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Taylor (64) was convicted last month of all 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for aiding and abetting Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF) during the country’s brutal 1991-2001 civil war.
In return, the court said, he was paid in diamonds mined by slave labour in areas under control of the rebels, who murdered, raped and kept sex slaves, hacked off limbs and forced children under 15 to fight.
“The accused has been found responsible for aiding and abetting some of the most heinous crimes in human history,” said Special Court for Sierra Leone judge Richard Lussick on Wednesday.
“The trial chamber unanimously sentences you to a single term of imprisonment for 50 years on all counts,” the judge said as he announced the ruling of the court based at Leidschendam, just outside The Hague.
“The trial chamber noticed that the effects of these crimes on the families and society as a whole in Sierra Leone was devastating,” Lussick said in handing down the ruling, the first sentence against a former head of state in an international court since the Nazi trials at Nuremberg in 1946.
Taylor, wearing gold-rimmed glasses and dressed in a dark suit and gold tie, listened with his eyes closed as the judge handed down the sentence, which Taylor’s team, and prosecutors, have two weeks to appeal.
Early this month, chief prosecutor Brenda Hollis argued for 80 years behind bars for Taylor, once one of west Africa’s most powerful men and a driving force behind Sierra Leone’s decade-long war which claimed 120 000 lives.
His defence argued such a sentence would be “excessive”.
Throughout the trial, Taylor himself maintained his innocence and insisted he was instrumental in eventually ending Sierra Leone’s civil war.
He will remain in the UN’s detention unit in the Hague until his appeal procedure is finalised.
Taylor’s sentence will be served in a British prison. London’s offer in 2007 to host Taylor in custody if he was found guilty was part of the deal to put him on trial in the Netherlands-based court.
The trial, which lasted nearly four years, wrapped up in March 2011.
It saw several high-profile witnesses testify, including supermodel Naomi Campbell, who told of a gift of “dirty diamonds” she received in 1997 at a charity ball hosted by South Africa’s then president Nelson Mandela.
Handing down the verdict last month, Lussick stressed that although Taylor had substantial influence over the RUF, including its feared leader Foday Sankoh, this “fell short of command and control” of rebel forces.
Sankoh died in 2003 before he could face trial.
Authorities in Nigeria arrested Taylor in March 2006 as he tried to flee from exile after being forced to quit Liberia three years earlier, under international pressure to end that country’s own civil war.
He was transferred to the Hague in mid-2006 amid security fears should he go on trial in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown.
Taylor’s sentencing came 66 years after the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg sentenced admiral Karl Donitz to 10 years in jail for his part in Nazi crimes during World War II. Adolf Hitler had appointed Donitz his successor shortly before committing suicide in Berlin in 1945. – AFP
Most governments overhaul gross domestic product calculations every few years to include changes in output and consumption, such as mobile phones and the Internet. Since Nigeria has not done so since 1990, analysts expect a large jump in nominal GDP during the second quarter.
Africa's second biggest economy should then post GDP of around $370 billion, up from a current IMF estimate of $270 billion and just $20 billion shy of South Africa in dollar terms.
Economists tip Nigeria to take the top spot in the near future by keeping up its steady rate of economic growth.
“The rebasing exercise is unlikely to increase the pace of growth unless becoming the largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa generates new foreign direct investment,” said Nema Ramkhelawan-Bhana, Africa analyst at Rand Merchant Bank.
The poll of 11 analysts shows growth in Africa's most populous nation slowing to 7.0 percent this year from 7.4 in 2011, and then reaching 7.1 percent in 2013 as disruptions to oil production put a slight dampener on growth.
That looks more optimistic than government expectations for growth to slow to 6.5 percent this year. Nigeria's economy grew 6.17 percent in the first quarter of this year, down from 7.68 percent in the previous quarter.
With South African annual growth seen at around half that, Nigeria could be ahead in just a few years.
Investors are eyeing the 140 million population closely, looking to explore opportunities in a number of sectors such as retail and telecommunications.
Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, last year spent $2.4 billion on a majority stake in South Africa's Massmart, a discounter with a growing presence on the continent, and now scoping for 20 stores in Nigeria.
Oil production meanwhile fell to an average of 2.35 million barrels a day (bpd) in the first quarter of 2012, from 2.4 million bpd in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Despite the growing wealth in the nation there is a still a huge rich-poor divide, which will remain a fact after the changes to GDP calculations.
“While the increase in nominal GDP will improve the country's income classification, it will do little to reduce income inequality,” Ramkhelawan-Bhana said.
INFLATION STUBBORNLY HIGH
Analysts project inflation to remain stubbornly above double digits - this year it should average 12.6 percent and then slow to 10.5 percent in 2013.
“We expect it to remain around current levels into early 2012, before picking up modestly in the middle of 2012 to around 13 percent before easing in the second half and into 2013,” said David Cowan, economist at Citi.
A poll conducted last month on the naira showed that the currency would hold steady but the threat of rising inflation could hamper this.
The naira has lost almost a percent since the start of the month after inflation rose to 12.9 percent in April year-on-year from 12.1 percent in May, driven by non-food items.
Analysts also attribute the naira's recent weakness to a fall in confidence in the local currency, a flight to safety by risk averse investors and poor fiscal management.
A solution to this could be a Sovereign Wealth Fund which Central Bank governor Lamido Sanusi has been punting for.
“The effective launch of the Sovereign Wealth Fund and more fiscal restraint at the federally consolidated level would certainly contribute to such a turnaround,” said Samir Gadio, emerging markets strategist at Standard Bank. - Reuters
1. One year ago, I was privileged to stand before you, to take the oath of office as President of our dear country, the third to serve you as President since the return to democratic rule in 1999.
Today, I remember that day and the processes leading to it with profound gratitude to God Almighty and to all Nigerians who have worked very hard to enrich our journey from military dictatorship to inclusive democratic governance.
2. For the past 13 years, we have remained a stable democracy. We have together demonstrated that the government of the people is an ideal that the people of Nigeria cherish. We have our differences as individuals and as politicians, bu twe have shown great faith in democracy and its institutions. We have refused to be limited by our differences. Despite reservations about some of our institutions, we have refused to submit to despair. This achievement is a testament to the courage and optimism of the Nigerian people.
3. As we celebrate this year’s Democracy Day, I pay tribute to all the men and women who have made our democratic experience meaningful: the ordinary people who resisted militar yrule, and have remained resolute in their embrace of democracy; the army of Nigerian voters who, at every election season, troop out in large numbers to exercise their right of franchise; the change agents in civil society who have remained ever watchful and vigilant.
4. I pay special tribute also to all patriots who are the pillars of our collective journey,most especially, our armed forces who have steadfastly subordinated themselvesto civil authority in the past 13 years. They have continued to demonstrate a great sense of professionalism. They have discharged their duties to the nation with honour and valour. In a sub-region that has witnessed instances of political instability, authored by restless soldiers, the Nigerian Armed Forces have remained professional in their support of democracy.
5. When General Abdusalami Abubakar handed over the baton of authority to PresidentOlusegun Obasanjo, in 1999, it was a turning point for Nigeria. We did not arrive at that turning point by accident. Many Nigerians laid down their lives for the transition to democracy to occur. Some were jailed. Media houses were attacked and shut down. But the people’s resolve was firm and unshakeable. This is what we remember. This is what we celebrate. On this day, I recall especially the martyrdom of Chief M. K. O. Abiola, whose presumed victory in the 1993 Presidential election, and death, while in custody, proved to be the catalyst for the people’s pro-democracy uprising. The greatest tribute that we can pa yto him, and other departed heroes of Nigeria’s democracy, is to ensure that we continue to sustain and consolidate our democratic institutions and processes, and keep Hope alive.
6. Let us individually and collectively, continue to keep the spirit of this day alive. No task is more important. We must continue to do well as a people and as ademocracy. We must remember where we are coming from, so we can appreciate how far we have travelled.
7. When I assumed office as Acting President, in 2010, on account of the health challenges suffered by late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, there was so much anxiety in the land. The tone of public debate was febrile. Some persons sought to use the situation in the country to sow the seeds of discord. My primary task at that time was to do all that was humanly possible to ensure stability within the polity. With the support and commitment of patriotic Nigerians from all walks of life, and the grace of the Almighty God, we were able to do so.
8. On May 6,2010, following President Yar’Adua’s death, I assumed office as substantive President. I subsequently presented myself as a candidate for the 2011 Presidential elections, with a promise that under my watch, the elections would be free, fair and credible. We kept faith with that promise. On May 29, 2011, I was sworn in as President, the fifth elected leader of Nigeria since independence. The success of the 2011 elections and the international acclaim that it generated was due to your patriotic zeal and commitment. I will like to seize this opportunity to thank all patriotic Nigerians who stood by us, and have remained unwavering in their support.
These Nigerians understand one thing: that we all have a duty to protect and promote our country, and that this country belongs to all of us. Electoral contest is about values. We must not lose sight of those values that strengthen us as a people. As long as I am President, I will do my utmost to continue to work hard in pursuit of the common good.
9. There are challenges, yes, but we are working hard to address those challenges. And, by God’s grace, we will succeed. My confidence is bolstered by the results which we have achieved in different sectors within the last twelve months.
10. Our democracy is stable. Its foundation is strong and firm. Its future is bright. Last year, I had spoken about the policy of “one man one vote, one woman, one vote,one youth, one vote”. I am glad to see that the Nigerian people in all elections have continued to respect the principle of fair play. Since this administration came into office, we have gone to great lengths to strengthen our democratic institutions, particularly the Independent National Electoral Commission. There are still persons who believe that elections should be violent and unhealthy, but they are in the minority. They will not derail our democracy because the majority of Nigerians will not allow them to do so.
11. Following the spate of violence, in some parts of the country, after the 2011 elections, our administration set up a committee on post-election violence to among other things, investigate the causes and nature of electoral violence and make appropriate recommendations. We will be guided by the White Paper, on that committee’s report, in dealing more firmly with electoral violence and fraud. This will include the establishment of Electoral Offences Tribunals to deal speedily with established cases of electoral violence. We cannot afford to treat the success we have recorded withour democratic experience with levity. Electoral reform is central to our administration’s transformation agenda. I urge all political parties to embrace this reform.
12. Our successful elections, last year, opened new vistas for Nigeria’s foreign policy. More than ever before, Nigeria’s achievements have generated a lot of international goodwill and recognition. We have continued to build on this by further showing leadership in the sub-region and the African continent. Under my watch as Chairman of the sub-regional body, ECOWAS, and subsequently, Nigeria was in th eforefront of the efforts to ensure democratic stability in Niger, Mali, Guinea Bissau, and particularly at a critical moment in Cote d’Ivoire. Our foreign policy process has proven to be dynamic and pro-active. Nigeria’s place is secure among many friends in the comity of nations. We are building on that friendship to open up opportunities for foreign investments in the Nigerian economy and to provide necessary support for the vibrant community of Nigerians in the Diaspora.
13. We will continue to work hard, to turn domestic successes into a source of motivation for greater achievements in the international arena. We are fully aware that it is only when our people are happy and confident that they would be in a good position to walk tall in relating with others.
14. Today, I want to talk about what we are doing and what we have done. I want to reassure you that we are making progress. But we can also do a lot more. We must. And we will.
15. Our economic outlook is positive. When I assumed office last year, there were still fears about the impact of the global economic recession, and implications for investments. Many Nigerians were worried about the growing rate of unemployment. In order to set Nigeria on a sound and sustainable path toward economic growth, this administration unveiled a set of priority policies, programmes, and projects encapsulated in the Transformation Agenda. These programmes and policies are aimed at consolidating our budget, fostering job creation, engendering private sector-led inclusive growth, and creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive for the ultimate betterment of the lives of Nigerians.
16. Today, progress has been made. The country’s credit rating is positive, in contrast with many nations being downgraded. In2011, our economy grew by 7.45%. As at mid-May 2012, our foreign exchange reserves had risen to $37.02 billion, the highest level in 21 months. We have stabilized and improved our fiscal regime. We brought the fiscal deficit down to 2. 85% of GDP from 2.9% in 2011. We reduced recurrent expenditures from 74% to 71% and reduced domestic borrowing from N852 billion in 2011 to N744 billionin 2012. We cut out over N100 billion of non-essential expenditure and increased our internally generated revenue from N200 billion to N467 billion.
17. For the first time in over a decade, we now have a draft Trade Policy which provides a multi-dimensional framework to boost our trade regime and facilitate the inflow of investments. We have generated over N6. 6 trillion worth of investment commitments. The total value of our trade is also much higher than the value estimated the previous year due to deliberate government policies. To facilitate the ease of doing business in Nigeria, we have a policy in place to make visa procurement easier for foreign investors, with safeguards to prevent abuse.
18. The goal of our administration is to ensure that every Nigerian can find gainful employment. Given my dissatisfaction with the prevailing unemployment situation in the country, our administration has embarked on an ambitious strategy of creating jobs and job-creators through the launch of several initiatives mainly targeted at the youths and women.
19. In October 2011, we launched the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria Programme, designed to encourage entrepreneurship and provide grants for small and medium scale enterprises. Over 1, 200 Nigerian youths have benefitted from this initiative. We have also launched the Public Works Women and Youth Empowerment Programme, which is designed to employ 370,000 youths per annum, with 30% of the jobs specially reserved for women. Let me make it clear here that our You WIN programme is designed to nurture and mentor young entrepreneurs to become major players, employers and wealth creators in business.
20. We are gradually reducing the footprints of government in business activities through privatization, liberalization and deregulation based on our recognition that the private sector should be the engine of growth in our economy. To ensure that the private sector is well positioned for this task, our administration has embarked on key structural reforms in the Power Sector and at the Ports.
21. To improvereliable power supply, our administration is judiciously implementing the Power Sector Roadmap, which is at an advanced stage, to fully privatize power generation and distribution while reducing the cost of electricity to rural households and the urban poor.
22. The commitment of this Administration to the provision of regular and uninterrupted power supply remains strong and unwavering. We all agree that adequate and regular power supply will be the significant trigger to enhance this nation’s productive capacity and accelerate growth. It is for this reason that I remain optimistic that the reforms we have initiated, the decisions we have taken so far and the plans we intend to faithfully prosecute will yield the desired results.
23. To underline this commitment, three weeks ago, I convened a special session on Power and gave specific instructions on the fast tracking of gas production and delivery to ensure improved availability of power. I also directed that the power sector reforms must continue on schedule and that privatization of the sector must be completed according to plan.
24. Our approach is two-pronged: First, is the immediate repair of power plants, as well as transmission and distribution infrastructure in the short term. The second is the building of institutions and the provisionof enablers to attract investors. We have revived and are accelerating the completion of the National Integrated Power Projects. We are also building about 4000km of transmission lines and hundreds of sub stations. We have completed the design for the construction of both Mambilla and Zungeru Hydro power plants which will add about 3, 000 MW to the national grid.
25. By mid 2010, the national power output was about 2, 800 MW. By the end of 2011, we reached a peak of more than 4, 000 MW. A National Gas Emergency Plan has also been launched to redress the problem of gas supply which are essentially due to poor planning.
26. For long-term power availability, we have strengthened a number of key institutions such as the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, the Bulk Trader, the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria, and others. We are also working with the World Bank to provide guarantees for gas and power providers. The signing of MOUs with World Leaders in power equipment – General Electric of USA and Siemens of Germany as well as US and China Exim Banks for financial investment, is a clear indication of the level of confidence which the world investment community has in our power sector road map.
27. In addition, the privatisation programme has attracted expression of interest from 131 companies across the globe. Our decision to bring in the private sector is clearly intended to achieve our target of generating and distributing sufficient and reliable power within the shortest time possible. With the measures we have put in place, we will surely achieve success in transforming the power sector.
28. We have also focused our efforts on Ports and Customs reforms to ensure efficiency in the handling of ports and port-related businesses. Our administration has streamlined bureaucratic activities at the Ports by reducing the number of agencies from 14 to 7. We have also reduced the time for the clearance of goods from about a month, to seven days, with the long-term objective of ensuring that cargoes are cleared within 48 hours in line with international best practice. In the meantime, our ports, for the first time, now open for business for 24 hours.
29. In the Oil and Gas Sector, our Administration has charted a new course that will ensure enduring transparency and accountability. We are re-drafting the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to ensure it meets the aspirations of all Stakeholders given the current realities and future expectations in the global energy landscape. Work on the PIB will be concluded in June 2012 and formally submitted to the NationalAssembly. Additionally, Special Task Forces dealing with Governance and Control, Petroleum Revenue and National refineries are finalizing their work to ensure probity across the oil and gas sector, and self-sufficiency in refined petroleum products.
30. In the DownstreamSector, the Nigerian Content Development Act, since inception in 2010, has boosted the local production of line pipes, in-country fabrication tonnage and engineering support services. As a result, retained in-country spend has grown from approximately US $1bn to a current estimate of US$4bn, and over US$3 billion Foreign Direct Investment has been brought in for upgrading and building new yards, altogether generating over 120,000 direct and indirect jobs.
31. Capacity utilization of existing domestic refineries has greatly improved from 30 to 60 percent. We have commenced the phased plan to return the refineries to 90 percent capacity utilization with the expected completion of the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt refinery by the end of 2012, to be followed by Warri andKaduna refineries in 2013.
32. In the Upstream Sector, the April 2012 commissioning of the Usan Deep Offshore Field has increased crude oil production capacity by 180 thousand barrels per day. Also,Government continues to support the National Oil Company, NPDC, by assigning 55% equity in 8 divested blocks which has resulted in increase in reserves from 350 million barrels to 2.1 billion barrels and 160, 000 barrels of production. We have also made significant progress in gas infrastructure development, investing close toUS$1bn for the construction of some 1000km of pipelines, gas supply growth and stimulation of gas industrialization. Between now and the third quarter of 2013, Final Investment Decisions (FIDs) will be made on gas-based industries, such as the petrochemicals and fertilizer plants at Koko, the Central Processing Units(CPF) in Obiafu/Obrikom, and the gas growth projects. Also, the sum of N11 billion is provided in the 2012 Budget for Hydro-Carbonexploration in the Lake Chad Basin.
33. The Gas Revolution initiative will fully support and sustain domestic power, whilst creating Africa’s largest gas based industrial park, which on completion will underpin the creation of over a million jobs and attract over US$16 billion in Foreign Direct Investment. To protect the gains of these initiatives for all Nigerians, we are aggressively addressing the increasing incidents of crude oil theft and other criminal activities in the sector.
34. As a deliberate move, our goal is to transform Nigeria from a mono-modal economy, to a diversified one. The sector that we are focusing onto diversify our economy – and one in which Nigeria has huge comparative advantage – is the agriculture sector. Agriculture accounts for about 40% of our GDP and over 70% of all employment. Increases in agricultural productivity will drive down rural poverty and revive our rural economy.
35. In this regard, we are aggressively pursuing an agricultural transformation agenda. Agriculture is no longer a development programme. We are now treating agriculture as a business, one that can generate wealth and create jobs for millions of our youths.
36. We have implemented major reforms in the sector, notably in the fertilizer sub-sector. We have ended the practice of Federal Government procurement and distribution of fertilizers. This we did because only 11% of farmers get the fertilizers that are bought and distributed by government. The old system encouraged rent seekers to collude and deprive farmers of access to fertilizers, while some of the fertilizers ended up with political farmers and in neighbouring countries.
37. Now, the procurement and commercialization of fertilizersand seeds have been fully deregulated to the private sector. We have ended the culture of corruption in fertilizer procurement. We must also end the era of food imports. Nigeria spends over 10 billion dollars every year importing wheat, rice, sugar and fish alone. This is unacceptable.
38. Our agricultural transformation agenda is directed at promoting local production, substituting for imported foods, and adding value to our locally produced crops. We are recording successes already. Government’spolicy to ensure rice self-sufficiency by 2015 is already paying off. New rice mills are being established by the private sector to mill locally produced rice. Ebony Agro Industries located in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State has rolled out its high quality parboiled rice. In Kano, Umza rice mill has taken off and can hardly meet demand, while in Benue State Ashi rice has hit the market. Consumers are buying more of Abakaliki and Ofada rice too.
39. To further accelerate the local production and milling of high quality rice, government is facilitating the import and installation of 100 new large scale integrated rice mills across the country. This will allow Nigeria, for the first time in its history, to have the capacity to mill all of the rice that we consume.
40. Our cassava policy is working, as we accelerate the pace ofutilization of cassava to create markets for millions of our farmers. Our goalis a bold one: we will make Nigeria, which is the largest producer of cassavain the world, to also become the largest processor of high value cassavaproducts in the world.
41. To further encourage cassava utilization and value-added products, government will support corporate bakers and master bakers across thecountry to use high quality cassava flour for baking. Last year I announced anincrease in tariff and levy on wheat.
To encourage the cassava flour inclusion policy, I now direct that part of the levy and tariff on wheat be set aside tosupport the promotion of high quality cassava flour and composite cassava bread. This will include support for needed enzymes, technical training and equipment for corporate bakers and master bakers, as well as accelerated cassava production.
42. We have also secured markets for cassava outside Nigeria, and for the first time ever, Nigeria will export this year 1 million metric tons of dried cassava chips to China. This will earn Nigeria 136 million USdollars in foreign exchange. Last week we also successfully started the commercial use of feed grade cassava grits, produced locally, for use in ourpoultry industry.
43. We are reviving our lost glory in cocoa, with massive distribution of 3.6 million pods of high-yielding cocoa varieties for farmers all across the cocoa growing states of the country. The pods will be provided free of charge. We are reviving cotton production in the North, as well. I have directed that all seeds for cotton should be provided, free of charge, to allcotton farmers.
44. Let me reiterate my personal passion and commitment todriving the agricultural transformation for Nigeria. The prosperity of Nigeria must start with improving the living standards of our farmers, and revitalizingrural economies across the nation. The newly inaugurated Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council, which I personally Chair, will further drive our continued revolution of the sector. Our goal is to add 20 million metric tons of food to our domestic food supply by 2015 and create 3.5 million jobs. To achieve this, the appropriate infrastructure to support all-year round farming through irrigation is being rehabilitated and developed across the country.
45. We must use our population to create markets for what we produce. We must grow local, buy local and eat local. To promote this, I have directed that all official functions of government serve local foods, especially ourlocal rice and cassava bread and other foods. In the State House, I amfaithfully keeping to my promise of eating cassava bread and local rice.
46. Our administration is committed to the rapid and beneficial development of our country’s Minerals and metals potential. In the last year, we recorded remarkable achievements in Mines and Steel Development. We increased the number of investors in the mining sector due to the transparent manner in which titlesare now issued on a “first come-first served and use it or lose it basis.”
A total of 2,476 active mineral titles were issued compared to 666 titles issuedout in the previous year, thereby reducing, significantly, illegal mining activities. About 350, 000 additional jobs were created, arising from theactivities of newly registered operators. We have initiated a programme tosupport private steel production outfits. This has resulted in an increase inproduction figures for steel and other metals to over 1 million tonnes.
47. It is our collective desire as Nigerians to improve the standard of education. We are particularly aggressive in addressing this challenge. As a former school teacher, I know that it is not enough to create jobs; we must develop human capacity, and train a generation of Nigerian children with better competencies and skills. This will grant them the edge that they require to compete in a skills-driven globaleconomy, and by extension, strengthen our national competitiveness index.
48. I want every Nigerian child to have an opportunity to receive quality education and acquire useful skills. We are reforming the education sector from basic to tertiary level. The Federal Government recently launched the Almajiri Education Programme to reduce the number of out-of-school children which currently stands at about 9 million. Similar programmes will soon be introduced in various parts of the country. At the tertiary level, it is the policy of this administration that every State will have a Federal University.
49. To this end, we have established within the last year, nine (9) new Federal Universities and licensed nine (9) new private universities, bringing the total number of universities in the country to 124. Even with this, there is still the challenge of getting adequate admission space for prospective undergraduates. While we are addressing this, the Federal Government is also conscious of the fact that our universities need to be better equipped, particularly with well trained teachers. Government is, therefore, working on aprogramme to provide scholarships for Nigerians who are interested in academics,to enable them obtain their Doctorate degrees within and outside the country.
50. In addition, the Federal Government has launched a Special Presidential Scholarship Scheme for our best and brightest brains. We are selecting the best out of our First Class graduates in various disciplines, especially engineering and science. They will be sent for post-graduate studies in the best universities in the world, with the expectation that this will lay the foundation for a desirable scientific and technological revolution that will take Nigeria into Space in the not too distant future.
51. One of the first steps taken by this administration was the creation of a Ministry of Communications Technology. Its mandate includes the design of programmes and initiatives to deploy ICT as a driver of sustainable growth and the training of skilled manpower. For our country to remain relevant, we need to adequately educate our people, as it is through education that we can turn our people into assets that can help Nigeria compete globally, and create jobs in the new knowledge economy.
52. By the same token, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is providing training opportunities for the youths in the Niger Delta. In the past year, a total of 704 youths have been sent for training, abroad and locally, in various fields of endeavour, including agriculture, petroleum engineering, commerce, tourism, and maritime studies. Nine skills centres are being built, one in each of the nine states of the Niger Delta; three of them will be completed this year.
53. An efficient and affordable public transport system remains a priorityof this Administration. Our transformation agenda in the road sector which seeks to deliver better and safer roads to Nigerians, as well as to link the six geo-political zones in the country with dual carriageways, is very much on course. There has been increased construction activities in the ongoing dualisation of Abuja–Abaji–Lokoja Road, Kano–Potiskum–Maiduguri Road; theBenin–Ore–Shagamu Expressway; the Onitsha–Enugu Expressway; and the construction of the Loko–Oweto bridge, across River Benue.
54. Work has been slow on the East-West road due to budgetary constraints, but government will discharge all liabilities to contractors before the end of June, and funds for the remaining part of the year, will be provided to accelerate the pace of work. In other parts of the country, about 21 other road projects arein different stages of completion. These include the Yola–Numan road, Aba–Owerri road, Owerri–Onitsha expressway, Oyo–Ogbomosho old road, and the Gombe-Potiskum road. Many others are at different stages of completion.
55. Government is also currently rehabilitating about 3,000 kms out of the3,505 km existing narrow gauge rail lines across the country. The Lagos-Kano corridor will be completed this year, while the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri corridor, which has equally commenced, will be completed by the end of2013. We have also commenced the construction of the Abuja–Kaduna segment of the Lagos–Kano standard gauge rail lines, while the Lagos–Ibadan segment will be awarded this year. The Itakpe–Ajaokuta–Warri standard gauge rail line is nearing completion with the entire tracks completely laid.
56. To enhance sustainability in the rail sector, this Administration has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with General Electric (GE) to establish a locomotive assembly plant in the country. Our goal is to make Nigeria a major hub in West and Central Africa.
57. Within the last 12 months, we completed the capital dredging of theLower River Niger from Warri (Delta State) to Baro (Niger State) to boost our inland water transportation. This year, work will commence on the dredging of the River Benue in addition to the construction of River Ports at Baro (NigerState), Oguta (Imo State), and Jamata/Lokoja, (Kogi State). The Onitsha River Port in Anambra State, equipped with modern cargo handling equipment, has been completed and I shall be commissioning the project in the next few weeks.
58. The Aviation sector remains pivotal to our economic growth. Within the last year, we have developed a road map for the restoration of decaying facilities and infrastructure, some of which had not been attended to since they were first constructed over 30 years ago. Currently, we are renovating airports across the country and have begun the development of four new international terminals at Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and Abuja. We have also reviewed our Bilateral Air Service Agreements to ensure improved service delivery, and more customer-friendly processes. We are working to ensure that within the life of this Administration, the aviation sector in Nigeria will be transformed into aworld class and self-sustaining provider of safe, secure and comfortable air transportation.
59. Globally, the role of women in governance has assumed great significance. In Nigeria, it is also widely acknowledged that women who constitute about half of the Nigerian population are great and invaluable assets, in both the public and private spheres. On our part, we have demonstrated serious commitment in further empowering women and projecting their role in public life. Out of the 42 members of the Federal Executive Council, 13 are women, heading major Ministries of Government.
60. Last week, I appointed the first female Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission. In the Armed Forces, female cadets have been admitted into the prestigious Nigerian Defence Academy, an institution that was hitherto an exclusive preserve of men. The first set will graduate in 2016. This year, we reached a significant milestone as the Nigerian Air Force produced the first Nigerian female combatant pilot. Our administration will continue to empower women and the girl-child as a focal point of our Transformation Agenda.
61. More than anything else, health matters. We are upgrading the country’s tertiary health facilities to bring them up to international standards. We have increased funding for health-related MDGs. We are also committed to reducing maternal and infant mortality, and to eradicating polio completely by 2014.
62. I want to reassure all Nigerians that this administration remains committed to waging a sustained battle against the menace of corruption. In the last one year, we have taken specific steps to reduce opportunities and avenues for corruption, and to strengthen the capacity and integrity of our institutions. For example, our ports reform programme has reduced the number of agencies at the ports which hitherto frustrated the speedy clearance of goods at the ports. We have also cleared the stretch of trailers and lorries blocking the Apapa Expressway. We have put an end to the fertilizer and tractor scam that once dominated the agricultural sector. Our review of the pension payment system has also blown the whistle on corrupt practices which are now being addressed.
63. Within the last one year, we set up a committee to identify leakages and waste in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies. I am confident that the implementation of the recommendations of that committee will help to eliminate corruption channels within the system, and improve the efficiency of the public service. In January, we announced a policy of deregulation in the downstream sector, but this was misunderstood by naysayers and reduced narrowly to a fuel subsidy removal initiative, whereas the policy was designed to completely eliminate the grand corruption in the downstream sector, and create the necessary incentives for private sector investment.
64. We have strengthened the leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC). Both agencies are being re-positioned for more effective service delivery. We will continue to strengthen the law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies for optimal performance. We will also need the support of our courts. The courts have to do more.
65. Terrorism, a new menace, totally alien to our way of life and culture,has reared its head and is posing a serious challenge. My thoughts and prayers go to the victims of the terrorist attacks, andtheir families.
66. As President, it is my solemn duty to defend the Constitution of this country. That includes the obligation to protect life and property. We are doing everything possible to check the menace of terrorism. In this regard, we are determined to review some of the existing laws, to further strengthen the national counter-terrorism strategy. Coordinated joint action among our security agencies has now assumed greater importance. We have developed a new security architecture to strengthen the security environment.
67. I wish to reassure every Nigerian that we will confront this threat against our collective peace and security, and bring the perpetrators to justice. We will confront the few misguided persons who falsely believe, that through violence, they can impose their agenda of hate and division on this nation of good people. We must confront all those who think they can derail us by engaging in indiscriminate violence and mass murder, perpetrated in places of worship, in markets and public places, against the media, and security personnel. Nigeria is a nation of resilient people. We will never yield to the forces of darkness. Nigeria will never, ever, disintegrate.
68. Let me end this address at the point where I began. What matters most to all of us, is Nigeria. It is what binds us together. We have a duty to be loyal to our country. If we believe this to be a sacred obligation, it will not matter whether we are Christians or Muslims, or politicians, irrespective of political parties or divide. It really will not matter whether we are civil society agents, social activists or union leaders. What matters is Nigeria. This nation exists because we are one. We must, therefore, remain as one family, and work together to defend our country.
69. Within two years, it would be exactly 100 years since the Northern and Southern protectorates were amalgamated and Nigeria was born. We need a lot more introspection, even as we look forward. We must take steps to heal the wounds of the past and work together, as a people with a shared destiny underone flag. We must strengthen our collective memory, draw strength from our history, and build bridges of unity to take our country to greater heights.
70. This is what we should do. And we must. As a starting point, we must draw strength from our history and work to ensure that the labour of our heroes past is not in vain. It is partly for this and other reasons, that I have directed, as part of the activities marking today’s Democracy Day, that all due processes should be initiated for the building of a Presidential Museum in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. This Museum will document the lives and times of Nigeria’s Presidents and Heads of Government since 1960, and remind us, by extension, of the high points of our national history.
71. It is also in this regard that the Federal Government has decided that late Chief M.K.O. Abiola be honoured,for making the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of justice and truth. Destiny and circumstances conspired to place upon his shoulders a historic burden, and he rose to the occasion with character and courage. He deserves recognition for his martyrdom, and public-spiritedness and for being the man of history that he was. We need in our land, more men and women who will stand up to defend their beliefs, and whose example will further enrich our democracy. After very careful consideration, and in honour of Chief M.K.O. Abiola’s accomplishments and heroism, on this Democracy Day, the University of Lagos, is renamed by the Federal Government of Nigeria, Moshood Abiola University, Lagos. The Federal Government will also establish an Institute of Democratic Studies and Governance in the University.
Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, is the Executive President of Federal Republic of Nigeria
The Vatican's inquisition into the source of leaked documents has yielded its first target with the arrest of the pope's butler, but the investigation is continuing into a scandal that has embarrassed the Holy See by revealing evidence of internal power struggles, intrigue and corruption in the highest levels of the Catholic Church governance.
The detention of butler Paolo Gabriele, one of the few members of the papal household, capped one of the most convulsive weeks in recent Vatican history and threw the Holy See into chaos as it enters a critical phase in its efforts to show the world it's serious about complying with international norms on financial transparency.
The tumult began with the publication last weekend of a book of leaked Vatican documents including correspondence, notes and memos to the pope and his private secretary. It peaked with the inglorious ouster on Thursday of the president of the Vatican bank. And it concluded with confirmation Saturday that Pope Benedict XVI's own butler was the alleged mole feeding documents to Italian journalists in an apparent bid to discredit the pontiff's No. 2.
"If you wrote this in fiction you wouldn't believe it," said Carl Anderson, a member of the board of the Vatican bank which contributed to the whirlwind with its no-confidence vote in its president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi. "No editor would let you put it in a novel."
The bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, issued a scathing denunciation of Gotti Tedeschi in a memorandum obtained Saturday by The Associated Press. In it the bank, or IOR by its Italian initials, explained its reasons for ousting Gotti Tedeschi: he routinely missed board meetings, failed to do his job, failed to defend the bank, polarized its personnel and displayed "progressively erratic personal behavior."
Gotti Tedeschi was also accused by the board of leaking documents himself: The IOR memorandum said he "failed to provide any formal explanation for the dissemination of documents last known" to be in his possession.
In an interview with the AP, Anderson said the latter accusation was independent of the broader "Vatileaks" scandal that has rocked the Vatican for months. But he stressed: "It is not an insignificant issue."
Gotti Tedeschi hasn't commented publicly about his ouster or the reasons behind it, saying he has too much admiration for the pope to do so. He also hasn't been arrested, avoiding the fate that befell Gabriele.
The 46-year-old father of three has been in Vatican detention since Wednesday after Vatican investigators discovered Holy See documents in his apartment. The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Gabriele had met with his lawyers and that the investigation was taking its course through the Vatican's judicial system.
Gabriele, the pope's personal butler since 2006, has often been seen by Benedict's side in public, riding in the front seat of the pope's open-air jeep during Wednesday general audiences or shielding the pontiff from the rain. In private, he is a member of the small papal household that also includes the pontiff's private secretaries and four consecrated women who care for the papal apartment.
Lombardi said Gabriele's detention marked a sad development for all Vatican staff. "Everyone knows him in the Vatican, and there's certainly surprise and pain, and great affection for his beloved family," the spokesman said.
The "Vatileaks" scandal has seriously embarrassed the Vatican at a time when it is trying to show the world financial community that it has turned a page and shed its reputation as a scandal plagued tax haven.
Vatican documents leaked to the media in recent months have undermined that effort, alleging corruption in Vatican finance as well as internal bickering over the Holy See's efforts to comply with international norms to fight money laundering and terror financing.
The Vatican in July will learn if it has complied with the financial transparency criteria of a Council of Europe committee, Moneyval — a key step in its efforts to get on the so-called "white list" of countries that share financial information to fight tax evasion.
Anderson acknowleged that the events of the last week certainly haven't cast the Holy See in the best light. And he said the bank's board appreciated that the ouster of its president just weeks before the expected Moneyval decision could give the committee pause.
"The board considered that concern and decided that all things considered it was best to take the action at this time," Anderson said. "These steps were taken to increase the IOR's position vis-a-vis Moneyval."
The Vatileaks scandal began in January when Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi broadcast letters from the former No. 2 Vatican administrator to the pope in which he begged not to be transferred for having exposed alleged corruption that cost the Holy See millions of euros in higher contract prices. The prelate, Monsignor Carlo Maria Vigano, is now the Vatican's U.S. ambassador.
Nuzzi, author of "Vatican SpA," a 2009 volume laying out shady dealings of the Vatican bank based on leaked documents, last weekend published "His Holiness," which presented a trove of other documents including personal correspondence to the pope and his secretary — many of them painting Benedict’s No. 2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, in a negative light.
Nuzzi has said he was offered the documents by multiple Vatican sources and insisted he didn't pay a cent € to any of them.
Gabriele was in Vatican custody and unavailable for comment. No known motive has come to light as to why Gabriele, if he is found to be the key mole, might have passed on the documents. Nuzzi declined to comment Saturday on whether Gabriele was among his sources.
Bertone, 77, has been blamed for a series of gaffes and management problems that have plagued Benedict's papacy and, according to the leaked documents, generated a not inconsiderable amount of ill will directed at him from other Vatican officials.
"For some time and in various parts of the church, criticism even by the faithful has been growing about the lack of coordination and confusion that reign at its center," Cardinal Paolo Sardi, the former No. 2 official in the Vatican secretariat of state, wrote to the pope in 2009, according to the letter cited in "His Holiness."
Anderson, who heads the Knights of Columbus, a major U.S. lay Catholic organization, said he was certain the Holy See would weather the storm and that the Vatican bank, at least, could move forward under a new leader with solid banking credentials as well as a desire to show off the bank's transparency.
"I hope this will be the beginning of a new chapter for the IOR and part of that chapter will be restoring the public image of the IOR," he told AP. "I think we have a good story to tell."
Nigeria is not the only country grappling with the challenges of unemployment particularly among her teeming youths and graduates, other countries both third world, developing and advanced are as well in this boat as she is. In Nigeria, the situation has led to the establishment of such bodies as; National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP), National Directorate of Employment and others. As sound as these bodies’ policies and programmes are, not much has been achieved in terms of comprehensive and exhaustive job creation and employment.
It is no longer uncommon to see unemployed persons besieging cyber cafes in search of job opportunity on the internet. Some who do not have the financial muscle to spend hours at the café, trek kilometres of road visiting government owned and private organizations with their hand written application letters and qualification for enquiries for available employment opportunities, all to no avail.
In the same vein, those who have exposed themselves to series of interviews with assurances from their interviewers that they would be contacted in no distant time have continued to wait in vain. It is even more disheartening for one to pass an interview, whether it is written or oral and to discover that one’s position has been taken by another person. This circumstance is the lots of many job seekers who do not have connection with “the powers that be” in an organization be it public or private. It is at this point that a few job seekers view their chances of securing employment as “bleak”, then frustration and despondency will set in. It is also at this point that negative thoughts will infiltrate their minds.
Many a job seeker may know how some purported paramilitary recruits who gained employment in the time past or recently were able to make it. Applicants who paid allegedly N150, 000 – N300, 000 to some top paramilitary officers are counting their losses. This is because the top paramilitary agents were not able to pull a string on their behalf. It was purportedly ministers’ and other top ranking politicians’ candidates whose names were short listed for training. The alleged payment of thousands of naira in Delta State recently by job seekers in the state to secure employment which is under investigation demonstrate the bleak chance indigent job hunters have and the extent bribery and corruption has enveloped Nigeria.
In a circumstance of this nature, what becomes the future and fate of indigent applicants who do not know or have connection with a minister or a strong politician who can wield enormous influence for them? Only God knows.
Consequently many job seekers, who cannot bear the pangs of poverty and hunger, after fruitless years of job hunt, become ready tools in the hands of politicians who equip them with guns and use same to perpetrate crime during political campaigns and elections to actualize their paymaster’s selfish political ambition.
I still recall how some alleged state government called on people whom guns were given to, to return them after 1999 and 2003 elections were over. But were the guns returned? Your guess is good as mine. Such guns no doubt have found their way into the hands of those who ought not to have them. What more? They use guns to rob, kidnap and assassinate.
The rate of crime which is on the increase can be attributed to joblessness among other factors. One who has been privy to the confessions of armed robbers will concur with me that majority of them are driven into life of crime because of not having anything to do. It is high time the powers that be; politicians, ministers and bosses of both public and private organizations stopped using their position to favour the employment of those who grease their palms, close relations, political associates’ friend or children etc. to the detriment of people who merited to occupy such positions base on merit and ability to contribute meaningfully to growth of the organization. They should employ those who did excellently well in both their written and oral interviews.
The creation of employment opportunities should not be left in the hands of government only; the private sector should also take part in reducing the rate of unemployment by investing in key sectors of the economy.
The likes of Alhaji Alinko Dangote, Mike Adenuga, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Orji Uzor Kalu, Prince Tonye Princewill and others too many to mention that have contributed in no mean measure towards employing a lot of graduates through various investment ideas should be emulated by others who have the financial clout to setup private companies that will serve as avenue for the creation of more jobs for the unemployed.
It is when this is done that crime associated with joblessness will be reduced.
Nwaorgu Faustinus wrote in from Port Harcourt. Email:
Since the reign of Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians have been at war with economic disparity, now with Mohamed Morsy, the official Muslim Brotherhood representative as the presidential front runner, Egyptians are now facing a war with an Ideology.
In Egypt’s first democratically led election in history, a vast majority of people chose an Islamist to lead their country for the next four years.
Morsy’s popularity has come at a time where security and stability are at an all time low for Egyptians, as the many youth and baby boomer generations are now being victimized by their own freedoms. The violence, chaos and disorder that have plagued Egypt for the past 18 months have been used as a trump card for an Islamist to gain popular support.
Mosy’s ability to capitalize on Islam as a political system, has not only marginalized Egypt’s secular society, but created further marginalization for Egypt’s Christian population, which currently stands at 10%.
Whether Mosy’s reign will create political problems for the West is now uncertain, as Western powers have enjoyed a long history of positive relations with Islamist governments. Think the Gulf, and how the U.S. established cooperative military, security and economic (oil and gas) relations with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Dubai, Bahrain and the U.A.E. Western Powers do business with Islamist governments all the time, and they do it well.
Egypt is a country rich in natural resources, petroleum, natural gas and electricity therefore, trading with the West would be a step towards strengthening Egypt’s failing economy. The threat to the West, however, cannot be adequately identified as more than an ideological one at the present time.
What is more apparent is that an Islamist government in Egypt will further infringe civil liberties, via the establishment of an Islamist police state, thus creating an even more suppressive regime than their predecessor. Morsy has said that he wants to foster positive relations with the US. However, the Muslim Brotherhood’s views are staunchly anti-Israeli.
Khaled Abdallah, 44, a religious affairs detective in Mubarak's Interior Ministry, warns that "blood will be spilled" if Morsy is to be elected as president of Egypt, "there will be executions" and a commitment to destroy "Israel and the Jews."
In an interview on May 20, a leading Fatah official expressed his concerns for Mohamed Morsy gaining power in Egypt’s Elections. Azzam al-Ahmed, a Fatah official responsible for reconciliation talks with rival faction Hamas said “Hamas would become more extreme should the Muslim Brotherhood candidate in Egypt’s election, Mohamed Morsy, win the contest.”
He added that “Hamas leaders do not want to resolve the political split because they believe a Brotherhood win in Egypt would put Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, in a more powerful position vis-à-vis Fatah, which governs the West Bank.” Ahmed Said.
In a speech on May 25, Morsy said that if elected he would “remove all borders between Sinai and Gaza.” This move would mean that weapons proliferation, illegal migration, free movement to (dormant) terrorist cells and bedouin tribes operating within the region. If enforced, this would cause further crime and weapons spilling into Egypt causing more damage to the already politically and socially unstable nation.
In addition to weapons proliferation and crime, this could perhaps breed a new kind of radicalization in Egypt. With criminal bedouin tribes and terrorist cells able to move freely in and out of Egypt, it would mean that societies most vulnerable could be victims of criminal gang and terrorist related recruiting. This radicalization not only has immediate consequences for Egyptians, but it has longterm ones for the West (US and Israel) also.
Elizabeth Pickworth is a journalist from Australia with a postgraduate degree in International Security majoring in Counterterrorism. She is currently based in the Gulf and undertaking research for her PhD. She writes at Policy Mic
The two-day meeting of Central Bank of Nigeria's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) ended with a lukewarm outlook, projection and pronouncement on the state of the economy by the Governor Sanusi, the head of the country's apex bank. Sanusi noted that national economic growth may encounter some hiccups in the absence of "structural reforms". The head of the country's Reserve institute buttresseed his comment by pointing to the slight reduction of the economic growth from 7.45 percent in 2011 to the projected 6.5 percent for 2012.
It may not be fair to the monetary policy committee to ascribe the two-day summit as futile and ineffective but that may be the case. Before the meeting there were already standing facts that remained unchanged. At a whopping 12 percent interest rate, even at the face of the surging inflation rate at 12.9 percent, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) cannot afford to jack-up the interest rate.
The tightened of monetary policy to mop up liquidity in the monetary base may have become unresponsive and waned. Therefore monetary policy committee retained the monetary interest rate at 12 percent. The further hiking of the interest rate may result into unintended consequences. A higher interest rate may probably appreciate capital market, but at same time, it will constrict credit and liquidity in the hands of business community. And such a scenario and development comes with the slow down of economic growth. It is beginning to look like, that the interest rate at 12 percent is gradually slowing down economic growth.
Moreover the further intensification of liquidity mopping can result in the slowing down of the economy. The only alternative left to the monetary policy committee is to look beyond tighten of monetary policy. The executive arm of the government should inject fiscal policy to complement the actions of the monetary policy committee. Sanusi was underlining the forthcoming weakness of the economy, emphasizing the needed structural reform of the economy. Sanusi was probably alluding to fiscal policy application.
When Asia was experiencing higher inflationary rate in 2011, at a point monetary policy tightening was becoming waned, HSBC Global Research advised Asia to tighten fiscal policy. HSBC Global Research stated that:
“Monetary policy, in its usual form, no longer works. Raising rates simply draws in more capital, leaving financial conditions highly stimulative. Currency appreciation, of the size needed to cut off those funds, would be too disruptive. Capital controls could square the circle, but these are never watertight. Meanwhile, to some, regulatory tightening has become a valid alternative, yet this is difficult to calibrate and best serves as a complementary, rather than primary, tool to tackle inflation. In short, the hands of central bankers are tied.”
INFLATION RISING ABOVE 15 PERCENT
The slowing down of the economy may be partially attributed to lack of structural reforms as was enunciated by Sanusi. But the crust of the matter was the partial removal of the fuel subsidy that brought about the increase of cost of living and production. The country's economy is run on fossil energy and by removing the subsidy it triggered higher inflation rate which now stood at 12.9 percent. Sanui's Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) anticipated inflation rate to rise and hover between 14-15 percent in 2012 but that will not be so. With the economic trends and the way things are going inflation rate will accelerate over 15 even up to 16 percent by the end of the year. And if the fuel adjustment program continues and the total removal of fuel subsidy becomes imminent the inflation rate may rise above 16 percent. With such an increase in the inflation rate, the country's economy will definitely slow down even below the projected 6.5 percent for 2012.
Nigeria has not yet appreciated how fickle the economic growth and inflation can become. The targeted mission of the policy makers both at CBN and presidency should be to maintain a healthy balance between monetary and fiscal policy in order to checkmate inflation and safeguard economic growth. There is so much CBN can do with the tinkering of the interest rate and with quantitative easing. These monetary tools are limited in action when faced with an accelerating inflation trends and undiversified economy like that of Nigeria.
The state of the country is becoming un-conducive for a sustainable economic growth apart from oil sector of the economy. The growth in agriculture is expected to "declined to 4.15 per cent compared with 5.54 per cent in Q1 of 2011 and 5.74 in fourth quarter 2011," as CBN governor said at the end of the two-day meeting. And “crude oil production was estimated to have declined by 2.32 per cent in quarter one 2012 compared with the decline of 2.41 per cent in the corresponding period of 2011. Non oil real GDP growth estimated at 7.93 per cent in Q1 of 2012 was much lower than 8.73 per cent recorded in Q1 of 2011.”
This is not good news for Nigeria. The social unrest and political turbulences are making investors anxious and their comfort level and commitment on Nigeria's economy is diminishing. This will encourage capital flight and fear for investing in Nigeria, moreover indigenous capitalists may even recoil their commitment for further capital investments in the economy.
The only good news coming from Sanusi's CBN is the Nigeria’s external reserves which increased from $36.66 billion in April to $38.72 billion in May. The buildup of the reserve is a good thing. Reserve can become a war chest against currency speculators and Naira appreciation can be enhanced with an increasing foreign reserve. But it is important that some of the resources coming from the sale of oil should be diverted to Nigerian sovereign wealth fund and provision of infrastructures. Nigerian sovereign wealth fund should be investing in a well tested market where risk is at lowest minimum for a good return to the country.
The legislature move to remove the autonomy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is a bad news. The country needs an independent monetary policy institute that does its job without control from the executive and legislature. Look around the world there is no advance and developed economies without independent Central Banks. When the power of Central Bank is compromise and weakens by outside interference, investors trust on the economy will virtually dissipate and disappear. The decisions and monetary policy coming from Central Banks will not be acceptable as real when Central Bank depends on the whims of the executive and legislature arms of the government. The quest to remove CBN's autonomy is "no go area". A bastardized and compromise CBN is good for nothing institute, that is why that it is intrinsic that the autonomy of CBN must remained in tact.
The government must rekindle its effort to reassure investors, capitalists and citizens that protection of life and property is its utmost duty by the country's leadership. The upgrades of electricity infrastructures must be speed up for Nigerians are sick and tired of living in darkness at the dawn of 21st century. The provision of social infrastructures, political stability and quantifiable peace must be in place for sustainability of economic growth. The heavy lifting of structural reforms should come into play but the rudimentary steps to the reforms are to provide and build on the basic tools that are needed for a growing economy.
The Reserve Bank will maintain current interest rates, governor Gill Marcus said on Thursday.
It would leave the repo rate unchanged at 5.5% once again.
President Jacob Zuma. (Madelene Cronjé, M&G)
But the bank would continue to closely monitor the situation and stood ready to act in either direction, she said.
The prime rate would stay at 9%.
This was the ninth consecutive meeting where the repo rate remained unchanged, after it was reduced by 650 basis points between mid-2008 and November 2010.
It keeps the rate at its lowest level in over 30 years. The decision followed a meeting of the bank’s monetary policy committee in Pretoria.
NIGERIA: Review of GDP and Inflation for 2011
Gross Domestic Product:
In 2011, the Nigerian economy grew at an estimated real rate of 7.36 percent . This was slightly lower than the 7.98 percent recorded in 2010. In 2011 on a quarterly basis, the economy grew by 6.68% in the first quarter, down by 0.64 percentage points year-on-year. In the second quarter, the economy grew by 7.61% down marginally from the 7.71% posted in the corresponding quarter a year earlier. The economy recorded growth rates of 7.30% and 7.68% in the third and fourth quarters of the year respectively, down by 0.66 percentage points and 0.92 percentage points year-on-year.
Mangoes on display at Zuba Fruit Market in Abuja.NAN Photos
The country’s headline inflation rate trended lower in 2011 compared to 2010, even though 2011 was an election year with the potential for large monetary inflows within the economy. The average inflation rate for 2011 was recorded at 10.9%, down from the average of 13.8% in 2010, which had witnessed a year-on high of 15.6% (year-on-year) in February of 2010. As shown in Figure 4, the headline rate ranged between 9.3% (August) and 12.8% (March) settling at 10.3% by December 2011. This was 1.53 percentage points lower than December 2010 and a further 3.65 percentage points lower than December 2009
The “all items less farm produce index” (also known as the “core” index) which excludes prices of more volatile agricultural products peaked in May of 2011 at 13.0% and trended lower till the end of the ycpear. By December 2011, the rate settled at 10.8%, down marginally from the 10.9% recorded in December 2010 and 0.4 percentage points lower than the 11.2% recorded in December 2009. The reason for the early build up in the core index was as a result of increases
in prices of household items, building materials and kerosene prices. Towards the end of the year, the upward pressure on prices appear to have been moderated by the relatively late release of allocations to federal state and local governments, as well as end of year sales in various parts of the country. Proactive but very restrictive monetary policy implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria in the early part of last year also appears to have countered possible fiscal effects in the latter part of the year.
The Food index which records prices of agricultural products climbed higher during the earlier part of the year to reach a maximum of 12.2% in May 2011 before generally trending downward. The increases in prices were partially as a result of the planting season. Prices receded between May and July of the year to reach a low of 7.9% in July. Prices then climbed higher to end the year at 11.0%, albeit 1.7 percentage points lower than the 12.7% recorded in December of 2010 and 4.5 percentage points lower than the 15.5% recorded in December of 2009.
"I cannot teach you violence, as I do not myself believe in it. I can only teach you not to bow your heads before anyone even at the cost of your life". -Mahatma Gandhi.
The candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the last presidential election and former head of state, General Mohammed Buhari in Kaduna last week predicted revolution which he said could take any form which the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) will not be able to cope with. He based his prediction on the absence of what he called social justice in Nigeria. For someone who ruled via a coup to achieve political objective, this may not mean anything.
However, Nigerians are not unfamiliar with such comments from the General. We could recall his directive to his followers "to deal with whoever tries to rig this election", which tantamount to asking people to take laws into their hands. It backfired as thousands of streets urchins went on rampage during and after the April 2011 presidential election, leaving blood and tears in its trails in some parts of the north. Those CPC members with milk of human kindness in them must have regretted what happened.
General Buhari was at first in support of the electoral processes, particularly when Professor Jega was appointed the Chairman of INEC. But he later changed his mind by pouring venomous comments on the process when the outcome wasn't favourable to him. These were comments enough to paralyze the system. Unfortunately, General Buhari had strong opinions of all the international and local observers to contend with since they had applauded the elections.
The recent bashing and discrediting of the Nigerian political practices by General Buhari is seen as another calculated attempt to diminish the legitimacy of the incumbent. And to do it effectively, he had to position himself politically by breaking his solemn promises. First, he broke his promise not to go to court if the presidential election was not favourable to him. Second, he broke his promise not to contest again if he lost2011 presidential election. General Buhari went full hug to get judgment from the courts. And now he may even contest the next presidential election at the age of 74 years in 2015. He will be setting a record of being the oldest to ever contest presidential election in the history of Nigeria.
One may want to ask what could be responsible for the vacillation between promises and breaking of promises and what they impact on the psyche of General Buhari's political followers. It seems this creates a perception for followers that when all is lost for your political leader's ambition to be realized; you set yourself on the desperate and violent path. You are encouraged to try alternative route to liberal democracy and that visible alternative is violence and anarchy. Little wonder there were sporadic violence and senseless killings after the last presidential election. The Sheikh Ahmad Lemu committee that investigated the violence that followed the last presidential election was able to draw this linkage which the CPC leadership did not agree with.
General Buhari's prediction of revolution has been addressed by the PDP Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, who noted that that the statements had disqualified him as a democrat, pointing to the 1983 coup that truncated a democratic government. In days that General Buhari was the maximum military ruler of Nigeria, it would have been treason for any democrat, human right activist or ordinary Nigerian to speak glibly of expectation of revolution. Chief Metuh did not add this to his response to General Buhari, and it would have made some sense. General Buhari ruled then with a fist of iron. Those were times when even your thoughts could be read and considered treasonable by the state. It was a time when governance lost all its human face.
One could also recall other combustible statements from the leadership of General Buhari's CPC, calling on voters to use "means" to defend votes and also their pledges to make Nigeria ungovernable if General Buhari lost the 2011 presidential election. All these statements put together were forerunners to the violent turn that the political culture is witnessing today.
If we go back in time a little, we will recall that the General Buhari's political party, had been accused of aggravating political tension through inciting statements made by its leadership during the April 2011 elections. For instance many had expressed bewilderment that the violence that accompanied the election targeted political opponents and were only widespread in places where CPC had majority support and won the election. It was enough for analysts to conclude that CPC had premeditated violence, planned to discredit the electoral process and cause anarchy. CPC explanation that the violence was spontaneous certainly did not hold water against the background of the above mentioned facts.
Musa wrote from Lokoja.
Source: Daily Trust