From Uche Usim, Abuja
Despite Nigeria’s N16 trillion debt stock, the Director General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, has assured that the proposed $29.96 billion loan was not in a way a debt trap, but the right compass needed to navigate the nation’s sinking ship out of troubled waters to the shore of hope.
He said the loan was meant to address the infrastructural and developmental shortfalls of the country, which is recession, stressing that the 2016 debt sustainability analysis carried out by his office shows that various programmes of the Buhari administration were capable of servicing all the debts.
In an interview in Abuja at the weekend, the DMO boss said the clarification became necessary in view of the fears expressed in some quarters that going for the concessional offshore loans was a veiled way of committing economic suicide.
“The first thing to note is that this borrowing is normal; normal in the sense that over the past 20 years, there is no year we have not borrowed. So, interpreting the proposal submitted to the National Assembly by Mr. President for a three-year borrowing programme to be an indirect way of trapping the country does not seem to be logical because Nigeria has always borrowed every year.
“Let me also emphasise that since we exited from the Paris and London club debt in 2005-2006, we have always borrowed almost from all these sources we want to borrow from now. It was the Chinese loan that financed NIGCOMSAT more than seven years ago. The medium term external borrowing programme is also not new. I am sure that by next year, it would be represented because 2016 would have been exhausted completely and a new rolling plan will come in. That’s why it is called a rolling programme. It is part and parcel of the total fiscal framework. This is to confirm to you that there is nothing specially new about this borrowing proposal.
which Mr President has placed before the National Assembly. It’s a normal procedure for funding the development of the country.
“The essence of managing our debt is to know if we can service the deb. That is why we do debt sustainability analysis which we have done for 2016 and for every year because we’re concerned about our debt. We usually make the result available to the public and everything government is doing is within the scope and recommendations of that analysis. Certainly every government and debt manager is interested in knowing whether what it borrows, it is in a position to service it. From analysis, Programmes of government we know we can service our debt”, he explained.
On how the government can ensure the loan, when approved by the National Assembly, will not be abused, Nwankwo said the federal government would not tolerate any form of abuse, adding that it has since put in place monitoring and evaluating mechanisms to ensure compliance to laid down rules and procedures.
“It’s appropriate to recognize that we have an opportunity that is very different. We have a government, a President whose administration is founded on transparency, accountability and anti-corruption, which means we have a greater chance and we should have more confidence that resources, revenues as well as loan proceeds will be more efficiently, accountably disbursed. It will not be siphoned through corruption. Having said that, we will make sure that all the various apparatus available for monitoring for making sure that resources are well used should be put into effect. We cannot afford this time around to experience wastages so the government agrees with the Nigerian people that we cannot afford to continue wasting resources”, he added.
On the proposed Sukuk bond (non interest), Nwanko said it was in the works, stressing that the Finance Minister had directed the new product should be out in the first quarter of 2017.
On need to carry out reforms as advised by African Development Bank (AfDB) and other foreign lenders, the DMO boss said the government had already gone ahead to institute corrective measures in the was the economy was run, long before it was advised to do so.
“We don’t need them to tell us before we carry out our reforms. Our reforms are ongoing and we are maintaining the momentum of fiscal reforms like the fiscal sustainability plan, the establishment of the efficiency unit to improve efficiency and all that. Again, there is the presidential initiative on continuous audit. These are reforms, so we know we must have reforms”, he said.
FCT: FCT Administration embarks on unannounced school inspection
From Fred Itua, Abuja
As one of the many strategies mapped out as a follow-up to the directives of the Permanent Secretary of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Babatope Ajakaiye, during a meeting with all public school principals in August this year, the Acting Director of FCT Secondary Education Board, Hajia Maryam Hassan has embarked on “on the spot school inspection” of schools in the territory. The meeting had dwelt on scoring 50 per cent pass in West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO) exams.
The unannounced school inspection, which kicks off as early as 7:00am focuses on punctuality, effective teaching by teachers, efficient learning with understanding on the part of the students, monitoring and evaluation, practical usage of instructional materials, dress code of teachers, cleanliness and orderly learning environment, keeping to time-table, regular writing of lesson notes, compliance with the professional ethics, team work, among others.
On arrival, the Acting Director, usually goes round the school compound, observes movement and conduct of the students, teachers and the principals in some cases, as they arrive for their daily duties as well as how they conduct the Assembly in line with laid down rules and regulations.
Addressing students on the assembly ground in the some schools inspected so far, she said it was the key to social and economic development and self-independent. She appealed to the students to be of good behaviour and shun vices capable of jeopardising their bright future.
In a brief chat with some teachers, Hajia Hassan who was a one-time principal said, the nobility of the teaching profession lies in their conduct. She emphasized that the teacher is expected to exhibit exemplary and quality leadership which the students can emulate.
She explained that, discipline should be the hallmark of the teachers, preparing ahead of the students, keeping abreast of new trends in National Curriculum Development as well as new global trends in effective teaching taking the advantage of ICT, not relenting in engaging in personal counseling which according to her, were critical to the development of the students in their custody.
She frowned at schools where lapses such as lateness, lack of proper learning, co-ordination, dirty compound, non-challant attitude towards the teaching profession, among others were observed. She said sanctions will hence forth be applied to any school found wanting, while commending those schools that have been able to live above board.
Budget: Economic recovery plan ready by December – FG
From Basil Obasi, Abuja
The Federal Government has again reiterated its commitment to reflating the depressed nation’s economy, even as it hinted that the national economic recovery plan for the next three years would be ready by December.
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who stated this at an economics communications workshop in Abuja, weekend, explained that the plan would serve as a guide for the preparation of annual budgets. She added that it would be a continuation of the initiatives contained in the Strategic Implementation Plan for the 2016 budget.
Ahmed said: “The plan is expected to build on the policies, initiatives, programmes and projects contained in the Strategic Implementation Plan for the 2016 budget. The economic recovery plan is expected to guide the economic management and budgeting process over the short to medium-term.
Government will continue to put in place policies to expand the revenue base, plug leakages in the system, ensure greater transparency and accountability in the use of public funds, and pursue job creation and support businesses and investments, especially local investments to grow,” she said.
TECH: Onu in Lisbon for global forum
From Magnus Eze, Abuja
Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, is in Portugal to represent President Muhammadu Buhari at the Lisbon Global Forum that begins today.
The forum is Europe’s biggest and most important global meeting place for a select group of government representatives and business innovators to explore the issues of technological advancement, innovation, entrepreneurship and their role in shaping a better world.
He will after the five-day programme proceed to Yaoundé, Cameroun, to attend the “World Bioethics Day and 20th Anniversary of the OAU Resolution on Bioethics and Development of Africa,” holding from November 14 – 15.
Details from his Special Assistant, Mr. Sunny Onyeukwu, said the Yaounde summit would be a platform to present to the African continent and the international community, the bioethics monitoring system of Africa and the process of the expression of the authentic African opinion on life issues, health, security and development.
It further said that Onu would be attending the occasion in his dual capacity as Nigeria’s Minister of Science and Technology and the First Vice Chairman of the African Union Specialised Technical Committee on Education, Science and Technology.
NDLEA: NDLEA links increasing crime rate to drugs
From Patrick Ochife, Abuja
National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has urged Nigerian youth to shun illicit drugs and substance abuse, saying drug intake was behind the increasing rate of crime in the society.
NDLEA Chairman, Col. Muhammad Abdallah, gave the charge in a keynote speech on the topic, “Securing the future of young people against drugs and substance abuse through proactive preventive mechanism”, at the 2016 National Youth Summit on Drugs and Substance Abuse Prevention in Abuja.
Represented by by Mrs. Chinyere Obianuju, the NDLEA boss attributed militancy, kidnapping, terrorism among other crimes in parts of the country; to drug abuse, describing it as hidden assault on the society.
He named peer influence, ignorance and availability of drugs as some of the causes of drug abuse.
Executive Director/Founder of the African Youth Initiative on Crime Prevention (AYICRIP), Mr. Christogonus Ibe, whose organisation staged the programme in partnership with the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Youth and Students Matters, said the summit brought together, youth leaders and heads of youth-based NGOs, leading the fight against drug/substance abuse and illicit trafficking within the country to appraise the war against the menace as it affects young people.