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Economy & Politics

Reps to probe Ajaokuta’s deal, declare FG’s move unconstitutional

The Ajaokuta deal President Buhari signed with Russia is under investigation after the House of Representatives queried the details of the deal.

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Did Buhari bypass National Assembly as probe into Ajaokuta deal with Russian begins?, Buhari seeks speedy approval of the 2016/2018 external borrowing plan , Nigerians are enraged as lawmakers reject Innoson cars for latest Toyota Camry , Nigerians react as House of Reps suspend plenary for two weeks over Coronavirus fear, Reps to probe DStv, StarTimes for ignoring 'pay per view’ subscription, cheating Nigerians

The House of Representatives has queried the deal signed by President Muhammadu Buhari and Russia over Ajaokuta Steel Company, as the lawmakers requested for details of the deal.

The partnership was sealed to resuscitate the Steel Company, which has been in a deplorable state for years, just as the House says such a deal is not backed by law.

The probe was prompted by a lack of details on the deal. This raises questions as to what was agreed upon, as there isn’t much information available for the public to vet. The lawmakers also intend to probe other agreements involving the Federal Government and other countries.

Nairametrics had reported that a proposal to rejig the services of the long-abandoned Ajaokuta Steel was tabled before the Federal Government by MetProm Group, a Russian firm. The company doesn’t just want to rehabilitate the steel mill, but also expressed a desire to maintain the steel mill when fully operational.

30,000 job loss recorded in steel sector , Russian company, MetProm Group, identifies problem of Ajaokuta Steel , Ajaokuta Steel capable of creating not less than 600,000 jobs – NIMMME boss 

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Reps request details for probe

According to the legislature, the reason for taking such action is to ensure the deals are in line with the constitution and not against it. And since little is known about the details of the Ajaokuta deal, the lawmakers have resolved to request the details of the agreement from the government.

This was after a unanimous adoption of a motion moved by Honourable Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, titled ‘Call for details of the agreement between Nigeria and Russia on the completion of the Ajaokuta steel company project.’ According to a Punch report, the House of Representatives directed the Committees on Steel, Treaties, Protocols and Agreements to interface with the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, on the agreement.

[READ MORE: Senate receives six aviation sector bills from Buhari]

Did Buhari bypass lawmakers? 

Although the 8th National Assembly passed the Ajaokuta Steel Completion Fund Bill in 2018, President Buhari didn’t assent to it after raising some concerns about it. The bill was later reviewed by the House and has already scaled first reading in the 9th House. However, Nkem-Abonta disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari signed a government-to-government agreement with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

The Russian government had signed on behalf of MetProm. And according to Nkem-Abonta, such agreement is not backed by the law, except the National Assembly enacts it into law. He said no treaty between the Nigerian government and other countries “shall have the force of law except to the extent to which any such treaty has been enacted into law by the National Assembly.”

Abiola has spent about 14 years in journalism. His career has covered some top local print media like TELL Magazine, Broad Street Journal, The Point Newspaper. The Bloomberg MEI alumni has interviewed some of the most influential figures of the IMF, G-20 Summit, Pre-G20 Central Bank Governors and Finance Ministers, Critical Communication World Conference. The multiple award winner is variously trained in business and markets journalism at Lagos Business School, and Pan-Atlantic University. You may contact him via email - [email protected]

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WTO: Okonjo-Iweala still in contention as 3 candidates depart race for DG

Okonjo-Iweala and the remaining 4 other candidates hope to succeed the current DG, Mr Roberto Azevêdo.

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Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, World Bank, Davos, World Economic Forum, WTO accepts nomination of Okonjo-Iweala as DG despite opposition from Egypt

Three candidates running for the post of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation have fallen out of the race after failing to secure enough votes in the first rounds of voting, leaving only 5 candidates left, including Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

This was disclosed by Bloomberg on Thursday, before the meeting on Friday. The Candidates that are out of the race are Jesus Seade (Mexico), Tudor Ulianovschi (Moldova), and Hamid Mamdouh (Egypt). The candidates were not able to secure the support needed for the first round of 3 rounds of voting.

READ: China’s Covid-19 vaccine may be ready for general public in November 2020

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweal joins 4 other candidates for the next round of voting. The candidates are; Liam Fox (UK), Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril (Kenya), Yoo Myung-hee ( South Korea), and Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri ( Saudi Arabia).

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala disclosed last month some of her plans for the Organization if made President. Nairametrics reported she noted that part of her vision is to build a trade institution where there is greater trust among its members. She also stressed that the WTO, at this critical time, is needed to ensure that trade and global markets remain open.

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READ: Soybean Futures reach 2-year high, following U.S sales to China 

On healing the rift between the US and China, Okonjo-Iweala admitted that it is going to be challenging and not be easy. She said:

Well, this is not going to be easy, if it was easy, it could have been done a long time since. So it would be very challenging but it is not an impossible job. It is very clear that both the US and China have been helped and benefitted from the multilateral trading system in the past. Hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty. They have experienced shared prosperity in the economies and their countries.’

She added she would listen to both countries to find out what really are the issues causing distrust among them. She said that she will not want to be involved in the larger political problems, but will rather separate the trade issues and focus on them and build this trust.

READ: Amaechi pleads with NASS to halt questioning of loan agreement with China

You need to begin to find areas where there can be confidence-building and trade. Building trust is not talking about it, you have to have areas where both can work together and agree and we have a golden opportunity in the fisheries subsidies negotiations that are going on now because the US is a party to it, China is a party, the EU, all other members,’’ she said.

Okonjo-Iweala and the 4 other candidates will present themselves to the members of the global trade body for the later stages of voting in the hopes of securing the highest number of votes to succeed the current DG, Mr. Roberto Azevêdo.

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Economy & Politics

FG to establish a new anti-corruption agency

Malami disclosed that the new anti-corruption agency would be called Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency.

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FG to establish a new anti-corruption agency, P&ID, FG, malami, $9bn fine is a scam - Federal Government , UPDATED: P&ID operations shut down, assets forfeited by court order

The Federal Government has approved the establishment of a new anti-corruption agency that will have the responsibility of properly managing and coordinating all assets seized domestically or returned from abroad, following anti-corruption probes.

The disclosure was made by the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, while briefing state house correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday, September 16, 2020.

Malami explained that the recovered assets had been scattered across several agencies and that better coordination would encourage international/overall coordination in recovering more looted assets.

Nigeria has repatriated well over $300 million of looted funds this year alone and seized about $40 million worth of jewellery belonging to the former Minister for Petroleum, Diezani Allison-Madueke. This is in addition to the seized ill-gotten properties and real estate.

(READ MORE: Nigeria Customs Service to distribute N3.2 billion worth of food items)

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The Attorney General said that this new initiative would create a one-stop-shop for managing seized assets in an open and accountable way. He called the plan the next level of transparency and said the agency could also give the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning a budget for recovered assets.

He disclosed that the new anti-corruption agency, which would be called Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency, is to be saddled with the responsibility of managing the assets that constitute the proceeds of crime in the country. He said that the FEC had approved the transmission of a bill, ‘Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency Bill,’ to the National Assembly.

READ: OmiseGO, fastest growing altcoin, up 49% in past 24 hours

Malami noted that setting up an agency like this had become quite imperative in a bid to consolidate on the gains achieved so far in the government’s war against corruption.

The fight against corruption in the country has not been an easy one, as even a US senator, Chuck Grassley, earlier this year, raised concerns about the return of money due to worries over whether there were proper safeguards to prevent further misappropriation or relooting of those recovered funds.

READ: Exclusive: Best bank in Nigeria judging by the numbers 

The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), which currently has the responsibility of managing its recovered or seized assets, has been bedevilled by a lot of controversies recently, following the accusation and subsequent suspension of its Ag. Chairman, Ibrahim Magu.

This follows the Minister of Justice’s accusation of the agency for diversion of funds that had been recovered during corruption investigations.

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Business

OECD reduces global economic decline to 4.5% from earlier forecast of 6% 

The organisation also forecasts that the global economy will grow by 5% in 2021. 

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The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says the global economic outlook for the year is less than earlier feared, as the body reduces the global economic decline for the year at 4.5%, compared to previous estimates of 6%. 

This was disclosed in the OECD Interim Economic Outlook published on Wednesday. They also forecast that the global economy will grow by 5% in 2021. 

READ: Global stocks plunge over doubts of America’s economic recovery

“The Interim Economic Outlook projects global GDP to fall by 4½ per cent this year, before growing by 5% in 2021. The forecasts are less negative than those in OECD’s June Economic Outlook, due primarily to better than expected outcomes for China and the United States in the first half of this year and a response by governments on a massive scale,” the OECD said. 

The group says economic output for most of the world by 2021 will still be bellow pre-COVID-19 levels and “well below what was projected prior to the pandemic”. 

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READ: African nations sitting on debt volcano

OECD says economic output recovered fast after the collapse in the first half of the year, due to the easing of containment measures and the initial re-opening of businesses. They warn that the pace of economic recovery is dying out due to second outbreaks of the virus leading to newer lockdown restrictions.

“Uncertainty remains high and the strength of the recovery varies markedly between countries and between business sectors. Prospects for an inclusive, resilient and sustainable economic growth will depend on a range of factors including the likelihood of new outbreaks of the virus, how well individuals observe health measures and restrictions, consumer and business confidence, and the extent to which government support to maintain jobs and help businesses succeeds in boosting demand.”

READ: United Capital result points to how banks could make money in this pandemic

OECD Chief Economist Laurence Boone said: “The world is facing an acute health crisis and the most dramatic economic slowdown since the Second World War. The end is not yet in sight but there is still much policymakers can do to help build confidence.”

She urged that governments must avoid mistakes like tightening fiscal policy too quickly, citing that without government support, “bankruptcies and unemployment could rise faster than warranted and take a toll on people’s livelihoods for years to come.” 

“Policymakers have the opportunity of a lifetime to implement truly sustainable recovery plans that reboot the economy and generate investment in the digital upgrades much needed by small and medium-sized companies, as well as in green infrastructure, transport and housing to build back a better and greener economy,” she added. 

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