President Buhari has signed the 2020 Appropriation Bill into law, paving the way for the return of the budget cycle to January to December. Buhari had on 8 October 2019 presented the budget to a joint session of the National Assembly and was passed by the parliament on 5 December. When he presented the budget to the lawmakers, Buhari proposed to spend ₦10.33 trillion for the 2020 fiscal year, but when it was passed, it was raised to ₦10.6 trillion, the figure which was signed by the President. The signing was witnessed, among others, by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila. A breakdown of the budget before the addition showed that ₦560,470,827,235 was budgeted for Statutory transfer; ₦2,725,498,930,000 for debt servicing; ₦4,842,974,600,640 for recurrent expenditure; ₦2,465,418,006,955 for capital expenditure; and ₦2.28 trillion for fiscal deficit. When the National Assembly passed the bill last Thursday, new projects expected to cost Nigeria about ₦264 billion inserted into the budget moved it up to ₦10.594 trillion.
Nigeria’s inflation rate rose to 11.85 percent in November 2019, up from October’s 11.6 percent, and the highest level since April 2018. This rising rate is driven by food prices which continued to rise following Q3’s border closures. Food inflation rose to 14.5 percent from 14.1 percent in October. The price of imported rice, Nigeria’s preferred staple, has risen since August after President Buhari ordered the closure of the country’s land borders with neighbouring countries. The rise in was also caused by increases in the prices of other foods like bread, cereals, oils and fats, meat, potatoes, yam and other tubers, and fish. On a month-on-month basis, the food sub-index increased by 1.25 percent in November 2019, down by 0.08 percent points from 1.33 percent recorded in October 2019. The IMF warned last month that Nigeria will experience further inflationary pressures due to excess liquidity in the banking system, driven by negative real yields on short-term government bonds. The CBN has held its benchmark rate at 13.5 percent, saying the impact of the country’s border closures on prices will be “reactionary and temporary.”
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission announced that it has begun the review process for all submissions requested from eight of the electricity Distribution Companies that have been pegged for a licence cancellation sanction since October this year. This is coming after ten DisCos said they have raised their revenue collection by ₦43 billion in the last year while reducing their Aggregate Technical, Commercial and Collection (ATC&C) losses to 45 percent. The 11 DisCos are also mandated to remit their energy bills by 79 percent from January 2020, and 100 from July 2020. The deadline for the affected DisCos to defend their operations and avoid the sanction elapsed 7 December 2019. NERC in an October notice directed Abuja, Benin, Enugu, Ikeja, Kano, Kaduna, P/Harcourt, and Yola DisCos to defend their default of a Minimum Remittance Order of about ₦30.1 billion energy invoice for July 2019. The MRO for the 11 DisCos requires the DisCos to perform at 34 percent remittance level from July to December 2019. They must also raise their remittances to 79 percent from January to June 2020 when a new tariff is expected to be implemented by NERC, the notice said. All DisCos, however, must remit their energy collection by 100 percent from July to December 2020. The top DisCos are Ikeja, Abuja and Eko which are to be remitting 49 percent, and 45 percent respectively. In the first six months of 2020, Enugu which should remit 42 percent now, must begin to remit 100 percent Abuja will start remitting 92 percent Ikeja 89 percent, Benin 89 percent and Eko 86 percent. The Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors has further confirmed that the DisCos made submissions to NERC. A section of the DisCos’ reports showed that from October 2018 to June 2019, the 10 DisCos raised their energy revenue collection to ₦466 billion and raised their collection efficiency, which is their capacity to collect money for energy supplied to customers, by 67 percent. This, according to ANED’s Director of Research and Advocacy, Sunday Oduntan, was higher than the ₦423 billion they collected from their customers between October 2017 and September 2018 when the collection efficiency was 65 percent. He noted that the DisCos, while increasing their collections by ₦43 billion in a year, by a rate that represents over 10 percent of improvement, also raised billing efficiency by 5 percent during the period under review.
Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, has appealed to the Nigerian Army to reclaim three Local Government Areas of the state; Marte, Kukawa, and Abadam still under the control of a faction of Boko Haram. The governor made the appeal when he received the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd) at the Government House in Maiduguri. Zulum expressed worry about keeping thousands of people, especially in camps with no source of livelihood, which he said was a ready-made material for Boko Haram insurgents on recruitment missions in villages. Magashi, who visited at a time when the activities of the insurgents appear to be thriving around the Lake Chad Basin, told Governor Zulum that he was in Borno to appraise the operations that would shape future decisions in the counter-insurgency war in the North East.