Nigeria at the weekend in Niamey, Niger Republic, officially joined the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as President Muhammadu Buhari finally signed the agreement at the opening of the African Union (AU) Summit.
This is coming as the President of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr. Babatunde Ruwase, yesterday hailed Nigeria’s membership of AfCFTA and commended Buhari for signing the agreement.
The president’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement, said Buhari signed the treaty at exactly 10: 47 a.m. in the presence of other African heads of state and governments, delegates and representatives from the private sector, civil society and the media, which attended the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union on the launch of the Operational Phase of the AfCFTA.
The phase one of the agreement was adopted by African Union (AU) Heads of State and Governments at its 10th Extraordinary Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 21, 2018.
But Nigeria pulled out of the agreement signing ceremony at the last minute, following agitations from the private sector that the agreement would make Nigeria a dumping ground for goods and services in Africa.
Consequently, the president set up a committee to make wider consultations on the agreement with a view to coming up with recommendations on whether Nigeria should join AfCFTA or not.
The committee, while submitting its report on June 27, advised Buhari to sign the agreement, listing a number of factors, which aided the committee’s recommendations and the benefits accruable from it.
Shortly after signing the agreement yesterday, the president, according to the statement, declared that Nigeria’s commitment to trade and African integration had never been in doubt neither had it ever been under any threat.
The statement added that Buhari told the summit that Nigeria would build on yesterday’s signing of the treaty by proceeding expeditiously with the ratification of the AfCFTA.
‘‘Nigeria wishes to emphasize that free trade must also be fair trade. As African leaders, our attention should now focus on implementing the AfCFTA in a way that develops our economies and creates jobs for our young, dynamic and hardworking population,” Buhari said, adding: “I wish to assure you that Nigeria shall sustain its strong leadership role in Africa, in the implementation of the AfCFTA. We shall also continue to engage, constructively with all African countries to build the Africa that we want.”
The statement, which copiously quoted the president on his observations on the agreement, also said the president congratulated Ghana on its selection to host the Secretariat of the AfCFTA while describing the signing of the agreement on behalf of Nigeria as an honor.
The president recalled his hesitation to sign last year, explaining it was due to reservations at home.
He said he subsequently extensively consulted and sensitized the stakeholders, adding that the outcome was a buy-in by all concerned.
“Our consultations and assessments reaffirmed that the AfCFTA can be a platform for African manufacturers of goods and providers of service to construct regional value chains for made in Africa goods and services,” Buhari said, adding: “It was also obvious that we have a lot of work to do to prepare our nation to achieve our vision for intra-African trade, which is the free movement of ‘made in Africa goods.’
Buhari says critics are not patriotic
Those politicizing insecurities are unpatriotic, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Tuesday. The President’s remark came hours after former President Goodluck Jonathan said the security situation in the land was getting worse.
It also came after former President Olusegun Obasanjo gave Buhari a wake-up call on the security challenges to avert a looming calamity.
But, receiving representatives of the Buhari Campaign Organisation (BCO) in the State House, Abuja, yesterday, the President branded those politicizing the isolated cases of insecurity as unpatriotic Nigerians.
According to him, every country faces one security challenge or the other. He identified banditry and kidnapping as new security challenges in Nigeria.
Buhari said: “Your contribution during the election is commendable. Let me use this medium to assure you that you would not be disappointed because of this second term, I intend to renew efforts in securing the country, fighting corruption and strengthening the economy.
“Every country has security challenges. While we have made significant progress in fighting against terrorism, we acknowledge that there are new and emerging challenges of kidnapping and banditry.
“I assure you that we will not relent in our efforts to secure the country from criminal activities Those who politicize the isolated incidents of insecurity are not patriotic Nigerians.
“I am confident that this administration will use all the resources at its disposal to protect the lives of all Nigerians and not just prominent Nigerians but all.”
Restating his commitment to stepping up the fight against corruption, Buhari said that his administration would continue to be tough on the menace.
The President said” As you may be aware, the AU (African Union) at its deliberations last year, appointed me as African Anti-Corruption Champion for the continent.
“This is because other countries have seen our dedication to fighting corruption and they are keying in to emulate our approach.”
On plans to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years, Buhari said the policies put in place to support farmers and small businesses were yielding positive results.
According to him, the government has a plan to integrate farmers and owners of small businesses into the larger economy.
He said: “We are keeping our currency steady and are adopting broad business policies to encourage private sector investment.
“I want to reassure you that Nigeria is open for business as no country in the world can achieve rapid economic growth without significant Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).”
Osinbajo: we’re moving GDP to 25%
The federal government said it plans to move the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) from the current 15 percent to 25 percent between the next two and four years.
Speaking at the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) 62nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Lagos, Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo said this will be achieved through the various economic policies put together by the government.
He said the government will intensify efforts on the implementation of the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan.
Represented by former Special Adviser to the President on Economic Recovery, Mr. Yomi Dipeolu, the Vice President said: “On efforts made so far to reinvigorate the economy, include several economic and fiscal policies, which included rebuilding fiscal buffer, enhancing Forex reserve, improving the ease of doing business and focusing on import substitution, had been undertaken by the present administration.”
The Second Vice President of NECA, Mr. Mauricio Alarcon, in his address said challenges of operational hiccups experienced at the port remained one year after the Presidential Executive Order to promote transparency and efficiency. He called for urgent infrastructural development at the Lagos Port as the country has lost about N6 trillion across different sectors due to the Apapa gridlock.
”Survey by the OPS showed that Nigeria lost about N3.06 trillion on non-oil export and about N2.5 trillion earnings annually across the different sectors due to the Apapa gridlock,” Alarcon said.
He said the now that the general election was over; the government should look at reforms that would significantly impact on the economy.
”There is a need to fast-track infrastructural development at the Lagos Port, diversification program, a market is driven foreign exchange management, sustain and a significant reduction in the cost of governance.
“Government should also fast-track the passage of Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, market-driven electricity supply and billing system,” he said.
Oyo state governor publicly declares his N48 billion asset
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has published his asset declaration document showing he has in excess of N48 billion in both cash and properties.
PT reported that the governor complied with Nigeria’s code of conduct law that mandates senior public office holders to file their asset details while assuming and exiting office.
It is however not compulsory to make the details of asset public.
Mr Makinde went further on Monday to release details of what he filled in his asset form at the Code of Conduct Bureau in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
He also said he would encourage all his potential cabinet appointees to do so when they are nominated.
He became the first high-ranking public official to do so amongst those that emerged in the last general election.
According to a statement by Taiwo Adisa, a spokesperson for Mr Makinde, the governor’s CCB OYSE/2019/001 form filed on May 28, 2019, showed he had N48 billion in cash and asset.
The asset was categorised in cash at hand, in the bank, landed properties (developed and undeveloped), and household items.
They also include shares and bonds owned by the governor, his wife, Omini Makinde, as well as his companies.
As of May 28, 2019, Mr Makinde’s bank balance stood at N234, 742,296.01. In dollar terms, he has cash valued at $30,056.99 as at the same date.
Properties, including the developed and undeveloped as well as household items indicated on the asset forms, showed that the governor is worth N2, 624,800,500.
In dollar terms, Mr Makinde also declared properties, developed and undeveloped as well as household items valued at $4,400,000.
In South African Rands, the governor declared buildings and household items worth four million, four hundred and fifty-seven thousand, five hundred and fifty-four and four South African Rands.
The houses declared by Governor Makinde include nine buildings in Nigeria, two in the United States of America and one in South Africa.
One of the properties in the United States is described as “jointly owned.”
The details showed the current value of Makinde’s companies stands at N48, 150,736,889, including 33,730,000 units of shares as of May 28.
The governor also has existing Bonds (Eurobond) worth $3, 793, 500 as well as shares, debentures and other securities valued at N120,500,000(One hundred and twenty million, five hundred thousand naira).
FIRMS AND VALUES
The governor also listed companies that include Makon Engineering and Technical Services Limited; Energy Traders and Technical Services Limited; and Makon Oil and Gas Limited.
Makon Group Limited, Makon Construction Limited and Makon Power System Limited were also listed
The asset declaration form indicated that Governor Makinde’s four companies have additional assets denominated as loan notes.
They are as follows: Makon Engineering and Technical Services Limited(N1.7 billion); Makon Power System Limited(N148.4 million); Makon Oil and Gas Limited(N341 million); Energy Traders and Technical Services Limited(N1.159bn) totalling N3.389 billion.
Disclosure of asset by public officials is rare in Nigeria. The lack of transparency plays a key role in the country’s alarming corruption problem.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who came to power in 2015 with the pledge to fight corruption, promised to make his asset public.
He only did so after public pressure. Even so, he did not release some details of his asset, including those belonging to his wife and children.
The president and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo have yet to make their asset public after winning a second term.
Bauchi: Panel seeks to reconcile crisis rocking House of Representatives
The 12-man Panel set up by the House of Representatives to wade into the crisis rocking the Bauchi State House of Assembly has commenced reconciliatory efforts.
The Committee headed by Hon. Musa Sarkin Adar commenced collection of complaints from aggrieved lawmakers and critical stakeholders in the State on Monday.
Speaking during a courtesy visit on Governor Bala Muhammed by members of the panel, Adar said that the House of Representatives has given them the mandate to look into the event that led to the state having ‘two speakers’ and the subsequent closure of the House for about a month.
He added his committee members will gather information to help determine a resolution capable of bringing peace to the house.
“We are from different geopolitical zones, party lines and tribes, we promise to do justice to the issues of the parliament. Our concern is to make peace and consequently setting the state on progress lane.
“With these, we want all aggrieved members or any party to tender their displeasure, either recent or old testimony between today and Wednesday,” he said
The governor said: “As a parliamentarian, we are ashamed of the situation in the state, though politics is dynamic-some of the democratisation come with crisis, by this, we must always be loyal to the will of the people, we respect the autonomy of the parliament.
“What happened in Bauchi is very regrettable but we are not going to preempt what you have come here for but give you all the support that is required. As far as we are concerned, there is only one house in Bauchi.
“The election has been conducted and I was the one who signed the proclamation and the election was held with the symbol of authority in the house not outside and within the timeline.
“Of course, some people were excluded, it is very sad for people who are representing different constituencies to be excluded from discharging their parliamentary exercise.
“We appreciate your coming. Definitely, some people have been expecting your arrival. My self and deputy are parliamentarians, we have been to the Senate and we are today at the helms of affairs of Bauchi today.”
Two Speakers emerged at the Bauchi Assembly inauguration on June 20.
13 out of 31 members of the Assembly elected Hon. Abubakar Suleiman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) representing Ningi Constituency as Speaker of the Bauchi House of Assembly.
Other 18 aggrieved APC lawmakers outwitted held a parallel election outside the Chamber of the House to elect the former Speaker Damina after they were reportedly prevented from gaining access by security personnel.
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