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Naira stable against dollar at official window, trades at N1,476/$1

The Nigerian currency, the naira, maintained a form of stability against the American dollar on Tuesday June 4, 2024 to trade at N1,476/$1, data from the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEM) has shown.

At the end of trading on Tuesday, the naira remained flat against the dollar, trading at N1,485/$1 same as the rate recorded on Monday, June 3, 2024.

The intra-day high and low recorded during the day were N1,500/$1 and N1,1362/$1 respectively, representing a lean spread of N138\$1.

However, the naira gained against the dollar at the parallel section of the market to trade at N1,500/$1, as against the previous day’s rate of N1,510/$1, representing a gain of N10 for the local currency.

The same scenario played out with the British Pound as it traded at N1,900\£1, as against the previous day’s rate of N1,920\£1 representing a gain of N20 for the local currency.

For several days running, the Canadian dollar closed flat against the naira to trade at N1,200| CA$1 same as the previous trading day rate of N1,200| CA$1.

The naira, also gained against the Euro to trade at ₦1,600/€1 as against the rate of ₦1,610/€1 the previous trading rate, this represents a gain of N10 in the local currency.

C’River, Lagos, Abia, 28 Other States Spend Over ₦968 Billion On Refreshments, Travels

At least 30 state governments spent N986.64bn on recurrent expenditures, including refreshments, sitting allowances, travelling, utilities, among others between January and March 2024.

This was contained in a budget assessment done by Open Nigerian States, a website supported by BudgIT that acts as a repository for public budget data, were analysed.

A breakdown showed that the 30-state government spent N5.1bn on refreshments for guests, N4.67bn on sitting allowances to government officials, N34.63bn on local and foreign travel expenses, and N5.64bn on utility bills, amounting to N50.02bn in the first three months of 2024.

The general utilities include electricity, internet, telephone charges, water rates, and sewerage charges, among others.

The sub-nationals also paid N405.77bn as salaries to their workers.

Other recurrent spending items covered in the report included the amount spent on foreign and domestic travel, Internet access fees, entertainment, foodstuff, honorarium/sitting allowance, wardrobe allowances, telephone bills, electricity charges, stationery, anniversaries/special days, welfare, aircraft maintenance, and more.

In the first three months of 2024, Abia State spent N10.92bn on its recurrent expenditures, including N165.38m on refreshments and feeding, N39.26m on utilities, N214.57m on sitting allowances, N127.1m on local and foreign travels, among miscellaneous expenses.

During this period, Adamawa State expended N23.7bn on recurrent expenditures with N287.61m spent on refreshments and feeding, N109.62m on utilities, N79.57m on sitting allowances, N768.77m on local and foreign travels.

For Akwa Ibom State, recurrent expenditure gulped N46.85bn, which included N4.46m on refreshments and feeding, N223.32m on utilities, N6m on sitting allowances, N214.61m on local and foreign travel.

Anambra State disbursed N9.91bn for recurring expenses with N78.18m on refreshments and feeding, N32.52m on utilities, N42.09m on sitting allowances, N188.39m on local and foreign travel.

Also, recurrent expenditures cost Bauchi State Government N35.75bn with N397.58m going to utilities, N50.8m on refreshments, N287.11m on allowances, and N413.56m on trips.

Bayelsa State spent N35.1bn on recurrent expenditures, comprising N28.4m on utilities, N156.14m on refreshments and N279.99m on trips.

Lagos State disbursed N189.62bn for recurrent expenditures, including N1.21m for refreshments, N383.12m for utilities, sitting allowances costing N52.79m and N633.37m on travels.

Borno spent N18.79bn,

Cross Rivers (N17.44bn),

Delta (N68.68bn),

Ebonyi (N14.95bn),

Edo (N32.32bn),

Ekiti (N32.8bn),

Enugu (N7.51bn) and Gombe with N20.89bn.

Within the same period, Jigawa State spent N15.52bn on the recurrent expenditures, Kaduna expended N34.69bn,

Kano (N34.41bn),

Katsina (N21.87bn),

Kebbi (N11.67bn),

Kogi (N37.4bn),

Kwara (N24.34bn),

Nasarawa (N18.61bn),

Ogun (N47.12bn),

Ondo (N31.12bn),

Osun (N24.39bn),

Oyo (N40.12bn),

Plateau (N24.70bn),

Zamfara (N13.46bn), and Taraba (N20.93bn).

This is coming amid pressure from labour unions in the country for an increase in the minimum wage of workers from the current N30,000.

 

Source : https://politicsnigeria.com/abia-lagos-28-other-states-spend-over-n968-billion-on-refreshments-travels-in-three-months

Police Recruitment: PSC Releases List Of Successful Candidates

The Police Service Commission has announced the approval and release of a list of 10,000 successful applicants for recruitment into the constable and specialist cadres of the Nigeria Police Force.

The commission noted that to ensure fairness and justice in the recruitment process, it worked with guidance from relevant stakeholders, including the Nigeria Police Force, the National Assembly, and the Federal Character Commission.

It added that it ensured equity in the spread of successful candidates across the 774 local government areas of the country.

The spokesperson for the PSC, Ikechukwu Ani, made the development known in a statement on Tuesday.

Ani said, “The Police Service Commission has approved and released the list of 10,000 successful applicants for recruitment into the constable cadre of the Nigeria Police Force.

“The commission today, Tuesday, June 4, 2024, received the report of the Police Recruitment Board. 9,000 applicants were approved for recruitment for General Duty, while 1,000 applicants were recruited for the Specialists cadre.

“To ensure fairness and justice in the Recruitment process, the Commission worked with guidance from relevant stakeholders including the Nigeria Police Force, the National Assembly and the Federal Character Commission. It ensured equity in the spread of successful candidates across the 774 local government areas of the country.”

The commission had earlier inaugurated a Recruitment Board – a broad-based stakeholders’ body populated by representatives from the PSC, the NPF, the Ministry of Police Affairs, the Federal Character Commission, Police Colleges, and the Police Trust Fund to Superintendent over the recruitment process and report back to the PSC.
Interested Nigerian youths were invited to apply online for consideration for the subsequent stages of the exercise through paid advertisements in several national media.

Interested applicants were given six weeks to conclude the online applications (October 15, 2023 to November 26, 2023) in line with the Federal Character requirements.

The PSC revealed that a total of 609,886 applications were received, while 416,323 applicants who met the advertised requirements were shortlisted for the second stage of the exercise, which was physical and document screening.

This stage was held in the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory between Monday 8, January, 2024 to Monday 29, January 2024.

The commission, after the physical and credentials screening, shortlisted 171,956 applicants who met the requirements for the Computer Based Tests (conducted by the Joint Admission and Martriculation Board, JAMB an organisation renowed for its expertise in computer based tests.

Ani on Tuesday noted that, “15,447 General duty applicants who did well in the CBT were further invited for medical screening to determine their health status. The 55,645 Specialists who were shortlisted from the Physical and credentials screening were subjected to practical tests and later medical screening. Each stage of the Recruitment process was carried out with a high level of scrutiny and care.

“A total of 10000 applicants made up of 9000 General Duty and 1000 Specialists were recommended for final selection.

“The selection of specialists was done in conjunction with the Nigeria Police Force on the need assessment ensuring capability and balance of geographical representation.

“The Chairman of the Commission, Dr Solomon Arase, retired Inspector General of Police declared that the rigorous recruitment process was to enhance the capacity and effectiveness of the Nigeria Police Force and to reinforce its commitment to community rooted and service oriented policing.”

Arase noted, “I am filled with optimism because these young men and women represent the future of our nation’s security and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that their journey begins on a foundation of integrity, transparency and excellence.”

The PSC Chairman disclosed that the entire process reflects a deliberate effort to build a Police Force that is competent, reliable, and truly representative of the best that Nigeria has to offer.

He noted that the final selection process was meticulously structured to ensure fairness and inclusivity with 10 candidates selected from each of the 774 local government areas as advised by the National Assembly in its Plenary decision of Thursday February 29th 2024 aimed at creating a representative and diverse Police Force.

The PSC Chairman disclosed that to uphold the highest standards of confidentiality, “list of successful candidates must be presented to the public in a manner compliant with the Nigeria Data protection Act of 2023.”

He noted that this would ensure that the personal data of recruits entering a sensitive security organisation remained secure, thereby protecting their personal and family safety.

Ani noted that candidates are invited to check the status of their application through the Police Service Commission dedicated Web page, which can be accessed on computers and mobile devices on www.policeservicecommission.cloud.

Applicants are also to contact the PSC recruitment help desk on WhatsApp numbers 08094767777 and 09031318499 for complaints or inquiries.

Minimum Wage: Organised Labour Suspends Strike For 5 Days

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have suspended their industrial action over a lack of consensus on a new minimum wage and the hike in electricity tariff for about one week.

The TUC president Festus Osifo said this on Tuesday in Abuja after a joint extraordinary national executive council meeting of the unions. A communique will be issued shortly, the labour chief said.

Both unions downed tools on Monday to register their grievances over the hike in electricity tariff and lack of consensus on a new minimum wage.

The development ground activities in critical sectors of the economy with schools, businesses, hospitals, and airports shut. The national grid was also shut down, throwing the nation into darkness.

Israel Tells Citizens To Leave Maldives After Island’s Government Bans Nationals

The Maldives has announced a ban on all Israeli’s entering the country in response to the ongoing war in Gaza.

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu announced on Monday that the government had changed the law in order to ban Israeli passport holders from the island nation.

The predominantly Muslim country, which forms part of a wider Indian Ocean archipelago, has seen public anger grow in recent weeks over the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict.

it comes despite nearly 11,000 Israelis visiting the Maldives last year – a number which constitutes 0.6% of the country’s total tourist arrivals.

Frequented by newlyweds and holidaymakers alike, the island’s crystalline waters and white sandy beaches have seen it become a go-to for those looking to enjoy a luxury getaway.

Now, the president has announced the ban following advice from his cabinet, adding that the nation will establish a subcommittee tasked with overseeing the process of identifying would-be Israeli holidaymakers.

In response to the claims, Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Oren Marmorstein, said the Foreign Ministry recommends Israelis avoid any travel to the Maldives.
He added that this including those with foreign passports and that holidaymakers who are currently visiting the island should now consider leaving.

“For Israeli citizens already in the country, it is recommended to consider leaving, because if they find themselves in distress for any reason, it will be difficult for us to assist,” the ministry said.

President Muizu added that the Maldives would appoint a special envoy to assess the needs of Palestinian.

It added that a fundraising campaign had been launched to “assist our brothers and sisters in Palestine” according to a press release.

The fundraising effort will go under the slogan “Maldivians in Solidarity with Palestine”.

“Together with the government and people of Maldives, I call for an immediate ceasefire, an end to violence and unhindered humanitarian access,” the president posted to X formerly known as Twitter last week.

It follows condemnation from the president following last week’s Israeli airstrike on Rafah

Australian army to allow recruits from foreign nations

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) will allow recruits from foreign countries, including the UK, to help grow its ranks.

 

Australia has been struggling with enlistment shortfalls, as it seeks to beef up its armed forces in the face of what it says are growing regional threats.

From July, New Zealand nationals who are permanent residents of Australia can apply to join, and from next year that will expand to recruits from the UK and other countries including the US and Canada.

Minister for Defence Richard Marles said the changes to eligibility requirements were “essential to meet the nation’s security challenges through the next decade and beyond”.

Australia and New Zealand already have a longstanding “Anzac bond”, he said, pointing to their history fighting side-by-side at Gallipoli in World War One.

And Australia has in recent years sought to boost ties with the UK and the US, in 2021 signing the Aukus pact – a far-reaching defence and security alliance aimed at confronting Chinese military expansion in the Indo-Pacific region.

Australia, the UK, US, Canada and New Zealand also work closely together in intelligence sharing under an alliance called the Five Eyes.

There is a focus on recruiting people from these nations, but Defence Personnel Minister Matt Keogh has said from January 1 “any” eligible permanent resident can apply.

Canberra has repeatedly expressed growing concerns about Beijing’s assertiveness, and a strategic review of the ADF released last year pointed to the “growth and retention of a highly skilled defence workforce” as a key measure to counter it.

The previous government in 2020 announced A$38bn (£19.8bn; $25.4) of funding to increase the number of uniformed personnel by 30% within two decades.

But Mr Keogh says low levels of unemployment in Australia has made it “very difficult” to recruit – with recent government figures estimating the ADF is already short about 4,400 people.

While Australia has a history of accepting small numbers of military transfers from a few allied nations, the new eligibility rules are aimed at significantly widening the pool of potential recruits.

As well as meeting ADF entry standards and security requirements, those wishing to join must have been permanent residents of Australia for over a year and must not have served in a foreign military in the previous two years.

They must also be eligible for Australian citizenship – something they will be offered and “expected” to take up after 90 days of service, says Mr Keogh.

The opposition spokesman for foreign affairs said they were not against the plan, but that the government’s defence strategy was undermining confidence and morale in the defence force.

“We want to see, ideally, Australians wearing the Australian uniform,” Simon Birmingham told Sky News Australia.

Minimum Wage: Strike Begins As National Assembly’s Intervention Fails

The organised labour Sunday insisted that its indefinite strike would begin today as planned following the federal government’s refusal to increase the minimum wage above N60,000.

Labour, which is demanding N494,000, said this in Abuja last night after a three-hour meeting with the National Assembly leadership and top officials of the Executive arm of government.

The president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero and his Trade Union Congress (TUC) counterpart, Festus Osifo, led members of their national executives to the meeting, which was presided over by Senate President Godswill Akpabio and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Abbas Tajudeen.

The meeting was attended by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume; the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila; the Minister of Finance, Wale Edun and the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Atiku Bagudu.

Also in attendance were the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Nkiruka Onyejiocha; the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris; the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi and the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Folasade Yemi-Esan.

Addressing journalists after the meeting, Osifo said despite the appeal by the Senate president, the strike would commence today while the labour discusses with its various organs.

Ajaero stated: “Yes, we had a conversation as regards the issues; on the part of government, we know what the issues are on the part of the organised labour and we also know what the issues are and the word of appeal from the Senate President for us to call off the industrial action tonight.

“But on our part, we said that we are happy, but it is not possible for us to sit here to call off the industrial action. There are conditions, we need to rub our heads. We would have all been happier if this evening we have a great misunderstanding that by tomorrow morning we will sign off issues bordering on the minimum wage because before at the last meeting, we got very close to signing on.

“But we have listened to them, we will take all your pleas to our organs and would have an organs’ meeting taking what you have promised by the plea made by our organs. For now, we don’t have the power to call off the industrial action.

“So, the industrial action will continue while we have the conversation with our respective organs as soon as possible to give them what we have put forward and what we have proposed”, he said.

Also speaking, Osifo, said: “The Senate President appealed to us to call off the strike. But we can’t sit here and call off the strike because we have other organs. We will take the appeals to our various organs”, he said.

Earlier, Akpabio had appealed that the strike be suspended and negotiations commence “in the interest of the Nigerian economy and in the interest of all Nigerians.

“The leadership of both chambers is aware that there was a tripartite committee in place to negotiate with labour on the new minimum wage for the country, taking cognisance of all the variables, including the removal of fuel subsidy, including the expiration of time since the last minimum wage was imputed.

“We are aware that those negotiations have taken quite a while. We are aware that the federal government, in its wisdom through President Bola Ahmed Tinubu decided to institute a wage award of N35,000 at the federal level for workers pending the outcome of negotiations of a new minimum wage.

“We are aware that some states have also followed suit in varying amounts. Aware that the NLC and TUC decided to call for a strike, commencing tomorrow (today), the leadership of both chambers took a decision to invite the NLC and the TUC and very high ranking officers of the government led by the SGF to find out why and what happened and how the negotiations could have broken down, and we believe strongly that strike should be a last resort.

“Without going into much details, I believe we have had a very positive meeting. We have heard from both sides and we are happy and satisfied that actions would be taken on both sides,” the Senate president said.

Similarly, Speaker Tajudeen said the meeting agreed to prevail on the government to continue the payment of the N35,000 wage award that was started in October last year and stopped in February.

“We agreed that the wage award should continue until such a time that the minimum wage is agreed. We also agreed that the NLC and TUC should go and consult with a view to suspending their strike as soon as possible to allow for negotiations to continue”, he said.

Meanwhile the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), in a statement dated Saturday, said the strike was a breach of an order of the National Industrial Court and ongoing mediators’ settlement efforts over issues connected with the subject matter of the order.

He warned that workers planning to embark on indefinite strike risked a six-month jail term.

Fagbemi said Section 18 of the Trade Disputes Act requires a worker employed in any essential services to give their employer 15 days’ notice before ceasing their services, and any who did not comply would be liable on conviction to a fine of N100 or to imprisonment for six months.

He said the fundamental importance of the 15-day notice is underscored by the fact that Sections 41 and 42(1)(b) of the Act criminalise non-compliance with the provision.

He noted that the federal government had been engaging stakeholders in the tripartite committee to determine a new national minimum wage and had not declared an end to negotiation.

“While the government assures that it would continue to adopt a conciliatory approach to resolving matters pertaining to workers and citizens welfare in the spirit of collective bargaining, I would like to urge you to kindly reconsider the declaration of strike action and return to the ongoing negotiation meetings, which has been adjourned to a date to be communicated to parties”, he said.

NUJ, JUSUN, NUT, others back strike

The leadership of various unions yesterday directed their members to comply with the labour’s directive on the strike.

They are the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), the Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN), the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnic (SSANIP), the National Union of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employees, the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), the Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), among others.

Uncertainty over hajj pilgrims’ airlift

With the decision of the aviation unions to join labour’s strike today, it is not clear whether or not the ongoing airlift of Nigerian hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia will be affected.

The unions include the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE).

It was learnt that the aviation unions took the decision to join the strike after an emergency meeting held yesterday.

The unions, in a joint statement signed by Comrade Ocheme Aba, General Secretary of NUATE; Comrade Frances Akinjole, Deputy General Secretary ATSSSAN; Comrade Abdul Rasaq Saidu, Secretary General ANAP and Comrade Olayinka Abioye General Secretary NAAPE directed all branches to comply.

The notice read, “In compliance with the directive from our labour centers – Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria – we hereby inform the general public, aviation service providers, airline operators, aviation businesses and all aviation workers nationwide that starting from 0000hrs of June 3, 2024 all services at all Nigerian airports shall be fully withdrawn till further notice.

“Being not oblivious of the fact that many international flights to Nigeria are already airborne, the strike action will commence at international terminals on 4th of June, 2024.

“All aviation workers should recognise the seriousness of this struggle and comply unfailingly. All Branch officers of our unions shall ensure full compliance at all airports”, the statement.

Slovakia’s prime minister in ‘life-threatening condition’ after being shot

Slovakia’s populist Prime Minister Robert Fico is in a ‘life-threatening condition’ after being wounded in a shooting, according to his Facebook profile.
The message posted to his account just before 4pm on Wednesday (just before midnight AEST) said that Fico “has been shot multiple times and is currently in life-threatening condition”.
“At this moment he is transported by helicopter to Banská Bystrica [a city in central Slovakia], because it would take too long to get to Bratislava due to the necessity of an acute procedure,” the message said.
“The next few hours will decide.”
Reports on TA3, a Slovakian TV station, said that Fico, 59, was hit in the stomach after four shots were fired outside the House of Culture in the town of Handlova, some 150 kilometres northeast of the capital, where the leader was meeting with supporters.

A suspect has been detained, it said.
Slovakia’s interior minister says an initial investigation shows there was “a clear political motivation” behind the assassination attempt,
Matus Sutaj Estok spoke to reporters on Wednesday evening at the hospital where Prime Minister Fico was being treated.
“There’s no doubt about it,” Defense Minister Robert Kalinak added.
Rescue workers wheel Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico to a hospital in the town of Banska Bystrica. (AP)
Kalinak said doctors were fighting for Fico’s life after he was shot multiple times following a political event.
The shooting in Slovakia comes three weeks ahead of crucial European Parliament elections, in which populist and hard-right parties in the 27-nation bloc appear poised to make gains.
Deputy speaker of parliament Lubos Blaha confirmed the incident during a session of Slovakia’s Parliament and adjourned it until further notice, the Slovak TASR news agency said.
Slovakia’s major opposition parties, Progressive Slovakia and Freedom and Solidarity, cancelled a planned protest against a controversial government plan to overhaul public broadcasting that they say would give the government full control of public radio and television.
Police and officials stand outside the entrance of the emergency room. (AP)
“We absolutely and strongly condemn violence and today’s shooting of Premier Robert Fico,” said Progressive Slovakia leader Michal Simecka.
“At the same time we call on all politicians to refrain from any expressions and steps which could contribute to further increasing the tension.”
President Zuzana Caputova condemned “a brutal and ruthless” attack on the premier.
“I’m shocked,” Caputova said.
“I wish Robert Fico a lot of strength in this critical moment and a quick recovery from this attack.”
Fico, a third-time premier, and his leftist Smer, or Direction, party, won Slovakia’s September 30 parliamentary elections, staging a political comeback after campaigning on a pro-Russian and anti-American message.
Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico arrives for a cabinet’s away-from-home session in the town of Handlova, Slovakia, on Wednesday, May, 15, 2024. (AP)
Critics worried Slovakia under Fico would abandon the country’s pro-Western course and follow the direction of Hungary under populist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
Thousands have repeatedly rallied in the capital and across Slovakia to protest Fico’s policies.
Condemnations of political violence quickly came from leaders across Europe, although no motive for the attack was immediately apparent.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen condemned what she described as a “vile attack”.
“Such acts of violence have no place in our society and undermine democracy, our most precious common good,” von der Leyen said in a post on X.
Media reports say Slovakia’s populist Prime Minister Robert Fico has been injured in a shooting and taken to hospital. (File photo) (AP)
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala called the incident “shocking”.
“I wish the premier to get well soon. We cannot tolerate violence, there’s no place for it in society,” she said.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia formed Czechoslovakia until 1992.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk wrote on the social media network X: “Shocking news from Slovakia. Robert, my thoughts are with you in this very difficult moment.”

Benjamin Edet Announces Candidacy for Vice Chairman South in NYNC CRS: A Unifying Force for the Community

Dedicated Leader Promises Inclusivity, Transparency, and Collaboration to Build a Stronger Community

Benjamin Edet has announced his candidacy for Vice Chairman South in the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) Cross River State Chapter. With a strong commitment to community service and a passion for unity and progress, Edet is poised to make a positive impact in the organization.

A VISION FOR THE FUTURE

Edet’s vision for NYCN CRS is one of inclusivity, transparency, and collaboration. He believes that by working together, the community can achieve greater heights. “I am committed to ensuring that the needs and voices of the Southern region are heard and represented within the organization,” Edet said in a statement. “I will work tirelessly to build a stronger, more united community for all.”

A PROVEN LEADER

With years of experience in community development and youth empowerment, Edet has the skills and dedication needed to make a real difference. He is a proven leader who is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get to work for the betterment of his community.

A CALL TO ACTION

The community is urged to support Edet in his bid for Vice Chairman South. “Together, we can build a brighter future for all,” Edet said. “Let us unite and work towards a common goal of community progress.”

SUPPORT BENJAMIN EDET

The election is a critical moment for NYCN CRS, and the community is encouraged to make their voice heard. Support Benjamin Edet and let us build a stronger community together.

EFCC Raids Speculators As Naira Drops To $1,520/$

Operatives of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission, on Tuesday, expanded its clampdown on Bureau De Change operators, arresting traders in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt. This came as the naira weakened further against the United States dollar at both the official and parallel foreign exchange markets. The recent raids followed renewed efforts by the Federal Government to tackle the naira’s recent fall against the greenback.

The activities of currency speculators in the forex markets and the digital cryptocurrency space have reportedly increased pressure on the naira, with the government accusing crypto traders of speculating against the national currency. Last week, some BDC operators were arrested in Abuja for allegedly speculating against the naira.

Despite resistance by some BDC operators, law enforcement officials have continued to conduct regular raids on unauthorised currency traders in the Federal Capital Territory. Currency operators, who spoke to one of our correspondents, confirmed that the latest sting operations occurred at various times during the day in Lagos, Kano Port Harcourt and Abuja on Monday.

Malam Yahu, a trader at the popular Wuse Zone 4 market, said currency traders at Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano confirmed sting operation by EFCC operatives, a development that disrupted market activities. He said the fear also trickled down to the Abuja market as traders decided to reduce trading for fear of being arrested.
Yahu also said the naira was bought and sold for N1,520/$ and 1,540/$.

He said, “The naira is now N1,540 and we are buying at N1,520. But the issue now is that the EFCC guys scattered the market in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano today. As a result of the development, the traders in Abuja were very cautious about trading.

“So in Abuja today, people are afraid because we don’t know when they will come too and nobody wants to be arrested. It is also part of the reason for the high rate.

“Traders are also afraid of buying at a high price because they are cautious that the dollar may crash at any time. Our brothers in Lagos and Port Harcourt are complaining about the arrests. Another trader, Abubakar Taura, confirmed the same rates and the arrests by security agents. “Yes, we heard today that EFCC operatives have started arresting people in other states,” he said.

The President, the Association of Bureau De Change Operators, Aminu Gwadabe, confirmed the raid, saying however that the EFCC operatives primarily focused on street traders.He confirmed that some registered BDC operators were affected in the raid.

“Yes, the EFCC operatives raided street traders although some of our members were also affected. The government is trying to deal with illegal practices. We believe the currency will appreciate with time,” he said. At the parallel market, the naira closed at N1,540 per dollar.

This represents 4.05 per cent or N60/$1 depreciation compared to the N1,480 quoted on Monday on the black market. The renewed naira depreciation after the gains in April 2024 was attributed to a shortage of dollars occasioned by the repatriation of funds by foreign portfolio investors.

Similarly, official FX trading at the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market witnessed a depreciation in the value of the local currency by 3.04 per cent as the dollar was quoted at N1,520 on Tuesday, weaker than N1,478 quoted on Monday. This is the lowest in over six weeks and the first time the official rate will close above N1500/$1 since March 19, 2024.

The intra-day high also plummeted to N1,568/$1 from N1,515 recorded on Monday pointing to an even weaker exchange rate at some point during the day, according to data from FMDQ, where currencies are traded officially.
The intra-day low was N1,350 on Tuesday from N1,301 recorded on Monday.

The intra-day high represents the highest price at which the dollar traded against the naira on the official market during a single day of trading. The exchange rate typically fluctuates throughout the day The amount of dollars supplied by willing buyers and willing sellers also decreased by 40.8 per cent or $88m to $128.76m from $217.64m on Monday.

The naira had extended its appreciation from mid-March till mid-April, before the recent decline. The naira however closed flat against the dollar in April, appreciating only by about 0.04 per cent in the official market. The temporary stability occurred after the CBN interventions aimed at curbing speculation on the naira.

Some of the measures taken by the CBN included the prohibition of Foreign Currency Collaterals for Naira Loans and the directives to the International Money Transfer Operators to align their exchange rates with prevailing market rates at the official foreign exchange market.

In February 2023, the Yemi Cardoso-led CBN implemented the first interest rate hike, raising the MPR by 400 basis points to 22.75 per cent. This was followed by an additional increase in March, raising the MPR by 200 basis points to 24.75 per cent. The hikes in interest rates coincided with a strengthening of the naira, which appreciated to as high as N1,150/$1. Commenting on the latest development, an economist at the Nigerian Economist Summit Group, Faith Iyoha, said the naira was still experiencing volatility due to the absence of fundamental FX liquidity policies.

Faith, who spoke in a telephone interview on Tuesday, said the sufficient condition for strengthening the naira must be an increase in FX liquidity which according to her is only possible through exports and foreign capital inflow, both of which the country currently lacks. She added that although the apex bank had made some changes, there was still a need for an improved macroeconomic space.

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She said, “The exchange rate has been largely volatile over time and there are fundamental reasons why it has been like that. It is important to give credence to the reforms that CBN has put in place and other regulatory approaches but while these are necessary approaches, they are not sufficient to strengthen the naira.

“The sufficient condition for strengthening the naira must be an increase in FX liquidity which is only through exports and foreign capital inflow. From the export angle, while we have crude oil, the production has been largely below 2m barrels and that means an instability in inflow.”

She added, “We still have to improve non-oil exports as well. In terms of capital importation, we have seen the exit of portfolio investors due to large instability and there is no clarity in the market. There is instability in the sense that we are not certain about the policies that are going to come up in the next few months especially when we talk about taxes and levies.

“So you see that the cybersecurity levy has been suspended, such policies give investors a sense of instability and uncertainty and in that way, they exit the market. So it is important to state that for the naira to gain stability, we must improve FX inflow, especially through trade.

“We must create macroeconomic stability that incentivises the inflow of foreign capital and if it doesn’t happen, there is no way we can sustain the strength that the naira gained based on reforms by the CBN.”

MAN, LCCI react
Meanwhile, members of the Organised Private Sector have reacted to the development. The President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Francis Meshioye, said the continuous fluctuation of the exchange rate had made it difficult for manufacturers to construct and stick to a fairly predictable business model.

He further stated that manufacturers would inevitably be forced to review prices to reflect the prevailing exchange rate to remain in business.

Meshioye said, “All the plans we have made recently have to be reviewed, which is not good, not only for the economy but the unpredictability of our business model. Our business model is a floating one. It is not good for the economy because the international business community relies on the business model that you presented, and we have to continue to review our business model.

“Take for instance, some of our members have had to change prices because of the fluctuations. Manufacturers will continue to do business based on the current costs and the replacement costs of their products. You don’t want to sell a product and be out of stock because you are unable to replace it.”

On his part, the President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gabriel Idahosa blamed the shortfall in dollar supply for the recent depreciation of the naira. Idahosa predicted that fluctuations in the exchange rate would continue as it is a natural consequence of floating the local currency.

He, however, cautioned that if the depreciation was allowed to persist, price hikes would once again become commonplace in the marketplace.

He said, “The market is struggling to stabilise that is why we are seeing this level of volatility. The CBN is managing a very difficult situation because we don’t have established trade flows from our non-oil exports.

Asked if manufacturers have implemented price hikes if the depreciation continues, Idahosa said, “Yes, of course. It will happen. We are hoping that the exchange rate does not get to that precipice of N1,800 or N1,900.”

Meanwhile, the National President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Dele Kelvin Oye, also expressed concerns over the significant depreciation of the naira, noting that it poses multiple challenges for the country.

Oye, in a statement, expressed worry over the impact of the currency depreciation on import costs and inflation, reiterating the need for the government to stabilise the naira by potentially pegging and defending it.

He said, “The significant depreciation of the naira, now at 1500 to the dollar, poses multiple challenges for Nigeria. The weakening currency increases import costs, affecting prices of everything from food to electronics, thereby fueling inflation and reducing the purchasing power of Nigerians, especially those on fixed incomes. Higher import costs also escalate production expenses in sectors reliant on foreign materials, impacting overall business operations.

“Government and business foreign debt servicing costs rise as more naira is needed per dollar, straining financial resources and potentially reducing public service funding. While a weaker Naira might attract foreign investment by making assets cheaper, it could also deter investors seeking stability.”

He further stated, “On a positive note, a devalued naira enhances the competitiveness of non-oil exports like agriculture and manufacturing on the global market. However, this benefit is contingent on the country’s ability to efficiently increase production.

The NACCIMA president advised that “Given these complexities, the government must stabilise the Naira by potentially pegging and defending it, rather than leaving it to market forces, a strategy even economically stronger nations like Qatar and Saudi Arabia employ.”

Foreign Portfolio Outflows
Meanwhile, foreign outflows of investment on the Nigerian Exchange Limited hit N119.81bn in the first quarter of 2023.
This was revealed in the latest domestic and foreign portfolio investment report released by the NGX recently.

During the quarter under review, foreign outflow on the local bourse increased month on month, from N37.33bn in January to N40.88bn in February and N41.60bn in March.

On a year-on-year comparison, foreign outflow worsened by 236 per cent from N35.59bn at the end of March 2023 to N119.81bn in March 2024. In contrast, foreign inflow at the end of March stood at N93.37bn, driven by a 111.23 per cent increase between February and March 2024 to N52.66bn from N24.93bn.

The monthly report was collated from trading figures from market operators on their Domestic and Foreign Portfolio Investment flows.

According to the report, foreign capital inflow into the market has consistently increased since the beginning of the year, from N15.78bn in January to N24.93bn in February and N52.66bn in March, bringing the year-to-date inflow to about N93.37bn, which is about 415.29 per cent higher than N18.12bn inflows recorded for the same period in 2023.Total foreign transactions on the exchange stood at N213.18bn at the end of the quarter

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