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President Buhari slammed for directing CBN to stop forex for food imports

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A Nigerian knowledge institution, Centre for Social Justice, CSJ, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to rescind his directive to the Central Bank of Nigerian, CBN, to stop issuing forex for food importation into Nigeria, warning that such restriction would increase the rate of suffering among majority of Nigerians.

Buhari had, on Tuesday, warned the apex bank to stop providing foreign exchange for importation of food produced locally in the country.

The President maintained that the foreign reserve will be conserved and utilized strictly for the diversification of the economy, and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food import bills.

CSJ’s director, Eze Onyekpere, in a statement is fraught with danger and appears to be an illegal directive for a number of reasons.

The statement reads: “The first issue is on the legality of the directive. By S.1 (3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007, it is provided that:

“In order to facilitate the achievement of its mandate under this Act and the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, and in line with the objective of promoting stability and continuity in economic management, the Bank shall be an independent body in the discharge of its functions.

“There are no provisions in the CBN Act or any other existing law empowering the President to run or give directives on foreign exchange management or any other component of monetary policy. This directive erodes the independence and autonomy of the CBN and presents Nigeria in the image of the Idi Amin fable, when he gave directives to the governor of the Ugandan Central Bank to print more currencies when told that the country was running out of money. This directive is therefore an illegal directive which the Governor and Board of the CBN will obey at their own peril.

“The second issue is that policies such as this, assuming it came from the CBN would have required a phased and gradualist approach in determining the point at which foreign exchange allocations for food imports will be reduced. This would have involved a multi sectoral engagement of farmers, food processors, the banking industry, transport and electricity sectors, etc., with clear demonstrable milestones of achievements to indicate the attainment of food security. This directive is rather a knee jerk reaction to the euphoria of sycophants who tell the President that his agricultural policies are working. And very unfortunately, there is no evidence to support this assertion in terms of more quantity, quality and cheaper foods available to Nigerians.

“It is imperative to clarify that we support every effort at increasing local food production and reducing Nigeria’s dependence on imported food products. But in the drive to attain the required level of self-sufficiency, we must not expose Nigerians to undue hardship. This brings us to the third issue, which is that Nigeria is far from attaining food security and has not even started the race for food sovereignty.

“Stopping the allocation of foreign exchange for the importation of needed food items will only increase their price since there will still be demand for the goods. Unless there is a ban on the importation of these food items, importers will still be free to source for foreign exchange from alternative sources to import them. Increase in the price of food at a time of grave economic crisis, increasing poverty and misery can only deepen the already fragile and precarious living conditions of the average Nigerian. Even an outright ban will be a misnormer in the circumstances.

“In accordance with Nigeria’s constitutional and treaty obligations, to take steps, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the right to adequate food, accessibility of food is imperative for the population. By General Comment No.12 of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on the Right to Adequate Food, accessibility includes two dimensions, the economic and physical accessibility.

“Economic accessibility implies that personal or household financial costs associated with the acquisition of food for an adequate diet should be at a level that the attainment and satisfaction of other basic needs are not threatened or compromised. On the other hand, physical accessibility implies that adequate food must be accessible to everyone, including the physically vulnerable individuals such as infants and young children, elderly people, the physically disabled, the terminally ill and persons with persistent medical problems, including the mentally ill.

“With the price of basic staples like rice and garri tripled since 2015 and Nigeria becoming the poverty capital of the world, it is clear that the majority of Nigerians neither enjoy economic or physical accessibility to adequate food. It appears Mr. President is cocooned in the lush gardens and mansions of Aso Rock and being surrounded by persons who are not minded to tell him the truth about the suffering in the land, he has lost touch with reality.”

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Presidency Rejects UN Assessment Of Insecurity In Nigeria

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The Nigerian Government has rejected the assessment of the United Nations of the state of insecurity in the country.

The Presidency in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Friday said that the UN Rapporteur on violence in Nigeria was inadequate and does not reflect the true situation in the country, describing it as disappointing.

It said while the government admitted that violence was a challenge, it was equally addressing the issue at all levels in collaboration with state governments.

However, the Presidency argued that any report that left out intra-group violence as a major factor contributing to the general spate of insecurity was unacceptable to the government.

Shehu said, “In Benue, Taraba, Cross River states and many parts of the country, most of the casualties result from intra-group, inter-group and community violence.

“Many of the displaced persons across the nation are also victims of these conflicts.

“Therefore, we are saddened that the rapporteur did not address intra-ethnic conflicts and cattle rustling as key elements in herders/farmers conflicts.”

The Rapporteur, Agnes Callamard, in one report this month, said “Nigeria is a pressure cooker of conflicts”, warning that it posed serious danger to the rest of West Africa.

Aside from widespread killings by Boko Haram, she touched on raging banditry, killings by herdsmen over right of access to farmlands, kidnapping and alleged increasing human rights abuses by Nigerian security forces.

Callamard said, “The lack of accountability is on such a scale that pretending this is nothing short of a crisis will be a major mistake.

“If ignored, its ripple effect will spread in the sub-region given the country’s important role on the continent.”

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Nigerian newspapers: 10 things you need to know this Saturday morning

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Good morning! Here is today’s summary from Nigerian Newspapers:

1. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Friday said that the plan to increase Value Added Tax (VAT) from five per cent to 7.5 per cent is in the right direction to raise the country’s revenue. CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele said that the government had the responsibility to fend for every citizenry by providing basic infrastructure like roads, electricity and hospitals among others. He explained that the government had only two ways to fund such projects, which are by raising revenue and through loan collection. According to him, the present government has been criticised by some people for high rate of debt incurred.

2. The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Taraba State on Saturday dismissed the petition by Abubakar Danladi of the All Progressives Congress (APC) challenging the re-election of Governor Darius Ishaku of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last governorship election in the State. In a unanimous decision, the court held that the petitioners failed to prove their claims that the election was marred by irregularities and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.

3. Governors elected on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) under the aegis of the Progressive Governors Forum yesterday revealed plans to adopt a common governance initiative across all APC states. The governors said they want to create a distinct identity for the party that will separate it from other political parties in the country. The governors set a PGF Governance Programme Steering Committee headed by the Governors of Jigawa and Plateau states, tasked with the responsibility of looking at how they govern their states.

4. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Friday apologised to bank customers for the inconveniences the newly introduced cashless policy will cause. Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of Central Bank, made the apology at the end of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja. He said he sympathized and regret inconvenience cashless policy will cause bank customers.

5. Rivers-based serial killer, Gracious David-West yesterday said he single-handedly carried out the heinous crime killing a total of 7 victims; 5 in Rivers state, 1 in Lagos and another in Owerri. He however denied being sponsored by any person. He pleaded for mercy, saying that he was been controlled by evil spirit.

6. The Delta State election petition tribunal sitting in Asaba, the Delta State capital on Friday upheld the reelection of Sen. (Dr.) Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa just as it dismissed Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru and the All Progressives Congress, APC’s petition for lacking in merit. The election tribunal headed by Suleiman Belgore handed down the judgment on Friday in Asaba. The Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru had approached the election tribunal, challenging the Governorship election of March 9 which saw Sen. (Dr.) Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa emerging as Governor.

7. Atiku Abubakar, 2019 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Friday spoke for the first time since after President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory at the Presidential Election Tribunal earlier this month. Reacting, Atiku in a statement, Atiku urged Nigerians to continue their support for constitutional order via the courts. He also thanked the governors elected on the platform of PDP.

8. President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday reacted to reports of the UN rapporteur on violence in Nigeria. He said while the presidency agree that the violence in Nigeria, or in any country, is a major concern and that there is a rippling effect, it was disappointed that the rapporteur was silent on intra-group violence. He pointed out that in Benue, Taraba, Cross River States and many parts of the country, most of the casualties result from intra-group, inter-group and community violence. Many of the displaced persons across the nation are also victims of these conflicts. Buhari said the UN representative needs to be truthful and even-handed in her assignment.

9. The three-man panel of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, and chaired by Justice A.L. Ogumoye, on Friday dismissed the petition filed by 2019 APGA gubernatorial candidate, Dr. Alex Otti against the declaration of Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu. The tribunal ruled that the petitioner failed to prove the case of over-voting, non-compliance to the INEC election guideline and electoral act. Alex Otti had asked the tribunal to cancel fifteen out of the seventeen local government areas’ election results in Abia State. Otti claimed that the respondents, PDP, and Governor Okezie Ikpeazu who was the governorship candidate of PDP perpetrated excessive malpractice in those LGAs in the last March 9, 2019, election conducted in the state.

10. A chieftain of the Yoruba apex socio-cultural organization, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, has noted that constitutional crisis in Nigeria and the imbalance in the polity are the main cause of agitation for a break-up by different groups in the country. The lawyer and elder statesman said that it would be better if the country breaks up since the leaders refuse to restructure it. He said he has no objection to breaking up, adding that people are talking of breaking up because the term of coming together has been abrogated by the northern Muslims who are dominating the country. According to him, this is why the young elements, extremists in the South- East, South – South, South –West and the Middle Belt are yearning for break-up.

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Adebanjo reveals real reason behind Buhari’s new attitude towards Osinbajo, says Nigeria should break up

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A chieftain of the Yoruba apex socio-cultural organization, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, has noted that constitutional crisis in Nigeria and the imbalance in the polity are the main cause of agitation for a break-up by different groups in the country.

The lawyer and elder statesman said that it would be better if the country breaks up since the leaders refuse to restructure it.

According to him, “I have no objection to breaking up. People are talking of breaking up because the term of coming together has been abrogated by the northern Muslims who are dominating us,” he was quoted by Sun.

“This is why the young elements, extremists in the South- East, South – South, South –West and the Middle Belt are yearning for break-up just because of their refusal to yield to our demand of peaceful co-existence.”

On the recently reported crisis in the Presidency and the news of Vice president, Prof Yemi Osinbajo falling out of favour with President Muhammadu Buhari, the elder statesman blamed the constitution for the President’s action.

According to him, “It is just what I have said earlier. They are the people who aided and abetted the implementation of the wrong constitution because they give them the crumbs of the power. It is this constitution that empowers the president to make the vice president a market master. Whatever you are doing, the bottom line is the constitution.

“If it is not this constitution, would the president be doing all that; is it not the constitution that gives him all the powers; a constitution that makes him the most powerful head of state in the whole world.

“I have said it several times and I’m repeating it, we said it should be changed, but you say, no. This is not the constitution the founding fathers of the nation gave us.

“I say it again, the constitution that Azikiwe, Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello gave us is what we want to return to, and I have challenged him whether he is more intelligent than Sardauna, but he has not answered.

“Is he telling us that the constitution that Sardauna gave us is a wrong constitution, Sardauna was not as intelligent as he is now; or he is a more northerner than former premier or a more Muslim than the late premier?

“It was the constitution that they all agreed to live in peace and that was after a crisis in the country, leading the colonial office to draw all the leaders to London.

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