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Fashola Restates FG’s Commitment to Complete Ongoing, Abandoned Projects

Nigeria’s Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has assured that the Federal Government is committed to completing on-going and abandoned projects across the country.

Speaking on Thursday when the Management team of Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) paid him a courtesy visit in his office, Fashola said the policy direction of the present administration was on completing all on-going and abandoned projects.

The Minister, who was responding to the remarks of the Board Chairman of FMBN, Dr. Adewale Adeeyo, on the uncompleted re-capitalization of the Bank, said the Ministry would see that the process was completed as the government of the day placed importance on Housing and Consumers Credit.

According to him, ”It is one of those areas of urgent focus by the President as a way of creating prosperity and as a way of enhancing the dignity of Nigerians”.

Fashola said there was a lot that could be jointly done by the Ministry and the Bank in the actualization of the Next Level Agenda of Mr. President assuring the Bank of the Ministry’s readiness to look at its projects that are on-going and fashion out ways of completing them.

Charging the Bank to do more on publicity as most Nigerians were currently not well informed that the Bank grants construction loans with more competitive interest rate than those offered by commercial banks, Fashola declared, “You must find a strategy to pass information on platforms that people take information from and that include, not only the conventional platforms like television, newspapers and radio, but also markets, places where people gather; sports clubs, social clubs and so on. You must reach out”.

“You must also engage the appropriate skill sets in getting this message out”, adding that the bank must also seek to reach the people at the bottom of the pyramid who, according to him, “also save money in their small businesses, in their small cooperatives”. “ So why not open accounts for them too”, he said.

Earlier, Dr. Adeeyo, who led the team of the top Management of the Bank on the visit, had solicited for the completion of the re-capitalization process of the bank.

Chamber of Commerce lauds Buhari’s new economic, diplomatic shuttle

The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), has described President Muhammadu Buhari’s renewed economic and diplomatic shuttle to Japan and Russia as a commendable step in line with Nigeria’s economic growth plan.

A statement issued by Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, ACCI President, on Thursday in Abuja, said that the diplomatic shuttle was also in line with demands of the new African free trade plan.

Kayode, also a Trade and Tax Consultant, described the trip to Japan as a rewarding exercise in Nigeria’s drive to advance its economic interests and lead Africa as the biggest economy and population.

“We commend the President for providing the necessary leadership for Africa in Japan as he participated in several meetings which yielded positive agreements, especially in terms of placing Nigeria’s economic interest in the front line of discourse.

“The consolidation of mutually beneficial ties with the Japanese is not lost on business stakeholders.

“More critically is that the president supports Japanese alternative programme for African infrastructure renewal which emphasises quality rather than quantity of infrastructural projects on the continent.

“While in Japan, the president also held bilateral talks with the South African President, a meeting very critical because of recent threats to Nigerian businesses in South Africa,’’ Kayode said.

He recalled that the President had secured a major Japanese support for the upgrade of power transmission facilities in Lagos.

Kayode said that the Japanese trip would consolidate and deepen infrastructure support for Nigeria from its government:

“Economic diplomacy is the watchword now in global diplomacy. As our President is firming up deals in Japan, he will no doubt pursue this diplomacy further by attending the Russian Africa Forum in October 2019.

“As President Buhari has also reached out to Germany which signed a major power deal with Nigeria few weeks ago, the next point of call is Russia to advance our steel, mining, defence and manufacturing sectors.’’

Kayode further commended the President for implementing a paradigm shift in the national economic focus of Nigeria.

He advocated continued pursuit of the new policy shift, urging presidential attendance at the 2019 Russia — Africa Forum in Sochi, Russia in October.

“Nigeria must be present to anchor our national interests as well as provide leadership for Africa,’’ he added.

Amaka E. Nliam

AUHF Set to Hold 2019 Housing Finance Course for Sub-Saharan Africa in September

African Union for Housing Finance (AUHF) – an association of mortgage banks, building societies, microfinance institutions and banks, housing corporations and other organizations involved in the mobilisation of funds for shelter and housing on the African continent has announced the official date of the 2019 Housing Finance Course for Sub-Saharan Africa.

This year’s edition of the annual housing finance course of one week for Sub Sahara Africa in Cape Town, South Africa will hold from 29th September to 5th October, the association has revealed.

According to Kecia Rust, Executive Secretary of the association, the course, is in collaboration with International Union for Housing Finance.

The courses will focus on; The role of housing in an economy; The role of finance in housing markets; Building blocks of a housing finance system; The state of housing finance in Sub-Saharan Africa; Overview of housing finance products; The business of housing finance; Profitability, risks and risk management; Funding sources for housing finance: Role of capital market funding; Safety and soundness of financial institutions: the regulatory environment; Expanding housing finance to underserved markets: housing micro finance; Using subsidies to expand housing markets & housing finance systems.

The AUHF was established as a member based body of housing lenders in 1984. Today, AUHF comprises of 49 members from 16 countries across the continent.

As an industry body, the AUHF promotes the development of effective housing finance markets, and the delivery of affordable housing across Africa, working in the interests of both the members and the industry as a whole.

The association supports its members in realising their vision, through networking and deal facilitation, information collection and dissemination, lobbying and advocacy, and capacity building and training.

Closing date for application is 1st of September 2019.

Court summons AGF, EFCC over Yari’s property

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, summoned the Attorney General of the Federation and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, to appear before it over plans to seize the property of the immediate past Governor of Zamfara State, Mr Abdulaziz Yari.

Justice Nkeonye Maha, who gave the order after listening to the arguments canvassed in a motion exparte by counsel to Yari, Mahmud Magaji, SAN, adjourned the matter until August 30.

The motion ex parte, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/948/2019, was brought pursuant to section 46(1) and (3) of the 1999 constitution and order 4, rule 3 and 4, of the fundamental rights (enforcement procedure) rules 2009.

The AGF is the 1st respondent while the EFCC is the 2nd respondent in the suit.

Justice Maha equally ordered that the respondents be served with the court processes within 48 hours before he adjourned further proceedings.

Delta to clamp down on violators of property protection law

The Delta State Government has resolved to fully implement the Public and Private Properties Protection Law also known as ‘anti-deve” law that proscribed forceful entry into development sites, illegal collection of development levies and extortion by thugs to pave way for accelerated development in the State.

The State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Peter Mrakpor stated this on Friday at the meeting with Petroleum Depot operators in the State at Government House Liaison Office, Warri.

While warning violators to stay clear of any site, Mrakpor assured property developers and investors in the state of the full implementation of the law that prohibits forceful entry and collection of development levies by touts, stressing that offenders will be prosecuted.

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He assured Tank Farm owners that the government had taken step to resolve complaints of multiple taxation and other irregularities faced by the operators in the state in the hands of different MDAs in charge of revenue collection and their agents, noting that Okowa’s administration was not resting on its oars in providing a business-friendly environment for investors to operate.

He stressed the need for the oil depot owners to have a robust Corporate Social Responsibility agenda for its host communities as part of its contributions to support the government in providing social amenities to the people.

The Commissioner further advised the operators of the petroleum depots to comply with the local content act by providing skilled and unskilled employment for youths in their area of operation and carry government along when carrying out their Corporate Social Responsibility to their host communities.

To harmonize revenue bills sent to them on environmental fees, tenement rates, business premises registration and renewal, fire certificates, waste disposal and treatment Plant permit, AG promised to consider their observations while undertaking the amendment of the revenue laws of the state.

The Oil depot operators had appealed to the Attorney-General to assist them to resolve the conflict arising from multiple taxation by various agencies of government.

Lagos asks property owners to perfect documents

The Lagos State Government has advised legitimate land and property owners in the state to perfect their legal documents for easy administration of justice.

The Coordinator of the Lagos State Special Taskforce on Land Grabbers, Mr Owolabi Arole, noted that untidy property documentation made it difficult for property forcefully taken to be retrieved through legal means.

Arole stated these while reviewing a report on the activities of the task force for the first and second quarters of 2019, a statement said on Sunday.

“A large chunk of the land grabbing cases the task force is working on is fraught with issues of improper and incomplete legal documentation and such issues cause delay in getting justice for rightful owners of land.

“These issues, however, have not deterred us from carrying out our mandate and getting justice for rightful owners of land from unscrupulous elements who forcibly encroach and dispossess them of their property,” he said in the statement.

Arole noted that the task force had since inauguration received over 1,300 petitions bordering on land grabbing, adding that the agency concluded 550 cases, made 35 arrests and was still working on 330 petitions.

While urging victims of land grabbers not to take the law into their own hands, the coordinator advised them to report to the state task force team which would ensure that justice was done.

He warned land thugs to desist from the illicit trade, saying the state government would bring the full weight of the law to bear on anybody caught forcibly taking another person’s property.

Revocation: FCTA takes inventory of undeveloped plots

Preparatory to the planned land revocation in the serviced areas of Phases I, II and III of the Federal Capital City, Abuja, the FCT Administration has taken inventory of the affected plots of land. The Director of Land Administration, FCT, Adamu Jibrin Hussaini, made this disclosure recently in his office, while receiving on study tour, Master Students in Sustainable Urban Development from the Centre for Human Settlements and Urban Development of the Federal University of Technology, Minna.

The director recalled that advertisements were placed in three national dailies in line with the Federal Capital Territory Executive Committee (FCT EXCO) approval that the Department of Land Administration commences the process of revocation of titles in respect of undeveloped plot(s) of land in serviced districts of the Phases I, II and III of the Federal Capital City.

According to him, the Department of Land Administration carried out the public announcement on the 31stJuly 2019 warning allottees of plot(s) of land within the Phases I, II and III of the Federal Capital City, Abuja (FCC) that have been serviced with infrastructure to develop them or have them revoked within three months of the publication, -which is from Wednesday, July 31, 2019 and to Thursday, October 31, 2019.

He said by that publication, the affected allottees had been reminded that failure to carry out improvement or development of such plot(s) contravenes the terms of Rights of Occupancy accepted by such allottees as well as the provision of Section 28(5) (a & b) of the Land Use Act N0. 6 of 1978, Cap. L5, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004

Hussaini said the Authority has taken inventory of such undeveloped plots but waiting for the expiration of the grace period.

Economics of protests: Why Nigeria should be having more demonstrations

Trust economists, they will analyse anything. Would you believe that some of them have investigated the conditions under which a democracy is likely to be having regular protests and have concluded that it’s when a country is below certain income threshold? Well, that’s the subject of a paper titled “Democracy, Development and Conflict” written by the Oxford University professors Paul Collier and Dominic Rohner. They argue that democracy would increase protests in countries with poor economic conditions, where poverty and inequality are rife. Some other economists have, indeed, proved empirically that large-scale collective protests are often driven by poor national economic performance.

But the puzzle is that this theory doesn’t seem to hold true in Nigeria. Given the widespread misery and suffering in Nigeria, this country should be having an epidemic of protests. Yet, as we saw recently with the aborted #RevolutionNow protest, Nigeria is not a country prone to protest. Nigerians are not what the US columnist Thomas Friedman called “the square people”, that is, people who demonstrate in public squares “aspiring to a higher standard of living and liberty”. But why does Nigeria defy the theory? Why is Nigeria not having riots and protests despite its appalling social and economic conditions? Well, let’s explore the theory a bit more.

The starting point is that every government must make lives better for its citizens. Thomas Jefferson, the third US president, famously said that, “The care of human life and happiness is the only legitimate object of good government”. But, as we know, not every government cares for the wellbeing and happiness of their people. Well, there are two theories as to when a government may do so.

The first theory was propounded by Timothy Besley, professor of economics at the London School of Economics, and Torsten Persson, a Swedish economist. In their paper titled “The origins of state capacity: property rights, taxation and politics”, Besley and Persson developed the concept of “a common interest state”, where the interest of the people in power is coincident with the interests of ordinary people. In other words, without any democratic pressure, they adopt policies that serve their own interest but also happen to benefit ordinary people. It’s the equivalent of the economic theory of how self-interest can end up serving the public interest. For Besley and Persson, China is a common interest state.

But the common interest state theory relies too much on what the leaders would do voluntarily. Can you imagine leaving Nigerian politicians to their own devices and hoping their interest would be congruent with those of ordinary Nigerians? No, it won’t. Most of them would adopt policies that benefit only themselves, their families and friends but damaging to ordinary people. So, the common interest state theory can’t work in Nigeria.

Which brings us to the second theory. This one is based on the concept of democratic pressure. In their book titled “Why nations fail: The origins of power, prosperity and poverty”, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson argue that a government is likely to work for ordinary people when it faces democratic pressure in the sense that if it doesn’t generate and spread prosperity widely to ordinary people, it would be voted out of power. So, that democratic pressure would force a government to work for the people.

But, as one scholar points out, in many countries today, elections have become just “a collective celebration of popular powerlessness” because once politicians win elections, often through vote-buying and other malpractices, they do virtually nothing to improve the lives of ordinary people. Basically, the people have no means of making the government work for them between elections. They have to wait until the next elections to make their will felt, but those elections are also likely to be manipulated. So, what can the people do?

Well, this is where pressure between elections matters. Pressure from below, that is, from the citizens, is the only means of forcing government to work for the people. Surely, a democracy can reduce protests only if it delivers prosperity for the people and provides channels for grievance ventilation and resolution. Which is why, as Professors Collier and Rohner argue in their paper that there should be little proneness to protest in economically strong and democratically accountable countries.

By contrast, given that democracy generates, as Collier and Rohner put it, “technical regression in repression”, that is, it constrains government repression, a democracy that is below an income threshold, thus unable to meet the basic needs of its people, would be prone to protests. Professors Collier and Rohner put that threshold at a per capita income of $2,750. In other words, a democracy with a per capita income of below $2,750 should be experiencing regular protests.

Now, as every knows, most Nigerians live in debilitating social and economic conditions. Nigeria’s per capita income in 2018 was $2,028, well below the protest-inducing threshold suggested by Professors Collier and Rohner. Indeed, according to the CEICdata, a respected global data analyst, Nigeria’s per capita income was $1,951 in 2017 and averaged $1,669 over several years. Nigeria is, of course, the “poverty capital of the world”, according to Brookings Institution, being the country with the largest number of the extreme poor, with nearly 50% of its population living on below $1.9 a day. Even worse, according to Brookings, “extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by six people every minute”!

So, this country is more than ripe for an epidemic of protests. But why are they not happening? Well, the first reason is that Nigeria is not a proper democracy. As Professor Collier and Rohner argue, democracy constrains the technical possibilities of government repression. Put simply, a democracy is not supposed to be repressive, it’s not supposed to treat protests as an inconvenience to be controlled or a threat to be extinguished.

As the British human rights group, “Article 19”, puts it, “protests constitute a fundamental pillar of democracy and complement the holding of free and fair elections”. Protests enable citizens to express dissent and grievances, to expose flaws in governance and to publicly demand that those in power rectify problems and be accountable for their actions. Thus, protests strengthen representative democracy. Thus, a true democracy should not use brutal force, arbitrary detention or cynical court actions to repress protests.

Sadly, Nigeria’s democracy doesn’t have, as theory suggests it should, the regression-in-repression effect. As we saw with the Buhari government’s heavy-handed clamp-down on the #RevolutionNow protest and the detention of its leader, Omoyele Sowore, who was ludicrously accused of “treasonable felony” and “acts of terrorism” for using the multitudinous word, revolution, Nigeria’s government deploys the standard techniques of autocracy to suppress protest. Yet, protests are now a global phenomenon, even in rich nations, as the Hong Kong protests, and the Extinction Rebellion protests in London, show. So, Nigeria defies the economic theory of protests because its democracy is repressive.

But, apart from government repression, another reason Nigeria is not prone to protest is its ethnic and religious polarisations, which make it difficult to build a national consensus for major strikes. For instance, nine Northern groups recently pulled out of the planned #RevolutionNow protest, saying it was not in the North’s best interests. Any protest would be tagged “southern” or “northern”, nor national. But even if there is national consensus, self-preservation means that only a handful of people would lead or join any protests.

Yet, Nigeria is ripe for a wave of protests. Theory suggests it should be having them. But with a repressive government and a docile citizenry, they won’t happen. Sadly, that reduces the pressure for socio-economic progress!

UK government to train Gombe youths in skills acquisition

The United Kingdom is to assist Gombe State Government in the areas of skills acquisition and youth empowerment for four years.

Programme Manager Skills for Prosperity of British High Commission, Mr Terseer Nyulaku, said, during a courtesy call on Governor Inuwa Yahaya in Gombe, that the intervention was to ensure that young people acquire valuable skills to make them employable and also create jobs for themselves.

He said the programme being implemented in the six Geo-political zones of Nigeria, had Gombe State representing the Northeast and would be implemented between 2019 and 2023.

“At the end of the day, by the year 2023, we hope to see a number of young people and women employing others in their business,” he said.
Mr. Nyulaku said they had currently started assessing the local economy of the state to enable them come up with skills that would be beneficial to the target groups.

On his part, Deputy Governor, Dr. Manasseh Daniel Jatau, thanked the British High Commission for choosing Gombe State out of the six states in the zone, saying the skills acquisition programme was necessary for the development of the state.

He pledged that his administration had placed emphasis on skills acquisition for unemployed youths, so as to make them productive.
“We have seen a lot of qualifications that are running in the street cannot help themselves. And we believe that skills acquisition is necessary if the state is to develop and the nation at large,” he said.

Buhari reshuffles federal permanent secretaries, accounting officers

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday reshuffled some Permanent Secretaries and accounting officers in the Federal service following the restructuring /creation of new ministries by the Federal Government.

Recall that President Buhari on Wednesday during the swearing-in of new ministers announced the creation of five new ministries.

The new ministries are Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development; Police Affairs, Special Duties and International Affairs; Aviation; and Power.

According to a statement issued on Friday in Abuja by Olawunmi Ogunmosunle, Director, Communication, Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, the circular authorising the reshuffle was signed by Winifred Oyo-Ita.

The statement reads in part, “Further to the creation of new ministries and restructuring of some ministries by President Muhammadu Buhari, the following officers will perform the following functions of accounting officer/permanent secretary.

“The personnel are Daudu Narai – Permanent secretary, Ministry of Special Duties, Louis Edozien – Permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Power, Mbaeri Nnamdi – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Police Affairs, Dr Mahmoud Isa-Dutse – Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance.

“Dr Muhammed Dikwa – Permanent Secretary, Finance (Special Duties), Mr Ernest Umakhire – Permanent Secretary, Finance (Budget and National Planning), Mrs Anagbogu Nkiruka – permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs, Alh Sabiu Zakari – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport.

“Dr Mohammed Bukar – Permanent Secretary Works and Housing, Hassan Musa – Ministry of Aviation, Director (Air Transport Management) to oversee office of the permanent secretary.

“Anetu-Anne Ajiu, Director, Social Welfare, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs (Director, Social Welfare) to oversee office of the permanent secretary.”

According to Oyo-Ita, the arrangement takes immediate effect and remains in force until further notice.

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