Senate confirms Lemo, Rafindadi as FERMA chair, MD

The Senate has confirmed the nominations of Mr Tunde Lemo as the chairman of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and Engr Nurudeen Abdurahaman Rafindada as the Managing Director. The Senate also confirmed six others as Executive Directors of the agency.

Those confirmed were Buba Silas Abdullahi, Babagana Mohammed Aji, Engr Shehu Usman Abdullahi, Lorreta Ngozichukwu Aniagolu, Mujaidu Stanley Dako and Vincent Oladapo Kolawole,

Similarly, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Elias Mbam as the chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).

Senators also confirmed the nominations of 29 others as national commissioners of the commission.

Source: By Musa Abdullahi Krishi

Nigeria’s Iron, Steel Sector Challenge And Quest For Industrialisation

The Nigerian iron and steel industry established as a basis for industrialization has remained unproductive even as the year 2020 targeted for the country to become one of the world’s top 20 economies is barely six months away.

In its drive towards becoming one of the most industrialised economies in the world by harnessing the human and natural resources that abound in its geographical space, the Nigerian government at various times over the years, initiated several economic reform policies and targets, none of which can be said to have been successful as their objectives were largely unmet.

A vibrant iron and steel sector is necessary for the infrastructural and technological development of any nation. Nigeria is blessed with all the raw materials required for steel development including iron ore, coal, natural gas and limestone.

Under the third national development plan (1975 – 1980) specifically between 1976 and 1978, Nigeria commenced the construction of two integrated iron and steel plants located at Ajaokuta (Ajaokuta steel company-ASC) and Aladja (Delta steel company-DSC) and three rolling mills at Oshogbo, Jos and Katsina.

The 1.3 mtpa ASC is based on blast furnace/basic oxygen furnace (BF/BOF) technology with rolling product capacity of 5.2 mtpa. DSC has a 1.0 mtpa steel melting plant for the production of 0.96 mtpa of billets and 0.32 mtpa of rolled products, while supplying 210,000 tonnes of billets each to Oshogbo, Jos and Kastina rolling mills.

These projects were expected to kick start a vibrant iron and steel sector in Nigeria. However, due to several factors including political, technical, logistical and managerial challenges, all these publicly-owned iron and steel companies folded up in Nigeria.

The privately-owned iron and steel companies, which are mostly rolling mills that were dependent on the integrated mills for billets are now threatened due to lack of raw materials. The publicly-owned iron and steel companies (ASC, DSC and the three inland rolling mills) were privatised in 2000- 2005, yet most of them are still moribund. According to a recent stud ,

Nigeria is endowed with all the major raw materials needed for the production of iron and steel including 3 billion tonnes of iron ore, 3 billion tonnes of coal, and limestone in excess of 700 million tonnes and 187 billion SCF of natural gas.

The annual estimated per capita consumption of iron and steel in Nigeria increased from 5 kg in 1968 to 130 kg in 2012. Planning for the Nigerian steel sector started in 1958, but over 50 years after, the country was yet to establish a stable iron and steel sector despite huge investments of over $ 9 billion.

Despite the huge investments, the Ajaokuta Steel Company (ASC) failed to take off, while Delta Steel Company (DSC) and the three government-owned inland/satellite rolling mills in Oshogbo, Jos and Kastina are moribund, working under low capacity utilisation.

The reasons for the poor performance of the Nigerian steel sector include inadequate funding, poor planning and implementation and political influences  Until recently, the nation’s steel requirement was substantially met since independence by imports from western nations particularly US, Great Britain, Germany, Japan and recently, by relatively cheap and sub-standard steel from some Asian nations. The country is now spending a large portion of her foreign exchange for the importation of steel products, while still investing heavily in the domestic production of steel.

This is double jeopardy. The privatisation that was carried out in 2004 – 2005 did not revive the sector, but rather transformed the companies to private monopolies. Because the two integrated iron and steel companies in Nigeria (ASC and DSC) are unable to produce billets for the 20 steel rolling mills in the country, the sector is dependent on imported billets. But due to the high cost of billet importation, many steel companies are unable to function.

The few steel companies that are operational though at low capacities have had to depend on recycling of scrap iron and steel obtained mostly from municipal solid wastes. Policies and legal framework are very important to guide development activities of any nation.

Nigeria has released several fiscal and economic development policies. Vision 20: 2020 economic blueprint as approved by the federal executive council (FEC)  clearly recommended that the nation shall produce 12.2 million tonnes of steel per annum by the year 2020 out of which Ajaokuta steel plant is to produce 5.2 million tonnes/ annum, DSC to produce two million tonnes per annum and the remaining by private entrepreneurs if Nigeria is to join the league of 20 industrialised nation by 2020.

Fortunately enough, most of the policies and programmes rolled out by government since the outset of this sustained democratic experience in Nigeria in 1999 such as the vision 2010, the 7-Point Agenda among others, which are now in the trash can of history having largely failed to achieve their objectives, and even the still valid Vision 2020:20 and the diversification agenda of the present administration, have similar goals-to reform the economy by revamping the non-oil productive sectors such as agriculture and solid minerals with a view to boosting local production, manufacturing and infrastructure development and ultimately transforming the country to an industrial cum economic giant among the committee of nations.

 

Nigeria has had two different administrations since the adoption of Vision 20:2020, each having its own economic growth plan. Under President Jonathan the Transformation Agenda was the focus. With President Buhari, it is the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

However, it is noteworthy that the three plans have been predominantly based on the bedrock of driving economic expansion and an inclusive growth i.e. growth that advances equitable opportunities for every section of the society.

Going by all economic indicators now, it appears Nigeria is not prepared to take a place among the top 20 economies in 2020, which is six months away, as envisaged by Vision 2020, especially as the iron and steel sector which ought to be the chief driver of the revolution is still in limbo even as billions of naira have been sunk into developing it.

Sadly enough, the Ajaokuta Steel Company which was established at the close of the 1970s as the nation’s backbone of industrialisation and the Itakpe iron ore project meant to supply the raw materials, all in Kogi State, have remained uncompleted, about 40 years down the line, despite the huge chunks of taxpayers money expended on them over the years.

The Ajaokuta integrated steel complex was conceived and steadily developed with the vision of erecting a Metallurgical Processing Plant cum Engineering Complex with other auxiliaries and facilities.

The complex was meant to generate important upstream and downstream industrial and economic activities that are critical to the diversification of the economy away from oil which has been the sole source of wealth over the years.

Ajaokuta Steel Plant has therefore aptly tagged the bedrock of Nigeria’s Industrialisation. While the project was expected to directly employ about 10,000 staff at the first phase of commissioning, the upstream and downstream industries that were to evolve all over the nation thereafter were to engage not less than 500,000 employees.

The plant by 1994 was reckoned to be at 98 percent completion in terms of equipment erected. Some completed units of the plant reportedly operated at different times but had to short down due to non-availability of the fund. And an audit carried out at the instance of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development about a year ago to ascertain the state of Ajaokuta before investing in it towards completion, revealed that the internal infrastructure required to operate the complex was about 98 percent completed.

Receiving the report, the ministry assured that with the concerted effort of Mr President towards funding the project to its logical conclusion, the jinx which has kept Ajaokuta in the pipeline for 40 years would be broken. But while responding to questions from the press at the close of 2018 as to why Ajaokuta has not taken off in spite of recent government interventions, the minister noted that the company cannot commence operation yet even if it was 100 per cent built because of the the complex infrastructures, some internal, others external that have to be in place for its operation to successfully commence and be sustained. He said,

“The steel company is not yet functioning because its infrastructural requirements such as specific rail system, dredging of Lokoja and Warri ports among others which are at various stages of completion. “Ajaokuta is 98 per cent completed.

Everything is in place and we have our workers there that are maintaining the place. The remaining two percent has to do with external infrastructure. We need waterways. We need viable ports and so on.

The government is putting all these things in place now. “Even if it was completed 100 percent it would not be able to operate. If we are to bring in all the raw materials required from Itakpe, as the iron concentrate required, you need 750 trucks traveling each day to feed Ajaokuta. Imagine 750 trucks on Ajaokuta-Itakpe road daily.

The road will be bad in one week. “The policy of the government is that it will not release Ajaokuta steel just like that; what we are planning to do is to regulate and create enabling environment for the company to strive,’ he stated further. In all of these, where is the hope of making Nigeria count among the 20 industrialized economies in the world as expected? Where is the hope of accomplishing the Vision 2020:20 objectives in the coming year 2020? Did Nigeria not start this journey to industrialization with its contemporary Third World countries then like China, India and others who are now heavyweights among the industrialized nations? What actually has been going wrong?

These are some of the questions that readily come to mind in view of the quagmire that has engulfed the Nigerian metallurgical industry over the years. To become one of the top 20 economies in 2020, Nigeria has to outperform other countries above it on the gross domestic product (GDP) ranking in 2018 and 2019.

It must step up its efforts to improve economic growth. Although the present administration has been more focused on the ERGP, if it coordinates this strategy with robust annual expenditures and favourable monetary policies, that will improve the performance of the economy. , it is hoped that the country will look back at 2010 and point to significant progress.

Source: By  ABAH ADAH

CBN Moves To Halt $4bn Capital Flight In Textile Sector

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday took bold steps to reverse the $4billion Nigeria spends annually on imported textiles and ready-made clothing by kicking off the distribution of cotton seeds and other inputs to farmers in Katsina State.

CBN governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who flagged-off the distribution of cotton seeds and other inputs to 100,000 farmers in Katsina State for the 2019 farming season under the CBN-Anchor Borrower Programme, said that the gesture was aimed at reviving the country’s moribund cotton, textile and garment sector. He noted that the past 20 years had been very difficult for the cotton, textile and garment sector resulting in 130 firms in the industry being shut down.

To sanitise the system, the apex bank threatened to blacklist individuals, banks and companies involved in illegal textile importation so that the local players can survive and remain in business.

Emefiele said: “Farmers and processors have had to deal with low-quality seeds, rising operating cost and weak sales due to high energy cost of running factories, smuggling of textile goods and poor access to finance. Smuggling of textile goods alone is also estimated to have cost the nation over $2.2billion.’’

According to him, Nigeria was home to African largest textile industry with over 180 textiles mills in operation, which employed close to 250,000 people but “only 25 textile factories are operating today, and the workforce stands at less than 20, 000 people.”

He explained that the CBN resolved to initiate support measures that would drive productivity in the critical sectors of the economy following the over 60 per cent drop in crude oil prices from 2015 to 2017 and its attendant effects on economic growth, inflation and the nation’s external reserves.

The distribution of the cotton seeds to farmers is targeted at improving the commodity’s production from 80,000 tonnes in 2018 to over 300,000 tonnes by 2020 and reviving Nigeria’s cotton, textiles and garments sector.

Emefiele who reiterated that the foreign exchange restriction on finished textiles and other 42 items remained in force noted that the smuggling of textile goods alone was also estimated to cost Nigeria over $2.2 billion annually.

The CBN governor said that the measures taken by the apex bank were yielding results and had helped in driving interest by potential investors who are seeking to make investments to support improved production of textiles in Nigeria.

To curb smuggling, Emefiele said that the CBN was gathering data about and investigating the accounts of individuals and corporate entities involved in smuggling and dumping textile materials in Nigeria with a view to blacklisting them, adding that all banks in Nigeria would be barred from conducting any banking business with such companies, their owners and top management.

He further said that the CBN had identified insufficient cotton seeds as one of the major challenges facing Nigerian farmers, hence the apex bank sought to change the narrative on the cotton and textile industry through the distribution of high yielding cotton seeds to the beneficiaries.

The provision of the seedlings to more than 100,000 farmers cultivating over 200,000 hectares of farmland, along with extensive training on proper farming techniques, Emefiele said would boost the production of high grade cotton lint at much-improved yields of up to four tonnes per hectare, from the current cultivation rate of less than one tonne per hectare. He added that the move would also reduce the amount spent by Nigeria on imported textiles and ready-made clothing estimated at about $4billion annually. Nigeria in the 1970s and early 1980s was home to Africa’s largest textile industry, with over 180 textile mills which employed over 450,000 people, representing about 25 per cent of the workforce in the manufacturing sector.

Emefiele recalled that the industry was supported by the production of cotton by 600,000 local farmers across 30 of the 36 states of the federation, thousands of ginnery workers who processed the cotton from farmers, and a large number of distributors who sold the finished cloths to consumers.

He, however, expressed regrets that the farmers and processors had to deal with low-quality seeds, rising operating cost and weak sales due to high energy cost of running the factories, poor access to finance and smuggling of textile goods, which he estimated cost Nigeria over $2.2 billion annually.

He lamented that only 25 textile factories were currently operating in Nigeria with a workforce of less than 20,000 people, stressing that a large proportion of clothing materials were being imported from China and European countries Emefiele disclosed that no fewer than 130 textile companies had closed shop in the country in recent times due to various constraints.

He told Governor Masari that ‘‘textile industries used to be the largest employers of labour in Nigeria after the public service but due to certain constraints, such as smuggling, dumping, lack of access to finance and issue bordering on power, over 130 textile companies have so far perished. Today, we are complaining about insecurity and kidnapping, the reasons for these are joblessness and hopelessness; so, we need to do something about it.

We must revitalise the textile industry to be the largest employer of labour, we feel that we will set the stage rolling, we must come to Katsina State which is the largest producer of cotton to begin a process.’’ He said that the CBN has held a lot of meetings with the farmers and other people on the value chain on how to achieve the desired success and urged Nigerians to stop smuggling and dumping of cotton and textile materials in order to revive the industry. In his remarks, Masari said that agriculture was the next sector that the state government accorded priority after education.

He said that reviving the textile industry was the biggest and quickest way of solving unemployment in the country and commended the CBN for its efforts in that direction. Masari, however, urged the apex bank to review the procedures for accessing loan facilities by the farmers.

Masari insisted that agricultural revival was akin to breathing life into the people of Katsina State, adding that if the sector was provided with the necessary support, it could employ over 80 per cent of Nigerians.

“The best and quickest way to fight poverty is through agriculture because investment in agriculture will start yielding dividends only after six months and in every planting season and with so many dams around the country, we can produce 12 months in a year,” Masari said. Welcoming the stakeholders, the deputy governor, who doubles as the commissioner for Agriculture, Alhaji Mannir Yakubu, said that about N19 billion had been spent on agriculture by the Masari-led administration in the past three and a half years.

He said: “The funds released for the implementation of the agricultural activities are aimed at boosting agricultural production and the provision of employment to our teeming population particularly the youths. It is in the light of this that the state government has provided facilities, incentives and enabling environment to ensure small-scale farmers in the state are engaged massively all the year round,” he added.

The minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said that the reforms initiated by the Emefiele-led CBN had helped Nigeria to escape the economic crisis far worse than the situation in Venezuela today. Ogbeh, who led the apex bank’s chief executive on the courtesy call on Governor Masari, commended the courage of Emefiele in initiating the Anchor Borrowers Programme at one digit interest rate.

He said: “It’s one of the greatest things that has ever happened in this country in the last 40 years and I am in a position to say so because I have been around in the system.

I want to commend you, the CBN governor, for being so tenacious in following this up.” Ogbeh continued: “If this CBN administration had not decided to invest in this method of bypassing the obstacle and mountains standing in the way of agricultural development, by now this country would have been in far worse than the situation in Venezuela because accessing the credit had always been the problem.”

The minister stressed that the revival of the cotton industry remained imperative to stem the collapse of the industry and its implications for the economy in terms of job loss and taxes.

Source: By ANDY ASEMOTA & BUKOLA IDOWU

Cut cost to implement N30,000 minimum wage, Makinde advise

OYO State Governor-elect Seyi Makinde has been advised to cut the cost of governance to enable him to implement the N30,000 minimum wage for the state government’s workers.

The advice was given by the Oyo State chapter of the Justice Must Prevail Party (JMPP) in a statement by its chairman, Oluseye Smith, yesterday.

Stressing that Oyo State workers deserve the new wages, which their counterparts in other states would receive, the party advised the incoming governor to embark on a number of cost-cutting measures to free funds for the new wages.

The measures suggested include the reduction of the number of political appointees, plugging of leakages in the finances of the government and introduction of radical reforms.

According to the JMPP, Makinde’s administration should also bring innovation to governance and embrace technology to drive governance structure to improve ease of doing business to attract investors.

The party explained that the economy of the state revolves around the purchasing power of workers, hence the minimum wage’s strategic importance.

It read in part: “The JMPP hereby reminds the Governor-elect Makinde that to whom much is given, much is expected. The massive votes he got during the last gubernatorial election were largely due to votes from workers in the state. The micro-economy of the state revolves around the purchasing power of the workers. The minimum wage, if implemented, will have a multiplier effect and will go a long way in alleviating poverty and hardship being experienced by the people in the state.”

The party noted that “re-enforcement of the same failed old policies of the past (relying on federal allocation) must be downgraded while the mechanism is should be put in place to shore up Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the state.”

Makinde had criticised the fixing of the new minimum wage, saying states should have been allowed to fix its own wages based on individual strength. He promised to set up a committee that will dialogue with the workers immediately after his swearing-in.

Source: By Bisi Oladele

N2.15bn currency in circulation in March – CBN

The Central Bank of Nigeria yesterday put the total value currency in circulation as of March this year at N2.15 billon. Mrs Eli Kwaghe of the Currency Operation Department of the CBN disclosed at a two-day CBN fair in Makurdi in Benue State.

She said: “8.88 billion pieces valued at N2.15 billion currency in circulation as at March 2019 ending.

” Earlier the branch controller of the CBN in Makurdi, Abba Bulus Ibrahim, said the bank’s mandate could only be achieved when everybody partnered with it in line.

The coordinator of the fair, Sam Okogbue, said the CBN had further interventions to make the country’s economy grow so that people would come out of poverty by improving their living standard in all ramifications.

Source: By Hope Abah Emmanuel

Unemployment next to insecurity as major challenge in Nigeria –Report

Samuel Awoyinfa

After the insecurity challenge currently ravaging the country, ranging from insurgency, banditry, kidnapping to armed robbery and cultism, unemployment ranked second among the top three areas Nigerians expected the government to focus its attention on, a new report  from the NOI Polls has reveale

The report was released to coincide with this year’s Workers’ Day.

The report was a product of public opinion polls on issues facing Nigerians which covered almost the four-year period between 2016 and part of 2019. The issue of the economy came distant third scoring 21 per cent in the polls, after security which had 29 per cent and unemployment which had 28 per cent.

The report stated that unemployment had been on the rise within the years under review.

It read in part, “In commemoration of this year’s Workers’ Day, NOIPolls presents a 4-year average (2016-2019) on public opinion polls on issues facing Nigerians.

“Findings revealed that employment remains among the top three areas Nigerians expected the government to focus its attention on over the period in view: Security (29 per cent), Employment (28 per cent) and the Economy (21 per cent).

“Although the issue of unemployment is second on the list, this area has been one of the greatest challenges crippling the Nigerian economy as it has maintained an upward trend within the years in view.”

Quoting the National Bureau of Statistics, it said the unemployment rate in the country increased from 22.70 per cent in the second quarter of 2018 to 23.10 per cent in the third quarter of 2018.

Respondents in the polls emphasised the need for the government and other well meaning individuals to create jobs and an enabling environment for small and medium enterprises to thrive.

The report indicated that the newly approved minimum wage of N30,000 for workers was negligible in raising the standard of living given the economic situation in the country.

It added, “In view of the Workers’ Day celebration, the onus is on the government and other stakeholders to create jobs for Nigerians especially through creating an enabling environment for Small and Medium Enterprises to thrive.

“This will go a long way in ensuring that Nigerians explore various opportunities in tackling the issue of unemployment. Also, it is vital to reflect on workers’ welfare specifically on the issue of minimum wage as it plays an important role in income distribution as well as poverty rate.

“Although the minimum wage in Nigeria has recently been increased from N18,000 to N30,000, this amount may be negligible in raising the standard of living of the beneficiaries considering the economic situation of the country.

“For instance, a public opinion poll conducted by NOIPolls on workers’ welfare in 2011 revealed that Nigerians believed that the minimum wage of N18,000 was inadequate, hence they clamoured for an upward review to N56,000 as at 2011. Again, while the Federal Government has signed the new minimum wage of N30,000 into law, it is important for an urgent implementation process.”

It further stated that it was pertinent for the government to address issues pertaining to job creation and the welfare of Nigerian workers.

“Job creation challenge in Nigeria can be effectively tackled through a strict adherence to and execution of the different strategies and policy framework that have been put in place to move the employment drive in the country forward. Some of these strategies and policy documents include the National Employment Policy of 2002, the National Action Plan on Employment Creation, National Youth Policy of 2009 as well as the National Policy on Education, “ it stated.

Source: The Punch

Consumers kick as Discos’ collection rises to N438bn

The rise in the bill collection efficiency of electricity distribution companies to N438bn without a commensurate improvement in supply and metering has been criticised by consumers.

In the latest report on the performance of Discos, it was observed that the power distributors posted a 21 per cent increase in their bill collection efficiency in 2018 when compared to what the firms collected in 2017.

The power firms are currently computing their bill collection figures for the first quarter of 2019 and are expecting further increase.

However, their most recent performance report, which was put together by the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors and obtained by our correspondent in Abuja on Tuesday, showed that the power firms collected N438bn in 2018 out of the N661.6bn they billed consumers.

This represented a 21 per cent rise when matched against the N363bn the power firms collected in 2017, out of a total of N597.3bn that was issued as energy bill to consumers in that year.

But the rise in the collection efficiency of the Discos did not go down well with consumers, as they argued that the power firms had failed to provide meters and could have increased their electricity bill collection through illegal means.

They stated that although it was in the interest of the Discos to increase their collection efficiency, the power firms had yet to meet the expectations of consumers since the companies were taken over by private investors more than five years ago.

The Chairman, Nigeria Electricity Consumers Advocacy Network, Tomi Akingbogun, told our correspondent that the government should not yield to the call by the Discos for an increase in tariff, saying the firms had not performed creditably.

He said, “This is why we are saying that the government should not at any time increase tariff until when they (Discos) have released all the meters to all the consumers and enumeration done. However, we still believe that they (Discos) are still involved in sharp practices where they do improper billing.

“By this, I mean that they look at a building and just fix a tariff on it without justification and that can also increase their tariff collection because we’ve realised that they are given targets by their managers, area managers and others.”

Akingbogun added, “Many times, you see a situation where they start with N4,000 as a bill to a customer and before you know it, the rate rises to N45,000.

“This is not really an efficient way of collecting tariff, for while they believe they are collecting enough tariff, that is an illegal way of collecting tariff. So, we are having a lot of that to deal with.”

The NECAN chairman, however, noted that the release of meters to customers by Discos or Meter Asset Providers would boost the ability of power firms to collect electricity bills.

He urged the firms to deploy more meters as directed by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, adding that a lot of customers across the country were still without meters.

Akingbogun said, “Meters should be released. When they release meters, their collection efficiency will increase more because a lot of their money being collected by their workers are not remitted to their accounts.”

Source: By Okechukwu Nnodim

China seeks joint pursuit of BRI

Vows to enhance practical cooperation Nigeria, alongside 150 countries and international organisations have signed in agreement to benefit from the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in excess of $100 billion. Acting Consul General of China in Lagos, Mr. Guan Zhongqi   The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aims to strengthen infrastructure, trade, and investment links between China, Africa and other international countries.

At a press briefing on “The Belt and Road for International co-operation” recently held at the Chinese Embassy in lagos, Acting Consul General of China in Lagos Mr. Guan Zhongqi, emphasised on the opportunities for the BRI cooperation and development of the world economy. Maritime threat: US, NN establish RMDA   According to him, we need to pursue a clean cooperation. The BRI is not an exclusive club; it aims to promote green development.

“We may launch green infrastructure projects, make green investment and provide green financing to protect the earth, which we all call home. In pursuing the Belt and Road cooperation, everything needs to be done in a transparent way”.

“He said Nigeria is highly respected all over the world, especially from China. We are strategic partners sharing with similar cultures, historical background and highly-complementary economies, he said. Also speaking at the event, Commercial Consul Mr.Liu Junsheng, stated that the joint pursuit of Belt and Road cooperation will deliver true benefits to the participating countries and also contribute to their social and economic development.

“We need to promote a global partnership of connectivity to achieve common development and prosperity”. “I am confident that as we work closely together, we will transcend geographical distance and embark on a path of win-win cooperation”, he said.

Source: By Adekunle, Vanguard

Minimum wage: NANTs warns against hike in commodity prices

Mr Ken Ukaoha, President, National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTs), has cautioned members of the group to refrain from unnecessary price increase in commodities in view of the minimum wage increase. Minimum Wage: NLC, TUC laud Buhari over assent Ukaoha made the call in Abuja on Monday at a workshop organised for NANTs leadership on tracking the commitment of political actors to the Farmers’ Manifesto and Traders’ Charter of Demand.

“Thinking of increasing the price of goods is unnecessary, immoral, undependable, unjustifiable and perhaps wicked. Therefore, every trader must avoid the temptation of being hired into such a selfish act as a means of enrichment.

“Every trader must realise that hiking prices on one commodity automatically raise prices of other ones and no trader deals on all items of need,” he said. He said that once a trader raised the price of a commodity, sellers of other commodities would also jack up in the same manner. According to him, such a negative cycle will only be multiplying poverty to everyone and dealing a dirty blow on the overall economy which has further implications for everyone.

Ukaoha also called on the Federal Government to find a solution to the worsening security situation in the country. “Due to the security situation in the country, traders are refraining from travelling to most parts of the northern part of the country for fear of being kidnapped or killed. Also read: NANTS sensitizes Benue traders, farmers ahead of 2019 general elections “Life is speedily becoming worthless. The economy, especially in the north, is speedily losing grip, farmers are dislodged from their farms courtesy of insurgency and crises with herders, and productivity is grossly reducing,” Ukaoha said. He said the traders were getting scared of moving the few goods available towards the required market destinations.

Ukaoha said that the workshop would be used to train members on tracking the commitment of political actors to the charter of demand. “For the next four years, we shall be monitoring and tracking the performance of our elected representatives at the various levels of governance to ensure that the promises they made with the signature of endorsement to our document are kept. “We must understand how to follow up with programmes and initiatives of government targeted, especially at the poor traders and farmers.

“We will focus on access to credit and inputs for small scale farmers. “Others are `traderMoni’ under the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme and associated facilities meant to reposition and handhold our constituencies out of poverty,” he said. Ukaoha said that before the 2019 elections, the association thought of productive ways of holding politicians accountable to their promises which had for long remained empty. He said the association had always been short-changed by political parties and their members, who had always taken advantage of the low level of the consciousness.

Ukaoha said that the farmers’ document advocated that 60 per cent of agriculture investment in budgets be dedicated to small scale farmers to help tackle food security in the country. He said that the document was articulated to ensure that agricultural policies were effectively targeted toward small scale farmers.

Ukaoha explained that different governments had talked about agriculture but not enough fund was allocated to the sector.

According to him, the document calls for the revitalisation of the agriculture extension service in order for the extension workers to help farmers increase their yield. He said that the traders’ charter demands an investigation on the illegal seizure of traders’ goods and immediate design of the Nigerian Trade Policy Other demands, he said, were: training and enlightenment for traders, harmonisation of taxes and charges in the markets, policy inclusion at all levels, transparency in the disbursement of Small and Medium Enterprises loans and other funds.

Ukaoha said that the document also demands transparency in the allocation of shops in markets, among others. He said that the association requested that its members be integrated into the membership of the board of over 60 various trade and agriculture-related agencies and parastatals. Mr Innocent Azih from the Centre for Agriculture and Climate Change, Lagos, said during the presentation on tracking implementation of policy commitment to farmers’ manifesto that the tracking indicators would be on farm productivity.

Azih said that the expectation would be on the rise of farmers output, access to extension services and increase input use on farmers. According to him, the outcome will be monitored annually. “The members must have all the facts to enable them to track the politicians’ commitment,” Azih said.

Source: By Idowu Bankole

New cabinet: 15 politicians jostle for CRS ministerial slot

As President Muhammadu Buhari considers top Nigerians to form his cabinet, no fewer than 15 persons in Cross River State have indicated strong interest for the position, which would automatically make the person the ruling party’s highest political leader in the state.

Findings  indicated that the contenders are mostly top All Progressives Congress politicians who contested for governorship, national and state assembly posts but lost to the People’s Democratic Party in the state. Minister for Defence, Alhaji Dan Ali (l) with other Council members in a pensive mood as Cabinet Members observed a minute silent to honour the memory of the late Vice President Alex Ekwueme during the weekly meeting of the Federal executive Council at the State House, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida Investigation also reveals that the fierce rivalry and factionalisation of the state chapter the APC, which eventually cost it victory in the last election, have also heightened as the selection of a minister from the state begins.

According to a credible source, the major contenders are counting on their ‘assumed closeness’ to either President Buhari or the leadership of the APC at the national and regional levels and are unwilling to back down even with reports that the president will only pick cabinet members strictly on merit and not on party membership and contributions.

One of the contenders, who is reported to have begun serious consultations to reconcile with those he might have offended in the build-up to the last election in the state, is a National Assembly member, while another belongs is a close friend of Buhari. But as the race to pick the top post hots up, it was learned that prominent members of the party, who are upset by the loss of the state and national assembly seats to the PDP, have begun moves to stop any of the politicians and their backers, who contributed to the factionalisation of the party and the loss of the state, from being rewarded with the appointment.

The party leaders, according to sources are said to have made a strong position to the President, reminding him of the betrayal caused by those who now seek to be appointed into his cabinet. A chieftain of the APC in Cross River State and Deputy National Treasurer of the Presidential Campaign Council, Chief Utum Eteng, while reacting to the development, cautioned President Buhari not to reward any of the politicians who caused him and his party defeat in the state with a ministerial post. Utum, who is also a member of the Legal Committee of the Presidential Campaign Council said that the people of Cross River State would only appreciate the appointment of a top technocrat, who would dedicate time and energy to work for the state rather than a politician.

Accept responsibility for worsening security challenges, Atiku counsels Buhari, APC Utum said: “Any elected/appointed party leader, who did not deliver his polling unit and ward to the party in the last election should have no business talking about ministerial appointment because if others did not deliver for the president to emerge victorious, there would have been chance of forming a cabinet. “Those who used their positions at the state, regional and national levels to work against the success of the party and its candidates should not be seen to be rewarded with the top post for any reason,” Chief Eteng said.

Source: By Soni Daniel

Translate »