By Dipo Olowookere
President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Mr Akinwumi Adesina, has been announced as winner of the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate.
Mr Adesina, the immediate past Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria, clinched the prize due to his achievements in the area of boosting agriculture in Africa.
Specifically, his role in revamping the agricultural sector in Nigeria when he was a Minister under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan made him win the $250,000 monetary reward attached to the honour.
Announcing Mr Adesina as winner on Monday, the World Food Prize Foundation President, Mr Kenneth Quinn, noted that the AfDB boss was chosen for driving change in African agriculture for over 25 years and improving food security for millions across the continent.
According to Mr Quinn, Mr Adesina led a major expansion of commercial bank lending to farmers as Vice President of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and as Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria, introduced the E-Wallet system.
He said Mr Adesina’s efforts made Nigeria self-sufficient in rice production, and also making cassava a major cash crop in the country.
“Our Laureate next played a leadership role in the development of AGRA, during which he led the effort to exponentially expand commercial credit for the agricultural sector and for farmers across the continent.
“And then, as Minister of Agriculture of his home country Nigeria, our Laureate introduced the E-Wallet system which broke the back of the corrupt elements that had controlled the fertilizer distribution system for 40 years.
“The reforms he implemented increased food production by 21 million metric tonnes and attracted 5.6 billion dollars in private sector investments, thus earning him the reputation as the ‘Farmer’s Minister’,” Mr Quinn said.
Mr Adesina will be presented the $250,000 prize and Laureate sculpture at a ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol on October 19.
The AfDB President was Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture from 2011 to 2015.
He is the 46th person and the sixth African to win the World Food Prize.
Oil Prices Mixed Amid Weakening US Dollar
By Adedapo Adesanya
Oil prices were mixed on Tuesday despite drawing support from a weakening US Dollar, with Brent futures contract down by 37 cents to $84.53 per barrel and the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude up by 92 cents or 1.2 per cent to $78.82 a barrel.
The US Dollar index turned negative after data showed labour costs increased at their slowest pace in a year in the fourth quarter. This occurred as wage growth slowed, bolstering expectations of the US Federal Reserve slowing its interest rate increases.
Investors expect the Fed to raise rates by 25 basis points on Wednesday, with increases of half a percentage point by the Bank of England and European Central Bank the following day.
The rate increase expected at the Federal Open Market Committee’s January 31- February 1 meeting would bring the policy rate to the 4.5 per cent – 4.75 per cent range; that’s two quarter-point rate hikes short of the level most Fed policymakers in December thought would be sufficiently restrictive to bring inflation under control.
Economists at UBS expect the US Dollar to travel along a weaker path, with limited and short-lived bouts of strength.
“The Fed is getting closer to the end of its rate-hiking cycle. With markets growing comfortable with a terminal fed funds rate close to or at 5 per cent, and US inflation likely to quickly roll over in the first half of this year, downward pressure on the USD should continue to mount,” they said in a note.
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) panel will likely recommend keeping the group’s output policy unchanged when it meets at 2 pm (Nigerian time) on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a Reuters survey showed 49 economists and analysts expect Brent crude to average more than $90 a barrel this year, the first upward revision since October, with gains likely driven by demand from the world’s second top consumer, China.
China has been easing stringent COVID-19 restrictions this month, with the country reopening borders for the first time in three years.
Analysts noted that China’s reopening is supporting demand prospects for oil.
Economy in Danger, Nigerians Suffering—Lagos Assembly
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Lagos State House of Assembly has accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) of compounding the woes of Nigerians through the Naira redesign policy, which it said has also put the economy in danger.
Speaking through its Speaker, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, the Lagos Assembly commended the National Assembly for putting pressure on the Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, to ensure that Nigerians would still be able to take their old currency notes to the banks after the current deadline of February 10, 2023.
At the plenary on Tuesday, legislators in the state parliament noted that even though the policy was a good one, its timing was wrong as it had further thrown the country into economic chaos, which could become difficult to resolve if urgent steps are not taken.
Mr Obasa noted that the concern of the lawmakers had to do with the pains, anguish and anger spreading among Nigerians over their inability to access the new currency.
“Economists have said most times you cannot use new currency to control inflation, it doesn’t achieve the purpose most times,” Mr Obasa said, adding that the intention of the policy, as claimed by CBN, had been defeated owing to the various complaints from experts and people across the country.
The Speaker said the CBN should have engaged stakeholders while citizens should have been adequately carried along rather than an ‘overnight’ policy by the apex bank.
“There are people in the rural areas. It is obvious that the additional 10 days are not even going to be enough.
“The idea is a good one, but the way it is being implemented will have an adverse effect on the people.
“We need to commend the National Assembly for showing quality representation and prompt action to intervene for an extension of the deadline,” he noted.
The Speaker said that in other countries, old currencies are not discarded in a rush but allowed to fade out of the system gradually.
Mr Rotimi Olowo, the lawmaker representing Somolu Constituency 1, who moved the motion, sought an extension of the deadline till July 2023 in line with the resolution of the National Assembly while noting the suffering the policy had brought on Nigerians.
He complained about the unavailability of the new notes and the effect on the people, including small business owners and those in rural areas.
Contributing to the motion, the chairman of the House Committee on Public Account, Mr Saka Solaja, argued that financial policies are not implemented the way the CBN had gone about the Naira redesign.
“We see videos of people beating themselves mercilessly at ATMs, yet there is no money,” he lamented while supporting the call for an extension of the deadline by the CBN.
On his part, Mr Richard Kasunmu argued that the timing of the policy was not right, especially as the country was still grappling with challenges of effective internet connectivity.
He recalled how he spent five hours a day earlier trying to make an electronic transfer of N55,000 to resolve an emergency situation.
“We should be looking at the larger Nigerian people. If we want to survive the Nigerian economy, this should not be a good time for such policy,” he said.
On his part, Mr Victor Akande stressed that Mr Emefiele breached a part of the CBN Act concerning the policy, while his colleague, Mr Setonji David, noted that, “All over the world, CBN governors are economists, not bankers like Emefiele.
“Our people are suffering, and the money can’t be found at the ATMs. If you go to the ATMs, you would see how people are struggling,” he lamented.
Emefiele Says Banks Will Accept Old Naira Notes After Deadline
By Dipo Olowookere
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has confirmed that Nigerians who could not deposit their old Naira notes before the deadline would not lose their funds.
Speaking on Tuesday when he appeared before an ad-hoc committee of the House of Representatives chaired by Mr Alhassan Ado Doguwa, he said banks will continue to accept the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes after February 10, 2023.
Nigerians were earlier given till Tuesday, January 31, 2023, to swap their old currency notes for the newly redesigned banknotes.
But after much pressure, the CBN obtained approval from President Muhammadu Buhari to shift the deadline forward by 10 days.
Last week, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, threatened to sign a warrant of arrest on Mr Emefiele over his refusal to appear before the lower chamber of the parliament to explain the policy to lawmakers.
On Monday night, while speaking on a television programme monitored by Business Post, Mr Doguwa said the House would expect the CBN chief to appear today or risk being arrested by the police.
This morning, he was at the National Assembly to face the lawmakers, and during his speech, he said banks would continue to accept the old notes after the deadline in line with section 20, subsection 3 of the CBN Act, which says even after the old currency has lost its legal tender status, the bank is mandated to collect those monies.
“In agreement with the House of Representatives resolution and subject to section 20, subsection 3, which says even after the old currency has lost its legal tender status, that we are mandated to collect those monies. I stand with the House of Representatives on this.
“What does that mean? It means if you have monies you are unable to deposit to your bank after the expiration, we certainly will give you the opportunity to bring them back into the CBN, we redeem it and pay it into your bank account, or we exchange it. In that case, you do not lose your money.
“I want to appeal to you, this is not an easy exercise, but we are happy that in 19 years, we are able to carry out this important part of our mandate. We are grateful that we are doing it. We want the support of all Nigerians,” Mr Emefiele said.
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