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BIG STORY

FG Owes CBN N15.51tn, Borrows N14.86tn Under Buhari

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The Federal Government’s total borrowing from the Central Bank of Nigeria through Ways and Means Advances has ballooned to N15.51tn, rising by 2,286 percent in six years, data collated from the CBN have shown.

The N15.51tn owed by the Federal Government to the central bank is not part of the country’s total public debt stock, which stood at N33.11tn as of March 2021, according to the Debt Management Office.

The public debt stock comprises the debts of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the 36 state governments, and the Federal Capital Territory.

Ways and Means Advances is a loan facility used by the central bank to finance the government in periods of temporary budget shortfalls subject to limits imposed by law.

According to Section 38 of the CBN Act, 2007, the bank may grant temporary advances to the Federal Government in respect of temporary deficiency of budget revenue at such rate of interest as the bank may determine.

The Act says, “The total amount of such advances outstanding shall not at any time exceed five percent of the previous year’s actual revenue of the Federal Government.

“All advances shall be repaid as soon as possible and shall, in any event, be repayable by the end of the Federal Government financial year in which they are granted and if such advances remain unpaid at the end of the year, the power of the bank to grant such further advances in any subsequent year shall not be exercisable, unless the outstanding advances have been repaid.”

In the first six months of this year, the Federal Government borrowed N2.4tn from the CBN, more than half of what it got in the whole of last year.

The N2.4tn is also much higher than five percent of the Federal Government’s retained revenue of N3.9tn in the previous year.

As of June 2015, a month after the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) came into power, the total government borrowing from the apex bank stood at N648.26bn.

It jumped from N856.33bn in December 2015 to N2.23tn in December 2016, the CBN data show.

The total borrowing from the bank grew by N1.08tn in 2017 to N3.31tn. It rose further by N2.1tn in 2018 to N5.41tn.

The Federal Government’s borrowing from the CBN surged by 61.18 percent (N3.31tn) to N8.72tn at the end of 2019.

Last year, the government turned to the apex bank for a record N4.9tn to plug its fiscal financing gap, bringing its total borrowing to N13.11tn as of December 2020.

A global credit rating agency, Fitch Ratings, had in January raised concerns over the Federal Government’s repeated recourse to its ways and means facility with the central bank.

According to the agency, the use of central bank financing in Nigeria, which predates the COVID-19 pandemic shock, could raise risks to macro-stability in the context of weak institutional safeguards that preserve the credibility of policymaking and the ability of the central bank to control inflation.

“The CBN’s guidelines limit the amount available to the government under its WMF to five percent of the previous year’s fiscal revenues. However, the FGN’s new borrowing from the CBN has repeatedly exceeded that limit in recent years, and reached around 80 percent of the FGN’s 2019 revenues in 2020,” it said.

In February, the International Monetary Fund said Nigeria’s monetary policy operational framework should be reformed in the medium term, adding that the central bank financing of budget deficit should be phased out in order to reduce inflation.

“The increasing reliance on CBN overdrafts has come with negative consequences. The financing is costly for the Federal Government at interest rates of MPR plus 300 basis points, and for the CBN, with sterilization done through the issuance of OMO bills,” it said.

The IMF added that the complete removal of central bank financing of fiscal deficits would require higher domestic revenue mobilization.

The Washington-based fund had on April 28, 2020, approved Nigeria’s request for emergency financial assistance of $3.4bn to support the country’s efforts in addressing the severe economic impact of the COVID-19 shock and the sharp fall in oil prices.

In a letter of intent to the IMF, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, and the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said the recourse to central bank financing would be eliminated by 2025.

They added that the existing stock of overdrafts held at the CBN would also be securitized.

BIG STORY

It’s Idiocy To Claim Buhari Is Dead and Replaced With Jubril From Sudan —- Femi Adesina

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The Presidency has rubbished claims by Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), that President Muhammadu Buhari is Jubril of Sudan.

Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity said it is “idiocy” to claim that the president is dead and was replaced with Jubril from Sudan.

Adesina disclosed this in his latest article titled, ‘The Essential Buhari: VP Osinbajo got it!.’

He recalls how Buhari, upon return from his medical trip abroad in 2017, recognized him.

The article reads partly: “I remember that day in August 2017, when the President returned to the country finally from his medical vacation. From January of that year, he had been in and out a couple of times, but spending weeks and months outside, attending to his health. And finally, on August 19, he returned home, triumphantly.

“We were at the airport to receive him. I have told the story a number of times, to dispel the idiocy that it was a certain Jibril of Sudan that came back and not Buhari. The daughter of the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Gabriel Olonisakin, was getting married. And I had attended both the church service and reception, decked in full Yoruba traditional attire of Agbada and a cap to match. Straight from the ceremony, I went to the airport to join the welcome party for the President.

“We the principal aides were on a line to receive the President as he descended from the aircraft. And he shook hands with each person, having one wisecrack or the other to say, as is typical of him. When he got to me, he said, “Adesina, this is the best I’ve seen you dressed.” And we both laughed.

“Jibril of Sudan? How did he know I was Adesina? How would he know how I normally dressed? Idiocy, I say again. But that is just a digression, not the story I really want to tell to support the topic at hand.”

Kanu had rumoured Buhari’s death in 2017, following the president’s medical trip to London.

He had claimed that Buhari was cloned and replaced with Jubril Al-Sudan after his death.

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BIG STORY

Take Vaccine or Present Negative COVID-19 Result, FG Tells Civil Servants

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The Federal Government has informed federal civil servants that they either get the COVID-19 vaccine or present a negative test result.

Recall that the FG had mandated all civil servants to get the vaccine or else they would not be allowed to enter offices.

The Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib, at a press conference, on Thursday, in Abuja, made clear that federal civil servants were not under obligation to take the vaccine, however, they must show negative COVID-19 PCR test.

He said, “The Presidential Steering Committee (PSC), on Wednesday, announced interventions to, not only protect the most vulnerable people in our society but to also ensure that the workplace is safe for all citizens. Clearly, there is a loss of productivity and its impact on socio-economic development when workers are unable to come to work on a regular, and consistent basis due to outbreaks of an infectious disease such as COVID-19.

“Following advice by public health experts, the PSC announced that all Federal Government employees should make a choice as to how they can contribute towards making the work environment COVID-19-free. The logical choice is between taking the vaccine and showing the evidence or presenting proof that one is COVID-19-free by showing a negative PCR test taken 72 hours prior.

“This provision is applicable to all Federal Government institutions. The decision to release the advisory was not taken lightly. It is part of the PSC and Federal Ministry of Health’s mantra to always use scientific evidence to make decisions for the benefit of all Nigerians.”

Shuaib also confirmed that there are enough vaccines to cover the population of employees of the Federal Government and more, stating that the PSC had already done a comprehensive analysis and forecast on the availability of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Based on delivery forecasts from the COVAX facility and African Union, Nigeria will have adequate vaccines to cover more than 50 percent of eligible populations by the end of the first quarter of 2022. In order words, please do not worry about the availability of vaccines because we have the supply chain figured out already,” he added.

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BIG STORY

N4.9bn Fraud: Judge Angry, Slams N200K Fine On Fani-Kayode For Shunning Trial For Fifth Time

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Justice Daniel Osaigor of a Federal High Court in Lagos, on Wednesday, ordered a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, to pay N200,000 for not making himself available for re-arraignment for alleged money laundering.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Osaigor said he had gone through the court’s file and noted five different letters by Fani-Kayode, seeking adjournment on the same medical grounds.

The court, consequently ordered that he should pay the sum or risk revocation of his bail.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had charged Fani-Kayode alongside a former Minister of State for Finance, Nenandi Usman.

Also charged was Yusuf Danjuma, a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, and a company, Jointrust Dimensions Nigeria Limited.

The EFCC preferred 17 counts bordering on N4.6bn money laundering against them before Justice Mohammed Aikawa.

They had all pleaded not guilty and were granted bail.

The trial had begun before Aikawa and witnesses being led in evidence before the judge was transferred out of the Lagos jurisdiction of the court.

The case was consequently assigned to Justice Osaigor and the defendants scheduled for re-arraignment on Wednesday.

When the case was called on Wednesday, Mrs Bilikisu Buhari, announced an appearance for prosecution.

Mr I. J. Ogechukwu appeared for the first defendant (Usman), Mr B. F. Ajudua appeared for the second defendant (Fani-Kayode) and Y. Olabode appeared for the third and fourth defendants.

Buhari then informed the court that on July 15, the prosecution asked the court to adjourn the matter for re-arraignment of the defendants.

She told the court that on October 11, the prosecution received a letter from the second defendant informing them that he had been given bed rest.

“Whenever he doesn’t want to attend court, this is the type of letter we get,” Buhari said.

However, Ajudua told the court that although his Fani-Kayode’s illness was recurring, he had attended court regularly.

After the judge went through the court’s file, he asked his counsel to take one of two options: revocation of Fani-Kayode’s bail or imposition of N200,000 fine to be paid before the next adjourned date.

The counsel chose the fine option.

Justice Osaigor adjourned the case till November 30.

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