By Adedapo Adesanya
President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to world leaders for the debt cancellation of poor countries, emphasising that the people of these nations face numerous challenges, including being able to service external debts.
Speaking at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, Mr Buhari asked the world leaders to address what he described as the burden of unsustainable external debts.
This is coming at a time when Nigeria’s debt increased by 2.98 per cent on a quarter-on-quarter basis to N42.84 trillion ($103.1 billion) in June 2022 from N41.60 trillion ($100.07 billion) in March 2022. The country’s total external debt stock out of this was 39 per cent, amounting to $40.06 billion (N16.61 trillion).
“Nigeria, therefore, implores our global partners to do more to complement our endeavours. Indeed the multi-faceted challenges facing most developing countries have placed the ability to address their fiscal place,” he said.
“This equally calls for the need to address the burden of unsustainable external debts by a global commitment to the expansion and extension of the debt service suspension initiative to countries facing fiscal and liquidity challenges as well as outright cancellation for countries facing the most severe challenges,” he added.
Mr Buhari told the world leaders that he would be addressing the diplomatic community as President for the last time, underpinning that by this time next year, Nigeria will have a new president representing her.
He vowed to entrench a process of free, fair, transparent, and credible elections through which Nigerians elect leaders of their choice.
The President also reiterated his commitment to constitutional term limits and Nigeria’s effort to promote the rule of law and democracy in West Africa, citing the country’s support to The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, and Chad during their political impasse.
“Indeed, we now are preparing for general elections in Nigeria next February. At the 78th UNGA, there will be a new face at this podium speaking for Nigeria.
“Ours is a vast country strengthened by its diversity and its common values of hard work, enduring faith, and a sense of community. We have invested heavily to strengthen our framework for free and fair elections. I thank our partners for all the support that they have provided for our elections.
“As President, I have set the goal that one of the enduring legacies I will like to leave is to entrench a process of free, fair, and transparent credible elections through which Nigerians elect their choice,” Mr Buhari said.
SERAP Drags FG to Court over $23m Abacha Loot
By Adedapo Adesanya
A suit has been filed against the federal government by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) over the recently recovered $23 million looted by ex-Head of State, General Sani Abacha.
In a suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1700/2022 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Abuja, the group is asking the court to “direct and compel President Buhari and Mr Abubakar Malami to release and widely publish a copy of the agreement on the Abacha loot with the US.”
In a statement on Sunday by SERAP Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) is joined in the suit as respondent.
The United States government had in August signed an agreement with the federal government to repatriate the $23 million Abacha loot to Nigeria. It was in addition to the $311.7 million Abacha loot repatriated from the US to Nigeria in 2020.
“The Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s international obligations impose transparency obligations on the Federal Government to widely publish the agreement on the $23 million Abacha loot,” SERAP argued in the suit.
“Publishing a copy of the agreement with the U.S. would allow Nigerians to scrutinise it, and to monitor the spending of the repatriated loot to ensure that the money is not mismanaged, diverted or re-stolen.
“The repatriated $23 million Abacha loot is vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. A substantial part of the estimated $5 billion returned Abacha loot since 1999 may have been mismanaged, diverted, or re-stolen, and in any case remain unaccounted for.
“Publishing a copy of the agreement would ensure that persons with public responsibilities are answerable to the people for the performance of their duties, including the management of repatriated loot,” SERAP said.
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Atinuke Adejuyigbe, said the Nigerian Constitution, Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s international obligations rest on the principle that citizens should have access to information regarding their government’s activities.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
Lagos to Severely Punish Those Behind Mushin Collapsed Building
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The owner of the building that collapsed in the Mushin area of Lagos State and others would be “severely punished,” the state government has promised.
On Friday, it was reported that a 3-storey building on 2/4 Oye Sonuga Street, Palm Avenue, Mushin, Lagos collapsed, killing four people and injuring others.
In a statement issued yesterday, the new Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr Omotayo Bamgbose-Martins, said the state government would go after whoever is indicted in the incident, hinting that an investigation has commenced to unravel what happened.
During a visit to the scene of the unfortunate incident, the Commissioner directed that the adjoining building be pulled down for safety reasons, adding that efforts are on to rescue those who might have been trapped in the rubble.
He disclosed that the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) and the Lagos State Materials Testing Laboratory have been directed to unravel the cause of the collapse.
NNPC Opens Talk with Financers on Gas Projects
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited has established talks with the United States Finance Corporation and the African Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) to seek financing for its multi-billion-dollar gas projects.
The Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, disclosed this at the Nigerian International Economic Partnership held in New York as part of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Mr Kyari said: “Inclusion (in energy transition) means we need to be supported. We are already talking to the US DFC, and the EXIM so that they can give us financing and funding for our gas projects, and this is very critical so that we can have that flexibility to move forward and at the back of this.
“I’m sure some of you may be aware that today, we are getting a grant to build baseline carbon emission studies in our country by the United States Government. This is very helpful in the sense that President Muhammadu Buhari, has also asked that we need to be supported. Currently, the major source of financing we are having is from the African Exim.”
Nigeria’s transition to net zero by 2060 requires enormous investments in gas projects which have been positioned as the country’s major transition fuel.
Mr Kyari said Nigeria is looking for opportunities to leverage the gas resources in the country to provide the possibility required for the energy transition.
It will cost $410 billion to transit, according to the federal government, and huge gas projects like the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the NNPC, ECOWAS Commission, and Morocco to deliver pipelines along the African corridor will gulp billions of dollars.
“We are embarking on massive infrastructure and to see how we can deliver the Morocco gas pipeline which will pass through some countries to provide a number of securities including bringing people out of poverty and increasing gas supply in the domestic market,” Mr Kyari said.
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