Rivers Govt Approves N25bn For Completion Of Law School, Flyover, Other Projects

The Rivers State Executive Council holds a meeting in Port Harcourt on September 27, 2021.

 

The Rivers State Government has approved the sum of N25 billion for the completion of the Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt, flyover and other projects in the state.

The projects, expected to be financed by a loan from a commercial bank in the state, were approved on Monday at the State Executive Council meeting held at the Government House in the state capital.

Briefing journalists on the outcome of the meeting, the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, explained that the loan would be used to fund people-oriented projects that would further enhance development in all the nooks and crannies of the state.

Nsirim said projects to be funded with the loan include the Nabo Graham-Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School, the Chokocho-Igbodo Road in Etche Local Government Area and the Oyigbo-Afam Road in Oyigbo Local Government Area.

“This loan has a repayment plan of 18 months, with effect from October 2021, and to be completed in April 2023 from the state’s Internally Generated Revenue. The repayment period is N1,547,874,350 monthly,” he said.

He reaffirmed Governor Wike’s commitment to ensuring that all projects initiated by the state government were completed before the end of his tenure, adding that no project would be abandoned.

On his part, the Commissioner for Works, Elloka Tasie-Amadi, said the N25 billion loan was deemed necessary because all the projects it would be used to fund were time-bound.

“For instance, the Oyigbo-Afam Road or the 27-kilometer Chokocho-Igbodo Road, these projects have construction time, which means that it is very important that we commence the projects immediately and take advantage of the coming dry season as well,” he said.

“We also have considered the inflationary trend in the country and found out that we don’t know what the prices of these projects will become if we take much longer time to activate them. So, these considerations have made the Rivers State government take this loan from Zenith Bank to fund all these projects.”

FG Borrowings: Reps To Probe Probable Exclusion Of Rivers From Benefitting States

A file photo of members of the House of Representatives

 

The House of Representatives on Wednesday indicated its willingness to investigate the probable exclusion of Rivers State from the list of states to benefit from the Federal Government’s borrowings.

The lower chamber is to probe the possible omission of the oil-rich state as a beneficiary of states earmarked for projects.

This is sequel to a motion of urgent public importance by Representative Solomon Bob alleging that Rivers is the only state out of the 36 states to be left out.

The lawmaker further alleged discrimination against Rivers State which contributes enormously to the federation account.

The House has mandated its Committee on Aids and Loans to liaise with the presidency to include Rivers State in the loans if it is found to be the only state that has been excluded.

The Reps’ move is coming two days after Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike described as an act of discrimination, the alleged refusal of the Federal Government to include Rivers as one of the states that would benefit from projects, for which it was seeking fresh foreign loans to execute.

“Look at the money that Federal Government has gone to borrow from the World Bank, of all the projects in all the states, the Federal Government did not include Rivers State,” the governor said.

He explained that beyond the provision of infrastructure, his administration was seeking a law that would provide comfortable accommodation for judicial officers on retirement.

The reason, he said, was to ensure that while in service, the judicial officers can concentrate on their jobs without cutting corners and avoid corrupt practices.

He observed that there are attempts to frustrate federating states like Rivers, to actualise the constitutional provisions that empower them to harness their resources and revenues, particularly VAT.

According to Governor Wike, what the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) was doing was illegal and could be likened to robbing from the states.

Borrowing To Accumulate Debt For Next Generation Is Criminal – Obasanjo 

 

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has reacted to the Federal Government’s plan to source for fresh loans, saying borrowing to accumulate debt for the next generation is criminal.

Speaking to Channels Television on the sidelines of an event in South Africa, Obasanjo noted that if the existing debt is left unserviced or unpaid, it might become a problem for successive administrations.

While noting that borrowing is not a problem, the former Nigerian leader stated that what could be a problem would be what one is borrowing for and the plan or capacity to pay back.

“But if you are borrowing and accumulating debts for the next generation and the next generation after them, it is criminal. What are you borrowing for?” Obasanjo asked.

“If we are borrowing for recurrent expenditure, it is the height of folly. If we are borrowing for development that can pay for itself, that is understandable. Then the payment, how long will it take to pay itself?”

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The ex-president recalled that during his tenure in 1999, the country was spending $3.5 billion to service debts that kept on increasing.

“When I came into government as elected President, we were spending $3.5 billion to service debts. Even with that, our quantum of debts was not going down.”

Nigeria’s debts have continued to rise as the Federal Government seeks foreign loans to deliver key infrastructural projects.

Five days ago, President Muhammadu Buhari wrote to the National Assembly, seeking approval to borrow fresh sums of $4,054,476,863 and €710 million in an addendum to the 2018-2020 borrowing plan.

In the letter, the President explained that owing to “emerging needs”, there is a need to raise more funds for some “critical projects”, while seeking the parliament’s nod to also approve grant components of $125 million.

The request was in a letter read by Senate President Ahmad Lawan on the floor of the upper legislative chamber on Tuesday.

In July, the national assembly approved the sums of $8.3 billion and €490 million loans contained in the initial 2018-2020 borrowing plan.

‘Hinged On Genuine Needs’: APC Defends Borrowing By Buhari’s Govt

File photo: President Muhammadu Buhari presiding over the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja on August 18, 2021.

 

The All Progressives Congress (APC) says the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is borrowing to address the country’s infrastructure deficit which would in turn stimulate the economy. 

Buhari had on Tuesday written to the National Assembly, seeking approval to borrow the sum of $4,054,476,863 billion and €710 million, a move critics and members of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have faulted.

But in a statement on Wednesday, the APC accused the PDP of mismanaging the country’s economy when the party (PDP) was in power, explaining that the borrowings will create employment, and strengthen agriculture among others.

“From the foregoing, it is abundantly clear that the borrowing is hinged on genuine needs and based on the necessity to strengthen the foundation of the national economy and achieve the desired primary purpose of the government –  uplifting the living standard of the citizens,” the statement signed by the National Secretary of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe, read.

The APC, which accused the PDP of pushing the country into “insolvency” to the extent that some states were unable to pay workers their salaries, lauded the present administration for bailing out the states.

“In a welcome and commendable change, the Buhari-led administration through its economic management skills bailed out states to pay salary backlogs and embarked on large-scale infrastructure development projects that stimulated the economy and exited the era of insolvency and recession caused by the ineptitude of the PDP administration,” the statement added while praising the cooperation among the three arms of government.

According to the ruling party, the cooperation will “ensure good governance, particularly in the area of economic development.

“The country and citizens are the ultimate beneficiaries.”

President Buhari Writes Senate, Requests Fresh Loan Of $4bn And €710m

A photo released by the State House on August 16, 2021 showing President Muhammadu Buhari signing the Petroleum Industry Bill into law. Bayo Omoboriowo/State House
President Muhammadu Buhari (File Photo)

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the National Assembly, seeking approval to borrow the sum of $4,054,476,863 billion and €710 million.

The request was made known in a letter read by Senate President Ahmad Lawan at plenary on Tuesday.

In the letter titled Addendum to Request For Senate’s Concurrent Approval Of Multilateral Fund Projects Under the 2018-2021 Federal Government External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan, President Buhari explained that owing to “emerging needs”, there is a need to raise more funds for some “critical projects”.

“The projects listed in the addendum to the 2018-2021 Federal Government External Borrowing Plan, are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency (AFD), China-Exim Bank, International Fund For Agriculture Development (IFAD), Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chartered/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE) in the total sum of USD4,054,476,863.00 plus Euro 710, 000,000.00 grant component of USD 125,000,000.00”.

A copy of the letter signed by President Buhari 

 


 

This is not the first time President Buhari is writing to the National Assembly to request approval for external loans this year.

In May, he requested the sum of N2.343 trillion which according to him, was meant to part-finance the budget deficit of N5.602 trillion in the 2021 budget.

Senate Approves FG’s $8.4bn, €490m External Borrowing Plan

Lawmakers during plenary at the Senate chamber in Abuja February 12, 2020. Photo: [email protected]

 

The Senate on Thursday approved the Federal Government’s 2018-2020 external borrowing rolling plan of $8.3 billion and 490 million euros.

President Muhammadu Buhari had written to the National Assembly in May seeking the approval of the plan.

According to the President, the loan will be sourced from multilateral and bilateral institutions and the issuance of Eurobonds in the international capital market.

Donor funded projects under the plan, according to the President, will be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB), Islamic Development Bank, French Development Agency, and the China EXIM Bank.

Others include, the China Development Bank, European Investment Bank, European ECA, KfW, IPEX, AFC, India EXIM Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

In his letter, President Buhari had also noted that the projects and programmes to be funded by the plan were based on technical and economic evaluation that will promote employment generation, social protection and poverty reduction.

 

Obaseki’s ₦60bn Claim Can’t Be Misleading, Says Wike

A photo combination showing Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki and his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike.

 

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has said that the claim by his Edo State counterpart, Godwin Obaseki, that ₦60 billion was printed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to fund the government should not be ignored, noting it cannot be misleading.

Obaseki had on April 7 raised an alarm over the country’s rising debt profile, saying the situation is more critical now because of the huge amount borrowed to service the ailing economy.

He expressed worry that Nigeria is in huge financial trouble, adding that the Federal Government printed ₦60 billion to augment the federal allocation for March.

The claim has been generating various reactions from Nigerians, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed among several others.

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But Wike, according to a statement issued by his spokesman, Kelvin Ebiri, challenged the CBN to unequivocally declare if money was printed or not.

“Obaseki was in APC, so he understands them. So, Obaseki couldn’t have come from the blues to say they printed ₦60 billion. He knows them,” Wike said.

“Instead of answering the question, he (Emefiele) said governors have to pay back the bailout loan. The bailout is a loan, if you want to take it, go and take it. But answer the question whether money was printed or not printed.”

The Finance Minister had described the claim by Obaseki as false, saying Nigeria’s debt is still within sustainable limits and efforts are on to improve the revenue generation capacity.

However, Obaseki stood his ground and asked the Federal Government to end the current monetary rascality and stop “playing the ostrich” to prevent the economy from further degenerating.

Nothing Bad In Borrowing For Infrastructure – Lai Mohammed

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, spoke to reporters on August 15, 2020, during an inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, spoke to reporters on August 15, 2020, during an inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project.

 

Minister of Information and Culture on Saturday said there is nothing bad in borrowing for infrastructure.

Mohammed made the remarks during an inspection tour of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project.

“We didn’t borrow money for services,” he said. “We didn’t borrow money for overhead expenditure. We borrowed money for capital projects – rail, road, bridges, power, general infrastructure.

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“There is nothing bad in borrowing, provided that borrowing is invested in infrastructure, especially when it will create jobs, create an enabling environment for the economy.”

The Minister added that he was impressed with the Lagos-Ibadan rail project.

“I am very excited,” he said. “When I got into the train this morning, it was as clean and modern as any coach anywhere in the world.

“I was also quite impressed with the passion of the Honourable Minister (of Transportation). You can see that every point in time, he is pushing the contractors, saying ‘look, I can’t wait till October, I will come back in four weeks’ time,’ because we want to be able to deliver this kind of infrastructure to Nigerians.”

China Loans: Why I Told Reps Not To Probe Too Much – Amaechi

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi speaks on the controversial Chinese Loan during an interview on Politics Today on August 4, 2020.

 

The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has reacted to the controversy trailing the Federal Government’s planned securement of $500million loan from China.

The House of Representatives had raised an alarm over clauses in Article 8 (1) of the Commercial Loan Agreement signed between Nigeria and the Export-Import Bank of China.

In the said agreement, Nigeria stands to concede her sovereignty to China should there be a default in the repayment of the $400million for the Nigerian National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone phase 2 project signed in 2018.

 

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The controversial clause in the agreement signed by the Federal Ministry of Finance on behalf of Nigeria and Chinese bank on September 5, 2018 provides:

“The borrower hereby irrevocably provides waives any immunity on the grounds of sovereign or otherwise for itself or its property in connection with any arbitration pursuit to Article 85 thereof with the enforcement of any arbitral award  pursuit thereto except for the military asset and diplomatic asset.”

But Amaechi, who appeared as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Tuesday, explained that he told the National Assembly members not to probe the loan issue too much in order not to scare the lender.

“The reason why I said that is because we have already applied for $5.3billion to execute the rail from Ibadan to Kano. We are about applying for about $3billion to execute the rail from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.

“Don’t forget the National Assembly approved that loan. It is unconstitutional and impeachable if you take a loan without the approval of the National Assembly. So the same National Assembly that approved the loan is now questioning the same loan and the terms of the loan having looked at it before.

“If I am the lender, I will be worried. If they get worried, they will say ‘No, we will not approve the remaining loans you have applied for,” he said.

Amaechi who described the loan as the cheapest so far, said the Chinese loan is a concessionary loans at 2.8 percent interest.

He explained that before meeting China, the Federal Government had already approached other countries who didn’t approve the request on the ground that they didn’t have money.

AfDB Approves $288.5m Loan For Nigeria’s COVID-19 Fight

AFDB, Abia

 

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a $288.5 million loan to help Nigeria tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its impact on people and businesses.

The approval by the bank’s board was contained in a statement on Friday.

The loan, according to the bank, will bolster the government’s plans to improve surveillance and response to COVID-19 emergencies, ease the impact on workers and businesses, and strengthen the social protection system.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and the continent’s largest oil producer is facing twin crises – a health epidemic caused by COVID-19, and an economic crunch largely occasioned by a global oil price plunge.

“The loan is the Bank’s initial response to help mitigate the slump in oil prices and its impact on the national economy.

“The proposed program will ensure that the fiscal position and the economy are sufficiently supported to weather the COVID-19 shocks, thereby limiting its potential adverse impact on livelihoods and the economy more generally,” Ebrima Faal, Senior Director of the African Development Bank for Nigeria said.

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Nigeria’s economy was projected to grow by 2.9% of GDP in 2020 and further expand by 3.3% in 2021.

But with the advent of the pandemic and the slump in crude prices, the economy is expected to shrink by between 4.4% under a conservative baseline scenario, and 7.2% should the pandemic persist to end-2020.

Faal said beyond the country’s immediate economic recovery needs, the bank and other development partners will dialogue with the government on proposals for medium-term structural reforms to diversify and boost domestic revenues away from the oil sector.

He also noted that the bank has instituted strong fiduciary measures to monitor the use of COVID-19 funds, and will maintain dialogue, particularly with the Office of the Auditor-General in Nigeria, to ensure adherence to the transparency and accountability of the funds.

The bank’s intervention aligns with its COVID-19 Response Facility (CRF); Ten-Year Strategy (2013-2022); and High 5 priorities, especially “Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa”. It is also consistent with the second strategic pillar of the recently approved Bank’s Country Strategy Paper 2020-2024 for Nigeria.

UK Minister Quits Over Loan Intimidation

A handout photograph released by the UK Parliament shows a chamber rehearsal ahead of the return of MP’s to parliament during the coronavirus lockdown in the House of Commons in London on April 20, 2020. Jessica Taylor /UK Parliament / AFP.

 

An ally of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned his ministerial post Monday after an inquiry found he used his position to try to intimidate someone involved in a family dispute.

Conor Burns quit as junior international trade minister after a House of Commons standards committee recommended he be suspended from the lower parliamentary chamber for seven days.

Burns had used Commons stationery in February last year to write to a person representing a company involved in a dispute with his father over the repayment of a loan.

The MP for Bournemouth, a town on the southern English coast, suggested he could raise the case in parliament, where anything he said would be immune to any legal proceedings.

“Mr Burns used his parliamentary position in an attempt to intimidate a member of the public into doing as Mr Burns wished, in a dispute relating to purely private family interests,” the committee’s report states.

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The commissioner for standards, Kathryn Stone, who carried out the inquiry, said his behaviour had a wider impact than simply breaching the MPs’ code of conduct.

It “gives fuel to the belief that members are able and willing to use the privileges accorded them by their membership of the House to benefit their own personal interests,” she said.

Burns was an aide to Johnson when he was foreign secretary and is also a committed supporter of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

“With deep regret I have decided to resign as minister of state for international trade,” he tweeted, saying that the premier continued to have his “wholehearted support”.

AFP

IMF To Meet On Nigeria’s $3.4bn Emergency Loan Request On Tuesday

 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is expected to recommend the approval of $3.4 billion in emergency funding for Nigeria as part of measures to cushion the impact of COVID-19 on the nation’s economy.

According to Bloomberg, the IMF Executive Board will meet on Tuesday next week to review the request.

The loan, which is scheduled to be repaid in not more than five years, is considered the largest allocation by the IMF to an African country to assist with the coronavirus pandemic.

Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, earlier this month referred to the loan as part of funds being expected from multilateral organisations to aid the country’s battle against the pandemic.

Since COVID-19 was confirmed in the country on February 27, the pandemic has gone on to disrupt daily life, forcing the government to shut schools, impose lockdowns, and restrict large gatherings among other things.

As of 10 pm on Saturday, Nigeria had 1,095 confirmed coronavirus cases out of which there have been 208 recoveries and 32 deaths.

Globally, there have been more than two million confirmed cases and over 200,000 deaths.