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Ending Unending Depreciation Of Naira Via Local Production

Kadiri Abdulrahman

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Ending Unending Depreciation Of Naira Via Local Production

Nigerians are bothered by the unending depreciation of their legal tender, the Naira. The currency exchanged at N197 to a dollar in June 2015, but now exchanges at above N400.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), recently devalued the Naira by seven percent against the dollar, in a bid to migrate towards a single exchange rate system for the local currency.

The apex bank replaced the fixed rate of 379 Naira to a dollar used for official transactions with the investors and exporters (I&E) exchange rate, also known as the  Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange (NAFEX) rate of 410.25 Naira per dollar.

READ ALSO: What’s The Big Deal About Cryptocurrency?

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said that the move was informed by the apex bank’s quest for sanity in the forex market.

“We found out that we were no longer dealing in this so-called CBN official rate for transactions, we are still running a managed-float.

“We are monitoring the market and seeing what is happening for us to ensure that the right things are happening for the good of the Nigerian economy,” he said.

Findings revealed that Bureau De Change (BDC) operators got the dollar from the CBN at N393 but sold it for N494.

Experts blame preference for unnecessary importation of goods and services by Nigerians and the deficit in local production and manufacturing of essential goods and services as reasons for the weak currency.

Mr. Laoye Jaiyeola, Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) advised the government to encourage consumption of locally manufactured goods and services in order to reduce pressure on the Naira.

“The reason we all care about the value of the Naira to the dollar is that we need to import.

“If we can access good medical facilities at home, good education, and we do not import petrol, we will not care about the value of the dollar.

“If we produce what we consume and consume what we produce, the value of the Naira will stabilize,” he said.

The Federal Government in 2015 took steps to ease pressure on the Naira by restricting items that could be imported into the country, and for which foreign exchange could be officially accessed.

The CBN also banned importers of 41 products from accessing the foreign exchange market.

Under the policy, the CBN would not grant foreign exchange to import the 41 products, mostly consumer or intermediate products.

Though the policy resulted in plummeting exchange rate of the Naira, the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, insisted that the objective of the policy was to tackle the problem of import dependency and to diversify the economy.

According to him, the intervention would help to resuscitate local manufacturing and change the structure of the economy.

In spite of this and other similar policies, the Naira continued to depreciate.

Stakeholders have identified several factors militating against the stability and strengthening of the Naira at the foreign exchange market.

They explained that whenever the authorities introduced a dual exchange rate regime, some people would take advantage of the usually wide gap between the two rates to round-trip by buying from the official market at a lower rate and then sell at the autonomous market at a higher rate.

According to them, having the right exchange rate was the only way of keeping the nation out of debt burden. They also stressed the need for Nigerians to import what cannot be produced in the country.

A former Deputy Governor of the CBN, Mr. Ernest Ebi, explained that exchange rate management in the country was determined within the framework of the overall macro-economic policy objectives.

“The exchange rate of the domestic currency was deliberately over-valued to make imports cheaper,” he said.

He explained that this policy regime was sustained by the huge foreign exchange inflow arising from the oil boom in the mid-1970s up to the 1980s.

Former Minister of Finance, Chief Olu Falae, who spoke on the issue, blamed the depreciation of the Naira against other international currencies on the weak economic base of the country.

Falae said for the Naira to appreciate, there was the need to expand the productive capacity in order to produce more goods and even generate more jobs.

He stressed the need for a reduction in imports so that the country would spend fewer dollars on importation.

Falae also said that it had become imperative for the nation to rekindle interest in agriculture and industrial production.

“We are not producing at home. That is the point. Because we are not producing, we have to import a lot of things and this will put pressure on the Naira,” he said.

As the nation’s currency continues to depreciate, Nigerians continue to express worry that the Naira, which some years ago, was at par with the dollar had become so weak and vulnerable.

They see the value of the Naira against the dollar and other foreign currencies as indicative of the shape of the Nigerian economy.

According to Nigerian veteran musician and social commentator, Femi Kuti, the unending depreciation of the Nigerian currency is an indication of how the country’s economic problems have multiplied over the years.

“Some years ago, one dollar was exchanged for one Naira.  But now it is about N400 to one dollar, this means that Nigeria’s problems have multiplied by over 400 times,” he said.

Unarguably, for the Naira to gain some value and become stable, the government must put policies in place to accelerate economic diversification, be stricter in cutting consumption of imported goods and services and invest heavily in the real sector of the economy.

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INEC Votes Technology in a Season of Untruth, By Okoh Aihe

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INEC Votes Technology in a Season of Untruth, By Okoh Aihe

While our law makers were voting for a journey to the past penultimate week, by turning their back on modern technology in the conduct of elections, two significant things happened one after the other. Richard Branson went to the edge ofspace aboard Virgin Galatico’sSpaceShip Two on July 11, 2021.  Nine days later, on July 20, the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos was on his way up there, on a journey the world has tagged the race of the billionaires.

In between, the National Assembly took a vote on the Electoral Amendment Bill and voted against the transmission of election results by electronic means. It was a major disappointment for some non –government organisatriiosns (NGOs) and some Nigerians who had prayed for the National Assembly to disappoint them by doing something that is good, by voting yes, just this once, to redeem some of their very deplorable image. It has been fire literally and the nation is aghast with anger. In July 2021, the law makers said some parts of the country are so underdeveloped in terms of telecom infrastructure rollout that it was not possible to execute any electronic transmission of election results. And a particular one boasted irritably that he uses Thuraya phone in his village. And that Thuraya cannot transmit data?

READ ALSO: INEC Seeks Replacement of Manual With Electronic Voting

But let’s return to the billionaires. Those ambitious guys with lots of bucks to throw around –Jeff Bezos ($209.2bn) and Richard Branson ($4.7bn) who are spinning the next frontier of business into reality by organizing space tourism where a rider could pay as much as $250, 000 for a seat, if you decide to go with Virgin Galatico.

So, why am I linking the serious matter of space to the burlesque at the National Assembly? Just to say that the world is moving on. People are planning every day and whether we decide to remain on the same spot in this part of the world and continue to quarrel with providence for doing us wrong, life must go on and people must still go the edge of space to behold the beauty and fragility of the earth from up there. But that is life. You will have those who fly high and those who fly very low, struggling for the base concerns of life. Our politicians make the world hold us in ridicule.

Anyway, in trying to unshroud the entire process, the National Assembly invited the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), regulator of the telecommunications industry, and the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) who is in charge of election matters in the country. As it turned only the NCC went to the Assembly as INEC said it never really got any official invitation.

NCC has made its submission which outraged a number of people but INEC has responded indirectly through several media appearances of its officials to the effect that it had the capacity to go the way of technology in conducting elections,having received assurances from service providers. While NCC vacillated and tilted towards impossibility the data on ground and previous statements from the Commission put a lie to such submission. The Commission’s position has been fact-checked and incredulity is preponderant.

“We were bewildered by the NCC position because these were the same compatriots that had worked with us,” said Nick Dazang, INEC’s Director of Publicity and Voter Education, on AIT KAKAAKI programme.

Dazang observed there were inconsistencies in the amended Bill. How do you do electronic voting and remove electronic transmission of results? It is counterproductive.

He admitted that there were security challenges across the country but INEC has had to face some of these challenges in the past to organize elections that were acceptable. According to his story which is so well known to most people above the age of 10 in Nigeria, there has been insurgency in the North East since 2011. In all these years elections have been conducted in the States of the Region without fail.

“If we could develop a template to conduct elections there, why can’t we transmit results using technology?” he asked.

There continues to be disbelief within INEC just as it is in the larger Nigerian society. People are angry why our politicians in the National Assembly, a majority are smiling over a potentially dangerous move, trying to justify a position that is dismally selfish and only aimed at political preservation into the future.

In the sordid tragic-comic story, some stakeholders, especially the operators, have remained silent. So silent that even when they have been told that the network they have built in over two decades didn’t have the appetite for modern transmission, none of them has said anything.

When this writer reached out to some operators over the weekend, one official said: “I do not understand why NCC will give 2018 numbers. Why would they do that when the operators supply the regulator all the latest data? I don’t want to accept that NCC sounds political.”

READ ALSO: Senate Turns Down PDP Request Of E-Transmission Of Election Results

But do you have the capacity to do it, to carry the election results through your network backbone? The source was cautious explaining that there is no city in the country that has hundred percent coverage, just as there can hardly be any environment where there is no coverage at all. “Anywhere without a coverage may not have significant population otherwise an operator would put a base station there so as to provide services and make money.” Although everybody is expected to vote and the votes counted, the source maintained that such population may not be significant enough to affect the outcome of the elections.

Simple answer. Yes, we have the capacity and capability, but know that even in the cities there are blind spots where such electronic transmission may not be possible. The source also explained that operators were ready at any time to be informed of such environments so that they can escalate their service deployment.

The source expressed the fear that what is playing out at the National Assembly may have little to do with technology but more of the concealed agenda of the politicians who would never have moments to reflect on how low their image has plummeted.

The Nigerian politician is only concerned about tomorrow which may be too far for his aspirations. So in a fit to shore up the impossible he piles untruth on technology, so that he can continue to live in the shadow of sin. The politician wants to eat up the future so as to set the teeth of his children on edge. How very ironic. Unfortunately the younger generation are too smart for their old tricks, and will fight to redeem their future, using that same technology.

 

Okoh Aihe writes from Abuja.

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Why There Might Be No 2023 Elections – Dele Sobowale

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Why There Might Be No 2023 Elections – Dele Sobowale

“All political parties die, at last, of swallowing their own lies.”

J. Arbuthnot, 1667-1735, VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ p 191.

 

The sermon last week was about PDP reaping the whirl-wind of elected members decamping from the wind Obasanjo sowed from 2001 to 2007. Anybody in the All Progressives Congress, APC, who is rejoicing is akin to a man whose boat, unknown to him, has sprung a big leak, who is laughing at occupants of another boat bailing out water. Only providence can prevent the two boats from sinking. PDP and APC have, in many respects, become two sides of the same fake dollar bill. Many of those now shouting at the top of their voices in APC today were once proud card-carrying members of PDP. Granted, only few current PDP chieftains crossed over from APC, yet, Governor Obaseki decamped from APC and moved straight to the top of the PDP structure in Edo State.

Only a dunce will waste too much time or thought on which party our politicians belong to. Perhaps, it might help if we regard all of them belonging to a party called APPDPC. Don’t ask me what those letters stand for. When you live in a country whose political leadership consists of people who mostly cling to “Politics without principles”, then the labels mean very little. In fact they dont mean anything – except an excuse to seize power and loot the treasury.

The PDP lasted only sixteen years in government despite the desperate effort to receive stolen mandates in a bid to secure a devilish third term. The plan ended in ignominious defeat. The main architect and expected beneficiary is now sitting on a hill top mansion dispensing advice and wisdom which he failed to practice when in Aso Rock – consulting with demons who Reuben Abati informed us are resident there. The APC is sinking so fast that it is a safe bet that it might not survive beyond the Buhari presidency. At any rate, after eight years of atrocious performance by the FG what will APC have to tell Nigerians to win in a free and fair election? Obviously, unless elections are rigged in 2023, APC has very little chance for survival. Buhari, who provided the glue holding the party together, is going home. So, with defeat starring them in the face, the temptation will be strong to scuttle the 2023 elections altogether. Don’t dismiss it.

 

APC: A HOUSE SAVAGELY DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF.

“APC national convention under threat, party postpones congresses indefinitely.” News Report, July 11, 2021.

Behind that report buried inside a national newspaper lies the fact that the alliance of incompatible political elements which formed the APC in 2013 has been destroyed; and the semblance of a party exists now only on paper. The APC conceived and given birth in 2013 is dead. The parties to the coalition merely lack the guts, the wisdom and the exit plans for it to crumble.

The Caretaker Committee, a body which is not recognised by the party’s constitution, masks the fact that the APC had finally become a one-man show. President Buhari calls all the shots. He unilaterally appointed the members of the Committee and approves their measures with scant regard for the views of anybody else in the party. That was not how the APC was supposed to be run. But, APC did not become a one-man show after the fall of Adams Oshiomole. It became a sole property of Buhari right from the minute former President Jonathan called to congratulate the newly-elected President. Right there and then, APC members started swallowing the first of several lies. Here are is one.

LIE 1: “The Party is supreme..” That would imply that the framers of the APC constitution expected the President to consult widely, at least with the leaders of the party, when making very important decisions. I recollect asking four of the leaders in 2014 if the members actually believed that Buhari would accept party supremacy if elected. The answer was the same. The man has accepted democratic rule and party politics. He promised he will be guided by the party. And, we believe him. He is a man of integrity.” Or words to that effect.

“Scepticism is the first attribute of a good critic.” Lowell, 1819-1891.

 

I was not convinced. It is one of the most abiding lessons of history that habit is usually stronger than reason – especially after the age of 50. All the members of the coalition were hanging their hopes on the possibility that a 70+ years old man would discard his deeply ingrained instincts and become a born again apostle of democracy. The first twenty appointments Buhari made, could not have been so lopsided in Northern, Fulani, Daura appointees if the party was consulted. Thus, on the very first important decision he made, it was clear that party supremacy had been thrown into the dust bin even before the government got underway.

LIE 2: “He will change his approach as he progresses towards implementing the party’s manifesto.” That was the response of two of the Southern leaders when I asked if they were consulted before the lopsided first appointments. They were wrong. Buhari paid only lip-service to the manifesto.

LIE 3: “A political party deserves the approbation of [Nigerians] only as it represents the ideals, the aspirations and the hopes of [the people]. If it is anything else, it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.”

 

US President Dwight Eisenhower, November 7, 1956. (Amended).

The APC, in its manifesto, deceived Nigerians in 2015 and 2019 that it would represent their ideals and hopes for a better society. Among the false promises made in its manifesto were the following:

· to create at least one million new jobs every year….Create additional middle class of at least 1 million home owners in our first year in government and 1 million annually there after….

(Source: FROM OPPOSITION TO GOVERNING PARTY: NIGERIA’S APC MERGER STORY by Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, APC Founding Father.)

 

No need to list seriatim all the other lies packed into the manifesto. All Nigerians need to know is that Buhari, after building “world class hospitals” at home, now patronises “inferior hospitals” in London every time. Furthermore, instead of creating one million additional middle class annually, Buhari has been creating approximately 5 million more destitutes annually. Under his watch, roughly 40 million more people will sink below the global poverty line. If only half of the promises made on security in the deceptive manifesto were redeemed bandits and kidnappers would not be holding 1000 kids and driving farmers from the land. And, nobody would have dared to shoot down an Air Force jet.

Nigeria is now being governed as if this is a Banana Republic headed by a Confusionist-In-Chief. Yeye dey smell!!

The failure of this government is so colossal that it will require two other governments to clean up the mess and get us out of the debt trap into which they have led us. Only the most incorrigible liars, in a party full of them, can reasonably expect the party to win a free and fair election in 2023. Here is why.

 

LIE 4: “A secret is best kept if it is between two people with one dead.”

The greatest threat to the existence of APC was revealed recently by Alhaji Hanga, an ex-Chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, headed by Buhari. According to Hanga, “there was implicit agreement Buhari will hand over to Tinubu.” That conspiracy formed the basis of their forming the coalition which others joined. Buhari had sought to discharge his obligations under the agreement when he first proposed Tinubu as his running mate in 2014. It was the national outcry against a Muslim-Muslim ticket which scuttled that plan.

Tinubu mostly bank-rolled the APC for the 2015 elections; and his print and electronic media, as well as his political organisation delivered the South West votes massively. It is widely believed that he intends to hold Buhari to his promise. That, however, is one of the reasons why there might be no election in 2023. Anybody supported by Buhari will be difficult to “sell” to voters – after the atrocious performance of the last six years – and fears of worse to come. Yet, Buhari will not endorse any candidate who is not prepared to lie about his performance in office. Buhari’s endorsement will amount to a kiss of death.

 

LIE 5: “The most obstinate illusions are ultimately broken by facts.”

T. Roper, 1914-2003, VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ p 100.

Perhaps the most important reason why there might be no election in 2023 lies in the inescapable break-up of the APC. The Interim Caretaker Committee has done its best; but it has failed to repair the cracks within the party in every state. Kwara State serves as proxy for most other states where congresses might not be concluded peacefully. Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information, is now an outcast from the mainstream of the party in Kwara. For him, it is a matter of life or death. As things stand right now, political death stares Lai in the face. He will not go down quietly without a brutal fight — in any form imaginable.

Federal Ministers from at least ten states are also at war with the rank and file of the party in their states. APC will most likely repeat the mistakes which led to the loss of Rivers and Zamfara in 2019 – all over Nigeria.

Lastly, there can be no credible congresses or conventions or elections in Borno, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, Niger, Kebbi and perhaps Yobe states – among others. Unless there is a drastic change in security, INEC will find it difficult to recruit officers to conduct elections in several states. The combination of imminent APC defeat and insecurity points to the fact that no credible election can be held in 2023. Rather than lose honourably, the APC will throw the country into confusion. There after, anything can happen.

 

READ ABOUT TWO FABLES BY APC: THEY JUST CAN’T STOP LYING.

 

“FG created, saved 2m jobs through economic sustainability plan –OSINBAJO.

News Report, July 7, 2021.

Nobody can take politics as a profession and be honest – not even if you were once a Pastor. Two million jobs mean 54,000 jobs per state and the Federal Capital Territory. Just ask the Vice President to provide the list of beneficiaries of this plan; and wait for the response. You will receive no reply and no list to substantiate the claim. I just wish that men of God will stay in the churches or mosques. Everyone venturing into Nigerian politics gets stained. It is difficult to spend so much time with Devil’s Angels without losing virtue.

“Agric subsidy: Farmers fault FG, govt claims six million operators registered.”

The FG claimed to have registered six million farmers. The All Farmers Association of Nigeria’s President said: “I am not aware of any of such and we have not been registered. We are not part of what they are doing.” I asked at least 24 bid time farmers if they were registered. None has heard of the exercise. End of story. “Liars ought to have good memories.” Algernon Sidney, 1622-1683.

Attachments area

Reintroduce the teaching of Nigerian History and Civics in all secondary schools…Offer free and quantitative primary and secondary education to all.

· Increase the quality of all Federal Government owned hospitals to world class standard within five years…

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The Role of the Writer in Political Reform

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Chido Nwakanma

Find your voice!

Nigeria is in the throes of change. Change was the mantra of the ruling party as it swept into office in 2015. Since then, change has buffeted it and the country from various directions, mainly in the areas where it promised to deliver positives. These are the economy, security and the state of the nation.

Nigerians have experienced negative changes in all three areas. Nigerians now clamour for reform, beginning with the structural foundation of the country.

The writer is an intellectual or anyone who deals in and with ideas.”An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking, research, and reflection about the reality of society, who may also propose solutions for the normative problems of society, and thus gains authority as a public intellectual” – Wikipedia

Writers fit into this schema. For political engagement, we adopt a broad definition of the writer as an intellectual.

Noam Chomsky asserts, “It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and expose lies.” Chomsky says that faced with apparent lies, outrages and oppression, “intellectuals should follow the path of integrity wherever it may lead” His umbrella for intellectuals takes in”journalists, academics, artists, even clergy.”

Good writers have well-defined vision and mission statements though primarily unstated. It often includes participation in the conversations about the past, present and future of their countries. It is a primary reason for writing.

Even the Christian Holy Book recognises the role of the writer in visioning. Seven instances will do.

  1. Habakkuk 2:2. Then the LORD answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it”
  2. Romans 15:4 “For everything that was written in the past was written for our instruction so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.”
  3. Revelation 1:19. Therefore, write down the things you have seen, and the things that are, and the things that will happen after this.
  4. Deuteronomy 27:8. And you shall write distinctly upon these stones all the words of this la”.

The story outlives us all, both writer and reader. Chinua Achebe famously stated that the writer’s role is to teach and provide guidance for the people. “…only the story…can continue beyond the war and the warrior. It is the story that outlives the sound of war drums and the exploits of brave fighters. It is the story…that saves our progeny from blundering like blind beggars into the spikes of the cactus fence. The story is our escort; without it, we are blind.

Does the blind man own his escort? No, neither do we the story; rather, it is the story that owns us and directs us. –Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah (1987)

The writer is a teacher, mentor and mobiliser. He plays a critical and significant role in the brave new world of communication on multiple platforms. UNESCO in 1980 listed several functions of communication. They align with the part of the writer.

These functions of communication are information., socialisation, motivation, debate and discussion. Others are education, cultural promotion, entertainment and integration.

Socialisation provides a common fund of knowledge that enables people to operate as influential members of the society they live in, fostering social cohesion and awareness, thereby permitting active involvement in public life. Through debate and discussion, the media enable the provision and exchange of facts to facilitate an agreement or clarify differing viewpoints on general issues; the supply of relevant evidence needed to foster greater widespread interest and involvement in all local, national and international matters of common concern. The Integration function refers to providing all persons, groups, and nations access to the various messages they need to know and understand each other and appreciate others’ living conditions, viewpoints, and aspirations.

The many communication tasks speak to its significance in the modern world, made more so by the diversity of platforms and players feeding the pool.

Communication is central and contributory to the effective functioning of communities and nation-states.

The quality and qualify of information people share directly affects their well-being. Communication counts in peace and war. Sean McBride, Canadian and president of the International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems, envisioned the scope of communication. He stated, “As communication is so central to all social, economic and political activity at community, national and international levels, I would paraphrase H. G. Wells and say human history becomes more and more a race between communication and catastrophe. Full use of communication in all its varied strands is vital to ensure that humanity has more than a history, that our children are ensured a future.”

Experts and lay citizens alike point to the tone, content and quantity of information between and against the Hutus and Tutus as contributory to the Rwandan genocide. Nigeria is going through a period of passionate disagreements among citizens representing different persuasions. Writers are in the mix.

In the past, the call would be on editors to up their gatekeeping function. The barriers have lowered because of the diversity of platforms, and now almost everyone creates and distributes content.

Therefore, the call is to everyone who creates or shares content on all the media of this age: WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, GooglePlus, print, radio, television. Exercise circumspection as you write on the trending issues. Do not join the mob spreading fake news or propaganda. The scientist Isaac Newton reportedly stated, “Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy”.

The writers and editors of Nigeria must craft content that makes the point for each side without making enemies.

By Chido Nwakanma

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