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A former deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Obadiah Mailafia, has said that 20 percent of the currency circulating in the country is fake.

Mailafia, who said this at the national assembly on Monday, while delivering a lecture at the public hearing on the 2017 budget, said it would be impossible to bring down food prices with fake currency in circulation.

“Twenty percent of currency circulating in Nigeria is fake; you can’t bring down food prices if you have fake currency circulating,” he said.

Mailafia said apart from the foreign exchange crisis, the refusal of CBN to effectively regulate commercial banks contributed to the recession in the country.

“I am a former deputy governor of CBN so when it comes to regulations, we could have done better,” Mailafia said.

“If you have recession, you have to open a situation room, where experts will be monitoring the economy daily. These experts will work to on ways to get the country out of the situation.”

He advised the authorities to take concrete steps to prevent the naira from plunging “down forever”.

“If nothing is done, the naira will continue to plunge down forever,” he said.

“This is where boldness in economic policy is needed. Though the current administration inherited recession, Nigerians expect them to tackle it. That was what the Obama administration did. We need stabilisation of the exchange rates.”

He advised that the budgetary process should be structured in a way that would ensure rapid economic recovery.

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The Federal Government, yesterday opened its case against former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Dikko Umar, with shocking revelations of how he collected over N13.3 billion for two years, from N558 million monthly upkeep allowance.

Air Marshal Umar was Chief of Air Staff between 2010 and 2012.

Revealing this yesterday, star prosecution counsel, Air Commodore Salisu Yaushau (retd), who was the Director of Finance and Accounts, Nigeria Air Force (NAF), also told the court how he assisted the retired Air Chief to acquire property across the country worth over N2.3 billion, out of the monthly upkeep of N558 million.

The witness, who was led by prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, told Justice Nnamdi Dimgba that NAF was receiving a budget of about N4 billion monthly, from which between N2.3 billion to 2.4 billion was used for payment of salary and allowances.

He revealed that from the balance of about N1.6 billion, the sum of N558 million was usually set aside for the upkeep of the Chief of Air Force.

The property acquired by the former Air Chief, according to the witness, include a house at No 14, Pistola Close, off Panama Street, Abuja bought N700 million; Plot 1853, Denq Xiano Ping Street, Asokoro, Abuja, worth N860 million; another house at No 14, Ahmadu Boko Street, Government Reservation Area (GRA), Kano, worth N250 million; No 8, Kabala Road, Kaduna State, worth N80 million and a property at Mabushi, Minister’s Hill, Abuja bought N500 million. 

Giving a breakdown of how the houses were acquired, Yaushau, who was testifying as PW1, said: “Sometimes between November and December 2010, my boss (AM Umar) asked me to get somebody who could buy him a house around Maitama, where he can settle down after retirement.

“I contacted one Barrister Hussein Umar from Capital Law firm to look for a house. After a couple of days, he came back and told me he had found a house at Pistola Close, off Panama Street in Maitama. I inspected the house and informed my boss that the lawyer had located a very fine house with a guest chalet, swimming pool and boys’ quarters.

“My boss asked me to arrange for inspection of the house. I drove him to the property in the night. We met the lawyer, Umar, and my boss saw the house. He was very happy and gave me the go-ahead to pay. We negotiated for the purchase of the house and the price was agreed at N700 million. 

“My boss authorised the purchase and asked me to take money from the N558 million we usually give him monthly for his upkeep. I then directed the Finance Officer, Group Capt. Burka, to pay the lawyer the US dollar equivalent of N700 million. 

The witness said the defendant directed that the title documents of the house be issued in the name of Mohammed Maijama. 

On the N860 million property at Plot 1853, Asokoro, Abuja, the witness revealed that the house, a duplex of about six bedroom and underground hall for conferences, a boys’ quarter, a gym, swimming pool and two bedroom guest chalets, was also acquired from the N558 million monthly upkeep allowance.

Just like the Maitama house, the title papers and relevant deeds documents were issued in the name of Mohammed Maijama, according to the witness.

He added that after the house was paid for, a mosque was constructed in the compound, while the fence was re-designed by Architect Saka, who also reduced the depth of the swimming pool, all at the cost of N66 million.

In respect of the N250 million property bought by the defendant in Kano, Air Commodore Yaushau narrated that the house located at No. 14, Ahmadu Bako, GRA, was a 7-bedroom duplex with an enclosed swimming pool, three sitting rooms, a study, a lawn tennis court, squash spot and a two-bedroom boys’ quarters.

He said the house belonged to a Sudanese by name Mustapha and was bought by the defendant, who said he wanted to live there after his retirement.

According to the witness, the defendant also inspected the house and gave him money in US dollars to pay for the house through Shuaibu who facilitated the transaction.

He, however, said he could not remember the actual name the defendant gave for the title papers.

At the close of his evidence-in-chief, lead defence counsel, Hassan Liman (SAN), asked for an adjournment to enable him cross-examine the witness.

The request was granted, as it was not opposed by the prosecution counsel. The matter was, accordingly, adjourned to February 16, 2017.

Umar was re-arraigned before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 7-count charge of money laundering, in violation of the Money Laundering Act, 2011, when he was the Chief of Air Staff.

Source: Daily Sun 

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Comptroller General (CG), Jaffaru Ahmed, head of the Nigerian Prisons Service NPS on Monday in Abuja during the 2017 budget defence in the House of Representatives, disclosed that it has obtained waiver from the Federal Government to employ 6,545 staff members in different cadre of the service.

Ahmed explained that the service had inadequate personnel, which prompted the waiver for employment, saying that N6 billion was earmarked for the recruitment in 2017 budget.

On the 2017 budget, the CG said that N72.3 billion was proposed, out of which N37.5 was earmarked for personnel with N19 billion for overhead and N16 billion for feeding of inmates and dogs.He said that the service would embark on mechanised agriculture to enable prisoners produce enough food to feed themselves, saying that this would reduce high financial burden laid on the Federal Government.

According to him, the service spends over N16 billon each year to feed about 72,000 inmates in the country.

Ahmed added that in 2016 fiscal year, the NPS had an outstanding of N5 billion owed contractors for the feeding of prisoners.

“We intend to set up specialised farm centres to train prisoners towards boosting food production and make prisoners able to feed themselves.”

He stated that although prison was not a revenue generating agency, yet the service was able to generate about N40.1 million in 2016 which had been paid into the national treasury.

Ahmed said that the service was not allowed to retain any of its revenue unless it was generated from the Prison Industry or workshop, where the inmates were directly involved.

The CG also disclosed that about 27,992 work force of the service could not be paid their salary as when due in 2016.

He explained that only N27.9 billion was released out of N34.9 billion proposed for personnel.

He added that additional N3.9 billion intervention fund was later released by the Ministry of Finance.

The CG said that out of N14 billion appropriated for 2016 Capital expenditure, N3.6 billion was released as the service purchased only 117 vehicles out of 350  proposed.

He reiterated the need to relocate prisons from urban centres, adding that massive rehabilitation was urgently needed in most of the prisons to avoid jail breaks.

According to him, out of 241 prisons in the country, about 200 were constructed in the colonial days, dating back to 1896 and about 139 sandwiched in the metropolis.

“There is need to relocate some prisons from urban centres because there is no room for expansion and some of them are over 100 years old,” Ahmed said.

 

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Dangote Rice Limited (DRL), a subsidiary of Dangote Group, is set to launch in Sokoto state, its multi-million Naira 25,000 hectares of rice outgrower scheme with a prospect of hundreds of thousands of employment opportunities for inhabitants of the rural communities.

President of the Group, Aliko Dangote disclosed at the weekend that the Company will on Wednesday, flag off with a pilot project of 500 Ha by Gonroyo dam, in Goronyo community. Gonroyo dam is the second largest in the country, after Kainji.

The flag off ceremony which will be performed by the governor of the state, Aminu Tambuwa, will witness seedlings being distributed to the primary local farmers who will in turn plant them, after which Dangote Rice company will purchase from them for milling and final processing.

Sokoto state is one of the 14 states spread across the country where Dangote Rice plans to operate the outgrower scheme to empower local farmers and create job opportunities for community dwellers and reduce migration to the cities.

Dangote Rice projects in the 14 states, when, operational, will generate a significant number of jobs and increase take-home income for smallholder farmers, all while diversifying Nigeria’s economy and reducing the nation’s food import bill.

Statistics from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) estimates that rice demand in Nigeria reached 6.3 million MT in 2015, with only 2.3 million MT of that demand satisfied by local production.

This local production shortfall leaves a gap of 4.0 million MT that is currently being filled through formal importation of rice or illegal imports over land borders.

By year-end 2017, Dangote Rice plans to produce 225,000 MT of parboiled, milled white rice. This will satisfy 4% of the total market demand within 1 year. Our model can then be successfully scaled to produce 1,000,000 MT of milled rice in order to satisfy 16% of the domestic market demand for rice over the next 5 years.

Due to the current economic crisis, domestic prices for agro-commodities have risen dramatically over the last 12 months, making local agriculture an attractive investment. Dangote Rice seeks to take advantage of this economic trend and the favourable policies laid out in the FMARD’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda.

Dangote Rice has a mandate to locally produce high-quality milled, parboiled rice for the Nigeria market. This goal will be achieved by sourcing the raw material (paddy) required from the Dangote Rice Outgrower Scheme.

Through the Dangote Rice Outgrower Scheme, DRL will partner with outgrowers (smallholder and contract rice farmers) to cultivate and grow rice paddy. Specifically, DRL will provide inputs, technical assistance, extension services and land preparation services and equipment directly to farmers. At harvest, DRL will recoup the costs of inputs and services in-kind and will act as a guaranteed offtaker for paddy that meets certain pre-agreed quality standards. Smallholder farmers will provide land and labour.

The centralized outgrower model enables a high level of control over product quality and quantity. The purchasing price given to farmers will reflect each season’s market price and will be set after an extensive market price survey and consultation with all stakeholders.

In the short-term, Dangote Rice will be responsible for importing all of the inputs needed for cultivation and making them available to the outgrowers.

By end of 2017, Dangote Rice will have 25,000 Ha under rice cultivation across 3 sites in Northern Nigeria having identified rice-growing communities in Jigawa State (5,000 Ha), Sokoto State (10,000 Ha) and Zamfara State (10,000 Ha).

The 25,000 Ha will be farmed by nearly 50,000 outgrowers in the selected site areas. These outgrowers are already organized into cooperative associations. Dangote will engage with these organizations to register and sign contracts with each farmer.

In addition to the outgrowers, an additional ~260 jobs will be created by year-end 2017. These individuals will serve as agronomists, credit officers and staff of the mill.

Upon harvest, Dangote Rice will offtake rice paddy and transport the paddy to be processed. One centralized mill will mill the stored paddy rice from all 3 sites.

Dangote Rice plans to produce one million MT of rice from 150,000 Ha in the next 5 years over. They intend to accomplish this by scaling the business model described above to more sites and rice growing communities. These communities have been identified and relationship building and sensitization has already begun. In addition to scaling the above model, DRL will establish and manage a high-quality seed development farm at Numan in Adamawa to reduce the costs of seeds.

Dangote Rice will establish raw material reception, drying, hulling, parboiling units and silos in strategic areas throughout the country near our additional outgrower communities. Each site will store dried, hulled, parboiled bran rice. DRL will then transport this bran rice to a mill, where finished rice will be produced.

Source: BellaNaija

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Chairman of Host Communities of Nigeria Oil and Gas Producing areas (HOSTCOM) Festus Pemu, also asked multinational oil companies 50  per cent of oil blocs awarded in the Niger Delta region.

Pemu said: “At present no oil bloc is owned by an indigene of oil producing communities. This is unfair and needs to be corrected.”

He also called for the immediate approval of pipeline surveillance jobs to the host communities, as they are most suited to do it effectively.

To consolidate on the existing peace, Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has urged the United Kingdom and other countries, which have stakes in the region to invest in employment generating ventures.

Speaking when the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Paul Arkwright, paid him a courtesy visit in Asaba, Okowa said: “Anything that will create more job opportunities for the youths should be encouraged.”

The governor said cases of pipeline vandalism were limited to the creeks of the state.

Arkwright in his speech said he was in the state to explore areas of economic benefits for the U.K., declaring that Delta was one of the key states in the country

Meanwhile, a non-governmental organization group, Kovenium/mmalah Foundation (KIF) in Delta State has chided government over its failure to stop gas flaring in oil communities.

Executive Director of the NGO, Faith Nwandishi, told journalists in Asaba, yesterday that gas flaring had wreaked havoc in Ndokwa East, West, Ughelli, Ogwashi-Uku and Ozoro, with no fewer than 132 persons feared killed in 2015 and 2016.

The Udefi Oba Oloye of Warri Kingdom in Delta State, Chief Clement Maleghemi has urged Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to fulfill all the promises he made during his meeting with youths.

Maleghemi made the appeal while speaking on the significance of Udefi Day celebration at Ugbolokppso, Uvwie Local Government Council at the weekend.

 

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The head of Disney has warned against a US trade war with China and called for a “fair and just” immigration policy in an apparent broadside against Donald Trump.

Bob Iger’s comments to US broadcaster CNBC put the company behind Mickey Mouse, and owner of the Star Wars franchise, at odds with the White House.

Mr Iger is a member of the new President’s business advisory council, though he did not attend its first meeting last week, saying it clashed with a Disney board meeting.

Mr Trump has threatened to levy tariffs of up to 45% on Chinese goods – risking a trade war with the world’s second biggest economy, the like of which the IMF has already warned could derail global growth.

Mr Iger told CNBC that China was a key market for its films, theme parks and consumer products.

He added: “An all-out trade war with China would be damaging I think to Disney’s business and to business in general and something I think we have to be really careful about.”

The chief executive was also apparently critical of the new administration’s travel ban – which affects immigration to the US from seven mainly Muslim nations and the country’s refugee programme.

Mr Iger stressed the importance to the US of its “openness to the people of the world”.

He said: “I firmly believe that we cannot shut our borders to immigrants.

“I think a fair and just immigration policy is good for our country and good for our society.”

Mr Trump’s travel ban has already attracted the ire of Silicon Valley bosses – including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos – who are supporting a legal challenge.

Mr Iger was speaking as Disney published results for the three months to the end of December showing a surprise drop in revenue, though profits were better than expected.

The results pointed to the growing importance of its operations in China, where its Shanghai Disney Resort opened last summer and has already seen more than seven million visitors.

Revenues for the quarter fell 3% to $14.8bn (£11.8bn), hit by a drop in advertising revenue at sports channel ESPN and comparison with the success in the prior year of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

While Rogue One, the latest film in the franchise, took $1bn (£800m) at global box offices, it could not match the $2bn (£1.6bn) takings for the 2015 release.

SOURCE:TODAY.NG

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Donald Trump on Wednesday lashed out at department store chain Nordstrom for dropping his daughter’s clothing line, again spotlighting the intermingling of the US presidency with Trump family businesses.

The public rebuke, which the White House later defended, called renewed attention to the potential tangle of business interests Trump brought with him on taking office last month.

In a tweet posted moments after he wrapped up an address to US law enforcement, Trump hit out at the high-end retailer for announcing last week it had decided to discontinue sales of Ivanka Trump’s fashion line due to poor sales.

“My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by Nordstrom,” Trump wrote. “She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”

Since his surprise victory in the November presidential election, Trump has used his Twitter feed to lambast individual companies — from General Motors to Boeing — be it for off-shoring jobs or allegedly overcharging the federal government for aircraft.

But the latest tweet was different in that it sought to defend part of Trump’s family business empire, which critics have said could be a source of profound conflicts of interest for the White House.

Trump made sure to give his message on Ivanka maximum reach by posting it both on his personal handle @realDonaldTrump and on the official account of the US presidency @POTUS.

Since his November victory, Trump has touted an effort to remove himself from running his business empire, transferring corporate control to his sons. But he has resisted divesting, as a government ethics watchdog had called on him to do.

Critics say the Trump businesses still pose a significant ethical quandary.

Further playing into the running debate, Pentagon officials said Wednesday they were looking to rent space in Trump Tower, Trump’s flagship Manhattan luxury building, to accommodate equipment and staff who accompany the president during his stays there.

That came on the heels of a lawsuit filed by Melania Trump in New York, which claimed that damaging rumors reported by a British tabloid had interfered with her “unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to earn millions of dollars due to her raised profile as first lady.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Wednesday defended Trump’s Nordstrom tweet, saying the president was standing up for a family member.

“There’s clearly efforts to undermine that name based on her father’s issues or particular policies,” Spicer told reporters.

 

 

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UN secretary-general, António Guterres during a message to the commission for social development, disclosed that he is concerned that over 201 million people will be jobless in 2017, with an additional 2.7 million people in 2018.

 Guttere said the world was currently going through a challenging period.
 

“This year, the number of jobless people is expected to exceed 201 million and another 2.7 million could be added to the unemployment rolls by 2018. Anxiety is mounting as societies cope with urbanisation, climate change, population growth and other mega trends. In this effort, we must give top priority to achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women," he said.

Guttere further said the new UN agenda 2030, required a redefinition of traditional planning, monitoring and delivery of sustainable development objectives

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA), has sought clarity from the United States Government, over the executive order recently enforced by President Donald Trump, restricting citizens from seven countries from entering the US.

IATA represents 265 airlines all around the world and says the order was capable of hampering trade and free movement.

In a statement, the association stated since the order was issued, entry requirements had been changed “significantly and immediately”.

“The EO was issued without prior coordination or warning, causing confusion among both airlines and travelers.

“It also placed additional burdens on airlines to comply with unclear requirements, to bear implementation costs and to face potential penalties for non-compliance,” it said.

Explaining why he made the law, Trump had said: “America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border. America has always been the land of the free and home of the brave.

“We will keep it free and keep it safe, as the media knows, but refuses to say. My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months. The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror. To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting.

“This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order. We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days.”

SOURCE:TODAY.NG

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Earlier on 23rd January 2017, internet connections was completely shut down in the northwest and southwest of Cameroon, its two main English-speaking regions as a long drawn out mass protest against marginalization by the French-speaking led government persisted.

It is the first time the central African country is tampering with internet connectivity, which has been ongoing in the former Southern Cameroons since Jan. 17.

Internet users in the affected parts of the country found out they could no longer communicate and disseminate information particularly on social media. No prior notice had been given by the government before the internet blackout.

The shutdown came less than two hours after government outlawed the activities of two Anglophone pressure groups—Southern Cameroons National Council and the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium. Two leaders of the Consortium, Barrister Nkongho Felix Agbor and Dr. Fontem A. Neba, were arrested same day in Buea and airlifted to the nation’s capital Yaounde. Fast forwarding to today, 1st February 2017, Businesses in Cameroon’s restive Anglophone regions are losing money as a result of the internet cut.

The Internet Without Borders group estimates that small businesses had lost an estimated 44,000,000 CFA Francs, which translates to $723,000 or 675,000 euros. The group wants internet restored to the affected areas as a matter of urgency.

According to a report published today by one of its researchers, beyond the outage being a violation of the rights of citizens, it ‘‘also has consequences for the economy: banking and money transfer agencies closed.’‘

It added that the outage had blocked entrepreneurs who are an important part of the economic activity of the country.

The report also alleged that even though no official communication had been issued by the government, they had information that service providers were ordered to truncate access because of alleged threats to national security.

In a January 23 open letter to the Cameroonian President and sector minister, civil society groups including Internet Sans Frontières, Access Now, The World Wide Foundation, Or Pen International called on the authorities to respect its international commitments and to re-establish the Internet connection throughout Cameroon.

Business owners in the town of Buea, the capital of the Southwest Region of Cameroon have complained of struggling to operate following an internet shutdown.

Internet users said that they can no longer communicate or access information, particularly on social media. Many internet cafes, micro finance institutions and money transfer agencies had to shutdown.

Over 100 people were arrested and one person killed in November last year in the north-western town of Bamenda, following days of violent protests over the alleged discrimination against minority English-speaking people.

French is spoken in eight of Cameroon’s 10 regions and English in the north-western and south-western regions. The Anglophone regions are calling for authorities to stop imposing French on their educational and legal systems.

 

 

 

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