Connect with us


/">

BIG STORY

Elections 2019: Osinbajo Writes Open Letter To Nigerians, Begs Citizens To Vote APC [ FULL TEXT]

Peter Okunoren

Published

on

Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Friday urged Nigerians to return the All Progressives Congress (APC) government.

He said though the postponement of 2019 Presidential and National Assembly polls came unexpected, the electorate must not discouraged.

This was contained in an open letter he wrote, titled “A time such as this!”.

Osinbajo thanked the people for their support in 2015 and appealed for more during Saturday’s pills.

The letter reads: “In the past weeks and over the course of my time in office, I have interacted with everyday Nigerians not only to give account of our stewardship, but also to listen. Across the length and breadth of our great country, I’ve seen and heard passionate Nigerians who work hard to earn a decent and dignified life.

Working closely with President Muhammadu Buhari, we have had the privilege to share our vision of a country where all Nigerians, regardless of tribe, class and background can aspire to a viable future and dignified existence. This belief is something that President Buhari has borne and demonstrated for decades as a soldier, public servant, candidate, and now, as President. Now more than ever before, we feel we are truly at the cusp of greatness.

In 2015, on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), we undertook to tackle insecurity, corruption and an economy characterised by extremely deficient infrastructure and the sheer abundance of poverty.

Despite extenuating circumstances, we have worked hard to actualise our mission. A nation at war, we delivered on our commitment to secure our territorial integrity by liberating 17 Local Government Areas from the grip of insurgency.

We halted the march of the insurgents to Kaduna, Kano and Abuja where they had bombed churches, mosques, government buildings including the UN building and Police Headquarters in Abuja before 2015. Today the activities of insurgents and the new ISIS West Africa (ISWA) are largely restricted to Northern Borno.

I, like many other Nigerians, have believed, all of my life, that our nation has sufficient resources to provide a dignified existence for most of our citizens.

Our curse has been the character of leadership that has often advanced personal gain as the underlying motive for public service. I know that has changed since 2015 and many can see that as well. We are doing far much more with lesser resources than prior administrations.

Corruption is the singular reason why for many years before 2015, uncompleted or non-existent infrastructure littered the landscape just as poverty alleviation schemes were additional vehicles that enriched only a handful at the expense of a growing and aggrieved population. Inevitably, the inequality gap is the underlying cause of insecurity and social tension.

Over the last three and a half years, we have laid the foundations for a stable and prosperous country for our people. The nation’s wealth is now being invested in capital projects to expand infrastructure and connect people, goods and opportunities by rail, road and air.

We have introduced several measures to ease doing business in Nigeria, and also ensure that micro, small and medium businesses can access government services and loan facilities. We also took an unprecedented step towards creating a fairer and more equitable society by implementing Africa’s biggest social investment programme.
Through the National Social Investment Programme, we are providing direct support to over 13 million Nigerians who need it by giving relief and assistance to unemployed youth, our children, the weak and vulnerable as well as small and medium businesses. We are directly providing the majority of our people a path out of poverty.

We know that building a compassionate nation under the rubric of social justice, led by the Federal Government, is not only desirable to right-thinking Nigerians, but is a national imperative. This is why the Federal Government did not hesitate to support state governments with bailouts that enabled them to pay unpaid state workers, as well as taking on the responsibility of settling decades of unpaid pension liabilities to retirees of moribund federal enterprises.

While we continue to believe that the primary role of leadership is to advance good for the people of Nigeria, there are many challenges that still beset the nation. For decades, not much was done by way of focused human capital development.

Our priorities for the next four years, if elected, are set out in our Next Level Roadmap document. We believe that the gains in providing free meals for children in public primary schools must now be deepened with our plan to revamp education through a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM); prioritising digital literacy; retraining all teachers in primary and secondary schools, and also remodelling and equipping our classrooms.

Our Next Level Roadmap also outlines our plans for employment, skills development, health, power, agriculture, industrialisation, inclusion in governance, among others.

We are clear in our minds that many of the APC’s programmes are designed to give Nigerians a lift and make them successful. A lot of thought, rigorous analysis and governance experience went into the development of these programmes and we know that they are feasible once we put our mind to them.

We are running for a second term in office because we believe things will improve significantly than they currently are if we stay the course. We are faced with a choice to keep building a Nigeria where conscience drives the ship of state- making a break from a tainted past which widened the inequality gap. Our choices will shape us – our economic security and our future prosperity. Nigeria, more than ever before, needs a stable and people-focused government to move the agenda for our country forward.

The task of laying a foundation is hard and tedious work. It’s neither glamorous nor exciting for the builder or the observer. Yet without it, the pleasure of a completed building remains a dream. The Buhari administration has spent the last three and a half years laying the foundation. We are asking you to join in putting up the building over the next four years. May I respectfully request you to perform your civic responsibility by going out to vote and I’m confident that by the grace of Almighty God, we will all go to the next level of growth, prosperity and peace.

Let’s join hands to create a nation we can be proud of. God bless you.”

BIG STORY

Dangote, Adenuga, Rabiu Make Africa’s Top 10 Billionaires’ List

Avatar

Published

on




Aliko Dangote of Nigeria is Africa’s richest person and has maintained this position for straight 10 years, according to the 2021 Forbes’ Africa Billionaires List released on Friday.

Also, Mike Adenuga of Globacom, and Abdulsamad Rabiu of BUA Group, both Nigerians, made it to the list as the 5th and 6th richest persons in Africa respectively.

Forbes stated that in Africa, as elsewhere in the world, the wealthiest came through the pandemic just fine.

It stated that the continent’s 18 billionaires were worth an average of $4.1bn, 12 percent more than a year ago, driven in part by Nigeria’s surging stock market.

“For the tenth year in a row, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria is the continent’s richest person, worth $12.1bn, up by $2bn from last year’s list, thanks to a roughly 30 percent rise in the share price of Dangote Cement, by far his most valuable asset,” Forbes stated in its report.

The list named the second richest person in Africa as Nassef Sawiris of Egypt, whose largest asset was a nearly six percent stake in sportswear maker Adidas.

At number three was Nicky Oppenheimer of South Africa, who inherited a stake in diamond firm DeBeers and ran the company until 2012, when he sold his family’s 40 percent stake in DeBeers to mining giant AngloAmerican for $5.1bn.

It said the biggest gainer this year was another Nigerian cement tycoon, Rabiu.

“Remarkably, shares of his BUA Cement Plc, which listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange in January 2020, have doubled in value in the past year,” the report stated.

That pushed Rabiu’s fortune up by an extraordinary 77 percent, to $5.5bn, adding that Rabiu and his son together own about 97 percent of the company, giving the company a tiny public float.

It stated Nigerian Stock Exchange required that either 20 percent or more of a company’s shares should be floated to the public, or that the floated shares were worth at least N20bn, about $50m, describing it as a paltry sum, to be sure.

“A spokesman for the Nigerian Stock Exchange told Forbes that BUA Cement meets the second requirement,” the report stated.

It added that while some got richer by the billions, two from the 2020 list of Africa’s richest dropped below the $1bn mark.

In fact, the only two women billionaires from Africa had both fallen off the list.

Forbes calculated that the fortune of Folorunsho Alakija of Nigeria, who owns an oil exploration company, dropped below $1bn due to lower oil prices.

It said Isabel dos Santos, who since 2013 had been the richest woman in Africa, was knocked from her perch by a series of court decisions freezing her assets in both Angola and Portugal.

It stated that the 18 billionaires from Africa hailed from seven different countries.

South Africa and Egypt each had five billionaires, followed by Nigeria with three and Morocco with two.

Altogether they were worth $73.8bn, slightly more than the $73.4bn aggregates worth of the 20 billionaires on last year’s list of Africa’s richest people.

 




Continue Reading

BIG STORY

No Confirmation Yet On When Pfizer Vaccine Will Arrive Nigeria—– Health Agency

Avatar

Published

on




The National Primary Health Care Development Agency says there is no definite date for when the 100,000 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in Nigeria.

The NPHCDA, however, said the vaccines would most likely arrive in February, adding that government officials, vulnerable persons, and health workers would be the first to get them

The Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said this during an interview with Bloomberg published on Thursday

The Federal Government had in December stated that the vaccines would arrive by the end of January.

Last week, however, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 shifted the date to February but did not give the specific date.

However, speaking to Bloomberg, Faisal said Nigeria was waiting for confirmation from COVAX which is an initiative backed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organisation, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.

On when the vaccines would arrive, he said, “We are waiting for final confirmation from COVAX on when the first doses will arrive,” adding that the “most recent indication is they are expected in February.”

The WHO had last week warned again a “me first attitude” in the distribution of vaccines.

It remains unclear why government officials some of whom have no pre-existing conditions, are being placed on the priority list.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control says it supports the Federal Government’s decision to reopen schools for the second term of the 2020/2021 academic session because the benefits of having children in school outweigh the risks of transmission of COVID-19.

The Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, gave the reasons at the Virtual Plenary Session and Annual General Meeting of the Paediatric Association of Nigeria in Lagos on Friday.

The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the theme of the event was, ‘Child survival in Nigeria amid COVID-19 pandemic: Issues, challenges, and way forward’.

He noted that the current data and statistics for the welfare of children in Nigeria was sad and troubling and that having them stay out of school would further aggravate the situation by denying them what they require to have healthy and productive lives.

The director-general said Nigeria had the highest number of out-of-school children; nearly 31 million children under the age of five and about half of the population under the age of 15.

He added that 10.5 million children were currently out of school and the closure of schools may result in 10 million being out of school forever.

He added, “You can see why some decisions around school reopening are so difficult to make by the government; how do you balance the need to control this pandemic versus the other requirements children need to live healthy and productive?

“This pandemic is threatening efforts to prevent major causes of child morbidity and mortality, and threatening the small gains we have made over many years in a very difficult context that is ours.

“If things get out of hand, we may and we will consider this condition but we all understand that the lockdown had a huge impact on children.”

Earlier, the NCDC boss said the worst outcome of the virus had spared children because its manifestation in them was less severe, often asymptomatic, and often not clinically significant to visit the hospitals.

“Just 10 percent of our cases have been confirmed in children and one percent deaths. The few deaths that occurred in children were likely to have happened to them through morbidity that led to deficits in coping with the virus,” he said.

Ihekweazu called for collaboration among governments, schools, and parents to effectively protect children from contracting the virus.




Continue Reading

BIG STORY

Despite Paying High Taxes, Nigerians Still Provide Water, Electricity For Themselves —– Akinwumi Adesina

Gbemileke Ajayi

Published

on




Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), has condemned a situation where Nigerians do not enjoy basic infrastructure that should be provided by the government despite paying taxes.

Speaking at the ‘First National Tax Dialogue’ organized by the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Adesina said Nigerians are among the top implicit taxpayers in the world. Implicit taxes are levies that are borne but are neither seen nor recorded.

He said residents provide their own electricity, road, security, water, among others, adding that the government must rise to its duty rather than allowing citizens to bear such burdens.

“We must also distinguish between nominal taxes and implicit taxes — Taxes that are borne but are not seen nor recorded. Truth be told, Nigerians pay one of the highest implicit tax rates in the world — way higher than developed countries,” he said.

“Think of it: they provide electricity for themselves via generators; they repair roads to their neighborhoods if they can afford to; there are no social security systems; they provide security for their own safety, and they provide boreholes for drinking water with their own monies. That is incredulous in itself. Boreholes are not the way to provide water in the 21st century. Every household should have pipe-borne water!

“Take for example that 86% of small and medium-sized enterprises in Nigeria spend $14 billion annually on diesel for generators. Nigeria’s companies lose on average 10% of sales because they do not have access to reliable and affordable electricity.

“Governments, over time, have simply transferred their responsibility to citizens. When governments or institutions fail to provide basic services, the people bear the burden — a heavy implicit tax on the population.”

He said Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth declined in 2020 by 2.1 percent, the worst in two decades, while the cumulative loss to Africa’s GDP is estimated at $173-236 billion for 2020 and 2021, respectively.

“The (Nigeria) economy shrunk by 3% in 2020 on account of falling oil prices and effects of the lockdowns on economic activity. The pandemic has impacted on budgetary balances and increased debt burdens,” he said.

“Nigeria’s Debt-to-GDP ratio will push debt service payments beyond more than 60% of federally collected revenues. With shrinkage in oil revenues, debt service payments pose the greatest risk to Nigeria.

“To put a human face on the pandemic effects, we estimate that 28-40 million people in Africa are projected to fall into extreme poverty, and 30 million jobs would be lost due to the pandemic.

“We project that Nigeria’s economy is poised to recover to the growth of 1.5% in 2021 and 2.9% in 2022, according to the African Development Bank’s soon to be released African Economic Outlook.”

Adesina said building back will require a lot more resources, adding that taxes form a significant part of government revenue.

He urged the federal government to focus on corporate taxes and ensure full compliance.

The AfDB president added that small and medium enterprises should be supported through tax exemptions or tax deferments.

“It is crucial to ensure that the tax base expands. Given that over 60% of Nigerians are in the informal sector, priority should be to support measures to move a large part of this from informal to formal sectors,” he said.

“The Government should focus a lot on corporate taxes, and ensure full compliance. But it is important to ensure that such taxes do not discourage investments.

“Profit shifting, base erosion, and tax avoidance by multinational corporations form a huge part of “Africa’s missing taxes”; and account for a large share of the over $60 billion illicit capital flows that Africa loses annually.

“If a company works in Nigeria, benefits from Nigeria, it should pay taxes in Nigeria. Small and medium-sized enterprises should be further encouraged and supported, as they are the lifelines of earnings and the creators of jobs. Tax exemptions or tax deferments can be used to support their growth.”




Continue Reading

Most Popular