Widespread pressure has led the presidency to suspend a proposed currency restructuring exercise, which would have introduced a N5,000 ($32) banknote. The presidency took a U-turn on the policy after endorsing it only a few weeks ago. Reuben Abati, Special Adviser to the president on Media and Publicity, said: "The introduction is being suspended for now to enable the CBN [Central Bank of Nigeria] to do more enlightenment on the issue and in order to give the central bank time to sell the idea to the public”.
Around 400 female pilgrims from Nigeria who arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for the yearly Hajj have been detained by Saudi authorities. The issue relates to the request by Saudi authorities to see each pilgrim’s muharram, the approved male companion accompanying her on the trip (usually a husband, father or brother). Those who could not produce their muharram were promptly detained and threatened with deportation. The spiritual leader of Nigeria's Muslims, the Sultan of Sokoto, described the treatment of the Nigerian pilgrims as “an insult to Nigeria and to this country’s millions of Muslims” and denied that that the issue of a muharram was raised prior to the pilgrimage.
Nigeria’s commercial real estate sector has continued to grow with private companies investing billions of naira into the development of retail malls in major cities. Actis Nigeria, for example, invested $100 million in the development of the Ikeja City Mall, Capital Alliance is in the process of executing a N5 billion joint ($30 million) venture project with Mansard to build a mall in Victoria Island, Lagos, while Artee Group is planning to open 100 shopping outlets in Nigeria.
President Goodluck Jonathan and his delegation of high-level government officials arrived in New York on Sunday to attend the 67th General Assembly of the United Nations. Jonathan is set to deliver a joint presentation with the Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway at a meeting on the rule of law with Jonathan also attending the Secretary-General’s High-Level event on the eradication of polio and a reception to be hosted by US president Barack Obama.
Flights have resumed after a three-day suspension of Arik Air, Nigeria's largest domestic airline. The Air Transport Service Senior Staff Association (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) protested over the debt it owes the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria. A meeting between government and Chris Ndulue, Managing Director and Vice President of Arik Air, enabled progress and Ndulue stated after the meeting: "We have been able to resolve all the issues and we are happy to announce we are resuming operations".
Even before the much-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) has been heard by the senate, various interest groups have begun lobbying to postpone it and altogether prevent its passing. The bill, which aims to transform the fortunes of the inefficient and debt-ridden Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) into a more lucrative organisation, has been on the horizon for the past two years.
The PIB was stalled by the last political administration but the current Minister of Petroleum Diezani Alison-Madueke reviewed it and issued amendments. Discussion of a draft bill will soon take place in the senate. Some Northern groups feel the bill reflects a regional bias. With their numerical advantage in the Nigerian Upper House, they are more than capable of preventing the PIB from being passed. Others feel that the increased powers of the minister of petroleum over issues such as oil block allocations and joint venture agreements are dangerous and unwarranted. The sharing formula and onshore/offshore dichotomy could prove to be stumbling blocks. Large multi-national oil corporations are said to be wary of the new bill and could use whatever power at their disposal to stop the progression of the bill. Leaked US embassy cables report that staff from the company Shell had infiltrated every layer of government.
But if Nigeria is serious about the development of its hydrocarbon industry, reform initiatives like this must take priority. The country is losing millions of dollars per day in investment – something unacceptable given the widespread difficulties of its people.
On Monday, the senate announced that it had received a total of 57 requests for the creation of new states within the country. Whilst the Igbo ethnic group appear to have the most credible claims – the south-east region is underrepresented with 5 instead of 6 states – one must wonder what has driven the other requests. Federal allocations, which are shared between states, often comprise billions of dollars – this provides a financial reason for areas to try to form new states. In doing so, they would be eligible for a dedicated portion of a national budget. But state-creation is a short-term option that shouldn’t be favoured. It is no substitute for sustainable development.
‘Why we need the N5,000 note’ by Odilim Enwegbara attempts to justify the introduction of the N5,000 note by the Central Bank of Nigeria. While many reactions to its proposed introduction have been negative, the writer puts forward a strong argument as to why it would improve the lives of Nigerians and same time work in tandem with the new cashless policy. Various monetary and economic arguments are explored as he delves between history, Central Bank policies and the general population needs.
‘Lagos-Ibadan Expressway: Time to rest the controversy’ by Dada Jackson looks the many issues surrounding the reconstruction of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. Various contracts have been awarded for this vital link into the Nigerian ‘hinterland’ yet the road still poses as a death trap which claims many lives each year. The writer attempts to understand the bottlenecks and the hindrances that have stalled this project while extensively taking the reader through the process that has led to its current state of inactivity.
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