FULL LIST: African-American actors, movies rock at 2017 #Oscars

The 89th Academy Awards which took place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, US, was filled with drama, shattered records, and surprising events.

As opposed to the heavily criticised ceremony of 2016, diversity triumphed on Sunday night.

Moonlight, a predominantly black cast film, won the best picture award after the category was incorrectly awarded to La La Land.

Star of the movie, Mahershala Ali, had earlier made history as the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar in the best supporting actor category while Viola Davis won best supporting actress for her role in Fences.

La La Land won six out of its 14 total nominations, including best actress, best director and best picture.

Emma Stone won best actress in a leading role while Cassey Affleck won best actor for his effort in Manchester by the Sea.

Here is the complete list of winners.

Best lead actress
Isabelle Huppert — “Elle”
Ruth Negga — “Loving”
Natalie Portman — “Jackie”
Emma Stone — “La La Land” — WINNER
Meryl Streep — “Florence Foster Jenkins”

Best picture
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“Hidden Figures”
“La La Land” — WINNER
“Manchester by the Sea”

Best directing
Damien Chazelle — “La La Land” — WINNER
Mel Gibson — “Hacksaw Ridge”
Barry Jenkins — “Moonlight”
Kenneth Lonergan — “Manchester by the Sea”
Denis Villeneuve — “Arrival”

Best lead actor
Casey Affleck — “Manchester by the Sea” — WINNER
Andrew Garfield — “Hacksaw Ridge”
Ryan Gosling — “La La Land”
Viggo Mortensen — “Captain Fantastic”
Denzel Washington — “Fences”

Best adapted screenplay
“Hidden Figures”
“Moonlight” — WINNER

Best original score
“La La Land” — WINNER

Best original song
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” — “La La Land”
“Can’t Stop the Feeling” — “Trolls”
“City of Stars” — “La La Land” — WINNER
“The Empty Chair” — “Jim: The James Foley Story”
“How Far I’ll Go” — “Moana”

Best original screenplay
“Hell or High Water”
“La La Land”
“The Lobster”
“Manchester by the Sea” — WINNER
“20th Century Women”

Best foreign language film
“Land of Mine” (Denmark)
“A Man Called Ove” (Sweden)
“The Salesman” (Iran) — WINNER
“Tanna” (Australia)
“Toni Erdmann” (Germany)

Best animated short film
“Blind Vaysha”
“Borrowed Time”
“Pear Cider and Cigarettes”
“Piper” — WINNER

Best animated feature film
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“My Life as a Zucchini”
“The Red Turtle”
“Zootopia” — WINNER

Best production design
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
“Hail, Caesar!”
“La La Land” — WINNER

Best visual effects
“Deepwater Horizon”
“Doctor Strange”
“The Jungle Book” — WINNER
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

Best film editing
“Hacksaw Ridge” — WINNER
“La La Land”
“Hell or High Water”

Best live action short film
“Ennemis Intérieurs”
“La Femme et le TGV”
“Silent Nights”
“Sing” — WINNER

Best documentary short subject
“4.1 Miles”
“Joe’s Violin”
“Watani: My Homeland”
“The White Helmets” — WINNERS

Best cinematography
“La La Land” – WINNER

Best sound editing
“Arrival” – WINNER
“Deepwater Horizon”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“La La Land”

Best sound mixing
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”
“Hacksaw Ridge” – WINNER
“La La Land”
“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi”

Best actress in a supporting role
Viola Davis — “Fences” — WINNER
Naomie Harris — “Moonlight”
Nicole Kidman — “Lion”
Octavia Spencer — “Hidden Figures”
Michelle Williams — “Manchester by the Sea”

Best actor in a supporting role
Mahershala Ali – “Moonlight” – WINNER
Jeff Bridges – “Hell or High Water”
Lucas Hedges – “Manchester by the Sea”
Dev Patel – “Lion”
Michael Shannon – “Nocturnal Animals”

Best makeup and hairstyling
“A Man Called Ove”
“Star Trek Beyond”
“Suicide Squad” – WINNER

Best costume design
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” — WINNER
“Florence Foster Jenkins”
“La La Land”

Best documentary feature
“Fire at Sea”
“I Am Not Your Negro”
“Life Animated”
“O.J.: Made in America” — WINNER

Change Will Be Evident Before 2017 Ends – Femi Adesina

The Special Adviser to the Nigerian President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina has again assured Nigerians that the end of the country’s economic challenge is nearer than ever.

Speaking on Politics Today, Mr Adesina said that all efforts of the Buhari administration to get Nigeria and Nigerians back on their feet would begin to materialize before the end of 2017.

He added that projections by notable international agencies have also predicted that Nigeria would exit recession in 2017.

“World Bank has said it, IMF has said it and before those institutions, the government has said it,” he said.

Adesina refused to have the Buhari administration blamed for the recession that hit the country saying Nigeria had been ‘primed for recession’ at the time Buhari became President.

“That recession was inevitable (with) the way Nigeria had been run two to four years prior the time we went into recession. There was no way it would not have happened,” he said.

He explained that President Buhari remained committed to correcting the mistakes of the past.

“What he is doing is good governance which will translate to better life for the people. It’s not going to be by a sudden flight, it’s not a magic wand that he will wave – policies that will yield over time and lead to improvements in the life of the people,” he said.

President Not Sick

Mr Adesina also debunked the rumours that President Buhari has been ill and wondered why critics altered the sequence of the statement issued regarding the President’s trip to the UK in order to make the President appear ill.

“Don’t forget, the statement we issued said he was going on holiday and during that holiday he would do medical checkups. The sequence is very important – holiday first, medical checkups second.

“Nigerians want to turn the sequence to medical checkups instead of holiday first.”

Mr Adesina’s explanation also triggered questions regarding the President’s trust in the quality of medical services in Nigeria but he argued that it is usually important to consult doctors who have the patient’s medical history.

“Before he became President, he has been using those same set of people. So, it stands to reason that the same people continue to attend to him,” he explained.

Cabinet Rejig?

There have been questions regarding the current makeup of the President’s cabinet, with many wondering if there would be a rejig of ministerial appointments.

The death of the Kogi state-born former Minister of State for Labour, James Ocholi, and the impending exit of the Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed for her UN appointment have also fuelled the speculation that there could be a rejig.

However, Mr Adesina insisted that it remained the prerogative of the President to rejig his cabinet.

While admitting that citizens have the rights to criticize the cabinet in the face of economic challenges, he maintained that the President has the final say on who works with him.

He gave the assurance that President Buhari is in touch with the grassroots and understands the challenges Nigerians have been going through.


Source: Channels TV

2017: The year of opposition? – By Yemisi Adegoke

On January 20, 2017, the 45th President of the United States of America will be sworn in. For the first time in history, the president will take office with no prior political or military experience.In a few months time from now, the British Prime Minister will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, formally starting the UK’s exit from the European Union. Although both these incidents have tinges of a dystopian/end of days novel, they also mark the beginning of a new era in Western politics.Research shows that the vote for Brexit was driven by fears over immigration and by those who felt marginalised by wider society, while Trump’s ascension has been attributed to economic woes, a ‘rebellion against the elites’ and a ‘whitelash against a black president’. Despite the numerous reasons, the choice of change was a clear one. But neither of these potentially cataclysmic changes has come without fierce opposition.

Following Trump’s victory, protests broke out in major cities all over the US, a Change.org petition urging the nations Electoral College to elect Hilary Clinton instead, garnered 4.6 million signatures, making it the largest petition in the history of the platform. Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate raised a staggering $7.3 million dollars to force vote recounts in key states.In the aftermath of Brexit, thousands of Britons ‘marched for Europe’ through central London, 4.1 million signed a petition for a second EU referendum, the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon warned the government that Brexit could trigger a second independence referendum and a legal challenge was mounted against the government to ensure a Parliamentary vote to trigger Article 50.

These acts of opposition haven’t changed either outcome. In the US, the protests fizzled out, the Electoral College voted for Donald Trump, the recounts didn’t succeed (in Wisconsin the results showed no evidence of voting irregularity and the other two states rejected the recount effort). In the UK, the petition for a second referendum was rejected by the government. Nicola Sturgeon conceded that a ‘soft Brexit’ would quell the need for another independence referendum and the government is currently appealing the court ruling.

What these incidents have done is galvanised those unhappy with where their respective countries are headed into taking some form of action. Whether it makes a major impact or not, such actions are a powerful reminder of democracy at work. And it’s not just the West.

In July last year, Zimbabwe engaged in a nationwide strike to protest corruption and unpaid salaries. Zimbabweans across the country ‘stayed away’ meaning businesses were closed and shops and schools didn’t open, grinding the country to a halt. It was described as ‘the biggest strike action since 2005’. In South Africa, students continued their fierce and at times violent protests against a proposed hike in tuition fees.

Nigeria hasn’t quite faced a Brexit or a Donald Trump conundrum yet, but things are unarguably tough. Tougher still with an administration unwilling or unable to communicate its plan for the country. In terms of changing the presidential outcome, there’s little to be done until 2019 but acts of opposition from peaceful protests to petitions, could make a difference. Instead of the usual ‘Suffering and Smiling’ approach, perhaps 2017 is the time for something different, as the saying goes ‘Don’t mourn, organize.’

Smaller political parties, for example, have a massive role to play in holding the ruling party to account. They might not win elections, but they can have big impact on who does and set national discourse. While the two dominant parties trade members and insults, it’s the job of the other 38 to highlight what they’re ignoring.Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate in the US raised more money for the recount effort than she did for her own presidential bid. She rallied people for a collective cause despite the fact it may not necessarily benefit her personally (she has said donors will decide what happens to surplus recount money).

2015 may have marked the beginning of a change in the way Nigerians engage with politics by voting out an incumbent who was no longer working, but as global events show, it’s not just elections that determine how a country moves forward. Now is the time for Nigerians to take note.

The limits of 2017 optimism – By Chinaza Onuzo

While the shakeup at the Financial Reporting Council is the biggest surprise of 2017 so far, I must admit that the wave of optimism that seems to be everywhere is a close second. Considering the doom and gloom with which we ended 2016, I did not expect us to be on the sunny side of life this quickly. Those must have been some amazing crossover services that Nigerians went to. Who knows maybe all we need for 2017 to be better than 2016 is a rush of animal spirits. However, just in case more than that is required, let’s take a look at the things that need to go right for 2017 to be the year of restoration and be significantly better than 2016.

Everybody and their gateman know the first requirement for a better 2017. Oil prices need to remain above $55 per barrel for most of the year. Is it right that we are so dependent on the price of oil – probably not – but it is what it is. With the oil price currently hovering around $55, it is possible that this most fervent of wishes could be granted. However with the need for the OPEC cuts to hold, and shale to not be too disruptive, and robust global economic growth – it looks like a lot of things have to go right for the $55 to be sustained but we will continue to hope because we have no choice.

However it will not be good for all our prayers to work and then we will then fall our own hands. So we must ensure that we meet our budget target of 2.2 million barrels of oil daily average production. Since we’re currently at around 1.8 million barrels per day, we better hope that the work being done to engage the Niger Delta Avengers and the other militant groups will actually succeed.

Can you imagine us finally solving the Joint Venture funding issue, having the right oil price and finally being tripped up by inadequate production volumes? We will need to avoid such in 2017 if we are to meet our objectives.

In the event that both the oil price and our production volumes hold up the government revenues will increase and our state governments will be able to pay salaries again and the civil service which remains the engine of growth in a lot of the smaller states can help in restarting those economies. If those economies restart then some of the unrest that has plagued our country for the last twelve months may start to subside. And who knows maybe the Nigerian military can reduce the number of states they are active in from pretty much all of them to a more manageable number.

The optimists are even expecting that these increased revenues could mean that the federal government and the CBN may even be willing to do something the issues affecting the naira dollar exchange rate. In theory, the increased revenue will give the federal government and the CBN the ability to loosen the restraints on the naira. However given our historically pegging it is highly likely that doing so will lead to slight additional devaluation say to about N330 to N350. Given the focus on 2019 and the need to not rock the boat it’s safe to say that won’t happen. The optimists in this case are hoping that the revenue will increase enough for the CBN to unban the 41 items and be able to settle demand. Otherwise our optimism will wane and it will be very hard for the economy to return to robust levels of growth.

Another key limiting factor is power. After all it is hard to see the optimists being right if we do not have power. Well the Minister of Power has recently announced that the transmission grid can wheel 7,500MW. For our economy to be truly jumpstarted we need to see significant progress in transmission as a whole. For the last few years we have struggled to generate, transmit and distribute 4,000MW. We have even had moments when we’ve dropped below 1,000MW. What that means is that the system has been teetering for a while. The inability of the transmission company to increase the capacity of the grid has been one of the largest limiting factors. If the Minister’s proclamation holds, then it is possible the power sector companies may actually be in a better position in 2017.

It the power companies get more power, they are probably better able to pay their debts. If they are better able to pay their debts, the banking system is less under threat of bad loans. If the banking sector is less under threat of bad loans we are likely to escape an AMCON 2. If there is no AMCON 2 that means that no bank is in danger of failing and we are better off as a nation.

There you have it. The things that need to go right for 2017 to be significantly better than 2016. They don’t seem like a lot – oil price, oil production, security, foreign exchange, power. However the first is outside our general control, and the others require strong decisions from our federal and state governments. This is not to say that these things can’t happen, but it seems like a very thin reed to base all our 2017 hopes on.

I find that there’s an assumption that 2016 was a difficult year and therefore 2017 must be better by fire or by force.

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee of this. The experiences of Venezuela and Zimbabwe tell us that things can continue to get worse if the right decisions are not taken. So, by all means be optimistic about 2017, however just remember that there needs to be action to turn the hopes for 2017 into reality.

Happy New Year!

FG Denies Budgeting N29bn To Fight Militancy in 2017

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, has denied report in a national daily to the effect that there is provision of N29 billion in the 2017 budget to fight militancy in the Niger Delta.

Mr. James Akpandem, Media Aide to the Minister said, the story, which quotes a statement reportedly issued Saturday night and signed by a member of the Central Working Committee of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Dr. Alfred Mulade, gave the impression that the Federal Government has earmarked the sum of N29 billion in the 2017 budget, specifically to fight militancy in the Niger Delta. The story is erroneous.

He said the relevant section of Dr Mulade’s purported statement did not even indicate that the speculated provision was contained in the 2017 Budget. Instead, it stated: “To make matters worse, the government is reported to have earmarked a whooping N29 billion of oil revenue to fight militancy in the Niger Delta region.”

“It must be clearly stated that there is no such provision in the 2017 Budget Proposals presented by the President, so we have absolutely no idea where this story is coming from.

“Indeed, the President has consistently and categorically stated that the focus of his Administration in 2017 will be to ‘continue to pursue peace initiatives in the Niger Delta’ through dialogue and engagement.

” It is for this reason that, amongst other projects earmarked for the Niger Delta, the sum of N65 billion has been provided in the 2017 Budget proposals for the re-integration of transformed ex-militants under the Presidential Amnesty Programme,” he stated.

One Thing We Must Do in 2017 – By Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo

Long before the 2015 election, I met a Facebook friend, Emeka Nwokeocha, in New York City.  It was at a time when former President Jonathan was complaining that he was the most criticized president in the world. I told Emeka to wait until the next president comes into office and the criticism would increase many folds. I said that because I knew that the fundamentals of the economy were faulty. Warnings were coming from Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala about the need for diversification and savings. I knew from studies upon studies that said a chunk of our earnings were lost to corruption and the rest were used to pay top government officials.  That lifestyle was unsustainable. Then, I didn’t know the next president would be Buhari.

I explained to Emeka that whoever would be the next president would confront a different band of citizenry. It was before Reuben Abati called Jonathan’s critics “children of anger.” And well before Femi Adesina called Buhari’s critics, “wailing wailers.” What I explained to Emeka was that everyday information technology expands and reaches more and more people. What it means is that in this era of social media, everyone is a reporter, a critic and a publisher. And whatever they produce will join the huge information superhighway. It may not clog the highway, but it will surely change the prevailing order. And that is exactly what happened. People have hunkered down around their preferred echo chambers and from there regurgitate the sermons and the doctrines of their team leaders.

Another thing I told Emeka was that, just like those Democrats who did not appreciate what Republicans did to Bill Clinton during the impeachment period took their anger on George W. Bush, so would those who did not appreciate what the opposition party, APC, did to Jonathan would turn around and take their anger on the new president. It is the way of the world.

What I left out in the conversation was that every president would have an opportunity to withhold or provide his opponents the ammunition they would use to attack him. George W. Bush did that when he went to war in Iraq and the American economy collapsed under him. Obama did that when he rammed through Obamacare in Congress without a single Republican vote. Jonathan did that with his inability to tackle the security situation of the country and take control of the runaway corruption. Buhari did that with his haphazard and antique approach to biting economic decline and his poor grasp of what it takes to handle the complexities of a modern nation.

By May 29, 2017, it would have been two years of Buhari’s government. By then the characteristics of his administration would have solidified. He is slow to act. He is sequestered within the confines of his comfort zone, which is limiting and ineffective in today’s world. He is stubborn in his own ways and doesn’t reach out for new ideas and new blood around him. He has trust issues and in his bubble he has surrounded himself with people he trusts who turn around to take advantage of him to embrace the same maladies that he preaches against. By May 29, no matter how clear his successes are, the excuses for his failures would have become embarrassing. His critics would then be repeating the chorus.

And then what?

The people who are so incensed about the Buhari government are the very people who are doing the least to prepare for his replacement. When you ask them of the alternative, they say anyone but him. If you press, they mention Abubakar Atiku. If Atiku is the answer, then you are answering the wrong question. There was a time when El Rufai was on the list of possible candidates who would make Nigeria great. But his sins as FCT minister, his refusal to publicly declare his assets and live above board and his actions and inactions as governor of Kaduna state has greatly diminished his light. He has since dropped off the list despite his legions of social media supporters. Like most politicians addicted to instant gratification, he “used the first part of his life to destroy the last.”  Beyond the usual names, there are people in Nigeria with the right pedigree and integrity to lead the nation come 2019, but nobody is organizing around them. The only people organizing are the same people who brought Nigeria to where it is today.

I have searched for an expression that would capture what I am feeling about the dilemma of our nation. I found it in the latest edition of the journal, “Philosophy and Public Affairs”. It is called “moral grandstanding.” That is the reason it is difficult for anything sensible to happen in Nigeria’s political arena.

Every side has this unshakable feeling that they are divinely right while others are mortally wrong. George W. Bush captured it years after he left office when he noted that, “Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions.” For most of us, there are worst examples only in other groups. But if you see worst examples in other groups, it follows that there are worst examples in your group. And when we judge our group, we do not see the worst examples. We only see our intentions. We intentionally avoid looking at the actions of our group for fear that we may have worst examples lurking. When the worst examples in our group are pointed out to us, we rationalize it. We blame learned behavior, desperation due to gross unfairness or we blame the devil.

The way to make Nigeria great is for us all to first come down from our high moral stool. There are good people in every group. That is why the country is still standing on bended knees if I must add. Until we accept that fact, we cannot begin to imagine how to build the country together.  If we don’t accept that premise, if we are satisfied with generalizing and moralizing, we would be dissipating energy without getting any work done.

If I did not believe that the ideals of Nigeria have not been tried and found wanting, I would not have had any hope and stayed engaged. I believe that the ideals have been found difficult and left let untried. In such situation, we default to the easy position, which is to desecrate and demean. It is convenient. It absolves us of any guilt.

We have lived dangerously for too long. That we have not imploded does not mean that we have eternity to get it right. There will be no renewal if there is no reconciliation. Laziness leaves all possibilities under the radar unimagined. But the reality is an expert in upending fantasy. We make choices daily. Sometimes we make a choice from which we can never turn back.

Should we waste the next two years barking at the dogs or should we do something to get the dogs on leash and back into the house? Should we keep crying that the rain is beating us or should we get a cocoyam leaf and cover our head? The only way we do not have power over what our leaders do is by telling ourselves that we do not have power over what our leaders do. The power to bark can influence things, but we can always do more. The one thing we must not fail to do this New Year is to begin to do things to get the kind of leaders we want in 2019. If we don’t, we have no right to complain when the people who care choose the leaders for us.


Happy New Year!

“The masses will rise against APC-led government in 2017”, Governor Fayose predicts.

Ekiti State governor Ayodele Fayose has predicted a tumultuous 2017 for Nigeria, noting that the year would see an uprising against the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and its government due to economic hardship.

“2017 will be a defining year for Nigeria as there will be major revolution and uprising against the Federal Government because of economic hardship,” Fayose said in a statement on Friday.

While he acknowledges the government’s effort at boosting agricultural sector, Fayose said: “there will be no solution to power problem as power generation will drop to all time low.”

Fayose warned against trifling with his ominous projections for 2017, especially since up to 9% of what he predicted for 2016.

“I predicted 20 things that will be experienced this year 2016. Almost 90 percent of what the Holy Spirit led me to predict came to pass,” he said.

According to the governor, $1 would exchange for N600 at some point next year. He also said the “APC-led Federal Government will still not have a solution to the economic problems of the country as the economy will move from recession to depression.

He claimed about four ministers will be sacked and that there will be more pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele.

Other predictions as offered by Fayose are:

  • Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) will absolve Senate President Bukola Saraki.
  • Crisis in the APC will deepen as former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar will officially show intention to leave the party and declare his intention to vie for the office of the president in 2019.
  • A former Head of State/President may pass on.
  • A new (major) party that will wrestle power from the APC will emerge.
  • More Shi’ite Muslims will be killed and Federal Government will not release the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
  • Disobedience to court order and abuse of human rights will continue.
  • Hardship will be more as poverty will continue to ravage the country.
  • The academic community will further lose confidence in the APC-led Federal Government approach to the country’s economic and political challenges.
  • Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano will be re-elected.
  • $29.9 Billion Loan: Federal Government will find it difficult to source the loan.
  • Magu may face prosecution.
  • There will be boost in agriculture.
  • Haliburton gate may still be revisited.
  • Performance of the Federal Government 2017 Budget will be the worst in the history of Nigeria.

Nigeria ready for 2017 deadline on digital switchover, says Buhari.

President Muhammadu Buhari has said his government is irreversibly committed to meeting the June 2017 deadline for digital switchover (DSO) from analogue.

He therefore appealed to states and local governments to be actively involved in the project because of the obvious advantage to Nigerians.Buhari, who said this while commissioning the Abuja digital switch over from analogue to digital television broadcasting yesterday, stated that the DSO would liberalise access and increase the versatility of media information. He added that interactive programming, two-way data exchanges, mobile reception of video, Internet and multimedia data will open up.

The president maintained that the local industry was already experiencing a boost from the new vista in digital economy, with several indigenous companies now manufacturing set-top-boxes. He disclosed that many of the set-top-boxes for the Abuja switchover were produced in Nigeria.

According to him, Nigerian artistes and entrepreneurs in music, entertainment and filmmaking would become important pillars in the nation’s diversification plans.

Buhari said, “The significance of this event cannot be lost on the world as the digital switchover becomes a reality in the capital city of Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation. The opportunities that this will provide are only limited by the imagination. Advertising, formal education, sales and marketing are obvious low hanging fruits. We are right to say that we stand at the threshold of exciting times for job creation, entertainment and in general, local and international commerce.”

Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the president said that the successful launch of the pilot scheme in Jos in April had clearly demonstrated the gains of DSO, as viewers in the pilot were able to enjoy 15 free channels covering news, sports, music and business.

Explaining that strong partnership with the private sector was a defining strategy of Nigeria’s economic plan, Buhari said, “I am also pleased to state that the signal distributor for the Abuja switchover, Pinnacle Communications is a wholly-owned Nigerian firm.”

Chairman of DigiTeam Nigeria, Edward Amana said Nigeria requires over 30 million set top boxes for the digital transition.He stated that Nigeria’s failure to meet the previous International Telecommunication Union (ITU) deadlines for the DSO was due to lack of commitment from past governments.

Forex: ‘More Companies To Fold Up In 2017’

There is fear that unemployment rate may jump next year as more companies  may close shop due to their inability to source foreign exchange (forex) for raw material importation.
According to the Managing Director of May & Baker Plc, Mr Nnamdi Okafor, who dropped the bombshell Tuesday in Lagos, the forex situation has gone out of hand as manufacturing outfits are being buffeted with myriad of challenges triggered by the forex drought.
These include inability to source credit, lack of forex to import the much-needed raw materials and foreign exchange loss.
“The forex situation has gone beyond  what we can wiggle. And by the first quarter of next year, most factories that are still standing will begin to shut down because the situation with forex has actuallhy gone worse in the last six months,” he said.
Comparing with the situation in earlier in the year, Okonkwo explained that it was a bit better in the first half of the year because “you might get, maybe, 20  or 30 per cent of your forex requirement. But in the past six months, we have not got anything. So what that means is that, as I speak to you, we have not been able to order materials that normally by now, it should be sailing into Nigeria. We have not ordered them for next year.”
He added: “The implication of this is that we have lost credit from our suppliers. Nobody outside Nigeria is willing and ready to give us credit. It is also having some impacts on cost of imput materials because you have to borrow money, you have to pay cash before you get supplies. And to pay cash, you have to borrow. Banks are not willing to  even lend. And when they do, it is at very high rates. So this has had a very huge impact on the cost of our products.
“Another major impact is the exchange rate loss. We are going to lose a lot of money from the LCs that we established, and goods supplied to us, that we converted and sold. And at the time we were about to pay for those materials, we have to buy forex at much higher rates. This will have some significant impacts on our bottomline.”
Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently, said it has so far granted $1.53 billion to 9,134 companies through.
But Okonkwo  slammed the publication, saying that is not happening. “So we are not able to bring in our packaging materials. In fact, that we survive this year is a miracle,” she said

Credit: sunnewsonline

Things Will Be Better In 2017– Lai Mohammed

The Minister for Information, Arts and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has commended Nigerians for their perseverance and understanding, urging them to look forward to better times in 2017.

Mohammed spoke to newsmen on Sunday night on the sidelines of a programme tagged “A special evening of music and camaraderie to usher in the Yuletide season”, organised by the Lagos State Government at the State House, Alausa.

“We give thanks to God that we are alive; by the grace of God, next year will be much easier.

“2016 has not been a particularly easy year even for governance because the economy has not done much as well as we thought.

“This is not because of incompetence on the part of government but because of the general global slowdown and this affected commodity prices,” Mohammed said.

According to him, despite all, the government tried its best, especially in the face of challenges with the Niger DeIta, and has more than thrice intervened and bailed out some states.

Mohammed commended Nigerians for their perseverance and understanding and urged them to continue to support the government.

The National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr Abdulwaheed Odushile, told newsmen that the Federal Government needed to focus more on the economy, particularly in the area of job creation.

“Government needs to improve the economy by creating jobs directly.

“It should create rooms so that people in the non- formal sector can also create jobs, especially in agriculture, tourism and other areas where they can show their skills.”

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Samson Siasia Stadium Set For Completion In 2017

The Chief Executive Officer of the firm handling the renovation of the Samson Siasia Stadium project, Ebi Egbe has applauded the Bayelsa State Governor for his dedication and commitment towards the timely completion of the stadium ahead of the 2017 football season.

Ebi Egbe then disclosed that his firm is working round the clock to ensure that the stadium is ready for Bayelsa teams to use early next year.

Egbe, whose firm Monimichelle has Italy-based Limota franchise to build Geo-technology pitches in Africa, said Dickson deserves commendation for taking steps to see Bayelsa teams return home.

“As we speak, I am 100% sure Bayelsa teams won’t continue to play outside Yenagoa from next season. The Samson Siasia Stadium turf is 90% ready.

“Governor Dickson wants to see the place ready even this December. He (the Governor) deserves plaudits for all that he is doing to turn things around in Bayelsa sports.

“The beauty of what Dickson is doing is that he wants to put sports facilities in place in every nook and cranny of the state,” he said.

Over the years, Bayelsa-based clubs have been playing football outside their base due to the non-availability of a suitable football turf.

Egbe then reassured Bayelsans that the Samson Siasia Stadium turf would be one of the best pitches in Africa when completed.

“What we are doing in Yenagoa is world class. It would be one of the best turfs in Africa when completed. Anybody who has seen the soft base and the amount of work that has gone into it, would agree that we are on course,” Egbe assured.

According to him, former Super Eagles coach, Samson Siasia has expressed delight over the quality of work at the arena and expressed pleasure as the stadium is named in his honour.

$15.5 million Fraud: Court adjourns Patience Jonathan’s suit to 2017

Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court Lagos, on Wednesday, further adjourned till January 18, 2017, hearing in a suit by ex-first lady, Patience Jonathan, seeking enforcement of her fundamental rights.

Mrs. Jonathan had instituted the fundamental rights suit against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, claiming the sum of $200 million as damages for inconveniences suffered.

In her suit, she also joined Skye bank Plc, and a former aide to ex-president Goodluck Jonathan, Warampo Dudafa, as respondents.

Also joined in the suit are four companies namely: Pluto Property Ltd, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Ltd, Transocean company Ltd and Globus Integrated Service Ltd.

When the case was called on Wednesday, counsel to Mrs. Jonathan, Ifedayo Adedipe, informed the court of a motion seeking to regularise his processes before the court.

Justice Idris granted him leave to amend his processes, while the court also granted leave to the EFCC to amend its counter affidavit.

The court consequently fixed January 18, 2017 for continuation of hearing.

Meanwhile, a similar suit before another judge, Babs Kuewumi, has also been fixed for hearing on December 14.

It will be recalled that Mr. Dudafa was charged alongside the four companies before Justice Kuewumi on 15 counts of money laundering.

Representatives of the four companies which the EFCC claimed were used by Mr. Dudafa to launder the said sum of money, had all pleaded guilty to the offences.

The said $15.5 million, is the same sum which the former first lady, claims belongs to her as sole signatory to the accounts of the companies.

In her suit, Jonathan is urging the court to issue an order discharging the freezing order, and restraining the EFCC and its agent from further placing a freezing order on the said accounts.

Dasuki’s Trial Put Off Till January 25, 2017

Less than one month after the demise of his father and former Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, the Federal Government brought retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki, a former National Security Adviser before FCT High Court for trial in the alleged $2.1bn arm fund misappropriation but the trial was however put off to January 25, 2017 by the Court.

The adjournment followed the absence of one of the defendants in the trial, Mr. Salisu Shuaibu, a former Director of Finance and Account (DFA) in the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), who was said to have taken ill and hospitalised.

The information on the sickness of the defendant was conveyed to the court by the prosecution counsel, Mr. Oluwaleke Atolagbe who informed Justice Baba Yusuf that he had been served with the medical report of the defendant confirming that he had been hospitalised. Atolagbe informed the court that the trial could not proceed in the absence of the defendant and therefore applied for a short adjournment pending the recovery of the defendant.

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BREAKING: Buhari to ‘present N7.3 trillion budget for 2017’.

The federal government has proposed a budget of N7.28 trillion for the year 2017.

The proposed budget represents an increase of ?about 19.95 per cent over the 2016 Appropriation of N6.07 trillion.

President Muhammadu Buhari is to present the budget on December 14 to a joint session of the National Assembly.

PREMIUM TIMES sources in the Presidency said details of the proposed appropriation were based on crude oil benchmark price of $42.5 per barrel and a daily crude oil production estimates at about 2.2 million barrels per day.

Besides, the source said the government pegged the exchange rate at N305 to the dollar.

In the 2016 Budget, crude oil benchmark price was put at $38 per barrel, while production level was 2.2 million barrels per day.?

However, following renewed attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta region by militant groups led by the Niger Delta Avengers, the production estimates were altered, after the level dropped by a third of the capacity, before rising later to about 1.19 million barrels per day.

“The 2017 Budget is ready and has been considered by the Executive council of the Federation. A total spending of N7.28 trillion is being proposed for ?2017,” the official, who asked not to be named, because of the sensitive nature of the information said on Tuesday in Abuja.

“Next year’s budget was also predicated on an exchange rate of N305 to a dollar. The figure was the prevailing exchange rate as at the time the 2016-19 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) was prepared in August 2016,” the official said.

The president has a sent a letter informing the National Assembly of his readiness to present the budget.

“We are waiting for the leadership of the National Assembly to communicate back to the President by confirming the date for him to make his presentation to the two houses,” the official said.

A copy of the 2017 Budget? seen by PREMIUM TIMES revealed that government proposed N2.078 trillion as capital expenditure and N2.9 trillion as recurrent expenditure.

The 2017 capital and recurrent expenditures rose by 15.44 per cent ?and 9.43 per cent over the 2016 Appropriation figures of N1.8 trillion and N2.65 trillion respectively.

Further review of the detailed provisions showed was no allocation was made for new minimum wage or salary increment for government workers in the proposed budget for next year.

The government, however?, retained the social intervention programme of N500 billion in the 2017 Budget to cushion the negative impact of the current economic recession.

“I don’t think we should be talking about salary increment or new minimum wage. What will really assist Nigerians and the workers are thee social intervention programmes and investments in infrastructure government is current embarking upon.

“Most of the government policies are targeted at reducing unemployment and poverty, while creating wealth. These are areas of benefits for ?Nigerians and the workers, which are of concern to the government,” the official said.

He however declined requests for more details on government domestic and foreign borrowing plans ?in the 2017 Budget, saying the details would be provided by the President during the budget presentation.

?But, another top official of the Ministry of Budget and National Planning who also asked not to be named, as he was not authorised to speak on the issue, revealed the president would launch a new economic recovery and growth plan for the country before the end of December 2016.

The official said the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, would brief the National Assembly on Tuesday on the new ?economic recovery and growth plan.

“This is a long term economic plan for the nation. It is a more comprehensive economic plan to marshal out roadmap to turn around the economy and reposition Nigeria on the path of sustainable growth and development. It is not just about growth, it encompasses development,” the official explained.

Farmers to make rice affordable by 2017

Rice farmers have assured Nigerians of their readiness to make the price of rice affordable and accessible by 2017.

Mr. Aminu Goronyo, the National President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), gave the assurance in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday.

He said the association had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with some farm input suppliers in the country to ensure prompt supply of cheap fertilisers and pesticides to boost production.

Goronyo said some individuals and corporate bodies caused the current scarcity and hike in the price of rice in order to sabotage government efforts in agricultural diversification.

“We are going to assist the FG to produce more than enough rice for this country in 2017.

“It is part of the plan that we must bring down the price of rice in this country

“There are several efforts that we are making to see that in no distant time, this price of rice will come down for Nigerians to have access to affordable milled rice,’’ Goronyo assured.

The national president said that the association was also collaborating with both local and foreign companies to assist in the electronic mapping and registration of rice farms across the country.

He said this would help government to plan by having accurate and verifiable available land for rice production in the country.

Goronyo gave the assurance that rice production rate would be doubled in 2017 above the seven million tonnes produced this year.

“We have more than 4.5 million hectares of FADAMA land for rice production and each hectare has the capacity with a very good practice and management to produce five tonnes per hectare minimum.

“So, in one production cycle, we can produce 10 million metric tonnes of paddy rice and our consumption rate in this country is between 6.5 and seven million metric tonnes per annum.

“So if we can produce 10 million metric tonnes in one production cycle and we have three production cycles in a year, it means that we can feed this country and even export this rice that we produce,’’ he said.

The RIFAN president said the association would continue to support the Federal Government agricultural diversification as a way of boosting the economy.

Local Farmers To Make Rice Affordable By 2017

Rice farmers have assured Nigerians of their readiness to make the price of rice affordable and accessible by 2017. Mr Aminu Goronyo, the National President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), gave the assurance in a telephone interview in Abuja on Monday.

He said the association had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with some farm input suppliers in the country to ensure prompt supply of cheap fertilisers and pesticides to boost production.

Goronyo said some individuals and corporate bodies caused the current scarcity and hike in the price of rice in order to sabotage government efforts in agricultural diversification. “We are going to assist the FG to produce more than enough rice for this country in 2017.

“It is part of the plan that we must bring down the price of rice in this country

“There are several efforts that we are making to see that in no distant time, this price of rice will come down for Nigerians to have access to affordable milled rice,’’ Goronyo assured.

The national president said that the association was also collaborating with both local and foreign companies to assist in the electronic mapping and registration of rice farms across the country.

He said this would help government to plan by having accurate and verifiable available land for rice production in the country. Goronyo gave the assurance that rice production rate would be doubled in 2017 above the seven million tonnes produced this year.

“We have more than 4.5 million hectares of FADAMA land for rice production and each hectare has the capacity with a very good practice and management to produce five tonnes per hectare minimum.

“So, in one production cycle, we can produce 10 million metric tonnes of paddy rice and our consumption rate in this country is between 6.5 and seven million metric tonnes per annum.

“So if we can produce 10 million metric tonnes in one production cycle and we have three production cycles in a year, it means that we can feed this country and even export this rice that we produce,’’ he said.

The RIFAN president said the association would continue to support the Federal Government agricultural diversification as a way of boosting the economy.




Atiku, Tinubu, Makarfi Converge Over Formation Of New Mega-Party

Barring any last-minute change of plans, the proposed mega opposition party in the country will be formed before the end of March, 2017, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.

It was gathered that the Ahmed Makarfi faction of the Peoples Democratic Party and aggrieved chieftains of the All Progressives Congress had intensified efforts aimed at forming the party since the result of the Ondo State election was released.

Findings showed that besides the plan to form a new mega party, those involved in the talks were also considering adopting any of the existing political parties as their platform.

It was gathered that those who were participating in the talks included former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and a national leader of the APC,  Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

A PDP chieftain, who confided in Sunday PUNCH on Saturday, said with what happened in Ondo,  it had become obvious that the Muhammadu Buhari administration was ready to relinquish power despite the fact that it had no solution to the economic recession in  the country.

The source said, “The mega party is still at a formative stage but I can tell you we are making steady progress.

“With what happened in Ondo, you will agree with me that the cabal around the President, including a governor from the North-Central, and some ministers, has hijacked the party structure.

“They have shown more than once that they want to frustrate Tinubu and Atiku out of the APC.  These are tested politicians, who have no plans of retiring any time soon.

“The picture will become clearer before the end of the first quarter of next year (March 2017) because some of our people believe that if we come out now, the cabal will use executive powers to frustrate us.  Others feel it is better to let Nigerians know but our leaders are meeting at home and abroad. We are waiting for them.”

Investigations showed that those involved in the talks were aware of the Federal Government’s plot to thwart the groups’ plan to form a new mega party, informing the plan of the groups to adopt any of the existing parties and uplift it to a mega status.

A PDP chieftain, who confided in Saturday PUNCH, said, “We are working on the plan to form a mega party, but we may adopt any of the existing parties, if the government thwarts our efforts.”

It was also gathered that the Makarfi faction planned to strengthen its electoral strength in the South-East by entrenching rotational presidency in the constitution of the new party.

A top member of the party, who spoke to SUNDAY PUNCH on condition of anonymity, said the group was aware of the plans by the  Buhari administration to make an inroad into the South-East in 2019.

The PDP chieftain added, “The South-East and South-South are areas of our strength. We have noticed that the Presidency has been receiving Igbo leaders at the Aso Rock. This is part of the bid to win the zone in 2019.

“We may have to make some concessions to the South-East to truly show that we care for the zone. These will include rotational presidency.”

For Tinubu, it was also gathered that the group was seriously considering the offer of the Makarfi faction to form a mega party.

It was learnt that the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, had been reaching out to the Tinubu group on behalf of the faction.

A member of the Tinubu group, who confided in SUNDAY PUNCH, stated, “We do not want to make the mistake we made with Buhari by rushing to support him. We are considering the offer from the PDP faction.”

Besides Tinubu and Atiku, other prominent politicians being targeted by the Makarfi faction include a former Governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankanso; the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and an ex-governor of Sokoto State, Senator Aliyu Wamakko.

It was gathered that the Makarfi faction was aware of the desperate move of the President to woo Saraki.

This, it was learnt, was one of the reasons for the Senate President’s recent frequent visits to the President.

“We have not given up on Saraki. He is one of us and we believe he is going to be part of the mega party we will form,” a PDP chieftain stated.

One of our correspondents learnt that the Federal Government had dropped the Senate Order forgery suit against Saraki in order to ensure his loyalty to Buhari.

It was also believed that the Senate President was instrumental to the emergence of former sports minister, Bolaji Abdullahi, as the National Publicity Secretary of the ruling party.

“Even the trial of the Senate President at the Code of Conduct Tribunal may crumble or never be concluded. It’s all part of the plan to ensure that Saraki does not join the new party to be formed,” a source told one of our correspondents on Saturday.

For Kwankanso, it was gathered that the former governor had almost been pushed out of the APC by his successor, Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje.

“Kwankanso is going to be part of the new arrangement because for now, he is only a fringe member of the APC,” the PDP source added.

Efforts made to get the reaction of the Makarfi faction were unsuccessful as calls made to the telephone of the National Publicity Secretary of the Caretaker Committee of the PDP, Mr. Dayo Adeyeye, were not connected.

Adeyeye, a former minister of state for works, had, however, once denied that the inter-party committee, set up by Makarfi, was given a mandate to change the name of the PDP.

When one of our correspondents contacted the Special Adviser to Tinubu, Mr. Tunde Rahman, he said he was not aware of the plan to form a mega party.

He said, “I am not aware of that development. I am not aware at all.”

On his part, the media aide to former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Paul Ibe, dismissed insinuations that his principal was considering dumping the APC.

He accused those he referred to as political jobbers and mischief makers of trying to drag the former Vice-President into their baseless conspiracy theory.

“The statement we issued as far back as 2015 on this vexatious speculation is as valid then as it is valid today.

“The same sets of mischief makers are at it again. The Turakin Adamawa has shown in his words and deeds that he is a committed member of the All Progressives Congress nothing has changed,” Ibe stated.

The statement, which was issued by the Atiku Media Office, described media reports linking Atiku to a new party, as “lies concocted by some mischief makers who were trying to cause disaffection between the former Vice-President and his party.

Political realignment is ongoing, says Timi Frank

But the suspended Deputy Publicity Secretary of the APC, Timi Frank, said, “I can tell you clearly; political re-alignments are going on and people will make their stand known very, very soon. That is all I can tell you for now.”

PDP crisis may delay party formation

It was, however, learnt on Saturday that the factionalisation of the PDP might  delay the formation of the mega party.

It was gathered that the two factions of the party, especially the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee, were waiting for the outcome of the ongoing factions legal battle to determine the authentic leadership of the former ruling party.

Already, the intra-party committee set up by the Makarfi’s PDP, was said to have met with some aggrieved members of the ruling party..

A member of the committee, who spoke with one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said some of the APC leaders the committee met had agreed to leave the ruling party.

He, however, said those who had agreed to defect from the APC, especially those who left the PDP, said they would not return to the former ruling party, but would be desirous of forming a new party with the PDP.

He said, “We have been meeting with politicians, our former members in the APC and those who were never members of the PDP.

“For strategic reasons, I don’t want to mention their names in order not to jeopardise our ongoing plan.

“Let me however say that majority of them are not willing to join our party. They are suggesting that we form a new party to accommodate all other interest groups. That’s where we are now.”

Asked if that condition would be considered, he said that would be determined after the ongoing case involving the Makarfi and the Ali Modu Sheriff factions was determined.

Impeccable sources said the leadership of the Makarfi faction of the PDP would determine whether to merge with another party if it wins the cases at the courts.

The Sheriff faction, however, accused the Makarfi-led group of working with the APC to destabilise the PDP.

It cited the defection of Senator Yele Omogunwa from the PDP to the APC, which it said was as a result of the ongoing talks between the Sheriff faction and those who defected from the PDP to the APC.

Sheriff’s deputy, Dr. Cairo Ojuogboh, told one of our correspondents that Nigerians should hold the other faction responsible if the party died.

He said, “I saw what Makarfi said in The PUNCH and I must say that the defection could be as a result of the talks they said they are having with those that defected from the PDP to the APC.

“They have told the world that those people would return the PDP. Is this a sign that they are coming?

“These people are killing the PDP and this is why we are in court, to retrieve the party from the grips of its enemies.”

Meanwhile, Senator Buruji Kashamu warned that the crisis rocking the party would linger for a long time.

He said the issue might become what he described as a circus show.

The Senator, representing Ogun East Senatorial District, said the final outcome of the leadership tussle would be determined by the apex court.

He said, “Let us not lose sight of the fact that the appellate court is yet to finally determine the issue of the national leadership crisis. Irrespective of what the High courts say, for or against Senator Ali Modu Sheriff or Senator Ahmed Makarfi, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court are still there to adjudicate on the issues, and it could become a circus show.

“Besides, anyone, who is unjustly punished, will not fold his hands and allow his rights to be trampled upon.

“He will do everything legally possible to fight for his rights. And this could result in a series of litigation and create more problems than they are meant to resolve.”

Boko Haram: 5.1 million Nigerians Risk Starvation In 2017- UN

The United Nations said on Friday that $1billion was needed in 2017 for the provision of aid to victims of Boko Haram terrorism in north-east Nigeria.

The Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator, Peter Lundberg, in a statement said the Boko Haram menace was the largest in Africa, and that hope can be brought to the victims through support from the international community.

“The narrative on this humanitarian crisis can no longer be ignored and we are appealing to the international community to help us prevent the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians over the coming 12 months.

“This is the largest crisis on the African continent and I am confident that with the support of the international community and the private sector, we can begin to bring hope to the people of the northeast,” he said.

The UN official added that “a projected 5.1 million people will face serious food shortages as the conflict and risk of unexploded improvised devices prevented farmers planting for a third year in a row, causing a major food crisis.”

Millions of people have been displaced from their homes in north-east Nigeria since the insurgency began in 2009. Over 20,000 people have also been killed.

While tens of thousands of the displaced live in camps, millions of others live in host communities where they are barely able to fend for themselves.

The Boko Haram, despite losing most of their seized territory to Nigerian troops, still carry out attacks on civilians and security officials.



40m Nigerians To Access Telecoms Services By 2017

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has said provision has been made in its 2017 budget to widen telecommunications services to additional 40 million people across the country.

Executive Vice Chairman of the commission, Umar Danbatta, represented by the Director of Public Affairs, NCC, Tony Ojobo made this known recently during a sensitisation workshop organised by NCC for law enforcement agencies on telecommunications issues in Lagos.

Danbatta said the commission had conducted a survey, which identified about 200 communities nationwide with access gap, stressing that through the Universal Service Provision Fund (ISPF) being managed by one of its departments, 40 million people in these areas would be covered in 2017.

He said the industry’s contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was about 10 per cent and NCC was committed to seeing greater development in the sector.

“In this respect, two Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) have been licensed, while the remaining five companies will be licensed shortly to commence the deployment of more broadband fibre networks beyond the major cities in the country.

“Our model, anchored on robust development of infrastructure, transmission and retail segment, is expected to speed up the cascading of networks of fibre required by individuals and businesses to improve life and catalyse economic growth,” he said.

According to him, these tasks underscore the need for collaborations with security agencies to curtail criminal assault against telecommunications infrastructure.

He said the industry had witnessed rise in the theft of telecommunications infrastructure and vandalism of installed

facilities and equipment, adding that NCC was determined to move fast in its mandate of harnessing the potential of the ICT sector to boost national economy.

Danbatta added that the industry had witnessed usage of preregistered Subscribers Identification Module (SIM) cards, all of which were infractions of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 and other extant regulations governing the industry.

He said that while the commission rolled out various campaigns to raise awareness and made some arrests with the support of the police, there was need for effective strategies to ensure that anyone arrested was prosecuted.



Amid nationwide budget raise, Yobe cuts 2017 spending to N69 billion

Yobe State governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, has said his government would be spending N69.3 billion for the general development and running of the state in the coming 2017 fiscal year.

The proposed amount is N19.5 billion less than the 2016 budget, is one the smallest in the country, at a time many states are raising their budgets as they face the effect of economic recession.

Speaking at the Yobe State House of Assembly on Thursday, Mr. Gaidam said his government planned to spend N27.4 billion as capital expenditure and N41.98 billion for recurrent expenditure.

The governor said the 22 per cent reduction in the 2017 budget was informed by the current economic recession partly caused by the fall in price of oil.

He said despite the challenges faced by the government, his government remained “focused to make concerted efforts aimed at improving the quality of life of the citizens of the State”.

The governor said the proposed budget would be funded by the projected incomes from Internally Generated Revenue of about N3.8 billion, Statutory Allocation of about N35.4 billion, Value Added Tax of about N7.4 billion, Ecological Fund billion.

Others are Excess Crude Oil money N2.5 billion, grants of N3.5 billion, External Loans of N490 million, Internal Loans of about N12.3 billion, Miscellaneous expectations of about N1.5 billion, as well as funds from the treasury opening balance of about N500 million.

Nigeria’s Rice Exportation To Start In 2017- CBN

The Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) on Tuesday said it’s set  to begin exportation of rice by 2017, based on its Anchor Borrowers Programme  for the promotion of Agriculture

According to the CBN, the Anchor Borrowers Programme of  the CBN and the Presidential Committee on Rice Production, launched in July had jointly set the target.

The Acting Director of Corporate Communications of the apex bank, Mr Isaac Okorafor, said this in Yenagoa at a sensitisation workshop for farmers.

The theme of the workshop is entitled: “Promoting Stability and Economic Development’’.

According to him, farmers in Kebbi, Jigawa, Ebonyi, Sokoto and Cross River states, among others, have already keyed into the programme, resulting in massive rice cultivation.

He said the country would achieve self-sustenance in rice production if the momentum was sustained, adding that the country should commence exportation of locally produced rice by 2017.

Okorafor said Kebbi State had already harvested one million tonnes of rice, adding that Ebonyi’s harvest had outstripped the earmarked production for the year.

“The development is encouraging and by the end of 2017, we will not only meet our national demand which is between six and seven million tonnes but have a surplus to export.

“We must rid ourselves of eating foreign rice that has been stored for over nine years in Thailand, Vietnam and India. Nigerian rice is fresh and healthier.

“We should eat Nigerian rice provided for by the CBN Anchor Programme;  50 Kg of local rice is now N8, 000 in Ebonyi. Already, the Abia Government has ordered rice from Ebonyi for Christmas,’’ he said.

He further said: “What we have done with this programme so far is to create jobs through farming, especially for the unemployed youths.

“Nigerian youths must wake up, dust themselves up and join this worthy campaign.


Nigeria’s rice exportation to start in 2017 — CBN

Niger Delta crisis will be resolved by 2017 – Kachikwu

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, has disclosed that Nigeria was at 2.1 million barrels of oil production per day, before the renewed hostilities by militants, but assured that the formula for peace in the Niger Delta region of the country would be found by next year.


Kachikwu, who spoke to Bloomberg on the “turmoil” in the region, asserted that: “Well, I won’t call it turmoil any more, I would call it a bit of disruption.


According to him, “We’ve passed the turmoil stage, we have moved from 1.4 million barrels a day to 1.9.We were at 2.1 before we had the last incident.

“It is work in progress; we are putting every energy we can. President Muhammadu Buhari is very focused on trying to find solutions to these problems, and we are working hard on it. We are seeing solutions come up, we are seeing acceptance to what we are doing.”


He went on to express optimism that the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, deal will become a reality to push oil prices to $50 per barrel, and above.


The Minister, who is currently at the Liquefied Natural Gas, LNG, Producer-Consumer conference in Tokyo, Japan, and presided over OPEC’s 168th ordinary meeting in Vienna, also stated that a failure to reach a deal will crunch prices below $45 a barrel.

Over 200 firms bid to lift Nigeria’s 26 crude oil blends in 2017.

A total 224 firms submitted bids seeking to be awarded contract to purchase and lift Nigerian crude oil grades for the 2016/2017 season.


At the formal public bids opening on Thursday in Abuja, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Maikanti Baru, said the exercise was a demonstration of the transparency in the operations of the corporation.


Mr. Baru said a successful bidder would qualify to join in lifting over 700, 000 barrels per day of crude oil on offer by the state-owned oil company on Free on Board (FOB) basis subject to the execution of sales and purchase agreement with buyers.


The bids opening exercise broadcast live on a national television network was observed by representatives of the bidding companies and officials of the Bureau of Public Procurement, Department of Petroleum Resources, Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, and some members of the civil society.


The NNPC boss said the public bid opening was in consonance with the transparency and accountability agenda of Mr. President in the oil and gas industry.


‘’We do everything transparently in NNPC and also ensure fairness in all the transactions that we do. There is nothing hidden, just as you have seen today,” Mr. Baru said.


He assured the exercise was targeted at getting competitive bids from refiners, and big traders, as well as companies that have made substantial investments in the oil and gas industry, particularly in the downstream sub-sector of the petroleum industry in Nigeria.


The GMD dismissed insinuations that Nigerian crude grades were receiving low patronage in the international market, noting that the demand for Nigerian crude remained high because of its low sulphur content.


The 26 Nigerian crude oil grades on offer include: Bonny Light, Forcados Blend, EA Blend, Bonga, Qua Iboe Light, Yoho Blend, Erha and Escravos Light. Others are; Pennington Light, Agbami, Brass Blend, Abo, Oyo, Okono Blend, Amenam Blend, Akpo Condensate and Usan. The rest include: Atam Blend, Okwori, Okoro, Ima, Ukpokiti, Obe, Okwuibome, Ebok and Asaratoru.

Ambode: Lagos to begin health insurance scheme in 2017.

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode sayssaid the long awaited Health Insurance Scheme of the State would begin in early 2017, expressing readiness to partner with key players in the sector to use insurance to grow the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Lagos.


Speaking at the commissioning of the new WAPIC Insurance Corporate Head Office, located on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi on Monday, the governor said there was no question about the strategic importance of insurance to any economy, saying that his administration was open to policies and initiatives that would make the sector to thrive in the State.


“The insurance business is here to stay and I want to also say that I give our government’s commitment to allow this sector to grow. I will like to partner and also learn how we can grow the GDP of Lagos through your industry. On our part, we know very clearly that early next year, we are going to start our Health Insurance Scheme and I just think that the drivers are the majority of the people who are seated here and it is important that we partner together and also learn together,” Ambode said.


While challenging the key drivers of the insurance sector to come up with draft bill that would accelerate insurance business in Lagos, the governor said he was open to initiatives that would make the sector grow and contribute positively to the growth of the State.


He said there was great need for insurance for individuals and the legal regulatory framework to be explored and expanded with the view to ensure the growth of the sector, adding that it was important for government not to be left alone to handle all issues affecting or that should affect the sector.


He pledged the commitment of the State Government to continually identify and support organizations such as WAPIC Insurance to accelerate the efforts at creating the new Lagos of positive dreams, assuring that as a government, his administration would explore ways to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.


According to the governor, “We are committed to introducing new incentives for businesses in Lagos to enable them grow and also support our society and take more of our youths off the street. The ease of doing business is of concern to us and as a result, we are working to improve the indices of doing business in Lagos, while we continue in our commitment to carry out judicial and security sector reforms.”


Besides, Ambode congratulated the board and management of WAPIC Insurance for adding a beautiful edifice to the State, which he said had brought total change to the landscape of the entire Awolowo Road in Ikoyi.


He said the company had distinguished itself as one of the insurance companies that have pro-actively partnered with the State Government with insightful recommendation on key issues of governance and welfare of the people particularly in the areas of safety, security of lives and property through insurance such as relating to building collapse, fire accident, among others.


Chairman of WAPIC Insurance, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede said from his trips across Africa, there has never been any public functionary like Governor Ambode who understands the importance of the insurance sector, saying that the knowledge came out of the deep understanding of economics and the fact that insurance is the most important economic sector of the world according to modern day reality.


He said insurance made the world livable and cheaper, adding that the commissioning of the new building not only signpost the transformation of WAPIC Insurance, but also the transformation of insurance sector in Nigeria to take its rightful place.


Governor Ambode also received a donation of N20 million on behalf of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF) from WAPIC Insurance.

There may be famine in 2017, Presidency warns Nigerians.

Nigerians have been warned to prepare for the possibility of a famine in January 2017.


According to a statement by the Presidency, the disclosure was made by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, during an interview with a Kano-based radio station, Pyramid Radio, on Monday.


Shehu disclosed that the Federal Government has ordered the Ministry of Agriculture to store surplus grains in warehouses in the country.


“The huge demand for our grains in the global market is creating an excellent environment for the mindless export of Nigerian grains across our borders and unless this is curtailed, Nigerian markets will be bereft of food by January next year,” he said.


“Over the past year, providence has blessed Nigeria with bountiful harvests of grains, more than enough to feed the country and to export to other countries.


“At present, there is a high demand for grains from Nigeria, from African countries as distant as Libya and Algeria, and from places as far away as Brazil.


“However, the Ministry of Agriculture has raised concerns about the massive rate of exportation, which could lead to a shortage of grains in Nigeria by January,” he said.


Garba said exporters were taking too much grains out of the country.

Boko Haram: Argungu Fishing Festival will hold in 2017 – Emir

The Argungu Emirate Council in Kebbi State has commenced preparations for the hosting of the Argungu International Fishing and Cultural Festival in 2017.

The Emir of Kebbi, Alhaji Samaila Mera, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Argungu on Thursday.

He said the emirate council was collaborating with the State Tourism Board to make proper arrangements for a hitch-free festival, which was among Nigeria’s top tourism events.

The emir said that the fishing festival was suspended for many years due to security concern following Boko Haram attacks on soft targets across the northern part of the country.

NAN reports that the festival was last held in 2009.

Mera said “the dramatic increase in security nationwide” has encouraged them to prepare to host the event, which used to attract tourists from all parts of the world.

He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for restoring normalcy in the North East, and saluted the courage and determination of the Nigerian military for the successes recorded.

The emir said apart from the main fishing event, the festival showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Kabawa, the main ethnic group living in Argungu Emirate.

NAN reports that the Kebbi State Government had also commenced renovation of the Argungu Fishing and Cultural Festival Village used to accommodate visitors during the festival.

FG to send 2017 budget to NASS next month.

Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, on Wednesday hinted that barring any interference, the 2017 budget will be sent to the National Assembly for deliberation next month.

Ahmed made the disclosure while addressing State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa.

Speaking on the performance of the 2016 budget, the junior Minister noted that the budget had recorded 50 per cent implementation, especially in the capital expenditure.

According to the Minister, “The 2017 budget preparation is at an advanced stage. The Economic Management Team has reviewed it extensively. The next step is that it is going to be brought into the Federal Executive Council for approval, thereafter, it will be sent to the National Assembly.

“Concerning the borrowing plan that Mr. President has sent to the National Assembly for 2016, indeed included in the borrowing plan is the amount that is required for both local and foreign borrowing to fund the 2016 budget deficit.

“The budget implementation itself is on course; the 2016 budget is fully performing to date in terms of personnel, that is to say we are not owing any salaries at the federal level. Operational expenditure has been disbursed for eight months and the ninth month is just being processed.

“Capital expenditure has been disbursed to the tune of nearly 50 per cent. About N720 billion has been released for the MDAs as at the end of September.”

Meanwhile, the presidency had last week Friday disclosed that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari will start the implementation of the 2017 budget on January 1.

Don’t Borrow Above $22.8bn In 2017- DMO Tells FG

The Debt Management Office (DMO) has advised the Federal Government not to borrow above $22.08 billion in 2017.
It gave the recommendation on Tuesday in its 2016 Debt Sustainability Analysis (DSA) report, obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
In the report, DMO stated that the end-period on Net Present Value (NPV) of the Total Public Debt-to-GDP ratio for 2016 for the Federal Government was projected at 13.5 per cent.
”The maximum amount that can be borrowed (domestic and external) by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2017, without violating the country-specific threshold, will be $22.08 billion (i.e. 5.89 per cent of 374.95 billion dollars).
”The Debt Management Strategy, 2016-2019 provides for the rebalancing of the debt portfolio from its composition of 84:16 as at the end of December, 2015 to an optimal composition of 60:40 by the end of December, 2019 for domestic to external debts, respectively.
It explained that the development supported the use of more external finance for funding capital projects, noting that the policy was in line with the focus of the present administration on speeding up infrastructure development in the country.
The DMO stated that it would achieve this by substituting the relatively expensive domestic borrowing in favour of cheaper external financing.
”This policy stance has been reinforced by the recent deterioration in macroeconomic variables, particularly with respect to the rising cost of domestic borrowing.
“Hence, the shift of emphasis to external borrowing would help to reduce debt service burden in the short to medium-term and further create more borrowing space for the private sector in the domestic market.
”Accordingly, for the fiscal year 2017, the maximum amount that can be borrowed is 22.08 billion U.S. dollars and it is proposed to be obtained from both the domestic and external sources as follows:
”New Domestic Borrowing 5.52 billion U.S. dollars (equivalent of about N1.6 triilion) and New External Borrowing: 16.56 billion U.S dollars (equivalent of about N4.8 trillion).”
The DMO also emphasised that the recommendation was made, taking into account the absorptive capacity of the domestic debt market and the options available in the external market.
Nigeria’s total debt portfolio rose 30 per cent to $62 billion in 2014, up from $47.6 billion as at September 2013.
The country’s external debt stood at $9.52 billion, 15 per cent of the entire debt stock.
Domestic borrowing, however, accounted for bulk of the total money owed by Africa’s largest economy.
Prior to the 2005 debt relief, bad debt management practices led to the payment of $4.9 billion yearly on debt servicing.



World Bank raises 2017 crude oil prices’ forecast to $55 per barrel.

The World Bank yesterday revised upwards its 2017 forecast for crude oil prices, raising it from $53 per barrel to $55 per barrel as members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) prepare to cut output after a long period of unrestrained output.

The Bank, in its latest Commodity Markets Outlook, projected that energy prices, which include oil, natural gas and coal, will jump almost 25 percent overall next year, a larger increase than anticipated in July, while oil prices are expected to average $43 per barrel this year, unchanged from the July report.

The Senior Economist and lead author of the Commodity Markets Outlook, John Baffes said: “We expect a solid rise in energy prices, led by oil, next year.

However, there is considerable uncertainty around the outlook as we await the details and the implementation of the OPEC agreement, which, if carried through, will undoubtedly impact oil markets.”

The Breton Woods institution also projected modest recovery for most commodities next year as demand is expected to strengthen while supplies will be tight.

On metals and minerals prices, the World Bank forecasts that these are expected to rise 4.1 percent next year, a 0.5 percentage point upward revision due to increasing supply tightness.

“Zinc prices are forecast to rise more than 20 percent following the closure of some large zinc mines and production cuts in earlier years.

Gold is projected to decline slightly next year to $1,219 per ounce as interest rates are likely to rise and safe haven buying ebbs”, it projected.

It would be recalled that over the past months of prolonged lull in the international oil market, prices have ebbed so low that commodity-dependent exporting countries, including Nigeria, have continued to contend the negative fiscal implications for their economies.

75,000 Children Could Die In Nigeria In 2017 – UNICEF

U.N. Children’s Fund warns that about 75,000 children will die next year in Nigeria. The horrible prediction is based on famine-like conditions created by Boko Haram if donors don’t respond quickly. The Fund stresses that’s far more than the 20,000 people killed in the seven-year Islamic uprising.

Arjan de Wagt, nutrition chief for UNICEF in Nigeria, notes that the severity of malnutrition levels and high number of children facing death make the humanitarian crisis confronting northeastern Nigeria perhaps the worst in the world.

De Wagt explains that most severely malnourished children die of secondary illnesses like diarrhea and respiratory infections.

The expert says: “But with famine, you actually die of hunger. Globally, you just don’t see this. You have to go back to places like Somalia five years ago to see these kinds of levels. Nearly 260,000 people died in Somalia between 2010 and 2012 from severe drought aggravated by war.”

On Thursday UNICEF doubled the amount of its appeal for Nigeria, saying $115 million is needed to save children. However, only $24 million has been raised so far.

Speaking about the whole society De Wagt stressed: “Of 4 million people in desperate need of food are about 2.2 million people trapped in areas where Boko Haram is operating or in newly liberated areas that still are too dangerous to reach by road. Among them, 65,000 are living in famine-like conditions.”

In their turn aid group Doctors Without Borders states: “The crisis has reached catastrophic levels for people who have sought refuge in towns controlled by the military but who are entirely reliant on outside aid that does not reach them”.

However, de Wagt admits that the agency continues to deliver some therapeutic food by helicopter and to train local health workers to treat malnourished children living in dangerous areas.

Doctors Without Borders state that the highest levels of starving children are in camps in Maiduguri, the northeastern city free of conflict where aid workers have been active for two years: “The mortality rate is five times higher than what is considered an emergency, with the main cause being hunger”.

Your Claim To Take Over Anambra In 2017 Laughable, APGA Tells APC

The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has described as laughable, a claim by the All Progressives Congress (APC) that it would take over  Anambra State by 2017.
It also raised the alarm over alleged threat by APC to use its federal might to cause a revolution that would put other political parties on the run during the 2017 gubernatorial election in the state.
Describing the alleged threat as “treasonable felony,” the Anambra State Secretary of APGA, Sir Tony Ifeanya called on security agencies to note the statement by the APC state secretary and hold him responsible in the event of any such incident in the state.
“We want to draw the attention of the Federal Government in whose name, the APC Anambra State is threatening to cause a revolution in Anambra, boasting that when the time comes we shall all leave Anambra. This is treasonable felony.
“The APC scribe has told everybody ahead of time that they intend to cause havoc in the state in 2017 gubernatorial election and should be held responsible by law enforcement agencies when such happens.”
Ifeanya said APGA has a firm grip of the state having produced successive governments that have been doing well and cannot be wished away by the APC in the state.
“The APC and its scribe instead of hiding their face in shame for deceiving Nigerians of a purported change agenda that never was, and for bringing untold hardship to Nigerians because of their lack of vision and mission, are dreaming of taking over Anambra in 2017.”
When for over a year now, they have not been able to give Nigerians a clear road map of where we are going or do they think that Anambrarians could be fooled as they fooled Nigerians. Anambra people are wise and cannot fall to their empty boasts.
“We do not want any negative change in Anambra State. Obiano is a man with clear vision of what he came to do in Anambra State and is doing it not like APC who has no agenda for Nigeria.”
Describing as pure blackmail and a calculated attempt to pool wool over the eyes of the less informed APC’s claim that Obiano was delving into loans to retain power in 2017, the APGA scribe said, “The total amount of money sought to be borrowed so far by the Obiano administration is far less than the amount the federal government of APC is owing the state.
“As I speak, the Federal Government owes Anambra state over N43 billion on federal projects executed by the governor just to ensure that Anambra people are still making ends meet. If the Federal Government of APC has paid the state government the N43 billion it owes the state, our governor will not be talking of borrowing from anywhere after all when all other states were going for bailout our dynamic governor rejected it. Or what do you want him to do when your party at the centre refuse(s) to or are reluctant to pay the debt. You want him to fold his hands and start complaining like most of your APC governors. And because he is not doing so, you are now threatening to take over Anambra by force in 2017.”

Credit: Sun

FG To Stops Rice Importation In 2017

Federal Government will no longer import rice from 2017 based on a new agricultural policy .

This is even as state governors have given their commitments to ensure the policy succeeds.

Zamfara State gover­nor, Abdulazeez Yari dis­closed this to State House correspondents after a meeting on the new agri­culture policy held inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.

The meeting had in at­tendance some state gover­nors, permanent secretar­ies of relevant ministries and heads of government agencies.

Yari, who is also the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) said the meeting discussed how governments at all levels can boost rice pro­duction.

“The meeting was on the new policy on agri­culture and food sustain­ability. “We discussed how we can boost rice produc­tion in Nigeria and start thinking about how we are going to put policy in place on how rice importa­tion will be banned in the country…”

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Nigeria Must Not Miss Polio Free Certification In 2017- Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday warned that nothing must stop Nigeria from being certified polio-free by World Health Organization (WHO) in 2017.

He has ordered the agencies involved to increase tempo of the fight against the virus. He gave the order at the Council Chamber of the State House, Abuja while receiving polio high level advocacy team.

The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Linus Awute?, told State House correspondents at the end of the closed-door meeting, that “the President directed us to sustain the tempo that has led us thus far after 17 years and how to do that is clearly developed in the template upon which we are going to work in collaboration with the governors.

“As it is now, there is no polio in our country, but then, we still need to monitor that throughout a period of two years. That is why we need to intensify routine immunization, ensuring that there is no leakage, no gap until 2017 when we shall be certified a polio-free country, having arrested the transmission for upward of one year plus,” he said.

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