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Senate approves Buhari’s loan of $1.5bn, €995 external borrowings

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Senate approves Buhari’s loan of $1.5bn, €995 external borrowings

The Senate has approved the sum of $1.5bn and €995 million external borrowings for the Federal government. 
This was sequel to the consideration and adoption of the report of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, chaired by Senator Clifford Ordia (Edo Central). 
The loans were part of the external borrowings President Muhammadu Buhari had requested in May 2020, for the Red Chamber to approve for financing various priority projects of the federal government and to support the state governments facing fiscal challenges. 
Senator Ordia, while presenting the report, said $1.5bn will be sourced from the World Bank to finance projects of state governments facing fiscal challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. 
The projects, according to Ordia, are States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability program to provide fiscal support to states (SFTAS) and COVID-19 Action recovery and economic stimulus program to support State-Level efforts to protect livelihoods, ensure food security and stimulate economic activity (N-CARES). 
The €995 million to be sourced from the Export-Import Bank of Brazil is to finance the federal government’s Green Imperative Project to enhance mechanization of agriculture and agro process in Nigeria to improve food security. 
Senator Ordia noted that the borrowings were largely concessional loans with low interest rates and a reasonable moratorium and payback period. 
He said, “The Committee most importantly notes that the indicative terms and conditions under which the loan will be borrowed, have no unusual or onerous conditions attached and the terms do not in any manner compromise the sustainability of the Nigerian economy or impugn the integrity and independence of Nigeria as a sovereign Nation. 
“The Committee finally notes that the Loan is in the immediate best interest of the Nigerian State and its citizens in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that the economy will be positioned for quick recovery and resume growth. 
He noted that while Nigeria’s Total Public Debt Stock is on the increase, it is still relatively low vis-d-vis the country’s GDP and the increased borrowing requirements is needed to sustain the economic recovery.”

He therefore pointed out that the loan styled Covid-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (CARES) is to support budgeted State Government interventions of the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory in their effort to mitigate the impact of the Covid -l9 pandemic on the livelihoods of poor and vulnerable households and micro enterprises. 
He pointed out that the interventions are intended to target existing and newly vulnerable and poor households, farmers, Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) affected by the Economic crises caused by the pandemic. The Committee said the financing will be used to support scaling up existing safety net interventions at the State level by expanding the coverage of Social Transfers, and Labour intensive Public Works opportunities in the social sectors, Livelihood Grants and Social Services Infrastructure micro projects. He indicated that the financing will be used to support scaling up of intervention that will help farmers increase food production and facilitate smooth functioning of the food supply chain. He further noted that the financing will also be used to support scaling up interventions that will help MSEs through grants to support postCOVID 19 loans, grants to support operational cost. He said, each each State is entitled to access $20,000,000 grant under the program provided that it achieves a minimum of 4 Disbursement Linked Indicators. The PCT is entitled to $15,000,000. 
Odia observed that the financing for the GIP, Additional financing for SFTAS and CARES are being sourced from Multilateral and Bilateral global Lenders and partners with proven track record of previous financial accommodation and support to Nigeria. The Committee notes that the borrowings are largely concessional loans with low interest rates and a reasonable moratorium and payback period. 
The chairman said most importantly that the indicative terms and conditions under which the loan will be borrowed, are not with unusual or onerous conditions attached adding that the terms do not in any manner compromise the sustainability of the Nigerian economy or impugn the integrity and independence of Nigeria as a sovereign Nation.

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Don’t pay lip service to resolution, South-South Study Group (3SG), urges Southern Governors

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** demands for a referendum

The South-South Study Group, (3SG) has charged the Southern States Governors not to pay lip service to their resolution but ensure that it does not stop with the communique but backed with action to lift the lot of their people from the present servitude and disadvantages that they have been subjected to.

They therefore called for a national referendum to give political action to their resolution on restructuring and their common position against open grazing among others.
The group challenged the Governors not to allow themselves to be weighed down by politics of their party affiliations as they commended them for the far reaching resolution.
The 3SG, which is a network of some of the South-South’s leading professionals in the public and private arena, gave the indication in a statement they issued on Sunday.

The statement which was signed for the group by Otoks Dan Princewill further challenged the Southern governors against shying away from articulating the desires of their people in the competive environment between the large majority of progressively minded Nigerians and the few persons determined to foster regression.

Endorsing the intervention of the Southern governors, 3SG said:
“The timely intervention by the Southern Governors presents a watershed moment as the nation becomes a contested arena between the progressive will of the people and the regressive whims and caprices of a few.
“It is for this reason that the commendable display of astutely effective diplomatic effort by the Southern Governors across party lines emphasizes the urgency and need for relief as demanded by Southerners of all affiliation.
“On this note, the Southern Governors must realise that now more than ever, regardless of party affiliation, the citizens of Southern Nigeria look up to this collective body of Southern Governors to protect them from rampaging marauders and bandits, to push forward their collective interests and hold many more positive Conferences also involving other Southern stakeholders in the immediate future for the sake of the rapidly deteriorating national state of affairs.
“Nigerians at home and in diaspora are waiting on edge with baited breath in expectation that this presents hope for a new beginning.”
Affirming that the resolution of the governors on restructuring was explicit, the group said:
“The Communiqué of the Southern Governors explicitly explains what Restructuring entails; review of resource control, revenue allocation formula, strict adherence to federal character principles in appointments and the shared interests of the Federating States.
“It is pertinent to acknowledge that our festering national ills have been dramatically amplified by a current approach of gross insensitivity to the diversity and the multicultural nature of Nigeria. This complete neglect of the most primary characteristic of Federalism by the current Federal Government worsened the already festering national malaise.
“The solutions to our national problems arising from diversity and multiculturalism were clearly stated only with slight differences and variations in the national conferences of 1995, 2005, and 2014. Interestingly, the ruling party in its review of the National Question reaffirmed these same solutions based on the imperative of Restructuring.”

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Governance failure: Bello lashes out at southern colleagues, says they also contributed

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Governor, Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has lashed out at his Southern counterparts for taking on President Muhammadu Buhari as if he is the sole reason for failure in Governance at all levels admitting that the failure is across board, hence the President alone should not be held responsible.
The Governor who featured on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme, monitored in Abuja warned the southern States’ Governors to be cautious with their utterances so as not to heat up the polity.
He said, “Let me caution each and every one of us, leaders across board including governors and all of the leaders across Nigeria that we should be careful about the words we use,” Bello warned.
He said when addressing topical issues especially about security, unity and national cohesion of leaders and politicians should be careful about the words they use when they are addressing the various topical issues.
Bello said, they get it wrong when they make it look as if they are taking it on President Muhammadu Buhari, because the situation Nigeria found itself today is as a result of maladministration of successive administrations.
“There have been collective failures across board, so let’s not just blame it alone on the federal government or the President.
He also challenged the Governors to endeavor to implement financial autonomy for judiciary if they truely believe in restructuring

The Governor said instead of demanding restructuring they should first summon the courage to implement financial autonomy for the judiciary and the legislature in their various states.
It would be recalled that on Tuesday, the governors of 17 southern states in their resolutions asked President Muhammadu Buhari to restructure the nation among other demands, after a meeting in Asaba, Delta state.
Speaking on the development in an interview on Channels TV on Friday, Bello noted that the president has since heeded the calls for restructuring by signing executive order 10 an order that had been suspended.
He said that governors should implement certain demands in their various states, before making such from the federal government.

“I sincerely appreciate and respect the position and the view of our brothers from the southern part of the country for calling for restructuring,” he said.
“Mr. President has heeded to the call for restructuring. He granted the autonomy for the judiciary, granted the autonomy for the legislature, and granted the autonomy for the local government by going ahead to sign all the executive orders.
“At various levels, whatever we are demanding, especially at governorship level, let us make sure we practice it at home. You are demanding for zoning, let’s make sure we practice it at home. You are demanding for equity, let’s make sure we practice it at home. You are demanding for fairness, let’s make sure we practice it at home.

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Backlash as Northern group accuses Ameachi of witch-hunt over NPA MD’s suspension

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A group Concerned Northern Forum (CNF) in what seems like a backlash has accused the minister of transportation Rotimi Ameachi of witchunting, blackmailing and bullying the embattled Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority Hadiza Bala Usman,.
The group who vowed to defend her to the last is accusing Ameachi of getting back at her for not allowing him unfetterred access to the purse of the authority to amass the fiinancial war chest to execute his presidential ambition for 2023.
The group alleged that her suspension was a deliberate case of witch-hunt, blackmail and bullying saying it is an affront on the integrity of the north.
They gave the indication on Friday at a press conference held at Arewa House, Kaduna where they faulted the investigative panel set up by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
The chairman of the group, Alhaji Mohammed Salihu Danlami, said they are aware of the grand design of a witch-hunt by the Minister against Hajiya Hadiza Bala Usman where he has moved from one phantom offence to the other all in a desperate attempt to tarnish her image.
According to him, Amaechi had initially started with a phantom allegation of non-remittance of monies to the coffers of government, which did not gel as the managing director could not be faulted on the remittances.

Danlami added: “Having failed on that line of offence, Amaechi then moved and developed a far-fetched TOR for the panel to conduct all manners of inquiry across administrative procedures, communication channels and procurement.

“We have followed every details of this unfortunate development and wish to unequivocally state that we regard Hadiza Bala Usman’s suspension without following due process not only as an assault on women inclusiveness in governance, but also as an attack on northern Nigeria, and a well-orchestrated attempt by Amaechi to embarrass the government of President Muhammadu Buhari for rewarding the uncommon character, competence and capacity with which Hadiza Bala Usman discharged her duty to Nigeria by recently renewing her appointment as the head of NPA for another five years.”
He reiterated that at the time Hadiza Bala Usman took over the headship of the NPA in 2016, the agency was a cesspool of corruption and had become incapable of adding value to the Federal Government to the level expected of an entity that is the gateway to the Nigerian economy.

“Hadiza Bala Usman immediately set out to reposition the NPA for greater operational efficiency and revenue generation by blocking all avenues of corruption that hitherto undermined the agency. In a bid to achieve this noble objective, she unavoidably stepped on the toes of very powerful political figures with vested interests in the running of the NPA.

“Specifically, she insisted that all revenue generating operation of the NPA must fully comply with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of the Federal Government. This meant that all companies who had been operating with impunity in handling monies belonging to Nigeria were called to order, and that concession agreements skewed against national interest were reviewed.

“In no distant time, her patriotic actions yielded results with the NPA posting unprecedented remittances in billions to the coffers of the government from 2016 to date.

“We at the Concerned Northern Forum felt very proud of the giant strides of Hadiza Bala Usman especially when we read in the news how global bodies such as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the International Association for Ports and Harbours (IAPH), amongst others, in recognition of her strides at the NPA, appointed her to head strategic aspects of their operations,” he said.

Danlami noted that the group was shocked at the embarrassing news of her suspension and investigation, adding: “Whilst we are not opposed to probity in governance, there appears to be a sinister and clandestine motive behind the setting up of Amaechi’s administrative panel of enquiry when there is a clear procedure to discipline erring chief executives of parastatals as approved by Mr. President himself in a circular dated May 2020.

“It is evident that he has set up this kangaroo panel of inquiry to do his bidding. In which world does a complainant become the judge and jury over a case? 
In their curiosity they asked why
Hadiza Bala Usman, was asked to step aside in an organisation whose decision making is carried out by an executive management composed of a Managing Director and three Executive Directors?
They equally asked the minister how
she could single-handedly carry out all of the allegations for which she has been suspended?
‘Why then was she singled out for embarrassment and reputational damage? These are questions Rotimi Amaechi must answer,” he added.

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