29 Jan

The week ahead – Kidnapping and the naira will dominate discussion

The menace of kidnapping in Nigeria was put into focus following the brutal manner in which a traditional ruler in Aniocha North Local Government of Delta state, the Obi of Ubulu-Uku, was abducted and held for a few weeks, and was then murdered and his body dumped on the busy Asaba-Onitsha Road. The traditional stool had been in contention with some other parties laying claim to the throne until the recent gruesome event. The Police claims that they are on the trail of the suspects.

Representatives of Benue and Nasarawa states met in Lafia, the Nasarawa state capital to deliberate on a number of security issues plaguing the two states. They agreed to quell a cross border crisis that has led to militias invading villages and destroying lives and property. The Benue state government had offered amnesty to those willing to lay their arms, and celebrated them in an elaborate ceremony in Markudi. In a similar development Cattle Rustlers surrenderred arms to Kano state government, in exchange for amnesty and a plea to be reinstated into the society.

The Eastern Naval Command in Cross Rivers State intercepted a ship full of illegal immigrants and some Nigerians, and escorted some citizens of Gabon off  the Calabar coast.

Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has accused members of the National Assembly of corruption, impunity and greed. Speaking against the backdrop of the National Assembly’s proposal to buy cars for members, Obasanjo also alleged that the lawmakers were fond of repeatedly breaking the nation’s laws. In a January 13 letter addressed to Senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Obasanjo specifically said the lawmakers had been involved in fixing and earning salaries and allowances far above what the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) approved for them. He also alleged in the letter that a number of the 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives were receiving constituency allowances without maintaining their local offices as required by the law.

An aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan has installed himself as the national chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in dramatic fashion. Ahmed Gulak, political adviser to Jonathan, arrived the party headquarters in Abuja with 10 other supporters and proclaimed himself the national chairman. The PDP has been without a substantive chairman since Ahmed Mu’azu resigned on May 20, 2015. Uche Secondus, who is the deputy national chairman, has been acting as the chairman since then. Secondus and other key officers of the party were absent at the time Gulak made his proclamation.

The Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, NECA, says that the Nigerian Postal Service, NIPOST, sneaked through the back door to use the Central Bank of Nigeria to impose an illegal stamp duty on Nigerians. The apex bank had last week directed all deposit money banks to commence the charging of N50 per eligible transaction in accordance with the provisions of the Stamp Duties Act and Federal Government Financial Regulations (2009).

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), warned that the CBN’s benchmark of interest rate of 11 percent is too high and not sustainable for the members of the private sector. The President of MAN, Dr. Franks Jacob, noted that no local manufacturer will be able to survive with any loan above single digit interest rate in the face of the current economic challenges in the country.

Executive Vice Chairman, of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has said that the NCC may consider MTN Nigeria’s plea to settle its dispute out of court. Speaking at a press conference in Lagos, Danbatta explained that NCC’s lawyers were already talking with MTN’s lawyers on the issue of an out of court settlement.

President Muhammadu Buhari has again said that he is yet to be convinced that Nigeria and its people will derive any tangible benefit from an official devaluation of the Naira. Speaking at a meeting with Nigerians living in Kenya, President Buhari maintained that while export-driven economies could benefit from devaluation of their currencies, devaluation will only result in further inflation and hardship for the poor and middle classes in Nigeria’s import-dependent economy. The president added that he had no intention of bringing further hardship on the country’s poor who, he said, have suffered enough already.

COUNSEL

  • The kidnapping incident that ended in the murder of a traditional ruler has shown the nature of insecurity in Nigeria, especially that of kidnapping and murder. No one is safe either poor or rich. We urge the Ministry of Interior to take ownership of citizen’s security and as a matter of national emergency.
  • Benue and Nasarawa states must move beyond rhetoric and evolve a comprehensive plan of action in order to address the incessant upheaval in those states, especially as it affects the poor and the vulnerable, scattered around isolated villages, often left for dead. We also urge the National Assembly to take an interest in the Middle Belt clashes and empower states to be able to take care of their own security.
  • The incident at the Calabar coast, where we have illegal immigrants making attempt to enter Nigeria must be a wake up call before it degenerates to a bigger problem. We have all kinds of national security challenges, though we give kudos to the efforts of the Navy, we must also call for intensification of efforts in order not to allow terrorists and undesirable elements infiltrate Nigeria.
  • The former President is right to call the National Assembly to order. We have always maintained the NASS’s budget is a drain on the economy especially given that there has been precious little to show for their performance.
  • The current crisis within the PDP will have an overall negative effect on our democracy. We urge the party to resolve its internal challenges and sit up so it can provide a credible opposition to the governing APC. Nigeria must not be allowed to descend into a one party state as a result.
  • We join NECA in protest, and also call for a review of the N50 stamp duty on deposits made on account holders of banks. The review must be done so that poorer account holders, including struggling SMEs, who are already groaning under the weight of a faltering economy will not bear too much more of a burden.
  • We call on the CBN to evolve a single digit interest rate for manufacturing companies through the banks in order to help their operations in this time of economic uncertainty.
  • We advise the NCC to settle out of court with MTN in order to demonstrate flexibility, maturity, and for the sake of jobs that will be affected if MTN is seriously affected in a negative manner.
  • Finally, the President must be made to understand that the current, false valuation of the naira is hurting the economy, especially small businesses. We have in the past recommended a free float of the currency as this will enable Nigerians to know the true value of the naira, and eliminate the corruption in the foreign exchange market.