Thursday, December 31, 2015

Video - Nigeria begins countdown to 2016

Billions worldwide are preparing to welcome the New Year. But where in Africa should you go to party? Our correspondents across the continent have been searching for the best New Year's Eve venue. Here's where you should be if you are in Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari ready to negotiate with Boko Haram for 200 kidnapped schoolgirls

Nigeria's president has said he is prepared to negotiate with Boko Haram militants to secure the release of about 200 schoolgirls.

Muhammadu Buhari said that if a credible Boko Haram leadership could be identified then he was prepared to talk with them without preconditions.

But he said he had no intelligence on the girls' whereabouts or their health.

Boko Haram seized the girls from their dormitories in the north-eastern town of Chibok in April 2014.

"If a credible leader of Boko Haram can be established and they tell us where those girls are, we are prepared to negotiate with them, without any precondition," said Mr Buhari.

Attempts to negotiate with Boko Haram during the rule of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan failed because officials were talking to the wrong people in the fragmented militant group.

BBC Nigeria analyst Naziru Mikailu says this is not the first time that Mr Buhari has offered to revive talks, but there is little prospect of the militants agreeing.

The militants regard the girls as their most invaluable captives and their leader, Abubakar Shekau, said last year that most of them had converted to Islam and had been married off.

Some Nigerians on social media expressed anger at the president for saying the government had no idea where the girls were being held, saying it indicated a failure of the intelligence services.

Mr Buhari took office in May with a promise to defeat the group, and gave the military a deadline of the end of the year to end the six-year insurgency.

Last week, he told the BBC that government forces had "technically won the war" against the Islamists.

Although Boko Haram has been driven out from most of the areas it controlled in north-eastern Nigeria, it has continued to carry out suicide bombings and raids into neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

The military has managed to free hundreds of Boko Haram captives in recent months.

However, they did not include any of the Chibok girls.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Video - Calabar carnival in Nigeria

Hundreds of brightly coloured dancers and drummers have been taking part in Nigeria's Calabar Carnival. [TAKE VO] Its been described as Africa's Biggest Street Party. The 12-kilometre carnival walk had participants from Nigeria's different communities, as well as some performers from abroad.

Monday, December 28, 2015

A wave of suicide bombings hit Nigeria

A wave of attacks by female suicide bombers in north-eastern Nigeria has killed more than 50 people.

In the latest blasts two bombers struck a market in the town of Madagali in Adamawa state, an army official said. More than 25 people were killed.

In neighbouring Borno state, several attacks in Maiduguri killed more than 30 people and injured over 100.

Last week, Nigeria's leader said the war against Islamist Boko Haram militants had been "technically won".

The attacks are being blamed on the group.

The BBC's Abdullahi Kaura Abubakar in the capital, Abuja, says Boko Haram jihadists appear to be trying to prove that they can still inflict widespread destruction.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office in May promising to defeat the group, told the BBC last week that the militants could no longer mount "conventional attacks" against security forces or population centres.

It had been reduced to fighting with improvised explosives devices (IEDs), he said.

The twin suicide blasts in Madagali were confirmed by the Adamawa state military chief, Brig-Gen Victor Ezugwu.

Maina Ularamu, a community leader and former local government chairman, told AFP two female suicide bombers killed at least 30 people.

'Fired indiscriminately'

Further north, during an attack on Dawari village on the outskirts of Maiduguri, security forces had intervened and killed 10 suicide bombers, spokesman Col Mustapha Anka said.

Residents said militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades drove into the village in trucks and began firing indiscriminately.

Muhammad Kanar, from the National Emergency Management Agency, told the BBC the injured had been taken to three hospitals in the city for treatment.

Hours later a female suicide bomber killed one person as people queued in the morning by a mosque in the city.

A resident in Maiduguri's Ushari Bulabulin district, who asked not to be named, told the BBC Hausa Service: "People were being scanned before they were allowed to pass, and she went into the middle of the gathering. She killed one person and injured six or seven...

"We cannot see the lower part of her body - the bomb must have completely destroyed the lower part of her body," he said.

The military has not commented on the latest attack on the mosque, which is believed to be about a kilometre from the village.

Boko Haram's six-year insurgency in north-eastern Nigeria has led to the deaths of some 17,000 people, destroyed more than 1,000 schools and displaced more than 1.5 million people.

It has been described as one of the world's deadliest terror groups.

Only a few days ago, Islamic State, to whom Boko Haram is affiliated, said its West Africa division had launched more than 100 attacks - killing more than 1,000 people - over the past two months, the Site Intelligence Group, with monitors jihadist websites, reported.

Critics of the government argue that it has exaggerated the scale of its success against the militants, and that each time the army claims to have wiped out Boko Haram, the militants have quietly rebuilt.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Video - Human rights group accuses Nigerian military of killing unarmed children

According to the Human Rights Watch, Nigerian soldiers fired on unarmed Shiite children with no provocation before unjustified raids that killed hundreds. The charges come as the guardian of Nigeria's estimated 80 million-plus Muslims, Sultan Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar of Sokoto, warned the government against actions that could radicalize other Muslims in a country that has already lost 20,000 lives to the Boko Haram Islamist uprising.

Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday it doubts the Nigerian military's version of events which claims that raids over three days on three Shiite locations in northern Zaria town followed an attempted assassination of the army chief.

Boko Haram 'technically defeated' according to President Buhari

Nigeria has "technically won the war" against Islamist Boko Haram militants, President Muhammadu Buhari says.

He told the BBC that the militant group could no longer mount "conventional attacks" against security forces or population centres.

It had been reduced to fighting with improvised explosives devices (IED) and remained a force only in its heartland of Borno state, he said.

Boko Haram has been described as one of the world's deadliest terror groups.

Critics of the government argue that it has exaggerated the scale of its success against the militants, and that each time the army claims to have wiped out Boko Haram, the militants have quietly rebuilt.

President Buhari has given the army until the end of this year to defeat the group - a deadline that is likely to be extended as Boko Haram is still bombing some areas despite losing towns under its control.

But he told the BBC that the jihadists had been all but driven out from Adamawa and Yobe states, and their way of operating curtailed.

"Boko Haram has reverted to using improvised explosive devices (IEDs)," he said. "Indoctrinating young guys... they have now been reduced to that.

"But articulated conventional attacks on centres of communication and populations.. they are no longer capable of doing that effectively.

"So I think technically we have won the war because people are going back into their neighbourhoods. Boko Haram as an organised fighting force, I assure you, that we have dealt with them."

Only a few days ago, Islamic State, to whom Boko Haram is affiliated, said its West Africa division had launched more than 100 attacks - killing more than 1,000 people - over the past two months, the Site Intelligence Group, with monitors jihadist websites, reported.

Bokon Haram has also broadened its threat to neighbouring countries, around the Lake Chad region. It reportedly killed five people in a raid in Niger earlier this week.

Mr Buhari said that Nigeria had reorganised and reequipped the military, which had received training from the British, the Americans and the French.

A key priority for the government now, he said, is to rebuild infrastructure and help all displaced people to return to their homes.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Video - Nigeria clothing label AGAMA launches in Toronto, Canada

A behind the scenes look of a photo-shoot in Toronto, Canada for Nigeria clothing label Agama.

Video - British government to support Nigeria military force with training

The British government says it will double its support for Nigeria's fight against Boko Haram by deploying more British forces to the West African nation. British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said that the forces will not engage in any combat role but instead provide training. The support comes at a time when Nigerian troops are making a final push into the Boko Haram stronghold of the Sambisa forest in the country's Northeast Borno State.

Nigeria gives MTN December 31 deadline to pay $3.9billion fine

Nigeria will enforce a Dec. 31 deadline for MTN Group Ltd. to pay a $3.9 billion fine even after Africa’s biggest wireless operator said it would challenge the penalty in a Lagos court, according to a spokesman for the communications ministry.

“MTN has the right to seek the court’s interpretation if it feels unsatisfied with the action of the regulator but nothing would stop the government action on the fine,” Victor Oluwadamilare, the spokesman for Communications Minister Adebayo Shittu, said in an e-mailed response to questions on Tuesday. Nigeria won’t consider an extension to the deadline, he said.

MTN said Dec. 17 it will ask the court to rule on the fine, saying that the penalty wasn’t within the powers of the country’s telecommunications regulator to impose. The Johannesburg-based company’s shares have declined 26% since the fine was made public almost two months ago. They gained 4.5% to R141.16 by the close in the city, valuing the company at R261 billion ($17.1 billion).

The Nigerian communications regulator imposed the penalty on MTN for failing to meet a deadline to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered subscribers as security agencies seek to fight crime in a country with poor identity records. The initial fine of $5.2 billion was reduced by 25% earlier this month following talks with the regulator led by MTN Chairman Phuthuma Nhleko. MTN has said it continues to engage with the Nigerian authorities even as it seeks a resolution in court.

Oluwadamilare declined to comment on what will happen if MTN misses the deadline, although Lagos-based newspaper Vanguard cited Communications Minister Shittu as saying another fine could be imposed. MTN spokesman Chris Maroleng didn’t immediately return a phone call or text message seeking comment.


Nigerian military killed hundreds of Shiites in raid according to Human Rights Watch

Nigerian soldiers fired on unarmed Islamic Shiite children with no provocation in raids that killed hundreds of the minority group in the West African nation, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

The charges come as the guardian of Nigeria's estimated 80 million-plus Muslims, Sultan Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar of Sokoto, warned the government against actions that could further radicalize Muslims in a country that already has lost 20,000 lives to the Boko Haram Islamic uprising.

Human Rights Watch said it doubts the Nigerian military's version that raids over three days on three Shiite locations in northern Zaria town followed an attempted assassination of the army chief.

Nigeria's military said the raids Dec. 12 through Dec. 14 came after Shiites tried to block the convoy of Gen. Tukur Buratai.

"It is almost impossible to see how a roadblock by angry young men could justify the killings of hundreds of people. At best it was a brutal overreaction and at worst it was a planned attack on the minority Shia group," said the Africa director of Human Rights Watch, Daniel Bekele.

The New York-based group said the army's version "just doesn't stack up."

As many as 1,000 people may have been killed, rights activists say, sparking protests in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north that spread to Tehran, the Iranian capital, and New Delhi in India.

Witnesses at the Husainniyah spiritual center said dozens of soldiers took up positions by the mosque at around midday on December 12, 2015, at least an hour before the army chief of staff was due to pass by, according to Human Rights Watch. Video footage shot by sect members and posted on YouTube appears to show soldiers calmly setting up before the shootings began.

Without provocation, the soldiers fired on people coming out of the mosque, initially killing five people and injuring others, including children attending classes at the center, according to Human Rights Watch, which said it interviewed many witnesses separately at locations in Kaduna and Zaria, on December 17 and 18.

A 14-year-old girl attending a math class in the mosque complex said that she was shot as she walked out of the center with other children, according to Human Rights Watch.

The Shiite group's leader, Iran-influenced Ibraheem Zakzaky who dresses like an ayatollah, suffered four bullet wounds, according to the family doctor, and is among scores detained.

Shiites wounded in the attacks are dying in military and police detention because they are being denied medical care, the Shiite Islamic Movement in Nigeria said Tuesday.

Kaduna state police Wednesday released 83 people including 34 children arrested in "the Zaria clash," according to Samuel Aruwan, spokesman for Gov. Nasir El-Rufai.

Another 191 suspects have been charged with offences including obstruction of highways, possession of weapons and attacking security agents, he said.

Ibrahim Musa, a spokesman for the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, charged Kaduna state government has taken over from the military in destroying property of the movement, estimated to have 3 million followers. A school and cemetery were bulldozed Monday, he said.

The leader of Nigeria's Muslims warned against violence targeting peaceful Muslims. "The history of the circumstances that engendered the outbreak of militant insurgency in the past, with cataclysmic consequences that Nigeria is yet to recover from, should not be allowed to repeat itself," Abubakar, president of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, said Monday.

Boko Haram re-emerged as a much more violent entity after security forces attacked their mosque and compound and killed about 700 people in 2009 including leader Mohammed Yusuf, a breakaway follower of Zakzaky.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Video - Fishermen in Nigeria losing livelihood

For generations, fishing and river transportation have been the key economic drivers of the central Nigerian town of Lokoja.

But those sources of income are drying up fast.

Video - Nigeria to invest $25 million in development

Authorities in Nigeria are working towards decongesting major cities by completing half-built roads and bridges. But this has done little to ease the manic in the short term. Most commuters in Lagos have to leave their homes at the crack of dawn in order to get to work on time.

Nigeria bans use of its credit cards overseas

Nigeria's central bank has ordered commercial banks to stop customers from using their debit and credit cards abroad, a source has told the BBC.

One bank has emailed customers to this effect, stressing it is a "temporary measure".

Access to foreign online retailers will also be affected when the ban takes effect on 1 January 2016.

It is part of the government's effort to try to stem the flow of foreign exchange out of the country.

The unofficial value of the Nigerian currency, the naira, has plunged because of the fall in the oil price - its main export.

Africa's largest economy has spent billions of dollars propping up the currency since it fixed the exchange rate in February and tightened trading rules to curb speculation.

It is not clear how many people will be affected by the latest measure but the BBC's Bashir Sa'ad Abdullahi in the capital, Abuja, says wealthy Nigerians travel abroad regularly and use their local cards for shopping and other transactions.

Some top-end shops in London have signs in Hausa to cater for the large number of Nigerian customers.

One of the banks, Standard Chartered, has emailed its customers notifying them of the ban.

n June, the central bank banned businesses from accessing hard currency to import about 40 items.

The list included Indian incense, plastic and rubber products, soap and even private jets.

The amount that Nigerians could spend on credit cards abroad has already been reduced by the banks.


Nigeria to review mining licences

Nigeria will review all its mining licences as its wants to overhaul a largely unproductive sector dominated by artisan miners, the mining ministry said on Monday.

The West African nation wants to lower dependency on oil production as crude prices tumble and boost output of solid minerals that contribute only 0.34 percent to GDP, according to official data.

Africa's largest economy has some gold and iron deposits but little seismic data exists as the government has focused on oil exploration in the past decades.

To make a sector 80 percent dominated by artisan miners more efficient, mining minister Kayode Fayemi said all licences would be reviewed by March 1, according to a statement.

"We will work with stakeholders to review existing licenses and bring them up to date where there are issues," he said in the statement, his first policy comments since taking office last month. "The period from today to 1st March 2016 should be considered an amnesty period to allow regularisation of papers."

He said Nigeria had 44 known minerals including gold, iron ore, bitumen, zinc, tin and coal but authorities needed to get better data before deciding on a policy focus.

Nigeria has attracted few foreign investors to the mining sector due to a lack of roads, corruption and weak regulation.


Friday, December 18, 2015

Video - Shi'ite muslims in Nigeria claim military attacked due to protest

Nigerian activists are accusing the government of massacring hundreds of Shia Muslims in Zaria, a city in Nigeria's north, over the course of three days from Sunday through Tuesday. The alleged catalyst was a Saturday protest by the radical Shia group Islamic Movement. It devolved into conflict after a Nigerian general's car was hit by a projectile. The Nigerian government interpreted this as an assassination attempt and launched an offensive targeting the group.

Video - Nigerians feel pressure of ban on low cost generators

Nigeria's government recently placed a ban on the importation of low cost generators, one of the most affordable and readily available alternative sources of power in the commercial capital Lagos.

Related story: Video - Nigeria banning importation of electric generator

Nigeria no longer has resources to fund oil industry

The Federal Government stated, yesterday, that the country no longer has the resources to fund the oil and gas industry, and is therefore, considering and developing new models of financing the industry in the days ahead.

Speaking at a town hall meeting in Abuja, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, said in January 2016 the final decision on the fate of the country’s refineries would likely be made, while it had also concluded arrangement to adopt a price modulation mechanism that would see it setting a price ceiling of between N87 and N97 per litre for Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, also known as petrol.

Kachikwu, who doubles as the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, also disclosed that he had received the Presidency’s approval to commence the final phase of the restructuring of the NNPC, which would see the corporation unbundled into four components, while about 1,100 of NNPC headquarters’ staff would be disengaged.

On the issue of paucity of funds, Kachikwu said: “Financing is going to be a key component of our goal, because new models of financing would have to emerge. The country does not have the sort of resources to continue to fund the oil industry. As we go upstream, we are going to begin to see a lot of innovative financing mechanism to provide funding for the oil industry.

“My dream, if I achieve it, is that by the end of 2016, we would completely exit cash calls and be able to find ways to help support our business and get a lot more autonomy in terms of running the industry and report, basically, profit to the Federal Government.”

Unbundling of NNPC into four companies

He added that the unbundling process would see the NNPC broken down into four key components, namely: the upstream company, downstream company, the midstream company, which is gas and power marketing, and the refining group holding company.

He further stated that one of the major restructuring efforts would be in making the headquarters operations cost effective, hence, about more than half of its 2,200 core headquarters staff would be whittled down, with a lot of the affected staff assigned to the subsidiaries to help make the units more efficient and profitable.

“This is because we have very strong subsidiaries; some of them have not even taken off. We want to put a lot of energy around units that can generate profit for us and hopefully, collectively, we are going to take the entire industry along that line,” he said.

In addition, Kachikwu stated that come January 2016, strategic decisions would be made in terms of what areas of the country’s refineries would be closed to allow for full re-kitting before reopening them for operations, while it would also be considering the best operating model for the refineries.

He said: “Ultimately, technical support, technical services, and technical joint venturing would also be models. We would be looking at and reviewing in terms of the refineries. The whole idea is find the funds, find the right skills that you need, support the skills that you have and try to give out, real-time, above 90 per cent consistent performance in refining.”

On fuel subsidy removal

On the issue of fuel subsidy removal and subsequent hike in the price of PMS, also called petrol, Kachikwu stressed that at no point did he say subsidy would be removed, adding that instead, a flexible management of the pricing system would be introduced to ensure that we are as close to what the prices of petrol are today, but also to ensure they are reflective of what the price of crude is.

“One thing we are very committed to next year, is to reduce the level of Federal Government subsidy, if any, to the industry, so that the industry can grow on its own strength. We can do that without the mechanism of saying subsidy is being removed or whatever, but have a benchmark approach to setting prices. We are going to see a lot more quarterly type analysis of what prices would go for the downstream industry, relative to the price of crude oil.

“The report that fuel is going to sell for N97 was not correct. I did not say refined products will sell for N97. I said between a band of N87 and N97 per litre, we are going to be looking at prices. Today, the prices are largely close to N87, so there might be no need to change prices.

“By January 23 it may go up slightly; March it may go up slightly too; by April it may come down. It is all a dynamics of what the price of crude is. I have not put an exact figure. I and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, will sit down and do those calculations to be able to announce what price PMS will sell for in January. We do not anticipate any major shift because of the price of crude today.”

NPDC to get marginal fields, targets 2.4mbpd in 2016

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources also disclosed that the Federal Government was considering allocating a number of marginal oil fields to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, if it performs creditably, so as to help it increase its crude oil reserves base.

He also disclosed that a much more focused audit would be conducted on the operations and activities of the NPDC, to ascertain its asset base and also determine whether it is increasing or depleting its reserves.

On the part of the NNPC financials, he said, “Most of the management accounts up to 2014 are fairly finished; we are now looking at external audits. Audits were last done in 2010. We have brought the management accounts up to current; the external audits are ongoing; the 2012 to 2014 audits we expect would be done by March next year, which would bring us likely current.

“And, hopefully, next year, we will also finish the 2015 audit which will bring us right where we should be. So by June or July, we should have, quite frankly, all the results that NNPC needs.”

Kachikwu further maintained that the focus of the Federal Government was to get the NNPC back to profitability to ensure the sustenance of the company, while it is also targeting an increase of Nigeria crude oil production to 2.4 million per day in 2016.


Shell facing tens of billions in damages over oil spills in Nigeria

A Dutch appeals court has ruled that Royal Dutch Shell can be held liable for oil spills at its subsidiary in Nigeria, potentially opening the way for other compensation claims against the multinational.

Judges in The Hague ordered Shell to make available to the court documents that might shed light on the cause of the oil spills and whether leading managers were aware of them.

A lower Dutch court in 2013 had found that Shell's Dutch-based parent company could not be held liable for leakages of oil at its Nigerian subsidiary.

The legal dispute dates back to 2008 when four Nigerian farmers and campaign group Friends of the Earth filed suit against the oil company in the Netherlands, where its global headquarters is based.

"Shell can be taken to court in the Netherlands for the effects of the oil spills," the court ruling stated. "Shell is also ordered to provide access to documents that could shed more light on the cause of the leaks."

The case will continue to be heard in March 2016.

Judge Hans van der Klooster said the court had also found that it "has jurisdiction in the case against Shell and its subsidiary in Nigeria".

Shell's Nigerian subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC), said: "We are disappointed the Dutch court has determined it should assume international jurisdiction over SPDC.

"We believe allegations concerning Nigerian plaintiffs in dispute with a Nigerian company, over issues which took place within Nigeria, should be heard in Nigeria."

Shell has always blamed sabotage for the leaks, which under Nigerian law would mean it is not liable to pay compensation. But the Dutch court said: "It is too early to assume that the leaks were caused by sabotage."

In January 2013, the district court in The Hague ruled that one of the farmers in the original suit was eligible for compensation from Shell's Nigerian division for spills on his land in the Niger Delta, the heart of the country's oil industry.

The farmer appealed over whether the parent company should also be liable.

Friends of the Earth Netherlands director Geert Ritsema said Friday's ruling meant the three other farmers could proceed with claims for compensation for lost income resulting from spills.

"There are 6,000km of Shell pipelines and thousands of people living along them in the Niger Delta," he said. "Other people in Nigeria can bring cases and that could be tens of billions of euros in damages."

In a separate case, Shell agreed in January to pay £55m in an out-of-court compensation for two oil spills in Nigeria in 2008 after agreeing a settlement with the affected community in the Delta.

The Telegraph

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Video - Anti-Boko Haram force short of finances

Plans for a multinational force to tackle Boko Haram are in trouble. Thousands of troops from countries including Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon were to team up to fight the ISIL-affiliated group. But the Nigerian presidency, says there's no money to pay for the force.

Top 2015 google searches in Nigeria

Google revealed its annual Zeitgeist, a look at 2015 through the collective eyes of the world on the web, offering a unique perspective on the year’s major events and hottest trends based on searches conducted in South Africa and globally.

While South Africa was a high-point when it came to Google searches, we now take a look at the various many searches that Nigerian consumers had searched for over the course of 2015.

Top 10 Most Searched Fashion Brands
1. Gucci
2. Chanel
3. Versace
4. Michael Kors
5. Louis Vuitton
6. Armani
7. Prada
8. Cartier
9. Tom Ford
10. Givenchy

Top 10 Trending Event Searches
1. Xenophobia in South Africa
2. Elections
3. Nnamdi Kanu arrest
4. Under 17 World Cup
5. Charlie Hebdo attack
6. Mayweather vs. Pacquiao
7. Muna Obiekwe dead
8. Ooni of Ife dead
9. Lara Fortes & Oshiomole Wedding
10. Diezani Alison-Madueke arrest

Top 10 Most Searched Football Clubs
1. Arsenal FC
2. Chelsea FC
3. FC Barcelona
4. Manchester United FC
5. Liverpool FC
6. Real Madrid FC
7. Real Madrid FC
8. Juventus FC
9. AC Milan
10. Manchester City FC

Top 10 Most Searched People
1. Muna Obiekwe
2. Muhammadu Buhari
3. Lamar Odom
4. Bruce Jenner
5. Bobbi Kristina
6. Nnamdi Kanu
7. Bukola Saraki
8. Jidenna
9. Kiss Daniel
10. Attahiru Jega

Top 10 Most Searched Movies and Series
1. Furious 7
2. 50 Shade of Grey
3. Empire
4. The Flash
5. Game of Thrones
6. Avengers: Age of Ultron
7. 2015 Grammy Awards
8. Straight Outta Compton
9. American Sniper
10. 30 Days in Atlanta

Top 10 Most Searched Songs
1. Melo Melo – Olamide
2.Woju Remix- Kiss Daniel ft. Davido & Tiwa Savage
3. Bobo – Olamide
4. Hello – Adele
5. Woju – Kiss Daniel
6. Shakiti Bobo – Olamide
7. Fans Mi – Davido ft. Meek Mill
8. Godwin – Korede Bello
9. Laye – Kiss Daniel
10. Ojuelegba Remix – Wizkid ft. Drake & Skepta


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Calls for investigation after Nigerian military attack muslim group

Human rights advocates have called for an investigation following the Nigerian army's raid on a Shiite sect in which hundreds of people were reportedly killed.

Details of the weekend violence in Zaria have been slow to emerge, with the three attacked areas of the northern town on lockdown as late as Tuesday, with no one allowed to enter or leave.

Amnesty International said in a statement late Tuesday that the shooting of members of the Shiite group in Zaria "must be urgently investigated ... and anyone found responsible for unlawful killings must be brought to justice."

"Whilst the final death toll is unclear, there is no doubt of that there has been a substantial loss of life at the hands of the military," said M.K. Ibrahim, director of Amnesty International, Nigeria.

The bloodshed was yet another blow to Africa's most populous nation, already beset by a 6-year-old insurgency waged by Boko Haram, a violent Islamic group which is at odds with the Shiites and others who oppose its extremist views.

Spokesman Ibrahim Musa of the Shiite Islamic Movement in Nigeria said soldiers on Monday carried away about 200 bodies from around the home of the head of the sect, Ibraheem Zakzaky — who was himself badly wounded and whose whereabouts have not been disclosed by the authorities — and hundreds more corpses were in the mortuary. Human rights activists said hundreds of people, perhaps as many as 1,000, were killed.

The army said troops attacked sites in Zaria after 500 Shiites blocked the convoy of Nigeria's army chief, and tried to kill him on Saturday. A report from the military police said some Shiites were crawling through tall grass toward Gen. Tukur Buratai's vehicle "with the intent to attack the vehicle with (a) petrol bomb" while others "suddenly resorted to firing gunshots from the direction of the mosque."

In a statement Monday, the army said there was "loss of lives as a result of the Shiite group members blocking roads and not allowing other passers-by to go about their lawful businesses and activities," and added that "as soon as order is restored ... the police will conduct an enquiry and the public will be informed."

Chidi Odinkalu of the Nigerian Human Rights Commission called the attacks "a massacre." The army said it has asked the rights commission to investigate the alleged assassination attempt on the army chief.

Odinkalu told The Associated Press that Zakzaky suffered four bullet wounds and that one of the sect leader's wives was killed in raids that began Saturday and ended Monday morning. He was quoting the family doctor. Two of Zakzaky's sons also were killed and one was wounded, according to Musa.

Odinkalu and other human rights activists said there are hundreds of bodies at the mortuary of the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital on the outskirts of Zaria.

"Citizens must ask, who ordered this carnage?" Odinkalu tweeted.

Outraged Nigerians took to social media to condemn "trigger-happy troops" and "extra-judicial killings."

Iran, seen as the guardian of the Shiite Muslim faith, condemned the killings.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. Iran state TV said Rouhani told Buhari he expects the Nigerian government to compensate families of the dead and injured victims.

Hundreds of Shiites protested in front of the Nigerian embassies in the Iranian and Indian capitals on Tuesday.

Nigeria's Shiites, a movement of millions started 37 years ago by Zakzaky, who dresses in the robes and turban of an Iranian ayatollah, often have clashed with police and other security forces over their unlawful blocking of major roads to hold religious processions.

Nigeria's military is infamous for its excesses. In 2009, Nigerian armed forces attacked Boko Haram's headquarters and killed about 700 people, including its leader.

The Shiites two weeks ago suffered a suicide bombing in a procession that killed 22 people. Boko Haram, a Salafist group, claimed responsibility for the attack and threatened to "wipe out" the Shiites opposed to its radical vision of Islam.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Video - Islamic movement in Nigeria says army attacked defenseless people

More details are emerging of this weekend's clash between the Nigerian army and a minority Muslim group in the country's north. The army claims the group, known as the Islamic Movement, tried to assassinate its chief of staff. The group's denied that and says the army killed hundreds of its followers. A local hospital says it has at least 60 bodies in its morgue.

Former national security adviser Sambo Dasuki charged over $68 million fraud

Nigeria's ex-national security adviser has appeared in court, charged over an alleged $68m fraud.

Sambo Dasuki was charged on 19 counts of fraud, money laundering and criminal breach of trust at the high court in the capital Abuja.

He pleaded not guilty on all counts.

Mr Dasuki is accused of illegally transferring $50m from the national security budget to fund election campaigns for members of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan's party.

President Muhammadu Buhari ordered his arrest two weeks ago, after a government investigation alleged that $2bn (£1.3bn) meant to buy arms to fight Boko Haram had gone missing.

He is the most senior official to be arrested as a result of an investigation into arms procurement during the administration of Mr Jonathan, defeated by Mr Buhari in the March 2015 elections.

A government investigation found that Sambo Dasuki had awarded "ghost contracts" to buy 12 helicopters and four fighter jets which never materialised. He also denies those allegations.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Video - Nigerian government to give $25 a month to jobless Nigerians in 2016

Unemployed youth in Nigeria are due to start receiving 5000 Naira, just about 25 dollars a month, if the government's compensation plan for 2016 is approved. An estimated 40 million youth can't find work in Nigeria and the government says it will start paying the monthly stipend besides its attempts at creating employment opportunities.

Leader of the Islamic movement in Nigeria Sheikh Zakzaky wife and son killed

Nigeria's main Shia Muslim sect says the wife and son of its leader have been killed in clashes with the military in the northern Kaduna state.

The clashes came after allegations that members of the sect had attempted to assassinate Nigeria's army chief.

The leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, was also arrested in his home.

The IMN denies the allegation, and says soldiers killed at least 20 of its members.

The army says members of the sect attempted to assassinate its chief of staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, on Saturday when his motorcade was passing through a Shia procession.

But the IMN says the Nigerian army opened fire on their members.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission said on Sunday that before Sheikh Zakzaky's arrest, the military had parked two tanks outside his home.

The sect alleges that Sheikh Zakzaky's wife, Zeenat Ibraheem, was killed, along with the couple's son Sayyid Ibraheem Zakzak.

Last year, three of Sheikh Zakzaky's sons were killed in clashes between the army and pilgrims in a procession.

The group wants to set up an Islamic republic and has frequently clashed with the army.

It is also opposed to the Sunni Muslim jihadist group, Boko Haram, which recently attacked its members.

Boko Haram condemns Shias as heretics who should be killed.

In November, a suicide bomber killed at least 21 people in an attack on a Shia Muslim procession in Kano state.

Most of Nigeria's Muslims are Sunnis, and there are underlying tensions between them and Shia Muslims, correspondents say.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Former Nigerian minister Okonjo-Iweala dragged into $2 billion scandal

One of Nigeria’s highest profile and best-regarded former government ministers Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is caught up in a widening $2 billion arms procurement scandal which has already led to the arrest of the former national security adviser with former state governors, businessmen and the governor of the central bank also roped in.

Okonjo-Iweala, a former World Bank vice president, who was once in the running for the insititution’s presidency, had been at the heart of the, now tainted, Goodluck Jonathan presidency in the powerful dual role of minister of finance and coordinating minister of economy. She is one of the few ex-members of Jonathan’s government with much credibility on the global stage.

One of Nigeria’s highest profile and best-regarded former government ministers Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is caught up in a widening $2 billion arms procurement scandal which has already led to the arrest of the former national security adviser with former state governors, businessmen and the governor of the central bank also roped in.

Okonjo-Iweala, a former World Bank vice president, who was once in the running for the insititution’s presidency, had been at the heart of the, now tainted, Goodluck Jonathan presidency in the powerful dual role of minister of finance and coordinating minister of economy. She is one of the few ex-members of Jonathan’s government with much credibility on the global stage.

Having come under fire for her involvement in the transfer of funds to the national security adviser with little oversight and accountability, the former minister has sought to beat off a specific allegation that she was involved in the illegal diversion of repatriated funds of up to $322 million.

In a statement, Okonjo-Iweala revealed that even though the recovered funds from Abacha’s loot were originally earmarked for development projects, a decision was made by a committee headed by president Jonathan to spend $322 million on security as Nigeria dealt with the rising of the deadly Boko Haram insurgency in the country’s north east. According to Okonjo-Iweala’s statement, the transfer was made with conditions to ensure accountability and repayment. The former minister took to social media to share a copy of the letter she claimed was sent to president Jonathan advising on the need for accountability.

In response, Okonjo-Iweala has been heavily criticized by civil society groups who suggest that regardless of the conditions under which the money was transferred there was little or no accountability. There is no evidence to suggest Okonjo-Iweala herself was responsible for misappropriation of funds but most of the criticism raises questions on whether she could have done more to prevent others doing so.

President Buhari, who hinged his campaign on a strong anti-corruption stance, has already directed that those involved in the scandal be prosecuted and the allegations around the spending of the repatriated funds could damage Okonjo-Iweala’s reputation.

The arms fraud scandal is particularly sensitive for most Nigerians who have been affected by the Boko Haram insurgency. In the last few years, the terror inflicted by the militant sect has led to the death of thousands with millions more displaced and forced to leave under dire conditions in refugee camps. The lack of arms sabotaged the fight for most of the last few years as several reports suggested that troops could not match the firepower of Boko Haram. Despite Nigeria’s long and sad history with high level corruption, the arms fraud scandal is one that is most directly linked to significant and obvious human casualties.

Okonjo-Iweala’s stint with Jonathan’s administration was her second time round serving in government. Former president Obasanjo convinced her to leave the World Bank in 2003 to become minister of finance. When Jonathan asked her to join his cabinet she agreed to do so only on the condition she was given more control of the economy than under Obasanjo.


Related stories: Video - Council want former Finance Minister Okonjo Iweala investigated

Okonjo-Iweala is Africa's finance minister of the year

Fortune magazine lists Okonjo-Iweala in top 50 greatest world leaders

Nigeria signs deal with Chinese firm to train 2000 Nigerians

The federal government on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with leading Chinese technology firm, Huawei, to train 2000 young Nigerians on Information and Communication Technology, ICT.

The MOU provides 2,000 Information and Communication Technology, ICT trainee jobs to young Nigerians next year under the “Huawei’s Seeds for the Future programme.”

“ICT is one of the quickest ways people can get decent jobs, so we think this is absolutely important.

“In the change agenda, how to grow the economy is important, and we want to create ICT hubs and support existing ones. We thank Huawei for this initiative of advancing technology in Nigeria, apart from the job creation itself,” said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Observing the current poor rating of Nigeria in the global rankings of business environments, the Mr. Osinbajo said that the president had already given the task of addressing the challenges of doing business in the country to the minister of Trade, Industry & Investment Minister.

The Vice President said the relationship between Nigeria and China was a strategic one, urging Chinese investors and business leaders to consider Nigeria for manufacturing plants.

He said the Chinese investors “should encourage not just the selling, but also the manufacturing of products in Nigeria.”

According to the Chinese envoy, China is in partnership with the Buhari administration in the “change” agenda, listing the nation’s plans to be involved in such areas like agricultural modernization, industrialization, infrastructure, trade and investment, poverty alleviation, and peace, security, among others.

He added that Huawei hoped to become a strategic partner to the Nigerian government in the future ICT planning and development, and would continue to expand its contributions and training programmes in Nigeria.

The ICT training initiative strives to create a platform to nurture work-ready ICT experts by providing ICT industry-relevant education.

Mr. Osinbajo was joined by the Minister for Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, and his Communications counterpart, Adebayo Shittu, at the ceremony attended by theChinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Gu Xiaojie.

Nigeria’s ministers for Labour and Communications, whose ministries would select the 2000 trainees, signed the MOU on behalf of the federal government, while Mr. Richard Cao, the Vice President of Huawei West Africa, signed for the Chinese Information Communication and Technology firm.

Premium Times

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Video - Informal sector in Nigeria booming amidst slumping oil prices

The Nigerian economy's informal sector is booming amid slumping oil prices. Oil accounts for 95% of foreign income and two thirds of government revenue,. however, low prices have led many entrepreneurs to explore other avenues, with estimates now suggesting the informal sector is creating revenues of 178 billion dollars a year.

Nigeria social media bill draws concens

The International Press Institute (IPI) today expressed concern over the potential chilling effect of a controversial social media bill in Nigeria, urging lawmakers not to approve the measure and welcoming President Muhammadu Buhari’s pledge to veto it if passed.

The “Frivolous Petitions Bill” has drawn controversy for a provision stipulating that anyone who posts an “abusive” statement known to be false with the intent of turning the public against a person, group or government institution via WhatsApp, Twitter or through text message could face up to two years behind bars and two million Nigerian Naira (approximately €9,150) in fines.

Proponents say the bill is necessary to combat the spread of malicious falsehoods, but detractors argue that it would serve to curb free speech and target government critics. The bill, which Nigeria’s Senate advanced beyond a second reading, has been met with strong resistance across Nigeria, spurring a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #NotoSocialMediaBill and leading a presidential spokesperson to declare that Buhari “won’t assent to any legislation that may be inconsistent with the constitution of Nigeria”.

Another troubling provision would require that all petitions or statement intending to report misconduct be accompanied by a sworn affidavit. Failure to submit an affidavit would mean that the complaint could not be used in any official investigation, and the person who made the allegation would then face up to two years in prison and four million Nigerian Naira (approximately €18,300) in fines.

IPI’s Nigerian National Committee in a statement praised Buhari for having “rebuffed the Senate’s bid to lure him into an unwholesome anti-media dragnet” and it called on Nigeria’s Federal House of Representatives to ensure that the bill does not become law.

“Like the mainstream media, social media platforms are in need of self-regulation and should embrace the best practices, but the government cannot resort to regulation by toxic legislation…,” the group said. “The people’s right to free speech is inviolable.”

Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki has responded to the criticism of the bill by saying that the bill would not be passed in its current form and that the Senate would ensure that it did not infringe on Nigerians’ freedom of expression. Potential changes, however, remain to be seen.

IPI Director of Advocacy and Communications Steven M. Ellis urged Nigerian lawmakers reviewing the bill to make sure not only that it complies with free speech protections in the country’s Constitution, but that it also meets international standards on free expression.

“We are extremely concerned that the harm this bill could have on Nigerians’ right to share and receive information in the public interest far outweighs any potential benefit”, he said.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Video - Nigerian refugees say Cameroon troops raided their village

Nigerian villagers fleeing the violence claim they've been attacked - by troops from Cameroon. They say at least 150 villagers people were killed in raids last week. Cameroon's military has denied the claims - though it says it is conducting operations in the area.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Video - Nigeria Lost $1B Per Month Under Goodluck Jonathan

Nigeria's former central bank governor Lamido Sanusi said Africa’s largest economy was losing about $1 billion per month under the previous administration of Goodluck Jonathan due to corruption. Sanusi, who was crowned the emir of Kano state last year, made the remark during a televised interview with PBS NewsHour, which was posted on the network’s YouTube channel Wednesday.

“In Nigeria, there is no accountability at all and that is why I think Nigeria’s corruption is worse than corruption in most parts of the world. It is the worst type of corruption, it’s stealing,” Sanusi told PBS. “Frankly, I think a billion dollars under Jonathan a month was about what we were losing.”

Sanusi lost his job as Central Bank of Nigeria governor in February 2014 after he accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation of failing to remit $20 billion in oil money, according to Pulse Nigeria news site. The allegation, however, led then-President Jonathan to authorize an audit into the accounts of the state-run petroleum firm by PriceWaterhouseCooper. Jonathan ordered the report’s release in April this year, after President-elect Muhammadu Buhari said he would look into the missing funds.

“Just over a year ago President Goodluck Jonathan suspended me from my position as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria after I questioned an estimated $20 billion shortfall in oil revenues due to the treasury from the state oil company,” wrote Sanusi, responding to the report in an op-ed published in the Financial Times in May. “As I said then, you can suspend a man, but you cannot suspend the truth. The publication last month of a PwC audit into the ‘missing billions’ brings us a step closer to it.”

Jonathan’s administration has been repeatedly accused of rampant graft and was perhaps one of the main reasons why the Nigerian president and his longtime ruling Peoples Democratic Party lost re-election in March to Buhari of the opposition All Progressives Congress. Since taking office in late May, Buhari has vowed to clean up corruption and hold accountable those responsible. The former military ruler even asked U.S. President Barack Obama to help trace and recover “mind boggling” amounts of stolen money. In the oil sector alone, $150 billion was believed to have been stolen, according to Bloomberg.

International Business Times 

Related stories: Former Nigeria Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi comments on audit that proves missing $18.5 billion

Video - Sanusi Lamido's TEDx speech - Overcoming the fear of vested interest

Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwuse has been crowned the new Ooni of Ife

A 40-year-old accountant has been crowned the new Ooni of Ife - a revered monarch in south-west Nigeria.

The new king Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi is now one of the most influential among the Yoruba people, Nigeria's second biggest ethnic group, of about 35 million in West Africa.

Tens of thousands celebrated in the city of Ife, AFP reports.

He told the BBC he does not intend to get involved in politics, wants unity and will stand for "forthrightness".

The new king said to the BBC's Umar Shehu Elleman that he doesn't want supremacy among leaders.

Instead "we just want to lead by example, do things right and foster unity," he said.

He said he would "guide the leaders" of the country who he said were "very good people" who needed patience.

"I will lead by example. I will stand on the part of transparency, on the part of forthrightness," he said.

He also revealed his mission to "get to the bottom" of the creation of mankind.

"To the entire world it is still a myth that creation started from Ile-Ife but we will still do the research and make it to be known to be fact".

Mr Ogunwusi was a prince from one of the ruling houses in the Ife kingdom and was selected by kingmakers from 21 candidates, including his older brother.

The previous Ooni of Ife, Oba Sijuwade, died in a London clinic in July aged 85 after a 35-year reign.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

History of the fall of the Naira

Since 1986, the Nigerian naira’s relationship with the US dollar (and other foreign currencies) has been erratic, (un)predictable, violent and full of heartbreak and tears. The built in dysfunction has also made a lot of people very rich.

This piece seeks to trace the history of how Nigeria’s foreign exchange management became what it is to the point where the exchange rate of the naira has become a deeply political matter.

The current debate continues to be around whether or not Nigeria should devalue the naira. But what if devaluation is the answer to a non-existent question?

President Ibrahim Babaginda’s Second-Tier Foreign Exchange Market (SFEM)

In September 1986, the SFEM was introduced as part of a package of IMF reforms that general Babangida was forced to accept given the mess that Nigeria had managed to find itself. Before this, the naira exchanged for something like 90 kobo to $1. By the time IBB left office in 1993, the naira was exchanging for 17 naira to $1. It was during this time that Bureau de Change were introduced into the economy.

The rate at which the naira depreciated in those few years probably explains why Nigerians have never gotten over the idea of a strong currency as the mark of a ‘strong’ economy. People only remember that things got worse as the naira lost ground to the dollar. To make matters worse, the industrialisation that a weaker exchange was supposed to bring about never materialised.

President Sani Abacha (1993-1998)

From the day that Abacha took power to the day he died on June 8 1998, a period of five years, the ‘official’ exchange rate of the naira to the dollar never changed from 22 naira to $1. The Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market (AFEM) was introduced in 1995 as a way for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to sell forex to end users at ‘market’ rates.

But it is one thing to declare that the naira is worth 22 naira to $1. It is quite another thing to be able to satisfy all the people who will demand to buy dollars at that price. Given that oil prices were below $20 a barrel in this period, there was a very limited amount of dollars available (whatever was left after those in charge had helped themselves).

This rigid exchange rate gave birth to a phenomenon that is now a permanent fixture today — the mainstreaming of the forex black market. At one point, the naira was trading as high as 88 naira to $1 while the official rate remained at 22 naira. Bankers came up with they used to call the ‘blended’ rate. Say a client requested $1 million from their bank, the bank would inflate it to say $10 million and then take the request to AFEM knowing that CBN would never approve the full request anyway. Whatever was obtained from CBN was then ‘blended’ with the rest obtained from the black market.

It does not take a genius to know that if the black market rate was four times the official rate, people made an absolute fortune from the arbitrage. A lot of banking fortunes that remain to this day in Nigeria were made in this period. It was sweet business.

Joseph Sanusi (CBN governor 1999 to 2004)

The Interbank Foreign Exchange Market (IFEM) was introduced under Joseph Sanusi. Given how Nigeria’s reserves had been depleted severely in the two years before he took over, the naira was never going to survive the ‘military fiction’ rate of 22 naira for very long. Within a year, the naira was trading at 85 naira but this time, the gap with the black market had closed considerably at 105 naira to the $1—particularly if compared to what happened under president Abacha.

In addition to low oil prices, Nigeria was also struggling to service its $33 billion foreign debt which was eating up valuable foreign exchange.

All the things we see today were also experimented with under Sanusi. He suspended the IFEM for six months when the naira came under pressure and also introduced a limit to the margin (above CBN’s rate) that banks could sell their own forex for. Current governor Godwin Emefiele is doing the same thing today.

Again, the attempt to ‘control’ the exchange rate gave rise to all sorts of funny games. Since the rate at which banks could sell their forex was fixed, they simply complied with this rate at the IFEM but then collected an extra payment outside the system to make up the difference with the ‘real rate’ at which they were actually selling. Some bankers called this game ‘NIBSS and Drafts’ i.e. you pay the official rate via NIBSS (Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System) but settle the difference with a bank draft.

Forex round tripping games flourished. Nigeria had all sorts of banks which totalled around 90 at one point. The licences were cheap and you could make the cost of the licence back in one year from round tripping. It was a win-win business. Banks also set up foreign entities which they used to help their clients move money abroad. One bank, now defunct, used to regularly reward employees with a Volkswagen Jetta for outstanding performance. In banking circles, the joke then was that the Jetta was always won by the bankers in the treasury department i.e. the best round trippers in the bank.

Chukwuma Soludo (2004-2009) and The Oil Boom

Starting in late 2003, oil prices began to rise steadily from around $30 per barrel till they peaked at $140 per barrel in the middle of 2008. It was also during this period of rising oil prices that Nigeria obtained its $18 billion debt relief from the Paris Club. It was like being in heaven.

First of all, rising oil prices allowed Nigeria’s foreign reserves to increase substantially. There were reserves and there was also the Excess Crude Account (ECA) which had more than $20 billion at one point in 2008.

What these happy events allowed governor Soludo do was to harmonise the four different exchange rates at the time — CBN, Interbank, Bureau de Change and wire rates. He did this by liberalising the foreign exchange manual and including all sorts of things that were previously not accepted as valid for foreign exchange requests. For example, previously you could only obtain foreign exchange to bring in ‘raw materials’. But in the world we now live in, manufacturing has changed to the point where you might need to import some finished products to add to your own process. His liberalisation recognised this.

He also made things like medical bills and even credit card bills allowable. And he achieved his aim. In a short while, the different rates converged to within one naira of each other given that there was no need to go to the black market or bureaux de change to get forex when you could get it officially from your bank. Nigeria was awash with dollars and bankers at the time spoke of not even needing to go to CBN for dollars for weeks. Indeed, they say CBN staff used to harass them as to why they had not come to buy dollars. This was the period when the naira gained about 20% against the dollar without anyone explicitly trying to ‘strengthen’ it.

And then the inevitable happened — oil prices started to fall from late 2008 to less than $50 by the end of the year. But this time around, Nigeria was in a pretty good position to weather the storm with reserves totalling around $62 billion. Nevertheless, Soludo engineered some kind of artificial scarcity of forex to allow a devaluation of the naira. He also banned the Interbank market for six months.

All told, when Soludo took office, the naira was trading at 127 naira to $1 and by the time he left in 2009, it was around the 147 naira mark. But this masks the fact that in 2008, it actually went as low as 115 naira to $1 at one point. Oil prices started to recover pretty quickly and so if Soludo had done nothing, it would have just cost Nigeria some of its reserves and normal service would have resumed after about eight months. But the temptation to ‘do something’ is always strong.

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (June 2009-Feb 2014)

As soon as oil prices recovered, Central Bank governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (SLS) restored the Interbank and WDAS markets that Soludo had previously banned. But he then faced a somewhat strange problem later on. Oil prices were high but Nigeria was not building up its reserves for reasons that are perhaps now obvious. This meant that he did not have enough dollars to defend the naira and keep it stable as he wanted.

To solve this problem, he removed the one-year restriction on foreign investors who wanted to buy government bonds. (Previously, any foreign investor who wanted to buy Nigerian government bonds needed to hold the bonds for one year). The dollars came pouring in. But then this was what is known as ‘hot money’ i.e since you did not need to hold the investment for one year, the money poured in and out rapidly.

JP Morgan’s requirement to include Nigeria in its index was always that the market was kept liquid. As soon as this was done with the removal of the restriction, there was not much else standing in the way of Nigeria being included in the index. Nigeria’s Debt Management Office even took a 2-page advert in the newspapers congratulating President Jonathan on Nigeria’s inclusion in the JP Morgan Index.

Given that oil prices remained high throughout SLS time in office, some measure of stability was achieved. The naira was trading at 148 naira to the dollar when he took office in 2009 and was 164 naira by the time he was suspended from office in February 2014. The stability of the graveyard.

Godwin Emefiele and where we are today

It costs something like $30 to extract a barrel of crude oil in Nigeria. So when oil was trading at $110 Nigeria had a margin of around $80 to play with. But when oil drops to $45 as it has now, that $80 margin turns to $15 as the cost of getting the oil out of the ground still has to be incurred.

To put the above numbers another way — while oil prices have dropped by 60%, the revenues available to Nigeria have dropped by 81%. That is, revenues have dropped much more than oil prices have dropped. Nigeria is earning almost nothing these days and you can imagine how disastrous it will be if oil prices drop further to $40 or even less.

When things like these happen, one way to defend yourself is by unleashing your reserves. So for example, Algeria had something like $150 billion in reserves when the oil crisis hit. But as stated above, Nigeria did not save anything when the going was good so the country walked into this oil price crash practically naked. Reserves are allegedly $30 billion today but in reality they are much less (maybe around $20 billion when you account for all the money that is already ‘spoken for’)

Governor Emefiele has done the usual in response. He has banned the Interbank forex market and also banned 41 items from being eligible for forex, directly undoing what Soludo did. Forex is now essentially being rationed and the CBN is deciding who gets what and how much. Rumours of privileged people making a fortune from the confusion and arbitrage are circulating among bankers once again.

What can we learn from all this? The most obvious lesson here is that Nigeria has never quite figured out how to spend oil money. When prices are high, you save as much as you can. When prices fall, you open the tap and increase your spending. The point of this is to keep things going steady and avoid wild shocks in the economy.

What Nigeria instead does is to increase spending once oil prices go up with things like increased minimum wages, bloating the civil service or even outright theft. Politics always manages to bully economics. With the exception of the one time under Soludo, this is how things have always been — Nigeria is never ready for when oil prices drop. And yet, oil prices dropping is as sure to happen as night following day.

Another lesson is that the politicisation of the exchange rate of the naira is an unhealthy obsession in Nigeria. It gives politicians an incentive to wage war against reality by doing things that are economically harmful in the name of maintaining a ‘strong’ currency. Economic nationalism comes into fashion — why do we need to import rice when we can grow it here?!

Yet, the rhetoric only lasts till oil prices go back up and then politicians can return to their old ways.

The very act of trying to fiddle with the currency whenever we run into trouble is what really needs to be looked at. The moment oil prices crash, businesses and transactions that were perfectly legal suddenly become ‘unpatriotic’. And then a pointless argument about what should be imported and what should not predictably take up valuable media space.

Nigeria wants to have high oil prices and spend without saving. It then wants to keep its exchange rate ‘stable’ even when revenues have collapsed dramatically.

It is not possible to have all these things at the same time. It’s time to depoliticise the naira exchange rate by allowing the market to determine its fair value.

There are no easy answers to this problem. Having an economy that is not tied to the price of one product that is bound to have wild price swings is an obvious solution. But wanting a diversified economy and actually having one are two completely different things. And if Nigeria is going to diversify its economy, it has not even started yet.

Over the last 20 years or so, Nigeria has slowly but steadily moved towards a market-determined foreign exchange system. This is the right thing to do as it takes the matter out of the hands of politicians. Given the severity of the current crisis, all those gains are now being undone with all kinds controls and erratic moves that slowly choke the life out of the economy. If Nigeria won’t save when oil prices are high, then allowing the naira to float and be determined by the market is the only credible option left. Who knows, this might even teach some sense.


Friday, December 4, 2015

Video - Former Nigerian national security advisor Sambo Dasuke jailed

There has been another twist to the Sambo Dasuki saga. The former Nigerian national security advisor has been imprisoned. He's accused of defrauding the state of two billion US dollars through phantom weapons contracts. His arrest is seen as part of President Muhammadu Buhari's efforts to stamp out corruption.

Online retail store Yudala makes first drone delivery in Nigeria

For composite online and offline retail chain, Yudala, there is no better way to launch into the season of wonders than with a wonder of their own. The company achieved another first with the drone delivery of the first order placed for its Black Friday sales which ran from Thursday November 26th till Monday November 30th 2015.

The order for the item, a Nokia Lumia smart phone was placed by Yetunde Lawal, a staff of Access Bank Plc. who was shopping on the Yudala website for the first time.

The drone took off from the headquarters of Yudala at Redemption Crescent, Gbagada loaded with the product to the amazement and delight of onlookers and camera crew from various media organizations who gathered to monitor the progress of the drone all the way to the Access Bank branch along the Gbagada-Oshodi Expressway where it was alighted in front of the bank.

A staff of Yudala was on hand to process the invoice for the order and hand over the phone to an obviously elated Yetunde who chose the payment on delivery option.

“I am extremely delighted and indeed short of words to explain how I feel to be the first person to receive an item via drone delivery in Nigeria, all thanks to Yudala. This is an innovative concept in the evolution of e-commerce in the country which I am sure other competitors will want to copy.

“Yudala has met and exceeded my expectations and I can only encourage all my colleagues, friends and family to shop and shop Yudala,” she enthused.

Since its entry into the market a little over four months ago, Yudala has expanded the retail space with several innovative campaigns including the Neighbour to Neighbour Mega Deals, Gyming with the Stars and October Mid-Day Madness, among others through which it has delivered on its mandate of providing genuine products and services to its consumers.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Video - Nigeria taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

As the world meets in France for the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, Africa's role continues to be significant In Nigeria, CCTV's Sophia Adengo reports about efforts taken by the country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Video - Documentary on Nigeria's baby farmers

It is understandable why a desperate childless couple might do anything to have a baby, but those who exploit their unhappiness for profit are not so easy to forgive.In this deeply disturbing episode of Africa Investigates, Ghana's undercover journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas and investigative reporter Rosemary Nwaebuni team up to identify and expose some of those those behind Nigeria's heart-breaking baby trade.It is a scam that exploits couples desperate for a baby and young pregnant single mothers - often stigmatised in a country where abortion is illegal except in the most dire medical emergency. It is also a trade that international NGOs have identified as sinister and out of control.Filming undercover, the team find bogus doctors and clinics offering spurious fertility treatments in return for large amounts of money. In their guise as a childless couple, Anas and Rosemary are falsely diagnosed by one dodgy clinician as being unable to conceive children.When the footage is reviewed by an official from Nigeria's Ministry of Health, he is appalled at the way vulnerable people are being conned. "You should not allow these people access to the public," he says.But worse is to come. The team go on to uncover orphanages and clinics that act as brokers for illegal baby sales, by which naive, greedy or simply desperate young mothers are "persuaded" to hand over their newborn children for cash.

Nigeria reduces MTN fine from $5.2 billion to $3.4 billion

Africa's largest mobile operator, MTN, has succeeded in its bid to reduce a $5.2bn £3.4bn) fine imposed by Nigerian authorities for failing to cut off unregistered users.

Nigeria wants mobile phone companies to verify the identity of their customers.

The government says it is concerned unregistered Sim cards are being used by criminal gangs.

The South African company has been in talks with authorities since October when the original fine was imposed.

It said on Thursday it had succeeded in reducing the fine by a third.

The original fine amounted to double MTN's annual profits last year.

Since it was imposed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), MTN has made a number of senior managerial changes, which included the resignation of the chief executive of its Nigerian unit, Sifiso Dabengwa.

"After further engagements with the Nigerian authorities, the NCC has reduced the imposed fine," MTN said in a statement. It added the fine was now $3.4bn.
Admired and valued

MTN has 231 million subscribers in 22 countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. However, Nigeria is its biggest market.

In September, the company was named as most admired brand in Africa in the Brand Africa 100 awards, beating Samsung, while it was also awarded the continent's most valuable brand, worth $4.6bn (£3bn).

MTN was South Africa's second mobile operator when it was set up in 1994 after the end of apartheid.

It began its expansion across Africa four years later with operations in Rwanda, Uganda and Swaziland.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Video - Nigeria's spicy cuisine

A typical Nigerian meal is an inferno in your mouth, at least for first time visitors. Nigerians love their meals laced with blended pepper sauce. 

Former minister Sambo Dasuki arrested over $2 billion fraud

 Nigeria's former national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki, has been arrested for allegedly stealing $2bn (£1.3bn), his representatives say.

Mr Dasuki is accused of awarding phantom contracts to buy 12 helicopters, four fighter jets and ammunition. He denies the allegations.

The equipment was meant for the fight against Boko Haram Islamist militants.

Mr Dasuki was picked up early in the morning by security agents, a PR firm representing him said.

Two weeks ago, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered Mr Dasuki's arrest after he was indicted by a panel investigating the procurement of arms under the last administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.

PRNigeria said he was picked up by intelligence agents from his home in the capital, Abuja, where he was already under house arrest facing separate charges.

His arrest follows those of some of his associates by Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday.

The anti-corruption body said they included former Minister of State for Finance Bashir Yuguda and the sons of some prominent politicians of the former ruling party over allegations of impropriety in relation to the arms deal.

Earlier, Mr Dasuki said he had not been given a chance to defend himself before the investigative panel and described its recommendation as "politically motivated".

The former army colonel is already facing a trial for allegedly possessing illegal firearms.

He is the first senior official of the former government to be charged under the rule of President Muhammadu Buhari, who took in office in May.

Boko Haram has killed thousands in north-eastern Nigeria in its six-year campaign to create an Islamic state.