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Correcting misconceptions about government borrowing, by Patience Oniha



In what appears to be inadequate understanding of public debt and its dynamics, opinions of debt management have included negative assertions about the public debt which can only be described as misrepresentations. Information about public debt and the debt management strategy are among the most publicised in Nigeria.
The same applies to new borrowing and the purpose for the borrowing, since these go through the rigors of the approvals of the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly. Notwithstanding these, there seems to be a lack of understanding of the role of debt in economic development, therefore, some analysis of issues relating to public debt, expectedly arrive at the wrong conclusions.
This Opinion seeks to clarify some of the misrepresentations contained in the editorial of a local newspaper on March 6, 2018, in the interest of several stakeholders in the domestic and international capital markets, and, indeed the general public.
For the avoidance of doubt all borrowings by the Debt Management Office on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, irrespective of the type of security issued to raise the funds, are approved by the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly before they are issued.
In addition to these statutory approvals, the securities are issued in accordance with regulations in the domestic financial markets in the case of Federal Government of Nigeria Bonds, Federal Government of Nigeria Savings Bond, Sukuk, Green Bonds and in the International Capital Market, for Eurobonds and Diaspora Bond.
Each of these securities is a direct obligation of, and backed by the full faith and credit of the Federal Government of Nigeria. The Interest Rate on securities issued in the domestic market is determined by the forces of demand and supply, which is consistent with the theory of efficient markets.
The same applies to the Eurobonds and Diaspora Bond issued in the International Capital Market where Nigeria is benchmarked with countries with similar profiles, such as Sovereign Rating.
Again, inspite of the fact that advertorials were published by the DMO in two (2) national newspapers February 12, 2018 to dispel false claims in the media that the USD300 million Diaspora Bond issued in June 2017 was not approved by the National Assembly prior to issuance, a newspaper in a recent editorial still reported to the contrary. DMO wishes to re-confirm that the approval of the National Assembly was secured before June 17, 2017 when the Diaspora Bond was issued. Still on the Diaspora Bond, it is common knowledge that remittances by Nigerians in the Diaspora are not monies given to the Government.
They are personal funds sent by Nigerians in the Diaspora to family, friends or business associates back home usually through Western Union and MoneyGram. Any argument that suggests that the issuance of the Diaspora Bond was not necessary because of remittances by the Nigerian Diaspora displays a weak understanding of Remittances and Bonds. Nigeria is one of the only few countries with a well-established DMO and its achievements, amongst which are the existence of accurate debt database, prompt settlement of debt service (read as zero default on payment of interest and principal), and funding of the budget deficits have more than justified its establishment.
A key component of the functions of the DMO is to formulate and implement a Debt Management Strategy for Nigeria. One of the objectives of the subsisting debt management strategy is to replace some high cost domestic debt with low cost external capital in order to reduce Debt Service Costs.
Using external funds sourced at Interest Rates of 6.50% to 7.875% p.a. to replace domestic debt sourced at 16.5% to 18% p.a. is great savings for the citizenry. Prior to the refinancing of domestic debt with external debt which started in December 2017, Nigerian Treasury Bills whose tenors are not more than 12 months accounted for about 30% of the Domestic Debt Stock. Replacing these short term domestic debt with longer tenored external funds, has the additional benefit of stabilising the Public Debt Stock. Most analysts agree that a country’s Budget represents the Government’s plan for each year. Budgets are a potent tool for achieving economic targets including GDP Growth, Inflation and employment levels.
The Government of President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR has effectively used the Budgets to stimulate the economy. The outcome of which is a GDP Growth Rate of 1.4% in 2017. It is worthy of note that Nigeria’s Budgets include deficits which have been financed largely by borrowing. Herein lies the link between borrowing and development.
The economic management strategy however doesn’t end here, the Revenue Strategy now being implemented by the Government is yet another tool that will complement the debt management strategy
–Oniha wrote in from Abuja

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Isa Pantami as a metaphor, By Adamu Tilde



By Adamu Tilde
The appointment of Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), September 2016, to the position of the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) by president Muhammadu Buhari could have provoked the usual and expected bashings of the north by the Southern press as a product of quota and federal character system. For the fact that Dr. Pantami had a steady academic career that spanned for almost two decades, rising to the position of an associate professor, put an end to the question of competence and merit; his expertise and training in the IT-industry made the appointment more relevant and timely.
There is this weird stereotype, even if absurd and baseless, that outlived its usefulness despite its refusal to die peacefully and efforts by its advocates to deliberately— even if illogically— make a statement of fact that a Northerner, no matter how trained and well-grounded, could not attain the pinnacle of his career purely on merit without a policy of federal character system or patronage by the power that be. Farfetched as it is, this belief is held by a large chunk of those not from the North. [His Royal Highness] Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was a victim of that narrative; he had his credentials challenged, his competence ridiculed and his merit questioned. Never mind the irony in the misdirected protests given that, then, before his appointment, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was heading the largest bank in West Africa. Kemi Adeosun and Babatunde Fowler were given a vote of confidence even without been subjected to any competency test while Hadiza Bala Usman could not be given. Why? well, she is from the other side of the Niger. Nothing could be more ridiculous!
It is no longer news that Dr. Pantami is steadily and meticulously positioning NITDA to its deserving status as the country’s regulatory body of the IT industry. This essay will attempt to chronicle the journey so far of the chief technology officer of the country, particularly with respect to competence, fairness and cosmopolitanism. His preferred prefix, Sheikh, for some inexplicable reason evokes mixed metaphors. However, Dr. Pantami is daily proving the nay-sayers by being like what the Hausas call ‘Murucin kan Dutse’— he came well-prepared!
Following the signing of Executive Order 003 by the present administration, reference to a circular from the office of the Head of Service of the Federation on the implementation of executive order 003 on support for local content in public procurements, and building on the success story of the implementation of local content policy in the Oil and Gas industry; NITDA through its local content policy thrust that promotes patronage of “Made-in-Nigeria” goods and services with the goal of strengthening the Naira, creating jobs, grow entrepreneurial capability to engender competition among local manufacturers that will drive down cost and improve quality;  Independent Software Vendors, Original Design Manufacturers, Original Equipment Manufacturers and host of other IT related services are smiling to their banks as a result of unprecedented patronage they currently enjoy from MDAs.
Today, for example, NITDA under the supervision of Dr. Pantami, through its subsidiary office – Office for Nigerian Content Development in ICT (ONC) – had transformed the local “Original Equipment Manufacturers” into a vibrant sector of the IT-industry from an abysmal performance in the purchase of 92,000 units of IT-equipment only by MDAs in 2015 to 350,000 units of IT facilities purchased by the MDAs in 2017. This unprecedented achievement is largely due to the charismatic leadership of the NITDA that dutifully follow, supervise and uphold the rule of law. To demonstrate his commitment to the rule of law, there was a report on how a single MDA made a purchase of 10.5B worth of ICT facilities locally— this was after its short stay at EFCC custody of which NITDA orchestrated.
Again, our young innovators have never been happier. Through the Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE), a subsidiary of NITDA, today, startups and innovators are given an unprecedented support, motivation and encouragement to showcase their creativity, originality and ingenuity. Platforms, locally and at the global stage, were and are still being offered to our innovators to compete and demonstrate their competence in solving problems and proffering solutions using information and communication technology. Ten and six innovators were rigorously and fairly selected from a pool of more than 400 applicants, and sponsored to participate in the 2017 and 2018 The Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) – an annual consumer computer and electronics trade show, exhibition and conference, Dubai – respectively.
Also, StartUp Friday, another event specifically created to identify, evaluate, encourage and support promising innovators, which were hitherto restricted to Lagos and Abuja has now enjoyed geographical spread for inclusion and equal participation. Under the supervision of Dr. Pantami, StartUp Friday has taken place in Gombe, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, and Kaduna. Given the publicity NITDA offered to startups, today our startups had in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd quarter of 2018 alone contributed 9M, 57M and 35M USD respectively to our GDP. Through the strategic leadership of Dr. Pantami, ICT had contributed 13.36% of Nigeria’s GDP by the 2nd quarter of 2018. This is a record achievement by the competent leadership manning the affairs of NITDA. Like Dr. Pantami is fond of saying: the statistics are there.
In a widely publicized press release of the beneficiaries of NITDA Scholarship, Dr. Pantami has yet again demonstrated a sense of fairness, equity, inclusiveness and cosmopolitanism that is rarely found in our current democratic setting. Unlike what characterized BEA or PRESSID Scholarship, NITDA scholarship is equitably distributed among successful candidates without the minutest exhibition of preference to a particular region or tribe.
In an essay, “Isa Ali Pantami: A Role Model of Leadership in Nigeria”, my good friend, Dr. MD Aminu, succinctly and compellingly argued that (and I paraphrase): what Nigeria needs at this trying moments are people like Dr. Pantami to influence the affairs of government. The dirt in Nigeria’s leadership can only be cleansed by encouraging good people to participate in the leadership process to flush it out of its current situation, its wanton depravity.
The opportunity to serve Nigeria in public office for Dr. Pantami came as a delight and a renewal of hope in the Nigerian project. People who had followed Dr. Pantami through his scholastic pedigree and personal antecedents for several years had hoped for his recognition in government where his impact will be most felt. I am confident that Dr. Pantami’s best is yet to come if he continues to exude managerial excellence in many aspects within Nigeria’s IT industry and maintain the positive traits everyone would expect from him. If he continues in the path of upholding probity and accountability in executing the core mandates of the organization that he leads, if he continues towards a visionary leadership formed from a well-thought-out perception, then he will carve out a place for himself as a leader whose styles are not usually common, and from whom others could learn
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Why Buhari must not sign the Electoral Amendment Bill 2018, By George Obi



It is a sad irony that the legislature, perhaps the most critical institution of democracy, will initiate laws that majority of the people they represent would consider as capable of putting them in a situation where they may be unable to exercise their franchise to vote and elect leaders of their choice in 2019.

This is the scenario that now stairs all in the face in view of the Electoral Amendment Bill 2018 passed by the National Assembly and now awaiting the final assent of President Muhammadu Buhari.

But there was a widely anticipated turn of event that may yet save the situation if all go well. Last Monday, three political parties approached the Federal High Court, Abuja seeking an order of the court to stop President Muhammadu Buhari from assenting to the Bill. The parties are: Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance, (APDA), Allied Peoples Movement, (APM) and Movement for Restoration and Defence of Democracy, (MRDD).

They are seeking a declaration of the court that assenting the bill would truncate the 2019 general election. Their Counsel, Dapo Otitoju, told reporters that they had two questions for the court to determine.

“Whether the president can proceed to assent the Electoral Act amendment bill 2018, forwarded to him by the National Assembly to be used to conduct the 2019 general election when there is no adequate time for the manifestion of the proposed act. And

“Whether assenting to the Electoral Amendment Bill 2018, now will not truncate the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) from ensuring proper conduct of the 2019 general election.”

These are no doubt valid questions that all concerned Nigerians, and members of the international community must ask. It is a shame that our legislators do not appear to put their country first in their deliberations, otherwise commonsense would have dictated otherwise. Legislators, especially their leadership, are fond of initiating laws that cater to their interests and not the interest of the country.

A national daily recently reported in its front-page lead story that the NASS is currently working on bills that would lead to the establishment of at least 12 new tertiary educational institutions in the country, so soon after 11 new federal universities were established.

Yet, NASS has not initiated any bill that would make our tertiary education more qualitative and prevent lecturers from going on strike.

The most contentious new amendment to our electoral laws which NASS wants to foist on the 2019 is the insistence on electronic voting and transmission of results for the next general election that is scheduled to happen in February 2019. As desirable as this provision in the amendment is, the timing is unsuitable and portends grave danger to the 2019 election if signed into law.

The bill provides for electronic transmission of results from polling unit to collation centres. In a country where illiteracy level if said to be over 60 percent of the population, how do you properly educate the electorate so that they are not dis-enfranchised in the election that is just two months away?

How can an electorate to savvy in ICT assimilate the act of electoral voting and transmission in less than two months to the general elections? Is this not a recipe for confusion? A proper voters education and demonstration of electronic voting system is required to be done in all 36 states of the federation, the FCT and the 774 local government areas before such a bill can be introduced to the electoral process This is a strong reason why the President must withhold assent until after the 2019 election.

What is a major source of concern also is the absence of clarity in the Bill as to the commencement period of its application and operation. The sensitivity of the Bill is such that it cannot accommodate any ambiguity in view of its capacity to generate chaos at a time when elections are already at hand and the process for its conduct almost completed.

The INEC, political parties and other stakeholders in the electoral process have been working with the Electoral Act 2010 as amended. The existing act had been used by political parties to conduct primaries into political elective offices for 2019. Amending the act that had been used for primary elections in preparation for the 2019 general elections would engender confusion in the electoral process. Assenting the Bill at this time may effectively truncate the electoral process which has already began.

I am not sure those who are challenging the Bill in court are against its provisions. I think they are only concerned that assenting the Bill two months to election would disrupt the electoral process and reduce the credibility of the February elections. Why can we not wait until after the next election to sign the Bill into law? Or are some people planning to use the anticipated confusion to manipulate the election?

It is also necessary to factor in and be mindful of the African Union Protocol which strongly disapproves any amendment or introduction of new electoral laws three months to the election, as in this case. Nigeria as a key international player must be seen to have respect for international protocols and convention. We cannot be seen to be operating in breach of international protocols and convention as a nation.

Events since the Nass first passed the Bill to the presidency showed it was a hurriedly packaged law with a pre-determined objective. The Bill was returned for correction twice, and the law makers never faulted the grounds for rejection. It was an admission of it tardiness and a lack of deep, patriotic thoughtfulness that went into it package.

President Buhari had again refused to assent the Bill immediately and the NASS are threatening to veto it. A senator even tweeted asking Buhari to ignore “Cardreaderphobics” and sign the Bill-a term he used to describe those asking that electronic voting be deferred. It’s an indication of how self-consumed our lawmakers have become that one of them could suggest to the President to ignore patriotic Nigerians asking that the electorate not be dis-enfranchised.

But no one should be surprised that the leadership of NASS is behind the push for the signing of the Bill. Both Bukola Saraki, President of the senate, and Yakubu Dogara, Speaker are now members of the opposition PDP following their recent defection from the ruling APC. Saraki is also the Director of Campaign of the Presidential Candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar. Anyone familiar with politics in Nigeria know that the Bill has been factored into the plan of the opposition party.

They certainly have their reasons for pushing for it. But if their reason is not to cause confusion and benefit from it, then its hard to see any other reason. Only two weeks ago, Uche Secondus, National Chairman of the PDP, at an event where Saraki, Atiku and others were present, called for the sack of INEC Chairman, Mahmud Yakubu and the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris two months to the next general election!

Obi wrote from Abuja

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Between natural justice and the purchase of Justice through the back door: Is Senator Attai Aidoko a deviant alongside his gullible gollowers?



By Ojoachele Akor Felix8

Natural justice is akin to social justice and equality of all as opposed to purchase of justice through the back door on the altar of falsehood and, marooned justice for sale that is inimical to law and orderliness of any society. It breeds potential and avoidable deviants situation such as ours today. Aidoko is as deviant as his followers on every page if we are to google their respective absurdities

Gullibility is a precursor of self imposed predicament that is laden with the endangerment of after thoughts.
It’s very important we marry this abnormal behavioral and psychological improprieties to explain the present situation in Kogi East today.

Law came as a result of
poor control of societal ills which was against the existential cooperation,a threat to communal living.It is therefore focused on fostering social reengineering and social justice hence the increase in social engagement and cooperation in our today’s world.

Albeit, the prospect of law and order today is negligible considering the commercialisation of justice in some of the hallow temple of justice globally.
The highest bidder today carries the day as ordinary people are now stranded on the altar of illegality arising from amoral blanket of injustice and several black market and kangaroo judgements.

It’s for this reason that
all the sit down look senators e.g Kogi East senator Attai Aidoko,would boast of winning an elections through illegal sharing of money for suspected gullible folks to vote for him in the forthcoming Senatorial elections especially,party leaders in Kogi East.

Who’s deceiving who?How can a man participate in an elections without undergoing through the due process of primary elections?

In the case of Aidoko,there was no primary elections and for him to have colluded with Inec officials to impose himself on the people of Kogi East actually give credence to the cash and carry electoral process cum the PDP political braggadocio,rascality and unpopular show of arrogance.It is the height of gross irresponsibility and insensitivity to the sensibility of our people.

Deceiving people around just to return to the red chamber?

How could some of this party leaders so reduced themselves so much so that an Aidoko, would tell them that he couldn’t get them some packages because of security related issues and that they should keep waiting for such till God knows when?When will security issues be settled in the country?
He is donating 2 bags of maize to each ward in Ibaji? You and your supporters are joker’s and shameless political jobbers!

We also have some scary
reports from Ibaji, Olamaboro,Ankpa Omala and Dekina on some of this futile attempt but, truth will prevail over falsehood.
You collected money as individual to sell us all to a blind legislator for money?
Are we also blind like him?You can enjoy your money but have no power to exchange our Senatorial seat in this regard.

For taking money from Aidoko,you are also one of those destroying our land and posterity will judge you all.
The stage is set and we want to see what you will present to our people as campaign appeal/ agenda!

We are watching.
The law will soon catch up with some of these shameless old politicians who are only concerned about their pockets and not the interest of our land and her people.

Our schools are bad and they are not asking Aidoko?
Our roads are terrible and nobody is asking?
No hospital?
Total collapse of infrastructural facilities and amenities even where they are available the story is not different!

Your people are living in darkness and you are happy taking car from Aidoko?
Which road are you going to ply/ride on?
For those in Ibaji local government areas I weep for you!

Some of these leaders have nothing to show,no scorecard and today they want us to believe them?
You are a disgrace to humanity!
Your parents have no clothes to wear and you are busy creating scene outside that you are a big man?
You are obiolo politician whose life span will soon expire!
Ibete redefined in ignorance!

Money was,is and will be while we are here and after our departure from here.
Live a legacy of a good leader.Good name is better than riches whose foundation is questionable!

Aidoko chene inacha Igala!
Uwe onugo gbaigedee otudu ikpani?


Ojoachele Akor Felix, writes from Lagos.

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