Naira, Fuel Scarcity, Insecurity, Inflation Push 24m Nigerians
Protracted insecurity, fuel scarcity, naira redesign policy and consistent high price of food commodities have been identified as key drivers that are pushing over 24 million Nigerians into food and nutrition insecurity.
While the withdrawal of the old currency notes form circulation constituted a bottleneck to households’ ability to access cash as well as food commodities, the prolonged scarcity of petrol, and the associated hike in pump price across the states on the other hand, has led to astronomical rise in transport fares and cost of food products in Nigerian markets beyond affordability.
An analysis done by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) together with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and other development partners has revealed.
The results show that insecurity especially, insurgency in the north-east states, mostly in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states; armed criminality and banditry in some north-west states (Sokoto, Katsina, Zamfara and Kaduna), as well as north-central states of Benue and Niger are also responsible for the hunger.
High food inflation as evident in soaring food commodity has limited households access to food, and lack of employment and reduction in household income due to the long-term effect of COVID-19 pandemic are also culpable.
The March 2023 Cadre Harmonise (CH) analysis conducted in 26 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) precedes a period of multiple shocks which affected livelihoods of many households last year.
The overall figures show that 24.8 million people including 18,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are expected to be in crisis (CH phase 3) or worse between June and August 2023 in those states.
While the analysis indicates that about 17.7 million people including 14, 000 IDPs are currently in acute and nutrition insecurity from March through May 2023.
In addition, 4.1 million of this population in Borno (1.9 million) Yobe (1.2 million) and Adamawa (1 million) states are projected to be phase 3 between June and August 2023.
FAO country representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Fred Kafeero, during the release of CH result in Abuja, weekend, expressed worry of further increase vulnerability to food and malnutrition during the lean season.
According to Kafeero, Nigeria needs to re-commit and use available means and resources to mitigate further deterioration of the food security situation in the country.
For this reason, FAO said it has continued to support the government in leading the implementation of CH processes nationally, both in terms of funding and technical support, despite resource limitations and competing demands.
The Permanent setcretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, assured partners of governments’ commitment to upholding the outcome and recommendations arising from the result with a view to enhancing the food and nutrition security situation in the concerned states through objective intervention programme.
Umakhihe, who was represented by the Director, Department of Planning and Policy Coordination, Ibrahim Tanimu, called on all participants to contribute positively to the issues emanating from the results to enhance its quality, usefulness and acceptability by the spectrum of stakeholders.
Infrastructure Deficit, Insecurity, Limit Maritime Contribution To GDP – Expert
A Maritime stake holder, and Chairman of Sifax Group, Taiwo Afolabi, has attributed maritime industry’s minimal contribution to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to infrastructure deficit, insecurity on the nation’s waterways, low level of technology adoption, and deployment in the sector.
Afolabi made this known at the 5th Taiwo Afolabi Annual Maritime (TAAM) conference organised by the Maritime Forum of the faculty of law, University of Lagos.
Afolabi noted that other hindrances are foreign exchange bottleneck and inconsistent policies.
“These have limited the ability of the sector to contribute significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product GDP.
“If well harnessed, the maritime industry has the potential to become a major revenue earner for the country, particularly with the declining oil revenue.
“The lessons of the last few years as a nation should not be lost on us. The non-oil sector is increasingly becoming the mainstay of the country’s economy. We have funded our national budget in the last few years majorly without proceeds from oil but from other sectors.
“The days of our over reliance on oil is behind us now and it’s about time we focused on transitioning from an oil-dependent economy to non-oil reliance.
“The maritime sector, I can say without any fear of contradiction, will play a crucial role in this economic transitioning if more attention is committed to the industry.
“Judging by the potentials of the industry, we are of the opinion and belief that Nigeria’s maritime industry can rank among the best in the world.
“It will only take careful planning, progressive policies, generous funding, enabling environment, friendly economic policies, manpower development and massive infrastructural development”, he noted.
Loans Repayment Default: DMO Exonerates Nigeria
The Debt Management Office (DMO) has refuted the claim by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) that Nigeria has defaulted in repaying its Chinese loans.
SERAP had in an earlier statement hailed the judgement that ordered the present regime led by President Muhammadu Buhari to account for how it spent $460 million obtained from China to fund the Abuja Closed-Circuit Television project which later was not implemented.
The NGO also quoted a report in its statement saying “Nigeria has failed to repay loans for which penalties stand at N41.31bn”.
But DMO in its refuttal said the statement is ‘false’ as Nigeria has not defaulted in its loan repayment.
It said, “Nigeria is fully committed to housing its debt obligations and has not defaulted on any of its debt service obligations”, DMO said on Monday.
SERAP had sued the Federal Government following a 2019 disclosure by the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed that “Nigeria was servicing the loan”, adding that she had “no explanations on the status of the project”.
She reportedly said, “We are servicing the loan. I have no information on the status of the CCTV project”.
Giving his judgement, Justice Nwite agreed with SERAP that “there is a reasonable cause of action against the government. Accounting for the spending of the $460 million Chinese loan is in the interest of the public. It will be inimical for the court to refuse SERAP’s application for judicial review of the government’s action”.
The presiding justice also said the Minister of Finance is in charge of the finance of the country and “cannot by any stretch of imagination be oblivious of the amount of money paid to the contractors for the Abuja CCTV contract and the money meant for the construction of the headquarters of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB)”, SERAP said.
CBN Names Four Firms To Print Cheques
Nigeria’s apex banking institution, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has named four local firms for the printing of cheques, excluding the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company (NPSMC) PLC.
The list of the approved firms for the printing of cheques was contained in a circular issued by CBN.
The circular, which was signed by the Director of Banking Services, Sam Okojere, said the approved firms include Superflux International Limited, Tripple Gee and Company, Yaliam Press Limited, and Marvelous Mike Press.
“The re-accreditation of Cheques Printers and Cheque Personalisers is in line with the relevant qualification criteria”, CBN stated.
The circular also revealed that seven banks were approved as personalisers of cheques: they are Zenith Bank Plc, Ecobank Plc, First Bank Ltd, Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Keystone Bank Ltd, Providus Bank Ltd and Wema Bank Plc.
It further disclosed that all accredited printers and personalisers had been duly notified and certificates issued.
The Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company Plc is the sole printer of N200, N500, and N1000 new notes.
Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company Plc and Euphoria Group Limited were accredited and approved on Thursday, 04 December 2014, in a letter REF: BPS/DIR/GEN/CIR/02/033.
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