshine Service)” on Sunday, February 11, the clergyman recalled how Wigwe spent about N500m for God Children’s Great Talent Project and how he adopted some children.
He said, “Wigwe was the Chairman of the Finance Committee with Pastor Siju, and I remember when we wanted to start the fundraising, he took us to Eko Atlantic, he put a marquee there, he brought people from America to come and see, and in that event, we raised about N600m. One would have thought he would sit back; he kept going. He told me we’ll do it.
“When this place was ground zero, he paid five years rent for a branch when there was nothing, just to assist. Then later, he said ‘I’ll give you two branches – one on the left, one on the right,’ and he paid five years each (10 years). Nobody would support a Greenfield, if you’ve built, yes, you can go. One of his purposes was to assist us.”
However, while friends and families of the deceased were still mourning, Iluyomade’s wife, Siju, threw a lavish 60th birthday party.
The lawyer, pastor and founder of the Arise Women Foundation held the birthday on Sunday, February 18, 2024.
Distinguished guests, including billionaires and monarchs, were on hand to rejoice with her at the party, which took place at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island Lagos. Also present at the event was popular singer, Chinedu Okoli, better known by his stage name Flavour N’abania.
Some Nigerians, however, expressed their displeasure at the celebrant for holding a party barely weeks after the tragic deaths of prominent members of the church.
This also fuelled insinuations about a seeming connection between the development and the decision of the family not to have considered the parish in the burial plans.

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Economy: I Take Full Responsibility, Nigeria ’ll Recover-Tinubu

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President Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday, appealed for patience from Nigerians over the current economic hardship in the country, giving the assurance that there was light at the end of the tunnel.
The President said he was fully aware and took responsibility for the difficulties Nigerians had been subjected to on account of government policies.
He said he would not complain but welcome all criticisms since he was the one who asked to be Nigeria’s President.
The President spoke in Akure, the Ondo State capital, during his visit to the leader of the pan-Yoruba sociopolitical organisation, Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti.
He also paid a condolence visit to the family of the late former Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, who passed on in December following a protracted battle with cancer.
The fuel subsidy removal and other economic reforms instituted by Tinubu have attracted public censure following the high costs of living, food inflation and other side effects.
The situation compelled the Nigeria Labour Congress to hold a nationwide protest on Tuesday.
The congress also threatened further mass action if the government failed to address the economic crunch within two weeks.
However, addressing public concerns over his economic policies, the President said, “Nigeria will survive the current economic challenges. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I requested the job, and I am not complaining about it. I take full responsibility.”
This was contained in a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, titled, ‘President Tinubu: I take full responsibility for the nation; we are building an efficient Nigeria that is inclusive and fair to all Nigerians.’’
Tinubu emphasised his commitment to leading Nigeria towards economic and social prosperity, saying, “We are meeting our obligations to the international community. To lenders, we have not defaulted, and we are not going to default. We are navigating the twists and bends on the road to Nigeria’s prosperity.”
On reforming Nigeria, the President said his task would be to ensure fiscal and true federalism, as well as the broad-based manifestation of the philosophy of “what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”
He acknowledged the understanding and support of all Nigerians in the face of the harsh but temporary economic conditions, assuring them that their patience and perseverance will not be fruitless.
“But, through perseverance, Lagos emerged as the fifth largest economy in the entire continent of Africa. We must manage this moment with wisdom and grow Nigeria responsibly.
“I campaigned for this office to serve Nigeria’s interests and I was elected. Some said I would not last in the tribunal and came up with all sorts of predictions, but even when in court, I remained focused.
“We cannot allow Nigeria’s economy to be exploited. We cannot abandon our economy to marauders. I am determined to re-engineer our finances and curb selfish interests permanently,” he stated.
Speaking on behalf of Afenifere, Pa Olu Falae, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, who read the address of Pa Fasoranti, commended Tinubu for his commitment to Nigeria’s progress and expressed support for his administration’s efforts.
“You have kept your word to return to this place where we all prayed for you, and this shows that you are a man of your word,” the elder statesman stated.
Pa Fasoranti asked President Tinubu to be fair and courageous, declaring that such traits were the hallmark of the Afenifere family.
“Today, you are carrying our flag. We are noted for integrity, competence, fairness, and courage. Your performance so far has shown that you understand the full gravity of your mandate, which is to show the Nigerian people that a good government is possible,” he said.
Fasoranti also charged the President on institutional reforms, saying, “Mr President, please also seek institutional reforms that would strengthen our federation and make Nigeria safer and more prosperous. Try and balance the budget and execute capital projects that would create more employment. We thank you for welcoming the idea of state policing.’’
He added, “We want each of the geopolitical zones to have greater responsibilities for security, food production and infrastructural development. Since the removal of fuel subsidy, which was costing Nigeria $10bn yearly, the state governments have been receiving hefty allocations from the Federation account.
“Mr President should persuade the governors to allow this change of fortune for the states to reflect at the grassroots so that life can be better for our people. They should not just buy rice and yams for the people. They should create employment, improve education and build new infrastructures. Today, life is truly challenging for most people and the state governments have an important role to play to transform society.”
Fasoranti received the President in the company of some Afenifere leaders, who included a former governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, Chief Sehinde Arogbofa, Deji of Akure, Oba Aladelusi Aladetoyinbo; Chief Kole Omololu, among others
Earlier, the President had paid a condolence visit to Akeredolu’s family in Owo and also visited the palace of the Olowo of Owo Kingdom, Oba Ajibade Gbadegesin Ogunoye III.
Speaking at the palace of the monarch, Tinubu eulogised the late Akeredolu as a statesman and a distinguished legal luminary who served his people with unwavering dedication.
“We lost an illustrious son. Akeredolu was very close to me and an ally. He was a son of the soil, and I have come to pay homage,” the President said.
He extended his prayers for the good health, progress, and prosperity of the traditional ruler and the community and thanked the people of Owo for their support to the bereaved family.
Accompanied by the Governor of Ondo State, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, Tinubu also commiserated with the Akeredolu’s widow, Betty, the children, and other family members.
Addressing the widow and the family members, Tinubu said, “God will be with you. Your children will do well in life. May you all end well. May God be with you and uphold you,”
The wife of the late governor expressed appreciation for the President’s visit, describing Tinubu as a good friend and brother to her late husband.
She also thanked the South-West governors for their contributions to the burial of the late governor. She particularly thanked Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for single-handedly repatriating the remains of Akeredolu back to Nigeria.
She said, “On behalf of my family, I appreciate Mr. President. We understood he couldn’t attend the burial ceremony due to the dictate of Yoruba culture. He couldn’t have attended the burial of his younger brother.
“Coming today (Wednesday ) is a big deal because we are in a better atmosphere. I also express my profound gratitude to the southern governors for their immense financial contributions to the burial, most especially, Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who singlehandedly brought Aketi’s remains back to Nigeria. We appreciate this huge show of love and we are grateful and forever indebted to him.
“I requested that Mr President see where Aketi has been laid to rest and he followed me. We are deeply grateful to Mr. President for coming. He is indeed Aketi’s brother and friend.
“I told Mr. President, yes, Aketi has left but he lives because he left behind legacies. It is our wish that those legacies continue and are built upon where necessary.”

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