Tag Archives: Nigeria recession

Nigeria – presidency says agriculture pulling the county out of recession

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Rice Farmers
Photo Credit: Agro Nigeria

Rice Farmers
Photo Credit: Agro Nigeria

The presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, says efforts to get the nation out of its present economic challenges are beginning to yield positive results, especially in agriculture.

The presidential aide said this in Abuja on Sunday.

According to him, an increase in the volume of rice production and processing across the country is already saving the country a lot of foreign exchange.

Mr. Shehu, who is the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, said that Nigeria only imported 58,000 tons of rice from Thailand in 2015 as against 1.2 million tons in 2014.

He revealed that due to the country’s growing rice production occasioned by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s decision to deny foreign exchange for the importation of rice “parboiled rice mills’’ in some Asian countries were shutting down production.

According to him, this is because Nigeria, which is one of the world’s largest importers of rice no longer, buys rice from them.

“Five of such mills in Thailand servicing Nigeria have stopped production due to the withdrawal of our patronage,” he added.

According to him, government is watching with keen interest the growing investment in rice milling by the private sector.

He said government would continue to encourage the Ministry of Agriculture on such efforts through BUA Industries in Jigawa and Dangote in Kano.

He said such encouragement would also be extended to OLAM and WACOTT in Nasarawa and Kebbi as well as a consortium of businessmen led by a former governor in Anambra.

The presidential aide noted with delight that the price of a bag of fertilizer had been reduced from over N9,000 per bag to 5,500.

“This country has about 32 fertilizer blending plants that have remained idle for many years, but that about half of that number is now in production with many of them running three shifts a day.”

He said some of the blending plants have now provided direct employment to hundreds of workers and indirect employment opportunities to thousands of others.

Mr. Shehu said that the Buhari administration’s agricultural revolution was bringing about other socio-economic changes in the country.

He said that a recent survey carried out in two urban areas of Jigawa and Kiyawa showed that jobless young men were migrating from commercial motorcycle business known as, `achaba’, to farming.

“In Kiyawa, it takes a long wait to catch a commercial motor cycle because they are rapidly disappearing.

“The young men are moving to the farms. These are development issues in the country that our media should pay attention,” he added.

The presidential spokesman frowned at the way and manner some elites have continued to attack some government policies and programmes in spite of their positive impact on the ordinary Nigerians.

“Because the elite don’t care for ordinary people, they are saying that government is doing nothing but we are doing a lot for ordinary people.

“They don’t want us to talk about the 14 solar power projects that have been licensed to boost electricity supply in the country; the Mambila power project which will soon leave the drawing board and the many Chinese projects including the standard gauge railway.

“This country has more important things to talk about instead of dwelling on trivialities,” Mr. Shehu said.

Nigeria – people of Lagos flock to buy government rice stocks

Premium Times

20161222_131140

Thousands of Lagos residents, Thursday, besieged various centres across the state to buy LAKE rice, a locally produced rice borne out of a partnership between Lagos and Kebbi states.

The governors of the two states, Akinwunmi Ambode and Atiku Bagudu, had launched the rice on Wednesday with the aim of ensuring food security as well as show Nigeria’s ability as a producing nation.

20161222_123407According to the Lagos State government, the rice would be sold at N12,000, N6,000, and N2,500 for 50 kilogramme, 25kg, and 10kg bags respectively.

 

 

One man, one bag

PREMIUM TIMES‎ correspondents who monitored the sales of the rice across the three Senatorial district‎s in the state reported a mix of elation and disappointment from the residents.

At the Ikeja Grammar School, Oshodi, almost 400 people had gathered at the centre by 1020161222_124108a.m. while the truck conveying the bags of rice arrived at 12:30 p.m. An intending buyer was issued a slip to go make payment at a Zenith Bank branch at Bolade, some metres away, and return with the slips and a bank teller before receiving a bag of rice.

 

It was observed that the government’s policy of “one man, one bag” was strictly adhered to.‎

At the St. Agnes Nursery/Primary School, Maryland, intending buyers‎ turned up as early as 7 a.m. to await the sales of the rice which began three hours later. Accreditation was done and people were issued bank tellers to go make payment at a nearby Zenith Bank branch.

PREMIUM TIMES gathered that some of the almost 300 buyers had already put down their names on Wednesday and got a head start ahead of the others.

Olalekan Adekoya, a resident, said the payment system was “shambolic.”

“As you can see, there is no POS, no ATM for payment. Bank officials are not even here,” Mr. Adekoya said.

“The stress is just too much‎. Government should make this thing work better with better logistic plans.”

20161222_123232Abiola Bashorun, another resident, said the rice would go a long way in helping Lagosians out of the current economic recession, adding that it would help those who can’t afford the commodity in the market.

“But government should make the payment system less stressful,” Miss Bashorun added.

At the Teslim Balogun stadium in Surulere, some buyers who arrived early said they would love to see the bags of rice before making any kind of payment.

‎Adekunle Olutayo, who owns a shop near the stadium, said he would confirm the quality of the rice before parting with his money.

“I am surprised that people are rushing to pay for an item they have not even seen,” Mr. Olutayo said, just before a consignment of the rice arrived.

“‎What if it does not meet the quality they expected? Will they be asking for refunds?”

But another trader, Ajoke Badmus, said she had no reason to believe that the state government would deal in sub-standard products.

“I have paid already,” Mrs. Badmus said.

“I know it can’t be sub-standard, the government knows the implication of that, they will rather not sell at all than sell something bad.”

Happy people

20161222_095843It was, however, not all tales of glooms at the centres where the rice was sold.

Muyideen Alanran said he was glad to be among the first to purchase the rice at the Ikeja Grammar School, Oshodi.

“I thank the State Government for giving us the opportunity because when we go outside,we know the cost of rice, but we thank the Lagos State Governor for this opportunity and we hope that more would be made available so that the process of purchasing would be easier,” he said.

“With the issue of plastic rice flooding the market, this is a safer option because we can trust the source.”

A resident, Alebiousu Olufunmilayo, said the cost of the LAKE RICE was “pocket-friendly.”

“I will like to tell Lagosains that this is for real. If they get to any of the centres, they should queue orderly and they will get the ‎rice,” she said.

At Mobolaji Johnson Sports Centre (Rowe Park) in Yaba, residents were seen queuing orderly to buy the commodity at government approved prices.

Another resident, Alabi Aminat, who spoke to journalists after buying the product, said the development was a thing of joy, as there ‎was no discrimination in the sale of the commodity.

“I got here this morning and I was told I could pay through the POS and I did,” she said.

“The process was free and fair and the most commendable aspect is that the people in charge of selling the rice are not particular about whether you work with Lagos State Government or you belong to any tribe or creed, as long as you are a resident of the state, you are entitled to buy.

“I was allowed to buy one bag and I got 50kg at the N12, 000 price earlier announced by the government. They just told us to stay on the queue and when it is your turn, you will be asked to pay and take away your rice. It’s as simple as that.”


 

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Nigeria may need to borrow $30bn to avoid recession

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Femi Gbajabiamila

Femi Gbajabiamila

The Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila (APC-Lagos) said that Nigeria must go ahead with the plan to borrow $ 29.9 billion for the country to come out of recession.

The borrowing plan by the Muhammadu Buhari administration has drawn mixed reactions, from Nigerians with the Senate initially rejecting the proposal due to absence of details in the submitted document.

Mr. Gbajabiamila gave his position on Sunday in Abuja while giving the end of year report on the activities of the House of Representatives for 2016.

According to him the borrowing plan is specific and targeted at pulling the country out of recession and reflate the economy.

“It is what this government found on ground that informed the quantum and the nature of the borrowing they have to undertake.

“Now to get out of this recession and the sorry state we have found ourselves, I don’t think we can do it without borrowing.

“Borrowing is necessary, United States, England, Germany they all borrow, it is an essential feature of democracy especially when you’re running a deficit budget.

“For now, the borrowing is necessary to pump into the system to inflate activity in the economy, diversify the economy, there is a lot of things we need money for and if the country is not making money, like we used to we have to borrow,” Mr. Gbajabiamila said.

The lawmaker said that former President Olusegun Obasanjo was able to come to an agreement to exit the Paris club because the country was making money.

He said the country is still within the borrowing regulations as relates to the nation’s GDP.

On the possibility of increasing the salary of workers particularly in the face of soaring inflation and recession, he admitted that salaries at present “are very low,” and that “something has to be done about it.

He said the House would never back away from any move to increase salaries of workers.

“That is the reason we are here, weather government or private workers, we’re here because of the people.

“And I believe when the issue comes on the floor, I doubt if there will be a dissenting voice.

“And we will begin to look at that viz- a viz inflation, unemployment Personally, I believe wages are too low as we stand and I think something has to be done about it.

“And I think the House will be proactive in making that move.”

He added that the 8th House introduced 551 Bills between January 2016 and December 2016.

“With 64 cases of consolidation of several Bills addressing similar issues, five of the Bills were negatived while 179 passed second reading and 47 Bills was successfully passed by the House in the year 2016,” Mr. Gbajabiamila said.

(NAN)

Baby traffickers thriving in Nigeria as recession bites

Reuters

By Anamesere Igboeroteonwu and Tom Esslemont

ENUGU, Nigeria/LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – As 16-year-old Maria strained under the anguish of labour in southeastern Nigeria, a midwife repeatedly slapped her across the face – but the real ordeal began minutes after birth.

“The nurse took my child away to be washed. She never brought her back,” the teenager said, gazing down at her feet.

Maria said she learnt her newborn daughter had been given up for adoption for which she received 20,000 naira (£53.74) – the same price as a 50 kilogram bag of rice.

And Maria is far from alone.

A Thomson Reuters Foundation investigative team spoke to more than 10 Nigerian women duped into giving up their newborns to strangers in houses known as “baby factories” in the past two years or offered babies whose origins were unknown.

Five women did not want to be interviewed, despite the guarantee of anonymity, fearing for their own safety with criminal gangs involved in the baby trade, while two men spoke of being paid to act as “studs” to get women pregnant.

Although statistics are hard to come by, campaigners say the sale of newborns is widespread – and they fear the illegal trade is becoming more prevalent with Nigeria heading into recession this year amid ongoing political turbulence.

“The government is too overstretched by other issues to focus on baby trafficking,” said Arinze Orakwue, head of public enlightenment at the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).

Record numbers of baby factories were raided or closed down in the southeastern states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo this year, NAPTIP said.

A total of 14 were discovered in the first nine months of 2016, up from six in 2015 and 10 in 2014, the data showed.

But despite the growing number of raids, the scam exploiting couples desperate for a baby and young, pregnant, single women continues with newborns sold for up to $5,000 in Africa’s most populous nation where most people live on less than $2 a day.

Cultural barriers are also a factor in the West African nation, with teenage girls fearing they will be publicly shamed by strict fathers or partners over unwanted pregnancies if they do not give up their children, experts say.

“In southeastern Nigeria a woman is deemed a failure if she fails to conceive. But it is also taboo for a teenager to fall pregnant out of wedlock,” said Orakwue.

Maria said in the home in Imo state where she gave birth pregnant teenagers were welcomed by a maternal nurse who liked to be called “mama” but went on to sell the babies they delivered.

“(After I gave birth) somebody told me that mama collected big money from people before giving them other people’s babies,” Maria told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in the grounds of a school compound in her village.

“I do not know where my baby is now,” said Maria, using a false name for her own protection.

A lot of the trade is carried out in Nigeria but authorities suspect babies are also sold to people from Europe and the United States because many foreigners continue to seek infants there despite the controversy around Nigerian adoptions.

HIDDEN PROBLEM

The U.S. Department of State alerted prospective adoptive parents to the issue of child buying from Nigeria in June 2014 after Nigerian media warned that people were posing as owners of orphanages or homes for unwed mothers to make money.

“The State Department is aware of a growing number of adoption scams,” an alert on its website read.

Over 1,600 children have been adopted from Nigeria by U.S. citizens since 1999, according to the State Department website, about a third of them aged between one and two years old.

The U.S. State Department did not respond to requests for information on whether any scams affected U.S. adoptive parents.

In Britain a couple was found by the High Court to have “fallen under the spell” of an elaborate fraud after paying 4,500 pounds ($5,600) for herbal treatment in Nigeria that caused the woman’s stomach to swell, media reported in 2014.

The couple only realised they had been duped nine months later when presented with a baby in Nigeria that actually was not theirs, the Daily Mail newspaper reported.

Babies, whose biological parents or backgrounds are unknown, are offered to women who have not been able to conceive naturally, according to NAPTIP and interviews with three women.

The British government said it was committed to stamping out what it calls the “miracle babies” phenomenon.

“Specially-trained teams are working at the UK border to identify and safeguard babies and children who may be at risk of trafficking,” said a spokesman for the Home Office (UK interior ministry) in a statement.

Denmark suspended adoptions from Nigeria in 2014 citing concerns over forgery, corruption and lack of control by the authorities.

Apart from the illicit trade in babies, Nigeria also faces the problem of domestic and international trafficking in women and children.

Human trafficking, including selling children, is illegal in Nigeria, but almost 10 years ago a UNESCO report identified the industry as the country’s third most common crime after financial fraud and drug trafficking – and the situation appears to be getting worse, according to campaigners.

The Nigerian government has not ratified an internationally recognised set of rules known as the Hague Adoption Convention which meant the laws governing adoptions remain murky and complicated, campaigners said.

“There is corruption in the adoption process and that is the individual (Nigerian) states’ responsibility,” said NAPTIP’s Orakwue in a phone interview

“But central government should step up its funding to NAPTIP so we can increase support to victims,” Orakwue said.

HERBAL TREATMENT

Sophie, who was not able to conceive, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation she started to develop the symptoms of pregnancy after visiting a herbalist in Enugu state in 2014.

However the traditional doctor told Sophie her swollen stomach contained gas resulting from the herbal treatment rather than a foetus – but she could arrange to buy a baby.

“(The herbalist) said that she would bring me a newborn baby, girl or boy, depending on which one I wanted,” she said in the grimy sitting room of her apartment in southeastern Nigeria.

The woman said a girl would cost 380,000 naira ($1,250) while a boy would cost 500,000 naira ($1,645), said Sophie who opted for a girl.

But a sense of obligation to the woman who brought her a child prevented her from reporting the crime, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“I considered everything and thought to myself ‘why should I report (the herbalist) to the police?’ She had helped me,” she said.

NAPTIP does not have data on the number of domestic adoptions that have taken place, a figure it says is not held by central government.

“In the southeastern states, the sale of babies is unarguably very prevalent as recorded by the agency,” said Cordelia Ebiringa, NAPTIP’s commander in Enugu state.

DEADLY GAME

Men are also involved in the process of illicit baby trafficking, with sperm donors impregnating surrogate mothers who then sell their babies, according to two Nigerian men.

Surrogacy is illegal in Nigeria.

Jonathan, 33, said he was paid 25,000 naira ($82) by his boss or “madam” every time he conceived a child.

“I don’t see it as somebody exploiting me. The madams pay me for my work,” said Jonathan, who withheld his full name.

Jonathan said he did not know whether the women gave their babies away or went on to sell them although he was concerned what he was doing could be illegal.

“I often think ‘what if the police catch me?'”

Nigeria’s anti-human trafficking agency said it did not have data or information on the role of sperm donors, but many women they spoke to did not want to reveal how they fell pregnant.

“NAPTIP has no records of studs that impregnate the women at the baby factories as most of the pregnant women rescued and interviewed in such cases claimed unplanned pregnancies,” said Ebiringa.

Little information was made available by the Nigerian police or authorities in southeastern states about the number or identity of the people who run the “baby factories”.

No data was provided on the number of arrests by police in southern states of Enugu and Abia on baby trafficking offences despite repeated requests by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

But the dangers involved, both from the law and from trafficking gangs, are palpable, according to Jonathan, who estimates he has fathered about 15 children as a “stud”.

“These (baby traffickers) can be dangerous,” said Jonathan, who was once threatened by a group of thugs who found out what he was doing. “They are ready to kill anybody if you stand in their way.”

(Reporting By Tom Esslemont and Anamesere Igboeroteonwu, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)

Nigeria – National Assembly invites Buhari to address it on recession

Punch

Leke Baiyewu, Abuja

The National Assembly has passed a motion to invite President Muhammadu Buhari to address the legislature on efforts being made by his administration to on the current economic recession.

Nigeria – Obasanjo says he warned Jonathan about recession danger

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo whispering to  Goodluck Jonathan, a former president too while latter was still in power

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says he foresaw and warned about Nigeria’s current recession two years ago, but said he was ignored.

Mr. Obasanjo said he was concerned about recession when he saw how “recklessly” the Goodluck Jonathan administration spent the country’s resources.

The former president spoke on Saturday in an Independence Day message at a lecture organised by the Youth Fellowship of Owu Baptist Church, Abeokuta.

“Whoever that has lived to witness the celebration of today should thank God,” he said. “Things are not what they should be, but we should pray that next year will be better than this year.”

“We thank God for those who are alive, we prayed for the souls of those who have laboured for these country and who have passed on to rest in perfect peace.”

Mr. Obasanjo said one of the major issues threatening the peace of Nigeria now is the high level of unemployment.

“Unemployment is a major problem in the country today and if we don’t take care, it will consume all of us. In fact, the rising unemployment is a time bomb,” he said.

The former president recalled how he got five job offers immediately he completed his secondary school education at Baptist Boys High School, Abeokuta.

He said he received offers from the United Africa Company (UAC) and Moore Plantation, Ibadan, among others. He said the situation is different today in the country.

Mr. Obasanjo said the businessman, Aliko Dangote, told him that six Ph.D. holders were among applicants seeking jobs with his company as truck drivers.

Mr. Obasanjo said the high rate of unemployment was responsible for youth restiveness in the country, warning that the situation should be tackled with all the “seriousness” it deserves before it get out of hand.

The former president said the country cannot develop if it pays no attention to agriculture.

“That is why we have to take it as a key of our development else the many educated Nigerians who have no job are like time bomb, sooner than later, it will explode,” he said.

Nigeria – Lai Mohammed says recession caused by over dependence on oil

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Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Tuesday said Nigeria’s over-dependence on oil is to blame for the recession the nation’s economy is passing through.

Mr. Mohammed made the assertion at a news briefing at his residence in Oro, Irepodun Local Government Area in Kwara State.

He said the prevailing economic situation was not about trading blames,as “those who understand knew that this recession was bound to happen in such circumstance”.

He said the crash in global price of oil exposed the country’s defective economic policy, with oil accounting for over 60 per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The minister said the situation was further compounded by inadequate reserve to cushion the effect of oil “misfortunes’’ on the country.

“We have a very defective economic structure, which depended largely on a single platform of crude and fuel.

“Crude oil accounts for between eight and 12 per cent of our GDP and another 53 per cent of the GDP which we call non-oil, unfortunately also depend on the same oil.

“When the price of oil now crashes in the international market, definitely you are bound to have this kind of shock in the economy,” he said.

He decried the citizens’ preference for imported goods to local products, saying that substantial amount of the country’s foreign exchange earnings was being expended on importation of goods and services.

Mr. Mohammed also blamed past administrations’ inability to achieve massive investment on infrastructure to assist manufacturing industries and boost agriculture production for part of current problem.

According to him, such inadequacies are responsible for the socio-economic imbalance being experienced in the country today.

The minister, who acknowledged that there was growth in the nation’s economy between 2010 and 2014, however, said the growth was only fueled by consumption.

“The growth was not fueled by production or fueled by investment, and that explains why it was shortlived,” he said.

He said the present administration’s efforts to correct past anomalies could not be felt immediately because the rots in the system were too enormous for short term remedies.

Mr. Mohammed said the administration inherited a debt of N65 billion on fertilizer procurement alone.

He listed part of the administration’s reforms to include investment in infrastructure and agriculture production.

“People say we should not talk about what happened yesterday but it is pertinent to learn, understand and move away from past mistakes.

“In the whole of 2014 the government then, expended about N18 billion on roads, but spent N35 billion on travels.

“This year alone, we have spent N70 billion on roads.

“People say why are these steps not being felt immediately? It is because the last government refused to pay contractors between 2012 and 2015 even when crude was selling at 100 dollars per barrel.

“Out of the N70 billion being owed Julius Berger, we have paid N14 billion.

“If government was not owing Julius Berger in the past — and we paid N14 billion to them — you would have seen them busy on the roads,” he said.

He said “Change Starts with Me” initiative launched by the Federal Government on Tuesday was to instill discipline and the needed change of attitude in both the leaders and the people.

According to the minister, such remained the basic foundation and the driving force for actualising socio-economic transformation for the country.

“Nigerians have to change their attitude from the past; it is not only about the leaders but also the followers.

“This is the only way we can achieve our desired progress, growth and development,” he said.

(NAN)