by Lagun Akinloye
This Week: News
British Prime Minister Visits Nigeria
British Prime Minister David Cameron visited Nigeria on Tuesday and pushed the messages of trade, aid and democracy, with more than a passing snipe at China’s lack of respect for the latter. Cameron flew into Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos alongside a UK business delegation where he met Lagos Governor Babatunde Fashola to give a joint speech at the Pan-African University, Lagos Business School. “Think Africa,” said the British Prime Minister. Later, Cameron held a joint press conference with President Goodluck Jonathan in which he spoke glowingly of Nigeria’s role in Africa, and ended with an agreement to double trade between the two countries from $6.5Billion to $13Biliion by 2014. Both presidents joined together to write an article for 234Next.
Central Bank Govenor Appears Before House of Represetatives
Controversy is still trailing the proposed move by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the wider banking community to limit cumulative cash withdrawals and deposits in the country from next June. CBN governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi appeared before the House of Representatives on Thursday to defend his plans. The withdrawals and deposits will be pegged at a maximum of N150,000 (about $1,000) a day for individuals and N1,000,000 (about $6,570) for corporate bodies. Managing director and chief executive of Fidelity Bank Reginald Ihejiha said the new policy was part of a move by the Apex Bank to straighten up the country’s payment systems and encourage the use of electronic payments.
Nigeria Reviews Foreign Policy Direction
Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Olugbenga Ashiru said that Nigeria’s new and focused foreign policy is now tied to domestic needs, especially foreign direct investment. Addressing journalists at an executive council meeting in Abuja on Wednesday Ashiru detailed the new policy thrust of the Jonathan administration. The president’s overseas travel will also be from the standpoint of attracting investment as well as exposing Nigerian businessmen to foreign opportunities. Ashiru also stated that Nigeria’s embassies in Europe, Asia and America are to focus more on investment policies that suit the domestic agenda.
NDLEA Uncovers Hard Drugs Factory in Lagos
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) uncovered a hard drugs factory in the Oja area of Lagos State. The factory, which specialised in the production of methamphetamine, was under the control of a cartel which would run a laboratory from a three-bedroom bungalow and had the capacity to produce between 20 to50 kilograms of the drug each day. The similarities between such laboratories in Mexico and the one uncovered in Lagos are uncanny, and the discovery becomes the first of its type in Nigeria. Two suspects believed to be the drug masterminds have been arrested and forensic experts from America are helping to dismantle the laboratory and the material used for the production of the drugs.
Governors Agree on an Accecptable Revenue Formula
Governors of the 36 states have presented a new revenue allocation formula to President Jonathan in which a 42% split for states was unanimously accepted as the new equation. Under the current formula the federal government gets 52.68%, states get 27.72% and local governments receive 20.60%. The demands of the governors are based on the new national minimum wage act, which they argued “would undoubtedly raise the wage profile of the states beyond their means and abilities”.
Obasanjo Heads AU Panel
The African Union (AU) has been criticised for its over-dependence on foreign funding and is deliberating over ways to avert a possible financial crisis. This has led to the naming of former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo as the head of a team of eminent Africans tasked with the objective of finding additional funding options. The AU Commission has listed a number of alternative ways of funding for the secretariat and the Obasanjo panel must decide the most feasible.
This Week: Politics
This week saw negotiations between the federal government and labour unions end in a compromise in which a nationwide strike was averted. Some sections of civil society viewed the indefinite postponement as an illegal compromise on the part of the union leaders. The minimum wage debate has courted controversy from state governors, the presidency and the labour unions, and in order to iron out all their differences, all parties must be involved in a serious review of the revenue allocation to states.
In the space of a week, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Briitsh Prime Minister David Cameron visited Nigeria. Africa’s most populous nation has always been viewed as a sleeping giant with an abundance of opportunities, and such high powered meeting only seek to validate the claim that the country is slowly waking from its long slumber. Trade and cooperation were the buzz words of both leaders and, if fully harnessed, the willingness of foreign powers to work with. and more importantly invest in, Nigeria could catalyse a new era of national growth and development. But the handshakes and sweet-talking must translate into visible changes on the ground.
Since his assent to the governorship of the CBN the outspoken Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has proved not only to Nigerians, but to the banking and finance world, that he is worth his salt. During the midst of the global financial crisis, Sanusi used his expertise to save a number of Nigerian banks from possible closure and shored up the industry by revealing the names of the nation’s largest debtors. Billions of naira were recovered. It is of no surprise that Sanusi’s latest plans, which include the bank withdrawal limits and Islamic banking, have drawn comments from across Nigeria. Both policies seem to be in line with what a religiously diverse and cash-based country like Nigeria needs.
Writers of the Week:
‘New Ways of Managing Nigeria’s Wealth’ is an article written by Newswatch Nigeria writerEmmanuel Uffot. Uffot provides a detailed analysis on the emergence of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, which was set up to manage the newly established Sovereign Wealth Fund. An explanation of the fund is given in this highly descriptive piece, alongside an evaluation of past mistakes which the government hopes not to repeat.
Ifeanyi Uddin writes an engaging blog for Nigerians Talk, entitled ‘Labour, Wages and Economic Output’, in which the underlying problems of Nigeria’s economy are dissected. He offers a realistic conclusion on how Nigeria can emerge from the economic wilderness.
Media Outlet of the Week:
Beegeagles’s blog occupies a unique space in the Nigerian blogosphere, offering a Nigerian perspective on geopolitics, defence and strategic studies, alongside history and politics. The information on past military events helps provide a detailed mix of information and history of not only Nigerian domestic military information, but Africa as a whole.