The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control said it is investigating the outbreak of an unknown disease in the country, which has killed about 15 persons in Benue. Chikwe Ihekweazu, director-general of NCDC, told the News Agency of Nigeria on Saturday that the agency is taking steps to effectively manage the disease. A Senator from Benue, Abba Moro had reported the casualty figure at the floor of the senate, where he also said more than 100 persons have been infected by the disease. According to Ihekweazu, water samples from affected areas have been sent to the Federal Ministry of Water Resources for further analysis since samples tested at the NCDC National Reference Laboratory came out to be negative for major viral haemorrhagic fevers, which refer to a group of diseases caused by viruses such as Ebola and Marburg, Lassa fever, and yellow fever. The disease was said to have been reported first on 29 January this year in Oye, Obi Local Government Area. Medical examinations have not detected the exact ailment, said Health Minister, Osagie Ehanire. He added that there are indications suggesting that the chemical substance being used for fishing in the affected community could be responsible.

New CBN data indicates that the country attracted a total foreign exchange inflow of $114.82 billion within a two-year period covering January 2018 and December 2019. An analysis of the report showed that while $56.76 billion in forex came into the country in 2018, the balance of $58.06 was received in the 2019 fiscal period. A breakdown of the $56.76 billion for 2018 showed that $14.19 billion was received through the CBN in the first quarter, while the second, third and fourth quarter recorded $13.81 billion, $12.95 billion and $15.81 billion respectively. Crude oil sales and receipts from non-oil sources are the main sources of the country’s foreign exchange inflow. For the 2019 fiscal period, the forex receipts of $58.06 billion comprised of $18.38 billion in Q1, $13.83 billion in Q2, $12.53 billion in Q3 and $13.29 billion in Q4. Going by the fact that the country’s external reserves have been on a decline owing to the drop in oil receipts and the intervention of the CBN in the foreign exchange market, experts said there was a need for an exchange rate regime that would guarantee investment inflows to various sectors while building the country’s external reserves.

A lack of confidence in the ability of the political class to deliver on their promises, or to safeguard their life-savings has led to growing opposition to the FG’s plan to borrow ₦2 trillion of the ₦10 trillion in the Contributory Pension Scheme to finance an ambitious infrastructure programme. While the United Labour Congress is unequivocal in its submission that the future of Nigerian workers cannot be guaranteed “if a large chunk of pension funds are controlled by crass, profligate and often insensitive politicians famous for their careless handling of public funds,” the Nigeria Labour Congress reminded that the Contributory Pension Scheme, which came into being in 2004 is fully funded by workers and employers, and privately managed by Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs), adding that the funds are in the individual Retirement Savings Account (RSA) of beneficiaries. The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association also expressed concern for the government’s plans, calling it was unthinkable for the government to borrow from the pension fund when the citizens have not felt the impact of the mounting debt of government at all levels.

The CBN has denied media reports that the federal government sued almost 70,000 rice farmers for failing to pay back the ₦17 billion loan under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme. CBN’s spokesperson, Isaac Okorafor told Premium Times that the report was “false and misleading.” The Daily Trust had quoted the chairman of the Kebbi State chapter of the Rice Farmer Association of Nigeria, Muhammed Augie, who claimed that of the 70,000 farmers that benefited from the ABP loans in 2015, only about 200 farmers were able to repay their loans. Augie said before the launch of the programme in 2015, the state’s total rice production capacity was 70,000 metric tonnes per annum but by 2016 it has increased to 1.2 million metrics tonnes per annum, indicating that genuine farmers benefited from the loan. He further said the list of the farmers who faulted have been given to all the magistrate (court) in Kebbi to recover the loan. Denying the report, Okorafor said the CBN disbursed about ₦16 billion in money and inputs to Kebbi and not ₦17 billion “as media reports say”. Of this, about ₦2.6 billion is outstanding to be remitted, he said. He told the newspaper that rather than filing a lawsuit against the defaulting farmers, the government “only extended the window for the farmers to repay their loans.”