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The House of Representatives Committee on National Security and Intelligence has called on the federal government to quickly purchase new aircraft for President Bola Tinubu and his Vice, Kashim Shettima.

This was disclosed in a report by Premium Times which added that the lawmakers are of the opinion that the cost of maintaining the 19-year-old aircraft used by Tinubu is high.

PT said that the House of Reps Committee believes that the high cost of maintenance has led to longer aircraft downtime and higher fleet running costs.

According to PT, the lawmakers made the request in a report issued after its technical subcommittee conducted a hearing on the status and airworthiness of aircraft in the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF).

“The Committee is of the strong and informed opinion that considering the fragile structure of the Nigerian federation and recognising the dire consequences of any foreseen or unforeseen mishap that may arise as a result of technical/operational inadequacy of the Presidential Air Fleet, it is in the best interest of the country to procure two additional aircraft as recommended,” the report read.

“This will also prove to be most cost-efficient in the long run apart from the added advantage of providing a suitable, comfortable and safe carrier befitting of the status and responsibilities of the office of the president and vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

According to PREMIUM TIMES which exclusively obtained the report, signed by the Committee’s chairperson, Ahmed Satomi, and clerk, Makwe Eric, some lawmakers said the document has since been forwarded to the presidency for immediate action.

Also according to the report, the presidential fleet has six aircraft: one Boeing 737, a Gulfstream G550, a Gulfstream GV, two Falcon 7Xs, and a Challenger CL605 with the committee saying that three of the aircraft were unserviceable as of the time it conducted its hearing.

In addition, PT said the fleet has six helicopters: two Agusta 139s and four Agusta 189s. The committee, quoting the Commander of the Presidential Air Fleet, Olayinka Oyesola, an Air Vice Marshal, said the two Agusta 139s are currently unserviceable.

“The committee states that the president’s 19-year-old Boeing 737 is unserviceable and currently undergoing annual maintenance. Conversely, the vice president’s 13-year-old Gulfstream G550 is in good condition,” the report read.

“Also, the Gulfstream GV is 23 years old and currently unserviceable. One of the Falcon 7Xs is serviceable, while the other is not.

“The Challenger CL605 is 12 years old and serviceable. The Agusta 139 helicopters, classified as unserviceable, are 17 and 18 years old, respectively.”

The committee also constituted a five-member panel to liaise with ONSA to determine the status and airworthiness of all aircraft in the PAF. The panel completed its assignment on 4 June, issuing a report that strongly argued for the replacement of the aircraft currently being used by Tinubu and his deputy.

The Committee reportedly said a new aircraft “befitting the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should be procured, taking into consideration the country’s leading role in the West African, African, and global scheme of affairs.”

“That for ease of administration and in order to guarantee a secure and dedicated main and backup fleet for the office of the president at all times, it is recommended that a new aircraft akin to Air Force Two of the USA be procured for the office of the vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” it added.

“This can also serve the office of the presiding officers of the National Assembly, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, etc., as appropriate.”

 

The Guardian

Governor Charles Soludo of Anambra State has called for a significant reduction in Nigeria's governance costs. Speaking at a special edition of The Platform, an event organized by The Covenant Nation to promote national development, Soludo lamented that despite Nigeria's financial struggles, government and elected officials continue to live lavishly, ignoring the plight of the masses.

Soludo suggested that political officeholders should be placed on the national minimum wage to help curb the developing crisis. He highlighted the disparity between the ruling class and ordinary Nigerians, who are facing severe poverty and hunger, while officials display extravagant lifestyles.

“Let’s be honest with Nigerians. The country is very poor, yet the lifestyle of government officials does not reflect this reality, especially with the ostentatious public displays,” Soludo stated. “The poor are hungry and impatient. We must not aggravate their frustration with our insensitivity. I agree with Reverend Father Mbaka that elected governors should also earn the minimum wage. It’s important for us to experience the reality of ordinary citizens.”

Soludo revealed that he has not received any salary since assuming office in Anambra and has donated his earnings to the state. He emphasised that this gesture is symbolic, meant to signal the need for officials to acknowledge the country's dire financial situation.

He called for an end to wasteful spending in governance, stressing that elected officials must remember their duty to the public trust. Soludo proposed a new code of conduct for public officers, noting that the federal government's projected revenue amounts to about N6,160 per Nigerian per month. For most states, except Lagos and a few others, revenues are less than N3,000 per resident per month.

“These figures reflect the funds available to provide infrastructure, service debt, pay salaries and pensions, and build schools. Every instance of wasteful spending squanders the shares meant for citizens. Once we lose sight of our responsibility to the public trust, society faces irreversible decline,” Soludo warned.

As Nigerians grapple with severe poverty and hunger, the extravagant lifestyles and wasteful spending of government officials have become increasingly indefensible. Governor Charles Soludo of Anambra State recently called for a significant reduction in governance costs, highlighting the disparity between the ruling class and ordinary Nigerians.

Despite the country's dire financial situation, elected officials continue to flaunt their unearned wealth and live lavishly, showing a blatant disregard for the masses they are supposed to serve.

Soludo's suggestion to place political officeholders on the national minimum wage is a poignant reminder of the disconnect between government officials and the people. It is high time officials experience the harsh realities faced by the average Nigerian. Soludo's symbolic gesture of donating his salary to the state underscores the urgent need for officials to acknowledge and address the country's financial struggles.

The sheer size of Nigeria's delegation at the 2024 International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva, with 289 registered delegates, and its participation in COP28 with 1,411 badges, demonstrates a troubling trend of wasteful spending. Such large delegations are not only unnecessary but also an insult to the millions of Nigerians living in poverty. This extravagant participation stands in stark contrast to the nation's financial woes and the ongoing labour disputes over inadequate wages.

The luxurious Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) for Senators and Members of the House of Representatives that cost Nigerian taxpayers N57.6 billion late last year were a clear example of government insensitivity. The justification for the annoying profligacy by ranking members of the National Assembly comparing lawmakers' vehicles to those of ministers, missed the point entirely. In a country where the naira is rapidly depreciating, and citizens are struggling to make ends meet, such expenditures are indefensible.

Equally appalling is the commissioning of a N21 billion official residence for the vice president amidst widespread economic hardship. At a time when the nation's poverty rate has surged to 46%, and inflation has climbed to 33.69%, the decision to allocate such a colossal sum to an opulent project is both tone-deaf and irresponsible. This expenditure starkly contrasts with the government's frugality in addressing workers' demands for a new minimum wage, further highlighting the disconnect between the ruling class and ordinary Nigerians.

The ruling elite’s profligacy and insensitivity are contributing to an unsustainable system where the masses are increasingly disillusioned and impatient. Every instance of wasteful spending squanders resources meant for citizens, exacerbating the already dire situation. It is imperative for government officials to remember their duty to the public trust and to prioritize the needs of the people over their own extravagance. Without a fundamental shift in this mindset, society faces an irreversible decline.

It is high time for Nigerian officials to heed the warnings of leaders like Governor Soludo and take concrete steps to reduce wasteful spending, demonstrate fiscal responsibility, and genuinely work towards improving the lives of the citizens they are meant to serve.

Israeli forces kill three Palestinians, seize weapons in West Bank raid

Israeli forces raided a town in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, killing three Palestinians and detaining several others in what the army described as an operation to pre-empt militant attacks.

The West Bank, among territories where Palestinians seek statehood, has seen a surge in violence since the outbreak of the war between Israel and the militant Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

During the raid in Qabatiya, troops surrounded a building where two gunmen were holed up, exchanging fire with them, the army said. The two Palestinians were killed and witnesses saw the body of one them being lifted out by an armoured bulldozer.

A third Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops elsewhere in the town, medical officials said.

There was no immediate claim of the dead men by any armed Palestinian faction. The army described the two killed in the building as "senior terrorists" without elaborating, and added that weapons were seized in the raid.

Several Palestinians were detained by troops, who also "exposed explosives planted into roads which were intended to be used to attack the forces", the army statement said.

** Hezbollah says it attacked 9 Israeli military sites with rockets, drones

Hezbollah said it had launched rockets and weaponised drones at nine Israeli military sites in a coordinated attack on Thursday, ramping up hostilities on Lebanon's southern border for the second consecutive day.

The attacks were carried out in retaliation for an Israeli strike on Tuesday that killed a senior Hezbollah field commander. A security source told Lebanon it was the largest attack waged by Hezbollah since October, when the group started exchanging fire with Israel in parallel with the Gaza war.

In the early hours of Friday, a strike on a building east of the port city of Tyr left one civilian woman dead and more than a dozen wounded, many of them children, according to two Lebanese security sources. Asked about the incident, the Israeli military said it was looking into it.

Hezbollah said in a statement earlier that it had fired volleys of Katyusha and Falaq rockets at six Israeli military locations. Its Al-Manar television reported more than 100 rockets fired at once.

Hezbollah's statement said it had also launched attack drones at the headquarters of Israel's northern command, an intelligence headquarters and a military barracks.

A security source told Reuters that involved firing at least 30 attack drones at once, making it the group's largest drone attack to date in the eight-month-old war.

The Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israel have been trading near-daily fire since the eruption of the Gaza war in October, but the last two days have seen a sharp rise following the Israeli strike that killed the Hezbollah commander.

On Wednesday, Hezbollah said it carried out at least eight attacks that day in retaliation.

Air raid sirens sounded across cities in northern Israel on Thursday and Israeli officials said about 40 rockets had been fired from Lebanon in the afternoon.

State broadcaster Kan aired footage of numerous mid-air interceptions of rockets above Israeli towns, including in Safed, some 12 km (7.5 miles) from the border.

Two people were wounded by shrapnel, Israel's national ambulance service said.

Israeli strikes have killed more than 300 Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon - more than it lost in 2006, when the sides last fought a major war, according to a Reuters tally. The number of civilians killed is around 80, the tally says. Attacks from Lebanon have killed 18 Israeli soldiers and 10 civilians, Israel says.

The exchanges of fire have also displaced tens of thousands of people on both sides of the border.

"Diplomatically or militarily, peace will be returned to our north. Israel will defend itself. There should not be any doubt about this whatsoever. This (situation) cannot be a sustained reality," Israeli government spokesperson David Mencer said.

Group of Seven leaders meeting in Italy said in a draft communique that they were very concerned by the situation on the Israel-Lebanon border.

 

Reuters

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

Biden, Zelenskiy inch toward NATO with 10-year defense agreement

U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy signed a 10-year bilateral security agreement on Thursday aimed at bolstering Ukraine's defense against Russian invaders and getting Ukraine closer to NATO membership.

The deal, signed on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Italy, aims to commit future U.S. administrations to support Ukraine, even if former President Donald Trump wins November’s election, officials said.

"Our goal is to strengthen Ukraine's credible defense and deterrence capabilities for the long term," Biden said at a joint news conference with Zelenskiy.

He said the G7's message to Russian President Vladimir Putin is "You cannot wait us out. You cannot divide us." The group of rich nations also agreed to a $50 billion loan for Ukraine backed by profits from frozen Russian assets.

The U.S.-Ukraine security deal is a framework for a long-term effort to help develop Ukraine’s outdated armed forces and serve as a step towards Ukraine's eventual NATO membership, according to the text.

The Ukraine president called the agreement historic, saying it is a bridge toward his country's eventual NATO membership. "This is an agreement on security and thus on the protection of human life," he said.

Zelenskiy has long sought NATO membership but the allies have stopped short of taking that step. The Western alliance regards any attack launched on one of its 32 members as an attack on all under its Article Five clause.

In the event of an armed attack or threat of such against Ukraine, top U.S. and Ukrainian officials will meet within 24 hours to consult on a response and determine what additional defense needs are required for Ukraine, the agreement says.

Under the agreement, the United States restates its support for Ukraine's defense of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, amid a renewed push by Russia on Ukraine's eastern front.

It also outlines plans to develop Ukraine's own defense industry and expand its military.

Ukraine needs a "significant" military force and sustained investments in its defense industrial base consistent with NATO standards, the text says.

It will allow the two countries to share intelligence, hold training and military education programs and combined military and exercises.

With Trump leading Biden in many election polls, the future of the agreement remains unclear.

Trump has expressed skepticism of Ukraine’s continued fight, saying at one point that he would end the conflict in his first day in office. Trump has also pushed for Europe to take on more of the burden of supporting Kyiv.

Zelenskiy, asked about what could happen for his country if there is a change in leadership in the United States and in other allied nations, said people stood with Ukraine because they have shared values and empathize with the Ukrainian people.

He said he does not think that popular support will change.

“If the people are with us, any leader will be with us in this struggle for freedom,” he said.

Biden recently shifted his policy against allowing Ukraine to use American weapons for attacks inside Russia, permitting Kyiv to fire long-range U.S. missiles against Russian targets near the embattled Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

At the news conference, Biden made clear he would not permit Ukraine to expand its use of U.S. missiles inside Russia.

"It makes a lot of sense for Ukraine to be able to take out or combat what is going across that border. In terms of long range weapons ... we have not changed our position on that," Biden said.

 

RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

China rejects US allegations on assisting Russia in special military op in Ukraine

Trade between Russia and China is conducted openly and in accordance with the WTO (the World Trade Organization) norms as Beijing exerts strict control over exports of dual-purpose goods, Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in the United States told TASS on Friday.

"China is not a creator of a party to the Ukraine crisis. We are committed to promoting talks for peace. China does not provide weapons to the parties to the conflict and strictly controls the export of dual-use articles, which is widely applauded by the international community," the diplomat said commenting on US President Joe Biden's recent statement that China was allegedly assisting Russia in the special military operation in Ukraine.

"Our normal trade with Russia is done aboveboard. It’s consistent with WTO rules and market principles, and does not target any third party," the diplomat added.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in Italy this week, US President Biden said: "China is not supplying weapons but the ability to produce those weapons [in Russia], the technology available to do it, so it is, in fact, helping Russia."

US President Biden did not provide any details to back his statement about China’s alleged assistance to Russia during the special military operation in Ukraine.

 

Reuters/Tass

Friday, 14 June 2024 04:42

A reckoning in June - Azu Ishiekwene

It’s been 31 years since a seismic event triggered by the June 12, 1993 election nearly brought Nigeria to its knees. The presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), M.K.O Abiola, was on the cusp of a resounding victory when the military government of General Ibrahim Babangida interrupted and later annulled the election.

That action sparked nationwide protests that ultimately consumed Babangida’s government and his successor, General Sani Abacha. It set the stage for a transition that,over Abiola’s dead body, produced Nigeria’s luckiest former military leader, Olusegun Obasanjo, as civilian president in 1999.

Every May – and later June – since then, Nigeria has marked its successful transition to democratic rule, the most extended 25 years of unbroken civilian administration in its 64-year history.

How far?

But the lingering question remains: how democratic have we truly become? If the martyrs of June 12 could witness the nation's current state, would they have made the same sacrifices? Is this the Nigeria that the survivors, still bearing the scars of the struggle, fought for? Would some of the beneficiaries, now in their 30s, sometimes question the validity of the struggle? Do they even care or remember? These are complex questions with no easy answers.

This week, I read two significant articles that left no doubt that Nigeria is in a tough place. The point of the articles is that democracy is more than campaign promises, more than periodic elections, and much more than the absence of military rule. It's a system that is currently under severe strain in our country.

The first, by the New York Times, was entitled, “Nigeria Confronts Its Worst Economic Crisis in a Generation.” Citing the widespread hardship, the newspaper said, “Nigeria is facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with skyrocketing inflation, a national currency in free-fall and millions of people struggling to buy food. Only two years ago, Africa’s biggest economy, Nigeria, is projected to drop to fourth place this year.”

A country adept at coping with misery, the paper said, appears to have reached its wits end.

The second article was by Jonathan Power, one of Europe’s most knowledgeable writers on foreign affairs and a friend of Obasanjo.

In his article this week, “Democracy on the Run?”, Power cited Freedom House and several other reports that indicated a qualitative and quantitative decline of democracy in several countries, including Nigeria, because of “a lack of vigorous policy implementation and good public administration.”

We know what we know

We don’t need foreign newspapers to tell us. The daily lives of most Nigerians today, whether at home, school, work or in the market, tell the story unedited. And folks are beginning to ask, first in whispers and now in louder, angrier tones, what is the point of democracy that does not put food on the table?

China is not a democracy, but it runs a system that has lifted millions out of poverty and has created the largest middle class in the world. Its science, technology and infrastructure investment makes the United States look like a third-world country. Nor was Singapore a Western-type democracy when it leapt from third to first world under Lee Kuan Yew. And Libya’s best years yet were under Moammar Ghaddafi.

Impatience with democracy has also led to a rash of military coups in several African countries – actually seven in three years in West and Central Africa – led by soldiers who seem to be succeeding in dragging the continent back to the era of military demagogues.

They use the same messianic rhetoric, but only this time, they are succeeding far more easily because, as we say, reason flees the head when hunger enters the stomach. Flawed elections are making matters worse.

Matter of framing

But are we framing the question correctly? Is autocratic rule in whatever guise – including the Rwandan variant that extends one-person rule in the middle of the game – superior to democracy simply because of stability and an appearance of material prosperity?

And, in any case, is the problem with democracy, or is it a matter of performance? In other words, isn’t it the quality of governance that makes democracy meaningful?

For all its progress, and it’s a lot, I would still not trade democracy for autocracy – whether it’s of the variety of its poster boy, China; its latter-day nationalistic face, Russia; or its pseudo-domesticated cousin, Rwanda.

Nigeria is far from the promise of 1993 or 1999, but it has produced some of the world’s most insulted presidents who, by and large, we can still call goats and get away scot-free. That’s not a trophy. It’s not a substitute for bread and butter, either. But you never know the value of free speech, association or movement until these rights have been abridged or taken away.

World not smiling

The point is weariness – not necessarily with democracy, but with performance – is not only a Nigerian thing. A Pew Research Center study in December 2022, which covered 19 countries from Sweden and Singapore to Canada and from the UK and South Korea to the US, France and Spain, showed mixed outcomes in satisfaction with democracy and political efficacy.

While only 20 percent were not satisfied in Sweden, and 43 were not in Canada, for example, the figure in the UK was 46 percent, 56 percent in France, 62 percent in the US, and 68 percent in Spain. The 19-country median was 48 percent – a weak pass.

Citizens were generally dissatisfied by polarisation, exclusion, inequality, corruption and lack of trust.

Nigerians are unhappy, not with democracy, but with the failure of performance. For example, an Afrobarometer survey of 2022 showed that while 70 percent of Nigerians prefer democracy, 77 percent of the population are unhappy with the quality of governance. If that same survey were conducted today, the figures would be starker.

But that is understandable. Two significant decisions by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s government – the partial removal of petrol subsidies and the floating exchange rate – have had the unforeseen effect of significantly worsening hardship. On top of that, when the government calls on citizens to tighten their belts, some public officials appear to be living it up with large convoys,personal aides and extravagant foreign trips.

It’s precisely this feeling among citizens of baboon “working” and monkey “chopping” that has given democracy a bad name.

Tinubu’s luck

Tinubu made his own luck by asking for the job of president at what would always be one the worst times in Nigeria’s history in a generation. Of course, there are broader issues like weak institutions, ineffective governors, election fraud, and a deep feeling among voters that elections are useless to remove bad leaders, not to mention limited faith in the judiciary. These issues require the collective effort of citizens, leaders, and institutions to solve them. But in the end, one man leads.

What Tinubu makes of it – not only through his speeches but, more importantly, through his performance – in the next one or two years will determine what is left of the heavily eroded confidence in democracy. He can’t afford to fail.

** Ishiekwene is Editor-In-Chief of LEADERSHIP and author of the new book, Writing for Media and Monetising It,

The hardest step is usually the first one. So make it short.

Entrepreneur attended BetterUp's Uplift summit San Francisco on April 11, where renowned author and public speaker, James Clear, who is best known for his New York Times bestselling book, "Atomic Habits," spoke about the key to building habits that stick.

His book, which teaches people the importance of building better habits on a scaleable level and finding success with these newly adopted behaviors, has sold more than 15 million copies. Still, he knows that when people want to make massive changes, it can feel completely overwhelming.

"We're so focused on optimizing that we don't give ourselves permission to show up even if it's just a small way."

But Clear said there's one technique that only takes two minutes of your time.

By using the "two-minute rule," you can begin implementing habits into your daily lives, no matter how farfetched (or big) the new habits might be. The strategy can be applied to any habit you're trying to build, he says, in both a professional and personal capacity.

What Is the Two-Minute Rule?

The two-minute rule is when you take the new habit or task you want to accomplish and no matter how big it seems, break it down into a short task that can be done in two minutes or less.

"Take whatever habit you're trying to create and scale it down to something that takes two minutes or less to do," Clear explained. "So 'read 30 books a year' becomes 'read one page' or 'do yoga four days a week' means 'take out my yoga mat.'"

Clear says critics have raised issues with this strategy because they are consciously aware that they are trying to trick their brains, which makes it harder to implement. But Clear says to take a step back and just begin — the hardest step is usually the first one.

"This is a deeper truth about habits that people often overlook, which is a habit must be established before it can be improved," he said. "It has some standard in your life before you can scale it up and optimize and turn it into something more."

Clear compared this to going to the gym and knowing that your initial habit-building step might just be putting on your workout clothes and walking out the front door, not starting with a 5-mile run or an intense exercise class.

"At some point, planning becomes some form of procrastination."

"And I don't know why we do this. But we get very all-or-nothing about our habits a lot of the time," he said. "We're so focused on finding the best workout program, the perfect sales strategy, the ideal diet plan — we're so focused on optimizing that we don't give ourselves permission to show up even if it's just a small way."

Sometimes deciding to start instead of planning to start is the shift you need, he said.

"The two-minute rule kind of pushes back perfectionism, fear, and this tendency to over plan or over research," he said. "Planning and preparation can be useful. But if you're planning and research and preparation are substituting for actions that you should be taking, now it's kind of outlived its usefulness and become a crutch — at some point planning becomes some form of procrastination."

 

Entrepreneur

The exodus of several international companies from Nigeria has resulted in a significant reduction in Company Income Tax (CIT) revenue, which fell to N984.6 billion in the first quarter of 2024. This represents a 12.87 percent decrease from the N1.13 trillion collected in the fourth quarter of 2023, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Since President Bola Tinubu assumed office, at least seven multinational corporations have exited the country, citing an unfavorable business environment and a shortage of foreign exchange. The NBS report highlighted that local CIT payments amounted to N386.49 billion, while foreign CIT payments contributed N598.13 billion in Q1 2024.

The report also noted that on a quarter-on-quarter basis, "activities of households as employers, undifferentiated goods and services-producing activities of households for own use" recorded the highest growth rate at -330.42 percent (N70.5 million), followed by administrative and support service activities with a growth rate of 33.18 percent (N6.7 billion). Conversely, the manufacturing sector saw the lowest growth rate at -70.24 percent (N73.1 billion), followed by the electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning supply sector at 69.14 percent (N5.1 billion).

In terms of sectoral contributions for Q1 2024, the top three were mining and quarrying at 20.94 percent (N80.9 billion), financial and insurance activities at 18.73 percent (N72.4 billion), and information and communication at 12.56 percent (N48.5 billion). Activities of households as employers, water supply, sewerage, waste management, and remediation activities, and activities of extraterritorial organizations and bodies recorded the least shares.

Despite the quarterly decline, CIT collections in Q1 2024 increased by 109.93 percent compared to Q1 2023.

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announced that Nigeria's average daily crude oil production fell to 1.25 million barrels per day (bpd) in May. This information was detailed in OPEC's monthly oil market report released on Tuesday, which was based on direct communication with Nigerian authorities.

OPEC collects crude oil production data through two main sources: direct communication from member countries and secondary sources such as energy intelligence platforms. According to the report, the current output represents a 2.34 percent decline from the 1.28 million bpd recorded in April.

Despite the decline, Nigeria remains the largest oil producer in Africa, followed by Libya, which produced 901,000 bpd in May. Algeria was the third-largest producer with 264,000 bpd.

Interestingly, secondary sources reported an increase in Nigeria's crude production by five percent, reaching 1.41 million bpd, up from 1.35 million bpd in April. However, both figures—whether from the government or secondary sources—fall short of the 2024 production quota of 1.5 million bpd set for the country by OPEC.

The report also highlighted that crude oil output increased mainly in Nigeria, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea, according to secondary sources, while production decreased in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Libya, and Congo.

"According to secondary sources, total OPEC-12 crude oil production averaged 26.63 mb/d in May 2024, 29 tb/d higher month-on-month," the report stated. "Crude oil output increased mainly in Nigeria, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea, while production in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Libya, and Congo decreased. At the same time, total non-OPEC DoC crude oil production averaged 14.29 mb/d in May 2024, 152 tb/d lower month-on-month. Crude oil output increased mainly in Mexico, while production in Russia and Kazakhstan decreased."

President Bola Tinubu’s Democracy Day broadcast on June 12, 2024, marked 25 years of Nigeria’s return to democracy. In his address, the President acknowledged the economic difficulties facing the nation and emphasised the need for reforms to rectify decades of over-reliance on oil revenues. However, the reality of his administration’s economic reforms paints a starkly different picture.

The withdrawal of subsidies from petrol and electricity, coupled with the floating of the Naira leading to a massive devaluation, has plunged Nigeria into a severe economic crisis. These measures, often lauded by Bretton Woods Institutions, have resulted in hyperinflation, widespread hunger, and a cost-of-living crisis that is strangling the Nigerian populace.

The consequences are dire: rampant smuggling of homegrown food across borders to fetch higher prices, the closure of hundreds of manufacturing concerns, and the alarming trend of de-industrialisation. Furthermore, these policies have failed to attract the necessary foreign investments, exacerbating an already precarious security situation.

Mr. President, the narrative that these reforms will lay a stronger foundation for future growth is a dangerous fallacy. The harsh reality is that these Bretton Woods Institutions-inspired policies have historically failed underdeveloped economies and are failing Nigeria now.

The withdrawal of subsidies, while intended to rectify fiscal imbalances, has disproportionately impacted the most vulnerable segments of society. Floating the Naira without adequate safeguards has unleashed a tidal wave of inflation, eroding the purchasing power of everyday Nigerians. These policies, far from being the “necessary repairs” you describe, are dismantling the economic bedrock on which Nigerian society stands.

It is time to chart a new course. Nigeria needs economic policies that genuinely address the needs of its people. Policies should be designed to stimulate local production, support small and medium-sized enterprises, and protect the most vulnerable from the shocks of economic adjustment. Investment in infrastructure, education, and healthcare should take precedence over austerity measures that deepen poverty and inequality.

Moreover, it is imperative to address the systemic issues that stifle economic growth. Corruption, bureaucratic inefficiencies, and inadequate infrastructure are barriers that no amount of subsidy withdrawal or currency devaluation will resolve. A robust anti-corruption framework, streamlined regulatory processes, and strategic investments in infrastructure are essential for sustainable development.

Mr. President, it is time to abandon the failed prescriptions of external financial institutions and adopt a homegrown economic strategy that prioritises the welfare of Nigerians. Engage with local economists, entrepreneurs, and civil society to develop policies that foster inclusive growth and economic resilience.

The path to true economic reform lies not in policies that inflict widespread hardship but in those that build a resilient and inclusive economy. It is time for bold leadership and visionary policies that will truly improve the lives of all Nigerians. The nation stands at a critical juncture; the decisions made now will shape the future for generations to come. It is imperative to steer Nigeria towards a path of sustainable and equitable growth.

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