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Closure of Borders Cause of Inflation, But They’ll Not Be Reopened, Says FG

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The Federal Government admitted on Wednesday that its temporary policy to close land borders was responsible for the current rising inflation in the country.

But it still defended the closure, insisting that it would remain in place until the country’s neighbours learnt to respect trade protocols.

The FG said it had to close borders because Nigeria could not continue to subsidise economies of her neighbours.

Nigeria had in August  closed its land borders  on the grounds that smuggling of goods from its neighbouring countries was hurting its economy.

On November 4, the Federal Government listed five conditions for reopening the country’s land borders.

As one of the conditions, the government said Nigeria would not accept imported goods that were repackaged by neigbouring countries and brought to Nigeria.

But since the border closure, headline inflation rose to 11.61 per cent as of October from the 11.24 per cent recorded in September.

On Wednesday, Ahmed  told State House correspondents that inflation rose due to hikes in food prices arising from the closure of the borders.

She was responding to questions after Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council meeting ended in Abuja.The FEC meeting was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

However, the minister stated that the border closure was a temporary measure adopted by the government to protect the economy against trade malpractices by neighbouring countries and would be reopened when all of Nigeria’s demands were met.

She gave details, “On inflation, headline inflation declined every month for several months before we noticed an optic in the last two months. And now, headline inflation is at about 11:61 per cent as of the end of October.

“The slight increase in this inflation between September and October is due to food inflation. The food inflation relates to prices of cereals, rice and fish. And part of the reason is the border closure.

“But, the border closure is very, very short and temporary and the increase is just about two-basis point. Remember, there was a time inflation was nine per cent and it grew to about 18 per cent in January 2017 when we were in recession.

“The relationship between inflation, interest rate and growth is managed by the monetary authorities and is a management that is tracked on a regular basis.

“So, if you reduce interest rate, you expect more borrowing for investments in the real sector. But, at the same time, that also has the tendency of reducing money that is used for consumption on a day to day basis.

“So,  it is a balance that we continue to watch on a regular basis. We expect that this will be moderated as border closure impact fizzles out and also as the monetary authorities continue to support the MPR (monetary policy rate), therefore ensuring that interest rates are not on the high side.”

Ahmed insisted that the government had little choice but to shut the borders else Nigerians would suffer the economic consequences, especially now that the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement was coming into effect.

“What we are doing is important for our economy. We signed up to the ACFTA; we have to make sure that we put in place checks to make sure that our economy will not be overrun as a result of the coming into effect of the ACFTA.

“That is why we have this border closure to return to the discipline of respecting the protocols that we all committed to”, the minister added.

On his part, the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, explained that the gains of the border closure outweighed any other impact it might have caused, adding that Nigeria was subsidising the rest of West Africa.

He argued that the practice of importing goods into neighbouring West African countries and re-packaging them for Nigeria to look as if they were manufactured in such countries was not healthy for Nigeria’s economy.

Mohammed disclosed that up till Tuesday this week, Nigeria and and its neighbours were still engaged in discussions on why it was important for all the parties to respect the ECOWAS trade protocol on transit of goods.

He said, “The border closure, frankly speaking, is what we needed to do and we had to do it. We cannot continue to subsidise the rest of West Africa. And the benefits for border closure for me, I think far surpass the very little increase in inflation.

“We have been able to save about 30 per cent from our fuel consumption, which means that over time we have been subsidising the fuel consumption of other countries. Within the last three months, we have been able to increase by 15 per cent, duties collected from imports.

“Within the same period, we have been able to drastically reduce the volumes of arms and ammunition that have been coming into the country through smuggling, ditto with illicit drugs.

“All Nigeria is saying is, please, let’s respect the protocol on transit. ECOWAS set up a protocol on transit of goods, which is very simple. If a container meant for Nigeria is dropped in Cotonou, the authorities in Benin Republic should escort the container to the customs in Seme border, and that way proper duty will be levied and will be paid.

“But, on the contrary, what we have seen happening over the years is that our neighbours will put about five containers on one truck and drive them to the border as if it is only one container that they are going to pay duties on. Worse still, less than even 50 per cent of what is meant for Nigeria will come through the approved border.”

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Edo 2020: Obaseki, Seven APC Govs Seek Audience with Buhari after Meeting Tinubu

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Eight governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, on Sunday, held a meeting with the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, at the state House Marina, Lagos to make a case for the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki.

Although details of the meeting were still sketchy as of the time of filing this report, it was gathered that the governors were at the closed-door meeting to seek Tinubu’s intervention in the search for truce in the political conflict between Obaseki and his godfather, the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole.

Governors who attended the meeting included the chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum, Abubakar Bagudu (Kebbi), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Babajide Sanwu-Olu (Lagos), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Adeboyega Oyetola (Osun) and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun).

Others are Mohammed Abubakar (Jigawa) and Obaseki.

Five of the governors, including Obaseki, then proceeded to Abuja, preparatory to a meeting with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

A source privy to the meeting who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said, “The governors met with our national leader, they laid their cards on the table and plainly asked for his intervention.

“They admitted that mistakes had been made especially with the governor’s refusal to pave the way for the swearing in of 14 elected APC members as members of the state Assembly.

“They also noted that the meeting ought to have held earlier and that the governor who was present at the meeting should have reached out to seek help much earlier before the situation degenerated to the level of a public spat between the governor and the national chairman.

“And being the kind of person, he is, our leader listened patiently and he is not one to rush into judgment before hearing from the other party. He will look at what is in the party’s best interest after consulting widely with other stakeholders before taking a final stand.”

The National Working Committee of the party had approved the direct primary as the mode of selecting the party’s standard bearer for the forthcoming governorship election in the state.

Loyalists of the governor are opposed to the mode arguing that it was meant to frustrate his chances of standing as the party’s standard bearer.

Obaseki and his estranged political godfather have been at odds over the former’s bid for a second term in office following a long-drawn battle for the political control of the state.

Pundits accuse the governor of working with his fellow governors opposed to Oshiomhole leadership style in an earlier attempt to force Oshiomhole out of office.

A member of the party’s National Working Committee who also pleaded anonymity for fear of retribution said, “Besides the feud between Obaseki and our National Chairman, we have to consider the overall interest of our party. The best thing to do for our party in Edo is to have direct primaries. This is why; it is the best for us even without the conflict between the two leaders. The last time we did primaries even for the election of Obaseki as governor, it was direct, we have done that there before, we can only improve on it than to go and try something new. Two, if we are learning from our past mishaps like what happened in Rivers State, there were litigations over the congresses we did before and we went into indirect and we used officials whose positions were being challenged in court as delegates and when the court nullified the congresses that brought the executives, everything done was nullified, we lost the opportunity to contest the elections in Rivers State.

“There are two chairmen in Edo, we have recognized the removal of the Anselem-led exco and the matter is still in court, whichever way the court rules, we may have a problem if we use the indirect using the executives as delegates.

“Then there is the issue of COVID-19 with the protocol of social distancing. It will be easier to manage a crowd in each ward instead of bringing four to five thousand people in one place as the indirect mode will require.”

When contacted, the APC National Vice-Chairman, South South, Hilliard Eta said, “As the governing political party, the APC will continue to lead by example when it comes to giving party members the right to choose candidates.

Also, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said, “The APC will, as always, provide a level playing field for all aspirants to pursue their legitimate aspirations in line with the constitution on our party guidelines.”

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Nigeria Coronavirus Cases Exceed 10,000 with 307 New Infections

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Nigeria’s tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases on Sunday rose to 10,162 as 307 new infections were announced by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Fourteen deaths were recorded from the virus on Sunday bringing the total number of confirmed deaths from the virus to 287.

Lagos recorded the highest figure of cases reported with 188 infections. The state also remains the epicentre for the disease.

There was a decline in the number of infections reported on Sunday (307) compared to the number reported on Saturday (553).

The country on Saturday had reported the highest daily figure of infections so far yet, since the beginning of the outbreak in Nigeria.

The agency in a tweet late Sunday night said the 307 new cases were reported in 15 states. These are Lagos, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Ogun, Kaduna, Oyo, Bayelsa, Gombe, Kano, Delta, Imo, Rivers, Niger, Bauchi, Plateau and Kwara.

“Till date, 10162 cases have been confirmed, 3007 cases have been discharged and 287 deaths have been recorded in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory,” it said.

The 307 new cases are reported from 15 states – Lagos – 188, FCT – 44, Ogun – 19, Kaduna – 14, Oyo – 12, Bayelsa – 9, Gombe – 5, Kano – 3, Delta – 3, Imo – 2, Rivers – 2, Niger – 2, Bauchi – 2, Plateau – 1 and Kwara – 1.

There are 6, 868 active COVID-19 cases in the country as 3,007 people have recovered and have been discharged, with 287 deaths recorded.

A breakdown of the 10,162 confirmed cases shows that Lagos State has so far reported 4,943 cases, followed by Kano – 954, FCT – 660, Katsina – 364, Edo – 284, Oyo – 292, Borno – 271,Jigawa – 270, Ogun – 278, Kaduna – 258, Bauchi – 238, Rivers – 206, Gombe – 161, Sokoto – 116, Plateau – 105, Kwara – 88, Delta – 83, Zamfara – 76, Nasarawa – 62, Yobe – 52, Akwa Ibom – 45, Osun – 45, Ebonyi – 40, Adamawa – 38, Imo – 36, Kebbi – 33, Niger – 32, Ondo – 25, Ekiti – 20, Enugu – 18, Taraba – 18, Bayelsa – 12, Anambra – 11, Abia – 10, Benue – 7 and Kogi – 2.

Despite the increasing figures, many Nigerians are alleging that Nigeria is not testing enough and the figures might not reflect the true situation in the country.

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Chris Okotie Slams CAN, Condemns Social Distancing Guilelines in Churches

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The Senior Pastor of the Household of God International Ministries, Chris Okotie, on Sunday kicked against the Christian Association of Nigeria’s (CAN) proposed social distancing guidelines for churches.

Mr Okotie, who was the presidential candidate of Fresh Democratic Party, frowned at CAN’s decision to allow what he described as the ‘Idol of Coronavirus’ determine the scope of congregational worship in churches in Nigeria.

This was contained in a statement he posted on his official Facebook page.

The cleric referenced a report published in the Sun Newspaper on Sunday wherein CAN unveiled guidelines for the reopening of churches in the first week of June.

He said, “Social distancing in the Church of Jesus Christ is tantamount to blasphemous infidelity and an impeachment of the integrity of the Word of God. Healing is fundamental to the redemptive work of Jesus.

“To allow the idol of Corona Virus to determine the scope of congregational worship in the house of God is an abomination of gargantuan proportions. No true minister of the gospel will succumb to such travesty of the faith. This is a summary of my objections.

“I have sent this message hoping that you would respond as one who bears the burden of the Cross of Jesus. I have restrained myself from making a public outcry of this desecration and profanation out of respect for you and the CAN hierarchy. But be assured that this position is transient.”

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 in Nigeria, a ban has been placed on social and religious gatherings in the country to curb the spread of the virus.

But some Nigerian pastors have challenged the directive.

A popular pastor, Chris Oyakhilome, recently berated his colleagues, (Nigerian pastors) that complied with the government’s ban on large gatherings because of coronavirus.

Mr Oyakhilome, who is the general overseer of Believers’ Love World, popularly known as Christ Embassy, said such leaders were not true Christians as they did not ask the government for time to pray and consult with their congregation.

CAN GUIDELINES

The Christian Association of Nigeria recently expressed hope that the ban on religious gatherings in the country may be lifted by the first Sunday of June.

CAN President, Samson Ayokunle, a reverend, gave the indication in a statement.

Mr. Ayokunle said churches will disinfect their premises, as well as make provisions for alcohol sanitisers, among others.

He also suggested the use of face masks and adherence to other social distancing measures.

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