• Again, Naira remains 'stable' but outrageously high (See rate onTuesday)

    04/Jan/2017 // 1216 Viewers


    PARIS, JANUARY 4, 2016: (DGW) Reports coming in from Nigeria say the Naira against every speculation that it would depreciate further at the end of 2016 actually did not for it remain at N490 on the parallel market while the Pound Sterling and the Euro also closed at N585 and N505 respectively.

    At the Bureau De Change window, the dollar exchanged at N399, the Central Bank of Nigeria-controlled rate, while the Pound Sterling and the Euro traded at N598 and N510 respectively.

    Trading at the interbank market saw the dollar closed at N305.
    Traders at the market said that Forex scarcity was still having its toll on the market.

    NAN reports that in spite of the $ billion backlog of Forex cleared by the CBN, the Naira has remained within N490 to a dollar.
    Meanwhile, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, the President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria, said that the figure was a far cry from the monthly Forex demand in the country.

    Gwadabe said: “The $1 billion inflow is far less than what the economy consumes. The entire FX market is over 20 billion dollars monthly.
    “The cleared backlog of the CBN are funds that came through the FMDQ OTC foreign investment that came into the economy over time and the CBN has no option than to redeem it, to close the increasing gap of investors’ confidence.”

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  • Unemployment rate rises to 33.6% in Q3 - NBS

    04/Jan/2017 // 332 Viewers


    The magnitude of employment in the Nigerian economy has not been sufficient or adequate to meet the ever-growing labour market, thus leading to continuous rise in the level of unemployment in the country, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said. 

    In the 2016 second and third quarters of job creation survey, NBS noted that unemployment and underemployment stood at 13.9 per cent and 33.6 per cent respectively. 

    The survey threw up the fact that “with the Nigerian labour force population rising by a five-year average of over 2.6 million annually, the economy needs to generate the same level of jobs annually just to hold the unemployment rate at the current level of 13.9 per cent.” A recent population projection for Nigeria jointly issued by National Population Commission (NPC) and NBS put the number of Nigerians within working ages of 15 and 64 at 106,257,431 in 2016. 

    “In the second quarter of 2016, the total number of new (net) employment recorded in the economy was 155,444, this was a 95.6 per cent  increase when compared with the preceding quarter and a 10.0 per cent increase when compared to the second quarter of 2015. 

    “As it has been the case in previous quarters, the informal sector accounted for the largest share of new jobs, recording 67.9 per cent (105,543). 

    “This was followed by the formal sector, which accounted for 35.5 per cent (55,124) of new jobs in quarter 2 of 2016. Public sector, for the third consecutive quarter, recorded a negative growth in employment, with a figure of -5,223. 

    “In the third quarter of 2016, the total number of jobs generated rose to 187,226 from the 155,444 generated in quarter two, representing an increase of 20.4 per cent quarter on quarter, but a decline of 60.6 per cent year on year. 

    “The formal sector recorded 49,587 jobs, representing 26.5per cent share of new jobs in the third quarter,” the survey disclosed. 

    The informal sector recorded a larger share of new jobs in quarter three when compared to the previous quarter, reporting a figure of 144,651 jobs, which represents 77.3 per cent of new jobs in quarter three. However, the public sector again recorded a negative growth in employment, with a figure of -7,012 in quarter three. 

    “The reported negative growth in public sector job numbers over the last year has not been entirely surprising, as many state governments across the country have struggled to pay salaries, hence restricting the number of new intakes and, in some instances, placing a complete embargo on new employment into the public service.” 

    According to NBS, despite negative economic growth since 2016, the net jobs created still remained positive on the whole in both the formal and informal sectors meaning more jobs were being created despite job losses, especially informal low paying jobs. It added that positive net formal jobs in both second and third quarters of the year were driven by the human health and social services sectors, as well as agriculture and accommodation and food services, which accounted for about 90 per ent and was responsible for keeping net jobs created positive in both quarters. 

    “This reflects the current economic realities with only a few businesses still growing and employing, while many others are shedding jobs.''

    Between January and end September, 3.7million people entered the labour force with net jobs of 422,135 created within that period, giving a shortfall of 3.2million for Qquarter one to quarter three in 2016. 

    This has resulted in a rise in the combined unemployment and underemployment levels from 29.2 per cent (10.4 per cent for unemployment alone) at the beginning of 2016 to 33.6 per ent (13.9 per cent for unemployment alone) by end of quarter three 2016.

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  • Investors flee as renowned Prof. of Economics makes another dangerous prediction for Nigeria's economy

    04/Nov/2016 // 1197 Viewers


    PARIS, NOVEMBER 4, 2016: (DGW) A professor of Economics, Innocent Eleazu has given another dangerous prediction for the ailing Nigerian economy warning that as things stand, the economy runs the risk of sliding further into depression Federal Government fails to find and apply the right solution to the problem.

    Eleazu speaking to newsmen in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State, urged state governors to pay their workers’ salaries, look inwards to develop the mineral and agricultural resources in their states to encourage spending among civil servants and increase local production as a means of improving their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

    According to him, the economic solution many people are proffering in solving the problem of recession is not what should be done in order to come out of the economic quagmire.

    He warned that further borrowing could further deepen the situation.

    The professor who was due to deliver a lecture in Aba titled, “Recession in a Mono Economy: Challenges, Consequences” on November 15, said he feared that Nigeria does not have the foreign reserve to fall back to should the economy go into depression.
    Eleazu debunked the notion that the current recession was caused by the Buhari administration, saying that the economy started depleting about four years ago.

    He said that the only solution was the diversification of the economy, as did the United States of America (USA) when they faced a similar situation between 2007 and 2009.

    “Since the end of the Second World War, USA has had 12 recessions, the hardest and most severe was the one in 2011 which ended in 2012. In all, they learned from the recessions and came out better.

    “In our own case, we have to truly go back to land, get the grassroots farmers well mobilised, not the political or civil servants farmers. Government should not be involved beyond this level because no government agricultural policy has worked over the years”.

    He also urged government to assist entrepreneurs and artisans in order to increase productivity.

    The economist said he was sceptical about Nigeria’s borrowing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to solve the present economic problem, stressing that such steps would increase the debt profile of the country.

    He said, “Since some people in the country are richer than Nigeria, the Federal Government should raise the needed funds internally instead of external borrowing with its attendant high interest rates”.

    Prof Eleazu who claimed that he was one of the economists in USA the Democrat party used their input to evaluate their economic policies, however regretted that policy makers in Nigeria have not made use of reports experts submitted during the ousted President Jonathan’s regime which he said if implemented, would help to turn the economy around.

    “In 2007, the past administration in the country invited me to Abuja and gave me the task of exploring the talents in the youth. After a thorough research, I submitted my report on May 29, 2007, but nothing was done on that till this moment,” he said.

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  • NAIRA gains strength against the US dollar on Tuesday (See exchange rate)

    05/Apr/2017 // 1440 Viewers


    PARIS, APRIL 5, 2017: (DGW) The Nigerian Naira appreciated against the US dollar on Tuesday after one-week long depreciation against all major currencies.

    On Tuesday, however, the Naira exchanged for between N380 (buying), and N390 (selling) as against N395 recorded on Monday, while the Pound Sterling and the Euro closed at N480 and N415 on the parallel market respectively.

    At the Bureau De Change (BDC), the naira was sold at N362 to the dollar, while the Pound Sterling and the Euro closed at N483 and N430 respectively.

    Trading at the interbank market saw the naira closed at N306.25.

    Traders at the market said that the intervention by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at the different segments of the foreign exchange market was driving the strengthening of the naira against the dollar.

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  • Breaking News: JUBILATION as Dr. Mazadu Bako says CRUDE OIL drilling to begin in the North in August this year

    05/Apr/2017 // 1430 Viewers


    PARIS, APRIL 5, 2017: (DGW) Group General Manager, Frontier Exploration Services (GGM, FES),  Dr Mazadu D Bako, GGM FES NNPC, says oil drilling in the northern part of the country will commence soon hopefully by August this year, Daily Trust reports.

    He disclosed this in a chat with Daily Trust saying that his organization has made a tremendous progress in this regard since President Muhammadu Buhari gave the order for intensive search for hydrocarbon in Nigeria's inland basins.

    According to him, ''Since Mr. President gave the marching order for renewed effort in the search for hydrocarbons at the inland basins, we have made tremendous progress. For the Chad Basin, we actually started the seismic data acquisition in 2010 after we obtained the approval in 2009. Since then, up to November 2014, we had acquired over 1900km2 of 3D seismic data. Prior to that (1976 - 1997) we had drilled 23 wells based on 2D data and only 2 wells encountered non-commercial  gas shows. This 3D is an improvement over the 2D which is newer technology.''

    Continuing he said, ''From the over 1900km2 (of 3D seismic data) we have interpreted 1500km2 from which we have identified some prospects that have matured for drilling and we have some leads as well that have been identified. These leads will be further de-risked to a point that we can drill. Prior to now in the Benue Trough, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO), Chevron and Total had acquired some 2D data. Each of them drilled a well to satisfy the minimum work commitment because they also acquired juicy acreages offshore. They satisfied the minimum commitment and pulled out.'' 

    Only Shell made some find of 33 billion cubic feet (bcf)of gas and they plugged the well and abandoned it. All the same we are going back to look at the whole area and other prospects because the 2D that they acquired we have reinterpreted in-house and seen more leads that we need to pursue. Currently, we are using 3D technology.''

    When asked about a significant breakthrough in the renewed search, he said this will take some four to five months, other things being equal.

    His words:

    ''Drilling requires a lot of contractual process and this process is going to be like some 4 to 5 months from now; the contractual process for putting the drilling rigs, accessories, access roads takes some time.''

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  • Economic Recession: Pat Utomi drops another bomshell, slams BUHARI as economic recession worsens

    05/Apr/2017 // 407 Viewers


    PARIS, APRIL 5, 2017: (DGW) THE  current economic recession ravaging Nigeria has been blamed on Buhari's ineptitude, lack of planing and budget discipline, former presidential candidate, Prof. Pat Utomi has observed.

    Utomi observed and stated this on Wednesday, while speaking as a guest lecturer at Dr Emmanuel Egbogah budget roundtable, organised by the Business School of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka in Anambra State.

    He blamed the recession on a refusal to plan and insists a good national budget would have averted the downturn.

    “Our major problem is that we lack planning and budget discipline.

    “In beginning of a budgeting process, it must be matched with where the people are going; but beyond revenue and expenditure, budget has to do with discipline and execution.

    “Those blaming fall in oil price were just bad managers. That was not the cause of this recession,” Utomi said.

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  • Again, Naira crashes abysmally on Wednesday! (See exchange rate)

    05/Apr/2017 // 1813 Viewers


    PARIS, APRIL 5, 2017: (DGW) The Nigerian Naira on Wednesday weakened against the US dollar and other major currencies on the parallel market, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

    The Nigerian currency lost 8 points to exchange at N398, weaker than N390 recorded on Tuesday, while the Pound Sterling and the Euro closed at N485 and N415.

    At the Bureau de Change, BDC, window, the dollar was sold at N362 to the dollar, while the Pound Sterling and the Euro closed at N483 and N430.
    Trading at the interbank window saw the Naira close at N306.2 to the dollar.

    Traders at the market said that they expected the Naira to appreciate by Thursday as BDCs gets additional dollar allocation from CBN.

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  • Breaking: Naira crashes further into this unbelievable amount, check out new rate, manufacturers, importers frustrated

    05/Aug/2016 // 1298 Viewers


    The naira plunged to 400 against the dollar at the parallel market on Thursday as shortage of foreign exchange continued to have negative effects on economic activities in the country.

    The local currency had closed at 390 against the greenback on Wednesday.

    The shortage of forex at the interbank and the black market has continued to weigh on the value of the naira.
    After closing at around 378 against the dollar for most part of last week, the naira dropped to 380 on Friday before falling to 382 on Monday.

    The currency closed at 315.06 to the United States dollar at the interbank market on Thursday.

    Economic and financial analysts have linked the wide depreciation in the value of the naira against the dollar at the parallel market to huge demand for forex by holidaymakers seeking to travel abroad.

    However, some experts said the huge demand for forex at the parallel market was beyond the normal summer rush.

    They linked the development to the activities of speculators and significant demand by manufacturers and importers whose demand was not being met at the interbank market.

    Currency analyst at Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Kunle Ezun, said, “The issue still has to do with inadequate forex supply. As far as you continue to have some 41 items banned from the interbank market, importers and manufacturers of those items will continue to seek for forex at the parallel market.

    “This is part of the reason you are having pressure at the parallel market.”

    According to Ezun, the global plunge in oil prices has affected the capacity of the Central Bank of Nigeria to defend the naira.

    “If the price of oil should go up, more forex will come in and you will see that things will change,” he added.

    A Professor of Economics at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Sherrifdeen Tella, said the huge demand for dollars could be due to the activities of genuine manufacturers and importers seeking forex for production and business purposes, or corrupt people who had stolen state funds.

    Tella said, “The naira is falling at the parallel market because there is scarcity at the interbank market. This fall could be due to the activities of genuine manufacturers or some people you cannot identify. These are people who have stored naira somewhere and are seeking to convert them to dollars. They use every chance they have to buy dollars. What the CBN may need to do is to neutralise that money by changing the colour of the N500 and N1,000 notes.

    “If the naira keeps falling at the parallel market, then we should prepare for further increase in the prices of goods and services. And this will continue to give us more trouble as a nation.”

    The National President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, said the fall in the naira value could be linked to the activities of speculators.

    He said the demand was spurious, saying it was not coming from genuine sources.

    “The demand is spurious; the challenge is that there is no liquidity in the market. If you ask any of the parallel market operators calling N400 per dollar to bring the dollar that you want to buy it, they don’t have,” Ezun said.

    The Chief Executive Officer, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, said that if the naira continued to fall at the parallel market, the country would need to brace for higher rate of inflation and further contraction in economic growth.

    It was learnt on Thursday that the Deposit Money Banks had started selling forex to the Bureau De Change operators in line with the CBN directive.

    Banking sources confirmed that the sale begun on Thursday.

    The ABCON president, Gwadabe, also confirmed the development.

    “The banks started selling to us today, we will be debited tomorrow and then receive the forex. We thank the CBN and the banks. This move will help to close the gap between the exchange rates at the parallel market and interbank market,” he stated.

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  • Economic Recession Looms as Analysts Predict -2.9% GDP Growth Rate in Q2

    05/Jun/2016 // 390 Viewers


    Analysts at FBNQuest Ltd, an investment and asset management subsidiary of FBN Holdings Ltd, have predicted that, in the second quarter of this year, the economy would record a negative GDP growth rate of -2.9 per cent year-on-year, showing further contraction of the economy from -0.36 per cent of the first quarter (Q1).

    The FBNQuest analysts attributed the envisaged contraction in the economy to further contraction in the oil sector, occasioned by the intensified militant activities against Nigeria’s oil assets in the Niger Delta in recent times, which have drastically affected oil production and exports, coupled with the prevalent volatility in crude oil prices at the international market and its attendant effect on the nation’s oil revenue base.

    Besides, they pointed out that the prevalent negative effect of the forex crisis on the non-oil sector would contribute to the negative GDP output in Q2.

    According to them, “For Q2, we see negative GDP growth of -2.9 per cent year-on-year. The contraction of the oil sector is set to accelerate (from -1.9 per cent year-on-year in Q1), given the sharp rise in pipeline sabotage. The fx and other prevalent shortages will continue to weigh heavily upon most non-oil sectors.”

    The FBNQuest forecast is aligning with the Central Bank of Nigeria estimate and warning that the Nigerian economy might further contract in the second quarter (Q2) of this year into a full blown recession, as some of the conditions which led to the contraction in GDP growth rate in the first quarter remained largely unresolved. The Nigerian economy contracted by about -4 per cent in the first quarter of 2016, signalling the deteriorating economic conditions in the country and its first economic contraction in 25 years.

    According to the banking regulatory authority, which alluded to this when its monetary policy committee met and made decisions on the economy, weak outlook for growth, which was signalled in July 2015 when it warned of the risk of a recession, could extend to the second quarter of 2016.

    It blamed the delayed passage of the 2016 budget for constraining the much-desired fiscal stimulus, which edged the economy towards contractionary output.

    In a similar vein, the Director General, West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM), Prof. Akpan Ekpo, in reacting to the MPC decisions, had also stated “the economy would soon enter a recessionary phase based on the recent negative GDP growth in the first quarter of 2016 released by the National Bureau of Statistics.”

    Ekpo feared that once the economy entered the recessionary phase, “monetary policy would become ‘ineffective’ in managing the economy.”

    Nevertheless, the FBNQuest analysts highlighted the five worst performing sectors from the national accounts for Q1 2016. “We include what the NBS terms activity sectors, which are often subdivided into segments, and only those accounting for at least 1 per cent of GDP at constant basic prices. For the larger picture, the NBS report shows that the primary sector (agriculture) expanded by 3.1 per cent y/y and the tertiary (services) by 0.8 per cent, while the secondary contracted by -5.5 per cent,” they said.

    The analysts pointed out that this last underperformance was largely due to manufacturing and construction.

    According to them, “Manufacturing contracted by -7.0 per cent y/y in Q1, and its largest segment (food, beverages and tobacco) even more rapidly, by -11.2 per cent. In this context, we would highlight the fx scarcity as the principal driver.

    “Construction contracted by -5.4 per cent y/y, and its main players will be hoping that the FGN can release funds soon for its capital programmes, which are projected to consume as much as N1.6trillion in the 2016 budget. At this point, full delivery appears unlikely.

    “Services expanded modestly in Q1 despite the swing from growth of 6.4 per cent y/y in Q4 to contraction of -11.3% in finance and insurance. We link this steep decline to a combination of substantial fx-denominated loan books, general challenges over asset quality and headcount reductions.” -  This Day

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  • GOV. Badaru Abubakar to N-Delta Militants: There is nothing to avenge

    05/Jun/2016 // 7226 Viewers


    We have not abandoned health, education for roads’ 

    By Wale Akinola 

    Governor Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State is displeased that some militants in the Niger Delta, under the guise of Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), are sabotaging the efforts of the Buhari administration to move Nigeria forward. 

    Abubakar, in this interview, speaks on the renewed militancy in the oil region which has robbed Nigeria of revenues in an austere period and the challenges of his one-year-old administration. 

    Q The state of the nation appears stormy, especially with the worsening economic situation. What is your perspective? 

    The APC governments at the federal level and Jigawa took over at the worst possible period and witnessed a combination of negative and interlinked trends from falling oil prices to currency devaluation and galloping inflation. 

    The fact that some unpatriotic elements who have lost the chance to continue their brigandage are sabotaging our efforts is no longer in doubt, after all, the question needs to be asked, ‘What are they avenging?’ 

    While they were cheering at the loss in revenue from falling oil prices, they have started attacking facilities to cripple production at a time we were just rejoicing at the fact that prices were climbing again. 

    The situation calls for patience and understanding and we are doing everything in conjunction with the Federal Government to put all hands on deck to alleviate the plight of the people. Let me also talk about our modest attempt at complementing the palliatives being rolled out by the Federal Government to cushion the prevalent difficult situation. We have purchased 3,527 tonnes of assorted grains which will be evenly and equitably distributed on the basis of 1 ton, or 10 100kg bags to every one of the 3,527 polling units we have in the state. 

    We also solicit for Nigerians prayers as divine intervention is required to reverse the trend and put this country on the path of progress once more. 

    QWe are not in doubt that the last one year of your regime has been tough, going by the many hurdles militating against governane. Are  we correct? 

    I feel relatively fulfilled coming after the shock and bewilderment that we were in after the swearing in, you know we made some discoveries during the transition period, but it was only after we took over that we realized the extent of the financial mess that we inherited, and we had to quickly revert to survival mode. Even the previous administration was counting the days till we crash-landed from the enormity of the financial burden, because they knew what they left behind, but we thank Allah for his mercies, we weathered the storm, we’ve put the state on a reasonable solid and sustainable expenditure framework relative to our present earnings and we are hoping for better days ahead. 

    Q How then have you been able to cope with these harsh economic realities as far as what accrued to your state is concerned? 

    Like I said earlier we switched to survival mode. In May 2015 we had less than N17 million in the treasury and I’m talking about the total amount of cash that was available to the state. We had salaries to pay,scholarship arrears and exam fees owed to WAEC and NECO, the Hajj operation preparations had started in earnest and the former government, after trying unsuccessfully to “borrow” from the contributory pension fund, simply achieved this through the back door by refusing to pay the state’s own contribution for almost 11 months. 

    To compound issues, contractors started demanding for payment of their liabilities which amounted to over N14 billion in vouchers awaiting cash backing in the treasury and close to N100 billion in ongoing projects. I had to call major stakeholders and lay bare the financial situation to them and told them I had the capacity to deal with this but it will not be easy or painless. I got the mandate I needed and immediately started a massive cost cutting exercise starting from the Government House. 

    You see if I say I’m cutting my salary and that of the deputy governor by half, it would translate to about N12 million annually and our deficit is in nine figures, so that won’t help our case. We had to look at holistically reducing the cost of doing government business and it was not difficult to find areas because the previous regime was living in a fool’s paradise, just increasing recurrent spending exponentially in direct proportion to the windfall coming in from the Federation Account. 

    Q So, how are you coping with the huge contractual liabilities? Is any work going on in the state at all? 

    As soon as we saw the results of our cost realignment strategy working, we decided that since we were able to meet our recurrent expenditure, we should prioritise the ongoing projects accordingly and this was very difficult politically because the penchant is for supporters to say, ‘let us abandon so and so  work and do our own projects’, so I had to be very firm. 

    It hurts when I see people hiring buses at great expense to go and thank a governor they elected because he has built a road, or school or provided water. It is their money and their mandate and  the least the governor can do; otherwise you have no business in Government House. 

    I had to explain to supporters that the previous government’s projects were started with Jigawa funds and it would be irresponsible to abandon them and waste public money in starting new ones, so a committee verified the projects and we prioritized them in order of public impact and stage reached. Some that were hurriedly and improperly awarded to friends and family we threw out. I then called the contractors personally and explained our situation to them. ‘The country is broke, there may not be jobs for any of you for some time, but I am wiling to assure you continuity and prompt payment if you will give Jigawa a discount’. It was very tough, and I had to assure them that they have my protection and I am not expecting a percentage from anyone and neither is any of my children, commissioner or government official, and if that happens they have my direct line. This was how we got an average of 17% discount amounting to almost N5 billion for projects awarded as far back as 2013 in some cases. 

    Q Considering the dire financial situation generally, are you not abandoning the other sectors when you focus on completing roads? 

    We are not abandoning any sector, our focus is human development in all ramifications with the ultimate aim of reducing the poverty level and that is why I told you that even the roads we are continuing were selected based on public impact, opening up communities, providing access to markets for their farm produce and linking major towns and communities. The other critical sectors in this chain are health and education. We must educate our people and as the saying goes health is wealth. 

    In the health sector we are focusing on primary health care delivery to devolve smaller facilities spread out at the grassroots level as opposed to mega hospitals that are costly and very inefficient since all cases irrespective of severity are handled at that level. Typically, close to 80% of patients can be handled at the primary level for malaria, antenatal, etc with only serious cases referred to the hospitals. Most importantly, we can now achieve eligibility in accessing funds from the National Health Fund to augment our efforts at the state level. To strengthen this basic level, we have commenced  the construction of 27 basic health clinics in each local government at the cost of N424,980,000.00 and 27 units of midwives’ quarters in hard- to-reach primary and basic healthcare centers at the cost of N203,257,692.00. We have also embarked on renovation and improvement of hospitals in Gwaram and Birniwa with the provision of an operating theatre at the total cost of N194,918,946 as well as several smaller facility interventions in Sarawa, Majeri, Kununu and Katsinawa and renovation of 25 health facilities worth N25 million in Birnin Kudu, Garki, Gwaram, Jahun and Maigatari local government areas. 

    Q You mentioned health and education as priorities… 

    Education was a sector I believe was also neglected perhaps because of the adage ‘you can’t value what you don’t have’. Immediately after we were sworn-in, I was amazed to find  that counterpart funding for SUBEB and UBE were unpaid for two years, which meant the last time primary school structures received any decent attention was in early 2013. This government had to retroactively pay up counterpart funding for the 3rd and 4th quarter of 2013, the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarters of 2014 resulting in the injection of N3.1 billion into the basic education sector within 11 months. This translated into the provision of 16,599 sets of classroom furniture and the construction and renovation of 1,793 classrooms. We had to also clear a backlog of scholarship payments from the 2014/2015 academic year totalling N500,478,356. We spent money on data acquisition relating to the quality and number of students , teachers and facilities in conjunction with the DFID ESSPIN program to enable us address problems in the sector in a targeted and specific approach instead of ploughing money in an uncoordinated and erratic manner with no results. To ensure students welfare, we paid out  N882,425,839 within the last 11 months in scholarship funds, and introduced an e-platform to eliminate delays in future payments. We are also testing and deploying various e-learning initiatives to address the issue of the very serious deficit in quality teaching at the basic level. Jigawa like most other states is in serious need of qualified teachers that are simply not available due to the systemic collapse of teacher-education and training nationwide and the simultaneous demand by private schools that continue to grow at an exponential level to fill the educational void. 

    I believe technology holds the key to maximizing teaching resource availability through distance leaning, visual and electronic teaching aids as well as networking of schools to avail them concurrent use of electronic educational material to augment conventional methods. To support these and other tech dependent initiatives, we have reinvested in resurrecting Galaxy ITT, the state owned internet provision and IT services firm. 

    The company is currently testing a city wide wireless network covering the whole of Dutse, and with the renewal of their national ISP license will begin to provide quality internet service provision to all our major towns and indeed beyond the State’s boundaries on a commercial basis. So as you can see we haven’t abandoned education for roads! 

    Q In your inaugural speech, you mentioned that agriculture was going to be used to build a sustainable local economy. Is that process on course?

    Very much so, we have no option because it is the only sector where we have  comparative advantage at the moment. I said I will focus on attracting large scale agricultural investment because we must leapfrog and catch up with global best practices. 

    If you have a look at our statistics, we are at the bottom of almost every yield table for our major crops despite years of government and development partner intervention. The only game changer I can see is private sector involvement. if we don’t begin to look at agriculture from a business perspective, we cannot be competitive and no amount of government control or protection can help a farmer producing 2.5 tons a hectare against his counterpart in Thailand or Brazil producing 10 tons per hectare twice a year. 

    In pursuit of this, we have adopted the international principles of large scale agricultural investment (RAI) and developed a State Land Acquisition and Resettlement Framework (LARF) to achieve a balance between the investors need for large scale land and the citizens right to minimal disruption of lifestyle and livelihood. This has resulted in the adoption of out-grower scheme models involving small holder farmers in all our major large scale agricultural partnerships which include the Dangote Rice Project that will eventually cover about 30,000 hectares and The Lee Group sugar project covering about 12,000 hectares. 

    During the recent fuel shortage which saw many individual farmers abandoning their cultivation due to lack of fuel for irrigation, the members of the out-grower cooperatives had the protection of group logistic dynamics that guaranteed all inputs including fuel as part of the agreement. 

    We have adopted the same approach for other farmers outside the out-grower framework by clustering small holder farmers in all 287 wards into 50-hectare clusters per ward with a maximum of three groups per cluster to accord them the same benefits and advantages of the out grower program under a state organized initiative. For effective and uninterrupted supply of inputs, we are recapitalizing JASCO to the tune of N200 million to strengthen its capacity to provide quality consumables at affordable prices to the cluster groups, and 450 motorcycles have been provided to extension workers that are currently undergoing training by NIRSAL to improve their mobility and capacity to provide extension services. Over N100 million is being spent to rehabilitate about 87 tractors spread over 27 local governments to provide mechanisation. We are also expanding the SLTR program which will simplify acquisition of title to land and focus on small holder farmers to enable them unlock the capital potential of their landholding at an affordable price. 

    Q So this is part of the general GIS mapping that we hear is going to cover the whole state? 

    Definitely. We have already started GPS plotting of farmland under the dry season fertilizer distribution where 4,000 tons of fertiliser valued at N400 million was allocated in an equitable manner with each farmer getting fertilizer based on his measured and plotted land holding. This will be embedded in the full GIS project state wide. 

    Q But when we came in sometimes last year, we saw residents pushing carts in search of water, has anything effort been done to solve this perennial water shortage in the state? 

    Water and sanitation is another key area in our list of prioritized intervention sectors. What we found out is that no maintenance had been carried out on our water facilities in three years. The rapid water intervention scheme was therefore our first major infrastructure rehabilitation effort, and we expended N1.9 billion of which N636 million is recurrent because of the motorized nature of most of our water facilities. 

    Credit: Vanguard

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