Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Anxious wait as election results come in Nigeria

In Nigeria there is growing concern at the slow pace of ballot counting after this past weekend's election. Previous votes have been marred by corruption. Al Jazeera's Mohammed Jamjoom reports from Abuja, Nigeria.

Al Jazeera

Monday, February 27, 2023

Vote count under way in Nigeria amid some extended polling

Nigerians are still voting in a national election in a few parts of the country where technical and other glitches prevented voting from taking place as scheduled on Saturday. Vote counting was already underway in other places during the historically tight race between three frontrunners competing for the presidency of Africa’s most populous nation. Nearly 90 million voters were eligible to vote in Saturday’s election, which was largely peaceful, although isolated violence, delays and technical hitches forced many to wait until the evening, or Sunday, to vote.

Al Jazeera

Video - Nigeria facing food security challenge

Nigeria's electoral commission announced initial results from Saturday's national elections, but a final tally is not due for several days. The presidential vote is expected to be the closest in Nigeria's history. Collins Nweke, an African Affairs commentator based in Paris shares his thoughts on how the Nigerian Electoral Commission handed the vote.


Peter Obi wins key Lagos state in presidential election in Nigeria






Nigerian presidential candidate Peter Obi has gotten the most votes in the commercial hub of Lagos state, which houses Africa’s biggest city.

Obi, of the Labour Party, got 582,454 votes, just ahead of former Lagos Governor Bola Tinubu, who got 572,606 votes for the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) party, electoral commission data showed on Monday.

Lagos was previously Tinubu’s main stronghold.

Obi’s campaign attracted young and urban voters fed up with corrupt traditional politics. It called on voters to reject the two parties that have run Africa’s most populous nation for a quarter of a century.

Nearly 90 million were eligible to vote in the elections to choose a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, with many hoping for a new leader to tackle insecurity, economic malaise and widening poverty.

Voting on Saturday was mostly peaceful, but there were some incidents of some polling stations being ransacked. Many others opened very late in Lagos and other cities. Voters stayed overnight to watch over the initial count at polling stations.

Voting continued in some parts of the country on Sunday.

Announcing first results state by state, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Sunday said APC’s Tinubu won the small, southwestern Ekiti state with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) coming second.

Final tallies for the presidential race could take days. Votes are tallied by hand at local polling stations and results are uploaded online to INEC’s central database IReV, which is meant to improve transparency.

However, slow uploading of results to INEC’s website has fuelled worries of malpractice in a country with a history of ballot rigging and vote buying.

By Monday morning, results from about 52,000 centres had been submitted to the platform from about 176,000 polling centres nationwide – approximately 30 percent.

PDP on Monday accused the ruling APC governors of pressuring INEC over results in the southeast and in parts of Lagos, a highly contested state with the most registered voters at more than seven million.

The early result in one state for APC’s Tinubu was very preliminary in a country almost equally divided between a mostly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south and with three main ethnic groups in different regions.

Voting is usually determined by large key states such as Lagos and northwestern Kano and Kaduna.

To win the presidency, a candidate must get the most votes, and also win at least 25 percent of votes cast in two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states to reflect broad representation.

Al Jazeera

Related story: Video - Voters to elect new president on Saturday in Nigeria

Friday, February 24, 2023

Video - Voters to elect new president on Saturday in Nigeria

Voters in Nigeria are electing a president and members of parliament on Saturday. The race for leadership of the country is said to be too close to call. Amid economic and political turmoil, many Nigerians are hoping for change, but worry about what changes may come. Al Jazeera's Mohammed Jamjoom reports from Abuja, Nigeria.

Al Jazeera

Related stories: Election proceed in Nigeria despite cash shortage crisis

Video - Next President of Nigeria has a full plate already



16 States in Nigeria sue central bank over withdrawal of old banknotes

16 states in Nigeria asked the Supreme Court to force the central bank to extend by six months the use of old banknotes, whose withdrawal from circulation has caused cash shortages ahead of weekend elections. The shortage of naira notes has angered citizens with some of them attacking banks and burning cash-dispensing machines.


Related stories: Cash shortage in Nigeria due to redesigned currency push

Video - New currency in Nigeria to affect small businesses according to World Bank



Election proceed in Nigeria despite cash shortage crisis

Nigeria’s election commission said Thursday it now has received much of the cash it needs to carry out this weekend’s elections, dismissing concerns that the vote would be postponed because of the country’s banknote crisis.

Meanwhile, though, Nigerians continued to line up at banks across Africa’s most populous nation, unable to withdraw their money. The shortages fueled fears that voters could have trouble getting to their polling stations on Saturday.

Authorities have in the past delayed Nigeria’s last two presidential elections, but the Independent National Electoral Commission said Thursday that election materials and staffers were being deployed to more than 175,000 voting units across Nigeria.

“I want to assure Nigerians that we are adequately prepared for this election,“ INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu said at a news conference in the capital, Abuja.

Still, he noted that 6.2 million eligible voters had not picked up their voting cards in time for Saturday’s vote.

Hussaini Abdu with YIAGA Africa, a nonprofit group promoting electoral reforms in Nigeria, feared people could have difficulties getting to polling stations on Saturday or lose interest altogether.

“The growing discontent among citizens may lead to voter apathy in the form of protest, which will eventually lead to low voter turnouts,” Abdu said.

Nigerian voters are to choose a new president on Saturday from a field of 18 candidates following the second and final term of incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.

Three front-runners have emerged, including the ruling party’s Bola Tinubu and the main opposition’s Atiku Abubakar. Peter Obi, a third-party hopeful who has been favored in most polls, has broken the usual cycle of two-candidate races.

In a tweet Thursday, Buhari urged election officials and security agencies “to be firm and courageous, and to abide by the laws and constitutional provisions in conducting the elections.”

Authorities announced in November that they were replacing Nigeria’s currency, the naira, with new, redesigned notes for the first time in nearly two decades. But with the change coming just before the election, everyone from vendors to government officials have struggled to have enough money on hand in a country still heavily dependent on its cash economy.

On Thursday, the election commission also sought to reassure Nigerians that the country’s security challenges were being addressed as well.

Observers have expressed concerns about the safety of voters and election workers, particularly in the north where thousands have died in the last year because of violence linked to Islamic extremists and banditry.

Violence directed at polling stations in the southeast where separatists are active also has created unease about the vote.

A senate candidate for the Labour Party was burned to death by gunmen, police said Thursday, the latest in a spiral of violence that analysts fear could affect voter turnout.

Chinedu Asadu, AP

Related stories: Video - Next President of Nigeria has a full plate already

54% of currency in Nigeria no longer in circulation

Video - Nigerian banks face a shortage of new naira notes

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Video - Senate candidate Oyibo Chukwu killed by unknown gunmen

A Senate candidate from Nigeria's opposition Labour Party has been shot and killed in the southeast. It is the latest incident amid a spate of violence ahead of Saturday's election. Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa reports from Enugu, Nigeria.

Al Jazeera 

Related stories: Senate candidate killed three days before election in Nigeria

President Biden calls for peaceful, transparent election in Nigeria



Senate candidate killed three days before election in Nigeria

A senatorial candidate from Nigeria's opposition Labour Party was killed late on Wednesday by unknown gunmen in southeastern Enugu State, a local party official said on Thursday, the latest violent incident ahead of a momentous national election.

Nigerians are due to elect their next president and lawmakers on Saturday. President Muhammadu Buhari is stepping down after serving the maximum two terms allowed by the constitution.

The three-man race to be his successor is seen as the most unpredictable in recent history and the run-up to the election has been marred by violence, a pattern seen in previous polls in Africa's most populous country.

Police confirmed the killing of Labour Party candidate Oyibo Chukwu, which came hours after the parties and presidential candidates signed a pledge to support a peaceful electoral process.

Chinwuba Ngwu, the Labour Party chairman in the Enugu South local government area, said Chukwu had been ambushed and killed as he travelled back from a campaign event.

"He was shot dead and then set ablaze in his vehicle with his driver and one of his boys," Ngwu said.

"It is a devastating development for us. We are suspecting political assassination because he is favoured to win the election," he said.

A police spokesperson in Enugu State said they would issue a statement later.

U.S. President Joe Biden earlier called for a peaceful, transparent election, urging parties and candidates to accept the results when they are published by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

"All Nigerians deserve this chance to choose their future — freely and fairly," Biden said in a statement.

"While the United States does not support any single candidate or party, we strongly support a peaceful and transparent process that reflects the will of the people of Nigeria."

The main candidates for president are former Lagos governor Bola Tinubu, 70, who represents the ruling party, former vice president Atiku Abubakar, 76, who represents the main opposition party that was in power from 1999 to 2015, and Peter Obi, 61, an anti-establishment candidate popular among many young voters.

Obi, an ethnic Igbo, is running on the Labour Party ticket. He is particularly popular in the Igbo heartland in southeastern Nigeria, which includes Enugu State, and this may have boosted the lesser known party's profile in the region.

By Estelle Shirbon, Reuters

Related story: Video - Elections to go on despite security concerns in Nigeria

President Biden calls for peaceful, transparent election in Nigeria

U.S. President Joe Biden called on Thursday for Nigeria's imminent presidential election to be peaceful and transparent, urging candidates and parties to accept the results as announced by the country's electoral commission.

More than 93 million Nigerians, out of a total population of over 200 million, are registered to vote in Saturday's presidential and parliamentary election, seen as the most wide open since the country returned to democracy in 1999.

"I commend yesterday's peace accord in Nigeria," Biden said in a statement, referring to a pledge signed by all candidates on Wednesday to seek redress through the courts for any grievances.

"By signing this pledge, the parties and candidates have committed to accept the results of the election, as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and to support a peaceful transition of power," he said.

Nigeria has a long history of electoral fraud and violence, though its elections have got gradually cleaner in the near quarter century since it moved away from army rule. INEC says it has taken measures to ensure voting will be free and fair.

"All Nigerians deserve this chance to choose their future — freely and fairly," Biden said.

"While the United States does not support any single candidate or party, we strongly support a peaceful and transparent process that reflects the will of the people of Nigeria."

Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation, its biggest economy and its top producer of crude oil. 

By Estelle Shirbon, Reuters

Related story: President Buhari sets transition to a new leader in motion


Peace Pact signed by Presidential candidates in Nigeria days before polling

The 18 presidential candidates of Nigeria’s general election have signed a second peace accord in the capital, Abuja, in a bid to prevent unrest surrounding the February 25 polls.

The pact is to ensure “the conduct of free, fair, credible, transparent and verifiable elections cognisant of the need to maintain a peaceful environment before, during and after the 2023 general elections” and “to place national interest above personal and partisan concerns”.

An earlier agreement had been signed in September 2022, which former military head of state and retired general Abdusalam Abubakar said had been violated numerous times.

The Tuesday evening signing, organised by the National Peace Committee and the Kukah Leadership Centre, an Abuja-based think tank, was in the presence of President Muhammadu Buhari and other African and international leaders and diplomats.

Committee officials said the accord was meant to bind political parties, candidates and their supporters to resort to constitutional means if they are dissatisfied with electoral outcomes.

Abubakar, the chairperson of the National Peace Committee, said 44 percent of the September accord’s violations “were carried out by the spokespersons for political parties, 26 percent by party members, 19 percent by the presidential candidates themselves, 11 percent by the hardcore supporters and four percent by the chairmen of the parties”.

“As a nation, we’ve got to put a stop to all this,” he said, without providing further details about the incidents.

Saturday’s race to succeed Buhari is being keenly contested.

Among the 18 candidates, four are generally accepted to be top contenders.

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, former Lagos governor Bola Tinubu, faces his former associate and Nigeria’s former vice president Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

The Labour Party’s Peter Obi, has, however, emerged as a surprise third candidate to challenge a traditional dichotomy in Nigeria’s political landscape. A fourth candidate, Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), is seen as a wild card in the race.

Tuesday’s signing was held in the presence of domestic and international stakeholders to monitor for potential violence – a common feature in Nigerian elections.

Along with the presidential candidates, members of observer missions from the African Union, European Union and the Commonwealth, and other diplomats were present at the signing.

Also present were Thabo Mbeki, Joyce Banda, Uhuru Kenyatta, John Mahama and Ernest Bai Koroma, the former presidents of South Africa, Malawi, Kenya, Ghana and Sierra Leone respectively who are heading foreign observer missions.

Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, another member of the committee also attended, as was Patricia Scott, secretary-general of the Commonwealth and a representative of the United Nations secretary-general.

President Buhari urged all the contestants to have the “confidence to trust our legal systems”.

”Let me remind all Nigerians not for the first time that this is the only country we have and we must do everything to keep it safe, united and peaceful,” he said. “There should be no riots or acts of violence after the announcement of the election results. All grievances, personal or institutional, should be channelled to the relevant courts.”

Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, said election preparations were well under way with ballot papers and other materials being moved to polling units nationwide.

“By Friday we will activate the registration area centres so that at first light on Saturday, polling units will open on time.” 

Al Jazeera

Related story: Video - Next President of Nigeria has a full plate already 

Video - Possible violence ahead of polls opening in Nigeria

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Video - Next President of Nigeria has a full plate already

Depleted revenue, a high debt profile and a huge budget deficit are among several economic woes that the next Nigerian President will be confronted with. The West African country goes to polls this Saturday.


54% of currency in Nigeria no longer in circulation

Nigeria currently has about 1.39 trillion of its currency in circulation, after cutting off an estimated 1.6 trillion in just a month.

This 54% drop is part of the Central Bank’s governor's initiative to inflate the value of Nigeria’s currency, the Naira. In January, the money in circulation totaled N3.1 trillion.

Subsequently, the currency outside the vaults of banks has also been cut down by 69.3%, jumping from N2.56 trillion to N788.92 within the same month.

In December, the governor of the Central Bank Godwin Emefiele alongside the president of the country, Muhammad Buhari, revealed the new redesigned legal tenders for the N200, N500, and N1000 notes.

This redesign according to the governor was to recover the lost value of the naira. The governor disclosed that the Naira was depreciating because most of the country’s cash was being hoarded outside banking halls.

This, in his assessment, amongst other factors, devalued the naira. As a result, some of the country’s legal tender were redesigned, and the governor gave a short deadline for the return of the old notes.

The first deadline was a little over a month after unveiling the redesigned notes on the 31st of January, which would eventually be extended to the 7th of February.

After massive bouts of civil unrest across the country and a disagreement with the country’s supreme court, which ruled that the deadline be extended, the CBN governor and the president of Nigeria insisted that the deadline would stand, and the redesigned notes would be the country’s official legal tender.

As result, the CBN has managed to reduce the level of hoarded cash outside of banking halls, by a significant margin. This refusal to budge under pressure has also made Nigerians more receptive to the idea of a cashless economy. Now more than ever, Nigerians have keyed into the idea of transacting business via transfers.

In the same period under review, Nigeria’s money supply rose to N53.27 trillion, a 2.2% increase compared to the previous month.

Chinedu Okafor, Business Insider Africa

Related stories: President Buhari grants 60-day extension for cashswap

Anger and chaos outside banks in Nigeria

Video - Nigerian banks face a shortage of new naira notes

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Video - Possible violence ahead of polls opening in Nigeria

With elections in Nigeria just days away, recent attacks have caused concern among the public. Outgoing president Muhammadu Buhari had promised to end violence by Boko Haram in the north. Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris has more from Maiduguri, Nigeria.

Al Jazeera

China beats Tesla to lithium deposits in Nigeria

Kaduna, a state in northwestern Nigeria, has selected China’s Ming Xin Mineral Separation Nig Ltd. (MXMS) to build the country’s first lithium-processing plant, with a plan to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles (EVs).

On January 13, the Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency tweeted pictures of its leadership team reviewing the plant’s construction. According to Kaduna State’s mining company, the plant is being built on 9.3 hectares of land. Khalil Nur Khalil, the executive secretary of the state’s investment promotion agency, told Rest of World that the plant is a “game changer,” which he believes will lay the foundation for Nigeria’s ambitions to build “battery factories” and produce “EVs in Kaduna.”

This comes more than five months after the Nigerian government claimed it had rejected Tesla’s proposal to purchase raw lithium from the country.

Ayodeji Adeyemi, special assistant to the minister of mines and steel development, told Rest of World that Tesla’s proposal was rejected because it did not align with the country’s new mining policies.

“Our new mining policy demands that you add some value to raw mineral ores, including lithium, before you export to create jobs and build industries,” Adeyemi said. “They don’t have to turn ores into finished goods. We are only asking them to add some value before exporting.”

In January, Elon Musk, the co-founder and CEO of Tesla, said he sees the company’s biggest competition coming from China. That same month, Tesla even slashed the prices of its cars in China for the second time since September last year.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), China already controls 60% of the world’s lithium processing and is exploring new frontiers, like Nigeria, to expand its dominance. Kaduna is one of several Nigerian states with lithium deposits. At least seven other states in the country are confirmed to have the mineral — essential in the manufacturing of EV batteries — in commercial quantities.

The Nigerian government has relied significantly on funding from China for several landmark projects, including the Abuja Light Rail project, planned terminal expansions at four major airports, and the National Public Security Communications System project. According to Nigeria’s debt management office, Chinese loans represented 3.94% of the country’s total public debt as of March 2020.

Despite increasing Chinese interest in infrastructure financing and construction, the U.S. is still one of Nigeria’s top five sources of imported capital. In 2021, Nigeria received over $2.2 billion from the U.K., over $677 million from the U.S., and $10 million from China, official records from the National Bureau of Statistics show.

Analysis from the IEA shows that to reach net zero emissions by 2050, about 2 billion EVs and hybrids need to be produced and used. However, global lithium reserves can only make about 2.5 billion EVs. This means that lithium will continue to be a valued, in-demand mineral, given that it has alternative uses apart from making EV batteries. It is used to make batteries for laptops, phones, and digital cameras and is also essential in the manufacturing of planes and trains.

“Nigeria can take advantage of this market by leveraging the domestic value-added process to the mineral,” Oghosa Erhahon, a lawyer and energy transition analyst, told Rest of World. “For example, manufacturing batteries for exports. It’s one thing to limit foreign activities, but not building sustainable infrastructure for lithium mining is not favorable, especially with the national plans to diversify exports.”

By Temitayo Lawal, rest of world  

Related stories: First phase of light rail project by Chinese company completed in Nigeria

Nigeria becomes first country in Africa to have Starlink

8 police officers killed by suspected rebels in Nigeria

At least eight Nigerian police officers have been killed in separate attacks by suspected rebels in the country’s southeast just days ahead of presidential elections.

The killings come as more than 90 million people are registered to vote this Saturday to elect a successor to Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who is stepping down after two terms in office.

Four officers were killed in an attack on a police station in Anambra state on Monday, local police spokesperson Tochukwu Ikenga said, while authorities are searching for suspects in the killing of four other police officers in two separate attacks over the weekend.

The rebels “attacked Awada police station in Idemilli North … using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and automatic firearms,” Ikenga said of the police death toll from Monday’s attack.

“Four police operatives paid the supreme price while a section of the station, one police patrol vehicle and three exhibit vehicles parked in the premises were set ablaze,” he said in a statement.

Three of the attackers were also “fatally wounded”, and two others were arrested, he added.

Police have blamed the attacks on a rebel group known as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which is fighting for the independence of the ethnic Igbo people in southeast Nigeria. The IPOB and its armed wing, the Eastern Security Network, have denied responsibility for the frequent attacks in the region.

The violence has stoked fears about the ability of Nigeria’s security forces to protect voters at the polls this weekend.

Festus Okoye, an official with Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), said the commission might not be able to deploy to some polling stations because of security concerns.

“The security agencies have promised that they have the capacity to secure our communities to make it possible for people to vote,” he said.

“[But] for people in zones that are still in conflict, there is absolutely nothing we can do.”

Nigeria faces multiple security threats, including separate armed groups fighting for different causes in the southeast and northeast and kidnapping gangs involved in criminality in the northwest.

On Saturday, gunmen attacked a police station in the Ogidi area of Anambra state, killing three officers. On Sunday, one police officer was killed in an attack on the Nkwelle-Ezunaka police station in the Oyi district.

The attackers used “guns, IEDs and petrol bombs” but did not gain entrance to the police station, Ikenga said. “One police operative attached to the station was fatally wounded,” he said, and six gunmen were “neutralised”.

There have also been unclaimed attacks on INEC offices in the region. Despite the violence, the electoral body has said that the election will go ahead as planned on Saturday.

Local news outlet The Nation wrote on Monday that “all eyes” were on the IPOB and the southeast of the country following calls for a boycott of the election, with people in the restive region called on to participate in a sit-in at home instead of voting.

The Nation called on Nigerian authorities to use “strong action” to uphold law and order across the country.

“This is no time to beg IPOB. This is time for the authorities to declare and enforce zero tolerance for lawlessness during the elections,” the newspaper wrote.

As Africa’s largest economy and top oil producer, Nigeria has resources and wealth, but armed attacks, the global pandemic and the economic fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have hit the country hard.

Saturday’s scheduled election has developed into a tight three-way race for the presidency, with the frontrunners all touting their past government experience and business acumen for the country’s top job.

Ex-Lagos Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress is facing former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party and Peter Obi of the Labour Party, a surprise third-party candidate with high youth appeal.

Although Nigeria’s economy rebounded after the COVID-19 pandemic, growing three percent in 2022, critics say the recovery has not trickled down to improve conditions for most Nigerians. Falling oil revenues, growing insecurity from criminal gangs, heavy flooding that hit farming land and the effect of Russia’s war in Ukraine have combined to make things worse.

Nigeria’s unemployment rate is about 33 percent, while the number of Nigerians living in poverty rose to 133 million or 63 percent of the population in 2022, according to the national statistics bureau.

Youth unemployment now stands at 43 percent, compared with 10 percent prior to President Buhari’s first administration in 2015.

The naira currency has also fallen from an average of 200 naira to a US dollar in 2015 to approximately 750 on the parallel market.

Al Jazeera

Related story: 800 ballot boxes destroyed by Gunmen in Nigeria

Monday, February 20, 2023

Video - Insecurity threatens voters ahead of Presidential election in Nigeria

Nigeria's upcoming #election marks nearly a quarter of a century of continuous democracy in Africa's most populous nation. But #insecurity remains a leading issue, with presidential candidates promising to tackle it.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Video - Nigeria oil saga

More than 11,000 Nigerians from the oil-producing Niger Delta have filed a compensation claim against Shell at the London High Court. Some 17 institutions have also joined the suit. It’s the latest of several cases against the multinational oil corporation over its operations in the Niger Delta. The applicants claim widespread environmental destruction and loss of livelihood. In its defence, Shell, through a spokesperson, blames illegal third-parties for a majority of the spills. This week on the programme, we highlight the key issues in this latest suit and examine at length what experts have characterised as “years of devastating environmental destruction” of the Niger Delta.


Thursday, February 16, 2023

President Buhari grants 60-day extension for cashswap

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday gave approval to the central bank to extend the deadline to turn in old banknotes by another 60 days after cash shortages stoked anger ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections next week.

Nigeria's central bank decided last year to start circulating newly designed 1,000 ($2.17) 500 and 200 naira notes. The deadline to turn in old notes has already been extended once to Feb. 10, after which they would no longer have been legal tender.

But the new notes have been in short supply, leading to long queues and chaotic scenes at banks across the country. Most of Nigeria's economy is still informal and many people use cash for transactions because they do not have bank accounts.

Buhari said in a television broadcast that old 200 notes would continue to circulate in the economy alongside new 1,000, 500 and 200 notes until April 10.

But the old 1,000 and 500 notes could only be swapped at the central bank and "designated points", he said.

The comments contrasted with last week's Supreme Court interim ruling that said all old notes remain legal tender until it hears a challenge brought by some state governments.

Buhari defended the initiative saying it would lead to greater transparency in financial transactions, curb money laundering and reduce money supply in the economy.

"Notwithstanding the initial setbacks experienced, the evaluation and feedback mechanism set up has revealed that gains have emerged from the policy initiative," said Buhari.

Some politicians have criticised the timing ahead of Feb. 25 elections, as campaigns are funded by mostly hard to trace cash.

Local media reported on Thursday that some angry citizens had vandalised cash dispensing machines at some banks in southern Nigeria as they protested the cash shortages.

By Felix Onuah, Reuters

Related stories: Anger and chaos outside banks in Nigeria

Fuel and cash shortage in Nigeria rile voters ahead of election

Video - Nigerian banks face a shortage of new naira notes

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Video - Military in Nigeria denies claims it's planning to disrupt Presidential election

The Nigerian military denied claims that it is planning to disrupt the upcoming presidential election after a official from the governing party, the APC, alleged that army generals held a secret meeting with the rival PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar. The army said it was professional and loyal to the constitution, and would never be part of a plot to overthrow civilian authorities.


Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Anger and chaos outside banks in Nigeria

People in Nigeria have taken to sleeping outside banks. They want to be among the first in line to get notes from the cash machine once it is loaded up in the morning.

A lack of newly designed naira notes has led to a cash shortage and a growing sense of anxiety among those desperate to get hold of their money in a country where 40% of the population don't have bank accounts.

The Supreme Court has even become involved and has ordered that the deadline to hand in old notes be extended but this has made little difference.

People here have long been used to the periodic bouts of fuel shortages leading to long lines of cars snaking from the petrol stations. But now long lines of frustrated, confused and angry people have become a common sight outside banks as the country builds up to a presidential election at the end of the month.

"I have not eaten today," says Abraham Osundiran, 36, as he stands in one of two queues at a bank in Ikoyi, a district in the country's main commercial hub, Lagos.

He has had to miss work at a construction company for a second day because he does not have the cash to pay the taxi fare. Some Nigerians have embraced digital payments, but many still rely heavily on cash.

"I don't have any cash. I've had to skip breakfast so I could come here, and I don't know what I will eat for the rest of the day."

It is a similar situation for many others.

"It's painful. I can't go to the market, because they want cash. Buses want cash - now I have to trek everywhere," hairdresser Lilian Ineh, 26, tells the BBC from her salon.

"There's no money to buy stock, so I have less products to sell. There are even less customers. Usually on a Saturday I have a minimum of five."

Last Saturday, she only had two.

Nigerians were told last October that the old notes were being replaced with new notes and they were encouraged to deposit any cash savings in the bank.

"They made us put all our money into our accounts, and now we can't access it. It's unbearable," says Osarenoma Kolawole, 40. She works in telesales, but has not been able to access her salary since getting paid last week.

"The last time I went to the shops, I had to buy eggs instead of fish - that really hurt me - not the food, but having to buy what I didn't want to, just because the banks won't let me get my money."

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it redesigned the higher denomination notes - 200, 500 and 1,000 naira - to replace the dirty cash in circulation, to tackle inflation, curb counterfeiting and promote a cashless society.

It hoped the redesign would bring some of the money being hoarded by individuals and companies back into the financial system.

The reform has created something like a cashless society - but not in the way the CBN had planned.

People have been finding it difficult to make online payments and transfers. Analysts say the infrastructure to support a digital system is not robust enough.

"The whole idea was to limit how much cash people have access to, in order to encourage them to make digital payments, so they [CBN] can monitor where money goes," says Paul Alaje, a senior economist at management consultants SPM Professionals.

"But Nigerian banks don't have the capacity or structure to make digital payments work seamlessly."

The CBN has not said whether the shortages are deliberate.

"The government has been trying to move the country into a cashless economy for ages," argues policy analyst and economist Yemi Makinde.

"Its intention is good, but it is just not feasible, the banking systems were not ready and Nigeria is just used to cash."

When announcing the redesign, the CBN said the new notes would begin circulating from 15 December and the old notes would cease to be legal tender at the end of January.

The bank then extended the deadline to last Friday. But the Supreme Court stepped in and suspended this deadline but the queues outside banks remain.

"The only way this judgment would work is to release old notes back into system to meet the shortage [but] doing that will only take us back to square one," says economist Mr Alaje.

Accusations of hoarding

Many have also blamed individual bank branches.

Firstly, they were still giving out the old notes rather than new ones, even up to the week of the initial deadline, thereby keeping them in circulation.

Secondly, agents from the country's anti-fraud body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, raided some bank branches and arrested managers who were accused of hoarding the new notes in vaults rather than putting them in cash machines and giving them to customers.

"The banks are not doing a good job distributing the money. Bank managers have been keeping a lot of the money aside for people with connections and for the rich, misusing the central bank's policy," Dr Makinde says.

As a consequence, the lack of new naira notes has hit those who primarily deal with cash day-to-day, like market sellers and hawkers.

Iya Ruka, 52, sells plantains at a market in Ojodu Berger, Lagos. She has had to adapt by accepting bank transfers - but this has not helped her when she needs money.

"All my customers are saying they don't have cash, they will pay using a bank transfer, but I go to the bank and there's no cash for me to collect. So what do I do?"

Further down the street, Kingsley, who only gave his first name, sells mobile phone accessories.

The 27-year-old told me he has hardly sold anything in the last few days.

"People only pay [by] transfer. If I want to get home, I need to go to a Point of Sale (POS) to get money and they charge a lot now."

POS vendors are individuals standing at street corners who have a card machine and can make transfers for people, but often charge a commission.

They have been accused of fleecing ordinary people by charging extortionate amounts for cash withdrawals.

'Things will get better'

One vendor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, defended the need to charge extra.

"I queued for an entire day at a bank to get new notes and old notes. That's why they must pay, because we queue," says the 25-year-old, who runs a kiosk in Lekki.

She adds that she is not sure how much longer she will be able to keep up the business, as the banks run dry.

"Some customers can get angry and nearly violent - I just avoid looking up at them. They forget I'm suffering as well, like now, I have to trek for an hour home, and I have only been eating garri [cassava flakes]."

CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele has said he has taken steps to get more of the new notes into the system with the aim of easing the situation.

The chaos has become a major election issue with calls for President Muhammadu Buhari to take action to avoid losing votes for the ruling All Progressives Congress.

Despite the crisis, there are a few people, especially those who managed to plan well ahead, who have not felt the crunch just yet.

Ruth Okeke, 35, runs a convenience shop in Omole. She says even though her number of customers has dropped, she is not worried.

"I know things will get better. The bankers are the ones making money from all this panic, but there will be new notes soon, everybody should relax."

By Simi Jolaoso, BBC

Related stories: Video - Supreme court suspends currency swap deadline in Nigeria

Fuel and cash shortage in Nigeria rile voters ahead of election

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Friday, February 10, 2023

Video - Supreme court suspends currency swap deadline in Nigeria

Nigeria's supreme court temporarily suspended a February 10 deadline to stop using old currency notes. The deadline issued by the Central Bank has caused a cash crisis in the country. Nigerians have been struggling to access the new currency leading to attacks on banks and demonstrations in some parts of the country.


President Buhari sets transition to a new leader in motion

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday signed an executive order setting up a council to facilitate transition to a new president who will emerge after a Feb. 25 election.

Buhari, 80, who is constitutionally barred from contesting the election, is serving his second and final term. He becomes the second Nigerian leader to complete two terms in office since the end of military rule in 1999.

A new president will be sworn in on May 29.

"The new Executive Order puts in place a legal framework for the seamless transition of power from one Presidential Administration to another," Buhari said in a statement.

He said Nigeria's secretary to the federation would chair the transition council, which will be launched on Tuesday.

Three main candidates, Bola Tinubu from the ruling party, Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition party and Peter Obi from a smaller party are the top contenders vying to succeed Buhari.

By MacDonald Dzirutwe, Reuters

Related stories: 800 ballot boxes destroyed by Gunmen in Nigeria

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Thursday, February 9, 2023

Fuel and cash shortage in Nigeria rile voters ahead of election

At a fuel station in Nigeria's commercial capital, tempers flare and harsh words are exchanged as motorists wait in line for hours to fill up their tanks at one of the few outlets with petrol left in the vicinity.

Across the road, young men drenched in sweat from the sweltering Lagos heat sell petrol in plastic containers at more than double the regulated pump price.

Recurring fuel shortages in Africa's top oil producer are adding to voter frustration as Nigeria prepares to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on Feb. 25. They are a stark example of the economic hardships that have dogged Nigeria for years, including surging inflation, widespread unemployment and acute shortages of foreign exchange that have severely weakened the naira currency.

"People are suffering; there is no money; there is no food," said Titus Nwafor, a 53-year-old bus driver as he waited to fill up at the Lagos station.

With elections around the corner, he expressed frustration with the candidates, who he said were "blaming this, blaming that" without offering any solutions.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who will be stepping down in May after serving his constitutionally allowed two terms, promised to revive the economy and improve livelihoods when he took office in 2015.

He has prioritised state-funded infrastructure, investing billions of dollars in new roads, bridges, airports and rail.

Nigeria's poor transport and power networks have stymied economic growth for decades, holding back the distribution of wealth in Africa's biggest economy where 63% of people live below the poverty line, according to the national statistics bureau.

Building infrastructure has, however, come at a cost.

Nigeria's foreign debt has risen fourfold to $40 billion under Buhari, and the budget deficit has widened every year. The government spent 98% of the revenue it collected in 2022 on debt servicing, finance ministry data showed.

Buhari has also pushed protectionist policies, including import bans on the staple rice. This initially spurred local production, but spreading insecurity is hurting farmers' ability to plant, while the high cost of fertiliser and diesel have pushed the price of a 50 kg bag of rice nearly 90%, to 55,000 naira ($120) last year.

In 2017, the central bank introduced a multiple exchange rate system to avoid devaluing the naira currency, but this has contributed to dollar shortages, and the local unit has weakened to record lows against the greenback on the black market.

A central bank decision to replace old banknotes with new ones - part of an initiative to curb cash in circulation and control double-digit inflation - has caused huge controversy because there are not yet enough new notes in circulation. Enterprising Nigerians are selling cash at premiums of up to 20%.


While Buhari says his government has been laying the foundations for a stronger economy, many Nigerians complain that economic conditions have worsened on his watch.

The country has weathered two recessions since 2016, driven by crude oil price slumps, hard currency shortages and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Economic fallout from the war in Ukraine and heavy flooding last year pushed inflation to its highest level in 17 years, further squeezing consumers in a country where 33% of job seekers are unemployed.

Oil is the biggest foreign exchange earner, but rampant crude theft in the Niger Delta and years of underinvestment have hurt output and strained government finances. For a few months last year, Angola overtook Nigeria as Africa's biggest oil producer and exporter.

Nigeria relies on imports for nearly all refined fuels. Its state refineries have produced little or no fuel over the past decade due to poor maintenance, and a refinery being built by Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote has been beset by delays.

Fortune Alfred, who makes a living driving for the Bolt ride-sharing business, had to park his car at home after spending six hours in a fuel line in Nigeria's southern oil-producing Rivers state. When he reached the pump, fuel had run out.

"The economic situation at the moment is worse than the early days of Buhari, the 40-year-old said. "The hardships have been created by failure of government."


Amaka Anku, head of the Eurasia Group consulting firm's Africa practice, said Nigeria's economic woes had "created this very high anti-establishment sentiment".

That is propelling a presidential candidate, the Labour Party's Peter Obi, who is mounting a challenge to the two parties that have dominated Nigeria since the end of military rule in 1999.

"Obi will do better, and I hope he is able to resuscitate this country and not let it drown even further," said Ruth Geku, a 21-year-old street food seller in Yenagoa city, Rivers state.

However, there are few major policy differences between Obi and his establishment rivals - Bola Tinubu of Buhari's All Progressives Congress and Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition People's Democratic Party.

All have promised to reform the economy, including ending the multiple exchange regime and a fuel subsidy that cost the government $10 billion last year.

But that has proven difficult in the past. Nigerians say cheap fuel - at 184 naira ($0.40) a litre - is one of the few benefits they get from their government.

By Tife Owolabi in Yenagoa, Reuters

Related stories: Supreme Court suspends banknote deadline in Nigeria

Video - Nigerian banks face a shortage of new naira notes

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Supreme Court suspends banknote deadline in Nigeria

Nigeria's Supreme Court has temporarily suspended Friday's deadline to stop using old banknotes, which had caused a cash crisis in the country.

Many banks have not had enough of the new naira notes, leading to desperate and chaotic scenes as people tried to get their hands on them.

Videos were shared of people stripping in banks in protest and fights at ATMs.

The chaos led to concern that it could affect this month's elections, as many Nigerians do not have bank accounts.

The head of the election commission said some election service providers will need to be paid in cash, and that could prove to be difficult.

The Central Bank said the currency redesign would help it tackle inflation, which is currently running at about 21%.

The bank said 80% of the notes currently in circulation were being held outside financial institutions. It hoped the redesign would bring some of that money being hoarded by individuals and companies back into the financial system, and so stop prices from rising so quickly.

The case, which was brought by the northern states of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara, has been adjourned to 15 February.

By Cecilia Macaulay, BBC

Related stories: Nigeria should consider extending banknote swap deadline according to IMF

States challenge central bank cash swap deadline in Nigeria


Nigeria should consider extending banknote swap deadline according to IMF

The International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday that Nigeria should consider extending a deadline to swap old banknotes because of the disruption to trade and payments being caused by a shortage of new notes.

Nigerians have to turn in 1,000, 500 and 200 naira notes by Friday, when they cease to be legal tender.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has started releasing newly designed notes, but many Nigerians say they are not yet available in banks, sparking acute cash shortages and chaotic scenes at banks.

Ari Aisen, IMF resident representative in Nigeria, said in a statement: "In spite of measures introduced by the CBN to mitigate the challenges in the banknote swap process, the IMF encourages the CBN to consider extending the deadline, should problems persist in the next few days."

The CBN has said recalling the banknotes is part of plans to reduce the use of cash and curb double-digit inflation. About 1.3 trillion naira ($2.8 billion) in old notes has been deposited into the bank since the announcement in October, according to the bank.

Some politicians have queried the CBN's timing for the swap, ahead of elections this month, where campaigns are funded mostly by cash.

Some ruling party officials have publicly accused the CBN of a plot to turn voters against its presidential candidate in the Feb. 25 election, in which President Muhammadu Buhari is not running as he will have already served two terms.

Opposition presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar has said extending the deadline would help by "reducing the financial consequences for citizens".

Three states on Monday asked the country's highest court to stop the federal government and central bank from ending the use of old naira notes this week, saying this was causing hardship ahead of the election.

By Camillus Eboh, Reuters

Related stories: States challenge central bank cash swap deadline in Nigeria

Video - Nigerian banks face a shortage of new naira notes

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Video - Asisat Oshoala football academy grows in strength

Nigerian and African top women's footballer, Asisat Oshoala is giving back to her society in a unique way. In 2022, she launched her foundation, which includes a football academy to empower marginalized girls in Nigeria by giving them access to sports and education.


States challenge central bank cash swap deadline in Nigeria

Three states in Nigeria have asked the country's highest court to stop the federal government and central bank from ending the use of old naira currency notes this week, saying this was causing hardships, ahead of an election later this month.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) gave a 10-day extension until Friday for citizens to turn in 1,000 ($2.17), 500 and 200 naira notes, after which they will cease to be legal tender.

The plan has sparked acute cash shortages and chaotic scenes at banks. Most transactions in Nigeria are still in cash.

Some ruling party officials have publicly accused the CBN of a plot to turn voters against its presidential candidate in the Feb. 25 election, in which President Muhammadu Buhari is not running because he is serving his final second term.

Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara state governments in northern Nigeria filed a suit in the Supreme Court on Monday saying the cash swap had caused restiveness among Nigerians and that this would "degenerate into the breakdown of law and order."

The three states are seeking an order "restraining the federal government through the CBN (and) the commercial banks from suspending on the 10th of February 2023 the time frame within which the now older versions of the 200, 500 and 1000 denominations of the Naira may no longer be legal tender."

The court could make an interim ruling this week.

By Camillus Eboh, Reuters

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15 Pilgrims from Nigeria killed by Burkina-Faso gunmen

At least 15 Nigerian Muslim pilgrims on their way to Senegal were killed when gunmen in Burkina Faso attacked the buses transporting them, Nigeria's presidency said on Monday.

"President Muhammadu Buhari has received the tragic news of the murder," the State House said in a statement without providing a number of casualties or further details on the attack.

A Nigerian presidency spokesperson told Reuters via a WhatsApp message that the death toll stood at 15 "so far".

According to a Senegalese religious order, unidentified assailants attacked the convoy of buses on Wednesday and killed 18 passengers.

The pilgrims were on their way to a religious ceremony in Senegal from Niger and Nigeria, a trip that involves crossing jihadist hotspots in northern Burkina Faso and central Mali.

"Eighteen passengers lost their lives during these attacks, and most of the survivors were robbed," the Medina Baye Mosque in Koalack, the Senegalese town where the victims were headed, said in a statement on Saturday.

Nigerian authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.

Nigeria's presidency said in the statement that it was in touch with Burkinabe authorities and awaiting the outcome of their investigation into the incident.

Burkina Faso's Foreign Affairs Minister Olivia Rouamba met with Nigeria's ambassador to the country on Monday to discuss the allegations.

"For the time being there is no concrete information or element picked up on the field that proves the veracity of these facts," Rouamba said in a statement after the meeting.

She added that authorities had strongly discouraged travel through the north due to "huge risks" of attacks.

Burkina Faso is battling a jihadist insurgency with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State that spilled over from neighbouring Mali in 2015.

Militants have spread over the tri-border area between Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger and encroached on coastal West African states despite costly international efforts to stop them.

Regular attacks on towns and villages, army posts and U.N. peacekeepers have caused thousands of deaths, displaced over 2 million people across the Sahel and aggravated food insecurity.

By Felix Onuah, Reuters

Monday, February 6, 2023

Tems wins Grammy award





Top Nigerian artists have joined music fans from across the world to congratulate singer Tems on winning a Grammy award.

She won the Best Melodic Rap Performance category for her contribution to the hit song "Wait for U" with Future and Drake.

They beat a strong field which included Kendrick Lamar and DJ Khaled.

Artists including Tiwa Savage, Waje and Omowunmi have posted messages congratulating Tems.

"It's Tems' time. Nobody can stop her shine. Superstar," posted Afrobeat singer Olamide.

Many fans have also taken to Twitter to congratulate her.

The 27-year-old has been praised by fellow artists for her vocal talent.

She reportedly has collaborations lined up with several mega starts including Beyoncé and Rihanna.

Meanwhile, South Africans Wouter Kellerman, Zakes Bantwini and Nomcebo Zikode also won a Grammy Award - for Best Global Music Performance for their collaboration Bayethe.


Friday, February 3, 2023

Artist from Nigeria turns flip-flops into portraits







Eugene Komboye, a Nigerian artist, is turning discarded plastic flip-flop sandals into colourful portraits in an effort to help clean up the environment in a country where plastic pollution is prevalent.

What started as an assignment in college in 2017, has become a full time job for Komboye, whose studio in the city of Abeokuta in the southwest state of Ogun now trains aspiring artists who want to follow in his footsteps and create flip-flop portraits.

Nigeria produces at least 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, according to government figures, with some of it finding its way into the ocean and rivers.

Flip-flops are the footwear of choice for many Nigerians and

Komboye, 30, sources his material mostly from dump sites, landfills and river banks. Back in his studio he disinfects and washes his findings before cutting them up and pasting them on a board to create a face on each one. Some customers come to his studio with photographs which he will use to create a personalised portrait.

By Seun Sanni, Reuters

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Nigerian painting sells for $1.4 million

800 ballot boxes destroyed by Gunmen in Nigeria

More than 800 ballot boxes were destroyed by armed gunmen, who attacked an office of the electoral commission in southeast Nigeria on Wednesday.

It's the latest in the series of attacks on the electoral commission's offices across the region, blamed on armed pro-Biafra separatists groups. Biafra was the country separatists hoped to create but was quashed during Nigeria's bloody civil war.

In recent years, pro-Biafra militants have caused widespread terror, attacking government and security posts, and more recently, electoral offices. It's raising fears for whether the election can hold as planned.

Insecurity is a huge issue in Nigeria, with a militant Islamist insurgency in the north east, banditry in the north west and a rise in kidnapping for cash countrywide. Voters in Africa's most populous country are due to head to the polls at the end of this month.

By Emmanuel Akinwotu, NPR   

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Video - Elections to go on despite security concerns in Nigeria



Thursday, February 2, 2023

Female bouncers in Nigeria challenging stereotypes

This Nigerian all-female security crew, known as the Dragon Squad, is breaking stereotypes in a male-dominated industry.

Al Jazeera 

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Police chief killed, including 7 others killed in Nigeria

Gunmen in central Nigeria have killed eight people, including a divisional police chief, in the latest violence before the February 25 presidential and parliamentary elections, police and a security source said on Wednesday.

Insecurity is a big issue for voters in a country where armed gangs terrorise people in villages and on highways, and carry out kidnappings for ransom, especially in the north.

Police in Benue state responded to a distress call after gunmen blocked the Markurdi-Naka road, forcing travellers to flee, state police spokesperson Catherine Sewuese Anene said.

The divisional police officer for Naka town, Mamud Abubakar, led a team of officers that engaged the armed gang in a gunfight, Anene said in a statement.

“However, the DPO (divisional police officer) who led the team sustained gunshot injuries and was rushed to General Hospital Naka where he was eventually confirmed dead,” she said.

A police source said two other police officers were shot and killed during the fight with the armed gang.

When the gunmen retreated, they killed two children and three women in a nearby village, said the source, who declined to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media. 

Al Jazeera

Related story: Video - Is Nigeria's security crisis out of control?


Nigeria disagrees with credit downgrade

Nigeria's finance minister said on Thursday she disagreed with what she called a "surprise" downgrade of the country's credit rating by Moody's, insisting the government was already addressing the agency's concerns.

Moody's downgraded the West African oil producer last week to Caa1 from B3, saying the government's fiscal and debt position was expected to keep deteriorating, an announcement that sent Nigeria's dollar-bond and currency forwards tumbling.

"Moody's downgrade came as a surprise to us because we had presented all the work that we have been doing to stablise the economy," the minister, Zainab Ahmed, told reporters in Abuja.

"But these are external rating agencies that don't have the full understanding of what is happening in our domestic environment."

She said she expected S&P's rating, due on Friday, would be more positive.

"S&P's assessment is not the same as Moody's. They have come out with a much better assessment," she said.

Nigeria has faced oil production shortages due to crude theft in recent years, though production has started to recover.

It has also suffered chronic dollar shortages coupled with high debt service which has eaten into government revenues.

Moody's cited these factors as reasons for its downgrade.

By Felix Onuah, Reuters

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Video - Nigerian banks face a shortage of new naira notes

Frustration is growing among millions of Nigerians who have queued at automated teller machines to collect new naira notes. The Central Bank of Nigeria extended the deadline to swap the old naira notes by an extra ten days, to February 10. But no one is confident that banks will have enough of the new notes by then.


Related story: Video - New currency in Nigeria to affect small businesses according to World Bank

Cash Withdrawals from Government Accounts to be banned in Nigeria



Nigeria becomes first country in Africa to have Starlink








The Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, SpaceX, on Monday announced that it has commenced the operation of Starlink services in Nigeria, the first African country to receive such.

Starlink is a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX launched in 2019. It provides satellite internet access coverage to about 46 countries, which is also targeting the global mobile phone service after 2023.

“Starlink is now available in Nigeria – the first African country to receive service!” a tweet posted on the official page of the satellite firm read.

SpaceX is an American spacecraft manufacturer, launcher, and a satellite communications corporation headquartered in California.

It was founded by Elon Musk, the billionaire owner of Tesla and the micro-blogging site Twitter, with the aim of reducing space transportation costs to enable the colonization of Mars.

Although Starlink’s internet services have been said to be accessible from any part of the country, bridging the existing internet connectivity gap across rural communities in Nigeria where other network operators could not deploy their services, analysts say that the high cost of Starlink may prevent many Nigerians from accessing this service.

Last week, Nigeria’s Communications Minister, Isa Pantami, while presenting the scorecard of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in the ICT sector, hinted that the country achieved a 100 per cent broadband coverage following the licensing and operation of SpaceX’s Starlink.

“Based on the National Broadband Plan, we were to have 90% broadband coverage by December 2025. However, we recently gave a licence to Starlink to provide services and this has given us 100% coverage, about 3 years ahead of schedule,” the minister said. 

By Abdulkareem Mojeed, Premium Times

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Nigeria Becoming Destination for Africa’s Promising Tech Startups

Cash shortage in Nigeria due to redesigned currency push

Nigeria's push to replace its paper money with newly designed currency notes has created a shortage of cash, leaving people unable to buy what they need and forcing businesses to close across the West African nation, experts and business groups said.

The Central Bank of Nigeria says the redesigned denominations of 200 naira (43 U.S. cents), 500 naira ($1.08) and 1,000 naira ($2.17) notes and new limits on large cash withdrawals would help curb money laundering and make digital payments the norm in Africa's biggest economy.

But the process to replace the old currency notes is "rushed," and commercial banks don't have enough new cash to give to customers, pushing demand higher than supply, said Ayokunle Olubunmi with Nigeria's main ratings agency, Agusto and Co.

The central bank "doesn't want us to be spending cash; they want us to be doing transactions electronically, but you can't legislate a change in behavior," Olubunmi said. "You have to make people see reasons and ensure those channels are reliable."

The government is pushing for a cashless economy that is more inclusive and says the changes will drive economic growth. Critics are skeptical, pointing to decades of chronic corruption in which government officials are known to loot public funds and create more hardship for the many struggling with poverty.

As of October, more than 80 percent of the 3.2 trillion naira ($7.2 billion) in circulation in Nigeria was in private hands, but 75 percent of that has now been deposited with financial institutions, the central bank governor, Godwin Emefiele, said over the weekend.

He extended the deadline for Nigerians to deposit their old banknotes by 10 days, to Feb. 10.

Even as more Nigerians deposit old currency in banks, the Associated Press found some financial institutions were still issuing the outdated notes to customers as of Monday. Bank customers told the AP they are allowed to withdraw very little cash and face high bank charges for each transaction.

Digital payments run by banks are often unreliable in Nigeria, leaving businesses struggling as growing numbers of customers have been unable to find the cash to pay for goods and services. The situation has created a parallel market for people to illegally sell the new banknotes, the Nigeria secret police said Monday.

The cash supply crisis has disrupted such sales across the country, forcing a good number of businesses to shut down, said Muda Yusuf, head of the Nigeria Center for Promotion of Private Enterprise.

"The two critical sectors of the economy -- trade and commerce as well as agriculture -- have been very badly affected because they do a lot of transactions in cash, especially in rural areas," Yusuf said. "This policy has brought their economic activities to a halt."

Authorities should allow more time for the old notes to be gradually replaced by the new ones, he said.

"To make matters worse, the supply is extremely limited. Economic activities have been practically crippled as some people have locked their shops," Yusuf added.


Related stories: Chaos in Nigeria as deadline on cash swap gets closer

Video - New currency in Nigeria to affect small businesses according to World Bank

Presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar denies new allegation of corruption








Nigerian opposition presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar said he is willing to disclose his assets if compelled by law and denied a new corruption allegation against him ahead of the Feb. 25 election, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

Atiku, who was vice president from 1999 to 2007, is the main opposition People's Democratic Party's candidate and among the top three contenders to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari, whose final term ends in May.

The candidate, a 76-year-old businessman, has previously faced allegations of corruption, which he denies.

Atiku told the BBC he would disclose his assets if a law was enacted requiring it and that he would "take it in good faith" if he lost the election.

"The law doesn't provide that we should make it (assets) public. But if the law says we should make it public, I will make it public. I don't mind it," he said.

A ruling party official last week filed a motion with the High Court in Abuja asking it to order the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and other agencies to arrest and prosecute Atiku over a leaked audio.

On the audio, which Reuters has not verified, someone who sounds like Atiku describes a plan to divert funds from government projects and cover up that the person received the money.

When asked to comment on the audio, Atiku told the BBC: "That voice has disclosed nothing new."

When pressed if it was his voice in the audio he said, "Nothing new."

"All what I know, all corrupt practices or corrupt allegations against me have been investigated in this country more than anybody else and nothing was found against me."

Atiku figured prominently in the corruption trial of former U.S. Representative William Jefferson, who was accused of trying to bribe Atiku in an effort to expand a technology business in Nigeria. Jefferson was convicted in 2009 and sentenced to 13 years in prison. His sentence was subsequently reduced.

Separately, U.S. Senate investigators in 2010 alleged that one of Atiku's four wives helped him transfer more than $40 million in "suspect funds" into the United States from offshore shell companies.

By MacDonald Dzirutwe, Reuters