Recession: FG releases fresh N350bn to boost economy

The Federal Government in a bid to stimulate economic activities says it is releasing additional N350bn for capital projects captured in the 2016 budget.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, gave the figure on Friday while briefing journalists on intervention measures being taken by the government to reflate the economy which is currently in recession.

She said that the release of the additional N350bn brings the total capital releases made by the government to N760bn.

She said with the economy in recession, the level of consumer demand would be reduced drastically, hence the need for government to step in by injecting liquidity.

She said, “What government wants to do is to step in and begin to spend and pushing more money into the economy and then get things moving again.

“Since the budget was passed in May, we have released N420bn. As we speak now, we are about releasing another N350bn. Everything has been between May and now.

“One of the sectors we spent the money on, of course the largest, has been power, works and housing. Quite a lot has gone on defence because we need to rebuild the credibility of our Army.”

The minister said out of the N350bn, the government would be setting aside N60bn for the implementation of the social intervention programme.

She said the implementation of social safety schemes was vital, as it would enable the government to provide direct cash to vulnerable Nigerians.

Diego Simeone shortens Atletico contract

Highly rated coach Diego Simeone said Friday he has shortened his contract with Atletico Madrid by two years until June 2018, a move likely to stir fresh speculation about his future.

The 46-year-old Argentine, who took Atletico to the Spanish league title in 2014 and the Champions League final last season, has been linked to many of Europe’s top clubs, including Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal and Inter Milan.

In charge of Atletico since 2011, he had hinted at his possible departure after the Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid, saying he needed time to consider his options.

Simeone signed a contract with Atletico in March 2015 that originally tied him to the club until June 2020.

“It is true, we have talked and we have taken the best decision for the club and the team,” he told a news conference when asked about media reports that the club had agreed to reduce his contract by two years.

“We have taken this decision in conjunction with the club’s directors and it doesn’t alter the possibility of renewing terms again once the new arrangement ends.”

Nigeria’s inflation rate hits 17.6 % in August – NBS

​The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says Consumer Price Index (CPI) has increased to 17.6 per cent (year-on-year) in August from 17.1 per cent recorded in July.

A report released by the NBS in Abuja on Friday stated that the CPI, which measured inflation, was 0.5 per cent points higher from the points recorded in July. The report noted that increases were recorded in all Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose divisions, which contributed to the headline index reflecting higher prices across the board.

“The major divisions responsible for accelerating the pace of the increase in the headline index were Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuel, Education and Transportation Services. “The Food Index rose by 16.4 per cent (year-on-year) in August, up by 0.6 per cent points from 15.8 per cent recorded in July.

“During the month, all the major food groups contributed to the increase in the Food sub-index. “ However, the pace of increase was slowed by Fruits, Potatoes, Yam and other Tubers as well as Oils and Fats, which reported slower increases during the month,’’ it stated.

The report also stated that imported foods as reflected by the Imported Food Sub-index, increased by 0.2 per cent points from July to 20.7 per cent in August.

“Price movements recorded by the All Items less farm produce or Core sub-index increased by 17.2 per cent (year-on-year) in August, and up by 0.3 percentage points from rates recorded in July (16.9 per cent). “During the month, the highest increases were seen in Solid fuels, Vehicles parts Books and Stationery and Clothing and other articles of clothing.’’

On a month-on-month basis, the report stated that the headline index rose by 1.0 per cent in August, marginally lower than the 1.3 per cent recorded in July. “ This is the third consecutive month of a slower pace of increase in the Headline Index,’’ it stated.

In addition, the report stated that Urban and Rural prices continued to rise in the month of August. “The Urban index increased by 19.3 per cent (year-on-year) in August from 18.9 per cent recorded in July, while the Rural index increased by 16.1 per cent in August from 15.5 per cent in July,’’ it added.

Nigeria to raise $1 billion in Eurobond market

​Nigeria plans to raise $1 billion on the Eurobond market this year in a move designed to plug a budget deficit, said the country’s finance minister Friday.

Speaking at a press conference in the nation’s capital of Abuja, finance minister Kemi Adeosun said the government had earlier this month approved the plan to issue international debt for the first time since 2013.
Adeosun said that the bonds are expected to go on sale in December, with the proceeds channelled into capital projects.

“We are about to appoint our advisers. We are raising one billion dollars,” Adeosun said.  “I want to re-emphasise that we have a strategic plan that will take us out of the recession that we find ourselves in. We want to make sure that this recession is the shortest possible.”

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari announced a record 6.1-trillion-naira ($19.4-billion) spending plan for this year’s federal budget to try to stimulate growth.

The government will be seeking loans from the World Bank, the African Development Bank, China Exim Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

“These concessional loans will go to the strategic sectors of the economy,” Adeosun said earlier in September, citing the power and agricultural sectors as a key areas of focus.

Nigeria is in a recession, suffering from double-digit inflation and a massive drop in foreign investment as it struggles to undo the effects of a rigid foreign-exchange regime that led to a shortage of dollars and drained reserves.

The West African country’s economy is dependent on oil revenues, which have been hit by a plunge in the global price of crude and ongoing rebel attacks on infrastructure in the oil-producing southern region.

No hard feelings over City dumping – Hart

​Torino and England goalkeeper Joe Hart said Friday he has no hard feelings towards Pep Guardiola despite being unceremoniously forced out at Manchester City and replaced by Claudio Bravo from Barcelona.

Hart, who joined City as a teenager in 2006, signed for the unfashionable Serie A club on a season-long loan deal designed to make sure he is “playing regular football again”.

Hart began his Serie A career with a 2-1 defeat away at Atalanta last weekend — he was at fault for one of the goals — a far cry from the razzmatazz of the world-famous Premier League.

But the 29-year-old shot-stopper, who suffered huge criticism for the 2-1 defeat to Iceland that sent England crashing out of Euro 2016, said he felt no bitterness towards new City boss Guardiola.

“It was fairly obvious to everyone,” Hart told media when asked about the circumstances surrounding his high-profile divorce from City. Asked if Guardiola had been honest with him, Hart said: “He was open with me.”

He added: “Football’s football… and it resulted in me looking for a new club and, as I said, I’m very happy to be where I am at the moment.

“I absolutely love to play football and it looked like my options were limited (at City). It was an easy decision for me.

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity and I’m proud and happy to be here. I’m looking forward to hopefully having a good season.”

Expected to return to the Etihad stadium at the end of the current campaign, Hart has fully embraced the Italian culture.

He started his press conference at Torino’s Stadio Olimpico by speaking a few words of Italian.

And although he has yet to receive any welcome messages from his opposite number at city rivals Juventus, legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, Hart said he wants to make the most of an experience “few English players” get the chance to have.

“I was looking for an experience outside of English football,” added Hart. “Every day at City I trained with players from all over the world who’ve managed to make the move to England. So for me it was an amazing opportunity to experience a new style of football.

“I feel confident I can come over here to learn the language and embrace the culture.

“To get the opportunity to try a new league, which a lot of English players don’t get the chance to do, was too good an opportunity to turn down.”
– Coy on City –
Although happy to talk about Torino, Hart was more coy when asked about City.

He said he did not watch the Manchester derby last weekend, won by City, because “I was training. I’m pretty limited to what I can watch in my hotel room”.

And, amid concerns his England place could now be at risk, Hart insisted his focus was only on improving his game.

“Goalkeeping in football is ever-evolving. I’m very open-minded to improve and learn every day,” said Hart.

“I play football because I love football. Playing regular football is the most important thing for me. I love playing for my country… but it’s an ambition of mine to play first-team football.

“My options at City were limited so I’m very grateful to be here. I’m only on loan here and, technically, I’m supposed to go back to City.

“But my focus is on playing for Torino. The (long-term) future will take care of itself but my future is here, it’s on Sunday when we play Empoli.”

Hart was one of several England players lambasted for their poor performance against Iceland in France earlier this summer.

But he said he is used to the flak: “People say bad things about me every single day, but football is about opinions and I don’t take things too personally.”

Konduga, Boko Haram spokesman, rearrested in Ndume’s house

​The embattled self -confessed spokesman of the Boko Haram Islamic sect, Ali Sanda Umar Konduga (a.ka Al-Zawahiri) who was sentenced to three years imprisonment without option of

fine and released last week, was rearrested at the Maiduguri residence of Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume by some good Samaritans and Policemen attached to Government Reservation Area (GRA) Police Station.

Sources said, Konduga was identified, beaten and rearrested on Wednesday after he sneaked into the Senator’s house the third times beginning from Sunday 11th September 2016.

Konduga according to family source, “kept on coming to the Senator’s house purposely to apologize to the immediate family for indicting Ndume, who was charged for providing Konduga with politicians’ phone numbers and not disclosing information to authorities under Nigeria’s Terrorism Prevention Act”.

Konduga was arraigned before Abuja High Court along with Senator Ali Ndume (Borno South), whom he (Konduga) said was sponsoring him to undertake Boko Haram activities. Ndume had pleaded not guilty to charges of passing classified information to an unauthorised person and of criminal intimidation.

Investigation by our Correspondent revealed that, the said Konduga, whose Father and family had earlier claimed is mentally unstable, sneaked into Ndume’s house a day to Sallah at about 8pm last Sunday.

Konduga insisted that he wanted to see and apologize to the Senator who was out of the country and still in Saudi Arabia for the 2016 Hajj exercise.

Sources said, “When the Maigadi (Gate man) accosted Konduga that the senator was not in the house, requested to see Justice Aisha Ndume, one of the senator’s wife, but was asked to come back the following day.

“As luck will have it, Konduga revisited the house on Wednesday at exactly 4pm, where he was identified by some Ndume’s close associates, who accompanied the senator to the Federal High Court, Abuja then.

“Policemen in charge of G.R.A police station were alerted and swooped into action leading to the rearrest of Konduga. He is now in police custody, while Senator Ndume have been informed” the sources said.

Already investigation further revealed that Konduga has been taken to Federal Neuro-psychiatric Hospital, Maiduguri at about 10am on Friday (Today), to ascertain his mental health, after which, if prove mentally okay, he will be handed over to appropriate authorities by the police.

When our Correspondent visited the said Neuro Psychiatric Hospital, the Prosecutor who accompanied Konduga (Names Withheld) declined comments, even as he referred our reporter to the Divisional Police Officer (DPO).

However, Senator Ndume in a telephone interview with our Correspondent confirmed the rearrest of Konduga in his residence in Maiduguri by the Police, insisting that he did not have further details, as he is presently out of the country for 2016 Hajj.

Only 700,000 persons have access to HIV/AIDs treatment in Nigeria- NGO

​AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), an NGO, says no fewer than  3.4 million people are living with HIV and AIDS in the country and only 700,000 persons have access to treatment.

Dr Adetayo Towolawi, the Country’s Programme Manager, made this known in an interview with newsmen on Friday, in Abuja. He said the figure was worrisome as Nigeria’s population was about 170 million people with the second highest burden of HIV in Africa after South Africa.

Towolawi said there were still a huge number of persons who do not have access to treatment further urging the Federal Government to scale up funding in HIV response. “Funding is still a huge challenge, there is a requirement by UNAIDS for Nigeria to contribute into the global funds of 13 billion dollar target.

“If our funding continues the way it is now, over 20 million people will die between now and 2030. “This tells us that about 20 million people are yet to have access to treatment,’’ he said.

Towolawi said in eliminating HIV and AIDS by 2030, there was need for the government to fulfill its promise of funding, testing and treatment in order to put the virus under control.

He advised the government not to be dependent on donor partners, adding that South African government funds 80 per cent of its domestic programmes.

The programme manager further said that South Africa presently runs the biggest Anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment programme in the world.

“The Nigeria government needs to express the political will and step up domestic funding.

“Today the world is getting complacent and we are beginning to see HIV and AIDS like any other diseases, if those tested positive are not placed on durgs, they will certainly die.

“ Nigeria is more donor dependent, and the government needs to invest in HIV to achieve a wealthy economy through a healthy population,’’ he added.

Towolawi expressed concern over the country’s low HIV testing uptake, saying that about 60 per cent of Nigerians do not still know their HIV status. He said for a country targeting 50 per cent testing coverage, a robust community testing drive was needed to bridge the yawning gap.

According to him, a lot of progress has been made, however, achieving an AIDS-free generation was possible if more people knew their status and those found positive placed on treatment.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation is the largest non-profit HIV and AIDS organisation in the world providing health care to over 650,000 patients in 36 countries. AHF Nigeria has been operating in Nigeria since 2011 and present in six states across the country.