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Market Digest Nigeria

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Nigerian Newspaper Headlines (2nd October, 2019)

budget

President Buhari will submit the 2020 budget to the National Assembly next week, he will do this after he returns from his official trip to South Africa to discuss with President Cyril Ramaphosa. The presidency apologies for the delay as the budget was meant to has been submitted in the September.

Meanwhile the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has criticized president Buhari’s Independence Day speech, they said the speech is filled with lies and it’s a mockery of the country and her citizens. They also said the speech shows that our fatherland is in the wrong hands.

Major Nigerian Newspapers have more on these stories:

budget

Punch Newspaper: Buhari presents budget to National Assembly next week

The Presidency on Tuesday gave reasons President Muhammadu Buhari didn’t keep to his administration’s promise to present the 2020 budget to the National Assembly in the third week of September.

It also said Buhari, who would visit South Africa this week, would present the budget next week. This came as findings by The PUNCH indicated that the non-presentation of the estimates had increased pressure on the administration to achieve a return of the country to the January-December budget cycle.

Nigeria currently runs a May-June budget cycle, a development caused by executive-legislature delays since the 8th National Assembly. The delays have caused “distortions” in implementation and the inability to meet budget targets. On why Buhari was unable to keep to his promise of September presentation, the Presidency blamed it on the fact that the National Assembly had yet to consider and pass the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategic Paper, which should ordinarily precede the estimates.

It also noted that throughout last week, Buhari was away to the United States, where he participated in the activities of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. It added that the UNGA session would still have delayed the presentation had the National Assembly passed the MTEF.

Incidentally, The PUNCH learnt that the letter conveying the MTEF to the National Assembly was only read to lawmakers on September 25, the same last week. The MTEF sets out the Federal Government’s spending plans for the next three years, detailing both revenue profiles and spending projections. But, in his response to enquiries by The PUNCH, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Reps), Mr Umar El-Yakub, argued that much as the presentation was delayed, it was for some reasons.

He gave his defence, “Remember that the MTEF was presented to both chambers (Senate and House of Representatives) last week. “You also know the President just returned from New York at the weekend where he attended the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. Coincidentally, today is Independence Day (Tuesday), meaning that only yesterday (Monday) was there to present the budget if he was to present it. “But, it will be the best bet if he (Buhari) presents the budget after the MTEF has been considered and passed by the National Assembly. So, yes, the budget is a bit late by a week or two, but for good reasons. “Perhaps, we didn’t anticipate UNGA and the fact that MTEF had to be finalised and approved by the Federal Executive Council before it was transmitted to the National Assembly.”

El-Yakub insisted that the delay had not caused any serious setback to the budgeting process, adding that the January-December target could still be met if the presentation was done this month. “However, we still maintain and still looking forward to this month. We are still going to meet up with the January-December budget cycle that Mr President and the National Assembly talked about”, he added.

Asked when the estimates would be presented, the presidential aide replied, “Mr President will be travelling to South Africa on Wednesday (today). “By the time he comes back, the budget presentation will be done next week (2nd week of October), though I can’t confirm a specific date to you right now.”

Meanwhile, strong indications emerged on Tuesday that the deliberations on the 2020-2022 MTEF Strategy Paper would suffer a slight delay in the Senate. This is because the Senate Committee on Finance will not meet the Wednesday, (today’s) deadline given to it to submit its report.

The Senate had on Thursday last week, 24 hours after receiving the MTEF/FSP documents from the President, forwarded it to its committee on finance for “expeditious consideration.” Specifically, the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, instructed the committee to make the required legislative input into the documents and submit report to Senate for final consideration on Wednesday (today).

But the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Solomon Adeola, said on Tuesday that the report would not be ready for submission on Wednesday as expected by the Senate . Adeola who made the declaration on his Twitter handle stated that the presentation by invited Federal Government agencies would be made to the committee on Wednesday .

He  said, “Shortly after the President Muhammadu Buhari  broadcast, I headed for the office in Senate to continue work on(MTEF/FSP)2020-2023 as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance. “I was joined by a member,  Senator  Ayo Akinyelure, to prepare for invited the FG agencies’ presentation tomorrow ( Wednesday , October 2, 2019) . All hands/ sacrifices on deck “.

On September 11, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, had announced that Buhari would lay the estimates before the National Assembly in the third week of September. Earlier on August 20, during the induction programme held for ministers, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, had also directed the ministers to hasten work on the budget in order for the administration to lay the estimates before the legislature in the last week of September.

In the MTEF Buhari forwarded to the National Assembly on September 25, the administration proposed an expenditure size of N9.12tr for 2020. The projected revenue size was put at N7.17tn, meaning that the 2020 budget would come with a deficit of about N2.28trn. But, the revenue size is N170.41bn higher than that of  2019, which was N6.99tn. The budget is also higher than that of 2019 estimates that tallied at N8.92tn.

The MTEF document added, “The provisions for personnel cost  and pension costs are estimated at N2. 67tn and N586.72bn respectively. “In addition, N40.17bn representing  1 per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, has been earmarked  for the Basic Health  Care Provision, N22.73bn for GAV/Routine Immunisation in the Service Wide Votes and N89.44bn for the power reform  programme.” The MTEF captures N1.01tn as the projection for capital expenditure in 2020.

The document noted further, “Given the projected revenue and planned expenditure, the fiscal deficit is estimated at N1.95tn, about N33.61bn (1.8 per cent) more than the estimate of N1.92tn in 2019. “This level of deficit is 1.37 per cent of the GDP well below the threshold (3 per cent of the GDP) stipulated in the Fiscal  Responsibility Act (FRA) 2007. “Accordingly, the aggregate fiscal deficit for 2020 will be N228tn. which is 1.59 per cent of the GDP, still within the 3 per cent threshold.

The MTEF/FSP also contained the benchmark upon which the 2020 budget will be predicated. The 2020-2022 MTEF/FSP documents pegged the projected budget profile for the year at $55 oil price benchmark as against $60 used for the N8.9tn  2019 budget . It also included 2.1m barrel oil production per day as against 2.3 m barrels per day approved for the 2019 budget.

budget

Guardian Newspaper: PDP, Afenifere, ADC, others flay Buhari’s broadcast

Criticism yesterday trailed President Muhammadu Buhari’s 59th independence anniversary broadcast to the nation for not meeting the expectations of Nigerians.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday described the speech as an insult to Nigerians and a mockery of the country’s national integrity as an independent state. The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the Buhari’s speech was “completely unpresidential, lacking in patriotic stance and replete with manifest inconsistencies, contradictions, paradoxes and false performance claims” which further confirmed that “our dear fatherland is in wrong hands.”

Particularly, the PDP noted that “President Buhari, in his recorded address, failed to forcefully address the key issues of freedom, social justice, constitutional order, separation of powers, rule of law, human rights, credible elections, national cohesion, accountability and transparency in government; the very fundamentals of an independent state, because his administration has violated them all.” The opposition party expressed regret that “President Buhari had no forceful reassurances on the challenge of escalated insecurity” on his watch.

According to the party, Buhari had “no clear-cut and operable blueprint to revamp our economy, which his administration wrecked in a period of four years, resulting in so much hardship and despondency that Nigerians now resort to suicide and slavery abroad as options.” “Our party notes that this address further exposes that the Buhari presidency is not interested in nation building; that it is completely disconnected from the people and remains insensitive to the plights of Nigerians.” the statement added.

According to the PDP, the president has only succeeded in further demonstrating that his administration is, indeed, in no position to deliver a credible, acceptable and satisfactory independence address. “This is so because under the Buhari Presidency, our nation has experienced the worst form of division, deprivation, human right abuse, constitutional violations, disregard to rule of law, electoral malpractices, disobedience to a court order, disrespect for separation of powers and curtailing of press freedom.”

The PDP alleged that the nation was losing her voice and due regard in the international arena as the administration had remained lacking in the required capacity and boldness to forcefully engage other world leaders on critical issues. “The dearth in foreign direct investment and the inhuman treatments being meted out to our citizens in countries where we were once held in very high esteem, are some of the injuries our nation is suffering under the Buhari administration. It is depressing that while other leaders motivate their citizens on a day like this, President Buhari is presenting uninspiring claims, propaganda and empty promises,” the party stated.

The Secretary of Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide, and a former presidential candidate of the National Action Council (NAC), Dr. Olapade Agoro, also flayed the broadcast.

In separate statements made available to The Guardian in Ibadan yesterday, the duo described the speech as lacking hope. Olajide said: “The speech is full of platitudes without any hope of a radical change from the status quo. The next few weeks will point to the result-oriented minor changes in the administration will bring. The administration has not demonstrated the necessary courage to factor the ordinary Nigerian into its economic programme. “The speech still shows the government as political leadership that is elite-centred. Some progress has been made admittedly on the insurgency, but as long as the economy remains in the doldrums with poverty ravaging the people security will remain a challenge. “It is difficult for me to applaud their war against corruption, with some principal officials of the administration being arraigned for corruption This means that even some senior officials do not share the objective of their principal. The speech is deficient in human capital development, health and education “.

To Agoro,” There is nothing that can be seen from the president’s independence broadcast than promises in the dark alleys of hopelessness. Buhari’s promise box reveals the emptiness of elusive dreams. The best to hope for is what can be made available in the individual kitty to offer for self-maximal development as an input of national growth. “Nigerians have an onerous duty to make conscious efforts to self- development as inputs of national growth for the nation to arrive at the reality of our 59 years journey of independence. It is a shame that at age 59, we are still toddlers depending on help from nowhere than foreigners. “At 59, noticeably, all our development needs and materials of growth are not home-made but foreign-sourced, making us poppers and stingrays. We Nigerians have traditionally developed in the art of deceit and self-delusion, denying ourselves the right of place in the international podium of respect and honours.”

The National Chairman of African Democratic Congress (ADC), Chief Ralph Nwosu, and the spokesman, Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin in separate telephone interviews with The Guardian accused President Buhari of leaving the substance to address the shadow in his Independence Day address.

According to Afenifere, “Rather than President Buhari addressing cogent issues of disunity and insecurity, he was busy talking about N-Power and other insignificant issues that cannot take the country anywhere.” The group said the country had been more divided along ethnic lines since Buhari came to office in 2015 and that the situation had continued to degenerate based on his polices. Odumakin also flayed the government’s anti-corruption fight, saying the last cabinet put in place by the administration did not portray it as serious about tackling graft. “The majority of those that made the cabinet have one corruption case or the other hanging on their necks. Nigeria is under serious threats and the president is speaking about mundane matters,” he said.

The ADC chairman said the address was deliberate propaganda by Buhari to cajole Nigerians to accept the failures of his administration and his party, APC. He dismissed the address as lacking the necessary substance that could have brought hope to Nigerians. “Buhari failed to address the worsening state of security. Boko Haram insurgency is fast-taking control of the North-East states, especially Borno, as against what Buhari claimed as achievements of the military and his government in the zone. Our party has carried out comprehensive research of the security situation in the North East and our position is based on facts. “

Meanwhile, President Buhari yesterday hosted dignitaries to a special military parade and change of guard at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, as part of activities to commemorate the 59th independence anniversary. The celebration, which was the first in President Buhari’s second term in office, lasted for about one hour and forty-five minutes. It started around 10:00 a.m.

Buhari was ushered to the venue by 9:58 a.m. where he first inspected a special quarter guard mounted by soldiers at the sentry point. He thereafter proceeded to the forecourt to receive the national salute, which was followed by a rendition of the country’s national anthem. Osinbajo was earlier ushered to the venue around 9:50 a.m. The event, which was devoid of the traditional march past and other such activities that would have taken place if the Eagle Square was to be the venue, climaxed with the special parade by officers and men of the Guards Brigade at the forecourt of the State House, with President Buhari as a special guest of honour.

It was the highpoint of the week-long activities marking the anniversary which ended with President Buhari signing the anniversary register. This was preceded by a release of pigeons by the president who was joined by Osinbajo and the Commander, Guards Brigade, Brig General Mohammed Usman, to signify peace and the country’s unity. The guests were treated to silent military drills and other displays by soldiers of the 177 and 7 Guards Battalion.

The event was also attended by past leaders, including former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon; former Chief of General Staff, Gen. Oladipo Diya (rtd); former vice president, Namadi Sambo; Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas; Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar and the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.

Others who were present at the ceremony were the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole; President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Tanko, members of the diplomatic corps, traditional rulers as well as defence attaches.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha; Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Muhammed Bello; Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; and Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator George Akume also attended the ceremony.

Since 1st of October, 2010 when the anniversary celebration witnessed bomb blasts at the Eagle Square, Abuja, the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan had marked all subsequent anniversaries under his administration in Aso Rock. But the Buhari’s administration broke the jinx by marking the 58th-anniversary last year at the Eagles Square, Abuja.

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Sun Newspaper: Dust over Buhari’s Independence speech

President Muhammadu Buhari’s 59th Independence anniversary speech, yesterday, has continued to raise dust, with prominent Nigerians sharply divided on specific aspects of the broadcast.

While some lambasted the President, especially on his tough stance on the issue of freedom of expression, others hailed it, saying it was in order. Leading the pack was the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which described the broadcast as an insult to Nigerians and a mockery of the country’s integrity as an independent state.

In a statement  by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan,  yesterday, the party claimed the speech was completely ‘unpresidential’ and full of manifest contradictions and false performance claims. The opposition party said other leaders use the opportunity of such occasions to motivate their citizens but the President was “presenting uninspiring claims, propaganda and empty promises.” The PDP spokesman added that the broadcast was an indication that President Buhari was allegedly not interested in nation-building nor the plight of Nigerians.

“The PDP notes that President Buhari, in his recorded address, failed to forcefully address the key issues of freedom, social justice, constitutional order, separation of powers, rule of law, human rights, credible elections, national cohesion, accountability and transparency in government, the very fundamentals of an independent state, because his administration had violated them all.”

Second Republic governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, also picked holes in the speech, describing it as disappointing.  He said the President should not be involved in making threats because the situation that caused the problems he was complaining about was due to his failure to perform, arguing that people have the right to protest. He said: “I feel disappointed that, instead of trying to reconcile with the people and encourage them to expect something better, he is threatening the people with dire consequences because they are complaining. It is very disappointing.”

Balarabe blamed the President’s speechwriters for his attitude, describing them as being mindless: “I think he is not advised well because these speeches are prepared by some people. Those people who prepared the speech for him are mindless. They really don’t care about advising him to take the right steps to reconcile with the people. People don’t expect threats from him; they expect reconciliation and words of encouragement.”

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome, said the Supreme Court had settled the matter in the case of Dokubo-Asari vs. Federal Government of Nigeria, when the Niger Delta activist was accused of treason. Ozekhome noted that when it comes to an individual’s right regarding national security, such right has to be subsumed under national security but, even then, Dokubo-Asari was taken to a court of law. “Now, there is a difference between individual right and what you call rule of law. What this government has also insisted on is that national security is superior to rule of law. We are saying, no. Rule of law is superior and higher than national security because, without rule of law, there cannot be a nation state, which will now begin to talk of national security. “Rule of law predates even the nation itself. It is the violation of rule of law in the Garden of Eden that made God to drive away Adam and Eve because they violated the laid down rules. So, nobody is talking of individual right. But even then, when individual right touches on national security, what do you do? You go to the court of law and you allow the person to have a fair hearing, as the government did with El-Zakzaky,” Ozekhome said.

Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Olu Falae, asked: “Who determines what is national security? We all fought hard to preserve democracy and I spent 20 months in jail. We have the rule of law in Nigeria. If anybody is arrested for making a speech that threatens national security, it is for the court to decide that. It should not be decided by a politician but, like most reasonable people know, you should know where to draw the line.”

Commenting, former Senate President,  Adolphus Wabara, said President Buhari distorted facts, especially as it relates to the economy, anti-corruption war and the fight against insurgency in the country. Wabara told Daily Sun in a telephone interview yesterday that, contrary to its claims, the Buhari administration has not done well in managing the economy as well as in the fight against corruption and insurgency in the country.

According to him, there is empirical evidence that, despite the claims of the President on the fight against graft and insurgency, Boko Haram terrorists were still very active, just as corruption has increased under his watch. Wabara said: “(Buhari) didn’t inherit a bad economy, an economy that was number one in Africa when he inherited it from Goodluck Jonathan. He can’t be saying that, or is he another Trump?  Is Buhari another Trump distorting history? What is the fight against Boko Haram?  Every day they claim they have defeated Boko Haram, but Boko Haram is still active. I mean, these are things you see with your naked eyes.  A blind man can see that he has not done well at all. “The fight against corruption is selective. It has even quadrupled.  The amount of money that is stolen in Nigeria these days is mindboggling. These are facts. To me, he has not done well at all. And these are verifiable.”

The leadership of the two trade centres, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), yesterday declined comments on President Buhari’s address to the nation on the occasion of the 59th anniversary of Independence. When contacted, NLC president, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, preferred that a text be sent to him, but there was no reply from him four hours later. And the president of the TUC, Quadri Olaleye, said he could not comment because he was in a noisy environment and promised to return the call later.

Similarly, members of the PDP in Edo State declined to comment. The state chapter chairman and publicity secretary of the party, Chief Dan Orbih and Chris Nehikhare, respectively, directed the reported to the national chairman. “Call Secondus. It’s Edo I am concerned with, Edo people are suffering,”  Orbih said.

Meanwhile, Goddy Uwazuruike, former president of Aka Ikenga, said the broadcast showed a lack of seriousness. He said it was part of the same long line of empty speeches the President had been giving since he came into office. Uwazuruike said, “An Independence speech should be motivational and encourage the people. All President Buhari has done in his speech is to threaten our free speech. Freedom of speech is constitutionally guaranteed but Buhari is now trying to take it away. Anytime Buhari wants to trample on human rights, he says it is because of national security. Is he now trying to tell us that the wisdom of one man is superior to the Constitution?”

On his part, Onyekachi Ubani, former chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja branch, dismissed it as an empty broadcast, asking: “What did the President say? It was a prepared speech, he did not say anything, so what am I reacting to?”

Meanwhile, the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), commended President Buhari on the broadcast, but warned that Nigerians would hold him by his words on power, security and the diversification of the economy. IPAC president, Peter Ameh, said though he welcomed the declaration on hate speech, government must give orientation to the security agencies to ensure that criticisms by Nigerians do not translate to hate speech.

The IPAC boss told Daily Sun: “For us, the issue of power is very key, if it will be taken care within the specific time. The challenge is very huge, when the power sector is not generating enough power for entrepreneurship to scale the level that they are currently. The cost of production also affects the output of production, which in turn affects the management of companies. “It is good that we have an accessible and available power supply when necessary for our local companies to compete globally in line with our very robust and adequate manpower. It will help to reboot the economy to a point that it can ginger growth and development,” he said.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, urged Nigerians to keep hope alive, saying the Buhari administration would continue to work to ensure unity, security and prosperity for all Nigerians. “My message to Nigerians is to keep up hope; 59 years of independence in a country as diverse as Nigeria is not an easy thing but the good thing is that everybody is glad to be part of one united and prosperous Nigeria. “The political class has its role to play; my advice to the political class is that we should not overheat the polity. Elections are over. We should all join hands to build the nation. The beauty of democracy is that, every four years, you have the opportunity to decide who is going to be your leader but once elections are over everybody should join hands together to build the country because I believe that even those in opposition, they mean well for Nigeria; therefore, they should join hands with the government to build a united and prosperous Nigeria.”

Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, also hailed Buhari for prioritising investment in infrastructural development with the approval of N600 billion to revamp infrastructure across the country in the next three months. The governor said the move was necessary to spur economic development in Nigeria.

Obaseki said Nigeria had not experienced needed economic growth because over the years, policies had not been aligned to drive growth, adding that the Buhari-led administration got it right by coming up with policies that would spur economic growth. The governor urged Nigerians not to lose faith in the country, noting that, despite the difficult times, the nation would be great again.

Elder statesman and Second Republic member of the House of Representatives, Junaid Mohammed, said he did not listen to the broadcast  because he did not have electricity, but advised that people should learn to make their points and criticise government in a reasonable way and not make inciting statements that would lead to violence. “Everybody is making noise about what is democracy and what is not democracy, but look at the Nigerian Bar Association, what is democratic about it? Free speech is not absolute.”

In his contribution, former minister of education, Dauda Birmah, said the President was right to have admitted that he inherited a bad economy. He, however, claimed that the economy was on the right track. He urged President Buhari to look beyond oil and create multiple sources of revenue for the country. Birmah said more attention should be paid to the development of agriculture in the rural areas.

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