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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.

Business

Naira redesign without National Assembly approval illegal, says Falana

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Only the approval by President Muhammadu Buhari for the ongoing redesign of some naira notes is not sufficient to give the project a legal stand, human rights lawyer Femi Falana has said.

He said the approval of the National Assembly was necessary, without which the effort could be declared illegal if challenged in court.

On November 23, Buhari unveiled the new currency notes at the state house, Abuja.

The redesigned naira notes are expected to be in circulation on December 15.

Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on October 26 announced the plan to redesign the naira to control money supply and aid security agencies in tackling illicit financial flows.

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said her ministry was not carried along.

Falana, in a statement on Sunday, said the President’s endorsement of the CBN’s naira redesign policy was not legally sufficient.

He said the President should have presented a “money bill” to the national assembly to seek approval for the funds used for the project.

Falana said the expense is not captured in the 2022 budget, adding that the President must comply with the provision of section 59 of the 1999 constitution (as amended).

“Thr official endorsement is not sufficient as the president is mandatorily required to present a money bill to the national assembly for the withdrawal of the billions of naira from public funds earmarked for the printing of the new naira notes,” the statement read.

“Specifically, section 59 of the constitution requires ‘an appropriation bill or supplementary bill including any other bill for the payment, issue or withdrawal from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation of any money charged thereon or any alteration in the amount of such payment, issue or withdrawal.

“Since the fund for the printing of the new naira notes is not captured in the 2022 appropriation bill, the President is advised to prepare and present a supplementary bill to the national assembly to authorise the withdrawal of public fund from any account of the federation for printing the new naira notes.

“Otherwise, the printing of the new naira without appropriation by the national assembly may be declared illegal and unconstitutional if it is challenged in a court of competent jurisdiction.”

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As Abuja-Kaduna train resumes operations today, IGP deploys specially armed police

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More than eight months after the popular Abuja-Kaduna passenger train service was suspended, it will resume operations today (Monday) December 5 with the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, ordering the deployment of specially armed personnel along the corridor to safeguard the area.

Spokesman for the Nigeria Police Force Olumuyiwa Adejobi, in a statement on Sunday, said the security operatives would be drawn from the police mobile force, K-9, force intelligence bureau, explosive ordinance unit and railway police command.

Terrorists attacked an Abuja-Kaduna passenger train on March 28, 2022, in which about eight persons were killed and 63 declared abducted. The abducted persons were later released in batches over a period of time.

Adejobi said the Nigeria Police Force had been in regular talks with the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) and other security agencies in preparation for the commencement of operations.

“The deployment covers major railway stations along the route and operational coaches to provide adequate security for passengers, their property and the entire service in order to prevent any unforeseen incident,” he said.

The police spokesman also said the IGP had assured the public, especially intending passengers, of adequate protection of lives and property.

He quoted the IGP as saying that all hands would be on deck to fortify the railway services along the route and other rail lines across the country.

The Federal Government had said operations would resume on the corridor last month. However, there was a delay in bringing the plans to fruition.

The FG, in its latest schedule, drew up another timeline for resumption.

Managing Director of the NRC, Fidet Okhiria, said in a statement on Saturday that the first train would depart Rigasa train station in Kaduna to Abuja by 8:00 in the morning while from Abuja, the first train would depart Idu train station to Kaduna by 9:45 in the morning.

As part of the new security measures, according to him, it is now mandatory for passengers to present their National Identity Number and valid boarding ticket before they will be allowed to board the train.

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Auto

Rolls-Royce Cullinan takes inspiration from new fashion, creates ultimate SUV

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In line with their vision of creating an ultimate SUV, Rolls-Royce recently brightened up the Art Basel festival, held in Miami, Florida, the United States, revealing several courageous specifications marked by a progressive styling approach inspired by the fashion industry of today.

“The House of Rolls-Royce [revealed the] ‘Cullinan – Inspired by Fashion’, comprised two prêt-à-porter collections– the bold Re-Belle and striking Fu-Shion,” the super luxury automaker said at the event.

Since its first launch back in 2018, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan has established itself as a vehicle that takes luxury and comfort to a completely new level, according to an online auto journal, Auto Revolution.

Its interior craftsmanship is second to none, being spoiled with the finest materials and incredible attention to detail, giving passengers an unforgettable experience.

Developed under the Rolls-Royce Bespoke Collective label, the British brand’s latest creations are inspired by the brilliant colours and textures seen in the world of high fashion, in an effort to celebrate “the eclectic tastes and lifestyle of [Rolls-Royce] luxury clientele,” and produce genuine pieces of automotive art in the meantime.

Also regarded as a firm statement of the infinite customizing possibilities that their Bespoke program can offer, the Cullinan – Inspired by Fashion collection is comprised of eight distinct personalities.

Each member of the collection comes finished in two interior color-ways in contrasting accents.

The Lime Green and Peony Pink layout schemes are available in the case of Re-Belle, while the Mandarin or Forge Yellow themes uniquely furnish the inside living space of the Fu-Shion, contrasting against the Arctic White or Cashmere Grey bespoke leather upholstery.

Each interior choice may be combined with one of two carefully selected exterior colors, albeit for a more eye-catching or subdued appearance, according to customer preferences.

Even more, in the case of the Re-Belle, the dashboard fascia gets an exquisitely crafted handwoven stainless-steel fabric inspired by metallic garments seen on this year’s catwalks.

The delicate 0.45 mm diameter thread is designed to create a captivating atmosphere on the inside as the vehicle moves, and the handwoven pattern catches and reflects light in distinctive ways.

Complimenting the interior highlights of the Re-Belle are the gorgeous Lime Green, Gunmetal, Wildberry, or Arctic White exterior colors, forming a perfect pairing for the selected interior layouts.

The Fu-Shion models act upon the Black Badge character of the Cullinan, reinterpreting high fashion from a utilitarian perspective, so deeply engraved in Cullinan’s perceived personality, as the pinnacle of luxury that can go effortlessly everywhere.

The RR’s in-house designers devised two interior themes for Fu-Shion: an eye-catching combination of Military Green, Navy Blue, and Mandarin and an Arctic White and Cashmere Grey leather blend contrasting with Forge Yellow accents.

Last but not the least, the Cullinan Fu-Shion can be commissioned in one of four exterior colours, depending on the interior palette: Military Green, Burnout Grey, Forge Yellow, or Tempest Grey.

All the models from the Cullinan – Inspired by Fashion collection come exclusively fitted with the brand-new Starlight Tailgate, a superb addition to the usual Starlight Headliner that is designed to further extend the cosmic ambiance outside the vehicle for the ultimate experience.

Also a bespoke feature, the Starlight Tailgate consists of 192 gently illuminated star-like LEDs embedded into the perforated leather, taking over 22 hours to recreate.

Even more, the vehicles benefit from the Viewing Suite, creating the ideal environment for celestial night exploration, at any given moment.

Of course, a Rolls-Royce Cullinan – Inspired by Fashion collection would not be complete without a matching set of luggage offerings, made to complement each of the four interior theme layouts.

It includes the 24-hour Weekender, the 48-hour Weekender, the Holdall, Tote Bag, and Organiser Pouch, consisting of a total of five pieces that can be purchased either as a complete set or separately.

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