Nigeria Releases Economic Recovery Plan

The Federal Government has released the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) which unveils a road map for Nigeria’s economic recovery growth and sustainable development.

James Akpnadem, Media Adviser to Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, , announced this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.

According to the adviser, the ERGP is available on the ministry’s website, www.nationalplanning.gov.ng and that of the Budget Office, www.budgetoffice.gov.ng.

Akpandem said that the development of the plan went through rigorous processes, including wide consultation and robust engagement with stakeholders.

“The plan has been approved by the Federal Executive Council. The core vision of the plan is one of sustained inclusive growth.

“There is an urgent need as a nation, to drive structural economic transformation with emphasis on improving both public and private sector efficiency.

“The aim is to increase national productivity and achieve sustainable diversification of production, to significantly grow the economy and achieve maximum welfare for the citizens, beginning with food and energy security,’’ he said.

The official said that the plan envisaged that by 2020, Nigeria would have made significant progress towards achieving structural economic change with a more diversified and inclusive economy.

He said that the plan was expected to deliver on five key broad outcomes, namely: a stable macroeconomic environment, agricultural transformation and food security as well as sufficiency in energy.

Other outcomes, he said, would be on improved transportation infrastructure and industrialisation, focusing on small and medium scale enterprises.

Akpandem said that the ERGP was different from previous strategies and plans because it focused on implementation, at the core of the delivery strategy over the next four years.

He said that it outlined bold initiatives such as ramping up oil production to 2.5 million barrels per day (mbpd) by 2020.

“It focuses on privatising selected public enterprises/assets, and revamping local refineries to reduce petroleum product imports by 60 per cent by 2018.

“It builds on existing sectoral plan such as the National Industrial Revolution Plan and the Nigeria Integrated Infrastructure Master-plan.

“The plan signals a changing relationship between the public and private sector, based on close partnership.

“It also utilises the value of the merger of budget and planning functions into one ministry, to create a better and stronger link between annual budgets and the ERGP.”

In addition, he said that the plan would provide for strong coordination with the states to ensure that the federal and sub-regional governments worked towards the same goals.

Akpandem said that the ceremonial presentation of the plan would take place when President Mohammadu Buhari, returned from vacation.

“Warn Trump Against Harassment Of Nigerians”, SERAP Tells Osinbajo.

Yemi-Osinbajo (1)

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has urged the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to “tell the U.S President, Donald Trump, in no uncertain terms that Nigeria would not tolerate any harassment and unfair treatment of her citizens with valid multiple-entry U.S visas at U.S airports.”

This was revealed in a statement released on Tuesday and signed by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni.

It follows a disclosure by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, that in the last few weeks, the office has received a few cases of Nigerians with valid multiple-entry U.S visas being denied entry and sent back to Nigeria.

According to Mrs Dabiri -Erewa, such affected persons were sent back immediately on the next available flight and their visas were cancelled.

SERAP further said: “The Nigerian government must stand up to Trump and defend Nigerians’ internationally recognised right to freedom of movement just as the Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider Al-Abadi did for his own citizens.

“The Iraqi leader ensured that his country was taken off the obnoxious executive order list. Osinbajo must now show the leadership needed to defend the country’s citizens who are facing unfair treatment in the hands of U.S immigration officers.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) guarantees liberty of movement, and provides in article 13 that, “everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

“2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. The declaration also guarantees the right of everyone including Nigerians to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in the declaration can be fully realized.”

“SERAP notes that Eleanor Roosevelt, late wife of American President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, chaired the UDHR drafting committee.

“On the basis of the UDHR, persons are entitled to move from one place to another and to establish themselves in a place of their choice. The enjoyment of this right must not be made dependent on any particular purpose or reason for the person wanting to move or to stay in a place. Any restrictions must be in conformity with international standards.

“The Nigerian authorities must ensure that Nigerians’ liberty of movement is protected from interference by the trump government.

“The authorities should carefully study the revised executive order and take proactive measures to prevent any harassment and unfair treatment of Nigerians in the hands of U.S immigration officers.”

Osinbajo Speaks On How He Will End Corruption

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has revealed that he will tackle corruption in Nigeria the same way he tackled and reduced corruption in the Lagos state Judiciary when he was the commissioner of justice in the state.

He made this statement during a talk-shop organized in Abuja by Office of the Vice-President in contribution to the national dialogue on corruption.

Daily Post reports that Osinbajo said that corruption in the Lagos State Judiciary dropped to zero percent following the sack of 22 corrupt magistrates and three judges, and by drastic improvement in welfare.

Osinbajo said he once met an honest judge who retired after 10 years on the Bench but lived in someone’s boys quarters because he had no house.

He said a judge’s salary of N67,000 then could not build a house. To reverse the trend, every judge was given a house for life, while their remuneration was increased “considerably”, to the extent that Lagos became a reference point.

He said: “It was because a system was in place and impunity was not allowed. It is important that we put in place models that will work.”
“We must work together – the legislature, the judiciary and the executive – to put a model that must work. We must ensure that systems that are put in place are fair and comply with the rule of law.”

He however added that corruption can only be defeated if Nigerians stopped celebrating corrupt people.

Osinbajo also talked about efforts in place to regain stolen funds hidden in foreign countries by corrupt politicians.

He said: “One of the critical issues that we have discovered in our fight against corruption is that we need much more robust international cooperation, especially with respect to return of assets.

“We find that the process of returning assets, aside from the judicial process, is so difficult and so complicated that it could just take you literally years to get assets returned.
“And I think that it is important for countries of the world where stolen assets are located to really work with us in ensuring that these assets are returned speedily. I know that the United Kingdom is working with us in particular on this issue of beneficiary register.

“That will be extremely useful for us because we will now be able to discover who is behind some of the names of companies and other shelves that are used to hide stolen assets.’’

Meanwhile, Osinbajo on Monday, March 6, states at the stakeholders meeting of oil producing communities in Benin, Edo sate, that the elites in the Niger Delta have over the years deprived the people the opportunity to enjoy the benefit of oil in their communities.

He vowed that the Federal Government will henceforth, deal directly with the communities and not with the elites.

 

Source: NAIJ.com

Osinbajo Comes Out of the Shadows with President Away

Nigeria’s Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo seems to have been everywhere while his boss is away. He even conducted a spot check on the public toilets at Lagos international airport.

The clear aim, it seems, is to give the impression of business as usual while President Muhammadu Buhari is nearly 5,000 kilometres (3,000 miles) away in London on medical leave.

The government appears keen to avoid the impression of a political vacuum, as happened in 2010 when president Umaru Yar’Adua fell ill and later died while being treated abroad.

Since Buhari, 74, left for the British capital on January 19, 59-year-old Osinbajo has rarely been out of the newspapers or off the television news.

His consensual style — and short stature — have stood in marked contrast to the rangy Buhari, an uncompromising former army general who headed a military government in the 1980s.

The vice-president has toured the oil-rich Niger delta — something Buhari has yet to do — and held talks to end militant attacks that have wreaked havoc on the oil and gas infrastructure.

He has met ambassadors and delegations, and chaired cabinet meetings in Abuja with an ease, professionalism — and visibility.

Even the unannounced visit to Murtala Muhammed International Airport on Thursday was a media event. But in it, he stressed an important point, given the parlous state of Nigeria’s economy.

There was a “need to ensure that facilities are working and that things are being run properly”, he said in a statement, which noted the need to fix lifts and faulty baggage carousels.

First impressions counted if Nigeria was to attract foreign firms, added Osinbajo, a trained lawyer and former university professor, who is also a pentecostal church pastor.

– Policy decisions –

Buhari and his government have seen Nigeria’s economy nose-dive since they came to power in May 2015, on the back of a slump in global oil prices. The country has been in recession since August.

But there are indications the weakened naira currency could be showing small signs of recovery after the central bank this week moved to ease some foreign exchange restrictions.

In the last few days, the naira has strengthened to about 480 to the US dollar on the black market after being 520 or higher in recent weeks.

Fitch’s BMI Research said the policy could be “a precursor to a more meaningful move in the exchange rate” given the yawning gulf between parallel rates and the official inter-bank rate of 305.

That could pave the way for a further devaluation — which Buhari has likened to murder — to encourage wary investors bring their money back to Nigeria.

Some analysts have seen it as significant that the measure was introduced while Buhari was away. Osinbajo has also reportedly vetoed four parliamentary bills.

Buhari has long been known for deferring economic matters to the London School of Economics graduate. But how far the latter’s powers stretch in taking individual decisions is unclear.

– Political realities –

Political analyst Chris Ngwodo said despite Osinbajo’s high visibility — and apparent competence — he was limited as acting president because of Nigerian political realities.

“In Nigeria, powers are vested in persons rather than in the office they occupy. The acting president is in office, not in power,” he told AFP.

“He may have been taking some decisions which I see as mere palliatives: for instance, the adjustment in the foreign exchange policy which flows from a broader consensus of the people.”

He would not be able to take unilateral decisions and was restricted in his reach as “he is not the executive president Nigerians voted for”, added Ngwodo.

Osinbajo, a former justice commissioner in Lagos state, comes from the southwestern state of Ogun and was appointed to be vice-president as a counter-balance to Buhari, a northern Muslim.

Identity politics play an important role in Nigeria, as does the expectation that the presidency alternates between north and south — even if it is not enshrined in the constitution.

As such, Yinka Odumakin, spokesman for Afenifere, representing the ethnic Yoruba people of the southwest, said Buhari’s inner circle would always try to keep him in check.

“We are not going to see much from Osinbajo apart from symbolic movements and gestures here and there because his powers are limited,” he added.

“He will be acting under the shadow of his principal or a cabal loyal to him.”

AFP

Osinbajo Wants Closer Ties With US

The Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said on Wednesday the time had come for Nigeria and the U.S. to deepen their long-standing relationship based on mutual trust.

Osinbajo said this at the Presidential Villa while receiving the Commander of the U.S.-Africa Command, Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser and the American Ambassador in Nigeria, Mr W. Stuart Symington.

“We will be very open and willing to build a relationship based on trust so that we would benefit from it and of course our relationship as nations would benefit tremendously from it,” the Acting President stated.

According to Osinbajo, Nigeria’s relationship with the U.S. is a very important one “and has been so for many years, even so now at a time like this for us”.

He added that the Federal Government was appreciative of U.S. support over the last few years.

He noted that it was the belief of the Buhari presidency that the U.S. was committed to helping the country to resolve some of its challenges especially in the Northeast.

He explained also that issues around human rights concerns in the country should be viewed against the context of an unusual kind of warfare with terrorists and insurgents.

“The kind of warfare we are engaged with in many ways are unprecedented for our military,” he said.

He noted the sheer brutality and mindlessness of terrorists who are “prepared to kill children in their sleep, abduct girls and prepared to die, even using teenage girls as suicide bombers”.

Osinbajo restated the readiness of the Buhari administration to conclusively end the problem “as quickly as possible.”

He referred to attacks by remnants and splinter groups from the terrorists, and added “nonetheless they can no longer launch military attacks.’’

While emphasising on the support of the U.S. so far, he stated that the Federal Government welcomed more U.S. military cooperation and assistance in dealing with the consequent humanitarian situation in the North-East.

“The US has been a reliable partner we can trust, especially from what the U.S. has done in the past, we want to see how much more you can do for us and the region,” Osinbajo stated.

Waldhauser expressed the readiness of the U.S. government to “accelerate” its contributions, adding that there was a sense that “we want to get on and solve the problem.”

He noted that his visit to Nigeria at this time was develop further “the friendship and trust that we have in common”.

The General agreed with the Acting President that the brutality shown by the terrorists is “what we have never seen before.”

Also, Amb. Symington said he had visited the geo-political zones of the country and had concluded that “Nigeria is one of the greatest countries in the world with the potential to change the world.”

Osinbajo Withholds Assent to 4 Bills

The Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo has withheld assent to four Bills including the National Lottery Amendment Bill 2016. His action promptly triggered reactions in the senate.

Osinbajo, who last week signed seven bills, conveyed his position in a letter to the Senate, read on the floor Wednesday by President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki.

According to the Acting President, he declined to sign the Lottery Bill because of the existence of a pending legal challenge to the competence of the National Assembly to legislate on the subject matter.

The letter reads: “Pursuant to section 58(4) of the constitution, I hereby convey to the senate my decision to withhold assent to the National Lottery Amendment Bill 2016 recently passed by the National Assembly.

“The rationale for withholding assent to the Bill is the existence of a pending legal challenge to the competence of the National Assembly to legislate on the subject matter.

“Distinguished Senate President please, accept the assurances of my highest considerations”.

“Similarly, I withhold assent to Dangerous Drugs Amendment Bill 2016.

“The rationale for withholding assent to the Bill are the concerns regarding certain words and phrases utilised in the draft Bill that may be inconsistent with the Principal Act. For example section 6 of the Bill with section 21 of the Principal Act and the spirit behind the proposed amendments.”

Others the Acting President said are the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund Amendment Bill 2016 saying the reasons for withholding assent to the Bill are the concerns surrounding board composition, proposals to increase level of un-collateralised loans from N5000 to N250, 000.

The fourth Bill which the Acting President withheld assent to was the Currency Conversion Freezing Orders Amendment Bill 2016.

“The rationale for withholding assent to the Bill is the concern regarding modalities for the communication of asset forfeiture orders,” he said.

In a swift reaction, Sen. Dino Melaye (APC-Kogi) said that democracy was standing on the basic principle of Separation of Powers which stipulated the different functions of the three arms of government.

“The role of the executive is to carry out their fundamental objectives by signing anything that has being passed by this House.

“If withheld, it becomes so dangerous for our democracy and our powers to legislate will be taken away from us as enshrined in chapter four of the constitution.

“So the role of the executive is to assent to any law passed by this House. And anyone who has problem with it can go to court.

“May it not be a pathway for democracy if we keep quiet and allow the power of the legislature to be usurped by the noncompliance to the provisions of the constitution,” he said.

Also speaking, Sen. George Sekibo (PDP-Rivers) said that the National Assembly had power to override the veto of the President.

“The way the constitution is framed, they have their own roles to play, we have our own roles. We check each other.

“The matter is in the court and based on our rule we cannot discuss on it. If it is just that the President did not give assent, we have to look at the merits of the particular Bill if it meets the standard.

“And if the court matter is not going to impede on what we are going to do, then we can override the veto of the President,” he said.

In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki said that the Senate would refer the matter to its legal department for advice on the interpretations to some of the things.

“It is a matter that we must take seriously because it goes down to the issue of Separation of Powers.”

NAN

Osinbajo Launchs 60-day Plan to Improve Business Climate

Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has launched a 60-day action plan to improve the business climate in Africa’s biggest economy struggling with recession, his office said on Tuesday.

“There are improvements which we expect to see at our ports. Improvements at our airports, improvements at the seaports, improvements in immigration visas,” Osinbajo said in a statement.

Last month, President Muhammadu Buhari put Osinbajo in charge while he is on sick leave in Britain.

Reuters

Niger Delta: Osinbajo’s Evangelical Outreach and Matters Arising, By Ifeanyi Izeze

Nothing best captures the ongoing peace outreach mission of the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, in the Niger Delta oil producing states as the Holy Bible in 1 Corinthians chapter 9 verse 16: “For if I merely preach the gospel (good news), I have nothing to boast about, for I am compelled that is, absolutely obligated to do it. Woe to me if I do not preach the good news of salvation (Amp).”

No doubt, the Acting President’s sermon sounds like “The Great Commission and the necessity to obey it.” And what is the good news that the he has been going across the Niger Delta states to deliver? It is that “Niger Delta development will henceforth be community-driven for oil-bearing areas to have direct impact of oil; and that the federal government would begin a partnership with all the stakeholders in the oil industry to concentrate development in oil-producing communities.

“So, we come today on behalf of the President, Commander- in- Chief with my cabinet colleagues and heads of relevant agencies to propose a new vision and to signpost a new era to the people of the oil-producing communities and Nigeria.

“The federal government will begin a partnership with oil-producing communities, the local government, the oil companies, the private sector and civil society organisation for the rapid development of these communities.”

Ask me and I would bluntly tell you that there is nothing new at all in what the Acting President is proposing to the region that has not been serially proposed or rather promised before by operators of past Nigerian governments. However, the only thing that seems new to the people is Osinbajo’s demeanour towards their peculiar situation and his human-faced delivery of the message, which can aptly be described as the real “breath of fresh air” to the region. The delivery of the message seems to be achieving more that the actual content and this is commendable. There is a manner you keep telling someone to go to hell that one day he makes up his mind to actually embark on that trip and see what would happen, this is what is happening in the Niger Delta.

Anybody who thinks the oil companies can engage the state governments and communities on issues affecting a particular state is getting it all wrong. That responsibility should be given to an inter-agency platform between the Ministries of Petroleum Resources and the Niger Delta, as well as the NDDC. Then this new collaboration should be helped by the Presidency and the civil societies to develop genuine sincerity and the will-power to be honest and transparent in implementing this new vision for the region.

It is well known and also publicly acknowledged that the Niger Delta crisis, which caused about a 45 percent loss in Nigeria’s oil production, coupled with the not-too-impressive oil market performance, worsened the financial challenges of the Muhammadu Buhari administration right from onset, and the arrogance and careless talks of the officials around the president only added salt to injury.

True, as said by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, at a workshop, Oil Sector Militancy Challenges…Roadmap to Closure, “despite all efforts made by successive administrations to tackle the militancy (agitation) in the Niger Delta, a permanent solution was never found.”

Previous steps taken by the federal government to tackle the inhuman neglect of the Niger Delta oil producing areas including the setting up of the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) the precursor to the current conscription- the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the 13 percent derivation for oil producing states, did not achieve much because of the insincerity or rather outright deceit, and absence of consistency by those who ran the successive administrations. It did not start with the current Buhari-led administration. It has been there even before Obasanjo’s administration and it went on with other governments – Yar’Adua’s and Jonathan’s.

It is noteworthy that, as planned by the federal government to adopt a ring-fenced approach and stop dealing with Niger Delta militancy as a national issue rather adopt a state-by-state approach, there are serious issues to be considered in the planned decentralisation of the Amnesty Programme.

According to the Minister of State for Petroleum, “the Amnesty Programme would be launched on a state-by-state basis to create opportunities for 5,000-10,000 youths in each state.” My take is that this looks like a dream project instituted to fail right from onset. The problem in it would be that everybody in the state – youth, men, women – will become militants over night seeking amnesty from the government, and anybody turned back, would actually return to the creek or bush to become a full-blown armed militant with some levels of nuisance value.

The question is: whose responsibility will it be to identify who is a militant in each state – area boys, community leaders, council chairmen, or state governors? There is going to be a huge problem in implementing the initiative as proposed and to avert this, my suggestion is that we totally drop this entire idea of amnesty, as it creates a sense of criminals and miscreants looking for forgiveness. It should be replaced with either a youth or graduate employment scheme that would be christened differently, that way, our youths will stop thinking they need to be militants or criminals before they can benefit from whatever programme the federal government is bringing to their area as oil producing communities.

As this administration is now determined to be very bullish in finding final solutions to the agitation and restiveness in the region as disclosed by Kachikwu at a talk show, “Oil Sector Militancy Challenges…Roadmap to Closure,” there is a need to quickly come out with a time-frame development agenda. This should be drawn up solely by the affected areas and then discussed with other stakeholders (government, oil companies, etc.) to prioritise and agree. The affected communities should agree with other parties on the items that must be completed say yearly, quarterly or even monthly. The efforts in the new vision canvassed by the federal government must be measurable. we will just be throwing money at the problem without achieving anything.

If the federal government display sincerity of purpose to the agenda, tangible milestones in terms of infrastructure development would be achieved every year and with this arrangement in place it would become unreasonable for militants to continue destroying oil assets in the area. Truth be told, at the core of the militancy in the Niger Delta is economics. God bless Nigeria!

Ifeanyi Izeze writes from Abuja and can be reached at [email protected]

VP Prof. Yemi Osinbajo Steps In As Acting President

Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo steps in to be Acting President as President Muhammadu Buhari leaves for the United Kingdom today on a short leave, which is part of his annual vacation. He is expected to resume work on February 6, 2017.

During the vacation, the President will also undergo routine medical check-ups.

The President said “I’m traveling to the UK today on a short leave, part of my annual vacation. I’ll be back at work on February 6.”

“I have formally notified the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, in line with the Constitution. Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo will act as President while I’m away.”

In line with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the President of the Senate, and Speaker, House of Representatives, have been duly communicated.

While away, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, will perform the functions of the Office of the President.