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Okonjo-Iweala urges Nigeria to begin fossil fuel transition, pledges WTO’s trade assistance

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Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has expressed the WTO’s willingness to assist the country in surmounting its trade challenges, boost its economy and increase its global share of commerce.

She also spoke on ARISE TV and urged Nigeria to begin to transit from fossil fuel as the world is moving to cleaner energy.

Okonjo-Iweala, on a visit to the country, said agriculture could also boost Nigeria’s share of African trade, currently at about 19 per cent.

She urged the country to exploit the huge potential in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to increase its share of the world trade, stressing that Nigeria’s 0.33 per cent share of global trade is poor.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who received her at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Monday, attributed her emergence as WTO DG to her past record of performance locally and internationally.

Speaking during separate visits to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Chief Adeniyi Adebayo, and his Finance, Budget and National Planning counterpart, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Okonjo-Iweala expressed WTO’s willingness to assist the country in surmounting limitations to trade in order to increase its global share of commerce.

To achieve that, the former minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance called for value addition to Nigeria’s huge agricultural products for export.

Speaking during separate visits to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo and his Finance, Budget and National Planning counterpart, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the WTO DG said, “Nigeria’s share in world trade is 0.33 per cent. This is a very small fraction of what we could do. Our share in African trade is 19 per cent, a little bit higher and below our share of Africa GDP, which is almost a quarter of Africa’s GDP.

“What this means is that we can either look at it negatively or say it is a small portion of what world trade is, or we can turn it around and say it is a glass half full, optimistic side, and say that there is potential for us to do much more. That’s the message I want to convey to the country and Mr. President.

“This means we must step up our action on the economy. We must strive to do better and harder in several ways. The reason we are concerned about that is our youth. Majority of our population are young people who are looking for jobs.”

She added that trade could be instrumental to job creation and economic growth with value addition to products and good logistics to deliver trade.

Okonjo-Iweala further lamented that Nigeria currently ranks 103 out of 167 counties in terms of logistics.

Commending Nigeria for signing on to AfCFTA, the former minister noted that Nigeria accounts for 19 per cent of Africa’s trade, adding that the country could do much better.

The WTO DG called on Nigeria to urgently transit from fossil fuel to renewable energy, saying, “Before we know it, everywhere will be electric cars. So, not only because of trade, but it’s existential for us as a country that we begin to think about what we have.”

She also urged Nigerians not to despair over the current difficulties, adding that the focus should be to identify those areas where there was potential and turn the economy in that direction.

On the fossil fuel transition, she said, “The fact that fossil fuels are being phased out in the world as every country is announcing that as from 2025, 2030, 3040, they would no longer allow the use of fossil fuels; they would not allow cars that burn petrol and is all moving to electric cars and renewables.

“This is huge for the Nigerian economy. It means we’ve to begin thinking of the transition now. Gas is our transition fuel. Some of us are trying to argue for a little more time for countries that depend on gas to have a transition period.

“But it’s inevitably, the way the world is going, we’ve to transition out. And what does that mean? That means we’ve to start thinking what other sectors of the economy are going to bring in revenue to enable us to support imports and exports and create jobs because we’re very dependent on the oil and gas sector now.”

She said her visit was to thank the Federal Government and all Nigerians for the overwhelming support they gave her without which she would not have emerged as the WTO DG as well as to sort out where the organisation could support investments.

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Nigeria’s inflation records first drop in 20 months, now 18.12%

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Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 18.12 per cent in April this year from 18.17 per cent recorded in March, the first decline in headline inflation in 20 months.
This is contained in the latest consumer price index report just released by the National Bureau of Statistics.
The last time the consumer price index which measures the rate of change in the price of goods and services dropped was in 2019 when it slowed from 11.08 per cent in July to 11.02 in August.
The NBS, which announced this on Monday, stated that the food inflation also reduced to 22.75 per cent in April from 22.95 in March.
“The urban inflation rate increased by 18.68 per cent (year-on-year) in April 2021, down by 0.61 the rate recorded in March 2021(1.60), while the rural index also rose by 0.95 per cent in April, down by 0.57, the rate recorded in March 2021 (1.52 per cent),” the report said.
It also stated, “The rise in food index was caused by increase in prices of Coffee, tea, coca, bread and cereals, soft drinks, milk, cheese and eggs, vegetables, meat, oils and fish and potato, yam and other tubers.
“On a month-on-month basis, the food sub index increased by 0.99 percent in April 2021, down by 0.91 percent points from 1.90 percent recorded in March 2021.”
The report noted that food inflation on a year-on-year basis in April was highest in Kogi at (30.52 per cent), Ebonyi (28.07 per cent), Sokoto (26.09 per cent), while Abuja (18.63 per cent), Akwa-Ibom (18.51 per cent), and Bauch (17.64 per cent) recorded the slowest rise in year-on-year inflation.
“On a month-on-month basis, however, April 2021 was highest in Kebbi (2.46 per cent), Ekiti (2.42 per cent), and Kano (2.17 percent) while Abuja (0.05 per cent) recorded the slowest rise in the month-on-month food inflation with Rivers and Ogun recording price deflation or negative inflation.”

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FG to launch maritime security strategy next month

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The Federal Government will launch a maritime security strategy next month to address challenges in the sector, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has said.
He stated this in Abuja on Monday while playing host to the Belgium Ambassador to Nigeria, Daniel Bertrand, who paid him a courtesy visit in his office.
Amaechi said, “The crisis in the maritime sector is insecurity and it is more complex than the world knows, but the Federal Government has come up with a solution and it is ready to take off. The Navy, Police, Army and State Security Service are involved.”
A statement by Anastasia Ogbonna, Acting Director (Press and Public Relations), Ministry of Transportation, quoted the minister as saying that if successful, maritime insecurity would be addressed while noting that countries in the Gulf of Guinea may elect to adopt it.
He said, “Sixty-five per cent or 75 per cent of crime comes from our waters and if we are able to eliminate it, then we will be making a lot of progress.
“If you are on air, you will see what is happening in the water. If you are inside the waters, you will be able to respond. A helicopter has the capacity to drop in the naval men when they see anything suspicious.”
He added that the partner would be willing to compare notes with anyone who wanted information for the purpose of securing the Gulf of Guinea.
Ambassador Bertrand had earlier presented a letter to the minister requesting the support of the Nigerian government for the Belgium candidate for the position at the International Maritime Organization.
He also promised his country’s readiness to support the implementation of maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.

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Limit your speed to 30km/h, FRSC tells all motorists

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FRSC Corps Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi

As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark the 6th United Nations Global Road Safety Week, the Federal Road Safety Corps has asked motorists to limit their speed to 30 kilometres per hour in urban or built-up areas for all categories of vehicles.
The global safety week will be celebrated between Monday May 17 and Sunday May 23, 2021.
The Bauchi Sector Commander, FRSC, Mr Yusuf Abdullahi, made the recommendation on Monday in a statement issued by the FRSC Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Rilwanu Suleimanu.
The corps said speeding was responsible for about 30 per cent of crashes in Nigeria.
Abdullahi explained that the corps would be using the 6th United Nations Global Road Safety Week to carry out an advocacy programme where people would be educated on the issue.
He said, “The 6th UN Global Road Safety Week will focus on the issue of speed.
“The week advocates for safer streets motoring by making 30 km/h speed limits, the norm for cities worldwide in places where people mix with traffic.
“The week is concerned about policy commitments at national and local levels to deliver the 30 km/h speed limits in urban areas and to generate local support for such low speed measures in order to create safe, healthy traffic flow within Urban cities globally.
“As a lead agency in road safety management and administration in Nigeria, the FRSC is hosting the event and embarking on nationwide advocacy to replicate this global activity in selected Nigerian Cities.
“Pursuant to this, the Bauchi State command of the FRSC organises public education campaign programmes to inculcate the norm of 30km/hr speed limits among road users.”
He called on the general motoring public to always adhere to the maximum legal speed limit while in the city or in built up areas so as to prevent crashes, its attendant injuries as well as its fatalities.
Abdullahi, who further stressed the need to avoid speeding, considered among the critical traffic violations with high risk factor, said speeding would lead to increase in crash severity, resulting in more fatalities or injuries.
The sector commander explained that more damage would be caused to vehicles involved in speeding when they crashed, thereby increasing the likelihood of such vehicles not drivable thereafter.
“Speeding also leads to extra fuel consumption and frequent replacement of auto parts, among others,” he said.
The public advocacy programme would include media charts, roadshows, visits to hospitals, and advocacy visits to stakeholders, including policymakers and others.

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