09 Mar

The week ahead – The search for responsibility intensifies

The Senate has threatened to withhold budget approval for any government agency which fails to submit its audited report to the Auditor General of the Federation by May. Saying that only 10% of the MDAs in question had submitted their reports, Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, added that out of 64 government agencies, only one has submitted details of its 2018 budget proposal. The Senate, had in February, given Ministries Departments and Agencies, one-week ultimatum to submit details of their 2018 budget proposals or risk sanctions.

Nigeria’s trade account turned positive in 2017 as a rise in oil exports outweighed imports after dollar shortages frustrated transactions, the NBS said. The balance of trade last year was ₦4.03 trillion ($13.2 billion). The net trade balance stood at a negative ₦290 billion for 2016. The rise boosts Nigeria’s ambition to promote exports to support its fragile economy, and earn foreign exchange while reducing imports. Its 2017 gross domestic product rose 0.8 percent to emerge from Nigeria’s first recession in 25 years. The NBS said oil and gas exports accounted for more than 93 percent of exports in the fourth quarter, with cocoa bean exports, largely to the Netherlands, Malaysia and Indonesia, making up 0.37 percent. Fourth-quarter imports dipped 8.5 percent from the previous year to ₦2.11 trillion, the statistics bureau said. But exports more than compensated, jumping 31.3 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier to ₦3.91 trillion, the NBS said.

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry plans to hold a round-table to renegotiate grey areas in the new Lagos land use charge law. In a statement signed by its Director-General, Muda Yusuf, the LCCI said the 9 March dialogue would examine the provisions of the recently passed law viz-a-viz its implications for residents and businesses operating in Lagos State and its environs. The state government recently repealed its 2001 land use charge law, and replaced it with a new law passed by state lawmakers on 29 January, and signed by Governor Ambode on 8 February. Residents who have been sent the new rates in their 2018 bills, claim an increase of between 150 and 300 percent over the 2017 rates, according to The Cable.

Authorities in Burkina Faso have made eight arrests after the start of investigations following attacks on the French embassy, and members of staff of the country’s armed forces. Maïza Séremé, a prosecutor, said that two serving military officers, and a dismissed officer were among those arrested. The Burkinabe authorities also believe they have one of the masterminds of this double attack. It is attributed to a Jihadist organisation known as the “Islamic and Muslim Support Group”. Authorities said they cannot rule out any possibility at this stage of investigations and are looking for accomplices.


  • On the Senate’s demand for audited reports from MDAs, while there is the practicality of yet another delayed budget passage, we agree with the Senate’s position. If the MDAs comply, it will go a long way to engender accountability and responsibility, and perhaps many of the MDAs that do nothing productive will come to light. However, the Senate must not only demand accountability but show the same, and open its own budget for scrutiny.
  • Having a positive balance of trade is just that – a positive balance of trade. The devil is in the detail. Basically, Nigeria had the international oil companies (owned by foreign entities) mine its oil and sell it for a consideration, then use the proceeds to purchase goods from other foreign entities. The result, as has been the case since the 1970s, is that little value added to Nigerians. Perhaps the positive news was that imports dipped in 2017 (albeit by less than 10%) even as the country grew out of a recession. The true test of whether the country is dropping its taste for foreign goods, is if the downward trend of its import bill continues in 2018 and beyond.
  • The Lagos State Government has put the cart before the horse in the land use charge law palaver. The law should have been negotiated and debated thoroughly. For years now, Lagos has made it a routine to raise taxes with little debate, and this is unacceptable in a democracy. When coupled with the controversy surrounding the inclusion of Alpha Beta Company in the the law, Lagos has taken state capture to new levels. We urge Governor Ambode to return to the fundamental purpose of government – for the good of the citizenry and not for the profit of government and its cronies.
  • Until recently, Burkina Faso has been safe from these jihadist attacks, but three attacks this year represent a new threat to its internal security. Now, the JSIM has joined a growing number of jihadist organisations operating in the Sahel region where groups like Ansar al-Din and MUJAO used to operate. The broader region includes Boko Haram and AQIM. The attacks have shown the need for a regional response between the West African countries, and their foreign allies especially considering how fluid borders are, and how jihadist groups collaborate. This cooperation will include the regional body, ECOWAS, and other partners such as the EU and ECCAS.