President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Paris asked developed countries to make strong financial commitments to the 14 billion dollars urgently needed to revive the Lake Chad and save communities dependent on the river from extinction, noting that, this will curb migration to Europe.

Addressing a high level meeting on “Climate Change Challenges and Solutions in Africa”, on the sidelines of the on-going UN Climate Change Conference, COP 21, President Buhari said no fewer than five million people living in the Lake Chad Basin countries have been displaced by the depletion of the lake due to climate change.Buhari

The President said the shrinkage of Lake Chad, a former island sea, had resulted in increased social conflicts, high rates of migration and cross border movements.

“Nigeria has a large population of over 170 million people and in some parts of Northern Nigeria, a farm that used to belong to 10 people now belongs to over 100 people. They have no other place to live and no land for cultivation,’’ he said.

President Buhari recalled that a research conducted by a professor in a London university and published more than three decades ago had predicted that unless one or some of the rivers from the Central African region are diverted to empty into the Lake Chad basin, the river will dry up. Read More →

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Pat Utomi

Confirmation has come that President Muhammmadu Buhari will be going to America this month. This going to America should not only be different from that of the African prince portrayed by Eddie Murphy, it should be different from that which marked both the beginning of the Yar’Adua and Jonathan presidencies. This going to America for an ailing nation of great potential must be a concrete effort at forging partnerships in pursuit of the great goal of the Great Escape from misery for the biggest concentration of the people of Africa descent.Prof.-Pat-Utomi

Going to America has always been a matter laced with Irony. As a young youth corps member reporting for the Newbreed newsmagazine some 38 years ago, I wrote a story that pointed to Army Intellectual, Olusegun Obasanjo, criticising African leaders journeying to America. As head of state then, Obasanjo had evidently forgotten his old quips, and was preparing for a journey to America.
I have never thought of going to America a problem. The mindset of “America their America” offered by one of our literary giants was not my own frame. What my concern always was and remains the issue for this visit, is, how to go beyond ceremonials and photo opps to handshakes that produce mutually beneficial outcomes. For the US and Nigeria this has to include in today’s context a boosting of capacity for security and economic advancement in Nigeria and trade opportunities with new markets for American products where there is comparative advantage that does not depress prospects for sustainable development in a country of prospects. Read More →

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By Editorial board

GREECE’S banks are quickly running out of cash, as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras takes his latest bailout proposal to the country’s eurozone creditors, days after Greek voters overwhelmingly rejected their latest bailout offer.

Officials on Monday announced that the banks would remain closed until Thursday, as the European Central Bank (ECB) slowly tightened a noose on its funding.Greek banks

The daily withdrawal limits were to remain unchanged at 60 euros ($66) per account daily.

Al Jazeera’s John Psaropoulos, reporting from Athens, said Greek banks were now operating “under siege”, with one major Athens bank only able to keep its ATMs open on Monday after two major companies deposited their payrolls in cash.

“The banks are living day-to-day and hand-to-mouth,” Psaropoulos said.

“They believe they have enough to keep going today, possibly Thursday, but only under the capital controls (withdrawal limits).” Read More →

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YOLA – The former Governor of Adamawa, Murtala Nyako, weekend returned to Yola, after staying 10 months outside the country.Murtala-Nyako
Nyako, who was welcomed by a large crowd at the Yola International Airport, arrived at about 11 a.m and drove in a convoy to the Specialist Hospital and Federal Medical Centre, Yola to console victims of June 4, bomb blast in Yola. Read More →

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RAGUSA, Italy (Reuters) A Nigerian who gave birth on a warship after the Italian navy rescued her from a migrant boat has said that “Italy is better than Libya and Nigeria is the worst.”

This photo provided by the Italian Navy's Press Office Monday, May 4, 2015 shows a baby born on a navy vessel Sunday, May 3, 2015. The navy said a woman, in labor when rescued Sunday, gave birth to a girl aboard of its patrol ship 'Bettica'. Mother and daughter are fine, and the patrol boat, carrying 654 migrants who were saved in four different rescue operations, headed to port. (Italian Navy via AP)

This photo provided by the Italian Navy’s Press Office Monday, May 4, 2015 shows a baby born on a navy vessel Sunday, May 3, 2015. The navy said a woman, in labor when rescued Sunday, gave birth to a girl aboard of its patrol ship ‘Bettica’. Mother and daughter are fine, and the patrol boat, carrying 654 migrants who were saved in four different rescue operations, headed to port. (Italian Navy via AP)

She told Reuters on Monday her new daughter would have a better life in Europe, explaining why she risked the dangerous voyage.

Francesca Marina, named after St. Francis and the Italian navy, was 3.37 kilos (7 pounds, 7 ounces) when she was delivered aboard the Bettica naval vessel in the Mediterranean a week ago. Once ashore, she suffered from seizures and was put in intensive care.

A week on, both Stephanie Samuel, the 24-year-old Nigerian Read More →

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Rescuers have found no more survivors from the shipwreck of a boat in which 400 migrants are believed to have drowned, the Italian coastguard said Wednesday.shipwreak

The vessel capsized off the Libyan coast on Sunday, with survivors who were brought to Italy telling charity workers that as many as 400 others perished.

Italian coastguards, who intercepted 42 boats on Sunday and Monday alone carrying 6,500 migrants attempting to make the hazardous crossing to Europe, confirmed that they had saved 145 people from the sunken boat and found nine bodies. Read More →

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James Emejo
in Abuja


he Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Tuesday resolved to leave the Monetary Policy Rate otherwise known as Interest Rate unchanged at 12 per cent with symmetric corridor of +/-200 basis points.

CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

But the apex bank decided to increase banks’ Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) to 12 per cent from eight per cent and also reduced the Net foreign exchange Open Position (NOP) to 1.0 per cent from 3.0 per cent with immediate effect.
The MPR is the rate at which the apex bank lends to commercial banks while the CRR is a monetary tool used to either call up excess liquidity or release funds needed for the growth of the economy as situation demands.  The increase means that banks would have less cash available at their disposal as money is drained out of circulation.

Addressing journalists after the two-day meeting of Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in Abuja,  CBN Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, said the hike in CRR was aimed at curbing structural excess liquidity in the banking system amidst high inflationary expectations.

He noted that the significant liquidity on the books of banks had not led to intermediation and lending to the real economy as banks continued to take advantage of high yields on government securities to direct credit away from the core private sector.

Sanusi said although broad money supply (M2) grew by 1.35 per cent in June 2012 over the level at end-December, 2011, translating to annualised 2.70 per cent growth, overall credit to the private sector increased by 3.60 per cent.

But credit to state and local governments grew by 14.23 per cent or 28.46 per cent.

On annualised basis, credit to core private sector grew by 3.2 per cent or 6.4 per cent when annualised.

He, however, maintained that the liquidity in banks’ vault had provided ammunition for speculative activity in the foreign exchange market with implications for inflationary expectation.

Sanusi said: “The reason for increasing the CRR was not primarily about redirecting lending. It is primarily about contribution to stability. At the moment if you looked at what happened a few weeks ago, we had a lot of pressure on the exchange rate and the only reason we were able to make the naira stable was because we tightened money and also increased the amount of supply from the reserves of dollars. We cannot continue to rent down reserves in order to have a stable exchange rate and in the event of the slowdown in Europe becoming very serious and hitting oil prices; what will happen is that we are going to have so much pressure on reserves: we may have to rapidly depreciate the local currency and that will feed into the existing inflationary lope. So the primary concern is our price stability concern which is the primary mandate of the central bank. And if we have very high inflationary expectations, we should take measures to address structural excess liquidity in the banking system and that is what the CRR increase is supposed to achieve.”

It also emerged Tuesday that the country’s Gross External Reserves had increased by $0.33 billion to $37.16 billion as at July 19, 2012 compared with its value of $36.83 billion as at the end of May.

Meanwhile, Sanusi, who read the communique No. 83 of the MPC, said inflationary concerns and the attendant impact of higher interest rates on
small businesses as well as the potential for higher non-performing loans on the books of banks had compelled the committee to retain the existing interest rate.

He said: “The MPC viewed that a lowering of the rates in the face of sustained slower growth of output and global growth prospects could further weaken the exchange rate and adversely affect reserves at a time when the country needs to build up buffers against external shocks.  It also reiterated its view that the growth challenge is a result of poor record of implementation of structural reforms and the capital budget.”

Continuing, he said: “Second, to leave the MPR unchanged.  This is against the background of upward trending inflation figures and the precarious picture painted by the six months inflation forecast of the Bank, revised upwards since the MPC meetings of May, 2012.  Inflation is expected to average 12.0 per cent during the next six months with core and food inflation being much higher. The forecast is mainly due to the increase in electricity tariffs and the tariff on imported rice and wheat.”

On the global economic outlook, he said the slowdown in world economic activities would have serious implications for the Nigerian economy should there be a reduction in the demand for oil and consequent decline in oil revenues.
According to him, a reduction in foreign exchange earnings would impair the build-up of external reserves and consequently exert pressures on the exchange rate. This, he said, would result into increased budget deficit as government would be unable to realise its revenue projections as well as lead to increased public sector borrowing to finance expenditure outlays.

Sanusi, again, warned that is presently vulnerable to an imminent economic shock because it does not have buffers to contain it having depleted the excess crude account originally created to provide succour in difficult times.

He said: “The committee observed further that during 2008-2009 when oil prices declined sharply and the domestic currency came under intense pressure, the CBN was able to defend the Naira because the nation had buffers, having accumulated substantial foreign exchange reserves when oil prices were high, but that this time around that luxury does not exist, as the excess crude account has largely been depleted, and is still being depleted by the tiers of government.

“We already are dealing with structure problems, we are already dealing with issues on the fiscal side; we do not want to compound this matter by having a high rate of inflation. Now one of the major concerns we have is that if you look at what is happening in Europe, United States, China, India and Brazil, you cannot rule out the possibility of a decline in the price of oil and if you have an external shock to reserves and a major depreciation of the currency-that is going to feed into an already existing inflation…and that would be unacceptable. So it is actually better at this moment to tighten money supply, tighten liquidity in the banking system, try to build up those buffers and prepare ourselves for the storm that would definitely come.”

Sanusi said: “The Committee observed that monetary policy faces a difficult task in terms of delivering price stability. Domestic conditions indicate rising unemployment, poverty, declining growth and rising inflation.  Consequently, the money and foreign exchange markets appeared to be operating at sub-optimal levels.  It noted that with the weakened global outlook underpinned by the slowdown in economic activities in the US, and major emerging economies like Brazil, China and India, contraction in output in the Euro area along with the persisting debt crisis which is proving difficult to resolve, lower demand for crude oil and lower crude oil prices, coupled with the lower domestic output growth, build-up of inflationary pressures, slowdown in the accretion to external reserves and the attendant pressures on the exchange rate as well as possible shortfall in the projected revenue for 2012, the ominous signs for the domestic economy are evident.”

The CBN Governor added: “In this regard, therefore, monetary policy is faced with very difficult choices, as whatever policy action taken must be weighed against the possible trade-off(s) and implications for the wider economy.

The Committee further noted that the inflation environment remained uncertain with the possible pressures coming from the core component in the medium term.  Domestic inflation has maintained its upward trend, and is expected to remain within that region over the six month forecast period.  More so, the Committee observed that since its meeting in May 2012, growth prospects continued to be threatened by developments in Europe, China, India and the US, as well as the very slow progress in structural reforms and poor implementation of the capital budget for 2012.”


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