Trump’s tariffs threaten China’s economy

American and Chinese officials have made headlines in recent months for their confident predictions of trade war victory, but many longtime China watchers say the most important drivers and trends affecting Asia’s largest economy go well beyond tariffs. As the trade war escalates, it will not be easy for the Chinese government to use public spending to boost investments due to its mounting debt.

As the trade war between Washington and Beijing ramps up, analysts are divided over just how tariffs will impact China’s economy.

Some economists say the tariff battle between the world’s two largest economies — which advanced with a new round of tit-for-tat taxes on Monday — could land a significant hit on the East Asian giant, while others contend that China will manage around the White House’s offensive.

That argument may, however, miss the point about the future of the communist country.

American and Chinese officials have made headlines in recent months for their confident predictions of trade war victory, but many longtime China watchers say the most important drivers and trends affecting Asia’s largest economy go well beyond tariffs.
Slowing investment, mounting debt

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China has long relied on infrastructure investments to drive its economic growth.

Investments contributed to 44 percent of China’s nominal GDP in December 2017, compared to about 20 to 25 percent for countries like the United States, Japan and Germany, according to figures compiled by economic data provider CEIC.

China’s fixed asset investment is slowing, however, with investment growth falling to a record low in August. Economists including Nicholas Lardy from the Peterson Institute for International Economics, however, warn against paying too much attention to the historically low figure as China is currently revising the way it measures fixed asset investment.

Still, as the trade war escalates, it will not be easy for the Chinese government to use public spending to boost investments due to its mounting debt.

The world’s second-largest economy had a relatively stable level of debt until the financial crisis in 2008 when it spent a whopping 12.5 percent of its GDP to stimulate the economy.

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The country had encouraged loans to boost economic growth, with Chinese banks extending a record 12.65 trillion yuan ($1.88 trillion) in loans in 2016. That credit explosion stoked worries about financial risks, so authorities in 2017 pledged to contain the rapid build up in debt.

Since then, Chinese debt-to-GDP has steadily grown to about 250 percent — or about $28 trillion, according to DBS and CEIC.

However, the Institute of International Finance has put China’s debt at more than 300 percent of its GDP.

The International Monetary Fund issued a strong warning about the country’s economy in 2017, warning that debt-fueled growth is an unsustainable long-term solution.

Chinese authorities had been trying to rein in the country’s rising debt, with China’s state-owned banks told in April to stop lending to local governments. But as the trade war drags on, China appears to be using investments to boost the economy again.

The National Development and Reform Commission, a top Chinese economic regulator, announced earlier this month that it aimed to promote infrastructure investment.
Aging population, betting on consumption

While China is trying to improve productivity through automation and robotics, the effects of its aging population are taking a toll on the economy.

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“Demographic trends could subtract 0.5 to 1 percentage point from annual GDP growth over the next three decades in post-dividend countries such as China and Japan,” the IMF said in a 2017 report.

China’s one-child policy ended in 2016. Couples are now limited to two children, but there has been speculation that officials are mulling scrapping birth restrictions altogether.

But decades of limiting couples to having only a single child have led to plunging birthrates. That, along with a corresponding aging population and shrinking labor force, has implications for the country’s consumption trends.

China has been trying to move toward economic growth that’s led by consumers, but data on consumption has been mixed. Monthly retail sales have been slowing, but quarterly spending, which includes education and travel, is on the rise.

China’s online retail giants, meanwhile, reflect a nuanced picture of consumption. In the second quarter of 2018, Alibaba saw sales rise by more than 60 percent from last year, even though rival faced slower sales.

Xin En Lee

Nigeria @ 58: Nigerians speak…


Belated and deflated, most of the people who reluctantly reflected on 58 years of Nigeria’s independence have this much to say.

We are celebrating fantastic failures – Engr. Jimoh Adeshina
Well, since you asked me, Nigeria is an independent country that hasn’t achieved anything tangible. Maybe we are celebrating 58 years of fantastic promises when politicians are campaigning for votes. All we receive after they win are unkept promises, failed projects, poverty, hardship and corruption.

With so many natural resources in every state, it baffles me that Nigeria is still having economic crisis. This country turns out diligent graduates every year with no hope of employment or fund to empower them to put what they have learnt to practice.

Health facility is zero. Good roads, infrastructures? There is no one we can really celebrate as a success story.

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Because of mismanagement and corruption, we have seen blue chip companies move from Nigerian to neighbouring countries from where they flood our markets with their products. Please, don’t spoil my day for me; it is bad enough the way the country is.

At least, we still have our freedom – Agboola
My answer is yes and no. Yes because Nigeria is a country that we can say we are truly independent even though the independence has been abused by our leaders.

We have made progress in other areas, like the communication project that brought us the cell phone in 2001. I don’t see anybody now writing letters and buying stamps every day.

Nigeria is one of few countries that now boast of a large number of television and radio stations. I won’t like to dwell on the negative side because I know that one day, a God fearing leader will emerge and the story will turn around for good.

Yes, we can celebrate freedom from military rule – Mrs. Lateefat Abiodun
Inspite of everything, let us be grateful to God that we did not continue under military rule. Agreed that politicians have plundered the country and saddened our joy, but that will be corrected one day. Because of democracy, we can question people in elected office; you can’t try that with military rulers.

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Moreover, we are not so far behind in the field of education and technology. I have heard that Nigerians occupy very important positions abroad in virtually all fields of learning and businesses.

We can still count some good things on our finger tips, like when Ebola broke out in 2014 and the way it was quickly arrested and checked. We can be proud of that and celebrate good health, if anything.

Solve problems, unite the country – Idris Atolagbe
Nigeria is 58 years old but we are still going through a lot of problems. If government wants us to celebrate, let them look into the problem of unemployment in the country and provide employment opportunities for her citizens.

The agitation for separate states and republics is because of marginalisation and inadequate care of the people. Government should do everything to unite the country and there will be no more struggles for secession.

Parents are sacrificing everything to pay for children’s education, but the situation where the children graduate but can’t find a job is very disappointing. Government should strive as much as possible to let the country grow like its age; they should build more companies and factories in the country and provide employment opportunities for the citizens; they should not use all our resources to better the lot of their children alone.

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We are celebrating 58 yrs of agony – Mrs Okechukwu
Nigeria is celebrating 58 years in agony, crisis and bondage forced upon us by our leaders; and while they are enjoying, the masses are suffering: many families can’t even afford three square meals a day.

Our problem is bad governance – Vivian Charles
Our problem is simply bad government. They don’t have good agenda for the citizens; all they care about is themselves and their families.

Ordinary electricity is still a problem after 58 years! They should repair our roads, provide us with good health facilities, water supplies and adequate security. Is that asking too much?

The rich should help the poor; life is not about one person alone and we should remember that God helps the one that help the needy. And you are not yet someone until you help someone that can’t return the favour.

A crawling giant and a failed state – Bimbo Adewolu
What are we celebrating? I do not see any reason to celebrate. As I speak, I don’t have electricity in my house. The economy is down. Our leaders are cheating us, I tell you. They can celebrate. For me, Nigeria is a crawling giant at 58 and a failed project.

I’m not impressed – Banker Nsikak Attah
Obviously, Nigeria is not where she should be at 58 when you compare where we are now with countries that got independence about the same time.

Look at Ghana, for instance, Check out Brazil and Malaysia. But I believe the fact that we are still together is one reason to celebrate.

2 whistle blowers in police custody for alleged false information against Mortgage Bank Managing Director


The Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property has arrested two whistle blowers for allegedly misleading it with false information.

HousingNews Correspondent reports that the alleged false information was provided against  Engr. Dr. Emmanuel Mbaka, foremost real estate developer and Managing Director of Platinum Mortgage Bank.

The male suspects, Prince Jeff Ove, 37, from Bayelsa, and Mohammed Sanusi, 39, from Kogi, were presented to newsmen by the spokesperson of the panel, Lucie-Ann Laha, in Abuja on Friday.

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Laha alleged that the suspects told the panel under oath that the victim, who was present at the news briefing, had looted and stashed huge sums of money in his Abuja home.

She said the bogus tip-off prompted operatives of the panel to raid Mbaka’s home, an effort that ended in futility as nothing of such was found.

“We received information from the suspects that the victim was a politician who looted a large amount of money and stashed it in his house.

“We have found out that the person is not a politician. I don’t think association with politicians automatically makes you a politician.

“We were told there was a large cache of money in his house. The panel has carried out a thorough investigation, turned the house inside out and we found nothing,’’ she said.

Laha, who apologised to Mbaka on behalf of the panel, said the suspects would be prosecuted to show that the Federal Government’s Whistleblower Policy was not an instrument of character assassination.

“The policy is meant to encourage Nigerians to assist anti-corruption agencies with credible information to apprehend those that have looted the commonwealth of Nigerians.

“Anyone who brings information to the panel and any other anti-corruption agency is assured of confidentiality and certain rewards.

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“Conversely, when Nigerians try to circumvent this policy by giving false information in a bid to malign other Nigerians, the law says we should reprimand them, which is what we are doing here today,’’ she said.

Speaking to newsmen, the two suspects said they were in turn misled by informants, and apologised to Mbaka amid pleading with the panel for forgiveness.

Ove said, “I was in Bayelsa when I got information that there was a fund that a politician kept in Abuja here.

“We came and someone introduced me to a friend, who also corroborated the information that has turned out to be false, and that was why I approached the panel to report.

“Once again, I apologise to the man, I am very sorry, I have learnt my lessons and I promise this will never happen again.’’

On his part, Sanusi said sometime in March, 2017, one Aliyu told him that he knew a house in Abuja where stolen money was being kept.

He said he never bothered to take the information to anti-corruption agencies because Aliyu had said he wasn’t too sure of its authenticity.

“But the brother of this very man (Ove) standing beside me here came all the way from Bayelsa and said he had a special power to enter the house and search it.

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“He said all I needed to do was to show him the house, and he made me to understand that with the power he acquired from India he would be able to know whether the money was there or not.

“When we got there, he told me that the spirit had told him that there was money in the house, and that we should give him a little time to work on it,’’ he said.

Sanusi said he never knew that Ove and his unidentified brother had already approached the panel to inform it about the money.

Festus Adebayo, HousingNews, Abuja.

Council Wants Efficient Building Code In Nigeria


The President, International Code Council-Nigeria National Chapter (ICC-NNC), Dr Maurice Ngwaba has called for efficient building code for Nigeria.

Ngwaba made this call at the ICC-NNC 2nd Educational Seminar in Lagos Wednesday with the theme: ‘Developing and Implementing Modern Building Codes for Resilience and Sustainability’.

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According to him, efficient building code will contribute to raising the quality of lives and safety of the property on built environment.

“Nigeria does not have efficient building code and building code processes.
“And this does not speak well of the country about to celebrate its 58th Independence Day on October. 1.
“ICC-NNC is not a statutory body and does not make, adopt or enforce codes.
“All these are functions of governments.

“However, as citizenry organised knowledge organisation, ICC-NNC, will progressively seek ways to support the building industry laws.
“This it will do to help improve the health, life and safety of Nigerians as well as share information that reduce risks of disasters and enhance the ability of communities to be resilience,” he said.

Ngwaba said that as new cities and developments spring up across the country, professionals would be relied on to engage in the planning, designing, and development of standardised property that would stand the test of time.

The Executive Director of Sustainable Programme, ICC,Mr David Walls, said that the International Code served as a model which could be adopted and amended to suit the locality.

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A representative of Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Johannesburg, Ms Suma Mohutsiwa, said that the UL had been partnering with key organisations to test and ensure that whatever was produced in any part of the world met local standards.

She said that in doing this, UL sets up code committees and stakeholders to make inputs and ensure that due processes were followed to develop standards.

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Mohutsiwa said that UL works had helped the insurance companies and to reduce fire disasters in buildings that would otherwise have claimed many lives and property.

Our source reports that the Federal Government on June 12 approved a new national building code that will regulate construction with the aim of improving on measures to safeguard lives and property in the country.

OPIC’s 80% local inputs sourcing raises hope for low-cost housing


Nigeria is today the second most expensive housing market in Africa, after Angola, and one of the reasons frequently cited for the high house price in the country is the cost of building materials which are largely (about 60 percent) imported.

It is estimated that building material constitutes 20-30 percent of total construction cost, making the new initiative by the Ogun State Property and Investment Corporation (OPIC) on sourcing building materials locally not only attractive, but also a source of hope for low cost housing.

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OPIC is now offering prospective buyers houses constructed with 80 percent locally sourced inputs. Apart from its capacity to reduce house price, the initiative is also part of efforts to boost the country’s economy, creating direct and indirect job opportunities for Nigerians.

The corporation is an arm of Ogun State’s Ministries of Housing and Commerce and Industry. It is a frontline property investment and development company in Nigeria, currently making efforts to create housing hubs along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway corridor.

The expansive New Makun City housing project at Sagamu interchange and the MTR Garden Estates at Isheri end of the expressway are testaments of the corporation’s drive towards providing affordable housing for home buyers and investors.

According to Jide Odusolu, managing director of OPIC, 256 housing units will be completed in the first phase and delivered to prospective allottees in the second quarter of this year. This is in addition to constructing several kilometres of link roads from Lagos-Ibadan expressway to the new estates.

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OPIC has earmarked N4.5 billion for capital projects to cover the development of housing units and link roads to both New Makun City and MTR Garden Estates; rehabilitate roads, repair and upgrade housing units in both Agbara Residential Estates in Agbara and Alamala Estates in Abeokuta.

There is high expectation that with this drive to open up local communities with good roads network coupled with the local sourcing of building inputs, access to housing will be a lot easier for a good number of people, especially the low income earners.

Building materials prices in Nigeria are way out of the reach of many would-be builders. There was however, a significant drop in the prices of these materials in the first half of this year (H1 2018).

BusinessDay had, in an earlier report, disclosed that in the material prices was a good reason for builders who had abandoned their projects at the peak of economic recession to return to site and those wishing to start new projects to move to site.

Michael Jideofor, a building technologist, notes that the twin evils of high inflation and exchange rates escalated commodity prices, including those of building materials, leading to meteoric and unsustainable rise in construction cost and stalling of many building projects.

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Depending on the brand, the price of cement, a major building component, has dropped to between N2,550 and N2,600 in H1,2018, down from between N2,700 and N2,900 in corresponding period in 2017, representing about 8 percent drop in price.

This means where a builder would have spent close to N300, 000 to buy 100 bags of cement in H1,2017, he would now spend about N260,000, gaining close to N40,000 which is enough for him to buy a tipper load of gravel.

But while the price of sandcrete (9inch) block has dropped to 210 in H1 2018 and to N170 at the moment, down from N220 in H1 2017, the price of aluminum roofing sheets (0.55mm) has gone up 7 percent to N2,700 in H1 2018, up from N2,500 in H1,2017.

The price of cables (6mm/coil) has also come down to N35,000 in H1 2018, down from N38,000 in H1 2017, representing -9 percent drop. Similarly, the price of paving stone 60mm (local), which is very much in vogue for builders, has dropped from N2,100 in H1 2017 to N1,800, representing -17 percent drop in price.


Fannie Mae adds former BBVA Compass chairman and CEO to its board of directors


Manuel “Manolo” Sanchez Rodrigues joins GSE’s board

Fannie Mae is adding the former chairman and CEO of BBVA Compass, Manuel “Manolo” Sánchez Rodríguez, to its board of directors, the government-sponsored enterprise announced Monday.

Sánchez served as president and CEO of BBVA Compass, a U.S. subsidiary of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, from December 2008 to January 2017.

Additionally, Sánchez served as a member of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria’s worldwide executive committee and was BBVA’s country manager for U.S. operations from September 2010 to January 2017.

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In September 2010, Sánchez also became chairman of the board of directors of BBVA Compass and its holding company, BBVA Compass Bancshares, serving in these roles until November 2017.

Sánchez joined BBVA in 1990 and served in a number of other roles with the international company before leading the company’s U.S. operations. Earlier in his BBVA career, Sánchez was senior executive vice president of community banking, president and chief executive officer of Laredo National Bank, and chief risk officer for BBVA Bancomer in Mexico City.

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“Manolo is another strong addition to our exceptional Board of Directors,” said Fannie Mae CEO Tim Mayopoulos.

“His extensive banking experience, financial services and technology expertise, and strong leadership qualities are a great complement to those of his peers on the board,” Mayopoulos added. “He will help guide us as we continue to deliver against our strategy, improve as a company, and look for ways to provide our customers the innovative tools and solutions they need to address the needs of both today’s and tomorrow’s homebuyers and renters.”

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Sánchez, who currently serves as a trustee or member of the board of directors of a number of civic, cultural and educational institutions, has been appointed to Fannie Mae’s Strategic Initiatives & Technology Committee and Nominating & Corporate Governance Committee.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Manolo to the Fannie Mae Board of Directors,” Egbert L.J. Perry, Fannie Mae’s chairman of the board, said. “We will benefit greatly from his vast banking and financial services experience, technology innovation track record, and deep business strategy expertise.”


Ben Lane

Saudi refinance firm plans Islamic bond issues to fund mortgage drive


Government-owned Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co (SRC) plans to begin issuing Islamic bonds in coming months to finance its drive to expand the kingdom’s home mortgage market, its chief executive said on Monday.

Founded in 2017 by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the country’s top sovereign wealth fund, SRC has so far operated with financing from the PIF and short-term deals with banks.

It will now begin issuing sukuk to raise money, first in Saudi riyals but eventually in foreign currencies to attract international investors, Fabrice Susini said in an interview.

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Initial issues will be private placements but SRC aims to make its first public sukuk issue in late September or early October, probably of at least 300 million to 500 million riyals ($80 million to $133 million), he said.

SRC is part of a government-backed effort to solve one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest social and economic problems, a shortage of affordable housing, by developing the market for home loans, which is small by international standards.

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The company aims eventually to refinance 20 percent of Saudi Arabia’s primary home loans market, which authorities hope to expand to 500 billion riyals by 2020 and 800 billion riyals by 2028 from 290 billion riyals now.

So far, SRC has signed memorandums of understanding to provide banks and home finance companies with slightly less than 6 billion riyals of financing, through portfolio acquisitions and short-term deals.

Susini said increasing the availability of long-term, fixed-rate residential mortgages (LTFRs) would be key to growing the market. This month SRC began offering LTFRs of 15-20 years through banks and other finance firms.

So far, banks have generally offered such mortgages only to employees of major companies and other people with stable cash incomes. Susini said that with SRC’s intervention, LTFRs could ultimately account for half or 60 percent of the mortgage market rather than their current level of a third.

“We want to create a situation in which access to LTFRs is no longer restricted and they are available to the mass of people,” he said.

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Another goal of SRC, which models itself partly on U.S. housing finance firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is to jump-start a securitisation market in Saudi Arabia by packaging home loans into mortgage-backed securities for sale to domestic and international investors.

Susini, previously global head of securitisation at French bank BNP Paribas, said technical and legal preparations and other work on the project could take two or three years.

Andrew Torchia & Andrew Roche

Major earthquake likely in Abuja, Kaduna, Ogun, Oyo, Bayelsa – NASRDA


The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) has identified communities in four states and Abuja as locations where major earthquake may likely occur in the country.

The Director General of NASRDA, Prof. Seidu Mohammed, disclosed this on the sideline of the second Engr. Brig. Gen. M.O Agu (rtd) Annual Distinguished Lecture in Abuja on Thursday.

Prof. Mohammed, who was also the chairman of presidential committee on the Abuja tremor, said Mpape in Abuja, Kwoi in Kaduna, Ijebu-Ode in Ogun, Shaki in Oyo and Igbogene in Bayelsa may likely be the epicentres of major earthquake if precautions were not taken.

The erstwhile inactive faults system in the country are gradually becoming active, he said, ‘’which now make earthquake likely’’ in and around the country.

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A number of incidences in these locations, according to him, is also a pointer to the fact that a big disaster may occur there, calling on the Federal Government to do something fast to avert it.

He said analysis of a 100 year-old data done by the members of the presidential committee on Abuja tremor showed that Mpape in Abuja is a hotspot which is highly susceptible to earth tremor and other earth shakeups.

“What it means is that we need a thorough study across the country to identify such hotspots so that we can constantly monitor them from satellite system and from data from outer space’’, he said.

He said the high volume of water being taken out of over 110, 000 boreholes dug in Abuja is further making the situation in the capital city worse.

‘’More than 330 metric tonnes of water being taken out every day in Abuja is causing a vacuum; is straining the earth’’, he said.

He therefore urged the FG to take a look at indiscriminate drilling of boreholes, calling on thorough regulation on earth drilling.

He also said engineers should now take cognizance of likely earth tremor when designing and constructing buildings.

Last week, the Presidential Committee on Abuja Tremor said Nigeria was now prone to seismic hazards, which make earthquake occurrence a potential disaster to the country.

The committee disclosed that when it submitted the report of its findings to the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu.

‘’Nigeria is now prone to seismic hazards following recent earthquake occurrences in Kwoi, Kaduna  state, Saki, Oyo State and Igbogene in Bayelsa State all in 2016. The latest occurred in September 7, 2018 in Mpape, Abuja’’it said.

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It said though ‘’these earthquakes may have been of low-magnitude, it is now certain that earthquake occurrence has become a potential hazards to the nation’’.

The committee alluded to the report conducted by Julius Berger on the geological, hydrological and geotechnical investigation for Abuja which identified Mpape as a Shear zone that is weak with several fractures and faults system.

It added that water extraction and recharge imbalance from aquifer is causing hydrological instability along the fractures.

The existence of 110,000 boreholes within Abuja metropolis with about 330,000 metric tonnes of water drilled daily is not suitable, it added.

In view of the challenges that hinder efficient forecasting, detection and monitoring of earthquakes   in Nigeria, the Committee recommended the procurement and installation of more seismometers and GPS sensors/equipment for the enlargement and networking of the Nigeria National Network of Seismographic Stations.

The committee further recommended detailed Seismotectonic study using State-of-the-art equipment in the area and the entire country.

Other recommendations made by the Presidential Committee are:

  • An integrated study should be carried out to properly delineate the fault systems in the area while ensuring that building should be constructed with the right engineering design and materials on approved sites.
  • Infrared satellites technology: Space management data for earthquake monitoring are showing more prospect. It is advised that this technology must be adopted and funded adequately.
  • At present, there is no Nigerian Code of practice that cover Nigerian Seismic building code. There is urgent need to be established the Nigerian Standard for the seismic building code. An agency such as the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI) should be given the responsibility with budgetary allocations provided.
  • Earthquakes happen all the time. The key is to monitor, identify and catalog their location so that we can improve on future forecasts in time and space.
  • To do this we need to upgrade the infrastructure of the current seismic network system to state of the art digital seismic network with real time telemetry capabilities.

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  • Ecological Funds should be released very urgently for Earthquake Monitoring and Hazard Assessment in Nigeria.
  • Based on the results obtained using the probability of recurrence theory of Abuja via indiscriminate sinking of boreholes because this has been the primary reason for the stress build up leading to the Abuja tremor of 5th-7th September, 2018.
  • Government should release fund for the training of Geophysicists, Geologists, Engineers, Technologists and Researchers to participate in earth science research, in order to improve poor understanding of Nigerian and West African geophysics and tectonics dynamism. We emphasize that this research has crucial societal value as evident in earthquakes hazards readiness and mitigations.
  • Federal Government of Nigeria should take proactive and not reactive measures.
  • The Federal Government should empower relevant research Agencies mandated to carry out studies into the remote causes of the tremor and proffer solutions.

70% of Abuja’s residents live in slumps – Senatorial aspirant


According to a senatorial aspirant Mr. Olanrewaju Lawrence, about 70% of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) citizens are living in the slumps.
Mr. Lawrence, who is contesting on the platform of Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) for a Senatorial seat in FCT in the 2019 general elections, said the situation was caused by past leaders who refused to plan well for the people.
The aspirant who made this know during the ANRP-FCT chapter primaries in Abuja, added that the capital needed a pragmatic shift in leadership in order to bring about the desired development.
“FCT is over 35 years and those elected has not brought the desired development”, he lamented.
“FCT ought to be having more than 10 million tourists as a revenue generating area for the government and creating jobs for the citizens duelling in the capital but look around, you will see infrastructure that are not well conceived”, he added.
Mr. Olanrewaju lamented that money politics was responsible for poor leadership in the capital city.
While noting that Abuja was created to be the proud black capital of the world, he called on the Abuja residents to vote wisely during the 2019 elections.


Housing: A Health Issue


Affordable housing, it’s a hot-button issue in Rochester and something so many struggles with on a daily basis, medical experts from across the nation were addressing the topic in a way we don’t always think about –from a health perspective.

“When people don’t have housing, when they don’t have a place to call home when they don’t have a place to lay their head, number one, their stress levels go through the roof,” said Dave Dunn, executive director at Olmsted County Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

In the past five years, 5,000 housing units were built in Olmsted County, but only 10 percent are considered “affordable.”

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“Having poor quality or unstable housing is one of the most potent forms of toxic stress, so what we’re finding is that it really is directly negatively affecting the well-being of people who are living in low-quality housing or have to move often,” said Dr. Douglas Jutte, who’s been studying health as it relates to housing, for years.

“We’ve seen more and more that your zip code, your health depends on your zip code,” Dunn said.

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At Mayo’s Transform Conference, Dr. Jutte talked about how health happens in neighborhoods.

“Things like housing, things like access to a park, like grocery stores, good transportation, decent jobs, how are the schools,” Dr. Jutte said.

“How do we help an area holistically with the physical improvements and looking at the people inside,” Dunn said, explaining it’s something the OCHRA has been incorporating.

Dr. Jutte said despite appearances, affordable housing is a great investment.

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“There are lots – billions, trillions of dollars being spent on medical care for avoidable, chronic diseases. Some of that money could be spent to help keep people healthy in the first place,” he said.


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