Special Police Forces comprising the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), the Technical Intelligence Unit (TIU), the Anti Kidnapping Unit, the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), the Police Mobile Force, Police Surveillance Helicopters and Special Investigation Team on kidnapping and terrorism Cases have been deployed by the police Inspector-General to find two German archeologist kidnapped last year.
The joint police team would work under the Command of the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Department of Operations to Janjala Village under Kagarko LGA of Kaduna State to search and rescue the two Germans unhurt and arrest the perpetrators.
Police spokesman, Jimoh Moshood made this known in a statement on Thursday.
"The team is already on the ground working in synergy with the Kaduna State Police Command and the local indigenes of towns and surrounding villages where these German Archaeologists were kidnapped," Moshood said.
"Though the two German archaeologists have Police officers attached to them for their protection at the NOK Archaeology Research Project Centre they did not go with the Policemen to the excavation site where they were kidnapped.
"Two locals in the company of the Germans archaeologists were killed during the kidnap attack."
The police spokesman said the Special Forces and Police Investigators deployed are in contact with the colleagues of the victims and have provided additional security for their safety.
"While assuring all Nigerians and foreign Nationals in the country of their safety, the Force wishes to implore them to always request and obtain Police escort to protect them any time they are embarking on research, mining and related endeavours outside the towns and cities across the country," Moshood noted.
Distributors of the Dangote foods companies, including Dangote Flour, Sugar and Salt smiled home last night as the management of the Companies doled out over N2 billion as rewards for their loyalty to the companies over the past one year.
At a colourful Gala night which the distributors were hosted to last night, top performers in each of the six geo-political zones as well as national leading distributors were duly recognised with plagues and cash rewards of varying amounts.
President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote said the recognition and cash rewards was in the character of the Companies management to appreciate their loyalty customers who stood by the organizations through thick and tin.
He explained that the management hold their distributors in high esteem because they are the reason for the success recorded by them in 2016 despite the economic challenges and the difficult operating environment businesses found themselves.
“Our achievements would not have been possible without you. You stood by us through tick and thin. We appreciate the confidence reposted in us to serve you. We came into these businesses at a time Nigerians have preferences for imported foreign foods, even if inferior.
“Because you are behind us we have succeeded and today we take the lead while others follow in ensuring we domesticated all our production processes and by so doing good creating jobs locally”
Dangote informed the distributors of his Group’s venture into rice production saying it is a very ambitious project and that in two years time, Dangote Rice limited item will be churning out one million tonnes.
He stated that mission of Dangote rice is to wipe out all imported rice from the homes of Nigerians noting that by the time Dangote rice comes on stream, “Nigerians would not talk about Thai rice again, because our rice will be finer than imported ones”
While urging the customers to remain committed and loyal to Dangote products, he promised that the managements of the food companies under Dangote Group would double the over N2billion billion given out as rewards.
Dangote disclosed the food companies would replicate the same achievement recorded in cement industry through backward integration such that every components of their production processes would be domesticated to ensure all the products are available in all nooks and crannies of Nigeria and at the same price.
Also speaking, the Executive Director of Dangote Flour, Hajiya Halima Aliko-Dangote said what the companies did was just a token of appreciation for the volume sales recorded by the distributors despite the economic doldrum.
She stated that the managements were encourage by the loyalty of the distributors to continue to invest in innovation and research extensively on how to make their products more consumer friendly continuously in line with the realities of the time.
In his address of welcome email earlier, Chairman of the Dangote Flour, Mr. Asue Ighodalo said the distributors have proven to be dependable allies with their patronage of Dangote products and loyal to the brands in all circumstances.
The Dangote Flour boss said 2016 was in it deed a difficult years for most businesses saying some closed down, some scaled down their operations and in the process retrenchment their staff. Dangote food companies rather absorbed the substantial higher cost of inputs so that the customers would remain in profitable business
“However, it is to your credits our dear distributors that in that particular challenging year, Dangote Food companies waxed stronger, produced more, sold, more and gave returns to all stakeholders hence our gathering together tonight. Tonight is your night, and tonight is your day”, he stated.
He said no region in the country did not do well and that is why the companies are happy to reward them bountifully. Ighodalo challenged them not to rest on their oars but strive to sell more.
In The Spotlight
With the backlog of demand for dollars topping an astronomical $5.5 billion, all bets are now off that the naira will suffer yet, another devaluation, after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) eased some capital controls and President Muhammadu Buhari, who vehemently opposes devaluation, extended his sick leave in Britain. Forward contracts rose to the highest level since November after the CBN said it would “increase the efficiency of the foreign-exchange market” and make hard currency available to Nigerians needing to fund business trips and overseas school and medical bills. There is no doubt the president’s resolve not to devalue the naira is correct in Nigeria’s circumstance. Devaluation will put the real value of Nigeria’s debt stock at over ₦19 trillion, when considered at the official rate of ₦307.79 per dollar, according to figures from the Debt Management Office. With over 21% of the entire budget dedicated to debt servicing and over 33% of the budget to be financed from borrowing, any weakening of the naira with no redeeming value to the Nigerian economy cannot be in the public interest and must be resisted.
However, a mere decision not to devalue will not lead Nigeria out of its present dire economic straits. As emphasized in basic economic theory, an economy thrives on its level of productivity, both domestic and exports. Therefore, the government should urgently embark on actions that will reverse the current low productivity in the country. Since the downturn in the price of crude oil in the international market, Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings and reserves have been adversely affected. President Buhari has resisted devaluation; giving the informed reasons that nothing will be gained from it since Nigeria is not export-driven. He also stressed correctly that poor Nigerians will suffer more as devaluation will fuel inflation. Nigeria will have to spend more in debt servicing. The national debt stock comprising external obligations for both federal and state governments is estimated at $11.3 billion (about ₦3.5 trillion); domestic obligations of $37.5 billion (about ₦11.5 trillion) and $12.7 billion (about ₦3.9 trillion) for federal and states respectively. The additional ₦6.33 trillion that would be needed to pay off Nigeria’s external debt represents over one-fifth (20.58%) of its estimated $296 billion (₦91 trillion) GDP.
Currency devaluation is usually carried out to achieve economic and social objectives. The ultimate aim is to make a country’s exports more price-attractive while making imports more expensive and thus, less attractive. Thus, trading partners are encouraged to buy more of Nigeria’s exports and services while Nigerians are discouraged from importation of foreign goods. In so doing, foreign exchange earnings increase, and from both sides of the trading relationship, Nigeria’s foreign reserves will trend upwards. As it is well-known, Nigeria is a mono-product export country. Apart from crude oil, there is nothing to export to earn forex. Conversely, Nigeria is import-dependent and any attempt to further devalue the naira will lead to massive depletion of foreign reserves perhaps, to a level that can hardly support further imports. Such a situation will automatically result in hyper-inflation and aggravate poverty, civil unrest and criminality across the country.
With a planned ₦2.32 trillion borrowing to fund the ₦2.36 trillion deficit in the 2017 budget, from a mix of dollar-denominated and local debts, the country’s obligations and associated service bill will rise to new record highs. Already, the ₦7.298 trillion 2017 budget has a debt service provisioning in excess of N1.66 trillion, representing more than one-fifth of the entire budget; with a sinking fund estimated to gulp ₦177.46 billion to enable government retire certain maturing bonds. The combined forces of devaluation and inflation, will take a toll on the nation’s economy, eroding the naira value, as well as pushing up the sovereign debt stock upwards.
The clamors for naira devaluation, especially by financial institutions of the great banking interests -the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank - is a clear indication, that the CBN urgently needs a change of strategy in exchange rate management. It also shows that recent measures by the CBN to limit access to forex, including the ban on certain imports as a way of restricting the demand for forex, falls short of the structural reforms needed to boost the Nigerian economy, which, it must be said, is now on life support. The battle to save the naira highlights the CBN catch-22 of defending the naira and maintaining access to finance at affordable rates which leads to high inflation, or keeping interest rates low; and by default weakening the naira. It’s like digging a hole to fill up another hole.
Nevertheless, saving the naira demands a holistic approach starting from CBN monetary policy. CBN should reject devaluation which will only further doom the naira because the economic infrastructure where market forces drive micro-economic policies and determine efficient allocation of resources, like forex, does not exist in Nigeria. Nigeria is not a credit driven economy. For efficient allocation of resources under a market economy to succeed, all parties must settle their debts as and when due. In other words, there must be no break in the circular flow of income. In Nigeria, parties do not settle their debts as and when due. People do not pay taxes as and when due so revenue accruing to government is either delayed or lost. Even governments at all levels do not honor their obligation as and when due to public servants and contractors.
Also, Nigeria’s economy is a cash-based economy. There is more money circulating outside the banking system than in the banking system. This is because the informal sector is about 70% of the domestic economy. The balance 30% is the formal sector involving people who bank their money. Add this to the heavy spending by government to finance deficit budget through funds raked in from naira devaluation and the inability of CBN monetary policy to drive economic development becomes inevitable. The CBN must abandon its present strategy on monetary management and explore the possibility of fashioning an economic model for managing an economy that is largely informal in which businesses and economic operators do not trust banks and electronic payment platforms.
With respect to managing naira/dollar exchange rate, the CBN should adopt the foreign trade approach since Nigeria operates an import-substitution economy. Since there is high demand for forex which makes the foreign currencies in international trade, CBN should make forex to pursue the Naira. The way to achieve this is to invoice our exports in Naira. It will not stop Nigeria from earning forex and the new demand for Naira for foreign trade will achieve two things. First, it will kill the speculative forex market that leads to massive devaluation of Naira at the forex market; second, it will eliminate the vexed issue of excess liquidity that occurs during the monetization of dollars in the Dollar to Naira intermediation. In this way, the phenomenon of excess liquidity will end because what caused excess liquidity is the monetization of petro-dollar receipts under the present substitution method.
When exports are invoiced in Naira, it will stimulate economic activity in Nigeria due to increased demand for Naira which will become scarce and command an enhanced value in the international foreign exchange market. After all, demand for Naira is equal to demand for goods and services Naira will buy. In addition, tourism, hospitality industries will receive a boost. Just as Nigerian importers travel to Asia, Europe and America, to supervise their imports. They will stay in hotels and buy made in Nigeria goods and services which will be mutually beneficial to all parties.
In The Spotlight
When 15 million plus Nigerians voted for President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2015 General elections, their expectation was that he would be available to serve them 24/7/365, and that those who fielded him as their candidate had done their home work to avoid what is curiously becoming the Katsina problem in Nigerian politics. Katsina! But we have now found ourselves in a situation whereby our President is now in London, for more than one month sir, ma, and we are here, and we have an acting President, who according to everybody, including the extremists and the mischievous, and the politically partisan, is beginning to try his best, with his admirers, now praying for the worst.
For that reason alone, we have an emotionally, politically and spiritually divided country on our hands. Don’t mind what they tell you, and don’t deceive yourself, the Nigerian Presidency is in turmoil. It is not our wish. It is not what the voters asked for. But that is how democracy works. You cannot predict the results that democracy produces. Not even in America. Or Russia.
Now that we have found ourselves in this situation, anyway - an absentee President trying to remain relevant and an acting President struggling to put up appearances, and struggling harder not to be seen to be ambitious (sorry, Prof. I was your student but I have something to say sir, I don’t mean any harm – truth be told), where should the Nigerian people stand? For the past one month, we have all been trapped in a post-truth situation, pretending as if all is normal. We should stop pretending.
Those who supported and are supporting the APC that brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power and office cannot talk. They cannot talk due to embarrassment and shame. They are busy putting up a face. But for how long can they do this? The Nigerian media is also on its knees, looking so pitiable, with the exception of a few blogs, newspapers that we can’t even trust, professional media consultants who are in disarray, a few bloggers and then some gentlemen: Pa Ikhide, Farooq Kperogi, Sonala Olumhense, Omoyele Sowore, Pius Adesanmi and Okey Ndibe who have since been specially illuminated as they journeyed to Damascus.
I will return to this subject some other day. But I think right now, we should begin to take the subject of the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari more seriously. Bukola Saraki, our Senate President has visited him in London, twice, within two weeks. I don’t think we should leave this business of visiting the President to party chieftains, the executive and the Federal Legislature. If care is not taken, Senator Saraki may be tempted to visit the President again next week. And the week after and he may even be tempted to travel with all the members of the National Assembly. There must be equity in this matter.
Figure it out as follows: we all know that President Buhari is now in London and he is the man Nigerians chose as their President in 2015. We cannot forsake him. He is in London on working leave, for more than one month now, and we don’t know when that leave will end. We have been told it will end soon. Later. One day. Whenever. We are not God. Let the leave end when it will. But we, the people, have a duty to stand by our President. This is the point of this article. We are Africans. We have traditions. We respect elders. We don’t joke with old age. The time has come, right now, for Nigerians to behave like Africans.
We should therefore, not leave this business of visiting to Senator Busola Saraki alone. Party chieftains have visited Mr. President. The leadership of the National Assembly has also gone to London to be part of President Buhari’s working leave. I think Vice-President-Acting-Presiden t Yemi Osinabjo should also visit his boss, this week, next week, or ASAP. Henceforth, he should be in London at least once a week. Let us stop pretending that the President is not in charge. He is. If Aso Villa is now in London, let us make it work. The Acting President and the real President need quality face time. If the acting President must go to London everyday, let him do so, but don’t let us run Nigeria by telephone or DHL Am I making sense? I am not talking about common sense. I mean real sense. So, do I make any sense at all?
After the Acting President’s visit, all former Presidents should also start going to London to see the President. Those former Presidents are not as harmless as they pretend to be. They are projected to the public as advisers but they are more than that: they all left something in Aso Villa that makes them eternally powerful. It is like leaving your DNA in a woman’s body. They should be allowed or perhaps encouraged to visit President Buhari while he is on working leave. I think our Baba in Abeokuta, Ota and Ibogun should be the first to visit. That may negate the order of seniority, but trust the Ebora Owu to return from London with front-page news! After him, the others can start visiting and probably advise on the possibility of holding a Council of State meeting in London. As it were, the Nigerian Constitution does not insist that the Council of State Meeting must be held inside Nigeria. The main subject of that first historic, diaspora, Council of State Meeting should be phrased by OBJ in his own unique way: “Momodu: are you well or sick?”
There is something called the separation of powers. I don’t want to disrespect mi’lords but I think they too should go to London. The National Judicial Council (NJC) should put together a high-powered delegation of judges from every part of the country, from all divisions, and level, to proceed post-haste to London to visit, no, to confer with President Buhari on matters of judicial interest to the nation. But Sirs, don’t go there and talk about the welfare of judges, or the non-payment of your entitlements - if you try that, well, I won’t be in a position to tell you what awaits you on your return. You know mi’lords, as well as I do, that the law in Nigeria is now being made to look truly like an ass!
After the judges, okay may be the Nigerian Bar Association should also send a delegation, but I don’t trust many of our lawyers. They think they know the law, and they could go to London and say things that will disrupt the President’s working leave. To make that impossible, members of the NBA should be booked on an Arik flight to London, please. But if they get there, fine. The next delegation should be that of Permanent Secretaries. These ones should spend more than a week in London with the President. In fact, they can stay with him till he returns. If they also have medical issues, they should use the opportunity to ask for tests, with the condition that they must return immediately the President leaves London, notwithstanding the status of their own medical tests!
Once the Permanent Secretaries have been fully accommodated in London, the Ministers, those who were once dismissed by their own employer as “noise-makers”, and who have proven to be no better, should also visit London. They can go ahead and make as much noise as they wish in London and even enjoy the benefit of a full Federal Executive Council Meeting. I suspect that this will be a particularly productive FEC meeting. If the people in the Foreign Affairs Ministry know what they are doing, however, they would arrange ahead of that meeting in London, a special meeting with Theresa May, Prime Minister of Great Britain, followed by a dinner with Her Majesty the Queen of England, with a proviso, please, please, please, that nobody should bring up the issue of Biafra or Southern Kaduna after shaking the Queen’s hand, and there should be a strict guarantee that President Buhari will be accompanied by his extremely beautiful wife, Aisha, and he will not, meeting the Queen, no matter how excited, make the mistake of referring to “za oza room”.
Stop laughing, my friend; this is how you people cause problems for innocent writers. What I am now trying to add having made all these points above, is that the Governors’ Forum should also visit President Buhari in London. The Governors have already signified their intention to do so and that seems to be fine with the Nigerian public. The Governors should therefore appoint representatives who should proceed to London. When they meet with the President, they should hold a special prayer session with three prayer points: one, that President Buhari will not work for another person to come and eat; two: that the demons of Aso Rock will spare and forgive him and his family; three: that President Buhari will return to Nigeria with his two feet. The Governor to lead the prayer should be Peter Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State.
If he starts sounding as he has been sounding in recent times, Nasir el-Rufai should be asked to take the microphone from him. And if Nasir sounds like he is playing politics, as he has been doing, Adams Oshiomhole who will like to be there anyway, as a Governor ex-officio, should be given the microphone and asked to pray for the President as best as he can or as best as Trotsky could.
I have left out some people. In the past month, some Imams and ulamas and concerned relatives have been reported in the media, holding prayer sessions for a hale and hearty President who is just in London to enjoy the weather and do some quality check-ups, private and public. These prayer warriors have prayed and prayed in Abuja, Daura, Borno and everywhere else. The matter is so serious that nobody should be surprised if Rochas Okorocha or James Ibori organizes a prayer session for Muhammadu Buhari. This is the biggest business in Nigeria at this moment.
I think, therefore, that we should also encourage the ulamas and the imams to visit. Let them go to London and pray for their President. We have been told they have been sending prayers through skype, whatsapp and the air, the same channels that GSM service providers in Nigeria now want to block. Let the imams go to London then and let the verses of the Holy Quoran rain down. It will be unfair not to allow Christian leaders to go to London too. They are also anxious to go to London. Pastor Tunde Bakare, my beloved, secondary school senior should lead that team. His job should be to screen out any Pastor with Biafra, or Southern Kaduna or pro-PDP blood in him or her. I mean Pastors like Reno Omokri, Ebun Adegboruwa…. you get what I am saying? The prayer should be commissioned!
Traditional rulers, bloggers, public intellectuals, trolls, and journalists! Oh, I almost forgot. I think we should also be invited to London to have tea with the President. I volunteer to lead that team but if I am considered unpopular, since they say I am not one of them, let @ikhide, @akaebube, or @dejiadeyanju, @realFFK, or @YeleSowore, be the team leader. But please, make sure we have on that list, @lindaikeji, @SDimokoKORKUS, @emepretty1, @bellanaija, @omojuwa, @ChiomaChuka, @AbangMercy, @toyeenb, @MrStanleyNwabia and… and… My friend, STFU! I am not planning a special episode of #bbnaija. I just want to go to London and see …my President.
By Reuben Abati