By Dipo Olowookere
The 36 State Governors of the federation have stated what would make them offset the backlog of salaries and pension arrears owed civil servants in the country.
According to the Governors, they will only clear the backlogs as soon as the next tranche of payment from the Paris-London Club loan refunds were made.
This decision was arrived at in Abuja at a meeting hosted on Thursday night by Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, who doubles as the Governor of Zamfara State, Mr Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar at his Maitama residence.
The Governors met in anticipation of the release of the other half of the Paris-London Club refund which has been gratuitously approved for payment by the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo. The funds are expected to hit the states accounts within the month.
The Governors, who said they were not oblivious of the hue and cry over the non-payment of the backlog of salaries and pension arrears and the precarious predicament of the Nigerian worker, deliberated on the matter and concluded that in order to set the country on the path of growth, something immediate must be done to ameliorate workers plight by offsetting the backlog of their pay and emoluments.
They resolved, as a matter of urgency, to pay workers their due as soon as this half of the Paris Club refunds was made.
“We all agreed that a substantial amount from the next tranche of the Paris-London refunds be used in the settlement of workers salary and pension arrears,” the NGF Chairman, Mr Abubakar, disclosed.
Out of the N522.7 billion owed, N388.3 billion was paid to states last December.
Similarly, the Governors committed to the verification of the input of all the consultants who claim to having worked towards the harmonization of the refunds regarding what is due to which state, since 2005 when the demand for the refunds commenced.
At the moment, there are litigations from more than ten different consultants still agitating for settlement for their roles in the quest to have the refunds made to states.
In this regard, a committee was set up under the headship of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State with the Governors of Bauchi, Mr Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar; Sokoto, Mr Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; Plateau, Simon Lalong; Bayelsa, Seriaki Dickson; Rivers, Nyesom Wike; and former Accountant General of the Federation and Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo as members.
This committee is expected to finally provide a solution to the demands by consultants on the Paris-London Club refunds to states.
Buhari Tasks MOFI Board to Grow Assets to N100trn
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The newly inaugurated board of the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI) has been given the mandate to grow its Assets Under Management from the current value of N18 trillion to at least N100 trillion in the next 10 years.
A statement issued on Wednesday by Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, disclosed that the charge was given at the State House, Abuja, during the inauguration of the MOFI board shortly before the commencement of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting today.
The President also tasked the new board to “be the clearinghouse for the management of federal government investments and assets in line with global best practices with a view to ensuring that these investments are delivering superior risk-adjusted returns to the government.”
He also called on the new MOFI to “work with other MDAs to create a consolidated national asset register with a view to converting these assets into cashflow-generating entities to support the government’s revenue drive and; partner with the government with a view to using government-owned investments and assets to support the government in delivering on its social and economic obligations to the citizenry.”
To this effect, he directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, to commence the process of amending the MOFI Act and other legislations to institutionalise this reform further and ensure that MOFI is restructured and repositioned to become a trusted custodian and manager of Federal Government investments and assets.
President Buhari said the event was significant as the restructured MOFI will help identify “what we own” and how to get the best out of them.
According to him, the MOFI Act of 1959, now Cap. 229, Laws of the Federation, 2004 “explicitly empowers MOFI to enter into commercial transactions of any description on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria in its own name. As a result, MOFI was used as a Special Purpose Vehicle across different sectors to invest in commercial entities over the last 64 years. To put this in context, MOFI was created even before Nigeria’s independence.”
Speaking further, the President said, “MOFI was not structured to be governed or resourced to deliver on the expected mandate. MOFI’s peers, on the other hand, that were deliberately set up with the institutional framework, governance structure, and execution capacity, have gone on to make major social and economic impacts in their respective nations. Many of these have become global brands for investing domestically and internationally.
“As part of the governance structure, there will be a Governing Council headed by me, a Board of Directors under the leadership of a former Minister of Finance and an Executive Management Team headed by Dr Armstrong Takang.”
President Buhari reminded members of the Governing Council as well as the Board of Directors that this administration expected much from them. Specifically, he tasked Ministers who are members to “create an enabling environment that will facilitate the creation of a National Asset Register that will be harnessed to strengthen our fiscal and economic realities and the optimization of our investments and assets that will be under the purview of MOFI.”
In her remarks, Mrs Ahmed thanked President Buhari for his support and approvals that have made the restructuring and repositioning of MOFI possible, assuring him that Council members and the Board will ensure that the new MOFI delivers on its mandates.
US Stocks May Give Back Ground Ahead Of Fed Announcement
The major US index futures are currently pointing to a lower open on Wednesday, with stocks likely to give back ground following the strong upward move seen in the previous session.
Traders may cash in on gains by US stocks yesterday ahead of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy announcement this afternoon.
While the Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates by 25 basis points, traders will look to the accompanying statement for clues about the outlook for further rate hikes.
After a slightly cautious start, stocks climbed higher on Tuesday thanks to sustained buying across the board.
Investors picked up stocks right through the day’s session, digesting a slew of stronger-than-expected earnings updates and the latest batch of economic data.
Data showing a slowdown in the pace of growth in US labour costs helped raise expectations that the Federal Reserve will soften its aggressive approach to fighting inflation.
The major averages all ended with strong gains. The Dow ended with a gain of 368.95 points or 1.09 per cent at 34,086.04. The S&P 500 surged 58.83 points or 1.46 per cent to 4,076.60, while the Nasdaq climbed 190.74 points or 1.67 per cent to 11,584.55.
The Dow gained about 6.6 per cent in the month, while the S&P surged nearly 3 per cent, and the Nasdaq gained as much as 11.5 per cent.
Data showing a drop in labour costs has reinforced the view that the central bank will likely slow the pace of its monetary policy tightening and raise the interest rate by 25 basis points.
The central bank’s accompanying statement will be in focus for clues about further interest rate hikes.
On the economic front, data from the Labor Department showed employment cost index wages in the US increased by 1% on quarter in the fourth quarter of 2022, after rising 1.3 per cent in the previous quarter.
The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index in the United States decreased 0.8% month-over-month in November of 2022, the same as in October and marking a fifth consecutive decline.
A report from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said the Chicago PMI in the United States fell back to 44.3 points in January of 2023 from 44.9 in December and compared to market forecasts of 45. The reading pointed to a fifth consecutive month of contraction in business activity in the Chicago region.
PDP Created Forex Crisis That Weakened Naira Exchange Rate—Onanuga
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Director of Media and Publicity of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), Mr Bayo Onanuga, has again said his principal, Mr Bola Tinubu, did not attack President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Cross River State when he said the Naira, under the present government, has lost its value since he assumed office in 2015.
Addressing party faithful and others at the campaign rally of the APC at the U.J Esuene Stadium, the former Governor of Lagos State said, “They (the government of Mr Buhari) moved the exchange rate from N200 to N800 (in the black market).
“If they had repaired it, if they have arrested this, we won’t be where we are today. We will have been greater.
“They don’t know the way, they don’t know how to think, they don’t know how to do [it].”
But in a statement on Wednesday, Mr Onanuga blamed the media for misinterpreting Mr Tinubu’s comments, saying he was only referring to the PDP.
According to him, the APC presidential candidate never blamed the current administration for weakening the Naira in the currency market, stating that PDP created the forex crisis the country was experiencing.
“The reference to exchange rate was not in any way an attack on the Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress administration but an attempt to capture how the economic mismanagement of the PDP created forex crisis in the country since 2015.
“Anyone who followed the entire sequence and context of what Asiwaju said at the rally in Calabar will know he directed his missiles against PDP and Atiku. Let’s we forget, the PDP left the forex reserve at $28 billion by May 2015, when Buhari took over,” a part of the statement today by Mr Onanuga said.
“Asiwaju Tinubu could not have meant President Buhari does not know road, having celebrated numerous times the achievements of the Buhari administration. Tinubu had also said at the campaign fora he would build on the achievements when elected on 25 February.
”It is simply illogical that the same Asiwaju would attack the Buhari administration for not knowing the road,” he added.
“We want to state categorically that all the machinations of the opposition elements to put a wedge between President Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Tinubu will fail.
“APC, its leadership and President Buhari are strongly united behind our presidential candidate,” the statement declared.
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