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Nigeria's economy grew 3.46% in the fourth quarter, a similar pace as it did a year earlier, data showed on Thursday, as oil output picked up and government reforms to boost growth began to take effect.

Gross domestic product grew quicker than in the two previous quarters of 2023. GDP grew 2.54% in the third quarter and 2.51% in the second.

Growth in the final quarter of 2022 was 3.52% in annual terms.

National Bureau of Statistics said full-year growth for 2023 was 2.74%.

"The performance of the GDP in the fourth quarter of 2023 was driven mainly by the services sector, which recorded a growth of 3.98% and contributed 56.55% to the aggregate GDP," the statistics office said.

Growth in the agriculture and industrial sectors, which create jobs, improved marginally during the period, compared with a year ago, the data showed.

Average daily oil output rose to 1.55 million barrels per day, up from 1.34 million a year ago.

Nigeria relies on oil production for about two-thirds of government earnings and 90% of its foreign exchange income.

"The real growth of the oil sector was 12.11% year-on-year in Q4 2023, indicating an increase of 25.5% points relative to the rate recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2022 at -13.38%," said the statistics office.

 

Reuters

Federal government has announced the suspension of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) exports.

Ekperikpe Ekpo, minister of state for petroleum resources (gas) made this known on Thursday during an “Internal Stakeholders’ Workshop” in Abuja.

He said the action is part of a deliberate attempt to increase the availability of LPG in the domestic market and lessen the financial strain on customers due to the hike in the price of the commodity.

“We are interacting with critical stakeholders to ensure that there is no exportation of LPG. All LPG produced within the country will have to be domesticated. When this is done, the volume will increase and of course, the price will automatically crash,” he said. 

“I am in contact with the regulation, NMDPRA, we hold meetings almost on a daily basis, and the producers such as Mobil, Chevron, and Shell. So, there is that hope that things will turn around. We don’t need to make noise about it.”

The minister underlined the need for banning the export of domestically manufactured LPG, saying the entire production will be utilised within the country.

He said the expected increase in the volume available for the domestic market and price reductions would bring relief to customers struggling with the high cost of cooking gas.

The development comes amid a rise in the price of the product.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the average retail price for refilling a 12.5kg cylinder of LPG increased by 0.28 percent on a month-on-month basis from N10,248.97 in December 2022 to N10,277.17 in January 2023.

Currently, the 12.5kg sells for between N15,000 and N16,000.

 

The Cable/NewsScroll

Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) announced the distribution of N1.149 trillion in January 2024 revenue, marking an increase compared to December 2023.

FAAC’s spokesperson, Bawa Mokwa, disclosed in a statement on Thursday that the amount was distributed among the Federal Government, States, and Local Government Councils.

The N1.149 trillion in total distributable revenue comprised distributable statutory revenue of N463.079 billion, distributable Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue of N391.787 billion, Electronic Money Transfer Levy (EMTL) revenue of N15.922 billion and Exchange Difference revenue of N279.028 billion, according to a communiqué issued by FAAC.

FAAC said that the total revenue of N2.068 trillion was available in January 2024, while the total deductions for the cost of collection were N78.412 billion, total transfers, interventions and refunds were N639.926 billion and savings were N200 billion.

“Gross statutory revenue of N1.151 trillion was received for January 2024. This was higher than N875.382 billion received in December 2023 by N 276.426 billion,” the statement reads.

“The gross revenue available from the Value Added Tax (VAT) in January 2024 was N420.733 billion. This was lower than the N492.506 billion available in December 2023 by N71.773 billion.”

The communique disclosed that the federal government received the largest share (N407 billion), followed by states (N379 billion) and local governments (N278 billion) from the N1.148 trillion total distributable revenue.

Additionally, N85.101 billion (13% of mineral revenue) was also shared with the benefiting states as derivation revenue.

It added that FG also received N216.757 billion of the N463.079 billion in distributable statutory revenue, while the state governments received N109.942 billion and the local government councils received N84.761 billion.

N51.619 billion (13% of mineral revenue) was shared with the benefiting states as derivation revenue.

According to FAAC, FG received N58.768 billion, state governments received N195.894 billion and local government councils received N137.125 billion from the N391.787 billion distributable VAT revenue.

The agency added that the N15.922 billion EMTL was shared as follows: the Federal Government received N2.388 billion, State Governments received N7.961 billion and Local Government Councils received N5.573 billion.

From the N 279.028 billion exchange difference revenue, FG received N129.354 billion, state governments received N65.610 billion, and local government received N50.582 billion, adding that N33.482 billion (13% of mineral revenue) was shared to the benefiting states as derivation revenue.

“In January 2024, Companies Income Tax (CIT), Import Duty, Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT) and Oil and Gas Royalties increased significantly, while Value Added Tax (VAT), Export Duty, Electronic Money Transfer Levy (EMTL) and CET Levies decreased considerably. The balance in the ECA was $473,754.57.”

 

The Guardian

Some hoodlums have disrupted a protest by fish vendors, and stolen food items from trucks stuck in traffic, along Kaduna road in Suleja area of Niger state.

Confirming the development to our correspondent on Thursday, Sadiq Bala, a candidate of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) for the Suleja constituency, said the fish sellers were protesting the rapid increase in prices of fish.

Bala said the fish vendors started the protest at about 10 am on Thursday.

“It was fish sellers that started the protest before it was hijacked by aggrieved youths who turned it into a hardship demonstration,” he said.

“According to the reports I got from the scene, the price of a carton of fish was N34,000 yesterday but this morning the price rose to N48,000, so the reaction was in response to the increase.

“Some passers-by came and took over the protest. They blocked the Abuja-Kaduna road which is a very busy road, so they were able to draw attention.

“Yes, they started with pineapple, they hijacked a vehicle — a red Volkswagen carrying pineapples — but the driver was able to escape.

“There were some Dangote and BUA trucks on the road. They hijacked the trucks and started to steal food items.

“One of the trucks was carrying bags of rice. They were able to overwhelm the driver and some of them even started celebrating.

“Security operatives were there. Soldiers came, Suleja and Tafa police went there and started firing teargas, so they were able to disperse the protesters.”

When contacted, Wasiu Abiodun, police spokesperson in Niger, also confirmed the development.

“There was a protest this morning along Kaduna road, Suleja, and the protest plan was not communicated to the police. It was later discovered to be hijacked by some miscreants who blocked the highway,” he said.

“Area commander Suleja, Sani Musa, mobilised patrol teams to the scene, dispersed the protesters and the highway was cleared for free flow of traffic. However, monitoring continues.”

Recently, residents of Minna, the Niger state capital and Suleja area of the state, protested the high cost of living in the country.

Demonstrations have also been staged in some parts of the country as prices of food items continue to skyrocket since the removal of petrol subsidy in May 2023.

 

The Cable

Mideast cease-fire efforts gain steam as US envoy visits. Mediators report 'encouraging' signs

International efforts to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas appeared to gain new momentum Thursday as the White House said a visit by a senior envoy with Israeli leaders was “going well” and other mediators reported encouraging signs from the warring parties.

The new signs of progress came ahead of an expected summit this weekend in Paris, where mediators plan to present a new proposal. The U.S., Egypt and Qatar have been struggling for weeks to find a formula that could halt Israel’s devastating offensive in Gaza, but now face an unofficial deadline as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan approaches.

White House Mideast envoy Brett McGurk held talks throughout the day with Israeli leaders and families of Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

“The initial indications we’re getting from Brett are these discussions are going well,” said White House spokesman John Kirby.

A Western diplomat involved in the efforts said both sides want a pause. “What we have heard from our partners is that they are willing to give concessions,” she said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door diplomacy. “Time is pressing them.”

In new fighting, Israeli strikes killed over 70 people in southern and central Gaza, Palestinian health officials said.

Tensions were also rising in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where three Palestinian gunmen opened fire on morning traffic at a highway checkpoint, killing one man and wounding five others, Israeli police said.

Israel declared war after Hamas militants stormed across the border on Oct. 7, killing some 1,200 people and taking 250 others hostage. The Israeli offensive has left over 29,000 Palestinians dead, caused widespread destruction, displaced an estimated 80% of Gaza’s population and fueled a humanitarian disaster.

Roughly half of the hostages were released during a weeklong cease-fire in November. About 100 hostages remain in captivity, in addition to the bodies of 30 others who were killed on Oct. 7 or died in captivity.

Israel is demanding the release of the remaining hostages as part of any pause but has vowed to press ahead with the offensive until Hamas’ military and governing capabilities are destroyed. Hamas wants an end to the war, a full withdrawal of troops and the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners Israel is holding.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dismissed the Hamas demands as “delusional.” But in recent days, Israeli leaders have begun to voice cautious optimism and Hamas has signaled it is softening its demands.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, a member of Israel’s three-man War Cabinet, indicated some flexibility. “We will expand the authority given to our hostage negotiators,” he said.

At the same time, he warned that the Israeli army “is preparing the continuation of intense ground operations.”

Benny Gantz, who sits on the War Cabinet with Gallant and Netanyahu, has said that if there is no hostage deal, Israel will launch a ground offensive into Gaza’s southernmost town, Rafah, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins around March 10.

A top Hamas official, meanwhile, voiced hope for “lots of breakthroughs” in the near future.

More than half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million is crowded into Rafah after fleeing fighting elsewhere in the territory. Israel has said it will evacuate them before attacking. But it is not clear where they would go, with much of the rest of the tiny Mediterranean enclave consumed in combat.

The U.S. has urged Israel not to invade Rafah – believed to be Hamas’ last major stronghold – without a plan to protect civilians. Kirby said that McGurk was pressing the Israelis for details.

The foreign ministers of 26 European countries on Thursday called for a pause in fighting leading to a longer cease-fire.

CEASE-FIRE

Both the Western diplomat and an Egyptian official said they have seen “encouraging” signs from Israel and Hamas.

The Egyptian official said Egypt, Qatar and the U.S. would craft a renewed proposal at the talks in Paris, expected on Friday or Saturday.

He said mediators managed to water down demands of both sides, including the number of Palestinian prisoners Israel would release in return for women and elderly hostages during a preliminary six-week cease-fire. He said “the discussions are encouraging.”

He said another sticking point is whether displaced Palestinians could return to their homes in northern Gaza. He said Israel, which is still battling in areas of the north, was showing flexibility.

He also said both sides agreed to continue indirect negotiations for a permanent cease-fire – something Israeli officials in public have ruled out.

Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official, said the negotiations were focused on “our people.” He called for Palestinians to be allowed to return to their homes in northern Gaza and a “redeployment” of Israeli forces from residential areas.

“If this is achieved, things can move on an excellent and good way,” he said. “Therefore we say there might be lots of breakthroughs in the near future.”

Israeli media said the War Cabinet agreed late Thursday to send a delegation to the Paris talks.

WEST BANK SHOOTING AND RAMADAN TENSIONS

Thursday’s shooting came at a checkpoint on a West Bank highway where the gunmen opened fire on cars in the morning rush-hour traffic jam. An Israeli man in his 20s was killed and five others wounded, including a pregnant woman. Security forces killed two of the gunmen and detained the third, police said.

Hamas praised the attack in Jerusalem and said it was a “natural response” to Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza and raids in the West Bank. But the militant group did not claim responsibility for the attack.

Tensions are rising in the West Bank ahead of Ramadan, which in the past has seen increased clashes, often in connection to restrictions imposed on Palestinian worshippers going to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City during the holy month.

Israel’s hardline national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, has called for tight restrictions on Muslim prayers this year. But no final decisions have been made.

Tempers are likely to be even more volatile this year over the Gaza war and spiraling violence in the West Bank.

Late Thursday, the Palestinian Health Ministry in the West Bank said one man was killed and 15 wounded, two critically, in an Israeli attack on a car in the Jenin refugee camp. The Israeli military had no immediate comment, but it often operates in the area in what it says is a crackdown on militants.

BOMBARDMENT CONTINUES

Late Thursday, Palestinian health officials said at least 27 people were killed in airstrikes in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah. Ambulances rushed victims to the Al-Aqsa Martrys’ Hospital.

A small child was rushed into the hospital on a stretcher, while a youth, covered in black soot, was treated as he sat on the floor in the entrance of the building.

Strikes in central and southern Gaza earlier Thursday had killed at least 48, including 14 children and 8 women, according to hospital officials there.

Gaza’s Health Ministry, meanwhile, said Israeli forces have repositioned around southern Gaza’s largest hospital – a week after storming into the facility in what Israel said was a search for signs of Israeli hostages.

The ministry said Israeli forces had moved out of the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, but were effectively besieging it and restricting movement for staff and patients. The complex is now grappling with severe shortages, including a lack of drinking water, food, electricity, oxygen, and necessary medical supplies, it said.

The Israeli military said that troops were no longer in the hospital, but that the area remained “an active battle zone.”

 

AP

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

Russia says it has taken Pobieda village in Donetsk region, Ukraine reports fighting

Russian troops have taken the village of Pobieda in Ukraine's Donetsk region, the Russian defence ministry said on Thursday, but the Ukrainian military said its forces were repelling dozens of attacks in the area.

Pobieda is a village south of Maryinka, a town that has been all but levelled by months of clashes.

Russia's defence ministry said it had taken Pobieda and improved its position in several other areas of the Donetsk region.

The General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces, in its evening report on Facebook, said its troops "continue to contain the enemy" around Pobieda and a nearby village, Novomykhailivka.

"The enemy, with the support of aviation, attempted to breach our troops' defences 31 times," the report said.

A widely read Ukrainian military blog, DeepState, reported that Russian forces had occupied Pobieda and were advancing on two other villages.

Reuters could not independently verify battlefield reports from either side.

 

RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

Ukrainian military loses 410 troops near Donetsk in 24 hours — Russian Defense Ministry

The total losses of Ukraine’s military near Donetsk over the past day exceeded 410 men, the Russian Defense Ministry has said.

Here are the details of this and other combat actions that happened over the past 24 hours, according to the Ministry report.

Donetsk Area

"The Battlegroup South inflicted damage on Ukraine’s 92nd Assault Brigade, 79th Airborne Assault Brigade, and 46th Aeromobile Brigade in the areas of Novomikhailovka and Krasnogorovka in the Donetsk People's Republic," the Defense Ministry said

"Ukraine’s losses totaled over 410 troops, 1 tank, 3 armored combat vehicles, 5 other vehicles, self-propelled artillery pieces Krab, of Polish manufacture, and Bogdana howitzer, D-20 howitzer, and self-propelled howitzer Gvozdika," it added.

The Russian armed forces has liberated the Pobeda settlement in the Donetsk area and improved the positions along the line of engagement, the Defense Ministry said.

"In the Donetsk area, Russia’s battlegroup South has liberated the Pobeda settlement and improved the positions along the front line," the Ministry said.

Southern Donetsk Area

Russian forces struck two Ukrainian army brigades in the south Donetsk area, destroying roughly 155 enemy troops and a tank over the past day in the special military operation in Ukraine, the Defense Ministry reported on Thursday.

"In the south Donetsk direction, units of the Battlegroup East conducted active operations and inflicted damage by firepower on the Ukrainian army’s 58th mechanized and 128th territorial defense brigades near the settlements of Novodonetskoye and Staromayorskoye in the Donetsk People’s Republic," the Ministry said in a statement.

The Ukrainian army’s losses in the south Donetsk direction over the past 24 hours amounted to 155 personnel, two armored fighting vehicles, a combat vehicle of Strela-10 surface-to-air missile system, three motor vehicles, a Msta-B howitzer, an M-46 towed gun and an electronic warfare station, the Ministry specified.

Avdeyevka Area

In the past 24 hours, the Russian Armed Forces advanced their forward positions and repelled nine Ukrainian attacks and counterattacks in the Avdeyevka area, the Defense Ministry reported, adding that the enemy lost up to 145 servicemen.

"On Avdeyevka direction, forces of Battlegroup Center occupied more advantageous positions and inflicted damage to personnel and vehicles of 53 Mechanized, 3rd Assault, 107th and 116th territorial defense brigades near settlements of Orlovka and Tonenkoye, DPR. Nine attacks and counterattacks were repelled near settlements of Novgorodskoye, Leninskoye, Berdychi, Lastochkino and Pervomayskoye, DPR," the Ministry said.

The enemy lost "up to 145 troops, 5 BMP armored vehicles, two US-made M113 armored personnel carriers, 26 automobile vehicles and a US-made M777 artillery system," the report says.

Kupyansk Area

The Ukrainian armed forces lost up to 30 servicemen in the Kupyansk area over the past 24 hours, the Defense Ministry reported.

"In the Kupyansk area, Russia’s battlegroup West inflicted a fire defeat on the manpower and equipment of the 10th Ukrainian mountain assault brigade, 14th mechanized brigade near Petropavlovka in the Kharkov Region. In addition, three attacks of the 57th Ukrainian motorized infantry brigade were repulsed near Sinkovka in the Kharkov Region. The enemy lost up to 30 servicemen, two armored personnel carriers and three vehicles," the Ministry said, adding that Russian forces also destroyed the enemy’s M777 artillery system, a US-made M198 howitzer, a Hyacinth-S gun and a Gvozdika howitzer.

Kherson Area

The Ukrainian armed forces have lost up to 50 troops, as well as two tanks and an M109 Paladin self-propelled artillery gun in the past 24 hours, the Defense Ministry said.

"In the Kherson area, units of battlegroup Dnepr, acting in coordination, fired for effect hitting manpower and military hardware of the 28th Mechanized Brigade, the 35th Marine Brigade and the 121st Territorial Defense Brigade near the settlements of Shcherbaki in the Zaporozhye Region, as well as Ivanovka and Mikhailovka in the Kherson Region," the Ministry said.

In addition, three enemy attacks were repelled near Rabotino settlement in the Zaporozhye Region, it added. Ukraine’s losses amounted to up to 50 servicemen, two tanks, two armored combat vehicles and seven vehicles. A US-made M109 Paladin self-propelled artillery gun, an Msta-B howitzer, and a Gvozdika motorized artillery system were hit in counterbattery activities, the Ministry reported.

Destroyed equipment tally

The Russian army over the past 24 hours has hit a launcher and a transportation and loading vehicle of the Patriot anti-aircraft missile system, the Ministry said.

"Tactical aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, missile units and artillery have hit a launcher and a transportation and loading vehicle of anti-aircraft missile system Patriot of US manufacture, as well as manpower and materiel the Ukrainian army in 114 areas," the news release reads.

Russian air defense forces shot down an S-200 surface-to-air missile converted for striking ground targets and 95 Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles over the past day in the special military operation in Ukraine, the Ministry reported.

"During the last 24-hour period, air defense capabilities shot down an S-200 surface-to-air missile converted for striking ground targets, eight rockets of the HIMARS multiple launch rocket system and a JDAM air guided bomb," the Ministry stated.

In addition, they destroyed 95 unmanned aerial vehicles in areas near the settlements of Chervonopopovka, Golikovo in the Lugansk People’s Republic, Staromlynovka in the Donetsk People’s Republic, Verbovoye, Novofyodorovka, Tokmak in the Zaporozhye Region and Novaya Mayachka in the Kherson Region, the Ministry specified.

 

Reuters/Tass

Nigeria’s politicians have perfected the art of burying themselves with one foot sticking out. And it appears that the All Progressives Congress (APC) will, once again, stage this rite of self-destruction in the forthcoming governorship election in Edo State.

The party’s primaries on Saturday was such a shambles, it has now been forced to conduct it again, with no guarantee of a sensible outcome for an exercise involving perhaps less than 500,000 members (parties routinely inflate their roll). If Governor Godwin Obaseki’s ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), had paid to put a spell on APC, the outcome would not have been more potentially devastating.  

Yet, this is a governor whose bet to install a successor from his own party is not necessarily based on his own record, but on the gift of an opposition in disarray.

After the turbulent last four years at Osadebey House between Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, it looked all but certain that the divided house of PDP would collapse when elections hold again in September.

And this was not wishful thinking. Not only has the common political front that paved the way for Obaseki’s ascension to power in his first term eroded; in his second term, he has been fighting both internal and external political enemies, severely limiting his attention and performance.

If his first term was uneventful, it was precisely because that was when the seed of the state’s future political crisis was sown. Even though his benefactor, former Governor Adams Oshiomhole, had installed him in office in the hope of replicating the Tinubu-Fashola model in Lagos, Obaseki had other plans.

The new “tuke-tuke”

Once he was ensconced in office, he made a point of telling the remnant of the Oshiomhole crowd still hanging around the corridors of power, that power had changed hands. No longer, he reportedly said, were the days of “tuke-tuke” politics, a carryover from the era of Tony Anenih, which former Edo State Commissioner for Information and presidential aide, Louis Odion, once described in Louis-pedia as a political variant that empowered touts and prioritised rent for politicians for doing little or no work.

Obaseki, the blue-eyed Lagos Boy and financial consultant, advertised as the answer to Edo State’s private sector woes, should know. He was a core member of Oshiomhole’s cabinet, now determined to carve his own path.

When after taking power, however, he began to cut off the supply line to the trough, starving the APC’s political structure in the state of nutrition, the battle line with Oshiomhole was drawn. The former governor who had also become the Chairman of the APC at the time, used his position to block Obaseki from getting the party’s ticket for a second term.

Obaseki of course milked public sympathy and later decamped to the PDP where he contested and won re-election. As a result of his defection, he governed with a hostile, hobbled parliament. Fourteen – and later 10 – out of the 24 members of the State House of Assembly were in the opposition and they operated mostly from a hideout provided in Abuja by Oshiomhole.

Significantly damaged in legitimacy, there was very little Obaseki could do. He has spent a greater part of the last four years watching his back for a deputy who, were he in the opposition, could not have plunged more daggers in the government’s back.

Residents have borne the brunt. Not only has Obaseki replaced the old cult of “tuke-tuke” with the new cult of “yes-men,” reports from the state also indicate that there are few paved roads and other social infrastructure such as water, hospitals, and schools, especially in areas outside the capital, Benin City.

The more you look…

Not unlike a good number of the states, the doubling of the state’s internally generated revenue from N1.8billion monthly in 2016 has barely been felt in rural areas where homes are still without water and school buildings are still largely without roofs and students without teachers.

Although Edo is currently ranked above its peers in the South-South poverty league with 1.4m (out of the state’s 3.9m population) living in multidimensional poverty, a government determined to make its mark could have done far more to lift the people.

Obaseki has done well in cultivating an elite in smart suits, while keeping up a façade of performance, especially with high-profile media events like Edo Best, Alaghodaro Summit, and the renovation of the Secretariat. But as surely as the ball of pounded yam never fails to press into the straying fish crumb in the soup, these projects have been criticised, particularly by the opposition, as the government’s conduit pipes.

Edo could not have been riper for the taking than in its present state, but Oshiomhole’s ambition may well be the wrecking ball. In my forecast entitled, “What you might expect in 2024,” published last December 28, I said, “The biggest danger to APC’s victory is Oshiomhole…except the APC finds an overwhelmingly appealing candidate, the party could be in for a surprise.”

The result of the party’s “inconclusive” primaries on Saturday, showed that the surprise came early. From reports, Oshiomhole, APC’s certified nemesis in Edo, managed to suborn forces in the Presidency to hand over the party’s flag to Dennis Idahosa – a candidate that Oshiomhole’s government had once described as “untrustworthy,” the most flattering of the government’s description at that time.  

But suspects have their moments of redemption. Except that in this case reports on the conduct of the primaries on Saturday showed that even the redeemer seemed so far gone in his waywardness, he suborned not only Abuja, but also one of the most notorious political conductors to supervise the primaries.

A crime scene

The result, of course, was parallel primaries. One with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officers present – as it should be – that produced Monday Okpebholo; and the other, which invariably produced Idahosa, became a crime scene.

The outcome was neither organised, even from the point of a common heist, which it was; nor was it politically strategic. Idahosa, the beneficiary of that crime scene, is from Edo South, where Obaseki, who is backing Asue Ighodalo, a candidate from Edo Central, could significantly undermine APC’s votes. A third candidate, Anamero Dekeri, even emerged from the woodwork, to claim victory!

It's true that whether a political party holds its primaries in the motor park or at a brothel, it is not the business of non-party members. The point, unfortunately, is that we have seen that in the end, voters pay for the travesty, corruption and incompetence in the parties.

APC should have learnt that lesson in Zamfara four years ago when a court ruling invalidated the entire state election over shambolic party primaries, never mind a recent Supreme Court ruling that has further muddied the waters.

At elections, voters often have uninspiring choices – Tweedle-dee and Tweedledum – inflicted on them by party primaries that were anything but primaries. The crimes committed by politicians behind closed doors soon become public bastards, often leading to voter apathy, bitter wranglings or needless court disputes. It’s incredible that parties that can’t even manage their own affairs want a chance on the bigger stage.

PDP may laugh – and indeed it should, as it appears that the APC has already handed it the shovel to finish off the burial rites. But with Obaseki’s deputy, Shaibu, threatening to bring down the roof, it would be interesting to see how the PDP and the Labour Party, which is also having its own troubles, organise their own primaries.

If Nigeria’s elections – party, local council, state or federal – has taught anything, it is that as surely as a stumble precedes a fall, shambolic primaries lay the foundation for turbulent electoral outcomes and unstable governments.

Once again, Edo is proving that the story is not about to change.

** Ishiekwene is Editor-In-Chief of LEADERSHIP

 

  • WhatsApp has launched four new text formatting options today
  • These are bulleted lists, numbered lists, block quotes, and incline code  

There's nothing more frustrating than coming home from the shops only to realise you've forgotten a vital ingredient. 

But with new text formats in WhatsApp, there will no longer be any excuse for forgetting your shopping list.

Today, the popular messaging app has launched four new text formats to make it easier for users to communicate.

These are the bulleted list, numbered list, block quote, and incline code.

Here's how you can try them out for yourself. 

81533397-13109109-WhatsApp_has_launched_four_new_text_formats_to_make_it_easier_fo-a-80_1708527484157.jpg.avif

How to use the new formatting options

Bulleted Lists to help outline steps in a process, list ingredients in a recipe or call out main points of a message

  • To use, type the - symbol, followed by a space

Numbered Lists to note a specific order of things such as instructions or recap of events

  • To use, type 1 or 2 digits followed by a period and one space

Block Quote to help highlight key text and make it more noticeable in messages

  • To use, type the > symbol followed by a space

Inline Code to help distinguish specific information within a sentence

  • To use, wrap text with ` symbol

From today, WhatsApp users on Android, iOS, Web, and Mac desktop will have access to a new set of options to customise their messages. 

WhatsApp says that the new formats will 'help save time and help people communicate more effectively via their messages, especially in group chats.'

These new options will also be available to channel admins to enable clearer communication.  

These new options come in addition to the bold, italic, strikethrough, and monospace options that are already available.

Each of the four new formats has a specific shortcut which users include in their messages. 

To use the bulleted list, which adds bullet points for lists or to highlight key points, simply add a '-'  followed by a space before typing your message.

For example, you could write: - Message 

Add this before each part of the message you want to be bulleted to create a longer list with multiple points. 

To create a numbered list the process is very similar, simply type out the number you want to use followed by a period and then a space, for example: 1. Message

Repeat this for as many steps as you want to include for longer numbered lists. 

WhatsApp says that you can use up to two digits so lists with up to 99 numbered points are now possible,

To highlight a specific piece of text or make it more noticeable within the message you can use a 'Block Quote'.

WhatsApp new tool lets you create and share your own stickers

To use this format, type the '>' symbol followed by a space before your message. For example: > Message.

Finally, to use the 'Incline Code' format, which WhatsApp says is to distinguish specific information, you need to add punctuation before and after your message.

Place a `symbol on either side of the text you want to be formatted, for example: `Message`.

This works in a similar way to WhatsApp's previous formatting options which all require symbols to wrap the formatted text.

 

Daily Mail

  • With inflation nearing 30% and its currency hitting an all-time low, Nigeria is facing one of its worst economic crises in years.
  • The latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics on Thursday showed that the headline consumer price index (CPI) rose to 29.9% year-on-year in January, its highest level since 1996.
  • The surging cost of living and economic hardship sparked protests across the country over the weekend.

With annual inflation nearing 30% and a currency in freefall, Nigeria is facing one of its worst economic crises in years, provoking nationwide outrage and protests.

The Nigerian naira hit a new all-time low against the U.S. dollar on both the official and parallel foreign exchange markets on Monday, sliding to almost 1,600 against the greenback on the official market from around 900 at the start of the year.

President Bola Tinubu announced Tuesday that the federal government plans to raise at least $10 billion to boost foreign exchange liquidity and stabilize the naira, according to multiple local media reports.

The currency is down around 70% since May 2023 when Tinubu took office, inheriting a struggling economy and promising a raft of reforms aimed at steadying the ship.

In a bid to fix the beleaguered economy and attract international investment, Tinubu unified Nigeria's multiple exchange rates and enabled market forces to set the exchange rate, sending the currency plunging. In January, the market regulator also changed how it calculates the currency's closing rate, resulting in another de facto devaluation.

Years of foreign exchange controls have also generated enormous pent-up demand for U.S. dollars at a time when overseas investment and crude oil exports have declined.

"The weakened exchange rate should increase imported inflation, which will exacerbate price pressures in Nigeria," Pieter Scribante, senior political economist at Oxford Economics, said in a note Friday.

The country is Africa's largest economy and has a population of more than 210 million people, but relies heavily on imports to meet the needs of its rapidly growing population.

"Shrinking disposable incomes and worsening cost-of-living pressures should remain concerns throughout 2024, further stifling consumer spending and private sector growth," Scribante added.

Inflation, meanwhile, continues to soar, with the headline consumer price index hitting 29.9% year-on-year in January, its highest level since 1996. The increase is being driven by a persistent rise in food prices which jumped by 35.4% last month compared to the year before.

The surging cost of living and economic hardship prompted protests across the country over the weekend. The plummeting currency has added to the negative impact of government reforms such as the removal of gas subsidies, which tripled gas prices.

Tinubu said in late July that the government had already saved more than 1 trillion naira ($666.4 million) from removing the subsidies, which it will redirect into infrastructure investment.

Alongside soaring inflation and a plunging currency, Nigeria is also battling record levels of government debt, high unemployment, power shortages and declining oil production — its main export. These economic pressures are compounded by violence and insecurity in many rural areas.

"Excess market liquidity, exchange rate pressures, and food and fuel shortages threaten price stability, while inflation risks rising out of the government's control," Oxford Economics' Scribante added.

"Robust import demand could force the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to reimpose import bans and FX restrictions to lessen the burden on the balance of payments. This could exacerbate domestic product shortages and increase inflation further."

Inflation is expected to peak at nearly 33% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2024, according to Oxford Economics, and could stay higher for longer given the plethora of economic risks ahead.

"Furthermore, rising inflation and increased hawkishness by the CBN indicate that the policy rate could be raised this quarter," Scribante said. The policy rate currently sits at 18.75%.

"We expect a combined 200 bps in rate hikes at the next two MPC meetings, scheduled for end-February and end-March this year; however, we think that more hikes are needed to stem rising inflation," Scribante added.

Jason Tuvey, deputy chief emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, sees the CBN opting for a bigger interest rate bazooka when policymakers meet on Feb. 26 and 27.

"The meeting will be a key test of whether the policy shift under Tinubu is truly regaining some momentum," Tuvey said in a note Thursday.

"We expect that the MPC will try to restore some of its inflation-fighting credibility by delivering a large interest rate of 400bp, to 22.75%."

 

CNBC

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says it is reviewing its local food procurement and will buy food in Nigeria only in stable market conditions.

According to a statement on Wednesday by the international organisation, the decision was made amid rising inflation and high food prices exacerbated by market speculation in Nigeria.

On February 15, 2024, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported food inflation rate in January this year was 35.41 percent on a year-on-year basis.

This is 11.1 percent points higher compared to 24.32 percent rate recorded in January 2023.

According to the bureau, the rise in food inflation was caused by increases in prices of bread and cereals, oil and fat, potatoes, yam and other tubers, fish, meat, and fruit.

WFP said it “noted high inflation rates, and food price rises,” during a monitoring mission in Borno, Yobe, and Kano states.

According to the organisation, this presents significant challenges for Nigerians, especially for those who are displaced, unable to cultivate, and reliant on markets for food.

“High rates of inflation and soaring market prices have reduced the purchasing power of many Nigerian families, especially those in the conflict-affected Northeast Nigeria,” WFP said.

‘4.4 MILLION NIGERIANS WILL NEED FOOD ASSISTANCE IN JUNE-AUGUST’

“The November 2023 Cadre Harmonisé food security analysis projected that up to 4.4 million people in the northeast states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe will require food assistance during the June-August 2024 lean season, with over 1 million people facing emergency levels of hunger (IPC/CH phase 4).

“In 2024, WFP is planning to reach 1.1 million vulnerable people with food and nutrition assistance in Nigeria. In the June–August lean season, when hunger is most acute, WFP will increase its support to reach 1.6 million people a month – dependent on available funding.”

David Stevenson, WFP’s country director and representative in Nigeria, said the organisation is aware of traders holding food in their warehouses pretending it is WFP’s.

“This is inaccurate as WFP has its limited stock only available to continue supporting the most vulnerable Nigerians with critical assistance,” he said. 

“We are undertaking a comprehensive review of our local food procurement. WFP will purchase food in Nigeria only when the market conditions are stable for all.”

Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu, on February 15, 2024, said he would not establish a price control board or approve the importation of food as measures to address the economic hardship in the country.

Tinubu made this known after Vice-President Kashim Shettima, on February 13, said the federal government plans to set up a commodity board to regulate the soaring prices of food in the country.

 

The Cable

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