Friday, January 17, 2014

Okonjo-Iweala serves up Reps with Academic Response on State of the Economy

They asked for comprehensive answers to fifty ‘knotty’ questions on the Nigerian economy. But the members of Nigeria’s House of Representatives Committee on Finance, have probably gotten more than they expected: a 102 page response from the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Released Wednesday night by Paul C Nwabuikwu, her Special Adviser, her responses were spiced with tables and graphs and provided almost doctoral dissertation to the committee’s well publicized questions.

Her responses also in a way offered justifications for her 30 month helmsmanship of Nigeria’s economy.
Despite the doubts cast by the House Committee on the health of the Nigerian economy, Okonjo acknowledged the challenges but insisted the economy is showing real and measurable progress in many areas and that it is not stagnant, contrary to popular perception.
She insisted capital expenditure is consuming more money than when she assumed the role of co-ordinating minister; more jobs are being created, quoting the National Bureau of statistics that reported 1.6million new jobs in 2013.

She insisted roads, rail and other infrastructure are being improved and that the country is saving for the future and planning better for the present.
She said the Jonathan administration, contrary to the impression given by some critics, is making impact in the areas that, according to credible opinion polls, Nigerians are most passionate about.
According to her, the Jonathan administration is making a headway in job creation, a central focus of the administration as a total of 1.6 million jobs were created last year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Of the 1.6 million jobs, 250,000 were seasonal and were created in the dry season farming in 10 northern states. In manufacturing, the Onne Oil and Gas Free zone created an estimated 30,000 direct and indirect jobs. The government special intervention programme YouWin supported young entrepreneurs, creating over 18,000 jobs. The SURE-P Community Services prgramme has also created 120,000 job opportunities, she said.
Key Nigerian highways which witnessed significant progress include Kano-Maiduguri road, the Abuja-Lokoja road, the Apapa-Oshodi road, the Onitsha-Enugu-Port-Harcourt road and the Benin-Ore-Shagamu road. Preliminary work has commenced on Lagos-Ibadan road and the Second Niger Bridge, she added.
The Railway Modernization Programme involving the construction of standard gauge lines is underway. The 1,124 km Western line linking Lagos and Kano is now functional while work on the Eastern line linking Port Harcourt to Maiduguri is about 36% complete. The Abuja-Kaduna Standard Gauge line has attained 68% completion, and the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri Line which is presently 77% completed, will be completed next year. The annual passenger traffic on our railways has increased steadily: rising from 1 million in 2011 to 5 million in 2013.

She refuted the charge that Nigeria is racking up debts under her watch as Finance Minister. On the contrary, she said, the opposite is true.
But some of her responses also offered sobering insights into the Nigerian economy.
She disclosed how the escalating theft of crude oil in Niger Delta, is affecting foreign exchange inflow and the depletion of Foreign reserve and the Excess Crude Account. An average of 300,000-400,000 barrels of crude was stolen daily in 2013, she said, which is about 15 per cent of Nigeria’s daily production.
She also explained additional reason the Foreign Reserve fell from $48 billion at the end of 2012 to $42 billion at the end of 2013: the Central Bank in a bid to avoid a wide depreciation of the Naira, sold more foreign exchange. $10.8 billion was sold between the fourth quarter of 2012 and the third quarter of 2013. In contrast, the CBN sold $4.3 billion in the remaining part of 2012.

She also blamed oil theft and volatile oil prices for the depletion of the Excess Crude Account, plunging precipitously from $8.6bn in 2012 to $2.2 billion in 2013. AMCON she said has a total debt exposure of N4.67 trillion, out of which it had paid N1 trillion. It is due to pay another N868billion this year.
To the House Committee’s question on the financial implications of import waivers and exemptions to the Nigerian treasury, Okonjo-Iweala provided three tables, which however showed that Nigeria forfeited N26 billion last year on waivers, in contrast to the N8.5billion forfeited in 2012. In all, 2013 proved to be the most reckless in terms of granting waivers and exemption: N59.41billion was the cost to the national treasury. In 2011, the figure was N55.3bn and in 2012 it was N55.96bn.

What may be worrisome to watchers of Nigeria’s economy lies in Okonjo-Iweala’s disclosure about key government agencies, such as the NNPC and the Nigeria Customs Service not meeting their targets, consecutively the last three years. The NNPC proposed to generate N7.7trillion last year, But a month to the end of the year, it was able to generate N5.78trillion. The NCS planned to bring N914billion. But by the end of November, it had not even met half of the target as it generated just N433 billion. Only the Federal Inland Revenue Service has overshot revenue target, the past three years. In 2011, its target was N697 billion, but it raised N828billion. In 2012, its target was 715.4 billion. But it raked in N846 billion. Last year, the FIRS raised its target to N982 billion. But it exceeded the target by N3.4 billion at the end of November.

Source: PMNEWS

Monday, January 13, 2014


Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole on Friday, January 10, 2014, in his office in Benin called on all government agencies and private institutions in Nigeria to henceforth obey the law and ensure that they pay copyright royalties for all the music they use in public. According to Governor Oshiomhole, ‘Nigeria must enforce its copyright law the way it is done in any other civilized part of the world. We are now in a democracy. Democracy is basically about enforcing laws. If you don’t enforce the law why should I be a governor here? It is the law that keeps me here’

R-L (Front Row): COSON General Manager, Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji; Mr. Banky W; Prof. (Sir) Victor Uwaifo; COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji;   Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Edo State Governor; Mr. Sunny Neji; Prince Biodun Egwakhide, COSON Consultant in Edo State; Chief Osayomore Joseph at the recent visit of the COSON delegation to the Edo State Governor to boost the society’s licensing drive in the state.

The Governor was speaking during a meeting with a delegation of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), the nation’s sole government approved collective management organization for musical works and sound recordings. In the delegation led by COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji were the likes of music icon, Prof. (Sir) Victor Uwaifo, Mr. Sunny Neji, Banky W, Osayomore Joseph and numerous members of COSON in Edo State. Also in the delegation were COSON General Manager, Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji and COSON Coordinator in Edo/Delta States, Prince Biodun Egwakhide.

L-R: COSON General Manager, Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji; Mr. Sunny Neji; Prince Biodun Egwakhide, COSON Consultant in Edo State; The Esama of Benin Kingdom, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion; COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji; General Manager of Independent Television and Radio, Benin, Mr. Ogbeide Uwumwonse; Mr. Banky W at the visit of the COSON delegation to the Esama of Benin Kingdom recently to boost the society’s licensing drive in Edo state

According to Governor Oshiomhole, ‘If we are in a democracy then we must enforce laws as it affects intellectual property rights. On that I will like to join your campaign. In this state, we have a lot of TV stations both those owned by government and private individuals. We have a number of radio stations, FM stations that thrive on playing music 24/7. We have a lot of hotels, the Obituary industry is thriving; they play live sometimes they invite DJs, they copy your works, they make the money while your people are laboring for the next album. It is something I believe Nigeria should take on board. 

What we need is to enforce the law the way the America government enforces laws on copyright, the way the British government and the European Union deal with those who violate copyright. We need to send people to prison. People think laws are advice, they are not advice. You don’t sermonize to people to desist from crime, you sanction. That is what the so called rule of law is all about - the ability to reward good behavior and also to sanction negative behavior including theft of intellectual property, calling it by its proper name’.

L-R: COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji presents a copy of his book, Copyright, Neigbouring Rights and the New Millionairesto Governor Adams Oshiomhole during the visit of the COSON delegation to the Edo State Governor recently to boost the society’s licensing drive in the state.

Addressing the governor, COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji informed him that the delegation was in Benin to flag off a comprehensive licensing of users of musical works and sound recordings in Edo State in accordance with the laws of Nigeria. Chief Okoroji introduced Prince Biodun Egwakhide who is coordinating the licensing project on behalf of COSON in the state and also told the governor that if Nigeria must significantly increase its GDP and offer employment to its masses of employed, the nation must offer effective protection to the creative industries to which a lot of young people flock to naturally. He reminded the governor that copyright royalty is not a tax as the money does not go to government but to the creator of a work because a worker is entitled to his wages.

Promising full support for COSON, Governor Oshiomhole said, ‘If there is any role you want me to play, if there is any campaign you want me to join, I will join you because I believe that there are a lot of our young people whose only talent is music and if they are not protected, they would be poor even when they are supposed to be potential millionaires, even billionaires. With advancing technology, the challenge has even become much more. I think you need to harass all of us in government particularly federal government and also state governors to lend their voice to ensure that the copyright law is enforced so that our young people who are gifted in this area, who can make money from their own God given talent as well as entertain society and relax our nerves can do so.’

The governor went on to say, ‘with this political tension, the only way to bring down your blood pressure is sometimes to listen to cool music or even dance it out as I do sometimes. Be assured of the support of the Edo State government and you are assured of my own personal support. As for Edo Broadcasting Service, I will talk to them but this matter goes beyond EBS. It shows the extent to which private and even government owned stations, NTA, AIT, FRCN Channels, EBS, ITV, Silverbird, we are all violating and you must therefore initiate a method to deal with everybody that violates. We will direct EBS to do what is right in law but if they are doing it alone and there are no sanctions on those who are not doing it, we will not make much progress. 

I am not going to be the last governor here, what will then happen is that after my tenure, things return to normal. We have to compel the Nigeria state to protect Intellectual property rights.The Attorney - General should protect Intellectual property rights in Nigeria and when it is violated including when they are violated in public functions, the state should protect its artistes, its creative people and that should be our central message .’

The COSON delegation also met with the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion who pledged that all organizations owned by him such ITV and independent Radio would comply immediately with the payment of music copyright royalties to COSON.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Nigeria's president struggling ahead of election campaign

Lagos (AFP) - Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan is facing an uphill battle if he seeks re-election next year, after a series of unprecedented setbacks that have raised doubts about his political survival. The perceived damage to the 56-year-old's stock has led to questions about whether he can bounce back and whether his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) could be heading for its first national electoral defeat.

Last month, Nigeria's former head of state Olusegun Obasanjo accused Jonathan in a critical, 18-page open letter of failing to tackle widespread corruption and piracy as well as kidnapping and rampant oil theft. He even claimed that Jonathan was training a private militia to silence critics on a political "hit list".
The dust had hardly settled on the resulting row when the PDP lost its parliamentary majority, as 37 lawmakers in the lower House of Representatives joined the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Some PDP members of the upper house Senate are now expected to follow suit, handing a further potential advantage to the main opposition, just as parties gear up to hit the campaign trail.

"I think he (Jonathan) is a very weakened president at the moment," said political analyst Clement Nwankwo, director of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, in the capital Abuja. "He's been a failure and he really has to do a lot to win back popular support," Nwankwo told AFP.
Political commentator Dapo Thomas suggested that with the PDP riven with in-fighting, it was now make or break time for Jonathan. "He has to choose between the service of the party and the realisation of the damage of his own political ambition," said Thomas, from Lagos State University.

"He has to drop one and allow the party mechanism to operate freely." Jonathan, a Christian from southern Bayelsa state, stepped up from vice-president to become acting head of state in February 2010 when Umaru Yar'Adua fell ill. He took over the top job after Yar'Adua's death, going on to secure a popular mandate in the 2011 presidential elections.

Jonathan has yet to announce whether he will run for re-election in 2015. But he has been accused of ignoring an unwritten PDP rule that presidential candidates rotate between Nigeria's mainly Muslim north and the Christian majority south. That issue is seen as a contributory factor to the defection of five high-profile state governors to the APC in November, which in turn prompted lawmakers to cross the floor.

He is also widely seen as having failed to address major concerns about graft, inadequate development and poor infrastructure, and to end the bloody Islamist insurgency in northern Nigeria.
The president vaunted his government's achievements of sustained economic growth and job creation in his New Year's message while the PDP denied it was irretrievably damaged.

The recent defections were an example of democracy in action, said national publicity secretary Olisah Metuh, even as the APC hailed the apparent shift in the balance of power as a new dawn for Africa's most populous nation. "We have seen movement on one side maybe in the last quarter of last year," he added.

"Let's wait until April. Maybe the PDP will be larger that it was before. "In 2014, we are predicting that the PDP will be larger than it was before. Don't forget that the PDP got the people elected. It's a party that Nigerians love." Nwankwo acknowledged the opposition's hand had been strengthened but said the defections were still no guarantee of electoral success and presidential power could yet help swing support back to the PDP. Nevertheless, he suggested the problems may have reached such a point that recovery was impossible, forcing Jonathan to make way for another candidate. Thomas said the longer the president failed to tackle the issue, the more damage it would do to the PDP.

Jonathan needed to rule out standing again as soon as possible and remove the party chairman Bamanga Tukur, who is seen as having been parachuted in as the president's man, he added. "It's better that he does it now so he can save the party," said Thomas, who lectures in international relations and history. "I don't see the party's fortunes improving. I see continuous decline of the party because the defections are going to continue to be on the increase for as long as this disenchantment persists."

By Phil Hazlewood (AFP)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Care Pharmacy Opens in Fort Worth

New Care Pharmacy is a complete service-oriented pharmacy in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, Texas. Our mission is to provide great customer service you've come to expect from a local and independently owned pharmacy, with all the products, services and low prices of large chain stores. 

New Care Pharmacy offers; 

-> Prompt and courteous service
-> Certified and experienced pharmacists
-> State and nationally certified technicians
-> Modern service through ongoing staff training
-> Multilingual customer service, including Spanish
-> Advice on Nuclear Medicine and procedures
-> Rapid and Free delivery service

900 Jerome Street, Suite 100, Fort Worth, Texas

Nigerian Kills Pregnant Wife in New Jersey, USA

On Friday, authorities arrested an East Orange man in connection with the death of his wife. At 6 a.m. on December, 27, officers were dispatched to an apartment at 39 South Munn Avenue, authorities said.
Upon arrival, they found Fatoumata Owoseni, 26, unresponsive. The Maryland woman was nine months pregnant at the time.

Fatoumata’s husband, Babatope Owoseni, 33, was arrested and charged with murder. Owoseni is being held at the Essex County Corrections Facility, bail has been set at $750,000. On Tuesday, Acting Prosecutor Carolyn Murray commended investigative and legal staff members for their work on this case and others.

“I would like to thank the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Task Force investigative and legal staff, along with our state and federal partners who continue to work around the clock to solve these cases,” Murray said in a press release, “They have given up precious time with their loved ones to bring justice to these individuals that we have charged.”

Source: CBS News