President Buhari has expressed concern over the decision of some West African nations to replace their currencies with the Eco ahead of other ECOWAS states including Nigeria. Buhari made the comments at an extraordinary virtual summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) hosted by the West African Monetary Institute, Accra Ghana. Speaking in a series of tweets, Buhari expressed unease about the UEMOA Zone’s wish to take up the Eco in replacement for its CFA Franc, and complained about the lack of trust. Buhari said Nigeria fully supports and is committed to the monetary union, “but we must do things properly and ensure absolute compliance with the set standards.” The members of the UEMOA are Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. They have a single currency, the CFA Franc, and the Eco will remain pegged to the euro and will be backed by the French Treasury. The euro will guarantee the Eco’s convertibility and stability, with the Treasury remaining as guarantor for all eight UEMOA states.
Shell must be held accountable for significant and systematic pollution caused by oil extraction in the Niger Delta, lawyers will argue in the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court. Nigerians from the Ogale and Bille communities say they have suffered decades of pollution, including the contamination of their water wells with potentially cancer-causing chemicals, as well as the devastation of mangrove vegetation, all of which was documented by the UN in a groundbreaking report in 2011. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said in its report it could take 30 years to clean up the pollution caused by oil extraction and recommended an initial fund of $1 billion for the first five years to be paid by the oil companies that operate in Ogoniland – including the largest company, Shell. The law firm Leigh Day, which represents the communities, has taken the appeal process to the UK Supreme Court to argue that Shell, one of the world’s 10 largest corporations by revenue, with assets of more than $400 billion, must answer for the environmental failures of its subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) because the company is registered in London. Shell said: “Litigation in courts unfamiliar with the realities on the ground – and Nigerian law – does not address the issue of criminal interference in the operations of Nigerian companies. Nigeria has a well-developed justice system that is capable of dealing with these claims.” A London court ruled in January 2017 that Shell was not responsible for the harm because it was merely a holding company that did not exercise any control over SPDC. A report this month by Friends of the Earth, Amnesty International and other NGOs said the people of Ogoniland were still waiting for a thorough clean-up of the oil spills. The report said only a fraction – 11% – of the total area contaminated was being cleaned up, and even in the area targeted the work had not been completed.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has reinstated Marylin Amobi, as the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company and inaugurated the board of the agency recently moved to her Ministry by President Muhammadu Buhari. Amobi was sacked by her former supervisor and minister of Power, Saleh Mamman. The reinstatement pits the finance minister against her Power Ministry counterpart, Mamman, who had on two separate occasions recommended the sack of Amobi. Until late last year, NBET was under the Power Ministry before Buhari moved it to the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning following the faceoff between Mamman and Amobi on 24 December 2019. Amobi and her former Minister had allegedly clashed on several occasions. The Finance Minister, Ahmed had inaugurated the new NBET board on May 7, where she sits as the Chairman with Amobi as the Chief Executive Officer. However, on the penultimate Monday, Mamman had said that Nnaemeka Ewelukwa would succeed Amobi as NBET boss following the president’s approval that she proceeded on terminal leave with immediate effect. Mamman said he received approval from the President to appoint Ewelukwa, NBET General Counsel and Secretary, as the new Managing Director. A letter from the Ministry of Finance said the president has approved that Amobi is allowed to serve out her tenure which ends on 24 July.
New data from the Debt Management Office has shown that Nigeria is indebted to China to the tune of $3.121 billion as of 31 March 2020. This represents 3.94 percent of the country’s total public debt, which stood at $79.303 billion as of 31 March, ₦28.6 trillion. The DMO said that Nigeria’s total debt to China also accounts for 11.28 percent of the total external debt stock of $27.67 billion. The total borrowing from China during the period are concessional loans with interest rates of 2.50 percent per annum, a tenor of 20 years and moratorium of seven years. The low-interest-rate reduces the cost of borrowing for the government and the long repayment period means that the principal sum can be repaid over many years, the debt office said, adding that the two benefits, make the provisions for debt service in the annual budget lower than they would otherwise have been if the loans were on commercial terms. Nigeria explicitly provides for debt service on its external and domestic debt in its annual budgets. In effect, this means that debt service is recognised and payment is planned for. In addition, a number of the projects being (and to be) financed by the loans are either revenue generating or have the potential to generate revenue, the DMO said, in response to whether China can take possession of the projects if there is a loan servicing default.