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Again, Finance Minister argues that Nigeria is not in debt distress  

Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, has once again argued that Nigeria does not have a debt problem.

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Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, has once again argued that Nigeria does not have a debt problem. She emphasised this earlier this month in Senegal when she spoke to CNBC Africa on the sidelines of the IMF’s International Conference on Sustainable Development and Debt Sustainability which held in the country’s capital city of Dakar.

Recall that this is not the first time the Minister has made a similar claim. Back in August, she argued that Nigeria’s debt profile was not a problem, even as she called out the “insensitivity” of experts questioning the government’s borrowings.

But there is a problem

However, Mrs Ahmed did acknowledge that there is a problem. According to her, what Nigeria has is a revenue challenge. She also noted that since this problem was identified, the President Buhari-led government has been working hard to solve it by looking at various means to boost revenue.

“Currently, Nigeria’s debt is at N25 trillion; that is about $83 billion. And at $83 billion, we are just at 18.99%…so 19% debt to GDP. I hear people say Nigeria has a debt problem. We don’t have a debt problem. What we have is a revenue challenge and the whole of this government is currently working on how to enhance our revenues, to ensure that we meet our obligation to service government as well as to service debt.”

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2020 budget and more debt

Now, the Nigerian Senate, yesterday, passed a 2020 budget of N10.59 trillion with a deficit of N2.18 trillion. This is a lot of money, which means that the Nigerian government may not have a choice but to resort to more borrowing. When the Minister was asked to comment on how Nigeria intends to make the future debts more sustainable, she said the following:

“The way to make it more sustainable is to make sure that we conduct regular debt sustainability analysis. So, for every debt we are going to add, we would have incorporated it into the national debt, looking at what is going to be the impact on debt service and the total debt stock.”

Meanwhile, in further attempt to justify more borrowing from the government, the Minister argued that no country can adequately develop by relying on revenue alone. In other words, debt is also important.

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[READ MORE: Nigeria’s Entertainment & Media industry to hit $10 billion by 2023 – PwC (Opens in a new browser tab)]

Need for sustainable debt

In the course of the interview, the Minister, however, emphasised the need for Nigeria and other African countries to balance the need for development and debt sustainability. Note that Nigeria and Africa at large have a huge development deficit, even as revenue is not enough to take care of these developmental needs. As such, borrowing becomes essential. But this notwithstanding, there is a need to ensure that borrowing is responsible, she advised.

You may watch the entire interview here.

Emmanuel is a professional writer and business journalist, with interests covering Banking & Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Profiles, Brand Communication, Fintech, and MSMEs. He initially joined Nairametrics as an all-round Business Analyst, but later began focusing on and covering the financial services sector. He has also held various leadership roles, including Senior Editor, QAQC Lead, and Deputy Managing Editor. Emmanuel holds an M.Sc in International Relations from the University of Ibadan, graduating with Distinction. He also graduated with a Second Class Honours (Upper Division) from the Department of Philosophy & Logic, University of Ibadan. If you have a scoop for him, you may contact him via his email- [email protected] You may also contact him through various social media platforms, preferably LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Coronavirus

COVID-19: US to have enough vaccines for vulnerable Americans by end of 2020

The US said it is likely to have enough safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to inoculate Americans by the end of 2020.

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AstraZeneca suspends COVID-19 vaccine final stage trial over safety concerns, COVID-19: J&J starts vaccine trials on humans after success on monkeys

The United States, On Wednesday, revealed that the country is likely to have enough safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines available to inoculate the most vulnerable Americans by the end of 2020.

The U.S. government is cautiously optimistic that one or two vaccines, likely from Pfizer Inc or Moderna Inc, will be available by the end of the year, and can begin to be distributed to Americans, officials said during a news conference.

This was disclosed by the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, on Wednesday, October 22, 2020.

Azar said he expected that all seniors, healthcare workers, and first responders would be able to receive vaccines as soon as January, with the rest of the American public able to get vaccines by April.

Companies participating in the U.S. government’s effort to develop vaccines for COVID-19, dubbed “Operation Warp Speed”, have begun developing manufacturing capabilities even before any vaccination has been authorized by regulators.

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Backstory

Nairametrics had reported that in an open letter, the Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer Inc, Albert Bourla, disclosed that it could seek emergency authorization to use the COVID-19 vaccine in the US by late November, after the US Presidential election.

The coronavirus outbreak has been worsening in recent weeks as cold weather pushes Americans indoors, raising the chance of contracting the virus. Some 38 U.S. states and two territories have reported rising case counts. More than 8 million Americans have been infected with the novel coronavirus and more than 200,000 have died.

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What this means

This announcement rules out the assertion by US President, Donald Trump, that a COVID-19 vaccine would be ready before the Presidential election. However, this news is still a huge boost for the country, which has been one of the most hit globally from the pandemic.

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Business

IGP orders immediate withdrawal of police officers attached to VIPs

The IGP has ordered the immediate withdrawal of police officers attached to all VIPs across the country.

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The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, has ordered the immediate withdrawal of Police Officers who are attached to all Very Important Persons (VIPs) across the country. The Police Officers exempted from this directive are those attached to Government Houses; the Senate President; and the Speaker, House of Representatives.

According to media reports, the directive was contained in a police wireless message dated October 21, 2020, that was sent virtually to Zonal Assistant Inspector General of Police and State Commissioners of Police with reference number, CB:4001/DOPS/SPU/FHQ/ABU/VOL./ORDER.

The statement said, “Any commander who violates this order will bear the consequences.”

This new directive comes barely 10 days after the police authorities disbanded the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), following nationwide protests against the squad for high handedness and extrajudicial killings.

The signal, which was signed by the AIG POL, Protect, Force Headquarters, Abuja, partly read, “Any protect personnel found escorting or guarding any VIP with or without a firearm is deemed to be deployed by the Commander and the Commander will be sanctioned.”

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It further directed the affected personnel to report to their respective command Commissioners of Police.

It can be recalled that successive IGPs have issued similar orders in the past, which were barely implemented.

In another development, the IGP has sent emissaries to the Chairman, Police Service Commission (PSC), Musiliu Smith, in a bid to have a smooth working relationship with the retired police boss.

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It was gathered that two former IGs, Mike Okiro, and Suleiman Abba, visited the PSC Chairman at his office in Abuja on Wednesday, following Smith’s refusal to meet with Adamu on several occasions.

A source explained that Okiro and Abba spent over three hours trying to persuade Smith to reconcile with the IG, who has been at loggerheads with the PSC over the recruitment of constables into the Nigeria Police Force.

What this means

This appears to be part of measures aimed at kick-starting the much talked about reforms in the Nigerian Police Force. The full implementation of this order will make more police officers available to provide security to Nigerians, as a huge number of the force provides security to private individuals and companies in a country that is greatly under policed.

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Coronavirus

COVID-19 Update in Nigeria

On the 21st of October 2020, 37 new confirmed cases were recorded in Nigeria

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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 61,667 confirmed cases.

On the 21st of October 2020, 37 new confirmed cases were recorded in Nigeria, having carried out a total daily test of 4,648 samples across the country.

To date, 61,667 cases have been confirmed, 56,880 cases have been discharged and 1,125 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 595,283 tests have been carried out as of October 21st, 2020 compared to 590,635 tests a day earlier.

COVID-19 Case Updates- 21st October 2020,

  • Total Number of Cases – 61,667
  • Total Number Discharged – 56,880
  • Total Deaths – 1,1125
  • Total Tests Carried out – 595,283

According to the NCDC, the 37 new cases were reported from 9 states – FCT (8), Lagos (7), Taraba (5), Rivers (5), Adamawa (4) Kaduna (3), Anambra (2), Osun (2), Ogun (1).

Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 20,733, followed by Abuja (5,943), Plateau (3,587), Oyo (3,421), Rivers (2,742), Edo (2,648), Kaduna (2,572), Ogun (1,987), Delta (1,812), Kano (1,741), Ondo (1,659), Enugu (1,314),  Kwara (1,050), Ebonyi (1,049), Osun (918), Katsina (904), Abia (898), Gombe (883).  Borno (745), and Bauchi (710).

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Imo State has recorded 607 cases, Benue (484), Nasarawa (478), Bayelsa (403),  Ekiti (329), Jigawa (325), Akwa Ibom (295), Anambra (277), Niger (274), Adamawa (248), Sokoto (162), Taraba (117), Kebbi (93), Cross River (87), Zamfara and Yobe (79), while Kogi state has recorded 5 cases only.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Western diplomats warn of disease explosion, poor handling by government

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.

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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.

READ ALSO: Bill Gates says Trump’s WHO funding suspension is dangerous

 

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