Agriculture & Mining Will Help Us Survive Oil Price Instability – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari said Tuesday in Riyadh that his administration was fully committed to increasing the productivity of Nigeria’s agriculture and solid minerals sectors to save the nation from the harsh effects of lower crude oil prices.

Speaking at a meeting with leading members of the Council of Saudi Arabia’s Chambers of Commerce and Industry, President Buhari said with declining revenues from crude oil exports, Nigeria’s hopes of economic resurgence now lie in the rapid development of its immense agricultural and solid mineral resources.

Inviting Saudi Arabian businessmen to invest in both sectors, the president said his administration would welcome greater foreign investment in support of its efforts to rapidly diversify the Nigerian economy.

President Buhari said that Nigeria had regrettably depended too much on crude oil exports to the neglect of other resources and was now paying a harsh price for failing to diversify its economy early enough.

“With the downturn in the global prices of oil, we now have to prospect our solid minerals. We have to return to agriculture. Mining and agriculture are our hopes now. We will welcome investments in these areas. We will appreciate an in-flow of more resources and expertise to help us achieve our objective of economic diversification,” the president said.

The governors of Osun, Ogun, Katsina, Borno, and Zamfara states, who were part of the president’s delegation, took turns to address the Saudi Arabian businessmen on investment possibilities in their states, assuring them of good returns.

The Chairman of the Council of the Saudi Arabian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Abdulrahman Al Zamil, said agriculture was a very important area of investment for its members, adding that they were already in Brazil, the United States of America and Sudan, “where we have huge farms”.

Declaring that they were willing to invest in Nigeria, Mr. Al Zamil said that the Saudis were the leading investors in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Federal Allocation Drops By N17.38b

Allocation from the Federation Account available for sharing this month by the tiers of government reduced by N17.38 billion compared to what was shared last month.

The allocation for December last year, distributed last month was N387.77 billion compared to the N370.38 billion distributed yesterday for January.

The decline in the allocation was attributed to the drop in oil prices from $43.4 to $39.04 which resulted in   revenue loss amounting to $22.55 million.

Finance Minister Mrs Kemi Adeosun told reporters at the end of the monthly Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting in Abuja last night that the drop in the funds distributed was caused by several reasons including oil production shut- in and shut downs;  continued drop in oil price and the diversion of Federation Account revenue to fund the Joint Venture Cash (JVC) call commitment to oil majors in the production of crude minerals.

She confirmed that as a result of the continued oil price slump and inability of government to meet the JVC cash call commitment, government was working a modified carrier strategy to raise funds from the debt market to fund the commitments as it could no longer be guaranteed from oil proceeds.

To reduce the negative impact of cash call obligations on the Federation Account, Mrs Adeosun said the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is proposing a Modified Carry Arrangement (MCA) which would be more beneficial to the country because of the continuous decline in oil prices.

Details of the agreement she said, is being worked out and would be presented to the National Economic Council (NEC) for approval.  “The Minister of State Petroleum Resources who also doubles as the Group Managing Director of the NNPC has been mandated to explore this strategy after which it would receive  NEC’s blessing for activation,” she said.

Giving a breakdown of the allocation to the three tiers of government, the minister said for statutory allocation, the Federal Government received N137.47 billion representing 52.68 per cent after deducting the cost of collection to revenue generating agencies of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

Also from the statutory allocation, the states pocketed N69.72 billion or 26.72 per cent, local governments N53.75 billion or 20.8 per cent while N22.38 billion was allocated to the oil producing states as 13 per cent derivation principle.

From Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue, the Federal Government received N10.04 billion or 15 per cent, states N33.46 billion or 50 per cent while local governments received N23.42 billion or 35 per cent.

With regard to revenue, the finance minister said: “Gross statutory revenue of N290.96 billion received for the month of January was lower than the N315.01 billion received in the previous month of December by N24.05 billion.”

The Nation

Breaking: Naira Gains Against Dollar, Trades For N300/$1

Following President Muhammudu Buhari’s refusal to devalue the Naira, the currency is steadily gaining against the Dollar, trading at N300 to a dollar in the parallel market on Wednesday morning.

Osun Defender learnt the naira rose consecutive on Tuesday, February 23, contrary to predictions of an all-time rise from the initial N400 (an all time low) to about 450/500.

There are further speculations that the amount may slip further before the end of the day.

The dollar traded N300 up from an initial N364 on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has persuaded President Buhari to adopt a sound petroleum industry bill (PIB) as well as expunge restrictions around foreign exchange policy.

While the PIB had been in the works since 2007, it has been dogged by political controversies as well as opposition to the fiscal terms by international oil companies.

The present administration has adopted a fixed forex policy that also does not include the allowance of 41 imported items, and this has been criticised from different quarters.

According to The Cable, a statement detailing IMF observations about the Nigerian economy after its visit in January, its senior resident representative to Nigeria, Gene Leon, said: “growth is projected to improve slightly to 3.2 per cent in 2016 but could rebound to 4.9 per cent in 2017.

“In the light of the significant macroeconomic adjustment that is needed to address the permanent terms-of-trade shock, it will be important for Nigeria to put in place an integrated package of policies centred around: fiscal discipline; reducing external imbalances; further improving efficiency of the banking sector; and fostering strong implementation of structural reforms that will enhance.

“The general government deficit is projected to widen somewhat before improving in 2017, while the external current account deficit is likely to remain flat at 2.3 percent of GDP. Growth in credit to the private sector is projected to recover from the slump in 2015, aiding the increase in activity.

“Key risks to the outlook include lower-than-budgeted oil prices, shortfalls in non-oil revenues, a further deterioration in finances of state and local governments, and a resurgence in security concerns.”

Naira In Steady Recovery, Down To 340 Against The Dollar

The naira firmed again on Tuesday to trade at 340 against the dollar at the parallel market from 370 on Monday, but traders differ on reasons for the appreciation.

The official market rate remained at 197, with President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence that the currency would not be devalued.

Speaking with reporters in Lagos, Bureau de Change (BDC) operators were not uniform in justifying the appreciation of the naira. A BDC agent, who asked not to be named, said the N35 million deposited by BDCs to the central bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been refunded, easing capital tension in the market. “We have collected our N35 million, so we have more money to do business with. We can approach some of our sources with money to get dollars,” he said.

However, Musa Tairu, another BDC agent, differed in opinion, saying the appreciation of the naira was due to a drop in demand for dollars by most “big companies”. “Giving us our N35 million doesn’t make any difference now. It depends on the demand and the supply,” Tairu said. “Initially, when our N35 million was with them, we still had our own capital we used for our business. Demand determines the market price. “Most of these big companies are not buying for now. They are really running on a loss. All these BUA, like all these Dangote and co. “The price is not favourable at all. By the time you buy for 390 or three eighty something, the sugar we use to buy for N8,000 now they are selling it N15,000, and people are managing, they are all complaining that it is much. “So all the companies say for now, there’s no buying of anything, they would just be selling the ones they have.” The naira hit all-time highs last week but has been recovering as certainty returns to the market.

The Cable

@SpeakerDogara To Sponsor Youths For Agricultural Training In Israel

Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara has promised to sponsor some youth for agricultural pilgrimage to Israel.

He revealed this while declaring open, the second Christian Pilgrimage Stakeholders’ Summit held at the National Christian Centre, earlier today.

While commending the organisers for their various special pilgrimage programmes, Speaker Dogara commended the leadership of the NCPC under John Kennedy Opara and his entire team who he said has been doing a wonderful job over the years.

“During the ‘A Day with Jesus for Nigeria in Israel’ special pilgrimage, I interacted with pilgrims and the medical team, I visited the clinic established by the Commission at the Nigerian House to solve the problem of escalating hospital bills in Israel.  The clinic came as collaboration with NCPC stakeholders, at no cost to Nigerian government.” Speaker Dogara stated in his speech

He continued, “I also visited the agricultural sites where the youths are exposed to the Leadership and Skill Acquisition Programme. I was so inspired, I sponsored some youths immediately, who became as inspired as myself and have began to use the new knowledge and exposure in the farms as they returned to Nigeria.”

Speaker Dogara further said he will sponsor more people so they can learn various methodologies of farming.

“I have also discussed with the Executive Secretary that I am sending another batch and I urge other leaders to key into this because the future of our country and our youths lies with wealth creation through skill acquisition.” Dogara said.

Read his full speech below:

REMARKS BY THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,  RT. HON YAKUBU DOGARA, AS A SPECIAL GUEST OF HONOUR AT THE 2ND CHRISTIAN PILGRIMAGE STAKEHOLDERS’ SUMMIT AT THE NATIONAL  CHRISTIAN CENTRE ON 23RD FEBRUARY, 2016.

Protocols :
I am delighted to start my day’s work today with our spiritual leaders and other stakeholders of NCPC. It is equally commendable that we have gathered to deliberate and secure a plan for the sustenance of Christian Pilgrimage in Nigeria. Let me also commend the leadership of the NCPC under the able John Kennedy Opara and his entire team who have been doing a wonderful job over the years.

2. I witnessed firsthand the Commission’s impactful programmes when I flagged off the 2015 Youth Pilgrimage and when I led other leaders in government for “A Day with Jesus for Nigeria in Israel”. It was a day of prayer in the presence of God like no other. I drew strength from the prayers and I have no doubt that it is so for other leaders and pilgrims.

3.  During the special pilgrimage, I interacted with pilgrims and the medical team, I visited the clinic established by the Commission at the Nigerian House to solve the problem of escalating hospital bills in Israel.  The clinic came as collaboration with NCPC stakeholders, at no cost to Nigerian government. I also visited the agricultural sites where the youths are exposed to the Leadership and Skill Acquisition Programme. I was so inspired, I sponsored some youths immediately, who became as inspired as myself and have began to use the new knowledge and exposure in the farms as they returned to Nigeria.

4. To this end, I have also discussed with the Executive Secretary that I am sending another batch and I urge other leaders to key into this because the future of our country and our youths lies with wealth creation through skill acquisition. The achievements of NCPC and spiritual impact of the pilgrimage make me proud to be a Christian and a Nigerian.

5.  The benefits of prayers and spiritual exercises such as pilgrimage cannot be overemphasized but sometimes the resources for such exercises are simply not there for a lot of our people. In this regard, when we pool resources and apportion the limited resources to sponsor certain number of pilgrims at each of the four pilgrimages in a year through the “WIN A TRIP TO ISREAL” promo, we encourage more Christians to participate. When a portion of the pooled resources go to the government trust fund to pay for special /intervention projects, we perform a civic duty that gives us an advantage; to suggest special/intervention projects that would benefit our people. Needful to mention too that a portion of such resources also goes to provide the Church an additional stream of income.

6.  When the Executive Secretary and his team spoke with me about the “Win a Trip to Israel” promo, I was indeed thankful to God for such an inspiring innovation but I quickly realized that the success of the plan will require our active support and prayers.

7.  I pray that God will inspire more creative ideas on how to sustain Christian Pilgrimage and that as we shall leave here today, more determined to support and pray for Christian Pilgrimage, especially the “Win A Trip to Israel” programme.

8. While wishing you successful and creative deliberations, it is now my honour and pleasure to declare the summit open in the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Amen.

9. God bless you all and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Africa Attracted $128bn Direct Investments In 2015 – COMESA

African countries have successfully attracted $128bn worth of foreign investment throughout 2015, an increase of 36% compared to 2014, Director of COMESA Regional Investment Agency Heba Salama said.

“African investors contributed some 30% of those investments,” Salama said, noting that Africa has become the most attractive destination for foreign investment. “The total size of African countries’ economies is expected to record $4tn by 2020, versus $2.4tn in 2016.”

The continent has entirely changed, she said, and transformed into a manufacturer of technology, having made breakthroughs in various industries and healthcare. Africa has recently attracted US, British, and Gulf investments.

Africa is no longer a place for raw materials extraction only; it has become an influential party in the technology industry. There are 370 million middle-income citizens in Africa; a fact that has contributed to the growth of the consumer base, she said.

The telecommunications and information technology and medical care witnessed significant development in Africa, where roughly 720 million people use mobile phones in Africa. All financial transactions in Kenya are carried out via mobile phone.

African countries such as Nigeria and Kenya manufacture their own vehicles.

DailyNewsEgypt

CBN Recovers N6.2b Illegal Charges From Banks

Commercial banks have refunded over N6.2 billion of illegal charges to customers in 2015 alone, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has stated.

The apex bank said it has investigated over 6,000 complaints relating to unauthorised bank charges brought to its notice by customers.

A statement by the CBN yesterday said it has received series of complaints from customers of Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) alleging excessive and in some cases illegal charges from their respective banks.

The CBN urged members of the public to “report cases of infringement to enable it investigate and apply sanctions on any erring Deposit Money Bank (DMB).”

Bank customers were reminded to always forward complaints to: Director, Consumer Protection Department via [email protected]

The statement signed by Ibrahim Mu’azu, Director, Corporate Communications said the apex bank will rely on the Revised Guide to Bank Charges which clearly specifies allowable charges for all banking services.

It stressed: “The CBN does not in any way condone the fleecing of banking customers under any guise.”

The apex bank noted that “it was in the quest to provide a strong voice to banks’ customers and moderate the arbitrary charges that the CBN in 2012 established its Consumer Protection Department”, reiterating its resolve to continuously enforce the provision of the Revised Guide to Bank Charges.

Wole Soyinka Calls For Emergency Conference To Fix The Economy

Nobel laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, has called on President Muhammudu Buhari to organise an economic conference to confer on solutions to change the economic fortunes of Nigeria.

Soyinka who blamed the dire economic situation in Nigeria on the years of bad governance, stated this in a press release issued from the office of the Minister of Information and Culture.

In order to ameliorate this problem, Professor Soyinka called for the Federal Government to call an “emergency economic conference”.

”Recovery is going to take quite a while…the President should call an emergency economic conference, with experts to be invited. Consumers, producers, labour unions, university experts, professors, etc.

”I think we really need an emergency economic conference, a rescue operation bringing as many heads as possible together to plot the way forward.”

The Nobel laureate made these comments to Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, during a visit to the minister’s Abuja offices on Thursday.

While stressing that the government should maintain its war against corruption, Professor Soyinka also stressed a need to pursue the anti-corruption campaign “within the confines of the law”.

Minister Mohammed expressed gratitude towards Professor Soyinka for his visit and support for the anti-graft war.

Nigeria, Japan Plan $800m Rehabilitation Credit For Jebba Power Plant

The Federal Government and the government of Japan have completed arrangement to sign all relevant agreements towards securing $800million credit to add 578.4 megawatts(MW) of power generation capacity to Jebba Hydro Power Plant.

This is just as one of the plant’s turbines with a generation capacity of 96.4MW, which was rehabilitated by Japan after a fire outbreak, was commissioned to increase its available generation capacity to 482MW.

Deputy Head of Mission at Japan’s Embassy, Mr. Masaya Otsuka, who made the disclosure in Jebba when Japan handed over to Nigeria at Jebba the overhauled unit of the six generating turbines it rehabilitated for the country at the plant, said the credit line would be used to rehabilitate and extend the lifespan of four extra units of the plant.

The loan, he said, was part of Japan’s support for Nigeria’s power sector, noting that it was under the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, TICAD, framework, and would include 1.4 per cent concessionary rate for 40 years.

Otsuka noted that if approved under a government-to-government agreement, the loan would be used to refurbish the four generating turbines which had not undergone any form of mandatory overhaul since they were commissioned in 1983.

At present, the Jebba plant is operated by Mainstream Energy Solutions under a concession framework in the federal government’s power sector privatisation.

Vangaurd

Ooni Of Ife Empowers 200,000 Youths With Land For Cocoa Plantation

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, has empowered 200,000 youths with 5 acres of land each for cocoa plantation, saying cocoa and other agricultural produce can take Nigeria out of the woods.

He spoke with State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

The Ooni said: “I am working with the minister of Agriculture. We have assembled over 200,000 youths within 30 days. We are encouraging them to go back to the farm.

“Something happened in Nigeria that we did not notice. Last October, crude oil price started going down astronomically but cocoa price went up over 100 per cent and nobody noticed it.

“Nigeria, in the early 1930s and 1940s, was the largest exporter of cocoa in the world and the farmlands are still there.

‘’So what we have done now is another positive indicator for the nation’s economy.

“We have assembled youths and we are giving them five acres per youth so that they will go back to the farm.

“The Federal Government is supporting us. So it is going to be a model to be replicated in all parts of the country.”

He advised the youth not to look for fast ways of making money, but to go back to the basic.

The monarch said his ascension to the throne was divine.

He said: “I have a clear strategy: if you don’t want to accept me, I will accept you. It is important and I will be persistent about it because it is a divine calling. It is not by my power nor by my might. It is a calling from the King of Kings, who appointed me to this throne.

“So, I will be persistent. About acceptability, if you do not accept me today, you will accept me tomorrow. It is a clear mission and I will be persistent about it.”

On his visit to the Villa, he said: “The meeting with the President was about peace and progress of the nation which he stands for and I stand for. What is also key is youth empowerment. That is the main purpose of this meeting.

He said the President as a progressive was happy about the idea.

Naira Falls To N345/$1 In The Parallel Market

The  Naira yesterday suffered its biggest daily depreciation against the  dollar  as the exchange rate rose to N345 per dollar in the parallel market.

This represents N20 depreciation when compared with the closing exchange rate of N325 per dollar in the market on Friday.

But the naira was relatively stable at the  official interbank foreign exchange market as the interbank rate stood at N197.47 per dollar at the close of business yesterday.

The naira also depreciated by N45 against the British Pounds Sterling as the parallel market exchange rate rose to N485 per pounds yesterday from N340 on Friday.

Bureaux De Change sources who confirmed this development to Vanguard attributed the sharp depreciation to increasing scarcity of the dollar and Pound sterling in the market.

According to an Abuja based BDC operator who spoke on condition of anonymity, “The market is experiencing huge demand for dollars but there is no supply. Even those who have dollars are not willing to sell. The way things are going, the rate might touch N350 per dollar before it stabilises”.

This development widened the gap between the interbank rate   and the parallel market rate to N147.53 per dollar from N127.53 per dollar last week. The naira has been on steady decline since Tuesday January 12th 2016, when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) stopped weekly dollar sale to BDCs. Prior to this action, the naira traded at N265 per dollar in the parallel market.

Consequently the naira has depreciated by N80 in the parallel market since the CBN took the action. The steady depreciation was also aggravated by inability of the CBN to meet foreign exchange demand.

Vanguard investigations reveal that the parallel market is been bedevilled with demand for foreign exchange from importers of the 41 items excluded from the official market by CBN last year as well as importers of items not excluded from the official market.

This was corroborated by an official of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Vincent Nwanem.  Speaking at TheCable Colloquium last week, he said, “For now the high exchange rate is not an issue for manufacturers. No, the major issue now is access. Even the goods that are not listed in the 41 items, our members cannot even fund dollars to fund them.”

Naira falls to N345/$ in parallel market