President Muhammadu Buhari says the Federal Government is considering a state pardon for nine Ogoni leaders/activists convicted and hanged by the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha 26 years ago for opposing the operating practices of the Royal Dutch Shell Oil Corporation.
The Ogoni Nine are author and playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel and John Kpuine, They were executed on November 10, 1995.
Buhari gave the hint when he had an audience with some leaders and people of Ogoni land at the State House, according to a statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
According to the President Buhari, despite the gravity of the circumstances, the Federal Government will consider the request to grant them pardon and bring closure to the case.
He said: “Furthermore, we are committed to ensuring clemency and national integration as part of this administration’s bid to lay the foundation for genuine reconciliation and bring closure to the issues of Ogoni Land.
“The unfortunate incidents of the early 1990s leading to the loss of lives of distinguished sons of Ogoni land and the collateral judicial processes are indelible in our memories.
“Despite the grievous circumstances, the Federal Government will consider the request for the grant of pardon to finally close the Ogoni saga,’’
President Buhari urged the Ogoni leaders to sensitize indigenes on value of protecting national assets like pipelines and other oil installations, saying willful damages usually create more havoc on their environment and hamper development in the area.
He also noted that the Federal Government is committed to the cleaning up of Ogoni land so that indigenes can regain their lives, return to farms and reactivate economic activities.
“You will need to educate the people of Ogoni land and the region more, that when pipelines are broken, the damage is more to the immediate environment and the people. The majority farmers and fishermen struggle because the fishes now move to the deep sea,’’ he said.
The President observed that bad industry practices coupled with security challenges had resulted in massive spills with attendant environmental degradation of Ogoni, leading to agitations and strife.
He said the government would bring to a close all pending issues on sons of Ogoni land.
DHQ confirms arrest of Owo church attackers
The Defence Headquarters has confirmed its arrest of suspected terrorists behind the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State, that killed scores of worshippers.
Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, said this on Tuesday at a media briefing in Abuja.
Some gunmen suspected to be terrorists on June 5 attacked the church, with 40 people confirmed dead after the incident.
On June 17, the funeral for the slain worshippers was conducted at the Mydas Resort and Hotel in Owo.
The names and photographs of those killed in the church were published in the funeral handbook, while 74 names were listed as those who sustained injuries during the attack.
Sanusi: I warned Buhari govt its policies will destroy Nigeria’s economy
Former Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, has said he warned the President Muhammadu Buhari administration that its economic policies would destroy Nigeria’s economy.
He also lamented the current state of the nation, saying Nigeria would not be where it is if public office holders had taken their job seriously.
The former emir, who spoke in Lagos at a stage play titled “Emir Sanusi: Truth in Time”, said every inherent danger in the economic polices he had warned the administration when he newly came on board in 2015/2016 was what the country was facing currently.
The former Kano Emir recalled how he wrote a confidential letter to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor voicing his strong concerns about the economy.
“If every president, every governor, every minister, every commissioner took their job seriously, this country will not be where it was,” he stated.
“If people are willing to be ministers, commissioners, governors and presidents for eight years, and not tell us how they have improved our lives, we have a problem.”
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He charged politicians to be accountable to the people.
Sanusi asked Nigerians to take charge of the country, he said Africa’s most populous nation will not move forward until actual steps are taken.
The ex-CBN governor also spoke on why he usually criticises government policies he found not to be good enough, saying what many do not know is that he would have advised the officials privately for months before going public.
On the current administration, Sanusi said he warned the Federal Government of the dangers of its policies in 2015, especially how it would destroy the economy.
“With the current administration, I spent the whole of 2015 and 2016 speaking to everybody who should be communicated to, and telling them that the economic policies they were pursuing were going to destroy the Nigerian economy.
“It was only when that failed that I spoke publicly, and we had to speak. Now the question which everybody is asking is should an Emir speak? The answer is yes and it depends on what you are speaking on,” he added.
According to Sanusi, he served as Chief Risk Officer at the United Bank for Africa, at First Bank, and also as CBN governor; as Emir of Kano for six years.
He stated that he would be ungrateful to God if he expressed regret or sadness over his removal as emir despite his position in life.
Nigeria, three others top World Bank debtors’ list
Rising debt has pushed Nigeria up the World Bank’s top 10 International Development Association borrowers’ list.
The World Bank Fiscal Year 2021 audited financial statements, known as the IDA financial statement, showed that Nigeria was rated fifth on the list with $11.7bn IDA debt stock as of June 30, 2021.
However, the newly released World Bank Fiscal Year 2022 audited financial statements for IDA showed that Nigeria has moved to the fourth position on the list, with $13bn IDA debt stock as of June 30, 2022.
This shows that Nigeria accumulated about $1.3bn IDA debt within a fiscal year, with the country taking over the fourth top debtor position from Vietnam.
This debt is different from the outstanding loan of $486m from World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The top five countries on the list slightly reduced their IDA debt stock except Nigeria.
India, which is still the first on the list reduced its IDA debt stock from $22bn in the previous fiscal year to $19.7bn, followed by Bangladesh from $18.1bn to $18bn.
It is followed by Pakistan which cut its debt from $16.4bn to $15.8bn, and lastly, Vietnam, which went down the list to fifth position, from $14.1bn to $12.9bn.
Nigeria has the highest IDA debt in Africa, as the top three IDA borrowers (India, Bangladesh and Pakistan) are from Asia. The World Bank disclosed recently that Nigeria’s debt, which may be considered sustainable for now, is vulnerable and costly.
The bank said, “Nigeria’s debt remains sustainable, albeit vulnerable and costly, especially due to large and growing financing from the Central Bank of Nigeria.”
However, the Washington-based global financial institution added that the country’s debt was also at risk of becoming unsustainable in the event of macro-fiscal shocks.
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The bank further expressed concerns over the nation’s cost of debt servicing, which according to it, disrupted public investments and critical service delivery spending.
Economists have also raised concerns over the rising debt profile of the Federal Government.
The Fiscal Policy Partner and Africa Tax Leader of PwC, Mr Taiwo Oyedele, expressed his agreement with the World Bank on the high cost of debt servicing.
He said, “I agree with the World Bank. Although the debt to GDP ratio is not too high, if you think about the debt service cost to revenue ratio, it is already over 70 per cent. That’s when you know it’s costly.
“Nigeria borrows at double-digit, and even when we borrow in dollars, the rates are very high and then you devalue the naira and the cost of servicing the debt in naira goes up because it is dollar-dominated debt.
“Put all of that together, and you can easily say to yourself that even though our debt to GDP ratio is very low, our cost of borrowing is unsustainable because it is very high, and therefore, make it very costly.”
A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and former presidential candidate, Kingsley Moghalu, also criticised the increasing borrowing tendency of the government, urging the officials to re-consider other ways of generating revenue for the country.
According to Moghalu, it was also not reasonable to borrow for infrastructural development as the government could expand the public-private partnership options for such development.
In a document by the Director General of the Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha, recently obtained by our correspondent, the DMO stated that high debt levels would often lead to high debt services and affect investments in infrastructure.
According to the DMO DG, “High debt levels lead to heavy debt service which reduces resources available for investment in infrastructure and key sectors of the economy.”
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