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With Over $400bn GDP, Nigeria’s economy Still The Largest In Africa with – Zainab Ahmed

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Zainab Ahmed - Minister of Finance and National Planning
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By Ossom Raphael

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed has said that Nigeria’s economy remains largest in Africa with with over $400 billion in Gross Domestic Products (GDP).

The minister, who said this at the 21st edition of Town Hall Meeting on the achievements of the Federal Government in infrastructure development held on Tuesday in Abuja, also said that the country’s huge and growing population offer both an economic challenge and opportunity.

She noted that despite constrained revenue proceeds brought on by several multi-dimensional factors, including the global pandemic and its impact on the domestic economy, the country still boast of the largest economy in Africa.

Ahmed who pledged Federal Governments commitment to continue to prioritise spending on infrastructure, said the ministry planned to spend about N1.42 trillion in 2022.

She said: “Nigeria’s economy and population remain the largest in Africa with over $400 billion in GDP and over 200 million people. The country’s huge and growing population offer both an economic challenge and opportunity, in the light of constrained revenue proceeds brought on by several multi-dimensional factors, including the global pandemic and its impact on the domestic economy.

“Against this backdrop of challenges, this Administration has successfully implemented a range of infrastructure programmes that have had a positive impact on the lives and livelihoods of the citizenry.

“Subsequently, this Administration continues to prioritize spending on infrastructure and human capital to catalyze rapid economic development. In 2022 alone, we plan to spend about N1.42 trillion on infrastructure and N2.11 trillion on human capital development.”

Speaking further, Ahmed said that bilateral and multilateral loans financing critical infrastructure were contracted within the framework of the 2020-2023 Medium-Term Debt Management Strategy (MTDS).

According to her, the MTDS provides a guide to the borrowing activities of government in the medium-term, usually four years.

“The ministry under the International Economics Relations Department (IERD) contracts external loans on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria from bilateral and multilateral development partners to finance critical infrastructure.

“The Debt Management Office (DMO), in collaboration with relevant stakeholders set targets under medium-term debt management strategy.

“These includes total public debt maximum of 40 per cent from the GDP, portfolio composition of maximum 70 per cent and minimum 30 per cent and domestic debt mix with the minimum of 75 per cent and maximum 25 per cent.

“In the light of constrained revenue, proceeds brought on by several multi-dimensional factors, including the global pandemic had its impact on the domestic economy.

“Ongoing projects under the Chinese EXIM bank include the Zungeru Hydropower Plant Project funded with 984.32 million dollars and Lagos – Ibadan railway project received 1.26 billion dollars.

“The upgrading and rehabilitation of Keffi-Akwanga-Lafia Road project was funded with 460.82 million dollars, supply of rolling stock and depot equipment for Abuja light rail phase 1 project was funded with 164.91 million dollars.

“The NICTIB Phase II (Galaxy Backbone), four airports terminal expansion project phase II and ancillary works on four airports terminal expansion were funded with 328million, 208.91 million and 183.62 million dollars respectively,” Ahmed said.

The Minister acknowledged the contributions of the World Bank, African Development Bank and French Bank in funding relevant infrastructure development in the country.

She said: “World Bank funds the Nigeria electrification project, north core interconnection power transmission line and Nigeria electricity transmission and access project with 350 million dollars, 32.3 million dollars and 486 million dollars respectively.

“The African Development Bank has also funded the Nigeria electrification project, Nigeria transmission and expansion program with a total of 410 million dollars.

“French Development Bank funds the Abuja Power Feeding Transmission Scheme with 170 million dollars and Northern Corridor Transmission Line with 245 million dollars”.

The event organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture was aimed at sensitizing the impacted communities, key stakeholders, the public and the nation on the infrastructure projects and programmes undertaken by the current Administration to create the enabling environment for socio-economic growth and development.

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SON insist on international best practices, set-up committee to audit, certify education sector

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In ensuring that educational management system in the country deliver on their mandate of impacting knowledge and skills, the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) has inaugurated national technical committee for adoption and certification of education management standards.

At the inauguration in Abuja, Farouk Salim, Director General of SON, said one of the challenges facing Nigeria has been international standards both in products and services delivery, which is why the organisation is aligning to best international practice.

“One of SON mandate is to support all businesses in determining quality of products/services using ; standardization, certifications and quality assurance. As such our decision to adopt this international standard on educational organizations management system ISO 21001:2018 is apt at this time when we have opened our borders to all forms of trade with other African countries.

“It is important that we promote and sustain our learning institutions by ensuring that the services that are provided in our schools meet the needs of learners, promote equal opportunities for all students and earn the confidence and approval of learners’ sponsors in order to contribute their quota to national growth and development,” he said.

Salim, represented by Engr. Timothy Abner, Director Training services at the SON added that although government is doing a lot to upgrade the standard of products and the education sector, he however also noted there should be additional effort of adopting and establishing this international best practice will assist Nigeria to always deliver globally recognized services and products in different sectors of the economy.

The Committee is to draw up requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of educational organizations management systems.

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Senate summons CBN Governor over naira fall

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Senate in Session
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…proceeds on annual recess till Sept. 20 
The Senate, on Wednesday, resolved to summon the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, to educate and inform senators in a closed session on the reasons for the rapid depreciation of the value of the naira.
It also mandated the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions to assess the impact of CBN intervention funds meant to support critical sectors of the economy.
The resolutions were reached by lawmakers after the upper chamber considered a motion sponsored by Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi (APC – Ekiti North).
The motion was entitled, “State of CBN Intervention Funds and Free Fall Of Naira.”
Coming under Order 41 and 51 of the Senate Standing Order, as amended, Adetunmbi bemoaned Nigeria’s economic reality amid an urgent call for “extraordinary measures”.
He noted that the CBN through its numerous multi-sectoral intervention funds, provided special funds to support critical sectors of the economy.
He explained that in view of such interventions, it had become necessary to assess the state of implementation and effectiveness of the funds deployed for the purpose.
The lawmaker, recalled that the CBN in 2021, placed an indefinite halt on forex bidding by Bureau de Change operators (BDCS) and importers over allegations of abuse and mismanagement.
He observed that the halt by the CBN resulted in a spike of the exchange rate.
According to Adetunmbi, “the two instruments of Personal Travel Allowance (PTA) and Business Travel Allowance (BTA) could only serve less than 20% of the total forex demand by travelers and businesses.”
He expressed worry that the import and export window meant to serve the forex needs of business giants, “has become a rare opportunity that only a privileged few can access.”
“These and a number of others have contributed to the excessive scarcity of forex in Nigeria today”, he added.
He noted that as at the 26th of July 2022 (yesterday), the exchange rate in the autonomous segment (BDCS) of the foreign exchange market is N670 to 1 United States Dollar and projected to end at N1000 by end of the year based on the current rate of depreciation.
He, therefore, advised the Central Bank to take new measures to curb forex scarcity and address the sliding rate of Naira exchange.
In his contribution, Senator Sani Musa (APC – Niger East), faulted the Central Bank’s decision to halt foreign exchange biddings, thereby cutting off the parallel market – Bureau de change operators.
According to him, the attempt by the CBN to control the value of the naira with the continuous exclusion of BDCs would only lead to its further depreciation.
He, therefore, advised the apex bank to rather ensure the regulation and monitoring of the parallel market.
“What CBN used to do was to give out $10,000 (USD) to each of these BDCs with a clear directive for it not to be sold above N470 as against the $419 exchange rate. It worked.
“But today, nobody is determining where the rate is going and I can assure you we can’t have that solution because we are only importing”, he said.
On his part, Senator representing Katsina North District, Senator Ahmad Babba-Kaita, said one way to improve the value of the naira was to encourage foreign investments to attract inflow of other currencies into Nigeria.
“The only way we can access the dollar will be determined by other economies and not ours”, he noted.
He, however, attributed the lack of foreign investments into Nigeria on the poor security situation caused by banditry, terrorism and other criminal activities.
The Senate, in its resolutions, called on the CBN to urgently intervene to stop the rapid decline in the value of the Naira vis-à-vis the Dollar and other international currencies.
It also mandated the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions to conduct an assessment of CBN intervention funds and the declining value of Naira to come up with sustainable solutions.
The Senate, at the end of Wednesday’s proceedings, adjourned plenary till September 20th, 2022, for its annual recess.
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Business & Economy

Buhari seeks Senate’s nod on four re-appointed nominees as Directors of CBN board

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CBN Headquarters Abuja
CBN Headquarters Abuja
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The Senate, on Tuesday, received a request from President Muhammadu Buhari, to confirm the re-appointment of four nominees as Non-Executive Directors of the Board of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The request was contained in a latter dated 21st July, 2022, and read at the start of plenary by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan.

The President, in the letter, explained that the request to confirm the nominees was made in accordance with Section 10(3)(a) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (Establishment) Act 2007.

The nominees for confirmation include: Prof. Mike Idiahi Obadan (South South), Prof. Justitia Odinakachukwu Nnabuko (South East), Prof. Ummu Ahmed Jalingo (North East), and Mr. Adeola Adetunji (South West).

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