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IMF says Nigerians getting poorer

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says Nigerians are getting poorer and that “coherent and comprehensive” economic reforms are urgently needed in the country.

The gross domestic product report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Tuesday showed that the economy recorded a growth of 0.83 percent in 2017.

The Bretton Wood institution said it expects the government to “muddle through” in the medium term, and any progress could also be threatened if elections next year consume political energy and resources.

Reuters reports that the IMF said that although the outlook for growth has improved, the climate still remained challenging.

“Comprehensive and coherent economic policies remain urgent and must not be delayed by approaching elections and recovering oil prices,” IMF said in its annual Article IV review of Nigeria’s economy.

“Higher oil prices would support a recovery in 2018 but a ‘muddle-through’ outlook is projected for the medium term under current policies, with fiscal dominance and structural constraints leading to continuing falls in real GDP per capita.

“Further delays in policy action — including because of pre-election pressures — can only make the inevitable adjustment more difficult and costlier.”

The lender reteirated that Nigeria needs to simplify its complex foreign exchange system.

“Moving towards a unified exchange rate should be pursued as soon as possible. (IMF) staff does not support the exchange measures that have given rise to the exchange restrictions and multiple currency practices.”

It also said that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should stop its intervention activities in the foreign exchange market.

The CBN has been injecting money into the forex market to ease the pressure on the naira.

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JUST IN: New Islamist sect, Hakika emerges in Nigeria, they don’t believe in any of the doctrines that Allah talked about in the Quran

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THERE is fear is Nasarawa State, following the emergence of a new sect known as Hakika, operating in Total Local Government Area of the state.

The group, with members claiming to be Islamist saints, is currently occupying a large expanse of the forest in the area. At a meeting in Lafia, Alhaji Isah Agwai, the Emir of Lafia, who is also the Chairman of the State Traditional Council of Chiefs, expressed dismay over the activities of the group and cautioned residents to be wary.

In an interview, the Secretary General of the state Ja’martu Nasil Islam, Ahmed Ali, said the doctrines of the group are not Islamic, saying “they have the kind of religious belief which I think is not Islam; they don’t believe in Quran, they don’t believe in any of the doctrines that Allah talked about in the Quran.”

Reacting in an interview, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Security Matters, Brigadier General Muhammad Adika(retd), said: “It is believed that some of them are those running away from Zamfara State as a result of the pressure and have concentrated themselves in an expanse of land which is highly forested.”

Commenting on the development, the state Police Command confirmed the development and said investigation has commen-ced on the emergence of the religious sect. The state Acting Police Public Relations Officer, Ismaila Usman, told Vanguard that the State Traditional Council of Chiefs had also confirmed the existence of the sect in Toto Local Government Area of the state.

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Killings: Ignore Northern elders, they’re selfish, presidency advises Nigerians

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The Presidency on Friday dissed some Northern elders who faulted the way President Muhamamdu Buhari is handling the nation’s security challenges, calling on the people to ignore them because they are being economical with the truth.
Recall that the Northern Elders Forum, in a communiqué, had accused Mr Buhari of incompetence in the handling of the country’s security challenges following the spate of killings in some parts of the region.
However, in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said it considered the communique “as the shedding of crocodile tears by selfish leaders.”
Mr Shehu claimed that the leaders felt alienated after a transparent and accountable system “halted their disproportionate survival on resources of the state.”
He, therefore, urged Nigerians to ignore what he described as the unholy alliance by the groups.
He said the groups were only stepping up their assault on the All Progressives Congress administration as it expands its national dominance and moves closer to securing an outright victory in the elections next year.
He said, “The Presidency notes with dismay that the refrain about President Buhari not doing anything about security in the country had turned into the number one fake news item being peddled in the media.
“The Presidency refers all the purveyors of falsehood to a State House press release published a few days ago and signed by the Special Adviser to President, Femi Adesina, which clearly outlined the government’s major achievements and initiatives in tackling security challenges from January to July, 2018.
“The press release which was titled: ‘Combating Insecurity in the Country: Lest We Forget – Presidency’ listed out ongoing security operations: (1) Nigerian Army’s Exercise Ayem Akpatuma covering Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger States launched in February to tackle cases of kidnappings, herdsmen/farmers’ clashes, among others; (2) Nigerian Air Force establishment of three new Quick Response Wings (QRW) in Taraba, Nasarawa and Benue States respectively, and deployment of Special Forces personnel.
“The press release also noted President Buhari’s approval for the establishment of a new Battalion of the Nigerian Army, as well as a new Police Area Command, in Birnin Gwari Local Council in Kaduna State, as part of measures to scale up security in response to the banditry affecting the area.
“We advise Nigerians to read Adesina’s statement if they haven’t yet, or re-read it for better understanding of the efforts to ensure peace in the country.
“It is sad and misleading for anyone to say that President Buhari had not responded to the security challenges in the country.
“No one can honestly say that President Buhari is doing nothing about security. It’s just a fake news item being peddled by selfish politicians with vested interests in keeping Nigerians incensed, and it risks being entrenched as reality if we don’t educate ourselves with the truth.”

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2019 polls: Police, Civil Defence Demand N317m To Feed Dogs, Horses

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The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps will need N310m to feed and administer drugs to dogs that will be deployed in states for the 2019 elections.

The Nigeria Police Force will also require N7m to feed 50 horses that would be used for patrol during the elections which will take place between February 16 and March 2, 2019.

The information is contained in the 2018 virement proposal sent to the National Assembly for the 2019 general election by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The total police budget for the elections stands at N30.5bn; the Office of the National Security Adviser, N4.2bn; the Department of State Services, N12.2bn; NSCDC, N3.5bn and the Nigeria Immigration Service, N2.6bn.

Buhari, in a letter he wrote to the National Assembly on Tuesday, requested a total virement of N228.8bn, largely allocated to new projects “inserted” in the 2018 by the National Assembly to offset part of the proposed cost of funding the 2019 general elections.

The balance of N242bn needed to fund the 2019 elections will be captured in next year’s budget.

According to the details of the 2018 virement request the President submitted to the National Assembly, the NSCDC needs N1.2bn this year to prepare for the elections.

The virement request reads, “Medical and general expenses for dogs, N143,782,000; feeding of dogs: N166,315,000.

“Hiring of speedboats: N499,500,000; welfare packages (contingency of N7,000 per state and FCT) N259m; accommodation allowances for monitors: N185,000,000.”

According to the virement document, police election budget this year stands at N679m, with N7.7m earmarked for feeding of horses and N100m for printing of non-security materials.

The police also asked for N87.5m for the maintenance of aircraft and N407m for maintenance of the vehicles to be used for election monitoring.

The budget states in part, “Feeding of 50 horses: N7, 719, 454; maintenance of existing vehicles for 2019 elections for the period of 20 days: N407, 400, 000.”

Immigration wants N126m to print name tags

In the virement details, the NIS also requested N126m for printing name tags for its personnel that would be involved in the elections while N166m was requested for pre-election training.

The DSS, in the virement request would need N2.9bn to prepare for the polls this year.

The DSS requested N2.2bn for local election and travel allowances while N100m was earmarked for perception management involving stakeholders, political parties and traditional/religious leaders.

About N120m was budgeted for fuelling generators during the elections which will last for 21 days while N100m was set aside for post-election investigations.

In the N1.6bn virement details, the ONSA requested N250m for a national election crisis response exercise involving all security agencies and relevant ministries, departments and agencies.

About N200m was budgeted for the deployment of equipment including satellites while N130m was earmarked for election monitoring.

In his letter which was sent to both chambers of the National Assembly, the President said the figures had been subjected to “the usual budget evaluation.”

The breakdown of INEC’s budget was, however, not stated in the proposal sent to the National Assembly.

2019: We will need one million workers – INEC

Speaking with one of our correspondents recently, however, the INEC National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Publicity, Prince Solomon Soyebi, had said the commission would require the services of at least one million workers comprising ad hoc workers and INEC employees.

He had also stated that they would all be insured.

Soyebi had stated, “We conduct our elections with many officials. Next year it may be close to a million people. What I want to assure you is that most of the work we do is done by a variety of staff most of whom are ad hoc. INEC has a staff strength of over 16,000.

N’Assembly must scrutinise INEC, others before approving virement – SERAP, CD

But two civil society organisations, the Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project and the Campaign for Democracy, have said the National Assembly must not grant the N229bn virement brought forward by Buhari without seeking clarifications from INEC, the police and other agencies which the funds are earmarked for.

The SERAP Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said the agencies to share the virement must be invited by the legislature to justify the appropriation before it would be granted.

Mumuni said, “What is important is for the Senate and the House of Representatives to invite INEC and the other agencies to seek clarifications on the sums in the virement.

“The President has said that this money is meant for INEC and to meet the security needs towards the elections. So the next question is that let us confirm from INEC and the security agencies whether such amounts of money are what they submitted to the Presidency.

“Basically, nothing must be done to frustrate the 2019 electoral process. Whatever is needed to ensure a free, fair and credible election must be provided. But what we kick against is the attempt to use the elections to meet other deliberate fraudulent purposes and intentions.”

Also, the CD President, Usman Abdul, said, “The Senate has a duty to embark on a total scrutiny of the funds before approval. This is to ascertain that there is no misappropriation. The National Assembly must cut down unnecessary expenses to ensure that our funds do not end up in political campaigns for 2019.”

Group urges NASS to veto Buhari on budget time frame bill

Meanwhile, the Centre for Social Justice has called on the National Assembly to exercise its powers by recalling the bill on the amendment to Sections 81 and 121 of the 1999 constitution which stipulates the time frame for budgets.

The Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice, Eze Onyekpere, said this during a chat with journalists in Abuja.

He said that the bill had been transmitted by the National Assembly to Buhari for over a month, adding that the delay in assenting to the document was an indication that the President was unwilling for it to become a law.

The constitution amendment bill proposes that instead of the old order, where the President and governors present the budget estimates at any time in each financial year, they would now be bound to present same not later than 90 days to the end of the financial year.

The essence of the amendment is to give the legislature adequate time to examine, vet and approve the budget before the end of the presentation year and the beginning of the New Year.

The amendment also proposes a new subsection 1 (a) to the two sections by giving a timeline to the national and state Houses of Assembly to pass the budget for the incoming year before the end of the commencement of the next financial year.

Essentially, budgets will no longer be presented late or approved late like it had happened in the last three years.

The budget will now be ready on or before January 1 of every year.

Onyekpere wondered why a bill that should have checked the incessant delays in the country’s budgeting process had yet to be assented to by the President despite receiving Parliamentary approval.

He said, “If the NASS had given the executive a timeline without prescribing one for itself, the President may have had a defence for his refusal to assent.

“It could have been argued that both the executive and legislature need to regulate themselves by submitting to a constitutional timeline.

“And it would be considered improper for legislators to exempt themselves from the time frame. In this case, no reasonable person can fathom a reason that makes sense in the company of reasonable Nigerians.”

On how the issue should be resolved, Onyekpere said the lawmakers should veto the president by approving the bill so that it could become law.

He said, “The constitution is clear and requires no further elaboration. It is now up to NASS to exercise its powers for the peace, order or legislators to exempt themselves from the time frame. In this case, no reasonable person can fathom a reason that makes sense in the company of reasonable Nigerians.”

On how the issue should be resolved, Onyekpere said the lawmakers should veto the president by approving the bill so that it could become law.

He said, “The constitution is clear and requires no further elaboration. It is now up to NASS to exercise its powers for the peace, order and good government of Nigeria and override the presidential veto without any further delay.

“Any other course of action will be a great disservice to the long suffering people of Nigeria.

“Nigerians do not expect that the executive-legislative rift should get in the way of such clear headed amendments.

“There must be irreducible minimum levels of cooperation between the two arms of government, no matter the situation; otherwise the government will need to throw in the towel and call for fresh elections under the doctrine of necessity.”

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