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Read: Osinbanjo speaks on Nigeria’s debt rating at UNILAG convocation

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Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said on Monday that Nigeria’s current debt burden, when compared to the size of the economy, is among the lowest in the world.

The vice president spoke in Lagos at the 50th convocation of the University of Lagos in Akoka.

He delivered UNILAG’s convocation lecture with the theme, “Nigeria Rising: The Path to Prosperity.” Osinbajo said inflation in Nigeria had stabilised at 11 per cent over the past six months.

He said, “We restored medium-term planning with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan which served as a useful loadstone in improving macroeconomic performance, boosting the real sector of the economy and building infrastructure.

“The decline in growth, which started at the end of 2014, has been reversed, inflation has stabilised at about 11 per cent over the past six months and our current account was in surplus around 1.3 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product last year.

“Our foreign reserves can cover at least six months of import of goods and services and despite understandable concerns, our debt burden is only about 22 per cent of the size of our economy, which is one of the lowest ratios in the world.

“We have very clear objectives. As you know, the problem of our country is not the planning or designing of great projects, it is in the actual implementation. We are fortunate that Muhammadu Buhari is not an orator, he is a doer.”

The vice president said the next four years would feature reforms in the aviation and export and import sectors, just as the regulatory agencies would broaden into business facilitators.

The Chairman on the occasion, Chief Arthur Mbanefo, during his address said the lecture was special because it marked the significant homecoming for the vice president.

On his part, the Pro-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Wale Babalakin, said the whole essence of an academic environment was to display a diversity of knowledge, as he insisted that “only academics should be in the environment of academics, not a person that sees the academia as a last resort.”

The Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said the institution was growing and by the end of the year UNILAG’s ranking would be higher because the university had done a lot of research with the various grants it received.

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National News

FG agrees with IMF on fuel subsidy

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Finance Minister, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, on Thursday, described the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) advice to the Federal Government on the need to remove fuel subsidy as a good advice.

Speaking at the sidelines of the ongoing IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington D.C, she said: ” The advice from the IMF on fuel subsidy removal was good one but also we have to implement it in a manner that is both successful and sustainable.

“We are not in a situation to wake up one day and just remove subsidy. We have to educate the people, we have to show Nigerians what the replacement for those subsidies will be. So,  we have a lot of work to do. We also need to understand that you don’t remove large amounts of subsidy in one go, it has to be graduated and the public has to be well-informed on what you are trying to do”.

The minister said the minister met with the IMF and have reviewed the IMF Article IV Consultation with Nigeria report, which was positive. “The review was a positive one and had good advice from the IMF to Nigeria and they have indicated that they are available to provide technical support to improve our liquidity management, our debt management and other fiscal measures,” she said.

Data from the Debt Management Office (DMO) showed that Nigeria’s total public debt rose to N24.39 trillion or $79.44 billion as at December 31, 2018 representing a year-on-year growth of 12.25 per cent. The 2018 debt stock is higher than that of 2017 by N2.662 billion.

Mrs. Ahmed said President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that the minister looks at every area that requires reforms.

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Politics

“I may be ‘Baba go slow’ but I didn’t loot” – Buhari

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President Buhari accepts being tagged ”Baba Go Slow” since he assumed office in 2015 but affirms he is not a looter

President Buhari in France

Speaking during a townhall meeting he had with Nigerians residing in Dubai yesterday April 9th, President Buhari said he does not care if he is called “Baba go slow” as long as he did not loot the country’s treasury.

“I may be ‘Baba go slow’ but I didn’t loot,” President Buhari said when he was asked questions about his fight against corruption and on treasury looters.
The president also stated that he is going slowly because he does not want to make the mistake he made when he was as a military head of state when he sent many to prison withiout been tried in court.

“So, whoever calls me ‘Baba go slow’, I’m very cautious of historical antecedent. Since I was in a hurry, I was locked up, I’m going slow so that I can survive,” Buhari said.

“I ‘bark but I cannot bite, Baba go slow,’ I have once ruled this country, some of you know that once upon a time I came in uniform and what I did was to arrest from the president downward. The president, Vice President, the governor’s and ministers, other than the president and the Vice President, the others, I put them in Kiri-Kiri, and I told them they are guilty until they can prove themselves innocent.

“And you know subsequently what happened- we put about six tribunals base on the geopolitical zones, and those who were ministers and governors were asked to justify what they have in the banks and physical on the ground relative to their legitimate earnings.

“There were only two Nigerians then to my knowledge who were found to be very Honourable, both of them are dead now: Biliaminu Usman, a junior minister, from Jigawa State, and Adamu Chiroma, a minister of finance and governor of central bank.

“They were incredible Nigerians. But you know what happened, eventually, I myself was arrested, I was put in detention for three and a quarter years, luckily for me, I was not stupid, I didn’t take anybody’s money, so there was no bad publicity for me because they couldn’t find anything against me.

“Eventually I was released, and that was why I made up my mine since the bulk is partisan politics, I joined the partisan politics. You also know what happened, I tried three times, and I managed to succeed the fourth time.” he said.

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Politics

9th Senate: Former Senate leader, Ndume remains steadfast on becoming Senate President

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Former Senate leader, Senator Ali Ndume on Monday vowed not to drop his ambition of becoming the Senate President of the ninth Senate.

Senator Ndume met behind closed doors with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The meeting started around 3.20pm when Ndume arrived the Vice President’s office.

Ndume is one of the frontline aspirants for the position of Senate President for the 9th Senate in June.

He had declared his intention to run for the number three highest political office in the land despite the endorsement of the current Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan by the ruling All Progressives Congress for the same position.

The Borno State born politician is seen as a detribalised person and he appears to be having support of some of the senators across party line

Though his stiff opposition to some policies of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki appears to be the obstacle he may face in achieving his dreams.

After the closed meeting, Senator Ndume declined to talk to State House correspondents that waited to know the agenda and outcome of the meeting with the Vice President.

He said that he was still consulting and should not make any comments on the meeting.

When asked whether he would succumb to pressure by his party to step down for the party’s candidate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, he rhetorically asked, “Me, step down? I am still consulting.”

Also reminded that he was said to be opposition bride, he also replied, “Me that is regarded as enemy by opposition?

Senator Ndume was suspended as a Senate leader because of his opposition to the non confirmation of the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and his loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari.

He was the Director of APC Presidential Campaign for the North East.

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SECURITY

Government must accept responsibility for this tragedy – Fela speaks on Police brutality

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The Presidential candidate of Alliance for New Nigeria, Fela Durotoye has condemned the alleged killing of Kolade Johnson by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

Fela Durotoye

Kolade was alleged to have been shot by a member of a police team, while he was watching a Premier League fixture between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in Lagos on Sunday.

Johnson’s death has since sparked widespread criticism, with a renewed call on the Federal Government to end the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS) unit of the police.

Speaking on the development, the Lagos Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Bala Elkana, in a statement said suspects have been arrested and investigation begun into the matter.

Durotoye, reacting in a series of tweet on his Twitter page, highlighted what President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration needed to do to seek justice for Kolade.

He wrote: “My heart and Prayers go out to the Johnson family on the tragic passing of their son, brother, husband and father, Kolade Johnson, whose life was prematurely taken by operatives of Special Anti Cultism Squad (SACS) while watching a football match.

“This is one more needless and tragic death and another reason why we must once & for all End police brutality.

“I believe the primary responsibility of govt is to protect the lives & property of every citizen and our leaders must hold dear that sacred responsibility by holding to account any law enforcement agent who through abuse of power and excessive use of force leads to the loss of life.

“The government must accept responsibility for this tragedy and take quick action to set up a credible investigation that leads to a QUICK conclusion and restitution to ensure justice is served.

“No one can understand the pain that the family and friends of Kolade Johnson are going through at this time, I pray that God’s comfort soothes their hearts & May His soul rest in perfect peace.

“As Nigerians we all deserve to be safe & secure wherever we live, work and play and our government must take convincing & conclusive steps to reassure us that every Nigerian live matters & needless loss of lives would not happen in the future.

“I recommend that at the very least, government should send a high powered delegation to the Johnson family to commiserate with them & feel their pain … The government should cover funeral expenses & support his family with a monthly stipend & scholarship.

“Our government should show care to the family, take care of the family and take action to ensure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

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