Category Archives: Economic Today

Sen. Suswan reveal why NASS halt tariff increment

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Senator Gabriel Suswan (PDP-Benue) says the National Assembly has directed the Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) not to increase electricity tariff because of the current economic challenges occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic across the country.

Suswan, Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, made the disclosure in an interview in Abuja on Thursday.

He said that the increase in the tariff had to stop for now even when it was obvious that an increase, given the provision of necessary distribution infrastructure in the electricity market, would help the sector to be solvent.

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Suswan noted that an increase in electricity tariff in this period would worsen the economic hardship faced by Nigerians, hence the intervention of the National Assembly to prevail on the DisCos to suspend the increase until the first quarter of 2021.

“Under a normal situation, an increase in tariff increase will help the operators to meet their remittances 100 per cent, and the government will not need to subsidize.

“Now governments all over the globe are giving palliatives to their citizens; in America, for instance, most of the people who fought for palliatives for not being employed receive some stipends weekly.

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“Now, here we have people who are unable to feed family because of the COVID-19 pandemic and DisCos is saying it will increase tariff at the same time; we are saying yes, reflective cost tariff is the way to go because we need the sector to be solvent, but the timing is not auspicious.

He also explained that the government had also reduced the petrol pump price because it did not want to increase the burden on Nigerians, observing that it would not make sense if DisCos increased electricity tariff.

“In the interim, the government will continue to subsidize petrol pump prices because that is the responsibility of the government, no government will want a situation where their citizens would be overburdened with prices of goods.

“So, that was why we stepped in and good enough with the decision we took, the president has agreed with us and said they should not activate the increase until certain things are in place,” he explained.`


#Newsworthy…

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Kano governor to present reviewed budget to Assembly

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Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has submitted a reviewed budget to the Kano State House of Assembly.

Dr Ganduje’s administration hinted a few days back, that the 2020 budget of over N200billion would be reduced by 30 percent due to the frustrations occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reviewed budget of N138,279,140,661 was first presented at the state Executive Council meeting, Wednesday, by the Commissioner of Planning and Budget, Nura Muhammad Dankadai, before transmitting the document to the State House of Assembly.

The reviewed budget of over N138billion has N78.8billon for recurrent expenditure, which represents 57 percent and N54.9billion for capital expenditure, which represents 43 percent.

Internally general revenue (IGR) stood at N46billion in the original document, but with N7.8billion as actual collection from January to March, the IGR now stands at N24billion in the reviewed budget document.

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The FAAC source for financing the budget was N76 billion in the original document but has now become N52billion, which is lower by N24billion.

In the original document, overhead stood at N18.3 billion as the amount and now reviewed to N16.6billion.

Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, spoke to reporters on Friday, February 7, 2020.

The priority areas of the reviewed budget are education, health, and infrastructure.

While global behaviour inches towards learning how to live with COVID-19 pandemic at both local and global levels, due to the absence of a clear cut vaccine for the menace, the governor further ordered all contractors handling different government projects in the state to go back to the site.

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Governor Ganduje expressed optimism that, life will pick up steadily for the continued development of the state as he ordered for the opening of all manufacturing companies in the state, to further take care of developmental aspects in the state in Post-COVID-19.

“It is pertinent to note that, people should understand lucidly that there will life after COVID-19. As such we should not sit back and give less concern about that,” he said.

Ganduje commended all members of the State Executive Council for their roles in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor also commended the individual and collective commitment of the executive members during this period, stressing that his government philosophy of teamwork is strong and vibrant.


#Newsworthy…

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Stocks rise globally in new lockdown offset

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Equities rose Thursday following a record lead from Wall Street, with investors cheered by hopes for a vaccine, more positive economic data and further lockdown easing in Europe.

The developments helped offset a worrying spike in infections in the United States, which has led to the reimposition of containment measures that could slow recovery in the world’s top economy, and warnings of worse to come.

Hong Kong led the gains on reopening after a one-day break, despite concerns about a new security law imposed on the city by China that observers said was more draconian than feared and could impact its future as an attractive business hub.

And while there are worries about the issue causing further friction between Beijing and the West, markets remain positive for now.

The Hang Seng Index rose more than two percent, while Shanghai ended up 2.1 percent.

Sydney, Mumbai, Seoul, Wellington and Bangkok were all up more than one percent, while Manila also chalked up more than two percent gains.

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Taipei, Singapore and Jakarta were all in positive territory.

Tokyo ended up 0.1 percent with signs of a flare-up in new cases in the Japanese capital weighing on sentiment.

London and Paris opened 0.7 percent higher, while Frankfurt piled on one percent.

The gains came after another all-time high for the tech-heavy Nasdaq on Wall Street, with investors now awaiting the release of key US June jobs data later in the day for a better grip on the economy following May’s surprise jump in employment.

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There was some cheer as figures from payroll services firm ADP showed a 2.37 million increase in private jobs — slightly below forecasts — though it added that 3.06 million posts were created in May, a revision from its initial report of 2.76 million lost.

Adding to signs that the worst of the economic hit may have passed, US factory activity began growing again, while the rise in German retail sales was four times more than expected in May.

In this file photo Traders work during the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on March 19, 2020, at Wall Street in New York City. Johannes EISELE / AFP
 

Meanwhile, hopes for a vaccine were given a boost after Germany’s BioNTech and US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer reported positive preliminary results from a joint project, which showed positive antibody responses.

Europe continued with its lockdown easing, with the EU reopening its borders to visitors from 15 countries, while Spain and Portugal held a ceremony to free up their land border.

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And the Netherlands confirmed the lifting of measures imposed on its brothels and red light districts.

Europe opens, US closes
“It’s been a risk-positive start to the new quarter, starting as the old one went out, with more positive data surprises out of the US and encouraging news regarding potential coronavirus vaccine development,” said National Australia Bank’s Ray Attrill.

But he warned of a “need to be on guard for the recent stalling or even reversal of social distancing restrictions in many US states prompting setbacks in some of these readings in coming months.”

There are increasing worries over a second wave of infections elsewhere, led by the United States, which on Wednesday reported more than 50,000 new cases for the first time and several US states imposed 14-day quarantines on visitors ahead of the July 4 weekend celebrations.

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California suspended indoor dining at restaurants in Los Angeles and several counties, while New York scrapped plans to allow restaurants to seat customers inside from next week.

Apple announced it would close another 30 US stores on Thursday, half of them in California.

And the World Health Organization warned that with more than 10 million known infections worldwide and more than 500,000 deaths, the pandemic is “not even close to being over”.

“There’s this inherent tension between health of the economy and health of the population,” said David Lebovitz, a strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.

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“It’s going to be the way to think about what drives markets over the next couple of weeks or months.”

– Key figures around 0720 GMT –
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 2.2 percent at 24,955.55

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 22,145.96 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 2.1 percent at 3,090.57 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.7 percent at 6,201.10

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.6 percent at $40.06 per barrel

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Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.6 percent at $42.30 per barrel

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1272 from $1.1249 at 2100 GMT

Dollar/yen: UP at 107.51 yen from 107.43 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2492 from $1.2468

Euro/pound: UP at 90.23 pence from 90.19 yen

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.3 percent at 25,734.97 (close)


#Newsworthy…

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Storyline: Zamfara passes SDG bills

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The Zamfara State House of Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill for the establishment and management of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)in the state.

N.Rs reports that the bill was passed after scaling through the third reading at the assembly’s plenary in Gusau.

This followed a report on the bill submitted by Alhaji Musa Bawa Musa, the Deputy Speaker of the House and Chairman House Committee on Special Duties.

Musa urged the lawmakers to allow the bill to scale through its third reading and passed for proper take off of the SDG in the state.

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The motion was seconded by Zaharadeen Sada (PDP Kaura-Namoda North)who urged the members to support the motion.

After deliberations and contributions by members, the legislators unanimously endorsed the bill through voice votes.

Speaker, Alhaji Nasiru Magarya, while announcing the passage of the bill, said the bill was vital for the development of the state.

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He directed the Clerk of the House, Alhaji Saidu Anka, to send the bill to the state governor for assent.

Meanwhile, two executive Bills also passed its second readings at plenary following a request by the Deputy Majority Leader Nasiru Bello-Lawal (PDP Bungudu West)p>

They were a bill to enact law for Directorate of Accelerated Cotton Development Board and a law for the establishment and management of State Directorate for Higher Education.

The two bills were referred to the committees of the assembly for scrutiny and report to the house in two weeks.


#Newsworthy…

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COVID-19: Electricity tariff hike under test

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… GenCos threaten suit over delay
… DisCos, govt, discuss poor services, supply cost
… Senate urges Buhari to bear cost of deferred hike
… Operators deny lobbying NASS, putting sector in debt

Nigeria’s electricity supply industry faces yet another regulatory summersault, as the National Assembly, on Monday, toppled plans to increase cost of electricity supply by as much as 50 per cent.

This came as senators yesterday vowed to compel the executive arm of government to bear the impact of planned hike in electricity tariff, if eventually deferred to next year.

In the same vein, the nation’s power generation companies (GenCos) yesterday in Abuja said they would consider meeting the Federal Government at the court of Arbitration if planned electricity tariff increase is not implemented today (July 1).

Reacting to intervention by the National Assembly, which deferred the tariff increase, Executive Secretary of the Association of Power Generation Companies (APGC), Joy Ogaji, said government must increase the tariff today, (Wednesday, July 1, 2020) or GenCos would either collect their outstanding fees or head to court.

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Ogaji also said that the operators would declare a force majeure and down tools.

“We are sick and tired of this back-and-forth. We are totally in support of the service reflective tariff as path to viability and sustainability. If government does not increase the tariff tomorrow (today), it’s either we are paid all our outstanding or we meet at Arbitration. If anyone wants to show favour, not at the expense of GenCos,” she said.

Ogaji added that the GenCos were obligated to generate electricity for Nigeria, and in turn receive 100 per cent payment of their monthly market invoice as was agreed in the (PPA).

She disclosed that, while GenCos engaged in a massive capacity recovery, they have been constantly paid less than 100 per cent of their invoice monthly.

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“ From available data, as recent as April 2020, DisCos remittance was as low as eight per cent. In context, an eight per cent remittance leads to a 92 per cent reduction in remittance to GenCos.

‘‘Six years after the privatisation, GenCos’ Available Generation Capacity (AGC) has been exceeded. The implication of this is that GenCos have kept to their industry agreement with the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and the market.’’

On the contrary, representatives of electricity distribution companies (DisCos) had maintained that they would support suspension of the planned hike only if government would bear the differences in current tariff and what was considered as appropriate.

Speaking on the issue before the Senate Press Corps yesterday, Chairman Senate Committee on power, Gabriel Suswam said: “Nigerians were heavily burdened because of COVID-19. The economy has contracted by 3.2 percent; that’s a lot. So, it makes it difficult for you and me to attend to some of our social problems.”

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He expressed the hope that the executive would agree, even though it would come at a cost.

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and other principal officers of the two Chambers had met at the National Assembly with chief executives of electricity regulatory body and DISCOs across the country.

The National Assembly leaders were emphatic that the timing of the planned hike was wrong, even though they had no objection to cost-reflective tariffs to attract the much-needed investments.

In the course of the meeting, the DISCOs also admitted that they were not well prepared for the planned hike in tariffs; even though they desired the increase.

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The meeting therefore, agreed to defer the planned hike until first quarter of next year, while the leadership of the National Assembly promised to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on the matter.

Lawan said: “The agreement was that there was not going to be any increase in tariffs on July 1. While we are in agreement here that there is no question on justification for increase, the time is simply not right and appropriate measures need to be put in place.”

DisCos and leadership of NASS are being accused of working to delay the take off of the tariff. Owners of the companies reportedly lobbied lawmakers to delay the plan.

Though NASS only deferred the tariff increase to first quarter of 2021, providing just a temporary relief for consumers, a lot of electricity consumers and civil society groups have expressed concerns, especially given the sorry state of the industry and its impacts on economic development and standard of living.

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The industry has experienced many regulatory flops, which might continue to undermine the objective of bridging the huge electricity gap despite privatisation.

The current development is coming barely three months after the nation shelved an earlier plan to implement tariff review.
Being the second failed attempt in the last three months, stakeholders are beginning to express deep concern, especially as the sector continues to speak from both sides of the month despite huge liquidity and investment apathy.

They are also worried about a purported service-reflective tariff, which could oust the masses and prioritize well-to-do Nigerians in provision of electricity, though as much as 93 million Nigerians (about 55 per cent) still lack access to electricity.

With over four different groups or committees attempting to regulate the sector, the stakeholders are also worried over incessant interferences in the industry, stressing that the move would only worsen the precarious state of the nation’s power sector.

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Though the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) was empowered by Parliament through the Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 to serve as an independent body for technical and economic regulation of the electricity industry, the persistent interfe0rence in the sector is seen as part of the failure of the body to bark and bite.

The sole regulator has been accused of being responsible for policy summersaults and gross mismanagement of customer confidence as well as creating investment apathy.

Last year, NERC moved to fully implement a Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO) designed in 2015 and the Minimum Remittance Order for the Year 2019, the tariff system, which, if implemented periodically as designed, would have addressed the accumulated increase and reduce impact of the proposed tariff hike on consumers.

The commission, with headquarters in Abuja and zonal offices in the six geopolitical regions, had conducted public hearing on the proposed increase, but defied disagreements to announce that implementation of the MYTO would take effect on April 1 this year. It later deferred the implementation to July 1, following the outbreak of Coronavirus.

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Seeing that the Minister of Power, Sale Mamman, had insisted before NASS members that there was no going back on the increase, as government was burdened by huge spending on the sector, the distribution companies backed the move with massive media campaign, including advertorials in national dailies to inform their customers of the new tariff plan.

But few days to the increase, NERC reportedly back-pedaled, distancing itself and the Federal Government from the tariff hike before NASS.

Recall that the DisCos are currently challenging the power of the regulator in court. The 11 utility companies, which serve as revenue collectors in the sector, have been severally criticised as being the weakest link in the sector as well as not remitting revenue accurately.

Privatised in 2013 to reverse epileptic power supply situation, the sector has been troubled by financial crises involving over N4 trillion.

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The Federal Government had spent about N2 trillion to subsidise electricity consumption in the last five years, but current economic realities are bad. Over N10.8 trillion loan has been approved in the last one year alone. This is coupled with the challenges posed by COVID-19 and crash in prices of commodities.

Consequently, government has been seeking means to exit payment of subsidy in both petroleum and power sectors.

Since the move to increase the tariff was announced, stakeholders in the sector have increased agitation against shoddy performance of the power sector, especially in respect of poor service delivery, considering that the majority of consumers are not metered despite introduction of Meter Asset Providers (MAPs) scheme, while others raised concern on need to save the market with cost-reflective tariff plan.

An associate professor of Energy Law at the University of Lagos, Yemi Oke, told The Guardian that the timing of the tariff debate was ill-conceived, insensitive and seemingly desperate, stressing that consumers should have right to adjust, opt out or determine what level of electricity consumption they could afford through proper and honest metering.

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He said that the country, as far as the power sector is concerned, left “leprosy to cure ringworm” as the problem in the sector remained unresolved.

“Those issues that make tariffs increment desirable by DisCos are still there. Issues that make consumers resist further increase in tariffs are still there. Those fundamental issues that drag the power sector down in Nigeria have remained potent.”

An energy lawyer, Madaki Ameh, did not see any justification to increase tariffs and asked the general public to rise up against the attempt, which he described as “fraudulent.”

Ameh said: “There was a comprehensive review of the tariff issue and a number of town hall meetings were held across the country, where tariff increases were roundly rejected by consumers. At the end of that exercise, NERC issued guidelines rejecting the request of DisCos to review tariffs to the so-called ‘cost-reflective’ levels. So, what has changed between April 1 and now? What happened to all those townhall meetings? Were they just for show? What is so urgent about the tariff increase now, especially as there has been no meaningful improvement in service delivery by the DisCos?

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While the DisCos were accused of trying to get the government heavily indebted to the sector so as to cripple its control of the industry, knowing that ministries and agencies currently owe the utility companies over N100 billion, as revenue shortfall hits N1.2 trillion, spokesperson of the DisCos, Sunday Oduntan, denied the allegations.

He also denied that the DisCos did lobby NASS to halt the tariff increase, adding that the companies were ready to effect the tariff review until NASS convinced them to defer the decision.

Oduntan stated that executives of the utility companies, where government own 40 per cent share and represented at the board were in Abuja, courtesy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) before being invited by the lawmakers.

“We are very prepared, but we are mindful of the challenges faced by Nigerians. Timing is very important, but the regulator chooses the timing and the mode, including the actual level of tariff,” he said.


#Newsworthy…

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Buhari govt inaugurate gas pipeline worth N1tr to boost electricity.

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President Muhammadu Buhari, in company of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State and his Kaduna counterpart, Nasir El-Rufai, as well as the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, yesterday inaugurated the 614-kilometre Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline to tackle Nigeria’s critical economic problems.

During the virtual ceremony in Abuja, Buhari pointed out that the $2.8 billion (about N1.1 trillion) project, to be financed by a Chinese loan, would boost the nation’s energy capacity by nearly 4000 megawatts and generate over three million jobs.

He added that the undertaking would upscale domestic gas utilisation, uplift the textile industry, as well as address agricultural hiccups through the fertiliser and petrochemical sub-sector.

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) had said the country’s gas reserves as at January 1, 2020, were 203.16 trillion cubic feet (TCF).

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Being a component of the Trans-Nigeria Gas Pipeline (TNGP), with capacity to transport about 2.2 billion cubic feet of the product daily, the President charged the Kogi, Kaduna and FCT administrations to ensure the project was delivered within its two-year timeline.

His words: “We promised the nation that we will expand the critical gas infrastructure in the country to promote the use of gas in the domestic market.

“These include the Escravos-Lagos Pipeline System – 2 (ELPS-2); Obiafu– Obrikom (OB3) pipeline; and the AKK.

“These projects are fundamental to our desire to industrialise and energise the entrepreneurial spirit that is ever-present in our population.”

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In his remarks, Sylva said the move would open up industrial activities in the northern corridor, adding: “We expect that in this corridor, a lot of investments will commence like fertiliser projects, gas industry, petrochemical, power plants and others.”

“On the part of this project, power plants will be built in Abuja and Kano,” he stated.

Also speaking, Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), Mele Kyari, clarified that the project, to be constructed by two groups, Brentex/China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau-CPP Consortia; and Oilserve/China First Highway Engineering Company-CFHEC Consortia; would connect the northern region with others.

“NNPC is thus transitioning towards becoming an integrated energy company to support Mr. President’s economic diversification efforts,” the GMD submitted.


#Newsworthy…

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Ebonyi community lament over bad road

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Indigenous people of Ibii community in Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi have called on the state government’s urgent intervention over the deplorable condition of their roads.

They are also calling for restoration of power supply to the community.

The Ibii community made the call in Abuja on Tuesday.

According to them, the community has suffered abandonment for years, even before creation of the state.

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Ebonyi was created in October 1996 from the old Abakaliki division of Enugu State and old Afikpo division of Abia.

Mr Nelson Otu, an indigene of the community residing in Abuja, said the people of Ibii, an agrarian community, had suffered long years of neglect particularly the bad roads, making their daily survival a difficult task.

Otu said the people depended on proceeds from their farm produce for their livelihoods.

He, however, lamented that Ibii road that traverses the community to Afikpo town and the one that connects it to Akpoha community has been in deplorable state for many years.

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He noted that the bad road network often limited expected income from their agricultural produce such as rice, cassava and yam, saying their worst nightmares were during the rainy season.

“So, we are calling on Gov. David Umahi to please come to our aid.

“The major road that connects us to the state is so bad; if not for community effort we would have been cut off completely.

“They should do something. We are an agrarian community and our people are finding it difficult to transport our agricultural products to other areas,” he said.

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Mr Kelechi Ability, a Technical Assistant to the Governor on Attitudinal Change, said that besides bad roads, “the community also suffers from lack of power supply.”

Ability, therefore, called on the community representatives in the National Assembly and state House of Assembly for intervention.

“We call on the state government to intervene in our plights, especially in the area of electricity and road network as we’ve been cut off from our brother communities in the state.

“We make bold to say that since 1999, PDP has never failed any election in our community, but the height of neglect and marginalisation is heartbreaking,” he said.


#Newsworthy…

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Insecurities: Nigeria facing worst experience ever – Daura Emir

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The Emir of Daura, Katsina State, Dr. Umar Farouk Umar, on Monday, lamented the current state of insecurity in the country, describing it as multifaceted security threats that is worse than civil war.

The monarch, who is the emir of President Muhammadu Buhari’s hometown, called for prayers, advice and goodwill of all Nigerians, especially elders, traditional and religious leaders in the country, to overcome banditry and other security challenges the way the civil war was overcome with such prayers without sentiment.

The emir, who also cautioned Nigerians against “undue interference in security matters to avoid distracting the security agencies, spoke when the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, visited him in Daura.

Buratai, who was in Katsina State on operational visit to Army formations in the state visited, was asked by the emir to use the same approach used in tackling the civil war to tackle the raging insecurity in Nigeria.

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According to Dr. Umar, President Buhari took over the reins of power at a time Nigeria was on the verge of collapse, adding that the current situation is like that of spectators who see all the faults in the players but cannot do better if given the chance.

Advising the CoAS to remain resolute, focused and shun distracting comments from any quarter, the emir commended the Nigerian Army and its leadership for the commitment and untiring efforts to contain the myriad of security challenges in Nigeria and in Daura emirate of Katsina State in particular since he took over as the COAS.

In his response, Gen Buratai assured the emir, the emirate council and the people of Nigeria of the renewed vigour and determination of the Nigerian Army to tackle the security challenges in the North-West and the country as a whole.


#Newsworthy…

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Cross Rivers: NLC begins indefinite strike.

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Government activities were paralysed in offices in Cross River State Monday following the indefinite strike embarked upon by the Nigeria Labour Congress.

The state chapter of the NLC led by Comrade Benedict Ukpepi had declared an indefinite strike over nonpayment of pension, gratuities, removal of names of civil servants from payroll implementation of promotion, among others.

Some agencies and offices rendered skeletal services and their workers closed early.

At the new secretariat on Murtala Mohammed Highway in Calabar, a team of NLC officials, policemen, and other security agencies were seen enforcing compliance.

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The NLC chairman said, “The strike is successful. The few staff at the New Secretariat are mostly members of Trade Union Congress who cannot work without our members.”

Some offices were also shut at the Old Secretariat when newsmen visited the place in the morning.

There was confusion initially over the strike as the TUC pulled out of the industrial action, citing wrong timing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


#Newsworthy

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Interstate travels: FG lift ban

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The Federal Government (FG) Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 (PTF) has lifted the ban on interstate travel. This is part of the modification made when the PTF on Monday announced the extended phase two of eased lockdown for four weeks effective from tomorrow June 30 to July 27.

The slight modifications to the extended phase two of lockdown exist.

They include reopening of schools only for classes with terminal exams (Primary 6, JS3 and SS3), interstate movement outside curfew hours (10 pm to 4 am), and resumption of local flights as soon as practicable in line with local and international guidelines.

Details later…


#Newsworthy…

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Over 1 Million applications received by N-Power in less than 2 days

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According to the update shared by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, it has disclosed that over 1 million applications have been received from across the country in less than 48 hours that it opened the N-Power (Batch C) portal.

This was made public via Twitter.

Recall with Noble Reporters Media that the enrolment exercise for the new N-Power beneficiaries commenced on June 26.

The Ministry also reiterated that all young Nigerians between the ages of 18-35 with or without formal education can apply for a slot in the new program which would be very focused on agriculture.

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“The number of applications so far received is an indication of the number of our youths who need jobs and the confidence in the program.

The Ministry will continue to collaborate with its technical partners to provide timely support to all applicants. The selection process would be fair and transparent and the public would also be carried along at every stage,” she said.

The N-Power Programme was inaugurated by the President, Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in 2016 under the National Social Investment Programme.


#Newsworthy…

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Lagos govt begin law enforcement on weak, distress buildings

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The Lagos State Government has begun stiff enforcement of laws against distressed buildings and called on property owners to carry out immediate integrity tests or risk demolition.

The General Manager, Lagos State Materials Testing Laboratory (LSMTL), Dr Afolabi Abiodun, told the media that property owners who did not ascertain the structural stability of their buildings risked sanctions.

Abiodun advised construction companies, developers, estate agents, builders and other stakeholders in the built environment to comply by testing their construction materials, ongoing and completed buildings to avert risks.

He said that enforcement would be more proactive in line with the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration’s zero tolerance for building collapse, saying that, using the right materials would prevent construction failure.

The general manager who assumed office in February said that soil test was also very important before any kind of construction to safeguard the construction from imminent collapse.

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“Enforcement has taken a new toll in Lagos State Materials Testing Laboratory now. Before my arrival, there was no enforcement and that is why I say there is a new Sheriff in town to unleash the law of the agency on all distressed buildings.

“There is need for those who have completed their buildings to do the Non-Destructive Test (NDT) and this test which we call the NDT is to be done every five years,’’ he said.

He said that the agency had begun a massive awareness campaign to sensitise the public and was equally educating artisans in the built environment on dangers of compromising quality of building materials.

Abiodun explained that he has had several meetings with Association of Block Makers and had embarked on enforcement visits to quack block producers not using the right proportion of mixtures for production.

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He said that several block makers had been sanctioned in Alimosho and Ikorodu Local Governments, saying that the quality assurance enforcement was ongoing and would reach all parts of the state.

He said that the agency was operating on the Standard Organisations of Nigeria (SON) requirement and was making deliberate efforts to ensure building professionals complied to eliminate quackery.

Abiodun said that he had scheduled a meeting with the leadership of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB) for Tuesday to pave way for more collaboration toward taming construction failure in the state.

“We want to see what we can do; how do we get to the roots of substandard materials that are being supplied on various sites. We are collaborating together.

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“We are all going out to do this sensitisation thing by going to the sources, the suppliers. We want to identify and invite them for a stakeholders’ meeting where the NIOB will be present.

“We will be able to channel a new course and a new way to prevent supply of substandard materials to site in the built environment,’’ he said.

The general manager appealed to Lagos residents to make their birthday gift to the governor who turned 55 on Thursday a visit to the agency to test buildings from one-storey up.

Abiodun also urged the public to patronise the LSTML to ensure that they can test their construction materials to ensure quality to guarantee integrity to avert building collapse.


#Newsworthy…

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Politicians are corrupting Court – Clarke

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A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Robert Clarke, has insisted that politicians contribute majorly to the problem of governance in the country.

Speaking during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, he decried that politicians have continued to corrupt the judicial arm of the government.

He said, “Judiciary is not a problem; judiciary is an institution that we need whether we like it or not, and it is the only force in the country today that one can still rely upon.

“Politicians are our problem; as I have said before in one of my interviews here that the politicians are corrupting the court; they are corrupting the judges and there is nothing we can do”.

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Clarke believes the system itself is corrupt and the judiciary has a self-cleansing institution which is the Federal Judicial Service Commission which has the Chief Justice of Nigeria as its chairman.

He explained that the commission has the responsibility of sanctioning erring judges, but based on petitions received.

A Faulty Constitution?
The senior advocate decried the situation where two judges of coordinate jurisdictions give different judgements on political cases.

“It is the rascality we think should not creep into the judiciary, but I still hold it that these events have been created by politicians,” he stressed.

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Clarke also faulted the system of governance in the country, saying the 1999 Constitution was the problem of Nigeria.

“This Constitution allows power to be given to individual governors or Mr President to the extent that as soon as they get into the position of responsibility, their personal ego takes over and there is no instrument that can stop them except impeachment and how do you get impeachment when virtually all members of the House are under the portfolio of the governor?” he questioned.

The SAN added, “So, it is the system that is wrong. When you spend billions of naira to get the nomination for a gubernatorial election in a party or when campaigning as a president, you have to traverse the whole of Nigeria; you don’t need such a system.

“It is too expensive; we cannot afford it. We have to change it.”


#Newsworthy…

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COVID-19: PTF yes Abuja, Lagos Airports reopening

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The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, yesterday, okayed both the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, for resumption of local commercial flight operations.

The team, following an inspection tour of the two facilities, expressed satisfaction with the level of preparedness for their reopening scheduled to be announced soon.

In a related development, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has hinted that airlines and other operators in the industry would get the proposed government bailout this week.

Shortly after inspecting the Abuja Airport, members of the Taskforce on COVID-19 arrived the Lagos Airport aboard an Aero Contractor’s test flight at noon, to assess the level of preparedness at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT).

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Besides Sirika, others in the team were the National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr. Sani Aliyu, Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnibe Mamora, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and Minister of State for Education, Nwajuba, among others.

They inspected both the departure and arrival areas of the airports to assess the social distancing measures put in place. The boarding and waiting areas were clearly marked for passengers to observe social distancing, while the toilets have automatic hand washing points.

Similarly, automatic sanitiser dispensers were provided at every point of the boarding, just as there are automatic temperature screening points.

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Sirika, who did not specify when the airports would reopen for commercial flights, said he was 90 to 95 per cent satisfied with what was on ground.

He said the only thing left to be done at the airport was the surface cleaning and installation of baggage spray machines, which he said were ready.

He said: “Once we start, all the physical distancing measures would be observed. The markings in Lagos are as much as we have in Abuja. I’m not 100 per cent satisfied, but I am 90 per cent satisfied. Why did I say so? Because we have clearly marked our airports in Lagos and Abuja. We have trained our staff to ensure physical distancing. We have provided COVID-19 compliant toilets. We have provided hand sanitisers and guided people efficiently. We reduced the amount of people the Co-Bus will take.

“So, we have done everything humanly possible to ensure that people keep physical distancing and they wear their mask. So, I am very satisfied and happy.

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“I think once we are good to go, we are good to go. You know there are two components of it: The health and safety components. This thing is not as easy as you think. I don’t want to give a date, but I am sure we are getting there,” Sirika said.

On palliatives, the minister said with the cooperation of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Ministry of Finance, the amount of the palliative due to operators would be announced soon.

Aliyu also expressed satisfaction with the level of preparation by the aviation sector to restart, saying the stakeholders had done very well.

On his part, Mamora said compliance is critical and government might be compelled to enforce compliance.


#Newsworthy…

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We will protect Nigeria from Recession – CBN

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• Police to begin recruitment this week – CP allege •


The Nigeria Police Force says its investigation shows that Boko Haram, Ansaru and other terror groups are getting support from some Nigerians.

The Commissioner of Police in Ogun State, Kenneth Ebrimson, has disclosed that the recruitment of special constables in the state would commence this week.

Ebrimson said the recruitment which is aimed at fighting crimes at the grassroots, is part of efforts to encourage community policing in the state.

Ebrimson said this on Wednesday, after the inauguration of the new state chairman of the Police Community Relations Committee, Samson Popoola.

He added that the recruitment would commence shortly after arrangements have been finalised at the Area Command, Local Government Areas and the divisional levels, this week.

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The Commissioner noted that the constables would be trained on police operation and would be given police uniform, although without badge.

According to him, the constables would assist the command to prevent criminal activities, gives the command intelligence report and resolve crisis among members of the public.

He said, “All other strata of the community policing, the Area Command, the Local Government Area and the divisional level will be concluded without any doubt this week.

“Thereafter we will now start with a pilot scheme of the recruitment of the constabulary who will now form the bulk of the community policing practitioners at the community level to assist the police in prevention, information and intelligence gathering and conflict resolution.

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“So, in no distance time when all these level of advisory committee of the community policing has finalised we will now see the next level will now be the consolidation of the recruitment of the constabulary and sending them to a modicum training of the police operation which will translate to bringing them in as part of our partners and remember also part of the concept.

“The idea is to give them a sense of belonging is that when recruited they will be given the police uniform but the only difference will be the signal, the badge, so that one can give them that sense of belonging and they will now see the police as our police not their police.”

The CP applauded the PCRC’s contributions and support towards fighting crime in the state, and urged members of the PCRC to further corporate with the police command to make the state free of criminal activities.

In his remarks, the new chairman of PCRC pledged that his administration would transform the community policing in the state.
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He said “We want to bring out that innate African security consciousness back to our people so that they will be able to work with us. They will be able to see police as one of their people, they will be able to see police as their own people.


• CBN set to save Nigeria from Recession •


The Central Bank of Nigeria on Wednesday said it would not be deterred in its effort to steer the Nigerian economy away from the looming recession due to the impact of COVID-19.

It said this was in spite of the push by some vested interests to impugn the integrity of the bank.

The Bank’s Director, Corporate Communications Department, Isaac Okorafor, said the bank had uncovered sinister plans by some persons in Nigeria’s economic and socio-political space to distract the CBN.

He said such persons want to discredit the institution through deliberate misinformation, complete fabrications and outright lies.

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He, however, noted that the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and his team at the bank would not be deterred by the actions of such persons.

Okoroafor said the bank, in pursuit of its mandate enshrined in the CBN Act 2007, as Amended, would continue to strive to ensure accretion to the external reserves to safeguard the international value of the naira.

He added that it would continue to ensure that no individual or institution circumvents the system.
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According to Okorafor, the naira, in the past three years, had remained stable against other world currencies, due to strict measures put in place by the CBN to check cases of round-tripping.

He said the bank, working with other relevant agencies of government, had equally curtailed the activities of economic saboteurs neck-deep in smuggling and other economic crimes.

He noted that those opposed to the policies of the CBN would not relent in their effort to undermine the bank, but stressed that the bank remained resolute to the dictates of its enabling Act.

The CBN spokesperson said the bank would not be distracted by subjective criticisms from persons who do not mean well for the general good of the Nigerian people and the economy.


#Newsworthy…

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Oil Workers suspend proposed strike. | Details

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A planned three-day strike by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers (NUGENG) has been called off.

According to the General Secretary of PENGASSAN, Lumumba Okugbawa, the strike action that was to commence today (Wednesday) was called off due to the intervention of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timpre Sylva.

In a memo to all PENGASSAN and NUPENG affiliate chapters and branches across the country, the unions said: “The matter has been apprehended and discussions ongoing with the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources.”

The strike action was called by the joint National Executive Committee of PENGASSAN and NUPENG on Sunday to protest alleged forceful enrolment of the oil workers into what they referred to as defective payment platform (the lntegrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (lPPlS)” by the federal government.

According to the unions, the strike action was called to press home demands for the payment of salaries of their members working with federal government agencies, whose salaries had been withheld since May over their failure to enroll on IPPIS payment platform.


#Newsworthy…

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35 paisas gain as Dollar trades for Rs168

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The US dollar continues surging against the Pakistani rupee as its value in inter-bank rate jumped to Rs168 after gaining 35 paisas in early trading on Wednesday, NRM reports

Since June 5 when the dollar had closed at Rs163.30, the world’s dominant currency is moving in an upward trajectory and has gained Rs4.70 against the rupee.

Earlier on Tuesday, the dollar was available for Rs167.65 with an increase of Rs1.07 in inter-bank rate and for Rs168 in the open market after a gain of Rs1.

On March 27 morning, the dollar had climbed to Rs169 in the inter-bank rate but later suddenly lost Rs4 in the afternoon after the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) intervened to check the steep upward curve in its value.

The SBP had pumped around $300 to $400 million into the system to stabilise the exchange rate after the day began with more bad news for the rupee as it became weaker with the dollar reaching the value of Rs169, the highest in the history.


#Newsworthy. .

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Insecurities: Service Chiefs, Others meet in Abuja

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Determined to end insurgents activities in the country, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin has met with the Service Chiefs and Heads of Security and Intelligence Agencies to deliberate on the way out.

NRM reports that this was contained in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday by the Coordinator Defence Media Operations DMO Major General John Enenche.

According to the statement, “the meeting was one of the series of meetings to re-strategise and enhance existing synergy among all security agencies to address the lingering security challenges bedevilling the nation.

It explained further that the meeting, which was well attended by heads of security architecture in the country, dwelled on developing and mapping out new strategies to promptly address the untoward security situation rising from banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling as well as other sundry criminalities particularly in the North West, North East and North Central parts of the country.

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According to the statement, the Service Chiefs and Heads of Security Agencies noted that essential consultations have been made with relevant stakeholders across the country with a view to collaborating with the military and security agencies to promptly address the security challenges and bring respite to the regions.

It stated that the CDS who pointed out that security was everyone’s business, solicited the support and cooperation of all well-meaning Nigerians for the Armed Forces and security agencies in tackling the security challenges in Nigeria in order to speedily restore sanity to the troubled regions.

Present at the meeting were the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai; Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas; Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar and Inspector General of Police, Adamu Muhammed. Also in attendance were the Director-General Department of State Service, Yusuf Bichi; Director-General, Nigerian Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar; Chief of Defence Intelligence, Air Vice Marshall Muhammed Usman and the Commandant General, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Abdullahi Mohammadu.


#Newsworthy…

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Nigerian President warns over ECOWAS currency

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday cautioned that the ambition for single regional currency could be in ‘serious jeopardy,’ unless member states complied with agreed processes of reaching the collective goal.

President Buhari also expressed concern over the decision of francophone countries that form the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) to replace the CFA Franc with Eco ahead of the rest of member states.

The President delivered Nigeria’s position on the new regional currency at a virtual extraordinary meeting of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ).

The meeting discussed the implementation of the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Programme (EMCP) and the ECOWAS Single Currency Agenda.

“Your Excellencies, you all are familiar with the history of the Eco thus far, so I will not bore you with that. We reverted to a single-track approach, giving up Eco which is the original idea of the WAMZ so the ECOWAS-wide programme could thrive,” Buhari said at the summit.

“In this regard, we have made remarkable progress including the adoption of the Exchange Rate Regime, the name and model of the common Central Bank and the symbol.

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“We have urged our Ministers towards an expeditious path to success. It, therefore, gives me an uneasy feeling that the UEMOA Zone now wishes to take up the Eco in replacement for its CFA Franc ahead of the rest of the Member States.

“This is in addition to deviating from the Community Act on consistent attainment of convergence in the three years running up to the introduction of the currency, and our subsequent reinforcing directives.

“I am informed that the French Ministers have approved a bill to reform the CFA Franc and most, if not all of the UEMOA Member States, have already passed legislation in their various Parliaments to that effect.

“It is a matter of concern that a people with whom we wish to go into a union are taking these major steps without trusting us for discussion,’’ he said.

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President Buhari assured ECOWAS leaders of Nigeria’s commitment to the ECOWAS single currency and urged them to critically consider the recommendations made by the Convergence Council and take a common position to safeguard the West African Monetary Zone from the pitfalls of a questionable union.

He affirmed Nigeria’s support for a monetary union with the right fundamentals, which guarantees credibility, sustainability and overall regional prosperity and sovereignty.

According to the president, Nigeria also believes that given the potential contractions and even losses from the global Covid-19 pandemic, member states cannot but be too cautious about ensuring compliance with the set standards.

“We cannot ridicule ourselves by entering a union to disintegrate, potentially no sooner than we enter into it.

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“We need to be clear and unequivocal about our position regarding this process. We must also communicate same to the outside world effectively. We have all staked so much in this project to leave things to mere expediencies and convenience.

“My dear colleagues, Heads of State and Government, It is obvious that we are at a crossroads.

“We must proceed with caution and comply with the agreed process of reaching our collective goal while treating each other with utmost respect. Without these, our ambitions for a strategic Monetary Union as an ECOWAS bloc could very well be in serious jeopardy,’’ he said.

In the light of the caution raised by Nigeria and some other West African countries at the meeting, ECOWAS leaders resolved to convene an enlarged meeting of the regional bloc on the single currency issue.


#Newsworthy…

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Gold makes all-time high record in Pakistan

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The price spike of gold in the world market has brought the price of gold in Pakistan to a new all-time high, Noble Reporters Media reported on Monday.

In Pakistan, the price of gold per tola increased by Rs. 1,300 to reach the highest level of Rs. 102,000.

The 10 grams of gold increased by Rs 1,114 to Rs. 87,448 while the price of 22-carat gold became Rs 80,161 rupees per 10 grams.

NRM reported during trading in the global market, the price of gold per ounce increased by 12 dollars and exceeded $1,748.

It is pertinent to note that during the last week, the price of gold per tola in Pakistan also increased by Rs 2700.


#Newsworthy…

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Wife of Kebbi Gov task Northern Govs on Almajiris’ Education

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Wife of Kebbi Governor Hajiya Aisha Bagudu, has urged northern state governors to provide quality education to repatriated almajiri in their respective states.


Hajiya Bagudu gave the advice on Monday while speaking with newsmen.

She said that the repatriation of almajiri in some northern states to their respective states of origin was an initiative in the right direction.

“The state governments, especially in the north, should take the initiative more serious and follow up the almajiri with quality education.

Also, Kaduna State Govt. evacuates 35,000 Almajiri children, receives more than 1,000 –Commissioner.

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“They governments should be mindful that before their repatriation, these children were in an environment totally away from their parents and must have been accustomed to begging and living on the streets.

“This may have resulted in adoption of another moral character different from their states of origin,’’ she said.

She urged them to prioritise the continuation of both Qur’anic and western education for the children now that they are living with their biological parents.

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“The state governments should be committed to the full protection of the fundamental human rights of the children,’’ she said.

The wife of the governor also urged parents to be vigilant to know the whereabouts of their children and friends now the cases of rape were rampant in the country.

Hajiya Bagudu, who is the founder of Mass Literacy Programme and Almajiri Initiative (MALPAI), affirmed her commitment to providing support to women to engage in entrepreneurship in order to be self-reliant.

She also promised to continue to assist them to acquire skills and materials to engage in commerce, agriculture and livestock production.


#Newsworthy…

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