President Muhammadu Buhari has made an about turn regarding the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) act. The President expressed his willingness to sign the act while receiving his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa.
“I am very careful about what I sign, whether it is my cheque book or agreements especially when it involves nation states. I didn’t read it fast enough before my officials saw that it was all right for signature. I kept it on my table. I will soon sign it.”
In addition, he also stated that he had been hesitant in signing the law, so as to protect infant industries in the country.
“We are so populated and have so many young unemployed citizens and our industries are just coming up. So, in trying to guarantee employment, goods and services in our country, we have to be careful with agreements that will compete, maybe successfully, against our upcoming industries.”
Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun during the opening session of the Africa Export-Import bank (AFREXIM) Annual Meeting in Abuja had stated that the President had withheld his signature to enable widespread consultation.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) in March this year, approved the signing of the Act, but the President at the last minute declined to attend the African Union (AU) meeting in Kigali, Rwanda where this was to take place. 44 countries of the 55 that make up the AU have signed.
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) had also expressed opposition to the agreement, as the issues that they had were not adequately addressed.
Objectives of the AFCFTA
The objectives of the Act include:
- To create a single Market for Goods, Services, and Movement of Persons in order to deepen the economic integration of the African Continent.
- Create a liberalised market for goods and services through successive rounds of negotiations, contribute to the movement of capital and natural persons and facilitate investments building on the initiatives and developments in the State Parties and RECs.
- Lay the foundations for the establishment, at a later stage, a Continental Customs Union.
- Promote and attain sustainable and inclusive social and economic development and structural transformation of the State Parties.
- Enhance the competitiveness of the economies of State Parties within the continent and at the global market.
- Promote industrial development through diversification and regional value chain development, Agricultural Development and Food Security.
- Resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships and expedite the regional and continental integration processes.
COVID-19 Update in Nigeria
On the 23rd of September 2020, 111 new confirmed cases and 2 deaths were recorded in Nigeria
The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continues to record increases as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 57,724 confirmed cases.
On the 23rd of September 2020, 111 new confirmed cases and 2 deaths were recorded in Nigeria, having carried out a total daily test of 3,177 samples across the country.
To date, 57,724 cases have been confirmed, 48,985 cases have been discharged and 1,102 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 484,051 tests have been carried out as of September 23rd, 2020 compared to 480,874 tests a day earlier.
COVID-19 Case Updates- 23rd September 2020,
- Total Number of Cases – 57,724
- Total Number Discharged – 48,985
- Total Deaths – 1,102
- Total Tests Carried out – 484,051
According to the NCDC, the 111 new cases were reported from 12 states- Lagos (31), Gombe (18), Kaduna (18), FCT (15), Rivers (14), Imo (3), Kwara (3), Oyo (3), Bayelsa (2), Ogun (2), Edo (1), Osun (1).
Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 19,086, followed by Abuja (5,598), Plateau (3,304), Oyo (3,236), Edo (2,616), Kaduna (2,377), Rivers (2,277), Delta (1,800), Ogun (1,774), Kano (1,734), Ondo (1,606), Enugu (1,285), Ebonyi (1,038), Kwara (1,028), Abia (881), Gombe (857). Katsina (848), Osun (818), Borno (741), and Bauchi (692).
Imo State has recorded 565 cases, Benue (473), Nasarawa (449), Bayelsa (397), Jigawa (322), Ekiti (317), Akwa Ibom (288), Niger (259), Adamawa (234), Anambra (232), Sokoto (161), Taraba (95), Kebbi (93), Cross River (85), Zamfara (78), Yobe (75), while Kogi state has recorded 5 cases only.
Lock Down and Curfew
In a move to combat the spread of the pandemic disease, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days, which took effect from 11 pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.
The movement restriction, which was extended by another two-weeks period, has been partially put on hold with some businesses commencing operations from May 4. On April 27th, 2020, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari declared an overnight curfew from 8 pm to 6 am across the country, as part of new measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19. This comes along with the phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos, and Ogun States, which took effect from Saturday, 2nd May 2020, at 9 am.
On Monday, 29th June 2020 the federal government extended the second phase of the eased lockdown by 4 weeks and approved interstate movement outside curfew hours with effect from July 1, 2020. Also, on Monday 27th July 2020, the federal government extended the second phase of eased lockdown by an additional one week.
On Thursday, 6th August 2020 the federal government through the secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 announced the extension of the second phase of eased lockdown by another four (4) weeks.
Buhari to finally send Petroleum Industry Bill to National Assembly next week
Sources in the Presidency have disclosed that the President may be presenting the bill to the National Assembly.
President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to present the long-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to the Senate as early as next week.
According to Reuters, who were quoting 4 sources familiar with the development, the presentation of the bill to the National Assembly, follows its official approval by the president late last week. This is as the National Assembly has already formed teams of members that will work most closely on the individual portions of the bill.
Both chambers of the National Assembly must have to pass the bill after deliberating on it before it can then be passed on to the president for his final signature.
The PIB which is an oil reform bill has been in the works for about 20 years, is key to the repositioning of Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Industry under its post-COVID-19 agenda as the main laws governing oil and gas exploration have not been fully updated since the 1960s due to some contentious issues like taxes, payments to local communities, terms and revenue sharing within Nigeria.
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), had disclosed that the delay and non-passage of the bill has made international investors to start losing confidence in the country’s oil and gas industry.
While revealing last month that the PIB will be presented to the National Assembly in the next few weeks, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, also said that the executive arm will be requesting the lawmakers to specially reconvene to receive and start deliberations on the bill.
These oil reforms and regulatory certainty became more pressing this year as low oil prices and a shift towards renewable energy made competition for investment from oil majors tougher.
The draft copy of the bill which was prepared by the Petroleum Ministry is a product of series of consultation between the federal government, oil and gas companies and other industry stakeholders.
Excerpts from the bill reported by Reuters include provisions that would streamline and reduce some oil and gas royalties, increase the amount of money companies pay to local communities and for environmental clean-ups alter the dispute resolution process between companies and the government.
It also included measures to push companies to develop gas discoveries and a framework for gas tariffs and delivery. Commercializing gas, particularly for use in local power generation, is a core government priority.
UK-based group to investment $245 million in 100 Nigerian businesses
A UK based organization is to partner local investment funds to disburse $245 million to 100 Nigerian businesses.
A UK-based development finance institution, CDC Group, has finalized plans to invest US$425 million as an aid to 100 businesses and 38,000 jobs in Nigeria.
This is sequel to its partnership with 40 investment funds such as Afreximbank, African Capital Alliance and Indoram, NAN reports
In a virtual visit to the country by the board of the organization led by Chief Executive, Nick O’Donohoe and Chairman, Graham Wrigley, the UK Government-funded organization stated that all earnings from its investments are ploughed back to improve the lives of millions of people in Africa and South Asia.
CDC Group noted that it paid a virtual visit to the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, and British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, to discuss and ascertain the impact of CDC’s aid to its investees through the COVID-19 crisis and understand how to stimulate recovery and growth.
The discussions also focused on CDC’s own response to the pandemic through its preserved, strengthen and rebuild programme, the statement said
Commenting on the rationale of the aid, the Chief Executive of the CDC Group, Nick O’Donohe said that, “Nigeria plays a key part in our strategy of partnership and investment for economic growth in West Africa. “Hosting our 2020 board trip– albeit virtually – in both markets is a testament to our commitment.
“Looking forward, we will continue to prioritise the post-COVID-19 recovery as part of the Build Back Better agenda.
“We are committed to supporting a deeper and more strategic bilateral partnership between the UK and Nigeria that is based on enhancing economic development, job creation, inclusion, trade and investment,” O’Donohoe further remarked.
In a glowing tribute and commendation to the group, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing CBE said CDC has been pivotal to creating jobs and supporting the growth of businesses by investing in the poorest countries across Africa, including Nigeria.
“CDC’s commitment to the country signals to other UK investors that investing in Nigeria is possible and should be prioritized in order to help Nigeria and indeed, Africa, mitigate the impact of COVID-19,” the envoy said.