Below are the headlines found on The Guardian Online Newspaper for today, Wednesday, 21 March, 2018.

Wed, 21 Mar 2018
Two years after the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari announced that the country was in advanced talks with China for a currency swap deal, the scheme has failed to take off.
The development now appears like a similar move made earlier under the administration of Goodluck Jonathan in 2013, in which several infrastructure deals were signed, but later reduced to bilateral trade rather than finance and capital flows.

According to reports, after a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing two years ago, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC), the world’s biggest lender, and Nigeria’s Central Bank signed a deal on yuan transactions.

“It means that the renminbi (yuan) is free to flow among different banks in Nigeria, and the renminbi has been included in the foreign exchange reserves of Nigeria,” the Director-General of the African Affairs Department of China’s foreign ministry, Lin Songtian, said.

But the planned engagement was trailed by a mix of optimism, pessimism and caution from stakeholders and experts, citing previous experiences of similar efforts.

Foremost industrialist, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, in a monitored television programme, had said that the optimism greeting the Nigeria-China deals might pale into insignificance, if the negotiators failed on the contents and terms of the agreement, especially with an antecedent of similar deals in other African countries that have not been totally progressive.

For analysts at Afrinvest, the strong participation of private investors in the FDI and loan agreements sealed, sequel to the move, would improve the implementation rate relative to past bi-lateral investment engagements and could potentially boost capital importation from China and domestic infrastructure investment.

“We are currently caught in-between the two positions taken by the CBN Governor and Minster of Foreign Affairs.

While awaiting official clarifications, we think the ‘currency deal’ could either be a conventional swap, in which the CBN and China would exchange a stock of their currencies at a predetermined exchange rate to be reversed at maturity of the swap line or a move by China to boost yuan-liquidity in Nigerian banks as a trade and investment currency in exchange for future assets transfer (probably oil) to China to liquidate the swap line,” the analysts said.

Wed, 21 Mar 2018
Former President Goodluck Jonathan has challenged Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to show evidence that officials of his administration shared billions of dollars before the 2015 general election.
Osinbajo on Monday at a business forum in Abuja alleged that the money in local and foreign currencies was fretted away by a few elements in the Jonathan-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration.

“In one single transaction a few weeks to the elections in 2015, N100 billion and $295million were just fretted away,” Osinbajo said.

He also alleged that promoters of the companies involved in the Strategic Alliance Contract with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) made away with close to $3 billion.

Specifically, Osinbajo stirred the hornet’s nest on Monday when h‎e further alleged that whereas the Jonathan administration spent only N153 billion on infrastructure in the three years preceding 2014, N150 billion was shared in just two weeks before the 2015 elections.

He described corruption as a cankerworm that had become systemic in the country.

In a swift reaction, the PDP challenged the vice president to name those involved in the allegation, otherwise his claim would be regarded as part of the “figure propaganda and blame game” the ruling party has adopted to cover its ineptness since it assumed power in 2015.

In a statement by his former spokesman, Reno Omokri yesterday, Jonathan accused Osinbajo of repeatedly lying, saying the “vice-president has again surrendered his lips to Satan to be used to spread slander and lies.”

Wed, 21 Mar 2018
Former Kaduna State governor, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, headed the National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that organised the election of its new leadership last December 9. In this interview with Saxone Akhaine, he spoke on how the PDP is being repositioned to win the 2019 presidential election. Excerpts:
The recent Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting

Actually the meeting that took place was beyond the BOT meeting. The caucus met, the BOT met, the National Executive Committee (NEC) also met. That is the practice for such meetings to hold, and they were well attended.

And essentially, it was the first of such meetings after the election of new national officers of the party. The activities of the relevant organs of the party were reviewed, what they are doing and what they plan to do.

So, the meetings were all right and we are satisfied with what the organs of the party have set out to do and what they have set out to go about.

How true is it that one of the southern governors is working for a particular candidate who may likely undermine the chances of PDP presidential dream?

This is absolutely false. To the best of my knowledge such a thing is not going on. I know that our governors are working together as a forum and they interact with the party. But I am not aware of anything having to do with the issue of candidature for 2019.

Of course, interested people and party members are expressing their interests, and they are going round. Nobody had been encumbered of doing so. The party has been receptive to all those who have shown interest.

So, a level playing field is being created for people to interact as aspirants, not just for the presidential ticket but also for other offices. That is what I know is going on at the moment.

Your supporters in Kaduna are calling on you to contest the presidency. Will you oblige them?

Such clamour is not limited to Kaduna. I know that a number of meetings were reported to have taken place in Kaduna, especially by the Northern groups, including northern states and the FCT.

And there are also other clarion calls in show of solidarity and support has been coming from different quarters of the country. I have been consulting and will continue consult and I will take note of all that is happening.

But, largely, I am a party man and we would see what happens down the line. You cannot rule out any particular thing in respect of any politician. Let us see what the consultation produces.

Wed, 21 Mar 2018
The Honourable Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, disclosed on Tuesday that the country’s economic outlook for the year 2018 and beyond was positive.
She stated that the country was now resilient after exiting recession and has the potential to achieve a seven per cent economic growth in the next two to three years.

The Minister gave this assurance at the fourth Ogun State Investors Forum attended by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun; former President of Mexico, Mr. Felipe Calderone and eminent persons and captains of industries.

Adeosun disclosed that the current Administration had succeeded in building macroeconomic resilience for the country, particularly revising the funding mix, rebuilding fiscal buffers, enhancing foreign exchange reserves and focusing on import substitution strategies.

She said, “President Muhammadu Buhari has laid the foundation for the repositioning of the economy with a series of reforms which are being sequenced to ensure maximum impact and benefits to Nigeria and the citizens.

“These include massive investments in infrastructure and social welfare across the country, improved revenue mobilisation, rebuilding of foreign reserves and stabilization of exchange rate.”

The Nigerian economy had returned to growth in the second quarter of 2017 after five consecutive quarters of negative growth.

The country exited recession with a growth of 0.72 per cent, which was further consolidated with growths of 1.40 per cent and 1.92 per cent in the third and fourth quarters of last year, respectively.

The Minister explained that the quick reversal of the recession meant “less damage” was done to the economy and provided an opportunity for faster positive growth.

As revenue and growth return, Adeosun said the Government would increase the fiscal space for infrastructure spending.

According to her, revenue mobilisation is potentially the master key to unlocking Nigeria’s huge growth potentials and funding the infrastructure programmes.

“The Federal Government will continue to create more fiscal space for reforms to enhance productivity and opportunity in the non-oil sector.

“Greater focus will also be placed on cost efficiency, blocking revenue leakages and continued support to the States,” she added.

Wed, 21 Mar 2018
Super Eagles manager, Gernot Rohr has argued that two of the most influential players in his squad, John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses cannot single-handedly decide the outcome of matches at the World Cup, saying they are not in the same category as Super Eagles stars of the 90s.
The Super Eagles’ Radisson Blu Hotel camp in Wroclaw has become a beehive of activities following the arrival of 22 players and the beginning of training sessions yesterday.
Technical and backroom staff, alongside six players opened the camp on Monday, but the facility exploded into life with the arrival of goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, defenders Kenneth Omeruo, Elderson Echiejile, Stephen Eze, Abdullahi Shehu and Chidozie Awaziem, midfielders Joel Obi, John Ogu, Ogenyi Onazi, Uche Agbo and Wilfred Ndidi, and forwards Ahmed Musa, Moses Simon, Odion Ighalo, Kelechi Iheanacho and Victor Moses on Tuesday.

Nigeria –based goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa and South Africa –based Daniel Akpeyi are expected today.
Skipper Mikel John Obi is unlikely to make it to Wroclaw as he has been working hard at renewing his work permit in China, where he plays for Tianjin Teda, Team Administrator Dayo Enebi Achor told yesterday.
The German coach admitted that the current squad is not as strong as the 90s team, who qualified for the second round of the World Cup twice in a row, defeated Spain and was close to eliminating Italy at USA ‘94. 

Wed, 21 Mar 2018
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has stated that the country's economic outlook for the year 2018 and beyond is positive. 

Wed, 21 Mar 2018
The 'fly in' and 'fly out' visit of Mr. Rex Tillerson to Africa by the now former Secretary of States of the United States was reminiscent, and indeed of a symbolic significance to the present state of United State- Africa relations. Simply put, the reality today is that the perceived decline in the United States [] 

Wed, 21 Mar 2018
Access to drinking water and basic sanitation is a right and one of the sustainable development goals of the United Nations. It is a condition for human life. However, up totwo billion people on the planet do not have access to a safe source of water at home, and up to 2.3 billion people suffer [] 

Wed, 21 Mar 2018
Nigeria's record league titleholder, Enyimba of Aba is the highest ranked team among the country's four entries in the CAF Confederation Cup, which draw will hold today in Cairo, Egypt. The 2003 and 2004 African champion is in the same pot with MFM's conqueror in the Champions League play-off, USM Alger (Algeria), Supersport of South [] 

Wed, 21 Mar 2018
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu has said Nigeria must not celebrate progress on the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) yet unless something is done about the fiscal aspect of the bill. Also, the Federal Government has deferred the award of new acreages until the PIGB is signed into law. He also [] 

Wed, 21 Mar 2018
In Nigeria's security architecture, the President, as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, appoints and oversees all service chiefs, including the Inspector General of Police. They take orders from him. He assures us that he receives regular security briefings. But he has just made a candid admission that he is not in control of his service [] 
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