Nigeria Has No Reason To Import Rice, Says Attajiri


By Abdallah el-Kurebe

A rice milling firm has debuted in Sokoto with the managing director of the company, Alhaji Nura Attajiri saying that Nigeria was blessed with fertile land capable of producing all types of crops, including rice and therefore had no reason to import rice.

Attajiri said this during the inauguration of the N30 million mill, which has the capacity of milling 1,250 kilograms of rice per hour in Sokoto on Friday.

According him, “There is no need for Nigeria to import food, especially rice, as such more efforts should be put in to encourage more Nigerians to produce more food.”

He called on the general public to patronize the mill as well as provision of a plot of land by the state government at one of the industrial areas in Sokoto and a dedicated transformer.

Commending Attajiri, governor Aliyu Wamakko, represented by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Alhaji Arzika Tureta disclosed that the firm received grant of N30 million in two installments of N20 and N10 million from the state government out of the N3 billion loans disbursed to farmers and agro-investors in the state.

The Commissioner for Commerce, Alhaji Aliyu Achida who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Mohammed commended Wamakko for implementing programmes that boost food security.
“I must also commend the state government for its sustained support to the company.”

Electricity Supply: KAEDCO is Owed N36bn Monthly, Says MD


By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The Managing Director (MD) of Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company (KAEDCO), Engr. Garba Haruna has disclosed that the company’s customers in Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi state owe it N36 billion monthly.

The MD, who was on inspection tour of KAEDCO installations in Sokoto and Kebbi states addressed Journalists shortly after he inspected the ongoing Sokoto Independent Power Project (IPP) on Sunday.

According to Engr. Haruna, although the projected earnings of the company is put at between N3 and N4 billion monthly, only N1 billion is generated within the same period.

He added that of the company’s customers across the states, only 20 percent were metered. “Part of our major challenge is that of all our customers, only 20 and 25 percent have meters. This is why we are going to provide between 100,000 and 150,000 meters for distribution in the interim.”

On why electricity is heavily rationed, Haruna explained that although the zone requires between 600 and 700 megawatts on daily basis, only megawatts that fluctuates between 100 and 200 is allocated to the whole zone (comprising of Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi states).

He underscored the importance of partnering with Sokoto state government in order to get additional supply of electricity from the IPP adding, “We will partner to maximize the utilization of the plant.”

Haruna listed poor infrastructure, personnel training and non serviceable transformers as some of the challenges of the company since it took over in December last year.

“KAEDCO must restructure in order to operate in tune with the international standards,” he assured.
Haruna also called on the media to assist the company in providing the desired service for the public.

DPR Seals Two Filling Stations in Sokoto

Business, Energy, News

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has sealed two filling stations who are major marketers in Sokoto for defying the directives issued by the Federal government for filling stations to reduce pump prices of petroleum products from N97 to N87 per litre.

According to Salihu Moriki, the Operations Controller of DPR in charge of Sokoto and Kebbi states, who spoke in Sokoto on Monday, of the 49 stations visited by the DPR in the last one weeks, only the two were found to be selling the commodity above the N87 pump price.

He added that the remaining 45 stations made of major and independent marketers and NNPC Mega stations had complied and therefore allowed to continue with their sales.

While assuring to continue with routine visits in order to ensure compliance, the Controller added that the DPR “the two filling stations will remain sealed until they comply with the order and each of them will be fined N100,000.”

He cautioned operators of the filling stations against flaunting the directives of the federal government in that line.

“We will not spare any filling station that hoards the product
or sells it above the new pump price of N87,” Moriki said.

Wamakko presents N112.5bn budget for 2015

Business, News

Sokoto presents N112.5bn budget for 2015
By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Governor Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto state on Wednesday presented N112,541,452,000 billion as budget for the 2015 fiscal year down from the 2014’s N125,872,202,000 billion.

The 2015 budget represents 10.59 percent decrease from 2014 which, according to Wamakko is as a result of the dwindling resources that accrue to us from the Federal Account.

Capital Expenditure stands at N61.7 billion while Recurrent Expenditure is N50.8 billion in the budget that is tagged: “Budget of Accomplishment.”

Sectoral allocations from highest to lowest are as follows: General Administration, N19,706,539,637; Works, Transport and Energy, N9,584,316,790; Education, N7,847,353,143; Water Resources, N5,511,032,895; Lands, Housing and Survey, N4,585,801,434.

Others are Agriculture, Animal Health and Fisheries, N3,864,734,216; Health, N3,516,029,064; Rural development, N2,665,055,339; Information, Social Welfare, Youth, Sports and Culture, N1,885,604,712; Solid Minerals Development, N726,015,945; Commerce, Industries and Tourism, N537,869,717; Environment, N534,356,678; Women Affairs, N441,061,052;

The budget would be serviced through expected Total Retained Revenue of N102,818,452,000; SURE-P, N3 billion; UBEC Funds, N1 billion; Loans and Grants to Capital Projects, N723 million and MDGs/CGS, N5 billion.

Wamakko said that the main thrust of the 2015 budget is to complete ongoing projects as a way of providing services to the people of the state and based on the existing Nigerian economic realities.

Speaking with Newsdiaryonline, Isa Bajini Galadanci, Commissioner in charge of Ministry for Budget and Economic Planning said that the budget also “is to make a shift from teaching people how they can take from government to how they can give themselves and the government.”

Posted by Abdallah el-Kurebe

IMF meets Nigeria on poverty reduction, inequality


IMF meets Nigeria on poverty reduction, inequality
By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials led by Gene Leon have met with Nigerian officials in Abuja and Lagos for discussions focused on policies aimed at addressing vulnerabilities.

In a statement issued by the Fund, the meeting also discussed reforms over the medium-term to address the authorities’ strategic objectives of macroeconomic stability, sustained inclusive growth, and a reduction in poverty and inequality.

According to Mr. Leon in the statement, “We have held very useful and frank discussions with the authorities. Nigeria, like other oil-exporting countries, is facing a sharp fall in the price of oil (a primary source of foreign exchange and fiscal revenue) and increased risk aversion by international investors, who remain uncertain about the future of oil prices.” 

He also stated Nigeria’s authorities’ recognition of the implications of the shock in dwindling oil prices, assuring that government had taken bold measures to counteract lower oil receipts, pressure on the naira, and a fall in reserves, and expressed their intent to pursue macroeconomic stability, based on assessments of credible scenarios that reflect downside risks.

Among the measures, Leon stated were tighter budget for 2015; revision of the 2015−17 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) to better reflect the latest developments in oil prices and proposing measures to increase non-oil revenue.

“In addition, the Monetary Policy Committee adjusted the exchange rate by -8 percent (from N155/$ to N168/$), widened the currency band, and increased the monetary policy rate by 100 basis points and the cash reserve requirement on private sector deposits from 15 percent to 20 percent,” he stated.

Leon however observed that there were specific risks related to continuing security-related issues and uncertainty ahead of general elections in Nigeria.

“Nigeria’s economy has continued to grow strongly in 2014. Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 6.1 percent in the third quarter of 2014 (compared to third quarter 2013), supported by robust performances in the non-oil economy (agriculture, trade, and services). Inflation continued to decline for the third month in a row, registering 7.9 percent for end-November 2014, from lower food inflation. Despite lower oil production in 2014 (compared to budget), the overall fiscal balance is expected to be broadly on target (1 percent deficit) and the non-oil primary deficit to improve, but the current account surplus is projected to decline to about 2.4 percent of GDP and reserves to fall to about $35 bn at end−2014 (5.6 months of imports of goods and services). 
“Growth is expected to decline in 2015 to about 5 percent. The magnitude of the adverse oil price shock (projected at about 25 percent for 2015) will sharply reduce fiscal revenues and limit fiscal spending,” he opined.

While observing that the depreciation of the exchange rate was “expected to increase inflation, reflecting pass-through effects of higher domestic prices for imports,” Leon suggested that “the non-oil sector was expected to remain the main driver of growth over the medium term.”

Furthermore, Nigeria remained vulnerable to oil price volatility and global financial developments and fiscal and external buffers are low with less policy space for maneuvering.

Therefore, “A constrained ability to reduce recurrent expenditure could have a significant impact on delivery of social services by state and local governments,” Leon added.

He advised for a build up of buffers, especially the ECA, which he said was necessary in addressing future shocks.

On the need for diversification, Loen opined that “The longer-term challenge is to successfully put the economy on a path to lower oil-dependency and a diversified and competitive investment-driven non-oil sector.”

The Fund expressed her support for the country’s efforts “to promote targeted and core infrastructure (in power, integrated transport network, aviation); reduce business environment costs and encourage high value-chain sectors (agriculture); promote employment of youth and female populations, and advance human capital development (health and education).”

Speaking almost in tandem with issues of taxes contained in the 2015 budget, the Fund expressed contentment with FG’s initiatives to diversify revenue sources as well as address the cost of governance; and improve effective capacity at the state and local tiers of government.

“Nigeria is mobilizing non-oil revenue by improving tax administration and intend to undertake tax reform and lower leakages.”

The IMF team met with Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; governor of the Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele; Minister of Agriculture, Akinwunmi Adesina; Chief Economic Advisor to the President, Nwanze Okidegbe; Senior government officials, and representatives of the private sector. 

Posted by Abdallah el-Kurebe

Sokoto 2015 Budget in Face of Hard Times

Business, Politics

Sokoto 2015 Budget in Face of Hard Times
By Abdallah el-Kurebe

There are hard times and the times are biting harder by every passing day. As the hard eyes of 2014 closes, the rays of the hard eyes of 2015 are beginning to show.

Sokoto state government has proposed N112.5 billion as budget for the 2015 fiscal year. This is against last year’s which stood at N125 billion and a supplementary budget of N3.6 billion was approved only recently. 
The main thrust of the 2015 budget, which details are yet to be made public, Isa Bajini Galadanci, Commissioner in charge of Ministry for Budget and Economic Planning in the state says, “is to make a shift from teaching people how they can take from government to how they can give themselves and the government.”

Tagged “Budget of Consolidation and Renewal” with N61.7 billion for Capital Expenditure and N50.8 billion for Recurrent Expenditure, he adds that the budget was worked out based on the existing Nigerian economic realities.

“This was occasioned by the dwindling revenue resulting from falling prices of crude oil, which affected the average monthly allocation from the Federation Account.”

The budget is christened “Budget of Consolidation and Renewal” because this is the terminal period of the present administration. There is the need therefore to consolidate on what Wamakko government has done in the past eight years, “especially in the area of welfare to the people in view of the present hard times.” On the other hand, the incoming government would renew what we are doing and move on with it.

But what has the budget for the people of the state? “It entails a lot especially as it relates to the development and improvement of the quality of lives of the people. The government intends to pay a lot of attention to youths and women empowerment; curtail rural-urban drift because we want people to stay in the rural areas and contribute to the economic development of these areas,” Galadanci said.

At the lower level, the budget is aimed at strengthening the three existing agricultural skills acquisition centres that are established to make the rural people self-reliant. “The centres train in the areas of fish farming, poultry and animal husbandry.

“Other non agric areas are motor mechanic, tailoring, tire-mending, welding, carpentry, etc. These are already existing empowering mechanisms that the 2015 budget seeks to strengthen.”

Galadanci told Newswatch that the budget seeks to reduce over reliance on government. “We are trying to help the people to understand that only self-reliance though skills acquisition and engagement in other relative trades could move us out of the present economic doldrums.”

Interestingly, similar centres are being established in the 23 local government areas of the state. The centres are about introducing ways of earnings closer to the people.

“The hard times are biting harder and it is government’s responsibility to create ways of softening the bites of the times,” Galadanci told Newswatch adding, “Provision has been made in the budget where start-up token and working tools will be given to trainees on completion of the skills acquisition.”

In the 2014 budget, provision was made for the 7,000 indigent people to enjoy monthly allowances of N6,500. More have been provided for in the proposed 2015 budget. “The allowance is aimed to put these beggars on our streets back to lives of independence. Government is trying hard to discourage street begging.”

Additionally, the Sokoto Youth Empowerment Scheme (SOYES) has been introduced with 2,400 trained marshals. They are to assist security agents; traffic, vigilante groups, sanitary inspectors, etc. This will assist in reducing youths unemployment and, by implication, mop up the youths that are used for political thuggery.

Galadanci puts the 2014 budget implementation at 50 percent. “The 2014 budget has been implemented for over 50 percent.”

He sees budget as being speculation; expecting what is coming and upon which revenue projections are based by government. “If the projection falls below expectation, performance becomes low and due to the dwindling state of revenue accruals to the state, we have not been receiving what we expected from both our Federal Allocation and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR),” he further told Newswatch.

For Galadanci, the most important thing about the budget is not percentage of implementation but the way it is handled based on appropriation.

“What I am impress about is that the governor is very strict as to the procedure of government expenditure. He is very prudent and does not allow for presentation of shady implementation of government programmes.

Bajini added that the state government was working on other sources for internally generated revenue (IGR) to augment the allocation from Federation Account. This is in order to meet up with the delivery of dividends of democracy to the people.

Posted by Abdallah el-Kurebe

NDIC donates to Sokoto Orphanage

Business, Social

NDIC donates to Sokoto orphanage
By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has donated various food items worth N400,000, including N50,000 cash to the Sokoto Orphanage.

The items were donated as gesture in marking the corporation’s silver jubilee celebrations as well as two-year anniversary of the operations of the Sokoto Zonal Office.

The corporation’s Director of Assets Management Department, Alhaji Bashir Umar who handed the items to the Officer in charge of the Orphanage, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabawa said that at this hard times, children had the right to life.

“These children also have the rights to live and get all the freedoms accruable to any other bona fide Nigerian child or children. So, we are here as part of this celebration to extend our widow’s mite to these children and show them that they are also liked and loved,” Umar, added.

Commending the corporation, Gwadabawa said that the Orphanage was established about 30 years ago and now has 60 children supported by the state government.

“We also receive assistance from individuals, groups and organizations, including banks,” he said.

In spite of global uncertainties in the financial system, the NDIC assured Nigerian depositors of the safety of their funds in the nation’s banks and other financial institutions.

“The NDIC is there in case of any failure of the banks and other financial institutions to honor their statutory obligations. Therefore, Nigerians have nothing to worry. The corporation is there to regulate banks’ activities as well as help in absorbing any unexpected shocks in the system,” Umar assured.

He added that Nigerian economy was safe in spite of the dwindling oil revenue, which resulted from the current global market.

“Over 90 per cent of the income of Nigeria is dependent on oil revenue, while its price have recently dwindled by about 30 per cent. Nigeria’s foreign  exchange earnings are therefore less now but the nation is not at any financial risk,” he explained.

He further said that the recent high rise of rate of Nigerian Naira against the US dollar to between N165 to N175 should not cause worries.

Sokoto Executive Council approves proposed 2015 budget of N112.5bn


Sokoto Executive Council approves proposed 2015 budget of N112.5bn
By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The Sokoto State Executive Council today approved the government’s 2015 proposed budget of N112.5 billion.

Briefing news men on the outcome of the meeting, the Commissioner in charge of the ministry for Budget and Economic Planning, Alhaji Isa Bajini disclosed that of the amount, N61.7 billion is for Capital Expenditure while N50.8 billion is for Recurrent Expenditure.

Tagged “Budget of Consolidation,” the Commissioner explained that it was worked out based on the existing Nigerian economic realities. “This was  occasioned by the dwindling revenue resulting from falling prices of crude oil and which affected the average monthly allocation from the Federation Account.”

While stating that the proposed budget would be submitted to the State House of Assembly by Governor Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko for approval, Bajini added that the state government was working on other sources for internally generated revenue (IGR) to augment the allocation from Federation Account.

It would be recalled that the state government budgeted N125 billion for the 2014 fiscal year against which a supplementary budget of N3.6 billion was approved about two weeks ago by the state government. 

Posted by Abdallah el-Kurebe