Fed Govt’s Revenue Hits N658.6 Billion

The gross Federally-collected revenue stood at N658.60 billion, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Economic report, has said.

The figure, which was for last November, showed it fell below both the monthly budget estimate and the receipts in the preceding month.

Oil and non-oil receipts (gross), stood at N417.74 billion and N240.85 billion, and constituted 63.4 per cent and 36.6 per cent of total revenue.

The government retained revenue and estimated expenditure for the month were N207.91 billion and N293.38 billion, resulting in an estimated deficit of N85.47 billion.

Sustained non-expansionary monetary policy stance by the CBN in the review month led to contraction in major monetary aggregates and downward trend in inflationary pressure.

On month-on-month basis, broad money supply (M2), fell by 0.8 per cent to N22.3 billion, on account of the three per cent and 1.6 per cent decline in domestic credit (net) and other assets (net) of the banking system.

The average prime and maximum lending rates fell to 17.77 per cent and 30.95 per cent.

Consequently, the spread between the average term deposit and the average maximum lending rates narrowed to 22.25 percentage points at end-November 2017 from 22.43 percentage points in the preceding month. Also, the spread between the average savings deposit and maximum lending rates declined to 26.43 percentage points from 26.85 percentage points in last October.

Reps Ask FG To Enlighten, Assist Herders On Ranching

The House of Representatives has called on the federal government to educate and encourage herdsmen on the benefits of ranching instead of the proposed cattle colonies in states of the federation.

Adopting a motion by Mohammed Onawo (Nasarawa-PDP), the House urged the federal government to consider a soft or subsidised loan scheme for cattle owners to buy land as a means of encouragement for them to ranch.

Mr. Onawo, a former speaker of the Nasarawa State house of assembly said the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers have posed serious security challenges in Nigeria.

“Most of those clashes stem from the practice of herdsmen roaming in the wild across the length and breadth of the country in search of grazing pastures for their cattle and as a result, trespassing into, and damaging crops in farms”

He emphasised that the decision to establish cattle colonies in each state could be in violation of Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the Land Use Act as those colonies will remain the exclusive reserve of the individual state governments and as such, would not guarantee total freedom to the herdsmen.

He added that the ranching will offer longer lasting solution to the recurring conflicts between herdsmen and farmers, if the herdsmen would be fully sensitised and educated about the benefits of the program, as it would enable them assume full ownership of those ranches.

The House also urged the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources to liaise with state ministries of agriculture to speedily educate and encourage the herdsmen on the benefits of ranching.

The federal government had announced plans to commence the establishment of cattle colonies in states that have indicated interest.

Nigerians have expressed mixed reactions over the proposal for cattle colonies. Some states like Benue and Taraba, which have experienced clashes between farmers and herdsmen, have rejected the proposal, while others like Kogi and Kano supported it.

FG Resolving Apapa Gridlock With Private Sector -Osinbajo

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday assured stakeholders that the Federal Government is currently collaborating with the private sector to resolve the gridlock that is crippling economic activities in Apapa, Lagos.

According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, the Vice-President spoke while receiving a delegation from the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Osinbajo said the present administration, in line with its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, would continue to ensure the implementation of policies to drive socio-economic growth and prosperity.

“I think that no one is in doubt that we have very great policies and we will ensure that these things are implemented and are done as faithfully as possible,” he said.

The Vice President also said the private sector in Nigeria would continue to play a prominent role in the economic programmes and initiatives of the administration.

He noted the significance of private sector investment in the economy, adding that collaboration between the Federal Government and the private sector would further boost the country’s economic progress.

“If you look at our economic programmes and several other initiatives, the private sector plays a prominent role in them, and that is how it should be.

“So there is no question that the roles the LCCI and private sector play are critical to the kind of development policies and plan that we have in this government,”he said.

The Vice President commended the LCCI for its Presidential Policy Dialogues on the economy, which he noted has helped in shaping some initiatives and policies of government.

Osinbajo further said that the administration will continue to have robust engagements and work with the private sector and stakeholders in developing plans for implementation of several economic projects.

We Are Against State Police – Arewa

The pan-Northern socio-political organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum, on Monday expressed its opposition to the creation of state police.

The 36 state governors had endorsed the creation of state police to, according to them, address rising insecurity in the country.

The governors’ endorsement was a follow-up after Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo supported its creation.

However, the ACF noted that the creation of state police, as endorsed by the 36 state governors and Osinbajo, was a recipe for more crises.

The ACF’s Secretary General, Anthony Sani, in an interview with our correspondent in Kaduna, said if created, the various state governors would abuse it the way the state electoral commissions were being “bastardised.”

According to the ACF, sitting governors will use state police to torment perceived political enemies.

“Given the experiences where state governments use state electoral commissions and kill democracy at local government levels where no opposition party wins a seat in the local government council, there is the high possibility of state governments abusing state police with dire consequences, especially in states with many ethnic groups and religions,” the ACF scribe said.

The ACF, he said, was opposed to state police because the Forum sees the problems of police to lie in the lack of training, lack of equipment and also due to insufficient number of personnel.

He argued further that given the paucity of resources, it would not be good judgement to saddle states with additional responsibilities of state police.

He said the northern body believes that these problems could not be solved through the multiplication of security agencies.

FG Receives $486m World Bank Credit For Power Sector

World Bank has approved a 486 million dollars credit facility to Nigeria for the poor electricity grid development and improvement. The lender said on Friday.

“The investments under the Nigeria Electricity Transmission Project will increase the power transfer capacity of the transmission network and enable distribution companies to supply consumers with additional power,” the World Bank said.

Nigeria’s  power sector is often criticised by economist of the negative effects of the power sector on the economy

Businesses and households are subject to frequent blackouts, and many depend on their own generators that are expensive to run.

FG Should Create Data Governance For Workers –Aguele

The Chief Operations Officer, VerifyMe Nigeria, Mr. Esigie Aguele, speaks on the need for domestic employers and companies to certify the identities of potential workers before they are recruited, among other issues

In verifying the identities of prospective employees, do emerging recruiting firms like yours observe their behavioural pattern?

We don’t provide breakdown on that; we just provide the data points. Let us look at an example where an employer wants to employ a worker who has not stayed in any job for more than four months and nothing negative was reported about the person, but it was noticed that within two years the potential employee had gained work experience in six places. At that point, you can determine the behavioural disposition that the prospective employee would probably not be on a long term contract. But we do not tell the employers that, we just give them the information. It is up to the employers to make deductions based on the data we provide.

On the contrary, millennials at work places don’t stay long on a job, yet studies have shown that they are good at what they do. How will you reconcile this with your initial comment?

I hire people and I was a manager for a long time in the United States. My take is that there is a fine line between moving around and moving around a lot. At the end of the day, an employer wants to know that you are at least going to give him or her some of the value that they are hiring you for and they are always not going to get that immediately. On most jobs, it takes about three months for you to key in on the learning curve and start doing your job properly. So, if they feel that you’re going to be there for three months before you become a quality member of the team, and then leave, some people may judge that differently.

As I said, we actually don’t give them a disposition. I like the millennials, people who move around and want their quality out of life. I could be someone who would see the work history of someone moving around and don’t have a problem with it, but another employer could see that, depending on the job, differently. It also depends on the job type. It is not necessarily a problem if it is an Information Technology job. But if someone is a blue-collar worker, who has been a driver and has driven for eight people in two years that can potentially be seen as somebody who is not going to stay and not necessarily that he or she has done anything wrong. So, it’s just about providing data points for people to make decisions.

So what factors determine the primary targets in recruitment and employee verification?

Our primary targets, in terms of workers right now, are the blue-collar workers, because there is a massive capability to scale there. Most of the people registering on our site are the nannies, the drivers and domestic workers in Nigeria, because there is a huge security issue. Indeed, our primary targets are the blue-collar to middle level workers and up to the teller level for corporations. For corporations, mostly, we are targeting many large companies because we are trying to scale and they are the ones that have the highest risks in terms of human capital.

So, we target large companies with high number of employees; and then for registration, we target the blue-collar workers to register on our system and it’s free. It’s about explaining to them that it is also in their benefit to register to make them more credible.

Using VerifyMe Nigeria as a case study, how exactly does it leverage Information and Communications Technology in its recruitment exercise?

For one, we are cloud hosted and we communicate over virtual private networks for cyber security. Our platforms are custom. We actually have a team, our engineering team, that develops all our solutions in-house. Therefore, we are not actually using third party platforms. What we use is proprietary technology that we are building. My background is in engineering and I am an enterprise architect. I have spent over 20 years in the United States building systems for the United State Government, so we have great experience in that area. In terms of leveraging tools, there are custom tools leveraging available technology that is not necessarily used here, but is available. We go to government agencies and tell them that we can help them leverage the technology and help report on their data points and make them more valuable.

To what extent will the proposed minimum wage review affect job verification/recruitment seeing that the current minimum wage can no longer take the worker home?

I completely agree. And you know what, it will impact our business. First, if the Federal Government increases the minimum wage, it will enable more people to register because it will take away the challenges of financial limitations. For instance, it will economically empower more workers to buy smartphones, they will be able to go to business centres to register, and they can use any additional funds they get from their wages to continue to upgrade and empower themselves. With regard to how it will impact us, we think it will make things better for us in terms of scaling our system. Anything that puts more funds in the hands of the worker is going to be good for VerifyMe.

Don’t you see the planned minimum wage increment for government employees affecting the private sector, which may lead to some workers having negative ideas like going into robbery, among others?

Well, no. On the contrary, I feel it will create competition. What is going to happen is if government workers or workers in one part of Nigeria are getting wage increase, the workers in the private sector will now start looking for those jobs. The private sector normally has higher wages than what government offers so that they can attract the best people. But with the turn of events now, sooner or later, the private sector is going to have to compete with the government to be able to retain the good workers that it has. For instance, if I worked in the private sector and I know that government has increased the minimum wage for my skill set, I am going to leave. What I see is that it is going to push the private sector to bring up its standards as well so that it can compete and not lose its workers.

What will be your advice to the Federal Government on what it is not doing rightly as it concerns workers’ welfare, recruitment and productivity?

I won’t look at it in terms of what it is not doing well because the problem with Nigeria started about 50 years ago. It’s not really about blaming one administration. What they need to do is to realise that data governance is key to being able to implement any kind of social programme in Nigeria. You cannot give social benefits to people who actually don’t know themselves. Therefore, the

advice I will give to the government is to continue to have very strong appetite to grow data governance, grow the National Identity Management Commission and grow the national repository of Nigerians to know who they are, to interact with them through social programmes and through social benefits that will enable the Nigerian people to plan their lives.

Boko Haram War Is Far From Over – Shehu Sani

Shehu Sani, the Senator representing Kaduna Central, says the fight against insurgent group Boko Haram is not over.

It will be recalled that the Nigerian military recently claimed that the sect has been completely defeated.

But Sani insisted that until all hostages, including Chibok girls, are freed and attacks stopped, the federal government should not boast of complete victory over Boko Haram.

He further hailed the efforts of the military in battles against the insurgents saying progress has been made.

Shehu Sani on his Twitter page wrote “The military made sacrifices and achieved a lot in the battle against the insurgents and that is commendable.

“But until the last hostage is freed and back home and until the suicide attacks stops, we can only say tremendous progress has been made but not complete victory.”

Adamawa NUT Calls On FG To End Killings

The Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) Adamawa State branch has called on the Federal Government to immediately bring to justice the perpetrators of the recent killings in Adamawa State.

The NUT Chairman, Comrade Rodney Nathan, made this known during the 2018 Adamawa State Teachers Solemn Assembly held at the Teachers House in Yola the state capital.

The clashes between farmers and herdsmen in Adamawa state also took its toll on the teaching profession where teachers living within the affected communities were caught up in the crisis thereby losing their lives

This is why members of the Nigerian Union of Teachers NUT are coming together to pray for the peace of the nation and teachers in general.

The Commissioner of Education in Adamawa State Julius Kadala, who is representing Gov. Mohammed Jibrilla of Adamawa state, says the state government is doing everything possible to address the plight of the teachers.

The Commissioner commended the spiritual leaders for their prayers for the teachers which will go along way in transforming the lives of teachers and the profession of teaching in the state.

He also assured teachers that the state government will ensure that all their salaries and allowances are paid as at when due.

FG Evacuates 136 More Nigerians From Libya

Another batch of 136 Nigerians stranded in Libya on Tuesday arrived the Port Harcourt International Airport.

The aircraft conveying the returnees touched down at the airport 1:10 a.m. on Tuesday morning. They were received by National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other agencies on behalf of the Federal Government.

The returnees include 86 males, 50 females and eight children. They were conveyed by Medview Air, one of the airlines engaged by the Federal Government to evacuate the stranded Nigerians back home from the North African country.

They were thereafter transported to the reception centre for profiling and refreshment.

 

Some of the returnees who appeared sick were also attended to by medical officials. One of the returnees who was taken out on a stretcher was moved to the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital for further treatment.

Mr Eric Ebhodaghe, a Chief administration officer of NEMA who received the returnees on behalf of the Director-General of NEMA called on state government to expedite action in transporting their indigenes home from the reception centre for proper rehabilitation and integration in their various communities.

On Friday, February 2, 465 Nigerians were evacuated from Libya by the Federal Government. The returnees arrived at the Port Harcourt International Airport at about 12:25 a.m. on board Max Air.

More batches of the returnees are, however, expected to make the evacuation window as the Government looks to meet the over 5,300 target of Nigerian returnees.

 

You Cannot Sell National Theatre, Reps Committee Tells FG

Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Culture and Tourism have opposed the proposed plan by the Federal Government to sell the National Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos State.

The lawmakers on Monday insisted that the national asset cannot be sold as it remains a national monument.

They made their position known during an interactive session between the committee and the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

Chairman House Committee on Culture and Tourism, Representative Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama said selling the national edifice is not in the best interest of the citizens of the country.

“There are two issues that are not budget-related that we require you and the Minister to look into as a matter of urgency. I am sure that you received the resolution of the House about the proposed plan to sell the National Theatre as part of our National Assets. We cannot sell National Theater.

“As the representative of the people, we will stand for Nigerians to any level within the powers of the law to ensure that it is not sold. I want you to please, look at it,” Ogbeide-Ihama said.

He argued that the culture and tourism sector can provide the enabling environment for skill acquisition and employment opportunities for Nigerian youths aside boosting the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Ogbeide-Ihama said the spate of clashes among ethnic groups in the country would be drastically reduced if Nigerians are given the opportunities to appreciate the festivals, carnivals and cultural practices that abound in the country.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Culture and Tourism then urged the Minister to prevail on the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to provide funds for the development of the sector. He assured that he would reciprocate the gesture by pushing for adequate budgetary approval for the sector.

The Committee Chairman also expresses concern over the ‘neglect’ of the culture and tourism sector arguing that the sector can easily provide employment opportunities for the teeming population of youths and boost the gross domestic product of the country.

 

FG Commences Trial Of 700 Boko Haram Suspects

The Federal Government has commenced the trial of Boko Haram suspects currently detained at the military detention facility in Kainji, New Bussa, Niger State.

The lead judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja at the trials, on Monday announced that cases of 700 suspects have been allotted for hearing.

There are at least 1,000 suspected members of the sect at the detention facility.

Authorities say about 468 persons are expected to be released for want of evidence. Those released will undergo a de-radicalisation programme under the office of the National Security Adviser.

The Director of Legal at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, Air Vice Marshal Ibrahim Shafi’i said the programme is a very important process for Nigeria in its effort to tackle the challenges of insurgency.

“This judicial process has never been done anywhere in the world,” he said.