Showing posts with label Nigeria. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nigeria. Show all posts


The United African Republic - Nigeria's proposed new name

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By Nduka Orjinmo

What is someone from the United African Republic called? Uranium or Urea?

The answer is keeping many Nigerians awake as they chew over a proposal to change the name of the country.

For two weeks, federal lawmakers have been traversing the country collating citizens' views to amend the constitution.

The idea was to gather suggestions for amendments such as electoral reforms and the system of government.

But citizen Adeleye Jokotoye, a tax consultant, dropped something of a bombshell at the hearing in Lagos.

He wants the name of the country changed as it was an imposition by Nigeria's past colonial masters.

The name Nigeria was suggested in the late 19th Century by British journalist Flora Shaw, who would later marry the British colonial administrator Lord Frederick Lugard.

It is derived from the River Niger which enters the country from the north-west and flows down to the Niger Delta where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean through its many tributaries.

But Mr Jokotoye wants the name changed and his choice of United African Republic - to reflect the hundreds of ethnic groups that comprise the country - has blown a storm.

These Twitter users have a theory where the idea for United African Republic, or UAR, ca

There is already a new anthem, which isn't entirely new but a remix of the "old" Nigeria's:
A new country needs a new currency, so:
Which made musician Timi Dakolo, famous for his patriotic Great Nation song which is a staple at some official events, wonder what becomes of his music. Maybe a remix, Mr Dakolo?:
And there was a reminder of the small matter of the loans Nigeria owes the World Bank, IMF and China. Some figured that a new name means a clean slate:
But not everyone saw the joke in Mr Jokotoye's proposal and some were quick to set the country's priorities right:
But what is someone from the UAR called? 
A few chimed in:
And the small matter of radiation connected to Uranium:
As if he knew that some of his compatriots would not be impressed by his choice, Mr Jokotoye came armed with an alternative - the United Alkebulan Republic (meaning: United Mother of Mankind Republic), which quite frankly doesn't sound as pan-African as the first, but does have the same initials.

He also made other suggestions for the constitution, such as proposing amendments to the structure of governance, and taxation control - but for some reason these have not excited the popular imagination in the same way.

In the coming weeks as lawmakers sift through the bags of suggestions from Nigerians, no-one is sure what other ideas will bubble out.

But it is unlikely that we will see a United African Republic on these shores.

Which is a shame, as I quite like the idea of being addressed as a Uranium - it has a powerful ring to it.



Nigeria’s government budgets for SUVs and president’s wife while millions struggle to make ends meet

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By Chinedu Asadu

Nigeria’s lawmakers on Thursday approved the new government’s first supplemental budget, which includes huge allocations for SUVs and houses for the president, his wife and other public officials, sparking anger and criticism from citizens in one of the world’s poorest countries.

In the budget presented to lawmakers to supplement the country’s expenditures for 2023, the government had allocated about $38 million for the presidential air fleet, vehicles and for renovation of residential quarters for the office of the president, the vice-president and the president’s wife — even though her office is not recognized by the country’s constitution.

Before the budget was approved, and facing increasing criticism, lawmakers eliminated $6.1 million earlier budgeted for a “presidential yacht” and moved it to “student loans.”

A Nigerian presidential spokesman said President Bola Tinubu had not given approval for the yacht, whose allocation was provided under the Nigerian Navy’s budget.

The country’s National Assembly recently confirmed that more than 460 federal lawmakers will each get SUVs — reportedly worth more than $150,000 each — which, they said, would enable them to do their work better. Local media reported that the lawmakers have started receiving the vehicles.

“All of this speaks to the gross insensitivity of the Nigerian political class and the growing level of impunity we have in the country,” said Oluseun Onigbinde, who founded Nigerian fiscal transparency group BudgIT.

The allocations reminded many Nigerians of the economic inequality in a country where politicians earn huge salaries while essential workers like doctors and academics often go on strike to protest meager wages. 

Consultants, who are among the best-paid doctors in Nigeria, earn around $500 a month. After several strikes this year, civil servants got the government to raise their minimum wage to $67 a month, or four cents an hour.

Such steep expenditure on cars in a country where surging public debt is eating up much of the government’s dwindling revenues show its “lack of priorities” and raises questions about the lack of scrutiny in the government’s budget process and spending, said Kalu Aja, a Nigerian financial analyst.

Kingsley Ujam, a trader working at the popular Area 1 market in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja, said he struggles to feed his family and has lost hope in the government to provide for their needs.

“They (elected officials) are only there for their pockets,” said Ujam.

It is not the first time Nigerian officials are being accused of wasting public funds. 

That tradition must stop, beginning with the president “making sacrifices for the nation, especially as vulnerable people in the country are struggling to make ends meet,” said Hamzat Lawal, who leads the Connected Development group advocating for public accountability in Nigeria.

He added that Nigeria must strengthen anti-corruption measures and improve governance structures for the country to grow and for citizens to live a better life. “We must also make public offices less attractive so people do not believe it is an avenue to get rich,” he said.

While Nigeria is Africa’s top oil producer, chronic corruption and government mismanagement have left the country heavily reliant on foreign loans and aid, while at least 60% of its citizens live in poverty.

Austerity measures introduced by the newly elected president have drastically cut incomes and caused more hardship for millions already struggling with record inflation.



Nigerian naira hits record black market low - abokiFx

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ABUJA, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Nigeria's naira hit a record low of 1,300 per dollar on the black market on Thursday, online platform abokiFX showed, driven by thin trading volumes on the parallel market and dollar shortages on the official market.

The naira has been in free fall on the unofficial market, where it trades freely, after currency restrictions were lifted on the official market.

Last month, the currency slid past 1,000 naira per dollar on the black market and has continued to weaken.

On Monday, central bank governor Yemi Cardoso said the naira will adjust once rules for market participants are made clear.

Finance Minister Wale Edun also said on Monday that Nigeria was expecting $10 billion in foreign currency inflows in the next few weeks to improve foreign exchange market liquidity.

He said, without elaborating, that the inflows would come from the issuance of instruments in dollars, oil sales and foreign investments.

On the official market, the naira recovered to 775 to the dollar from a record low of 999 it touched last week.

The prospect of foreign exchange inflows has slowed naira's depreciation on the official market, one trader said. It kept losing ground, however, on the black market due to thin trading.

Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha Editing by Tomasz Janowski


Nigeria wins bid to overturn $11 bln damages for collapsed gas deal

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By Sam Tobin

Nigeria on Monday hailed a landmark victory after it won its bid to overturn an $11 billion damages bill for a collapsed gas project, in a case a judge at London's High Court said exemplified the ravages of greed and corruption.

Africa's most populous country had previously been ordered to pay the sum – representing around a third of its foreign exchange reserves – to Process & Industrial Developments (P&ID), a company based in the British Virgin Islands.

But Judge Robin Knowles found that P&ID had paid bribes to a Nigerian oil ministry official in connection with the gas contract signed in 2010, and had failed to disclose this when it later took Nigeria to arbitration over the collapse of the deal.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu described the judgment as a blow against economic malpractice and the exploitation of Africa.

"Nation states will no longer be held hostage by economic conspiracies between private firms and solitarily corrupt officials," he said in a statement.

The ruling is a major boost for Africa's biggest economy, which is saddled with mounting debt, high inflation and unemployment.

"The economic prospects of an entire country have been held hostage by a tainted arbitral award that was built on bribes and lies," said campaign group Spotlight on Corruption.

In 2017, an arbitration tribunal had awarded P&ID $6.6 billion for lost profit after its 20-year contract to construct and operate a gas processing plant in southern Nigeria had fallen apart.

The sum had since swelled with interest to over $11 billion, representing 10 times the country's 2019 health budget.


However, Nigeria's lawyers went to court to overturn the award, saying P&ID had bribed senior officials to obtain the contract and corrupted the country's lawyers to obtain confidential documents during the arbitration. P&ID denied this and accused Nigeria of institutional incompetence.

But Knowles allowed Nigeria's challenge, writing that the case showed what some people would do for money, "driven by greed and prepared to use corruption; giving no thought to what their enrichment would mean in terms of harm for others".

The judge said a further hearing would take place to decide whether to send the case back to arbitration or ditch the $11 billion award without further delay.

Lawyers representing P&ID said the firm was disappointed and considering steps available to it.

In a rare rebuke, the judge said two British lawyers who stood to receive astronomical sums had Nigeria been forced to pay the $11 billion-plus bill had misconducted themselves out of greed.

Trevor Burke, an eminent criminal barrister and a nephew of P&ID's co-founder, would have received $850 million while Seamus Andrew, who represented P&ID during the arbitration, would have received up to $3 billion.

Both received confidential Nigerian documents during the arbitration that they knew they were not entitled to see, the judge found. Their decision to say nothing and not to return the documents was "indefensible", he wrote.

They did so "because of the money they hoped to make" and gave untruthful evidence about it, Knowles added, referring his ruling to legal standards regulators.

Burke and Andrew said in separate statements they did not accept the judge's criticisms and believed they would be exonerated by the regulators.