26 Feb

The week ahead – Job losses are tied to security

The Lagos State Government has confirmed an outbreak of measles in Otodo Gbame community in Eti-Osa LGA. The disease which claimed the lives of many children was first confirmed by the Eti Osa Local Government Medical Officer of Health on 9 February, 2016. The Lagos Health Ministry has notified the Federal Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation and immediately constituted a team of epidemiologists to investigate the outbreak and institute appropriate measures to prevent further spread of the disease. The graves of 20 children who died from the outbreak since the first case on 6 January, 2016, were identified by their parents.

The Lagos State Government has announced that it has concluded plans to establish the first ever high-powered DNA Forensic Laboratory in Nigeria which will take off within the next six months to a year. The lab, which would be called the Lagos State DNA Forensics Centre (LSDFC), when fully operational, will fulfil an unmet need for DNA profiling which is a unique forensic technique that is now being used all over the world.

Up to forty thousand jobs are being directly threatened by the scarcity of American dollars in the markets. The scarcity has made it difficult for manufacturers of essential food items to import raw materials into the country. The high cost of importation due to the unprecedented fall in the value of the naira has resulted in many factories operating far below their installed capacities.

Excess liquidity in Nigeria’s banking system rose to N1.24 trillion, last weekend, following a huge backlog of unmet foreign exchange demand for which the CBN, returned the Naira backup funds to banks last Friday. There is also indication that the liquidity overflow will reach an all-time high by the end of this week, following the maturity of Treasury Bills worth N257.9 billion which will be credited to the banks by CBN. This is expected to see interbank money rates trending at very low levels with further erosion of margins and yields in money market instruments.

Former Oil Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, has denied claims that she awarded crude oil swaps valued at $24 billion without supporting contracts. In a statement, supported by letters from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the former minister when she was in office, she rejected reports attributed to the probe in the House of Representatives on the oil swaps claiming that she granted an “extension” instead of approval for the renewal of the contracts for the swaps.

Twenty three Boko Haram members were killed, and a hundred and fifty hostages rescued as Nigerian and Cameroonian troops continue a clear out of terrorists hideouts. The Nigerian Army said Tuesday night that troops of 7 Division carried out major operations against Boko Haram locations in Talala and Kumshe axis. During the joint operation between elements of 7 Division and Cameroonian forces along Banki-Kumshe axis, twenty Boko Haram members were killed, the troops destroyed four Kalashnikov rifles and captured a gun truck mounted with an anti-aircraft gun and two Kalashnikovs, as well as a 60mm mortar and a dane gun. Also, troops at Kodo rescued a hundred and fifty persons, mainly children.

President Buhari has declined an invitation by Saudi Arabia to join a coalition of Islamic States against terror. Buhari, who is on a week-long visit to Saudi Arabia and Qatar told his host and the ruler of Saudi Arabia, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, that rather than joining Nigeria would support the coalition.

COUNSEL

  • While we commend the Lagos state government for active mobilization in tackling the outbreak of measles in Eti-Osa after an indifferent start, the loss of over 20 children reflects the poor health care sector within the state in particular and Nigeria in general. We urge governments at all levels to invest money in qualitative health care and to desist from elitist grandiose projects that do not benefit the majority of Nigerians.
  • It is good news that Lagos state wants to set up a DNA forensic lab to help in resolving crimes. It is at the same time sad that a country of more than a hundred and fifty million people has no functional forensic DNA Laboratory that can aid the law enforcement community. It is a shame and other states, including the FG must follow the example of Lagos.
  • We call on the CBN to refocus the monetary policy, loosen the capital controls, and create a monetary environment that will jump start the economy and save Nigerians from untold hardship. The air of uncertainty of the economic environment in Nigeria may continue for a while, and we request Nigerians to brace up for uncomfortable times.
  • The excess liquidity being enjoyed by banks currently, especially for the funds for forex which the CBN returned to the banks, is profane. A situation where customers of banks have funded accounts for several months without access to forex, not only impairs capital but also casts them in a bad light before their suppliers abroad. We call on the CBN to establish the 2nd tier forex market in order to clear the backlog of unmet forex requests.
  • A final forensic investigation of the NNPC and the Petroleum Ministry is in order to put an end to the incessant and unnecessary probes by various organs of government. It amounts to an exercise in futility when these endless probes from National Assembly and the Executive have never brought any closure. We recall that the current FG has instituted multi agency probes and also called on external investigators to look into the books of the NNPC, and we plead for a speedy conclusion.
  • We commend the military for the task in the North East, however, we repeat that Nigeria will be in this quagmire until there is a comprehensive security strategy to end the insurgency.
  • We commend President Buhari for not signing up to the Saudi coalition. Such a move would have created a discord within Nigeria’s socio-political environment based on the fault lines of religion, and it may have put us more in ISIS’s radar, potentially strengthening their lukewarm relationship with Boko Haram.