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Today’s Thisday Newspaper Headlines Wednesday 2nd January 2019

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Shettima Admits Worsening Security Situation in Borno
Wed, 02 Jan 2019

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The Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, has admitted that the security situation in the troubled state is worsening but said he could not blame President Muhammadu Buhari for the situation because he now has unfettered access to the president unlike during the administration of former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, when he was treated as an enemy of the presidency.

Speaking at an extraordinary security meeting held on Monday night at the Multipurpose Hall of Government House, Maiduguri, the governor urged the attendees not to engage in blame games over the perceived failure of the soldiers, which he said would be unfair given the enormous sacrifices they have made in the last seven years.

He said despite the worsening situation, he would rather encourage rather than blame the military, saying the soldiers were doing their best within the circumstances they had found themselves.

There has been a resurgence of Boko Haram attacks, especially on military bases in the state in the past few months, leading to heavy casualties on the side of the Nigerian Army.
No fewer than 40 soldiers have been killed in sporadic attacks on bases in Metele and Baga.

There are conflicting claims of the insurgents holding positions in some of the local governments of the state.
But Shettima said despite these he was unwilling to apportion blames to Buhari and the military.

He explained, “Some persons have asked why I have not criticised the Buhari government or the Nigerian military over situations in Borno. My response to them is that unlike in previous years when I was treated as an enemy of the presidency, I have from 2015 to date, gained unfettered access to the president.

I see the Commander-in-Chief at the shortest request and I tell him my concerns, he listens to me with keen interest and in most cases, he takes measures. I have not had reason to be frustrated with the presidency unlike previous years.

“Let me say that even under the previous administration, I regularly supported and defended the military. When I said in February 2014, that the military was not being well equipped, it was not a comment by design, it was a spontaneous reaction, which came out of frustration and it was in defense of the soldiers being killed in front lines. I knew the problems.”
He said the most inhuman way to go is to gather and condemn those who are putting their lives on the line and giving their lives in efforts to find peace.

According to him, “We are principally here as a family, as a people all affected by the situation in Borno State, to discuss suggestions that will hopefully contribute to combined ongoing efforts towards addressing the problem.”

He underscored the urgency of the situation when he told his guests, “For seven years, we held our regular security council meetings. I from time to time consult with some of the participants here. However, I never for once convene an extraordinary meeting of this nature because, frankly speaking, I was avoiding a sort of dramatisation or being sensational about our challenges in Borno State.

“Without being insensitive to the realities of our situation, I feel deeply pained whenever Borno is being discussed on the basis of helpless weakness. I prefer to assume a position of strength; a position of normalcy and a character of being incurably optimistic.”

read more…

Nigeria’s External Reserves Hit $43.2bn
Wed, 02 Jan 2019

Nigeria’s external reserves increased by 11 per cent from the $38.912 billion it was as of January 2, 2018, to $43.195 billion as of December 28, 2018.
This represented an increase by $4.3 billion within the period. The reserves had dropped to about $41 billion in November last year.

Save for a total of $5.36 billion Eurobond issued by the federal government last year, which bolstered the country’s reserves position, it would have depreciated significantly considering the combined effects of interest rate normalisation in some advanced economies which has resulted to increased capital outflows as well as the slump in crude oil price.

After successfully raising $2.5 billion from the Eurobond market last February, the federal government in November last year raised $2.86 billion to fund its 2018 budget deficit.
At $54 a barrel, international benchmark Brent crude was down at about 20 per cent in 2018.

The decline was the first annual loss and the biggest yearly drop since 2015, when both contracts fell more than 30 per cent.
Crude oil prices look likely to trade below $70 per barrel in 2019 as surplus production, much of it from the United States, and slowing economic growth to undermine OPEC-led efforts to shore up the market, a Reuters poll had shown.

CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, recently pointed out that due to the ongoing interest rate normalisation in the United States, which has been predicted to extend to some other advanced economies in Europe, the central bank would focus on maintaining a stable exchange rate so that businesses can plan and to avoid a problem in the banking system assets.

“The choice for Nigeria is to maintain a stable exchange rate so that businesses can plan and we don’t create problem in the banking system assets,” he had explained.
According to him, practically, all emerging markets have suffered, not just by depreciation, but also loss of reserves since the interest rates normalisation commenced.

He also warned speculators in the forex market that they would lose their shirt, saying the central bank has enough war chest to sustain the stability in the forex market.
According to him, the central bank would continue to take measures to ensure stability in the forex market.
read more…

Jonathan, Tinubu, Others Confident of Better Future for Nigeria
Wed, 02 Jan 2019

Former President Goodluck Jonathan and the All Progressives Congress (APC), National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, have urged Nigerians to be confident and steadfast in the hope for a better future for Nigeria.

Jonathan stated this in his New Year message to Nigerians in which he affirmed that 2019 offers the citizens a new opportunity to aspire for the realisation of the dream of a prosperous country.

Below is the full text of the message which he shared on both his Twitter and Facebook accounts:

“I do not intend to give a long message this New Year. All I just want to say is that there is hope and a future for Nigeria. We do not just have a New Year, we have a new opportunity. A new opportunity to be better leaders and better followers. To be better citizens who join hands with our fellow Nigerians, irrespective of region and religion, to bring Nigeria ever closer to the dreams of our Founding Fathers.

“The year 2019 brings with it its own challenges, but if one sentence should summarise our collective national attitude to those challenges, that sentence is this-Nigeria will survive and thrive, by God’s grace and our collective fidelity to the Nigerian Dream.

“On behalf of my family and the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, I wish you and your family a Happy New Year. 2019 is the year of better things for Nigeria.”

On his part, Tinubu advised Nigerians to “select the path of forward progress” during the 2019 elections.

The former Lagos governor urged Nigerians to perform their civic duties by voting with the best interest of the country at heart.He said: “We have a choice to make. The choice we make will demonstrate the type of nation we want. I select the path of forward progress for I have never recommended to myself or to the nation the awkward practice of walking backward.

read more…

Buhari is Growing the Economy Steadily, Says APC
Wed, 02 Jan 2019

The All Progressives Congress (APC) said yesterday that emerging indices showed that President Muhammadu Buhari was slowly but steadily growing the country’s economy, explaining that it was a matter of time before its impact would start hitting the people.

But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a related development countered the APC, saying the high rate of unemployment in the country and the 90 million Nigerians living in extreme poverty were the main legacies of the president’s over three and half years in the saddle.

Speaking on the ‘Morning Show’ of Arise TV, a sister broadcast arm of THISDAY, the Director of Strategic Communications of the APC’s presidential campaign, Mr. Festus Keyamo SAN, said Buhari’s administration is turning the focus away from a mono economy to an economy beyond oil.

Quoting a report published a month ago by THISDAY, Keyamo said the non-oil sector grew the country’s GDP by 1.8 per cent.
According to him, “This is the first time in history that the non-oil sector is adding so much to the GDP. That is how we are getting the indices right again. There is a slow but steady focus of the economy to the fundamentals.

“We are not just going to be giving handouts again. For 16 years there was no concentration on non oil sector. For 16 years there was no concentration on the building of critical infrastructures to reflect the economy.
“To put the economy back on the path of growth you have to get the macro economy right, you have to get the critical infrastructure right and rebuild them and the micro economy will begin to fall in place.

“The future of a nation, the growth of an economy doesn’t depend on momentary rise in the price of rice and beans and that is what they are using to deceive Nigerians and the ordinary people.”
When asked to comment on the endemic poverty situation in the country, the APC campaign spokesman said fighting poverty is not like moving it into a room or keeping it in the dustbin.
According to him, fighting poverty requires careful economic planning and execution of critical infrastructural projects that would help alleviate the suffering of the masses.
Keyamo said, for instance, the Mambilla hydro power project he said was abandoned by the PDP administration for over 16 is now about to start this month.
He also said that due to government’s new policy direction, the country has once again restarted local production of fertilizer, which has led to the reduction of its price from N10, 000 to between N6, 000 and N5,000.

He told Arise TV, “First, how do you arrest poverty? First of all, you have to get the macro economy correctly; you have to address the building of critical infrastructures; you have to address the issue of power, so that you can now revive the micro, small and medium scale industry that is one of the major tools around the world to clear out people who are unemployed.
“When artisans, tailors, welders begin to work optimally because there is power you will have a lot of people having jobs so now they are addressing the issue of power because we have raised it from nearly 3,900 megawatts that we found to about 7,000 megawatts.

“Rice import has dropped from 644,000 to 23,000 metric tonnes; about 95 per cent drop in the import of rice alone because of the Anchor Borrowers Program.”
Reacting to speculations that the absence of the wife of the president, Aisha, at the APC rally at Uyo in Akwa Ibom State, was evidence of her lack of support for husband’s re-election bid, Keyamo stated that the president’s wife is set to lead a campaign for the president’s re-election.
He said the president’s wife will soon begin to lead her women support group to canvass support for the re-election of her husband, adding that she is prepared to give 100 per cent in support to her husband.

read more…

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