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2023: I will tackle corruption, congestion, infrastructure decay at ports if elected President —Kwankwaso



• Decries non-disbursement of CVFF to indigenous shipping operators

The Presidential Candidate of the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP), Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, on Tuesday decried the tradition of corruption, congestion, infrastructure decay in the ports system and assured that he would tackle all these challenges if elected in 2023.

Kwakwanso also expressed concerns that Nigeria has remained without a national carrier decades after the liquidation of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) by the federal government over debt related issues in 1995.

Speaking at a Town Hall Meeting organized by the Prime Maritime Project, the former Kano State Governor said he was aware of most of the challenges confronting the maritime industry and was ready to address  them if elected.

He pointed at the issue of ports congestion and gridlock on the ports access road recalling that he once witnessed it during a visit to Lagos sometimes ago.

He said that the issue of congestion was because the ports were planned in the 1950s and designed for a population of 50 million people as against now with a population of 200 million people.

He assured that his administration if elected will address such issues as infrastructure which has remained static.

Kwankwaso also promised that when elected, he will ensure that the Customs Service and other regulatory agencies must be made to perform efficiently and effectively.

He gave his words that the observed high level corruption in the ports system will be tackled to improve productivity in the ports.

Kwankwaso  said “My being here today is out of personal conviction that the maritime sector is a critical element to the growth, survival and prosperity of Nigeria. Again, anybody who forgets his root will never go far in life. The maritime industry gave birth to our great party, the NNPP; as such | cannot disregard any invitation for whatever reason, coming from the sector.

“So, my being here is largely to listen, appreciate and understand the expectations of maritime operators from me and our party should we eventually emerge winners of the 2023 general elections. Though | may not have been fully involved in maritime sector to understand its nitty-gritty but my experience over the years as a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, former Governor, former Minister of Defense and a former Senator has availed me with some basic understanding of the sector and especially some of its challenges.

“| have listened to this wonderful audience and have noted your expectations. | can tell you that |! am aware of most of the challenges facing the sector presently. One of such, for instance is congestion on port access roads in Apapa. It may interest you to know that in one of my visits to Lagos sometimes ago, | was in Apapa and was stunned at the spectacle of articulated trucks lining the ljora Bridge. To me, it was an unacceptable eyesore in a twenty-first century Nigeria. | was even made to understand that | came when things had improved. This is highly unacceptable!

“It goes to show that we rarely plan for the future. A port system originally designed for a population of less than 50 million people in the 1950s with less than 2.0 million cargo throughput has remained almost the same for more than 200 million population in 2022. When a country’s population is increasing at geometric progression and port infrastructure remains static, the resultant effect is chaos. To me, that is the cause of the ljora Bridge debacle and other issues.

“So many things have gone wrong with the industry | can still remember the days of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NN L) with its beautiful ships flying Nigeria’s flag across the globe! Why did it die? Why do we not have a replacement as the giant of Africa? What has become of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)? Why has it not been disbursed to beneficiaries? From my little knowledge of the sector, a lot of questions are begging for answers!

“It is also my desire to see that the Customs and other regulatory agencies must be made to perform efficiently and effectively. The observed high level corruption in the system has to be tackled to improve the productivity in the ports.

“Again, it is worthy here to make mention of effective border checks and control to stem the tide of smuggling and its related security implications. indeed, the entry points of Nigeria shall attract the desired attention of my administration if elected the President.

“In. summation, the desired assistance to all importers of goods, manufacturers including exporters and other ancillary stakeholders associated with port operations and management will be guaranteed under our party’s regime, by the special grace of God! “

The Chairman Board of Trustees of the NNPP, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, said it was time for Nigeria to change from the old order to the new order.

Aniebonam who is the founder of the NNPP and also founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) said this was because of the system collapse in the country, adding that with the situation, there has to be tactics to achieve the best.

Decrying the frustration in the country, he said it was not about blaming anybody but finding a lasting solution.

He said the NNPP has a child of God as a presidential candidate who has the capacity to fix Nigeria.

The BoT Chairman told freight forwarders and other stakeholders who were at the event that they will benefit from Kwankwaso  presidency if he wins the election.

The Chief Operating Officer of the Prime Maritime Project, Elder Asu Beks in his welcome address described the Townhall meeting as the first of its kind and aimed at extracting a social contract from presidential candidates of political parties.

Beks said, “WHY A TOWN HALL MEETING? While it is a truism that this sector is the most resourceful after Oil and Gas and given its immense contributions to our national economy, regrettably, successive administrations have continued to undermine the vast potentials of the maritime industry and have failed to articulate an enduring maritime strategy that will enable us harness its vast potentials. We have continued to make ourselves a laughing stock in the comity of maritime nations. With over 42 thriving sub Sectors which cut across ship building, freight forwarding, haulage, dry docking, seafaring, a promising blue economy, etc, it is the view of PRIME MARITIME PROJECT, that this sector holds the ace as the most beautiful bride of the 18 presidential candidates in the February, 2023 presidential election.

“That is why we want stakeholders present here, to take this unique opportunity to make an appraisal of those issues which have remained unresolved over the years. For instance, why can’t we have a separate M nistry of Maritime Affairs? What is holding back the proposed National Transport Commission Bill? Why are our ports not linked by rail including the Lekki deep sea port that will be commissioned next month? Why do our ports suffer such a huge infrastructural deficit and we paying giving lipservice to talks about the ease of doing business when in actual fact Nigerian ports remain the most expensive tn the West and Central African subregion?

“What do we gain as a nation by recycling politicians to head key parastatals in a sector that is highly professional? | can go on and on with these tales of woes.

“Based on this premise, industry stakeholders are seeking to drive home a process of advocacy that will salvage Nigeria s Maritime Industry to a matter of “National Priority *. Therefore, as Nigerians prepare to € ect another President to steer the affairs of this nation, industry stakeholders are unanimous in their Quest to extract a MARITIME AGENDA from the in-coming administration”.

The Moderator of the event, Mr Ray Ugochukwu, who is a member of the PMP said the Townhall meeting was mainly to hold the presidential parties accountable if any of them wins the presidency.

Ugochukwu said the maritime sector was among the ‘hens that lay the golden eggs’ as far as the nation’s economy is concerned.

According to him, everything must be made to ensure that political office holders pay attention to the development of the sector because of its economic relevance.

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CBN devalues Naira to 630/$1



The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has devalued the Naira to N631 to the dollar from N461.6 it sold at the Importers and Exporters (I&E) window the previous day, Daily Trust gathered.

The devaluation came 48 hours after President Bola Ahmed Tinubu announced the plans of the federal government to unify the country’s exchange rate to stimulate the economy.

In his inaugural speech, minutes after he was inaugurated as the 16th president of the country, Tinubu said, “Monetary policy needs a thorough house cleaning. The Central Bank must work towards a unified exchange rate. This will direct funds away from arbitrage into meaningful investment in the plant, equipment and jobs that power the real economy.”

There has been a wide margin between the I&E window and the parallel market, a situation that experts say encouraged round-tripping with Bureau de Change operators.

The situation has seen the CBN devise several measures to check the practice as well as completely stop the sale of forex to BDCs.

On Tuesday, President Tinubu met with the top echelon of strategic institutions including the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, at the presidential villa.

At the end of the meeting, neither the presidency nor Emefiele disclosed the outcome of the briefing. It was, however, gathered that the issue of the exchange rate was discussed at the meeting.

The President also met with the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari. The removal of petrol subsidy was discussed, it was gathered.

Findings, however, revealed that at the resumption of the weekly bidding for foreign exchange, the apex bank sold the spot rate to banks on behalf of their customers at N631 to a dollar and most bidders got the full amount they requested.

One of the customers told this paper that they applied and that their request was fully granted at N631 as against N461.6.

The move has also seen prices at the parallel market trend downwards. Checks by this paper revealed that prices dropped from N750 to a dollar in the early hours of yesterday to N745 by evening in Abuja and Kano respectively.

The naira weakened in the parallel market to the lowest level in a year on expectations of a possible change in exchange rate management after Tinubu takes office on Monday.

The naira dropped to N762 a dollar on Friday from 775 the previous day in the unauthorized market in Lagos, said Umar Salisu, a BDC operator who tracks the data in the nation’s commercial capital.

The unit has weakened steadily in the parallel market since last week after stabilizing for most of this year.

The market arbitrage (difference between the official and parallel markets) has widened in the past three years from N100 per dollar or about 30 per cent in 2020 to over N400 per dollar (above 100 per cent) sometime last year when the black market rate spiked to N880/$.

Development institutions, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), are wary of exchange rate differential in excess of five per cent and warn that such could trigger unhealthy manipulation that could negatively affect other efforts on market stabilisation.

From 2020 to 2022, the CBN spent about $42 billion intervening in the foreign exchange market to stabilise the naira. The amount was sold to the end-users, including students and tourists, at the official rates, which are way off the effective exchange rate of the naira.

According to the Financial Stability Report, a publication of the CBN, the apex bank sold $9.2 billion in the market in the first half of last year.

The full data for the second half are not available, but the annualised value is assumed to have surpassed that, especially with the level of social and economic activities associated with the second half.

Whereas the black market rate averaged N730/$, the I&E window finished at suppressed N447/$ on average. That puts the arbitrage at N283/$, pushing the CBN’s FX subsidy in the year to about N3.65 trillion.

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EEDC blames rainstorm for lack of electricity supply in South East



Enugu Electricity Distribution Company

The Enugu Electricity Distribution Company PLC, EEDC, has informed her esteemed customers across the South East that the loss of supply in some areas within its network was due to the rainstorm which occurred on Sunday evening and early hours of Monday

EEDC explained this through a message issued by Mr Emeka Eze, its Human Capital Development Head and made available to reporters.

This he explained had resulted in faults, occasioned by fallen trees and a high rate of broken High and Low Tension poles, causing supply disruption to their 11KV and 33KV feeders across the business districts.

He explained that their various technical/maintenance teams have since commenced patrol of the network to evaluate the extent of damage and treat faults where they are minimal.

EEDC expressed regret over the inconveniences these developments have caused their esteemed customers and appealed for their patience and understanding while these challenges are addressed.

Emeka Eze maintained that EEDC remained committed to delivering improved services to her esteemed customers.

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CBN gives reason for raising interest rate to 18.5 per cent



The Central Bank of Nigeria has opened up on why it raised the Monetary Policy Rate, also known as the interest rate, to 18.5 per cent from 18 per cent.

In a communique from the 291st Monetary Policy Committee meeting posted on CBN’s website on Wednesday, the Governor of the apex bank, Godwin Emefiele, stated that its investigation and research found that the country’s interest would have been higher but for its intervention by raising interest rates.

According to Emefiele, Nigeria’s April inflation rate of 22.22 per cent would have been 30.48 per cent if the MPC had not raised the interest rate.

The bank’s decision to raise interest rates since May 2022 positively moderated the country’s rising inflation rate.

“The results revealed that following each monetary policy rate hike, the rise in inflation moderated relative to what it could have been if the MPC had not aggressively raised rates at all.

“The empirical evidence provided showed that whereas inflation in April 2023 stood at 22.22 per cent, the counterfactual evidence suggests that, it could have risen to 30.48 per cent in April 2023, had the MPC not taken any action to raise policy rates as it did since May last year,” he said.

CBN’s MPC raised the interest to 18.5 per cent.

CBN retained the Asymmetric Corridor of +100/-700 basis points around the MPR, Retained the CRR at 32.5 per cent, and Retained the Liquidity Ratio at 30 per cent.

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