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Fuel price: Equating Saudi Arabia with Nigeria is not an aberration, says Lai Muhammed 

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Fuel price: Equating Saudi Arabia with Nigeria is not an aberration, says Lai Muhammed

That President Muhammadu Buhari recieved the most fierce bashing of his life for attempting to justify the recent pump price hike for Premium motor spirit by making comparidon with prices in other climes especially Saudi Arabia did not go down well with his administration.
Many Nigerians had criticised the president for making such comparison without considering the minimum wage, standard of living and infrastructure in Saudi Arabia in particular.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, was on hand to justify the statement in his 2020 Independence Day national broadcast.
He tried to explain away the illogical comparison when he featured on a Radio Nigeria current affairs programme, “Radio Link’’ on Saturday in Abuja.

President Buhari had said in his Independence Day broadcast that: “we sell petrol at N161 per litre when same is sold at N168 per litre in Saudi Arabia; N211 per litre in Egypt; N362 per litre in Ghana; N362 per litre in Chad, and N346 per litre in Niger Republic.

“It does not make sense for petrol to be cheaper in Nigeria than Saudi Arabia,’’

Taking on the critics, the minister said there was nothing wrong in making such comparison.
“Some people have said that why should we compare ourselves to Saudi Arabia with better infrastructure and higher wages.
“Our answer to that is very simple. Saudi Arabia has 34 million people while Nigeria has 200 million people.
“Saudi Arabia produces 10 million barrels of crude oil per day, while Nigeria produces at its best, 2.1 million barrel per day.
“Their population is about one-sixth of Nigeria’s population and they are blessed with more resources.
“Therefore, they can afford to pay higher wages and build infrastructure.
“Our argument must be put in proper perspective.
“As we have said, whatever money we make from the subsidy removal, we will invest in infrastructure development’’ he said.
The minister commended organised labour for its understanding and patriotism in suspending its planned strike to protest the fuel price deregulation and the electricity tariff adjustment.
He noted that the suspension of the strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress and their affiliates, averted a “national calamity’’.
Alhaji Mohammed said after spending sleepless nights engaging with organised labour, the two congresses agreed with government that the fuel deregulation was inevitable
“The moment we lost as much as 60 per cent of our earnings and suffered a kind of shock in crude oil prices, we must deregulate.
“Between 2006 and 2019 we paid N10.413 trillion in fuel subsidies; an average of N743.8 billion per annum,’’ he lamented.
“The country right now cannot afford the subsidy regime,’’ the minister stressed.
He said government agreed with labour that it would facilitate the setting up of many modular refineries and rehabilitate existing regular refineries to cushion the effect of the deregulation.
He said the Ministry of Petroleum Resources would intensify efforts to ensure that Nigerians could get alternatives such as gas to power their vehicles and machinery.
Alhaji Mohammed said that the first auto gas station would be inaugurated and opened to public next week in Lagos.
On electricity tariff adjustment, the minister explained that government agreed with labour to establish a joint committee to investigate and confirm that the price increase did not affect vulnerable Nigerians.
He said the committee would specifically ascertain and ensure that the price increase did not affect Nigerians who get less than 12 hours of electricity per day.
Alhaji Mohammed said government would provide five million households with solar power in the next 12 months.
He said the solar energy programme would benefit at least 25 million people and would create about 250,000 jobs.
The minister said government was also working toward providing other palliatives to cushion the effect of the tariff adjustment and fuel price deregulation.

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Economy

Humanitarian minister flags off special grant for rural women in Plateau

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Humanitarian minister flags off special grant for rural women in Plateau

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development has launched the one off payment of a special Grant  for rural women in Plateau state.

Over one hundred and fifty thousand women will receive a one-off special grant of twenty thousand naira each in all the 774 local government councils across Nigeria.

On her maiden launch of the special funds distribution held at the Banquet hall, Government House, the minister said the grant was a one-off disbursement to rural women to mark the International Day of Rural Women. 

“Since the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration in 2015, the Government has been paying more attention to protecting and promoting the plight of the poor and vulnerable in the country.
This she said informed the decision to initiate the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) as a strategy for enhancing social inclusion.

“The Grant for Rural Women programme was introduced to sustain the social inclusion agenda of the Buhari Administration, including the realization of the national aspiration of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years. It is designed to provide a one-off grant to some of the poorest and most vulnerable women in rural Nigeria. 

“The grant of N20,000.00 will be disbursed to over 150,000 poor rural women across the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

“The grant is expected to increase access to financial capital required for economic activities.
“It is our hope that the beneficiaries of this programme will make good use of the opportunity to increase their income, enhance their food security, and generally contribute towards improving their living standard”.

Farouq also thanked the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen for her contributions in ensuring a smooth take- off of the program in Plateau state.
She also used the opportunity to present assorted grains from the National Food Reserve, approved by President Muhammadu Buhari as palliative for distribution to vulnerable persons affected by the  restriction of movement to curtail the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. 

Food items presented to the state include 71 trailer load of Maize, Sorghum and Millet  to cater to 294,199 households.

Earlier, the Governor of Plateau State Dr Simon Bako Lalong expressed immense gratitude to the minister for her visit to the state. He acknowledged the role of women in the society especially the rural women. 

“This palliative will assist vulnerable people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and other disasters like conflict and flood.  
“This occasion is unique because it also features the disbursement of cash transfer to 500 rural women to mark the International Day of Rural Women.
“I am also delighted to note that 3005 pregnant and lactating women In Plateau state are currently receiving an additional five thousand naira as top-up of the Conditional Cash Transfer.
“This will go a long way in improving the lives of women and children in Plateau state particularly their health and economic empowerment”.

Governor Simon Bako Lalong in his comments 9noted that 26,004 vulnerable households in Plateau state were already receiving the Cash Transfer of N10,00 bi-monthly while 47,000 others await payment. He said the  state has 231,870 households on the State Social Register with 877,301 individual households. He appealed to the federal government to extend other social and intervention programs to capture those on the waiting list. 

The theme for this year’s International Day of Rural Women is “Building rural women’s resilience in the wake of COVID-19”.

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Economy

Apprehension over Buhari’s misgivings on recession

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Apprehension over Buhari’s misgivings on recession


President Muhammadu Buhari left many Nigerians more confused when he admitted that the country’s economy may slip back into another recession in the third quarter of 2020, even while in the Fourth quarter.
Buhari expressed the misgivings while presenting the N13.1 trillion budget for 2021 with a deficit of N4.8 trillion that will be financed mainly by borrowing.
Many Nigerians were led to believe that the recession afterall may have since started going by his admittance while quoting the previous quarter.
This is more so as the President seem to be re-echoing what
Nigeria’s finance minister Zainab Ahmed had said in August 2020.

Ahmed had warned that unless Nigeria achieves a very strong third quarter 2020 economic performance, the country may slide into recession.
“Nigeria is exposed to spikes in risk aversion in the global capital market, which will put further pressure on the foreign exchange market as foreign portfolio investors exit the Nigerian market,” the minister  had said.
“Nigeria’s Q2 GDP growth is in all likelihood negative and unless we achieve a very strong Q3 2020 economic performance, the Nigerian economy is likely to lapse into a second recession in four years with significant adverse consequences.”
The President also said the projected GDP growth will be  negative in the third quarter of the year while the fourth quarter just started.
As such, the president said the economy may lapse into the second recession in four years, with significant adverse consequences.
However, inspite of the apprehension, Buhari assured Nigerians that his team were working assiduously to ensure rapid recovery in 2021 saying there is no cause for any alarm.
“We remain committed to implementing programmes to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty over the next 10 years,” he added

Buhari said the country’s economy is currently facing challenges with the macroeconomic environment being significantly disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Real Gross Domestic Product (‘GDP’) growth declined by 6.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2020. This ended the 3-year trend of positive, but modest, real GDP growth recorded since the second quarter of 2017,” the president said.

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Economy

Despite concerns over whooping N3.12tr for debt servicing, FG gives hope

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Despite concerns over whooping N3.12tr for debt servicing, FG gives hope

Not perturbed by concerns raised by stakeholders over N4trillion borrowing the Federal Government has pledged to meet up with it’s debt obligations with N3.12trillion for its servicing in the 2021 budget proposal.
President Muhammadu Buhari gave the indication Thursday when he presented the 2021 budget proposal of N13.08trillion to the National Assembly in Abuja.

According to him, the amount represents an increase of N445.57 billion from N2.68 trillion in 2020.
“We remain committed to meeting our debt service obligations.

“Hence, we have provisioned N3.12 trillion for this in 2021, representing an increase of N445.57 billion from N2.68 trillion in 2020.
“A total of N2.183 trillion has been set aside to service domestic debts while N940.89 billion has been provided for foreign debt service.

“N220 billion is provided for transfers to the Sinking Fund to pay off maturing bonds issued to local contractors and creditors.’

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