NLC fights against elections postponement

NLC fights against elections postponement

03/Feb/2015  //  223 Viewers

Lagos- The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has rejected the plee to postpone the up coming general elections, reports Naij.

The National Service Adviser (NSA) has recently filed for the postponement of the election, they have urged the government to take into consideration the insecurities issues within the country.

The NLC has asked the federal government to place better conditions for the conduct of the elections, with regard to facilities as well as insecurities in the country. However have refused to to agree with the postponement of the elections.

They concluded by stating that; “In light of the foregoing, we urge the government to speedily create an enabling environment for holding of elections in every parts of Nigeria in fulfillment of government’s promise to the citizenry of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

Just Like Flipkart. Now, Cash on Delivery for Your Train Tickets

Just Like Flipkart. Now, Cash on Delivery for Your Train Tickets

03/Feb/2015  //  257 Viewers

New Delhi:  You can now book a rail ticket online and get it delivered at home where the payment can be made.

Initiating this "cash on delivery" (CoD) system rail ticketing, IRCTC is targeting those customers who are reluctant to use their credit or debit cards as well as those who don't have net-banking facility.

"One has to just book the ticket online and payments will be made at the time of delivery of tickets," said a senior IRCTC official involved with the project.

This scheme has been launched on pilot basis and the service will be available in more than 200 cities initially.

Customers can book a ticket 5 days prior to commencement of journey.

While Rs. 40 will be charged for the delivery of each Sleeper Class ticket, Rs. 60 will be charged for an AC class ticket.

Anduril Technologies through their website and their App - - is authorised for providing CoD services.

This is another attempt to move people away from the ticket counters and decongest the booking windows, the official said.
South Korean Soldier Sentenced to Death Over Shooting Spree

South Korean Soldier Sentenced to Death Over Shooting Spree

03/Feb/2015  //  236 Viewers

Seoul:  A South Korean military court today handed down a death sentence to a young conscript who killed five colleagues in a shooting spree at a guard post near the border with North Korea last year.
The court martial in the eastern city of Wonju condemned the 22-year-old sergeant, surnamed Lim, to death for committing what it called "premeditated and cruel" killings, Yonhap news agency said.
Lim remained silent, keeping his head lowered throughout the sentencing.
The case will now go to an appeals court and then to the Supreme Court, an automatic procedure in South Korea in the case of death sentences.
South Korea has not carried out any executions under its death penalty since 1997 following international pressure, with such sentences effectively translating into life in prison.
In his pre-sentence statement on January 23, Lim said he was deeply remorseful for his actions.
"I feel deeply sorry for the victims and their relatives," Lim said in the statement.
"I am overcome with remorse... How happy would I be, had it been merely a dream and had it been possible to return to the past?"
In June last year Lim threw a grenade and opened fire on members of his unit, killing five and wounding seven, near a frontline guard post.
He was captured alive after he wounded himself in a failed suicide attempt following a 24-hour standoff with thousands of troops.
Lim, who was listed as a soldier requiring special observation, told investigators he carried out the attack in revenge for constant mockery and harassment against him.
Barrack-room bullying has long tainted South Korea's military service. It has been blamed for numerous suicides and incidents where conscripts have turned their weapons on their comrades.
Conscripts, most of them in their early twenties, account for the lion's share of the military's 690,000 active personnel.
In 2011 a 19-year-old marine conscript killed four colleagues on a western island near the border. Eight soldiers were killed in 2005 when a conscript threw a grenade and sprayed bullets over the sleeping men at a frontline guard post.
In both cases the men were court-martialed and sentenced to death, although the penalty was not carried out.
In October last year, an army sergeant was sentenced to 45 years in prison for beating a private to death, while four other soldiers received jail terms of up to 30 years.
Prosecutors said the private had been subjected to regular bullying and assaults, including sessions of crude water-boarding.

Whitney Houston's Daughter 'Fighting For Life'

Whitney Houston's Daughter 'Fighting For Life'

03/Feb/2015  //  227 Viewers

Washington:  Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of late singing legend Whitney Houston, was fighting for her life Monday after she was pulled unconscious from a bathtub over the weekend, her family said.

The 21-year-old's husband and a friend found her non-responsive in the bathtub of her home near Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday in an incident with eerie echoes of her mother's drowning in a Los Angeles tub in 2012.

"Bobbi Kristina is fighting for her life and is surrounded by immediate family," the Houston family said in a statement provided to US media.

There has been no official word of Brown's condition, but several US media outlets including CNN and the entertainment news site have cited family sources as saying she was in a medically induced coma.

"We are asking you to honor our request for privacy during this difficult time," the family statement added.

"Thank you for your prayers, well wishes, and we greatly appreciate your continued support."

Whitney Houston died in February 2012 when she was found in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles on the eve of the music industry's annual Grammy Awards show.

Coroners concluded she died by accidental drowning, with cocaine use and heart disease as contributing factors.
One Person Killed in Australia Shopping Centre

One Person Killed in Australia Shopping Centre

03/Feb/2015  //  252 Viewers

Perth:  An explosion on Tuesday in an electrical transformer room at a shopping centre in the west Australian city of Perth left one man dead and three people badly burnt, authorities said.

One of the three suffered 80 per cent burns to his body.

Witness Jonathan McDonagh told Australian Associated Press he tried to help the injured, taking off his shirt and using it to put out the flames.

"I came driving in and saw three people come running out... they were on fire," McDonagh said.

"I had the radio on and didn't hear the bang, but I saw a puff of smoke.

"One fella was dead on the ground. I saw another moving around, obviously not OK. I gave him a good helping hand, as much as I could.

"They were really burnt badly."

Some of the injured were electrical contractors inside a store at the Galleria centre in Perth, an ambulance spokesman said.

"All of these people are in for a long stint in hospital," the spokesman said.

A woman who suffered smoke inhalation was also taken to hospital while several other people were treated for shock and smoke inhalation at the scene.

Fire and emergency services cordoned off the area with investigations into what caused the blast underway.
Egypt Confirms Mass Death Sentences for Police Killings

Egypt Confirms Mass Death Sentences for Police Killings

03/Feb/2015  //  251 Viewers

Cairo:  An Egyptian court Monday confirmed death sentences against 183 men convicted of killing 13 policemen, in a verdict the European Union denounced as a violation of the country's human rights obligations.
The verdict came as another court announced that deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi would stand trial on February 15 in an espionage case -- the fourth trial he is facing.
The policemen were killed in an attack on a police station in Kerdasa, a town on the outskirts of Cairo, on August 14, 2013.
The attack took place on the same day that security forces killed hundreds of demonstrators in clashes as they dismantled two massive protest camps in Cairo supporting Morsi.
The court had in December issued a preliminary verdict against 188 defendants in a mass trial, of whom two were acquitted on Monday while one, a minor, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Two more were already deceased.
Monday's verdict, which can be appealed, came after the initial sentences were sent to the grand mufti, the government's official interpreter of Islamic law, for ratification.
Since the army deposed Morsi on July 3, 2013, at least 1,400 people have been killed in a police crackdown on protests, mostly Islamists supporting the ousted leader.
Hundreds of his supporters have been sentenced to death in swift mass trials which the United Nations says were "unprecedented in recent history".
"Today's decision of a court in Egypt to sentence 183 defendants to death following a mass trial is in violation of Egypt's international human rights obligations," the EU's foreign service said in a statement, reiterating the bloc's categoric opposition to capital punishment.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States was "deeply concerned" by the decision.
"It simply seems impossible that a fair review of evidence and testimony could be achieved through mass trials," she said.
Rights group Amnesty International said the decision was "outrageous" and "an example of the bias of the Egyptian criminal justice system".
"Issuing mass death sentences whenever the case involves the killing of police officers now appears to be near-routine policy, regardless of facts and with no attempt to establish individual responsibility," said Amnesty's Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

Fourth trial for Morsi 
Rights groups and critics of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former army chief who ousted Morsi, say authorities are using the judiciary as an arm to repress any form of dissent, including from secular activists.
Morsi and several top leaders of his blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood are in custody and facing several trials on charges punishable by death.
Egypt's first freely elected president is already facing three trials. The fourth will open on February 15 for allegedly leaking "classified documents" to Qatar and the Doha-based Al-Jazeera network.
Last week an Egyptian court set May 16 for a verdict in another espionage case in which Morsi and 35 others are accused of allegedly conspiring with foreign powers, including Iran, to destabilise Egypt.
Separately, another court is to deliver a verdict on April 21 in the trial of Morsi and 14 others for inciting the killing of protesters in clashes outside the presidential palace in December 2012.
He is also on trial over a jailbreak and attacks on police stations during the 2011 uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
Also on Monday, an appeals court ordered a retrial in a case involving the murder of a police officer during a firefight with Islamists in Kerdasa in September 2013 when security forces stormed the town to flush out Islamists who had taken control of it.
In August 2014, a lower court had confirmed death sentences on 12 of the 23 defendants tried on charges of killing Major General Nabil Faraj.
The court said seven of those sentenced to death, and who are in custody, will be retried along with four of those who were given life. The other convicted men are fugitives.


2015 elections: Intersociety rejects INEC’s promise of free, fair & credible polls

2015 elections: Intersociety rejects INEC’s promise of free, fair & credible polls

02/Feb/2015  //  273 Viewers

The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law wishes to reject strongly, the repeated promises by the Independent National Electoral Commission to give Nigeria and Nigerians “free, fair and credible elections” come February 14 and 28, 2015 respectively. Just yesterday, 1st February, 2015, INEC, while “extending” the PVCs distribution for seven days (1st to 8th February, 2015) repeated its hoax promises of delivering free, fair and credible polls to Nigerians.
We wish to state unequivocally that shoddy preparations put in place by INEC as well as the Commission’s gross incompetence, have robbed the referenced polls in an unprecedented manner, of their freedom, credibility and fairness. The referenced shoddy preparations range from poor, uneven and skewed distribution of PVCs; delays in production of same; multiplicity of candidates allowed by the Commission; high percentage of underage voters particularly in the North; to roguish management of the National Register of Voters.
In the area of gross incompetence, millions of adult Nigerians eligible to vote particularly in the South, were not captured as registered voters. Same also led to massive “data loss and missing names” in the Commission’s electoral register data. In the realm of same, 1, 543, 961 lost their names randomly and arbitrarily as “double registrants” between November 2014 and January 13, 2015. There is also outdated “polling units system” retained by the Commission; whereby the polling units created in 1996 by the military and their grossly lopsidedness, are still in use. The mother of all is deepened manifestation of bias and partiality by the headship of INEC; whereby there appears a sustained and settled conspiracy to return the presidency of the country to the North at all costs.
A typical case of shoddy preparation and gross incompetence on the part of INEC for the referenced polls; is gross data inconsistencies. For, instance, after the 2011 general voters’ registration exercise, INEC arrived at “73.5million” as total number of adult Nigerians captured as “registered voters”. The figure was subjected by the Commission to “automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS)”, for the purpose of elimination of double/multiple registrants, after which the figure came down to “70, 383, 427”. This figure remained the Commission’s official figure as Nigeria’s total registered voting population from 2011 to 2014. As a matter of fact, as at September/October 2014, the figure was retained by INEC.
Suddenly, the Commission woke up on January 13, 2015 and told Nigerians that the total number of registered voters in Nigeria stood at “68, 833, 476” and claimed that those names deleted numbering “1, 543, 961” were “double registrants”. Funny enough, since 2011, the INEC’s total number of registered voters in Nigeria remained “70, 383, 427” or stagnated. This is in spite of all continuous voters’ registration exercises variously carried out by INEC across the country, which ought to have increased the registered voting population figure under reference.
Till date, INEC has adamantly refused to provide Nigerians with State-by-State breakdown of the so called “double registrants” of 1, 543, 961, which it magisterially and arbitrarily deleted in a twinkle of an eye as well as same breakdown with respect to its new registered voting population of “68, 833, 476”.
This leaves us with no other option than to hold that the deletion is in furtherance of our earlier strong suspicion that “the PVCs distribution and the entire management of the National Register of Voters regarding the referenced polls are clearly skewed and laid in scientific/demographic manipulations for ethno-religious reasons and strategic advantage.” If INEC continues to withhold the referenced State-by-State breakdown as per the deleted number of 1, 543, 961 registered voters, then we will also conclude that greater percent of same was effected in the South to further cripple their demographic/electoral numerical strength to the advantage of their Northern counterparts during the referenced polls.
For Jega’s INEC hoax promises of “free, fair and credible polls” to hold water, its PVCs distributed in the Northeast and the Northwest zones should be forensically and thoroughly investigated. We suspect strongly and un-apologetically that the so called “12, 794, 880 PVCs” distributed in the Northwest zone and “6, 678, 148 PVCs” distributed in the troubled Northeast zone as at January 27, 2015; are not in the right hands. We also suspect deeply that the number of registered voters allocated to these two zones is bogus and untenable. That the totality of PVCs distributed in the two zones under reference comprising 13 States (19, 473, 028) far out-numbers those of the entire South comprising 17 States (16, 996, 840) is shocking and deeply disbelieving. That the PVCs distributed in war-stricken Northeast (6, 678, 148) is much higher than those distributed in the Southwest (6, 403, 534) and South-south (6, 214, 977) is a shocker of 2015 served on Nigerians by Jega’s INEC.
Finally, we wish to further observe that the INEC’s hoax promises under reference have been dealt a fatal blow by recent announcement of the European Union Election Observers to the effect that they will not monitor polls in the Northeast zone for security reasons. The express implication of this is that “there may most likely be free for all electoral manipulations” in the area using Emirs and District Heads’ palaces and Mosques following thickened desperation to return presidency to the North.
Of all the so called “accredited domestic and foreign poll observers”, only the EU Poll Observers are credible and acceptable to us. The experiences gathered from the governorship poll of November 2013 in Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria showed that greater number of the so called “domestic poll observers” in Nigeria are hugely operating according to the whims and caprices of mainstream “Southwest Political Engineers”, even till date. The so called “continental and sub-continental poll observers” are still not in tune with universal best practices in matters of poll monitoring, observation and report.
Emeka Umeagbalasi
Board Chairman, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Obianuju Igboeli, Esq., Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program


Source: (GR)

Military captures armoured vehicles, artillery guns overnight – DHQ

Military captures armoured vehicles, artillery guns overnight – DHQ

02/Feb/2015  //  232 Viewers

… Dislodges Terrorists from Maiduguri

… Operation is part of Comprehensive Mission Supported by Allied Neighbours


 The terrorists who in their disarray strayed towards Bama, Ngom, Alou, Delwa and Mafa in the night have now been effectively contained. Mopping up operation is ongoing.

Several weapons, arms and ammunition including two armoured vehicles and two artillery guns as well as 17 Hilux vehicles have been captured from them. Several terrorists also died.

The affected locations have been secured and soldiers wounded are being treated.

Patrols and pursuit of fleeing terrorists is continuing in coordination with allied forces.

Meanwhile, the terrorists attack on Maiduguri in the early hours of Sunday was quickly contained.

The terrorists incurred massive casualty.

The situation is calm as mopping up operation in the affected area is ongoing.

The ongoing operations is in coordination with activities in the Multinational Joint Task. The terrorists are meant to be engaged in all fronts including their previous safe havens and hide outs in the region.

It is in line with the arrangement for a comprehensive and coordinated military operation with inputs by military forces in the Lake Chad Basin Commission namely Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon.
Major General Chris Olukolade
Director Defence Information
February 1, 2015

Source: (GR)

Okonjo-Iweala confronts Soludo, says his mismanagement of the banking sector will cost “about N5.67 trillion to clean up”

Okonjo-Iweala confronts Soludo, says his mismanagement of the banking sector will cost “about N5.67 trillion to clean up”

02/Feb/2015  //  241 Viewers


(Response to “Buhari Vs Jonathan: Beyond the Election, by Charles Soludo”)

1. For anyone who has not read Professor Charles Soludo’s article in the Vanguard (online version) on January 25 2015, I would encourage them to do so. It is littered with abusive and unbecoming language. It shows how an embittered loser in the Nigerian political space can get so derailed that they commit intellectual harakiri by deliberately misquoting economic facts and maliciously turning statistics on their head to justify a hatchet job. We hope all the intellectuals in the international circles in which Professor Soludo has told us he flies around in will read what a Professor of Economics has chosen to do with his intellect.

2. In this one article Soludo has shamelessly pandered to so many past leaders that Nigerians are asking one more time – what position is Soludo gunning for now? He claims in his article that he has had his own share of public service, yet he has failed twice in his attempts to be Governor of Anambra State and Vice Presidential candidate of various parties. There is definitely an issue of character with Prof. Charles Soludo and his desperate search for power and relevance in Nigeria. Nigerians should therefore beware of so-called intellectuals without character and wisdom because this combination is fatal.

3. But let us turn to the main subject of Soludo’s discourse. So much of what is written is outright nonsense and self-seeking aggrandizement that need not be dignified with a response. It is totally remarkable that Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, the man who presided over the worst mismanagement of Nigeria’s banking sector as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria between May 2004 and May 2009, can write about the mismanagement of the economy.

4. Nigerians must be reminded of his antecedents as CBN Governor, and even prior to that, as the Chief Economic Adviser to the President. The consolidation of the banking sector was a good policy idea of the Obasanjo Administration but Soludo went on to thoroughly mismanage its implementation leading to the worst financial crisis in Nigeria’s history. So what did Soludo do?

5. After consolidation, the regulatory functions of the Soludo-led CBN were very poorly exercised. As Governor, he failed to adequately supervise and regulate the now larger banks – an anomaly in Financial Sector Supervision. In fact as every Nigerian knows, in his time there was very little separation between the regulators and the regulated which is a violation of a key requirement of Central Banking success. This led to infractions in corporate governance in many banks as loans and other credit instruments running to hundreds of billions of naira were extended to clients without following due process, and several of these loans could not be paid back. This massive accumulation of bad debts or non-performing loans as they are called in the banking sector meant that our banks were ill-positioned to deal with the global financial crisis when it hit.

6. In fact, the banking sector was brought to its knees and required a massive bailout by Nigerian tax payers. This bailout was done by his successor (now Emir of Kano) who cleaned up all the bad debts and transferred them to the newly-established AMCON, from where they are managed today. So let it be noted for the record books that Soludo’s single-handed mismanagement of the banking sector led to an incredible accumulation of liabilities that will cost tax payers about N5.67 trillion (being the total face value of AMCON-issued bonds) to clean up. Let it be noted also that this amount, which is more than the entire Federal Government 2015 Budget, constitutes the bulk of Nigeria’s “contingent liabilities” mentioned in Soludo’s article. It is only in Nigeria where someone who perpetrated such a colossal economic atrocity would have the temerity to make assertions on public debt and the management of the economy.

7. Let us now look at some of the points he makes. Luckily, Soludo has told us that he has been busy travelling internationally, hobnobbing with his global partners. It is obvious from this article that from the rarefied heights at which he is flying he is completely out of touch with what is happening with the management of this economy. Take his comments on the mismanagement of the economy and the imposition of the austerity measures. The present fall in oil prices, a global phenomenon over which Nigeria has no control, has given every charlatan the opportunity to attack the economy, and by extension the managers of the economy

8. It is true that the economy grew well during the second-term of former President Obasanjo as a result of the reforms supported by the President and implemented by the Economic Management Team. Please note that the Finance Minister under whose leadership that good performance took place, including massive unprecedented debt relief, is still Finance Minister today. But thorough examination of the facts on performance under the Jonathan Administration will also reveal that at a time when global economic performance was mediocre, with GDP growth averaging about 3 percent per annum, Nigeria’s GDP growth – averaging about 6 percent per annum – is indeed remarkable. Even more interesting is the fact that the oil sector did not drive this economic performance but the non-oil sector (Agriculture, Manufacturing, Telecommunications, the Creative Economy, and so on), which shows that the current Administration’s diversification objective under the Transformation Agenda is working. Transformation equals diversification

9. This current government managed to control inflation, which he Soludo, was not able to do during his time at the helm of monetary policy in Nigeria. When he left the Central Bank in 2009, inflation – which hurts the poor and vulnerable in the society the most – was above 13 percent per annum. Now, inflation is at single-digit, at 8 percent per annum. What about exchange rates? Well this administration again managed to stabilize the naira exchange rates, such that between May 2011 and the end of 2014, official exchange rates against the dollar rarely moved out of the N153 to N156 band. It is only with the recent dramatic fall in oil prices and the consequent impact on our foreign reserves that the exchange rate has become quite volatile. The drop in oil price has been heavy and rapid impacting all oil producing nations significantly. Nigeria is no exception and appropriate fiscal and monetary policy measures are being put in place to manage this situation.

10. In fact, history will recall that careless remarks by Prof. Soludo (then Chief Economic Adviser to the President) hypothesizing a possible naira devaluation, condemned the naira to a free fall towards the end of 2003. Ray Echebiri, in his 2004 article in the Financial Standard, wrote that not even the assurances given by the then CBN Governor, Mr. Joseph Sanusi or President Obasanjo that any plans to devalue the naira existed only in the head of Professor Soludo could halt the fall of the naira from N128 to the dollar in the official market to about N140 between September and December 2003.

11. It is true that our foreign reserve accumulation is less than what it should be but the reason for this has been fully given, not as excuses but simply as fact: lower oil production and crude oil theft along with the refusal to save in the Excess Crude Account (ECA) are the reasons. Contrary to what Soludo said, oil production under President Obasanjo was higher than current levels. Quantities produced averaged 2.4 million bdp, 2.22 million bpd, and 2.21 million bpd in 2005, 2006, and 2007 respectively but has declined now to between 1.95 and 2.21 million bdp due to vandalism of the pipelines and the resulting “shut-ins” to fix the problem. It is true that had production been at the previous levels and had there been willingness to save we would have had more money in the ECA and also in the reserves. But the overriding setback to savings is that the State Governors felt it was their constitutional right to share the money. Please recall that even as we speak the States have taken the Federal Government to the Supreme Court on this issue

12. Soludo’s claim that 71 percent of Nigerians live below the poverty line is misleading and disingenuous. He uses 2011 statistics on poverty by the NBS to support his argument while ignoring more recent figures. But as stated in the Nigeria Economic Report 2014 by the World Bank, poverty rate in Nigeria has dropped from 35.2 percent of population in 2010/2011 to 33.1 percent in 2012/2013. By the way, the reason why our poverty numbers have been so wrong is that the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), under Soludo’s supervision as CEA and Vice-Chair of the National Planning Commission, departed from the international standard method of poverty measurement. Is he now ignoring the right economic statistics to wilfully manipulate information?

13. No doubt we have a problem with unemployment in this country and we must deal with it. Indeed this Administration is dealing with it and stands proud of what it has accomplished so far and is pushing hard to accomplish much more. As a first step, the Administration, through the office of the Chief Economic Adviser to the President and the NBS, worked hard to determine how many jobs we need to create in a year. What you don’t measure you cannot make progress on. Why didn’t Soludo do this when he was CEA?

14. We need to create about 1.8 million jobs a year in this country to cater for the new entrants into the labour market, but we also need to deal with the backlog of the unemployed and the underemployed, e.g. those selling on the streets. Dealing with this global challenge of unemployment is not an easy task for any country, as can be seen from the experiences of developed countries particularly in the euro area. But the Jonathan Administration is making good progress, creating an average of about 1.4 million jobs per year by driving quality growth in key sectors like Agriculture, where the bulk of new jobs are being created, Housing, Manufacturing, Financial Services, and the Creative Industries like Nollywood.

15. In addition we have special programs to promote job creation among the youth and these include:

v Promoting entrepreneurship among the youth through the “Nagropreneurs” program to support 750,000 youth farmers with grants and training, and the YOUWIN program that is directly supporting up to 5,400 young entrepreneurs with grants, training, and mentorship and so far beneficiaries are creating an average of 9 jobs each, for themselves and others. About 22,000 jobs have been created by the first 2,400 youwinners.

v Graduate Internship Scheme: that is reducing the vulnerability of unemployed graduates by enhancing their employability. The Scheme targets up to 50,000 unemployed graduates in the 36 states of the Federation and FCT and about 22,000 graduates have so far been placed by the program.

v Community Services Scheme under SURE-P: developed to empower young unskilled Nigerians, women and people with disabilities. About 120,000 mostly young workers have been engaged across the country

16. On the issue of debt, Nigerians deserve to know the truth and we have said it before. The truth is that the government borrowed in 2010 to pay an unprecedented 53.7 percent wage increase to all categories of federal employees as demanded by labour unions. The total wage bill rose from N857 billion in 2009 to about N1.4 trillion in 2010, and as a result, domestic borrowing increased from N200 billion in 2007 to about N1.1 trillion in 2010 to meet the wage payments. Where was Soludo at the time? Why did he not react to the borrowing then? Was it because he wanted to pander to labour in preparation for his political career?

17. It is noteworthy that since 2011, the Administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has been prudent with the issue of debt and borrowing. The Economic Management Team not only looks at debt to GDP ratio, where Nigeria has one of the lowest numbers in the world at 12.51 percent but it looks at debt service to revenues. That is why in spite of the rebasing and a larger GDP, the administration has taken a prudent approach to borrowing. The prudent approach helped to drive down domestic borrowing from N1.1 trillion in 2010 to N642 billion in 2014. In fact for the first time in our nation’s borrowing history we even managed to retire N75 billion of domestic bonds outright in 2013.

18. Despite the present tough situation, we do not plan to go on a borrowing spree but to keep borrowing modest at a level sufficient to help us weather the present situation. We have already ramped up efforts to generate more non-oil revenues for the government while cutting costs of governance. Therefore, Soludo’s claim that this Administration is reckless with debt does not hold true.

19. Since Soludo seems so ignorant to what has been achieved by the Jonathan Administration, let us present just a few examples of them here again. This information is easily verified.

· We are improving infrastructure across the country. For example, 22 airport terminals are being refurbished, and five new international airport terminals under construction in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano, Abuja, and Enugu. Soludo’s kinsmen in the South East now have an international airport in Enugu, and for the first time in Nigeria’s history can fly direct from Enugu to anywhere in world for which they are very grateful to this Administration. But with Soludo being up in the air with his international travels, he has not touched ground in the Southeast to observe this development for himself.

· Various road and bridge projects have either been completed or are under construction. Those completed include the Enugu – Abaliki road in Enugu/Ebonyi States, the Oturkpo – Oweto road in Benue State, the Benin – Ore – Shagamu highway, and the Abuja – Abaji – Lokoja dualization, and the Kano – Maiduguri dualization. The Lagos – Ibadan expressway and the Second Niger Bridge are under construction.
· Rail from Lagos to Kano is now functional, as is parts of the rail link between Port Harcourt and Maiduguri. All these have brought transport costs down. We recognise that more needs to be done in the power sector, but bold steps (like the privatisation of the GENCOs and DISCOs) have been taken, and our gas infrastructure is being developed to power electricity generation

· In Agriculture, over 6 million farmers now have access to inputs like fertilizers and seeds through an e-wallet system, which is more than the 403,222 that had access in 2011. Rice paddy production took off for the first time in our history, adding about 7 million MT to rice supply. An additional 1.3 million MT of Cassava has also been produced and as a result, the rate of food price increase has slowed considerably, according to the NBS.

· In Housing, we have put in place a new wholesale mortgage provider – the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Corporation (NMRC) – to provide affordable mortgages to ordinary Nigerians, starting with those in the low-middle income bracket. This sector will help the economy grow as we tap it as an economic driver for the first time. Mortgage applications from 66,000 people are currently being processed and 23,000 have already received mortgage offers

· Our Manufacturing sector is reviving with new automobile plants by Nissan, Toyota, etc. This is in addition to the backward integration policy in key sectors like petrochemical, sugar, textiles, agro processing and cement, which Nigeria is now producing 39,000 MT and exporting to the region.
· The Creative sector is now a factor in our GDP, with Nollywood alone accounting for 1.4 percent, creating over 200,000 direct jobs and nearly 1 million indirect jobs. This is the first Administration to recognise its importance and support its further development with a grant program.

· A new bank – the Development Bank of Nigeria – will soon be operational and this bank will help bridge the access to finance gap, which is a major constraint for the private sector especially SMEs. The bank will provide long-term (5 – 10 years) financing at affordable rates for the first time in our nation’s history.
20. This is the path that the government has been on before this fall in oil prices. The response to the economic shock has been spelled out to the Nigerian public over and over again, and the Administration intends to focus on managing this crisis appropriately. This year will be difficult. To say anything less to Nigerians will be untruthful. It would have been better if there had been a bigger cushion of the Excess Crude Account to manage this situation but despite this the nation can rise to the challenge. More importantly, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the Economic Management Team are seeing this as an opportunity to diversify the revenue sources of an already diversifying economy. In fact let me at this juncture use this opportunity to comment on Soludo’s appalling statement that rebasing brings no policy value. Rebasing has enabled us to better grasp the new diversified nature of our economy. This provides the basis for our present drive to support different sectors with appropriate policy instruments to enhance their development. Rebasing has also enabled the Administration to create the platform from which to drive our work on increasing non-oil revenues. These are areas of critical policy value.

21. Soludo mentioned the issue of the Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU, noting that this Administration has not been vocal or clear on its direction with this agreement. On the contrary, the Administration, particularly the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment, has been clear on this issue but since Soludo has been in the air he probably has not been aware of this. Just recently, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment reiterated again to the corporate sector that Nigeria has not signed and does not propose to sign the EPA in its present form.

22. The point is that this government has been pursuing the right economic policies, and its efforts have been acknowledged nationally and internationally. Let me say that there are objective ways to measure performance. There are international institutions globally accepted to do this. They have acknowledged this Administration’s good economic management up to the recent crisis and even now.

23. We cannot go by someone’s subjective view, driven by bitterness and bile. We need to look to the truth and to professionalism. This is where Professor Soludo totally fails. For the other gratuitous, political, and personal attacks, we are sure that those mentioned will respond appropriately. It is a sad day for Nigeria and the economics profession that someone like Soludo, a former CBN governor should write such an article. If Soludo wants to regain respect, he should return to the path of professionalism. He certainly needs something to improve his image from that of someone whose sojourn into National Economic Management ended in disaster for the banking sector, his sojourn in politics, ended in overwhelming rejection by the electorate, and more recently, his sojourn abroad, has put him out of touch with the reality of the Nigerian economy.

Paul C Nwabuikwu
Special Adviser to the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance


Source: (GR)

Rivers 2015 Polls: Peterside unfolds his manifesto, appeals to Rivers people to vote for APC

Rivers 2015 Polls: Peterside unfolds his manifesto, appeals to Rivers people to vote for APC

02/Feb/2015  //  216 Viewers

As you know, I have commenced rigorous political campaign in my quest to serve the good people of Rivers state as the next governor. I have been travelling around the length and breadth of our rich and beautiful land and at each stop have received overwhelming welcome and embrace. I have felt and shared that spirit of expectation and hope expressed by the people as we match together from street to street, palace to palace and from community to community. I will remain ever grateful to you all for your support and confidence in me.

In all my years as a public servant I have pursued my endeavours on the pillars of truth, transparency, social justice and equity. I have always considered the people my first constituency as I discharged my responsibilities with humility, accountability and fear of God.

As I embark on this journey and race to become your governor, to take our people to the next level from possibilities to greatness building on the indelible legacies of Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, I am convinced of the strong desire of you to see further development in an environment of peace, security, stability and opportunity.

I am not driven by the pomp and perks of office, or the gains or accolades that may accrue to me in office. Instead, I am driven by service. Service to my people, service to the elderly long forgotten, service to the fishermen whose rivers and creeks have been so polluted that they have to look for jobs in their old age, for the motherless cast off at the dump, for the youth with vision and talents but without structure to fulfil his dreams, for the single mum in the village without a support system to help her care for her children or rise again to pursue her dreams, service to our employable youths, to rescue them from idleness, despair and violence.

I am driven by the desire to give the professionals and businessmen a sense of belonging and an enabling environment to ply their trade and flourish; to create quality employment for our teeming youths and to empower our local businesses to grow; to deliver world class health services, quality education and vocational training to our young ones in a bid to providing them a sound foundation to secure their future and for the good people of Rivers State.

This drive is borne out of my core value base moored in the eternal doctrine and principle of leadership “praesis ut prosis ne ut imperes” – lead in order to serve, not in order to rule. I am your servant. I work for you and with you to make Rivers State a great state. I entreat you to share with me my vision of Rivers State: “to Create A Prosperous State Anchored On The Development of A Well Diversified Local Economy That Will Expand Economic Opportunities Through Wealth Creation, Employment Generation, Social Entrepreneurship & Values Re-orientation And Rapidly Uplift The Standard Of Living Of Rivers People in A Secure and Harmonious Environment of Equal & Boundless Opportunities.”

This vision for a greater Rivers State is hinged on four pillars as espoused in Our Roadmap to Prosperity, namely, Public Sector Accountability and Security of lives and Property, Employment Generation and Wealth Creation, Social and Human Capital Development and Empowerment, Institutional and Physical Infrastructural Development and Food Security. This is further broken into twenty eight sub sections detailing measures and steps we will employ to deliver top notch services and enhance the living standards of our people.

I implore you to read Our Road to Prosperity document. You will see my pledge and social contract with you to make Rivers State a great state. I beg you to acquaint yourself with the content and see ways you can work with me to actualise them. Hold me to account when in office if I deviate from this social contract.

Rivers State is our one and only state. It behoves us to bequeath greatness to posterity. That journey to greatness starts with you. Your choice on 28th of February will either set us on that part or take us backwards. It is said that a people deserve the leadership they get.

The choice is yours and you alone have the power to cause change and progress to happen. It is in your vote and I therefore invite you to key into our vision for a greater, stronger, prosperous Rivers State. Vote for the APC, vote for change you can see, feel and participate in. Vote out the old order and vote in a new order of peace, security, equal opportunities and prosperity for everyone.

Your brother,

Dakuku Adol Peterside, PhD


Source: (GR)