04 Aug

The week ahead – The quest for clarity and stability

A group of Nigerian banks has agreed on an extension to a $1.2 billion loan made to 9mobile, formerly known as Etisalat Nigeria, pending the mobile operator finding new investors, FCMB said on Tuesday. Nigerian regulators stepped in last month to save Etisalat Nigeria from collapse and to prevent lenders from placing the country’s fourth biggest telecoms group into receivership, prompting a board, management and name change. Etisalat Nigeria took out a $1.2 billion loan four years ago from 13 local banks to refinance existing debt and expand its mobile network, but it struggled to repay due to a currency crisis and a recession in Nigeria. FCMB, which is owed ₦4.5 billion by the telecoms group, said lenders had put a hold on taking provisions on the debt and that they were working with the regulators. The banks, many of which are reporting first-half results, have been trying to work out the value of 9mobile before deciding whether to impair the loan or wait until the company finds new investors.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, said the war against Boko Haram insurgents is not yet over. Buratai noted that more efforts must be put in place to finally crush the insurgents. The head of Nigeria’s military made the declaration while addressing officers and soldiers in Damaturu, the Yobe state capital, on Wednesday. This charge comes as Boko Haram insurgents launched a night attack on Mildu village in Madagali Local Government Area, Adamawa on 1 August, killing seven people and injuring about 10 others, media reports cite residents and officials as saying. Fleeing residents said the insurgents stormed the village, about six to seven kilometres from Gulak, capital of Madagali LGA, on the fringes of the Sambisa forest stronghold of the group, at about 12 midnight and opened fire on sleeping residents, as well as burning homes and shops during the attack.

Prominent community leaders in the restive Niger Delta region threatened on Monday to pull out of peace talks with the government unless their demands were met by 1 November. They told a news conference in Abuja, that the FG had failed to implement promises to drag the region out of poverty, a key demand by militants who had stopped attacks on oil pipelines to give peace talks a chance. The Pan Niger Delta forum spoken for by Chief Edwin Clark, had presented President Muhammadu Buhari a list of 16 demands at a meeting on Nov. 1, 2016, after which the main militant groups halted attacks in the southern swamplands to give the talks a chance. “If at the expiration of the November 1, 2017 ultimatum, the Federal Government fails and or refuses to accede to these lawful and legitimate demands of the Niger Delta people, PANDEF may consider pulling out of the ongoing peace process in the Niger Delta,” Clark said.

A traditional ruler of a community in Ikorodu area of Lagos has been arrested alongside three others in connection with activities of Badoo cult’s killings in the community, with the latest tragic activity happening on Sunday claiming the lives of a family of four in Ibeshe. The traditional ruler, identified simply as Awoyemi, was said to have been arrested for allowing his domain to be used as haven for badoo boys to perform rituals with human blood. The shrines were uncovered by the police. It was reported that five graves, big-horned figurines, as well as left over sacrifices were discovered at the shrines located in a forest in Agbowa area of Ikorodu. Spokesman for the Lagos State Police Command, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, confirmed the raid of the shrine, promising to give detailed report on the arrest soon.

Suggestions

  • The new approach could have been taken BEFORE Etisalat went into receivership. Unfortunately, the banks preferred an approach that has ultimately eroded value for all the parties concerned. Etisalat’s inability to repay was not as a result of bad business fundamentals but the movement of currency. We would have expected that the bankers knew this and could have found a way for the new fundamentals that reflect the new currency realities. We hope that all the parties involved, from regulators to banks and the operators, take the learning points from this episode.
  • Boko Haram has been on a renewed offensive for the past couple of months, with attacks on villages and travellers. From the University of Maiduguri, it has kidnapped at least thirteen people, among whom, are ten women. This could be linked to the strategy of the military to repel attacks, rather than go on the offensive. It could also be linked to the change of command – the Commanding officer, Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Lucky Irabor was redeployed and replaced with Major General Ibrahim Attahiru just before the start of this new offensive. It is also important to point out that since the insurgency began, there have been setbacks when it comes to dealing with post-liberation phases of the conflict. The strategy for maintaining the peace, has to be looked at.
  • Following a meeting with the Acting President last night, PANDEF pulled back from its threat. But the issues remain. After the Ogoni Cleanup failed to kick-off despite all the fanfare, we warned that trust deficit engendered was bound to lead to a breakdown of talks. This is another instance of such trust deficit. While we urge the Niger Delta leaders to exercise restraint as Nigeria can ill afford another crisis in oil supply, we also urge the FG to show good faith by making clearly discernible moves towards fulfilling promises made. Some of the promises mean one thing to the people in the region, and another to the government. Harmonising these is also crucial if the government will not only deliver but be seen to have delivered.
  • Our most recent security report shines a spotlight on a low-level breakdown of law and order within Lagos state – one in which 57 percent of respondents said that they will leave Ikorodu – the second largest metropolitan area in the state after Lagos Metro – if the violence persists. Gangs such as Badoo are created, and grow, largely because of a combination of economic and socio-political factors, chief among which is the rising rate of unemployment. Nigeria has ignored dealing with these groups for too long, and they now present a real danger to society. Badoo presents Nigeria with an opportunity to learn how to properly learn from and manage a potential insecurity outbreak. It must be utilised.