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MAN, LCCI, Economists Counter Buhari’s Claim On The Economy

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The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and economists on Wednesday countered the recent claim made by President Buhari, that the economy under him is better than it was in 2015.

Mr. Ola Adebayo, the Chairman of the Gas Group, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, said Buhari’s admiration’s policies have not translated into positive economic growth and real sector development.

He faulted the administration’s implementation of policies under Buhari, stressing that his administration would not score a pass mark.

Adebayo said, “One thing I have observed is that policy formulation is different from implementation. With the recent events, I don’t think the government has passed. We only have very good policies on paper, but the implementation has been lacking. Once there is no implementation, it becomes just an idea.”

Also, the Deputy-President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Gabriel Idahosa, said the reality was at variance with the claims of the President.

He said the current regime has not been able to attract the private sector to invest in critical infrastructures like railways and airports, saying that the government’s economic model is counterproductive and not in the best interest of the economy.

“The business community has been consistent in saying so. It’s not a matter of disagreeing with him. It’s a matter of looking at the facts at the table.”

Idahosa further said, “We don’t need any complicated analysis to see whether the policies are addressing the issues of the business community. Whether it is power supply, the foreign exchange market, whether it’s a model that enables the private sector to invest in infrastructure in a manner that enables the business to thrive, it is clear for all to see.”

On his part, Director-General, of the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Sola Obadimu, said Buhari’s assessment of his administration’s economic policies did not reflect the realities on the ground.

According to him, his administration had failed in all economic indices and should be humble to admit it.

He said, “In the past seven years, we have witnessed the most volatile phases in our industrial life. For instance, if we pick the naira valuation as of when he came in and now, you will see the difference. That has been unfriendly to industry.”

He said the benchmark interest rate has been high at 13 percent, making access to capital difficult.

Obama further stated that with the disparity between exchange rates at the official and parallel markets, it was obvious that the government had created certain opportunities for round-tripping in the system and consequently put a strain on business entities who needed foreign exchange for business.

An economist and Chief Executive Officer, Center for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, Dr. Muda Yusuf, said that between 2015 and now, the nation’s economy has recorded over 200 percent currency depreciation.

He said that the investors’ confidence has worsened within the period under review and major indicators show that the economy is lagging.

“I don’t agree with that. Let us look at all the major indicators in the economy. Look at inflation, look at how bad things are and you know the implication of inflation for investments and welfare. The current situation now is almost unprecedented and, of course, you can’t compare that now to what the situation was in 2015. Look at our currency. What was the exchange rate even at the parallel market in 2015 and what is it now? We are talking of depreciation of over 200 percent or even more and that also has a very serious implication. Even the poverty situation in the land is much and the business confidence. Investors’ confidence has worsened between 2015 and now. So, I don’t agree with that assertion.”

Also speaking, the Founder of Cowry Assets Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, said, “I will be belittling myself to comment on issues like that. Let me ask you, what is your take on it? If I were a journalist, I wouldn’t even write about it. That’s how I feel about that comment. Because it just doesn’t make sense for me to be wasting my time talking about it. I need to initiate conversations higher than that level. Because even a daft and a person who didn’t go to school will discuss it. It doesn’t make sense. Somebody said I’ve done well and you want me to discuss it. I guess you understand how I feel about that. It doesn’t make sense for anybody to discuss it.

“It’s not a matter of feeling, it’s how you are living. How much do you buy bread? How much do you pay for transport? How good is light in your area? So, if you want me to comment and speak about the economy, the way forward, and what to expect from the new president, I will, not this,” he said.

A scholar and an Associate Professor at Pan-Atlantic University, Dr. Olalekan Aworinde, said that the only sector that is doing well is oil and gas.

“We cannot say that the economy has fared well because we still have so many indices that tell us that the total values of goods and services produced in Nigeria are nosediving. The only sector that is doing well in the oil sector. It makes about 80 percent of the revenue in Nigeria. If you take a look at the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, they are not at the level we expect. There might be some improvement in agriculture but the kind of farming practiced in Nigeria is still at the subsistence level. In the manufacturing sector, we have more firms folding up probably because of these infrastructures that we expect. There’s no stability in power. The rate at which the Gross Domestic Profit is growing in Nigeria is not fast. It’s increasing at a decreasing rate.”

He also said that the government has pushed a lot of Nigerians into poverty than it has taken people out of poverty.

“Let me talk about price stability, it is worrisome. I don’t know how this government can come out without looking at the statistics at the price level. The last figure that was released by the National Bureau of Statistics a few weeks ago tells us that inflation is close to about 18 percent. So, before they were in government, what were the statistics? So, this government has brought a lot of people more into poverty, absolute poverty than they have taken people out of poverty. I’m not going to agree with President Buhari’s statement. Yes, price stability is the responsibility of the CBN so, in an attempt to maintain this price stability, you would discover, particularly this year, that it has been worrisome. It has been on the increase”

“I do not know what the yardstick that he used. Look at the level of unemployment. If you say you want to reduce the level of unemployment, that means that the level of inflation will be on the increase. But even though there’s an increase in inflation, the level of unemployment is still increasing. It is very clear, that this is not unconnected with the manufacturing sector which is not doing well. The manufacturing sector is not doing well, so which sector will be used to employ the teeming youths that are not employed in Nigeria? The unemployment figure in Nigeria is about 33 percent. So before they assumed office, what was the percentage, and present what is it? This government has taken a lot of loans and the future generations will have to pay for these loans. I do not know where the statistics and the indices that this present government is using to better a lot of Nigerians because as at the last count, the World Bank told us that the present government has made so many Nigerians fall into abject poverty,”

Director of Research and Strategy, Chapel Hill Denham, Mr. Tajudeen Ibrahim, also said, “I think we should look at the major metrics to know if the economy is doing better now than in 2015 and one major metric is the exchange rate. As for the exchange rate, the Naira has lost tremendous value in the past 7years. And that has led to several other factors such as a higher consumer price index over the period. It has also led to great uncertainty for foreign investors in terms of investing in the country,” he concluded

According to statistics, Nigeria experienced two recessions under Buhari, one in 2016 and another in 2020 fuelled by COVID-19.

As of the fourth quarter of 2014, Nigeria’s unemployment rate was 6.2 percent, according to data by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS. As of the fourth quarter of 2021, the NBS disclosed that the rate in the economy had risen to 33.3 percent, making it one of the worst in the world and signifying a 437 percent increase over the seven years.

As of May 2015, Naira exchanged for dollars at N197/$ at the interbank market and N217/$ at the parallel market. Naira is N415-N420 to a dollar at the Importers and Exporters Window and nearly N603-N610 at the parallel market. The subsidy has since risen from N100 million in 2015 to N4 trillion in 2022.

Inflation is not spared as prices have risen by over 70 percent since Buhari came to power. Inflation has since 2015 risen from 9.01 percent (average number in 2015) to over 17 percent in May 2022.

The Misery Index in 2015 was 47.7 points but it has risen to 50.48 points, meaning that more Nigerians are now more miserable than they were in 2015.

Similarly, in 2018, Nigeria was adjudged by the World Poverty Clock as the world’s poverty capital.

According to the World Bank, the poverty rate was 33.1 percent by the end of 2014/ beginning of 2015, but the poverty rate will likely sit at 42.6 percent in 2022.

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Ekweremadu Narrates How David, “Kidney Donor” Refused To Return To Nigeria

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The former deputy senate president, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has explained that David Ukpo Nwamini, the would-be kidney donor of his daughter, Sonia refused to return to Nigeria after it was discovered that his kidney was not compatible with his daughter’s.

The Enugu-born federal lawmaker gave the details in a suit filed along with his wife, Beatrice, against the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) over the controversy surrounding the real age of Nwamini.

Ike Ekweremadu and his wife were recently arrested for allegedly bringing a minor to the UK to harvest his organ. They were subsequently remanded in custody till July 7.

However, Ekweremadu had written to the UK high commission to support the visa application of a “kidney donor” for his daughter Sonia.

Although the UK police said the donor was 15, he was listed as 21 years old on his international passport and the Bank Verification Number (BVN) portal.

In a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/984/2022 and filed on June 27 by Adegboyega Awomolo, counsel to the senator and his wife, before Inyang Ekwo, justice of a federal high court in Abuja, the Ekweremadus prayed the court for an order directing the NIMC to supply them with the certified true copy (CTC) of Ukpo’s biodata, The Cable reported.

They also sought an order directing the NIS comptroller-general to supply the applicants with Ukpo’s documents and application form presented for the issuance of his international passport.

The suit is also seeking an order directing Stanbic IBTC Bank and UBA to supply the applicants with the certified true copy of the “mandate card and account opening package of Ukpo’s bank accounts”.

Awomolo, who gave 20 grounds why the prayers should be granted, said Ukpo offered to donate one of his kidneys to the daughter of the applicants if his kidney was compatible.

He said Ukpo informed the applicants that he was 21 years old, after which Ekweremadu supported his visa application to the United Kingdom with a letter to the British high commission in Nigeria, explaining the purpose of the visit.

“After conducting various medical tests, the Royal Free Hospital in London decided that the said David Nwamini Ukpo was not a suitable donor because his kidney is not compatible with that of Sonia Ekweremadu,” he said.

According to Awomolo, Ukpo was then asked to return to Nigeria but rather than do so, he approached the authorities in the UK, claiming he was 15 years old.

“The applicants require documents from the respondents to assist in the fair criminal investigation and as facts in their defense to establish their innocence of the allegation in the charge and to prove that David Nwamini Ukpo is not a minor and indeed consented to the medical examination in the United Kingdom,” he said.

Ekwo fixed July 1 for a hearing of the matter.

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JUST IN: Court Dismisses Kanu’s Application For Revocation Of Bail

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The Abuja division of the Federal High Court has dismissed an application by Nnamdi Kanu, the detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), seeking an order discharging the earlier order revoking his bail.

Justice Binta Nyako in her ruling on Tuesday ruled that Kanu has not provided sufficient reasons to warrant the court to set aside its order.

She accordingly dismissed the application for being an abuse of the court process.

In the dismissed application which was filed by his lead counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, Kanu also prayed for an order setting aside the order made on March 28, 2019, directing for his arrest and continuation of his trial in absentia.

Justice Nyako had, on March 28, 2019, revoked the bail Kanu, ordered his arrest, and directed that his trial should continue in his absence.

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CJN Resignation: Public Confidence In Judiciary System At All-Time Low – Olumide Akpata

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Olumide Akpata, president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has reacted to the resignation of Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad as CJN, saying public confidence in the judiciary is currently at “an all-time low”.

In the statement, Akpata thanked the retired CJN for his service to the nation and prayed for his quick recovery.

“In the course of previous publications and communications, I have consistently appreciated the outgone chief justice of Nigeria for the cordial working relationship between the bar and the bench under our respective administrations. I must do so again today as he bows out,” the statement read.

“It is however impossible, to consider his lordship’s retirement in isolation of the recent unprecedented developments at the supreme court where 14 justices of the court censured the outgone chief justice of Nigeria over his lordship’s handling of their welfare and related issues.

“Beyond this, there is near-universal agreement that public confidence in the judiciary and indeed the legal profession is at an all-time low.”

The NBA chairman added that “there is now more than ever the need for urgent reforms in the judiciary and to rebuild the almost dissipated confidence that Nigerians have in the judiciary and the wider legal profession in Nigeria”.

“These should form the immediate first tasks for honorable Mr. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, who is expected to now take over as the acting chief justice of Nigeria,” he said.

“The NBA welcomes the appointment of honorable Mr. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola and pledges its readiness to work together with his lordship and the judiciary in cleansing the Augean Stable and addressing the ills that have continued to plague not just the Judiciary but the entire legal profession.”

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