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INEC headquarters gutted by fire

The headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja on Friday, April 17, 2020, was razed by fire.

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INEC to introduce election results viewing portal, INEC headquarters gutted by fire

The headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja was razed by fire, on Friday, April 17, 2020.

This was disclosed to the press by the INEC’s National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education, Mr Festus Okoye.

Okoye pointed out that the fire outbreak affected a section of the building that had the Department of Electoral and Party Monitoring and was as a result of electrical faults in the office of the Director of the department.

Going further, the INEC National Commissioner said that though some documents relating to political parties were burnt, the important ones were stored in fireproof cabinets.

(READ MORE: Updated: List of all companies and billionaires that have contributed to COVID-19 relief fund)

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In his statement, he said, “The fire started around 11 am, it was at the Media Centre outside the INEC Headquarters, the Headquarters is intact, there is no cause for alarm. The main documents relating to our monitoring of political parties are still intact, they have been moved out before the fire. What you have are just correspondences. But we have lost public properties and our working equipment. We are still trying to find out what happened’’

INEC headquarters gutted by fire

INEC Office

However, the fire has been brought under control by men of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Fire Service as confirmed by the Controller, Braimoh Mommoh.

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He said that the men of the command ensured that the level of damage was minimal.

This latest fire incident has added to the number of public properties that have been gutted by fire in the last week. It could be recalled that both the headquarters of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the office of the Accountant General of the Federation have all reported fire incidents.

Chike Olisah is a graduate of accountancy with over 15 years working experience in the financial service sector. He has worked in research and marketing departments of three top commercial banks. Chike is a senior member of the Nairametrics Editorial Team. You may contact him via his email- [email protected]

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Coronavirus

China’s economy bounces back from COVID-19 slump, with a growth of 4.9% in Q3 2020

The Chinese economy has seen a growth of 4.9% between July and September, rising from the slump of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Hudson Mining Limited, China's economy bounces back from COVID-19 slump, with a growth of 4.9% in Q3 2020

The Chinese economy has continued to show stronger recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, as its economy saw growth of 4.9% between July and September – Q3 2020, compared to the same quarter last year. However, the figure is lower than the 5.2% projected by most international economists.

China is now leading the charge for a global recovery based on its latest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data. The near 5% growth is a far cry from the slump the Chinese economy suffered at the start of 2020 when the pandemic first emerged.

READ: COVID-19: How CBN policies helped prevent the collapse of the Nigerian economy – Oscar Onyema

READ: TiKTok to take legal actions against President Trump’s ban

China’s trade figures for September also pointed to a stronger recovery, with exports growing by 9.9% and imports growing by 13.2% compared to September last year.

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It appears to be a broadening recovery with the important services sector rebounding. Domestic tourists and travelers have probably helped the recovery continue by spending their money at home because global restrictions mean they can’t yet go abroad. With international travel severely restricted, millions of Chinese have been traveling and spending domestically.

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

What you should know

  • While the COVID-19 pandemic has hampered the year’s growth targets, China remains in a trade war with the US and it has relatively hurt its economy.
  • For the first three months of the year, China’s economy shrank by 6.8% when it saw nationwide shutdowns of factories and manufacturing plants. It was the first time China’s economy contracted since it started recording quarterly figures in 1992.
  • Over the previous two decades, China had seen an average economic growth rate of about 9%; although, the pace has gradually been slowing.
  • There were 637m trips in China over the eight-day holiday which generated revenue of 466.6bn RMB ($69.6bn, £53.8bn), according to data from its Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
  • Duty-free sales in the tropical island province of Hainan more than doubled from last year, soaring by nearly 150% according to the local customs data.

READ: China joins WHO vaccine programme as it fills huge gap left by United States

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What they are saying

According to Iris Pang, Chief China Economist for ING in Hong Kong, “I don’t think the headline number is bad. Job creation in China is quite stable which creates more consumption.”

According to Robin Brant, BBC China correspondent, “China’s economy continues to grow at rates unimaginable in other Covid-hit countries. Draconian lockdown measures to control the virus combined with some government stimulus appeared to have worked well. While the growth of 4.9% is slightly below some forecasts, industrial output – a good barometer of state-controlled activity, came in above expectations”

READ: Many Billionaires became richer by 27% during the COVID-19 pandemic – Swiss Bank UBS

READ: Access Bank gets regulatory approval to become a Holding Company

According to Yoshikiyo Shimamine, Chief Economist at the Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute in Tokyo, “China’s economy remains on the recovery path, driven by a rebound in exports, but we cannot say it has completely shaken off the drag caused by the coronavirus.”

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Economy & Politics

WTO DG: Okonjo-Iweala gets the backing of 79 countries so far

Okonjo-Iweala has disclosed that she has gotten the endorsement of 79 out of the 164 countries that comprise the WTO.

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Ngozi Okonjo Iwela, WTO DG: Okonjo-Iweala gets the backing of 79 countries so far

Nigeria’s candidate for the vacant World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General post, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has expressed confidence in her quest to lead the crisis-ridden global trade organization after all of Africa backed her candidacy, vowing she would champion reform.

This disclosure was made by Nigeria’s former Finance Minister at a virtual press briefing on Friday, October 17, 2020, after 55-member African Union officially supported her over the sole remaining opponent, Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea.

READ: Okonjo-Iweala shares her vision with WTO members, as she pitches for DG post

Okonjo-Iweala during the virtual press briefing said, “I feel the wind behind my back,”

She said she was thrilled to learn that all African countries are supporting her. According to her, this is in addition to a group of Caribbean and Pacific countries, who had promised to back her, bringing the number of countries officially endorsing her candidacy to 79 out of the 164 countries that comprise the WTO.

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READ: Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers reveals breakdown of its massive N2.53 trillion AUM.

She was also optimistic of support from Latin American and felt she has gotten very good traction and good support in Asia so far.

She said the European Union was meanwhile due to announce its preference soon and feels quite confident that across the regions, they will be able to attract support.

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READ: WTO Director-General: Okonjo-Iweala, 4 others to know fate next week

The global trade body is set to be led by a woman for the first time whichever of the two candidates is successful in their bid to succeed Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down as WTO director-general in August a year ahead of schedule.

Okonjo-Iweala, 66, who served as Nigeria’s first female finance and foreign minister and has a 25-year career behind her as a development economist at the World Bank, said it would be good if WTO could also boast its first African leader.

READ: COVID-19: World Bank warns Nigerians, others in Africa not to relax

She said, “If that person is African and a woman, I think that is great. Because… neither an African nor a woman has led the organization.’’

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The WTO at this time with the challenges it confronts needs a very competent Director General who is able to have the political reach and stature to be able to do reforms and deal at very high levels. It is not only having those skills, but having them all meet in one person at this juncture when the WTO needs that.

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READ: Update: WTO DG: President Buhari meets Okonjo-Iweala in Aso Rock

The WTO was already grappling with stalled trade talks and struggling to manage tensions including trade disputes between the United States and China, even before the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic.

The global trade body has also faced relentless attacks from the United States, which has crippled the WTO dispute settlement appeal system and threatened to leave the organization altogether.

Okonjo-Iweala said she had broad experience in championing reform and was the right person to help put the WTO back on track.

READ: $70 billion per annum will be needed to tackle pandemic induced poverty – World Bank

She said, “I am a reform candidate and I think the WTO needs the reform credentials and skills now.

It can be recalled that the initial pool of 8 candidates for the WTO’s top post, which has been reduced after 2 rounds of elimination processes, had included 3 Africans, and the AU had until now refrained from offering an official endorsement.

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The third and final round of consultations seeking to establish consensus around one candidate is due to begin next week and end on October 27, with the announcement due in early November.

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Economy & Politics

Update: Buhari seeks power to freeze accounts, clamp down on money launderers

President Buhari is seeking approval of the Reps to grant the EFCC powers to freeze accounts allegedly holding proceeds of crime.

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Buhari says large proportions of new COVID-19 infections now occur in communities

President Muhammadu Buhari has sent a bill to the House of Representatives, seeking their approval to grant the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) the powers to freeze accounts allegedly holding proceeds of crime and go hard on money launderers.

READ: Buhari says there is no provision for fuel subsidy in revised 2020 budget

This is contained in a letter written by the President and read by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, during plenary on Wednesday, October 14, 2020, at the National Assembly complex in Abuja.

READ: No foreign exchange for food and fertilizer importers – Buhari

It can be recalled that assent to the same Bill was withheld by President Buhari in 2019, following the worsening working relationship between the National Assembly and the Executive.

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According to the letter read by Gbajabiamila, part of the bill sought the creation of a Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Agency. This is coming after the bill was approved by the Federal Executive Council on September 16, 2020, for onward transmission to the National Assembly.

The letter from the president, partly reads, “Please recall that this bill was passed by the National Assembly in 2019 but was not granted assent due to some issues that were identified during the review.

“The Proceeds of Crime Bill is essential and critical in building an enduring and sustainable foundation for the fight against corruption, money laundering and illicit movement of stolen funds through the banking system and across the Nigerian borders.

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“The bill will also improve the ability of law enforcement agencies to seize, freeze and confiscate stolen assets in Nigeria while observing all related constitutional and human rights laws.

“This bill will also address the problem of lack of transparency, accountability and lack of credible records associated with the current procedure in the management of recovered funds by anti-corruption agencies and other institutions in Nigeria.”

The President, in the letter, said that some of the objectives of the proposed agency include the enforcement and administration of the provisions of the bill, the coordination of the recovery and management of the proceeds and instrumentalities of unlawful activity in Nigeria, in collaboration with anti-corruption and other law enforcement agencies.

He disclosed that once recovery is made from the proceeds of crime, the agency will ensure that Nigerians derive maximum benefit from it. The properties and assets will be secured and the final forfeitures granted through a court order can be paid into the Confiscated and Forfeited Account to be domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria.

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