The Department of State Services (DSS) said it has found weapons and other incriminating items at the property of Dunes Investment and Global Properties Ltd, located at No 44 Aguiyi Ironsi Way, Maitama-Abuja.
Spokesman of the service, Tony Opuiyo said the weapons were found after a search was conducted on the property on 24th February 2017.
He explained that the operation was informed by intelligence that some incriminating items were stashed in the boots of cars parked at the property, particularly a Mercedes Benz S550 with registration number BWR 135AH), and a Masarati 4.7 with licence plate number BWR 207 AJ, which were subsequently confiscated.
Opuiyo said: "Consequently, on 25th February, 2017, about 1000hours, in the presence of two private security officers employed by Dunes Investment, the cars were searched and the following items were recovered: Weapons: (i) Glock pistol with two magazines and a total of Twenty-Nine (2 rounds of ammunition; (ii) Mini-Uzi with two magazines containing 10 rounds and 4 rounds respectively; (iii) Forty-two (42) extra rounds of ammunition contained in a pack; and (iv) One (1) AK-47. Other items recovered include: i. Twenty-one (21) Certificates of Occupancy (C of O) and one (1) Offer of Statutory Right of Occupancy; ii. Twenty-three (23) Luxury designer watches; and iii. Forty-five (45) keys to various exotic cars.
"Following this discovery, the Service launched further investigation which revealed that the cars and the recovered items belong to the former Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam who has already been invited by the Service and presently helping in the investigations.
"It is in the light of this latest development that the Service wishes to sound a note of warning to persons and groups that it will no longer tolerate any acts of lawlessness by those who ought to be law abiding and responsible citizens. The Service has also observed with total dismay the inciting utterances of some political actors whose activities heat-up the polity. It also wishes to express its disappointment with these politicians who, in their desperation, are engaged in hate speeches and even sponsorship of radio campaign jingles when the electoral umpire has not authorized such campaigns in line with the Electoral Act.
"More worrisome is the unpatriotic involvement of some media outfits in these divisive tendencies which negate their constitutional role as the fourth estate of the realm. In line with its statutory mandate of maintaining the peace and internal security of the country, the Service hereby restates its commitment to go after anyone no matter how highly placed who engages in acts capable of causing the breach of peace in the country."
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
In September 2008, about 9 years ago, this writer published an article title “If Yar’Adua Doesn’t Die!” (http://yashuaib.com/politics/if-president-yaradua-doesnt-die/) It was a response to strong insinuations in the media on the plight of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who was alive then but some commentators were already expressing views on expectations after his likely demise.
We are currently witnessing a similar scenario as the national discourse has shifted to debates on the ailing or recuperating President Muhammadu Buhari who left the country on January 19, 2017 for medical vacation in London after handing over power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to act as President.
The media is awash with views of Nigerians as well as patriotic commentators over the transfer of power and the commendable progress made so far in the absence of Buhari. Meanwhile, spin-doctors and political manipulators, in their different shades, have joined the debate, mostly on cyberspace. In some cases, the issue is coloured in sectional sentiments, political undertones and religious undercurrents.
In fact, there have been gossips on the motives behind recent fasting by some Christians in the South as well as speculations on massive prayers by some Muslims in the North over the ill-health of the president. Some scenarios are disturbing, as some comments attempt to create rift between Buhari and Osinbajo who have so far shown maturity, sincerity and respect in their mutual relationship. President Buhari does not only trust Osinbajo, he assigns the law professor and church pastor to oversee the economic sector as the Head of the Economic Team.
In fact, sensitive offices and strategic positions within that sector including the Chief Economic Adviser are domiciled under the Office of the Vice President. In more than two occasions, President Buhari has officially, through legislative mandates, handed over power to Osinbajo to act as Nigerian President.
Aside from the recent controversial and illegal disengagement of a female chartered accountant, Mrs Maryam Danna Mohammed from Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) and the replacement of the boss of the agency with an aide of the Vice President, Professor Osinbajo has demonstrated, to some extent, unquestionable loyalty to President Buhari in his utterances and actions.
A politically conscious person, Osinbajo has not behaved otherwise. As a legal luminary, acting President Osinbajo knows the implication of wilful disobedience to court orders by Buhari’s administration, especially on several bails granted to some personalities who are still being detained illegally, he nevertheless refused to act or intervene professionally on the legal dilemmas probably to prove his absolute loyalty to the administration. In tandem with the style and language of his boss, Pastor Osinbajo has consistently re-echoed the message of the administration on war on terror and the aggressive rhetoric on the anti-corruption campaigns. As a loyal public officer, Osinbajo has embarked on local tours and hosted several meetings towards addressing seeming economic and socio-political challenges.
The deliberate efforts, in the absence of the president, have so far strengthened local currency, the Naira, boosted oil production and stabilise the polity. In most occasions, he insists that he is a representative of the president. For instance, when he travelled to the heart of Niger Delta to appeal against militancy, Osinbajo said he was there as an emissary of Buhari to offer “a new vision” for the oil-producing region.
There is all certainty that Professor Osinbajo would have sought the consent of his boss and/or members of the Federal Executive Council in taking some of the far-reaching decisions which are being commended. We should therefore encourage the administration to be focused without creating a division between Buhari and Osinbajo while making comparison.
There is always the fear that political sycophants may feast on such divisive and distractive debates to create avoidable complications which almost consumed two previous administrations. The political imbroglio between President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar as well as cabal-infused impasse between President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Vice President Goodluck Jonathan were triggered by reckless sentiments from supporters It is always painful any insinuation that questions the loyalty of a subordinate and doubts the strength and competence of the boss. Such a dilemma merely creates feeling of betrayal and instigates a crisis of confidence that can distract and derail a focused administration.
In our clime, there is a thin line between sanity and insanity among political fans (fanatics) whose supports are based on ethnic, religious and sectional sentiments. We should therefore, support the brilliant strides of acting President Osinbajo in sustaining the tempo of progressiveness and pray for the safe return of President Buhari to carry on the task of greater nationhood.
Yushau A. Shuaib