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Nigerians react to Social Media Bill, mock lawmakers over similarity with Singapore 

The Nigerian Social Media Bill reportedly has the same contents with the Protection from Online Falsehood Bill of Singapore.

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Nigerians have begun to protest against the Social Media Bill as it passed second reading. The Bill, which was reintroduced in the first week of November 2019, reportedly has the same contents with the Protection from Online Falsehood Bill of Singapore. The similarities have made some Nigerians mock the lawmakers for allegedly copying the Singapore Bill.

The Nigerian bill is titled, ‘Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill, 2019’ and was reportedly sponsored by Mohammed Sani Musa, Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District. The bill seeks to regulate social media use in Nigeria and tame hate speech, but it seems some Nigerians are not in support.

The belief among some Nigerians is that the passage of the Social Media Bill is the government’s method of turning the country into an authoritarian state, but Senator Mohammed said in a Nairametrics’ report that the legislation was needful because it would protect the country’s “fragile unity”.

Senate urges FG to diversify from crude oil to natural gas production , Senate seeks textile importation ban , Senate receives six aviation sector bills from Buhari 

Why Nigerians are angry 

Government defines what’s false: The Social Media Bill doesn’t have well-defined guidelines as to what’s false and true. This gives the government prerogative to determine which statement – written or spoken – is false or true.

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In the Nigerian bill“A person must not do any act in or outside Nigeria in order to transmit in Nigeria a statement knowing or having reason to believe that;

  • it is false statement of fact, and the transmission of the statements in Nigeria is likely to be prejudicial to the security of Nigeria or any part of Nigeria. Also, be prejudicial to public health and public safety.

[READ MORE: Buhari signs Production Sharing Contract (PSC) Amendment Bill into law]

This makes Nigerians believe the bill gives the government authority to act as judge & jury at the same time in a matter against the state. The author of a statement adjudged to be false is liable to a monetary fine depending on the level of offence or 3-years imprisonment or both.

Right to block access to internet: In the bill, there is ‘Access Blocking Order’. The Nigerian government, through the law enforcement department, can block any citizen from accessing the internet. The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) will be ordered by law enforcement department to switch internet access off.

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This means if a group of people is believed to be transmitting what the government defines as a false statement, the NCC will instruct the network providers, on behalf of security forces, to disable access to the internet of the group or region. Telecommunications companies which don’t comply with government’s order risk N10 million fine for every day.

This section of the bill scares Nigerians because shutting down the internet has been one of the weapons used by some African leaders who did not find comment against them favourable. In 2018, the Cameroonian government had shut down internet connection in its anglophone region (Cameroon is divided into two regions; Anglophone; English speaking region and francophone; French-speaking region) on two separate occasions for total 240 days within two years.

Process of getting back internet: For those whose access to the internet is cut off, they are expected to take their grievance to the High Court, but that’s after they have applied to the Law Enforcement Department to vary or cancel the block out.

Copy & Paste of Singapore bill: The Nigerian lawmakers are being mocked for copying the same content on Singapore’s ‘Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act 2019’. Some Nigerians believe that this is an act of plagiarism.

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What Nigerians are saying 

The social media bill content violates the human right to freedom of speech and information access.

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On Singapore similarities 

https://twitter.com/Uduak_Ekpedeme/status/1197875687568429057

[READ ALSO: Buhari proposes sweeping changes to tax laws in 2019 Finance Bill]

 

Olalekan is a certified media practitioner from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). In the era of media convergence, Olalekan is a valuable asset, with ability to curate and broadcast news. His zeal to write was developed out of passion to shape people’s thought and opinion; serving as a guideline for their daily lives. Contact for tips: [email protected]

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Economy & Politics

Nigerian government spends equivalent of 83% of revenue to service debt in 2020

The Federal Government of Nigeria achieved a debt service to revenue ratio of 83% in 2020.

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The Federal Government of Nigeria achieved a debt service to revenue ratio of 83% in 2020. This is according to the information contained in the budget implementation report of the government for the year ended December 2020.

According to the data seen by Nairametrics, total revenue earned in 2020 was N3.93 trillion representing a 27% drop from the target revenues of N5.365 trillion. However, debt service for the year was a sum of N3.26 trillion or 82.9% of revenue.

READ: FG posts 27% revenue shortfall in 2020 as budget deficit hit N6.1 trillion

Nigeria’s debt service cost of N3.26 trillion has now dwarfed the N1.7 trillion spent on capital expenditure of N1.7 trillion incurred in 2020. This is also the highest debt service paid by the Federal Government since we started tracking this data in 2009.

The total public debt (External and Domestic) balance carried by Nigeria as of September 2020 stood at N32.22 trillion ($84.57 billion). Included in the total debt is a domestic debt of about N15.8 trillion.

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READ: Nigeria’s high recurrent costs, low revenue and escalating debt numbers

READ: Customs revenue rises by N200 billion to hit N1.5 trillion in 2020

What this means: Nigeria’s debt to GDP ratio is estimated at about 22%, one of the lowest in the world and much below what is obtainable in most emerging markets.

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  • However, the challenge has always been the debt service to revenue ratio, a metric that reveals whether the government is generating enough revenues to pay down its debts as they mature.
  • Since the first recession experienced in 2016, Nigeria has struggled with a higher debt service to revenue ratio as revenues slid in direct correlation with the fall in oil prices.
  • Nigeria’s government spent about N2.45 trillion in debt service in 2019 out of total revenue of N4.1 trillion or 59.6% debt service to revenue ratio.
  • At 83%, 2020 ranks as the highest debt service to revenue ratio we have incurred. Before now it was 2017 with 61.6%.

READ: PayVIS: New Lagos State platform to use traffic cameras to fine traffic offenders

Breakdown of what debts were serviced

The following amount was spent on debt service during the year

  • To service domestic debt, the government spent N1.755 trillion in 2020 as against a budget of N1.87 trillion.
  • For foreign debts, a sum of N553 billion was spent against a target budget of N805.47 billion. The drop here is likely a result of lower interest rates on foreign borrowing as well as very limited borrowing from the foreign debt market during the year.
  • The government only contributed N4.58 billion into its sinking fund instead of the budgeted N272.9 billion.
  • The sinking fund is required to set aside funds that will be used to pay down on other loans such as bonds when they mature in the future.
  • Finally, a sum of N912.57 trillion was spent on servicing CBN’s loans, granted via its Ways and Means provisions.
  • Nairametrics reported last week that a total sum of N2.8 trillion was extended by the CBN to the FG as Ways and Means.

READ: World Bank hopes to cut down debts of poor countries rather than delay payments

What happens next: In 2021, the government projects a debt service of N3.1 trillion against revenue of N6.6 trillion or debt service to revenue ratio of 46.9%.

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  • The government plans to spend N4.3 trillion on capital expenditure during the year.

 

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Economy & Politics

FG receives N144 billion in dividends from NLNG in 2020

NLNG, paid the Federal Government a dividend of N188 billion in the fiscal year ended December 2020.

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Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas Company, NLNG, paid the Federal Government a dividend of N144 billion in the fiscal year ended December 2020.

This is according to the information contained in the Ministry of Finance Budget implementation report for the period of January 2020 to December 2020 and presented by the Minister for Finance Dr. Zainab Ahmed.

During the year, the Federal Government budgeted a sum of N80.3 billion as its share of dividends from NLNG, however, the actual sum received as its share was N144 billion, N63.2 billion more or 79% higher than projected.

The year 2020 was a difficult year for the government as the fall in crude oil prices and the economic shutdown that was triggered by the Covid-19 Pandemic dented projections and ravaged revenues.

READ:  NLNG says Train 7 project will surge production capacity to 30 million MPTA 

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NLNG Dividend Bliss

The dividend received from NLNG was a major bright spot in the government’s revenue performance for the year.

  • During the year, the government projected revenue of N5.36 trillion but only received N3.9 trillion in revenues representing a shortfall of N1.4 trillion or 27% for the year.
  • The huge dividend windfall received in 2020 is a stark contrast from 2017 when Nigeria just exited a recession triggered by falling oil prices and a sharp exchange rate devaluation.
  • In that year, the Federal Government’s share of dividends from Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) dropped by as much as $687 million, from $1.04 billion in 2015 to $365 million in 2016, a 65% drop.
  • The N144 billion received in 2020 topped the amount received from signature bonuses only N78.2 billion and complimented the N192 billion received by VAT.
  • It is the most effective form of revenue generation for the government.

READ: NLNG signs 10 year sales deal with Eni

NLNG Controversies

Back in July Nairametrics reported that the House of Representatives planned to investigate the alleged illegal withdrawal of $1.05 billion from the NLNG account by NNPC without its knowledge and appropriation.

  • They had accused the NNPC of illegally tampering with the funds at the NLNG dividends account to the tune of 1.05 billion dollars thereby violating the nation’s appropriation law.
  • NLNG is a company jointly owned by Nigerian owned NNPC(49%), Shell (25.6%), Total (15%), and ENI (10.4%).
  • The company is located in Bonny Island and has six trains with a total capacity to process 22 million tonnes of LNG a year and as much as 5 million tonnes of natural gas liquids.
  • NLNG currently accounts for about 7% of the total LNG supply in the world. Nigeria is ranked as the 4th exporter of Natural Gas in the world.

READ: NLNG signs supply agreement with Galp Trading SA

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Upshots: The FG is targeting a revenue of N208 billion from NLNG as dividends in 2021. If this materializes, it will be a significant payout in dividend (in naira terms) competing with the N238.4 billion expected from VAT.

  • Important to note that the recent devaluation of the naira will increase the naira value of dividends and other government revenue, as it did in 2020.
  • The government also targets N6.6 trillion in revenue for the period under review.

Updated: An earlier version of this article captured the dividend as N188 billion instead of N144 billion. It has now been corrected. 

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Economy & Politics

Uganda Elections: Museveni re-elected for 6th term with 58.6% of the votes

Uganda’s President Museveni has won a 6th term in office as the opposition alleges wide-scale rigging.

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The President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, has been re-elected as President, gathering 5.85 million votes compared to 3.48 million votes by main opposition leader, Robert Kyagulanyi, a.k.a Bobi Wine.

According to Reuters, this victory represents 58.6% of the vote cast while Bobi Wine got 34.8%

Bobi Wine announced that the election results show this is the most fraudulent election in the history of Uganda and urged his followers to reject the result.

What you should know

  • Yoweri Museveni, aged 76, has been President of the East African nation since 1986.
  • Bobi Wine claimed via his official Twitter handle that military men jumped over his fence and took control of his home yesterday.

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