Golden Eaglets Eliminated from U17 AFCON, Miss World Cup Qualification; Budget Office, World Bank Disapprove of Buhari’s Borrowing Spree | 5 Things That Should Matter Today

  • Golden Eaglets Eliminated from U17 AFCON, Miss World Cup Qualification
  • Budget Office, World Bank Disapprove of Buhari’s Borrowing Spree
  • Atiku Demands PDP Revamp
  • ECOWAS Court to Decide Independent Candidacy Suit against Nigeria
  • Supreme Court Adjourns Nnamdi Kanu Treason Case to September 14

Across Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, these are the five top Nigerian news stories you shouldn’t miss

Golden Eaglets Eliminated from U17 AFCON, Miss World Cup Qualification

In a gripping quarter-final clash held in Algiers, Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets succumbed to a 2-1 defeat against their West African counterparts, Burkina Faso, ultimately crashing out of the under 17 AFCON 2023.

This loss dealt a crushing blow to their aspirations, as it also means their absence from the upcoming under-17 World Cup later this year. Burkina Faso now joins Senegal, Mali, and Morocco as Africa’s representatives in the prestigious tournament.

The Golden Eaglets’ disappointing exit can be attributed to their profligacy in front of goal and defensive lapses throughout the match. The Junior Stallions capitalized on their chances and took a commanding 2-0 lead over the five-time world champions, thanks to the clinical finishing of Aboubacar Camara. Just before halftime, Camara seized an opportunity from a rebound to find the back of the net, displaying his predatory instincts. In the 57th minute, he confidently converted a penalty kick after a Burkinabe player was fouled inside the box, completing his brace.

The Nigerian team, however, demonstrated resilience and fought back valiantly. Midway through the second half, Abubakar Abdullahi restored hope for the Eaglets by scoring a simple tap-in, narrowing the deficit. Unfortunately, despite mounting pressure and creating several opportunities, the young Nigerians were unable to capitalize on their chances, squandering vital goal-scoring opportunities that could have potentially leveled the scoreline.

The disappointment was palpable among the Golden Eaglets, as their dream of clinching the U17 AFCON title and securing a berth in the World Cup came to an abrupt end.

Reflecting on their performance, Coach Ahmed Suleiman expressed his frustration, stating, “We are deeply disappointed with the result. Our inability to convert our chances cost us dearly. We must learn from this experience and work harder to improve our finishing and defensive organization.”

Budget Office, World Bank Disapprove of Buhari’s Borrowing Spree

President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration continues to raise concerns among Nigerians due to its relentless borrowing spree, despite having less than 19 days left in power. The Budget Office of the Federation, along with the World Bank, International Monetary Bank, and economic experts, have expressed their disapproval of Buhari’s borrowing practices.

As of the Fourth Quarter of 2022, Nigeria’s total debt stock, excluding the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Ways and Means loan, stood at N46.64 trillion. However, additional debts acquired since January have pushed the debt figure to hover around N80 trillion, a significant increase from the N12.6 trillion debt profile at the start of Buhari’s administration in 2015.

One notable loan is the $800 million subsidy palliative loan from the World Bank, which has drawn attention from stakeholders who have called for its suspension. Despite these calls, Buhari wrote to the National Assembly requesting approval for the loan.

Read Also: President Buhari’s Last-Minute $800 Million Loan Request Sparks Concerns and Economic Debate

During the recent National Economic Council meeting, the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, initially hinted at the suspension of fuel subsidy removal. However, she later reversed her statement, stating that the discussion had been extended to allow the incoming government to make decisions on the matter.

The World Bank revealed that Nigeria spent 96.3% of its revenue for 2022 on debt servicing, while the Finance Minister, Ahmed, claimed the figure was 80.6%. Regardless of the exact percentage, this high debt servicing ratio poses significant challenges for the country, as it limits investment in infrastructure, human capital, and other crucial sectors.

Wenjie Chen, the deputy divisional chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), cautioned Nigeria against relying on foreign loans to sustain its 2023 budget. He highlighted rising interest rates and uncertainties in the global market as potential obstacles to accessing foreign loans.

Director General of the Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, expressed concerns about Nigeria’s debt figures, noting that while the debt-to-GDP ratio remains relatively healthy, the debt-to-revenue ratio is a cause for alarm. He emphasized that Nigeria’s borrowing space is shrinking due to the need for more significant revenue to sustain its debt. With a debt service ratio approaching 100%, Akabueze emphasized the country’s precarious financial situation.

Dr. Muda Yusuf, the Director of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), warned against additional loans for government expenditure. Similarly, Dr. Ayo Teriba, the Chief Executive Officer of the Economic Associates, advocated for a shift to equity financing instead of relying solely on asset financing.

As Nigeria grapples with the challenge of raising substantial revenue, the pressure to address its debt servicing payments grows. It is becoming increasingly evident that a sustainable and balanced approach to financial management and revenue generation is vital for the country’s economic well-being.

Atiku Demands PDP Revamp

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has called for a comprehensive revamping of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in order to reclaim its prominent and influential leadership position in Nigeria and Africa.

Speaking at a program titled “Welcome/reception of PDP governors-elect and send forth of the past PDP Governors’ Forum (PDP-GF) chairmen” in Abuja, Abubakar, who was the party’s presidential candidate in the 2023 general election, emphasized the need to address the challenges faced by the PDP.

Highlighting the party’s historical significance since its formation in 1999, Abubakar acknowledged that the PDP has gradually lost ground over the years. He stressed the importance of introspection to identify the reasons behind this decline and develop strategies to regain the party’s preeminent position. Abubakar further suggested that a dedicated seminar or conference should be organized to address this critical challenge and facilitate the PDP’s resurgence in Nigerian politics and throughout Africa.

During the event, Abubakar congratulated all the newly elected and re-elected governors under the PDP banner. He urged party members to remain united and resolute in their efforts to reclaim their mandate at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT).

Former Vice-President Namadi Sambo also expressed his concerns, specifically pointing out the need for the party to examine the suspension of its members without due process. Sambo emphasized the importance of adhering to established party procedures and ensuring fairness and justice within the PDP.

ECOWAS Court to Decide Independent Candidacy Suit against Nigeria

The ECOWAS Court has set a date of July 3, 2023, for judgment in a case brought by two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) against the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The NGOs have accused the government of violating their rights by delaying the passage of a bill that would allow independent candidates to participate in elections. The plaintiffs in the case are the Incorporated Trustees of Prince & Princess Charles Offokaja Foundation (Nigeria) and the Incorporated Trustees of Prince & Princess Charles Offokaja Foundation (Switzerland).

During the recent hearing, Justice Dupe Atoki announced the adjournment after confirming that both parties had submitted all their relevant documents and arguments. However, the lawyer representing the Nigerian government was absent from the session, and the reason for their absence remains unclear.

In their lawsuit filed on September 12, 2022 (suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/39/22), the NGOs alleged a violation of their right to freedom of expression. They claimed that the State Assemblies had failed to pass the bill within the promised timeline of August 2022, as stated by a senior government official. The applicants also cited assurances from a government spokesperson regarding the constitutional amendment that would allow for independent candidates.

The lawsuit is based on various international and regional human rights instruments, including Articles 1, 9(1), and 9(2) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, as well as Articles 2 and 19(2) of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. The NGOs, which are involved in promoting human rights and publishing related materials, argue that Nigeria has an obligation to fulfill its promises based on the documented statements made by its officials.

The litigants are seeking a declaration from the ECOWAS Court that the State Assemblies have a duty to approve or reject the proposed constitutional amendment. They also requested the court to direct the Nigerian government to immediately implement independent candidacy for all future elections.

The panel of judges presiding over the case includes Justice Atoki, Justice Sengu Mohamed Koroma, and Justice Ricardo Cláudio Monteiro Gonçalves.

Supreme Court Adjourns Nnamdi Kanu Treason Case to September 14

The Supreme Court has decided to adjourn the hearing of the lawsuit filed by Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), to September 14. Kanu had approached the court to appeal the decision of the appellate court, which had halted his release from the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS).

During the proceedings on Thursday, the apex court granted the application of the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to submit additional documents in response to Kanu’s filing, which was submitted on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court explained that even if it were to proceed with the appeal, there would not be enough time within its calendar to write and deliver the judgment within the 90-day deadline. As a result, the case has been adjourned to September 14.

Previously, the Court of Appeal had granted a stay of execution on its verdict, which had cleared Kanu of terrorism charges brought against him by the Federal Government. The appeal court, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, granted the government’s request to suspend the judgment until the appeal before the Supreme Court is heard and determined.

Kanu has been in detention since he was repatriated from Kenya on June 19, 2021. Subsequently, he was re-arraigned on an amended 15-count charge. On April 8, 2022, Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja dismissed eight of the 15 counts in the charge. The remaining seven counts were later quashed by the Court of Appeal on October 13.

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