Category Archives: Economy and Business

Enugu earmarks N42.4 billion for works, infrastructure development

The Enugu State Government said it has budgeted the sum of N42,493,710,000 for works and infrastructure development in its 2021 approved budget christened ‘Budget of Recovery and Continued Growth.’

The state which earmarked the sum of N169,845,750,500 for its 2021 fiscal year, allocated N101,134,758,500 for capital expenditure, while the sum of N68,711,000,000 was budgeted for recurrent expenditure.

The Commissioner for Budget and Planning, David Okelue Ugwunta, who briefed the press at Enugu during the state’s budget breakdown said the state intends to strategically enhance recovery of the state from the drawbacks of 2020 and further consolidate on the foundation already laid in creating an environment that encourages natural, social and infrastructural development in line with the current eight-point agenda of the state government.

While giving the breakdown of the budgetary allocation on works and infrastructure in the state, the commissioner said N200 million would be for the provision of solar street lightings and generating sets, while N2 billion was allocated for the construction/renovation of public buildings in the state.

He equally said that N3 billion was earmarked for the construction of additional facilities at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology at Igbo Eno, also in the state, adding that N4 billion was also budgeted for the rehabilitation/construction of urban and rural roads in the state among other projects listed under works and infrastructure upgrade in the state.

He equally said that the targets of the budget which has already been approved by the state’s House of Assembly would be to increase the percentage of Internally Generated revenue in the recurrent revenue by 50% and also uphold the budget performance at least by 85%.
The commissioner also said that the budget targets to maintain a capital expenditure to recurrent expenditure ratio of 60:40, adding that it also aims to have 100% cash-backing of all expenditure approvals among other targets.

The Zonal Vice President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Comrade Kenneth Ofoma who addressed the state’s government delegation on behalf of the journalists in the state, enjoined the government to ensure prudent implementation of the budget.

WhatsApp gives in, halts rollout of controversial update

WhatsApp will halt the rollout of its controversial new update amid protests from users.

People will now have three extra months to agree to its new rules, the company said.

And WhatsApp has committed to try and distribute more information about the rules in advance of the deadline in the hope of dispelling what it says is “misinformation”.

Users had originally been told they had to agree to the new rules by 8 February, or face having their accounts suspended or deleted.

Instead, users will have until 15 May before they are forced to agree to the rules, in the hope that they can “review the policy at their own pace”.

In the meantime, the company will “do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp”.

WhatsApp’s privacy policy began being pushed out to users in recent months and caused concern that it would be sharing more information with Facebook.

The company says that the new policy does not “expand our ability to share data with Facebook”, and that it is instead focused on its new business updates, which allow companies to host their shops on Facebook and communicate with users through WhatsApp. As such, the new rules do mention Facebook but primarily because communications with those businesses may be hosted on its servers.

But that has nonetheless led to a flurry of concerns that information and personal data from WhatsApp is being shared with Facebook.

That in turn has meant that users have rushed to competing apps such as Signal and Telegram, in pursuit of what they perceive to be better security and privacy.

In its announcement, WhatsApp suggested that those concerns were rooted in “confusion” and “misinformation”.

“We’ve heard from so many people how much confusion there is around our recent update,” it said in the blog post that revealed the delay. “There’s been a lot of misinformation causing concern and we want to help everyone understand our principles and the facts.

“WhatsApp was built on a simple idea: what you share with your friends and family stays between you. This means we will always protect your personal conversations with end-to-end encryption, so that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see these private messages. It’s why we don’t keep logs of who everyone’s messaging or calling. We also can’t see your shared location and we don’t share your contacts with Facebook.”

NIN deadline stands, as NCC awaits govt’s advice

The Nigerian Communications Commission on Wednesday said it was awaiting the advice of the Federal Government as regards the deadline for the integration of Subscriber Identification Modules with valid National Identity Numbers.

It also stated that the earlier announced deadlines were still in force despite the clamour for extension or outright suspension of the registration process.

Calls for deadline extension were mainly due to the large crowds that gather daily at the various offices of the National Identity Management Commission.

The Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Ikechukwu Adinde, told our correspondent in Abuja that no deadline extension had been approved.

He said, “Right now, apart from the recent information that we made concerning the extension, no further update yet.

“The information on this matter was the one that talked about when we moved the extension to January 19 for those who have NINs and February 9 for those who do not have.”

When probed further on whether there had been moves to either extend or suspend the exercise, Adinde replied, “No, no, no; if you follow the opinion of the public, it is in favour of extending it.

“And then, of course, recently there have been concerns on the effect of COVID-19 and all that. But I am sure government is listening and once we are advised, we will go to the press and announce the new position.

“However, as it is now, we are waiting to see what happens at the end of the day, as the recent deadline extension still stands.”

The Federal Government had declared on December 15, 2020 that after December 30, 2020, all SIMs that were not registered with valid NINs on the network of telecommunications companies would be blocked.

It later extended the December 30, 2020 deadline following widespread opposition against the earlier announcement and gave three weeks’ extension for subscribers with NIN from December 30, 2020 to January 19, 2021.

It also gave six week-extension for subscribers without NIN from December 30, 2020 to February 9, 2021.

Commenting on the development, the National Coordinator, Alliance for Affordable Internet, Olusola Teniola, said the massive crowds at NIMC offices showed that it would be tough to register and integrate all SIMs with valid NINs.

“It is clear that the dates that we are trying to achieve are not going to be met,” he said.

The President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Ikechukwu Nnamani, said it was obvious that the number of persons without NINs was so large.

Nigeria is now the world’s second-biggest bitcoin market after the US

Uwagbale Edward-Ekpu

During the police brutality protests in Nigeria in October, bitcoin saved the day when the government shut out protesters from using local payment platforms for collecting donations to support it.

The young, tech-savvy protesters quickly switched to using bitcoin, and in about a week bitcoin accounted for around 40% of the nearly $400,000 raised. It was just one high-profile example of how young Nigerians increasingly use bitcoin to navigate a complicated and restrictive banking and monetary system.

In the last five years, Nigeria has traded 60,215 bitcoins, valued at more than $566 million which, apart from the US, is the largest volume worldwide on Paxful, a leading peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace. The data scraped from Coin Dance shows from the beginning of May 2015 to the middle of November this year, bitcoin trade in Nigeria have increased yearly at least 19% in volume since 2017, and the highest volume (20,504.50) was traded in 2020.

Bitcoin trade had its highest spike of 30% this year during the national lockdown in the country and the highest volume traded during the peak of the pandemic. between January and September, Paxful was reported to record a 137% increase in new registrations in Nigeria.”

The company says Nigerians make up around a quarter of its customer base with 1.3 million registered accounts. “They mostly use the platform for peer-to-peer and arbitrage trading,” says Nena Nwachukwu, Paxful Nigeria regional manager. “Remittances is also a popular use case.” Nwachukwu says bitcoin transfers are “much cheaper and faster than using traditional money transfer operators.”

The growing uncertainty and instability around the Nigerian naira, which has had increasingly divergent official and parallel exchange rates with the US dollar, has created an opportunity and practical use case for bitcoin trade in Nigeria. The divergent rates have long been a striking feature of Nigeria’s economy but more so in the last half decade as the country’s financial authorities have attempted to micro-manage the supply of foreign exchange and “defend” the naira.

In the last couple of years, other African countries, most prominently Zimbabwe, have seen a spike in cryptocurrency trade led by bitcoin, due to currency fluctuations and uncertain monetary policy. In some cases limits to the trade has been prompted by a lack of reliable local platforms.

“The lack of bitcoin liquidity was the first obstacle to solve to introduce bitcoin to Africa,” says Ray Youssef, co-founder of Paxful.

Nigerians are often restricted on international platforms such as PayPal, which does not allow payment to Nigeria, and local banks place a cap on international transactions and charge high fees for transactions due to dollar deficiency.

“People want to be able to buy and sell, transact internationally and the more the traditional channels are being restricted the more people trade crypto and mainly bitcoin,” explains Eleanya Eke, co-founder of Buycoins Africa. “And the best thing about it is that it’s almost impossible to stop. If you block the exchange it moves to Peer-to-peer platforms that are non-custodial.”

The increased awareness and availability of easy-to-use bitcoin platforms to Nigerians have largely increased bitcoin liquidity in the country, therefore solving the first problem hindering adoption. Nigerians now have several formal and semiformal bitcoin platforms to use, ranging from international platforms including Paxful, Binance, and Luno, and local ones such as Quidax, Busha, and BuyCoins. However, long-term watchers say most trading in the country is done on informal channels such as Telegram, WhatsApp bad WeChat.

“Globally, there was a shift to online transactions from the physical,” says Osaretin Victor Asemota, a Nigerian tech investor. “In Nigeria, as banks were closed, the agency outlets recorded much higher transaction volumes. I think this shift was inevitable, and it is not a temporary pandemic boost.”

Bitcoin traded as low as $3,600 in March due to a massive sell-off on global financial markets has this month surged past $20,000 for the first time. While in the past, the value has increased like this only to later dropped drastically in a few weeks, some analysts say this increase may continue into 2021 as it appears it is due to the growing interest of institutional investors in the cryptocurrency.

Institutional investors such as MassMutual and MicroStrategy were reportedly planning to purchase hundreds of million-dollar worth of bitcoin, while PayPal, a top global online payment company recently added cryptocurrency to its functionality, letting people use bitcoin to pay for things online.

RECESSION: ‘We must end corruption, strengthen our institutions, introduce death sentence’ – Eholor

Democracy Observer-General and founder of human rights group, One Love Foundation, Chief Patrick Eholor has said that unless Nigerians begin to fight corruption with a greater frenzy, the second wave of the recession will bite much harder than the first.

Eholor, in a telephone interview with Jungle Journalist Media Limited, suggested a strengthening of our institutions, trial and death execution/life imprisonment for defaulters, and recovery of stolen funds back into the economy.

His words: “It’s an unfortunate circumstance that Nigerians have found themselves. You deserve those who govern you, and unfortunately, we have never had the opportunity to choose who governs us. We’ve never had leadership in this country, just banditry and bandits who call themselves leaders instead of them referring to themselves as emperors.

“The only way we can salvage this situation is to strengthen our institutions and if possible, to have a proactive law to try every corrupt civil servant and politician, service chiefs and others; to introduce death sentence or life imprisonment for those who have stolen our common patrimony and recover the moneies they have stolen and put that money into infrastructure, health sector, educational sector and other public interests, and reduce the number of churches and mosques we have in this country.

“Unfortunately, most of them have become merchants of misery, and I therefore suggest we borrow a leaf from China and Rwanda.

“If we follow suit, a better Nigeria is possible. Don’t forget the trademark of president Muhammadu Buhari that if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us”, he argued.

PHOTOS: Ndi Igbo Royal Heritage launches masterplan to develop Igboland into World Class Economy 

A new pan-Igbo organisation has launched a socio-cultural, economic and technological masterplan with a view to developing Igbo land into a world class economy.

Unfolding the grand model of the plan, President General of the organisation in Enugu, Dr Paul Okoye said Igbo people must invoke and begin to implement the Asian Tiger template that has made Asia the economic giants of the world.

He was speaking during the official unveiling of the organisation, which took place at Ofuobi Africa Centre, Enugu, Nigeria.

Addressing journalists, Okoye argued that Igbos sadly, have deviated from their mission and are fixated in a rigmarole, developing other nations and neglecting homeland.

His words; “Igbo land is presently in tatters and we are of the opinion that a new Igbo initiative must begin, devoid of the usual blame game. I do not believe that the problem of the Igbo is Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani, Efik or whoever. The idea is to liberate the Igbo with a global view, motivating the people to focus on our strengths rather than living in the past. It is going to involve all of us; people at home and in the diaspora, the clergy, the youths, members of the academia, everyone. We will be targeting the youth and re-orientating them towards a path of socio-economic renaissance so they become proud of whom we are once again. We are republicans in nature, but misapplying that will remain detrimental to us as a people until something is done.

“In the new programme, the ‘aku ruo ulo’ is one of the priorities, because it is abundantly clear why Igbos have invested little in the Eastern part of Nigeria. The way out of the impasse is to create an enabling environment. The youths are stronger, more creative and brilliant. What they need is an enabling environment to excel,” he said.

He also revealed that NIROH’s journey began after the civil war from late Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu, and was unanimously passed on to him.

Dr Okoye, an Italian-based technocrat with world class degrees from institutions in United Kingdom and Switzerland believes that Igboland can be developed into a world class economic environment through the combined efforts of umu Igbo.

He says that NIROH’s mandate in the short and long terms include;

*Unification of the Igbo Nation at home and in diaspora;

*Re-orientation and reprogramming of the upward social mobility of the Igbo people and its ascension;

*Improving the infrastructural development in the Igbo nation;

*Identification with core Igbo groups both at home and in diaspora who have an infinite pride in and commitment to the fatherland;

*Promoting the Igbo cultural essence and correctness;

*Promotion and realisation of the Igbo rich cultural heritage in line with the mandate of Obu Ezumezu Ofo Ndigbo Royal Heritage Worldwide;

*Galvanisation of the Igbos especially the youths and the mainstream towards patriotic services to fatherland;

*Provision of a rallying point for the Igbo cohesion and essential unity;

*Restoration of confidence in the Igbo people;

*Promoting a comprehensive discussion for the immediate and lasting restoration of the Igbo social and cultural ethos, geared towards the renaissance and development of the conventional social ethics rooted in virtue, honour and value and encouragement of research, documentation and social actions on various issues that affect the Igbo people and the Igbo Interest.

The programme was punctuated by colourful music, dances and entertainment from all corners of Igbo land.

Photos from the event:

Bayelsa Gov Diri commissions Bovie Commodity Market, calls for more investments from private sector

The Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri has called for more private investments in a bid to boost the economic development of the State.

He made the call on Monday during the Commissioning of the Bovie Commodity Market, Kpansia 2, Yenagoa.

Governor Diri noted that the Bovie Commodity Market which focuses on food distribution across the State and nation would greatly increase the revenue of the State.

The Governor who was represented by the Commissioner for Trade, Industry and Investment, Hon. Stanley Braboke expressed delight that the market is indigenously owned with a concentrated effort on employing over 250 persons in the State.

He further called upon other industrious individuals in the State to Invest in Bayelsa, adding that it was an error to invest in other States without first investing in Bayelsa, and pledged the Government’s support to all investors saying Bayelsa is a safe haven for investors.

The Governor also commended the Chief Executive Officer of Bovie Farms Nigeria Limited, Mr. Diekivie Bovie Ikiogha on his initiative, describing him as a visionary who is committed to the economic development of the State and should be emulated.

On his part, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Hon. David Alagoa said that the project was geared towards the world’s current focus of creating an agriculture value chain, adding that the market would foster the sales of food grown in the State.

He further acknowledged difficulty to own farm lands and perennial flooding as some of the challenges of farming in Bayelsa, and urged community leaders to make land cheap and available to members of their communities for the purpose of farming.

The Commissioner for Education, Hon. Gentle Emelah in his remarks, commended Mr. Diekivie on his inspiring initiative, stating that a similar vision was being birthed in him.

Speaking earlier, the C.E.O Bovie Farms, Mr. Diekivie said the unequal prices of agricultural produce across the nation birthed the initiative to regularize prices of goods through a cooperative which funds its members trading at the Bovie Commodity Market.

He further noted that the establishment of his cooperative and commodity markets in Benue, Ogun, Bayelsa, and Enugu States would ensure direct buying of agricultural products from farmers and fishermen, and in turn take the products to the Bovie Commodity Market for sale to traders at a subsidized rate.

The commissioning of the market was followed by a tour of the facility comprising food shops, fruit shops, a restaurant, a salon, and a pharmacy.

High-point of the event was the presentation of gift items which included Bayelsa grown and processed food products such as plantain and cassava flour among-st others to the Governor.

Also present at the event was the Commissioner for Information, Orientation and Strategy, Hon. Ayibaina Duba.

Despite objection from US, WTO Electoral Council backs Okonjo-Iweala as preferred candidate to head  organisation

The World Trade Organisation’s Council has finally broken its silence on the preference of Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the new DG of the organisation.

The council posted on its website today that Dr Iweala remains the favourite of all members to lead the organisation despite the objection of the US.

General Council Chair, David Walker of New Zealand and his two co-facilitators in the selection process to choose the WTO’s next Director-General told the organization’s members on 28 October that based on their consultations with all delegations the candidate best poised to attain consensus and become the 7th Director-General was Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria.

“She clearly carried the largest support by Members in the final round and she clearly enjoyed broad support from Members from all levels of development and all geographic regions and has done so throughout the process. I am therefore submitting the name of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the candidate most likely to attract consensus and recommending her appointment by the General Council as the next Director-General of the WTO until 31 August 2024,” Amb. Walker said.

Amb. Walker stressed at a Heads of Delegation meeting on 28 October that this was the assessment of the “troika” of facilitators and that a formal decision had to be taken by the members at a General Council meeting, which he has scheduled for 9 November. The General Council is the WTO’s pre-eminent decision making body, save for the Ministerial Conference which normally meets every two years.

But the assessment was challenged by the United States which said it would continue to support Minister Yoo and could not back the candidacy of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Amb. Walker said members had expressed their views to him, Amb. Dacio Castillo (Honduras) and Amb. Harald Aspelund (Iceland) during the third and final stage of consultations from 19 to 27 October.

The General Council chair explained that since the process to replace former Director-General Roberto Azevêdo began, the ultimate objective of this measured and clearly defined selection process has been to secure a consensus decision by members. He praised the membership for their adherence to the guidelines and for their robust participation in the exercise.

“The entire membership remained fully engaged in and committed to this process. The facilitators and I are grateful for this consistently very positive response. Throughout the process it has been clear that all Members have attached the greatest importance to this appointment,” said Amb. Walker.

He paid tribute to all eight of the candidates who participated in the DG selection process and in particular to Yoo Myung-hee of the Republic of Korea who had advanced to the third round in this process.

“Ms Yoo has vast experience which she has acquired in a number of leading positions and her outstanding qualifications are highly valued by all Members.”

The General Council agreed on 31 July that there would be three stages of consultations held over a two-month period commencing on 7 September.

During these confidential consultations, the field of candidates was narrowed from eight to five and then two as Amb. Walker, Amb. Castillo, chair of the Dispute Settlement Body, and Amb. Aspelund, chair of the Trade Policy Review Body, posed a single question to each delegation: “What are your preferences?”

The consultation process taken by facilitators has been set by guidelines established by the General Council in a 2002 decision. According to these guidelines, the key consideration in determining which candidate is best poised to achieve consensus is the “breadth of support” each candidate receives from the members.

During the DG selection processes of 2005 and 2013, breadth of support was defined as “the distribution of preferences across geographic regions and among the categories of Members generally recognized in WTO provisions: that is (Least developed countries), developing countries and developed countries”. The Chair said he and his colleagues were guided by the practices established in these General Council proceedings and he further explained that the decisions made clear that “breadth of support means the larger membership”.

The process for selecting a new Director-General was triggered on 14 May when former Director-General Mr Azevêdo informed WTO members he would be stepping down from his post one year before the expiry of his mandate.

He subsequently left office on 31 August. Amb. Walker immediately proceeded with the procedures for the appointment of the Director-General that were agreed under the 2002 guidelines. These guidelines require the General Council Chair to begin consultations with members on DG selection as soon as possible and “may establish expedited deadlines as necessary in consultation in Members”.

Why Central Bank Of Nigeria Official Website Was Hacked – Anonymous

Anonymous, an online network known for launching cyber-attacks against government institutions, has claimed responsibility for bringing down the website of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The PUNCH reports that the move was taken in solidarity with the #EndSARS protesters.

According to the report, Anonymous retweeted a tweet by one of its affiliates, @loriansynaro, which read in part, “#Anonymous #OpNigeria #EndSARS #EndSarsNow. The Nigerian central bank website has been taken #Offline. https://cbn.gov.ng | TANGO DOWN.”

The website of Nigeria’s apex bank on Friday night displayed the message, “500 – Internal server error. There is a problem with the resource you are looking for, and it cannot be displayed.”

The Spokesman for the CBN, Isaac Okoroafor, could not be reached for comment on Friday as he did not respond to repeated calls.

Earlier, Anonymous had hacked the Twitter accounts of several government agencies including the National Broadcasting Commission which has in recent time been criticised for its highhandedness and stiff media regulations through its Broadcast Code which increased the fine for hate speech to N5 million.

The #EndSARS protests have been taking place across major cities in the country with youths demanding an end to police brutality and killings.

Major highways across the country have been blocked thereby grounding economic activities.

Nigeria: We Will Soon Reopen Land Borders – Says Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has disclosed that the federal government will soon reopen Nigeria’s land borders.

Speaking during a webinar organised by The Africa Report, Osinbajo said the federal government is working towards reopening the borders.

The webinar, which was themed “Bouncing back: Nigeria’s post-pandemic recovery plan”, focused on issues regarding government frameworks to be adopted towards economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic which affected countries globally.

Reacting to a question on the continued closure of the land borders despite preparations for the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the vice president said the government is working with neighbouring countries on the terms of reopening the border.

“We are working with our neighbours to see on what terms we would reopen those borders. At the moment, we are undertaking joint border patrols to control smuggling along the borders and we think it is working and I am sure that soon enough we should have the borders opened,” he said.

“We are committed to the AfCFTA but we are concerned about threats to security and the economy and we had to take certain actions that would satisfy the immediate needs of our country. It (border closure) certainly wasn’t meant to be permanent and we are looking forward to reopening as quickly as possible.”

Recall that the federal government had In October last year closed land borders to check the smuggling of goods and arms into the country.