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Debt profile: Bankruptcy looms, Obasanjo warns FG  

Olusegun Obasanjo has warned the Federal Government of impending bankruptcy while expressing deep concern about Nigeria’s current debt profile.

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Obasanjo backs Buhari's border closure commitment , Nigeria debt profile: Bankruptcy looms, Obasanjo tells FG  

Nigeria’s ex President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has warned the Federal Government of impending bankruptcy while expressing deep concern about Nigeria’s current debt profile.

While speaking at the “Why I am Alive” campaign celebration in Lagos, Obasanjo disclosed in his keynote address that the country’s external debt had grown to 700% from $10.32 billion in 2015 to $81.2.74 billion in 2019.

What it means: Nigeria was committing half of its foreign earnings to servicing its current level of indebtedness.

Fitch downgrades Nigeria, blames Buharinomics for crisis in the economy 

 “Such a situation talks about impending bankruptcy. No entity can survive while devoting 50% of its revenue to debt servicing,” Obasanjo said.

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Obasanjo further explained that the country’s current budget has Nigeria spending 25% on debt servicing, which is not the country’s total earning, as a lot of it is also borrowing. Simply put, we are borrowing to service what we have borrowed and yet we are borrowing more, the Guardian reported.

“I do not need the brain of any genius to conclude that those who use statistics to dig us deeper into debt are our enemies. Statistics can be used to serve any purpose, and that is why Winston Churchill talked of lies, damn lies and statistics, meaning statistics can be made master of lies,” Obasanjo said.

Meanwhile, the former president called for a national debate on Nigeria’s short, medium and long-term plans, adding that his biggest worry was that the country already has fiscal obligations to meet up with.

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[READ MORE: Debt profile: MAN raises concerns over Nigeria’s rising figures)

Pastor Itua Ighodalo, who moderated the session at the event explained that the campaign was designed to empower young Nigerians for the future by tapping into the key lessons from success stories of eminent personalities that have contributed to the social, economic and political growth of Nigeria.

Also, some Nigerians and stakeholders including former vice president Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) have continually raised the alarm over the country’s rising debt profile. This follows President Buhari’s request for Senate approval to borrow almost $30 billion for development purposes.

However, the Federal Government has continually maintained that Nigeria is not heading for a debt crisis. Nigerians can only hope the borrowing culminate into visible economic growth and development.

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Business

UK moves to seize $39 million from Ibori’s lawyer over role in former Governor’s case

The lawyer who was convicted alongside Ibori may lose his financial asset to the British government.

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British prosecutors have moved to seize about $39.3 million (30.8 million pounds) from a London lawyer, who helped former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, in looting and laundering illegal funds from the oil-rich state.

The British lawyer, Bhadresh Gohil, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, following his conviction in 2010 on 13 counts of money-laundering, and other offenses, over his role in the fraud and money laundering case of James Ibori, who was the former governor of Delta State, from 1999 to 2007.

It can be recalled that the former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, was extradited to the United Kingdom from the United Arab Emirates in 2011, and subsequently got convicted on 10 counts of fraud and money laundering. He was handed a 13-year jail term.

Gohil, who was then a partner at a firm in the London district of Mayfair, helped Ibori siphon these stolen funds, through shell companies and offshore accounts. He bought assets such as an English country house and a $20 million private jet. However, the police authorities caught up with the men before the jet was delivered.

The lawyer was also said to have masterminded a fraud, in which $37 million in fake consultancy fees was stolen from two Nigerian states, in connection with the sale of their stakes in a telecoms company in the country.

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The outcome of the case was hailed in Britain and described as a victory for the fight against corruption, while also pledging to return stolen funds to the Nigerian government.

However, the confiscation proceedings against the two culprits have dragged on for almost 10 years, and repeatedly delayed by appeals and complications.

In Ibori’s case, the hearing took place at London’s Southwark Crown Court in January, and prosecutors asked the court to make a confiscation order of 117.7 million pounds against Ibori. The judge has yet to hand down his decision.

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A hearing on Gohil’s case is ongoing at the same court. Lead prosecution counsel, Jonathan Kinnear, on Thursday began setting out the details of what he said was Gohil’s criminal benefit. He will have a chance later in the hearing to call witnesses, and give evidence to dispute the prosecution case.

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Business

Trade remedies needed for African free trade implementation – Tola Onayemi

Onayemi said Trade remedies would protect the market from getting flooded by subsidized goods of foreign companies.

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Trade remedies to protect Nigerian producers from unfair and injurious trade practices from foreign companies that harm domestic industries are key factors for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

This was disclosed by Tola Onayemi, Head, Trade Remedies Unit National office for Trade Negotiations on Thursday at the AfCFTA Sensitization Seminar organized by the National Action Committee of the implementation of the agreement.

Mr. Onayemi said Trade remedies would protect the market from getting flooded by subsidized goods of foreign companies which would be sold below competitive prices for Nigerian producers. “Trade remedies is not protectionism, it’s protection against unfair trade practices,” he said.

He added that the remedies are policy tools used by governments to take remedial action against unfair trade practices by companies and countries which cause injury to domestic industries, after a rules-based investigation.

Onayemi cited WTO and AfCFTA Trade laws which make provisions for trade remedies in trade agreements. He cited Article 17,18,19  and 20 AfCFTA Protocol on Trade in Goods and Annex 9 of the AfCFTA Protocol on Trade in Goods and the CFTA Guidelines implementation of Trade Remedies in accordance with the relevant WTO agreement. He said the AfCFTA and WTO laws protect against Anti-dumping, which are only applied after a careful analysis has been taken by the host nation.

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Before an application of a trade remedy policy tool can be investigated, there must be an existing legislation/regulation and an Investigating authority recognized by international organizations as the body responsible to investigate and recommend appropriate remedies for each unfair practice. If the investigation has been carried out, and there is proof of government subsidies on the product entering the host market, the difference in price is added at the border, before the goods enter the market.

He added that the key features of any Trade Remedy Mechanism include:

  • Data-driven
  • Technical and Investigation based
  • Independent of any Policy-making Arm
  • Timelines
  • Full Notification and Disclosures ( to WTO/AfCFTA, all Importers, Exporters, Home Countries of investigated importer).

On Nigeria’s Trade Remedy implementation policies, Onayemi mentioned a 3-month On-The-Job-Training for Country Trade Remedy experts held from April-June 2018, the Set-up and meetings of EMT committee on Trade Remedies in 2018, also in 2018 Approval of Nigerian Trade Remedies Infrastructure by EMT and Basic technology frameworks for Trade Remedies Investigation in December 2019.

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Outstanding tasks include the Signing and Publication of Legal Framework of Nigerian trade remedies and the Deployment and launch of Trade Remedies Electronic Platform with integration by the Nigerian Customs, NBS and Finance.

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Tech News

Dell partners firms to launch Tech Experience Centre in Nigeria

Dell Technologies is to establish a Tech Experience Centre in Nigeria.

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Dell Technologies has partnered with some global tech firms to establish a Tech Experience Centre in Nigeria. The centre is a technology project designed to bridge the gap to cutting-edge technologies for millions in the country.

This was disclosed in a statement issued by the company and seen by Nairametrics on Thursday.

In the statement, Nicholas Travers, Director, Central and West Africa, Dell Technologies explained that the project, which will be launched on October 1, would save huge costs and capital flight while also boosting technology adoption in Nigeria.

He said, “We believe the Tech Experience Centre will help reduce the decision making cycle and save huge costs and time of traveling to locations outside our continent to visit and experience these technologies at work. This is a fantastic initiative by TD Africa, perhaps the first of its kind in the region and we are proud to be part of it.”

According to him, the project will go a long way in helping Dell Technologies showcase its suite of cutting-edge technologies.

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‘‘The launch of the Experience Centre will support the growth of technology in Nigeria and the West African region. Also, it provides a fantastic platform for Dell Technologies to showcase the very many technologies we offer,” Travers added.

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami, is expected to commission the Tech Experience Centre, the first of its kind in Africa.

Travers added that the Centre marked the first time global tech giants would come together to establish their respective experience centres under one roof to create a truly immersive and rich experience of latest technologies in action.

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