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Industrial Council backs Buhari on trade agreement

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The Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council, has thrown its weight behind President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to consult widely before Nigeria would append signature to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFA). President Buhari had in March cancelled a trip to Kigali, Rwanda, where he was expected to append his signature to the CFA during an extra-ordinary summit of African Union. The Presidency had also explained that the cancellation was to enable for more consultations with stakeholders in Nigeria over the trade agreement aimed to promote commerce among African countries.

Stakeholders, including the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the organized private sector, had raised worry over the implications of the agreement for the Nigerian economy. NLC and other groups insisted that the federal government ought to have consulted widely on the matter before planning to sign the agreement. NLC president, Ayuba Wabba had declared that “we at the Nigeria Labour Congress are shocked by the sheer impunity or blatant lack of consultation in the process that has led to this. We are more worried by the probable outcome of this policy initiative if it is given life because of its crippling effect on the local businesses and attendant effects on jobs.

“We have no doubt this policy initiative will spell the death knell of the Nigerian economy. Accordingly, we urge Mr President not to sign this agreement either in or anywhere. We believe our national interest is at stake and nothing should be done to compromise this.” The Federal Executive Council presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had on March 14 approved that Nigeria should sign the agreement with fellow African countries meant to promote commerce among African countries. However, the Industrial Council at its meeting last Friday presided over by Osinbajo, received a status report on the Continental Trade Agreement and backed the need for more consultations before Nigeria would ratify the agreement

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Killings: Nigeria is a failed state – Dickson 

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Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson said the wanton killings in the country by Fulani herdsmen is symptomatic of a failed state. 

Dickson who spoke yesterday at a National Prayer Conference in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, stated that Nigeria is seriously bleeding and divided more than ever. 

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Francis Agbo, the Bayelsa State governor said Nigerians must unite in prayers and resolve to work together to ensure fairness, justice, equity and equal citizenship.                                       

“In this country,  God’s children, human beings irrespective of the God they worship are being slaughtered mercilessly, remorselessly in many parts of the country. 

“Our nation is bleeding, we must unite in prayers and resolve to do what is right and fair. Our nation should be a nation of fairness, justice, equity, equal citizenship and united by common ideals of being the greatest black nation,” Dickson added. 

He called on the nation’s leaders to take the responsibility to stop the bloodletting, adding that this is the time Nigerians have to intensify prayers for the nation to overcome its challenges. 

The governor said:‎ “We are united by our common shared humanity and nationality, so injustice and unfairness anywhere should be a concern to anyone and everyone in our nation. 

“I join you in praying that the bloodletting, unnecessary killings in our nation under any shape or guise ends in Jesus name. 

“God should intervene so that people will feel the need to do the right thing, be fair and just to one another.”

Chairman and convener of Nigeria Prays, General Yakubu Gowon (retd), stressed the importance of prayers, which he said, could help to solve Nigeria’s problems better and faster than military generals and soldiers could do with physical weapons of war. 

Gowon assured Nigerians that God would honour the collective prayers and intercession for the nation, while also advising people to shun violence and retaliation.

Also, the National Director of Nigeria Prays,  Reverend Moses Aransiola said the organisation believes in the efficacy of prayer, and argued that it is the patriotic responsibility of all Christians to pray for their leaders. 

President,  Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Revd. Felix Provide, in a message, assured of God’s intervention to the nation’s problems. 

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N21.5bn SUKUK bond: Lawmaker lambasts Niger Governor

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The Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, Barrister David Umaru, has lambasted the Niger state Governor Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello over the N21.5 billion SUKUK loan facility applied for, saying it will plunge the state into bankruptcy.

Barrister Umaru who is also the chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary and Human Rights at a press briefing on Sunday in Minna said the capacity of governor Sani Bello to put to judicious use the funds from SUKUK bonds if access is not only doubtful but nonexistent.

According to him “it is obvious that this administration is badly obsessed with accessing bond facilities in the presence of infrastructural development while it has consistently failed to account for the billions of naira accrued from statutory allocation to the State including other huge financial interventions from the government.

“Governor Bello should be aware that the well-informed people of the state including my humble self cannot be deceived by the needles lies being canvassed as benefits derivable from the huge burden-laden bonds meant to impoverish the state.

While calling on the state house of Assembly not to approve the loan, he said “this administration when compared to previous administration of former Governor Babangida Aliyu is more financially reckless.

“While the former administration had left a total sum of N44 billion as external debts and close to N30 billion as internal debts, the present administration appears ready to break such record with heavier debt burden despite huge resources that had accrued to the state in the past three years.”

He added that between 2015 and 2017, governor Bello administration had accessed over N114 billion as net FAAC. Though the State budget keeps increasing (36.3 % and 9.4% for the periods 2016-2017 and 2017-2018), the government is increasingly becoming incapable of delivering the democratic dividends as it is enmeshed in growing external and internal debts.

Accordingly, he said “the state’s external debt is put at N17.13 billion and, N31.98 billion as internal debt. We are asking governor Bello to tell us how the Bail-out funds from the federal government and the disbursements from the Paris Club refunds allegedly amounting to about N250 billion were utilized.”

Furthermore, he said the loans taken by the state which include $226 million bond from the Islamic Development Bank and $330 million from Kuwait find for Arab Development, are meant to further impoverish the state which is yet to recover from the comatose condition imposed by the huge debt bonds borrowed from the capital market by the previous administration.

He, however, called on members of the State House of Assembly to withhold approval on the loan request adding that this would save the state from further impoverishment, “history will not be kind to our House members if they do otherwise. Future generations of Nigerlites and indeed the present generation will hold our lawmakers responsible for mortgaging their future.”

He then called on the people of the state to stand up and vehemently resist and oppose the clueless misadventure of the Governor in seeking the N21.5 billion Sukuk bond.

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Naka military invasion: Benue PDP guber aspirant blasts army, threatens court action

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A Peoples Democratic Party governorship aspirant in Benue State Prof. Eugene Aliegba has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently end the on-going killings by Fulani herders\military rascality of innocent citizens in the state.

Prof. Aliegba made this call in Makurdi while reacting on the attacks by the military on the peace-loving people of Gwer West local government on the allegation of a killing of an army officer where two lives and over 300 houses were burnt down.

He described the reprisal by the military as lawless, uncivilized, brutal and a calculated attempt to provoke the law abiding citizens of Gwer West.

Professor Aliegba who was visibly angry over the military’s action said he is not comfortable with the present level of insecurity in Nigeria, particularly in Benue.

He added that as it stands now, the people of Agatu, Guma, Logo, Okpokwu, Gwer West, Kwande and Ukum Local Government areas are under siege and appealed to the federal, state governments and relevant security operatives including, Army, Police Department of State Services (DSS) and others to stop the senseless killings in Benue State.

Prof. Aliegba further called on the state government to set up internally displaced camps in Gwer West where presently inhabitants in nine out of fifteen council wards are moving helter-skelter in Naka town without shelter.

The former commissioner in Benue State, who also called for a thorough investigation into the incident that led to the loss of lives, called on Non-Governmental Organizations, public-spirited individuals and the international community to come to the aid of IDPs as well as ensure rehabilitation and resettlement of the areas devastated by the herders crisis in the state.

He advised army never to deviate from their primary responsibility of protecting the territorial integrity of the country Nigeria as failure to do so will force the citizens to heed to the statement credited to General Theophilus Danjuma of self-defense.

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