Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product for the second and third quarters of 2020 is projected to be negative, according to new government figures. Going by that, the country’s government said Nigeria is heading for another recession in both quarters 2020. This will be the second recession in four years. The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said the country’s real GDP had been projected by the National Bureau of Statistics to contract by 4.2 percent in 2020, as against the previous projected growth of 2.9 percent. The Minister also said, during a virtual consultative public forum in Abuja where she presented the Draft 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework/Fiscal Strategy Paper, that the FG’s earnings dropped by about 65 percent following the cuts in oil production. Noting that the economy faced serious challenges in the first half of the year, the macroeconomic environment was significantly disrupted by COVID-19. Crude oil price dropped from $72 per barrel in January to below $20 in April 2020, making the $57 crude oil benchmark of the 2020 budget unsustainable, she added. The projected net 2020 government revenues was down by 65 percent due to the massive output cut by OPEC and its allies to stabilise global oil market, with Nigeria contributing about 300,000 barrels per day of production cuts, the minister said, adding that the revenue reduction was from the oil and gas sector and had adverse consequences on foreign exchange inflows into the economy. Unless the country achieved a very strong Q3 2020 economic performance, Africa’s largest economy is likely to lapse into its second recession in four years, with significant adverse consequences, Ahmed as the FG planned to spend ₦11.86 trillion in 2021.
Three hundred and fifty-six (356) soldiers are formally exiting the Nigerian Army citing “loss of interest”, according to reporting by Premium Times, in a move insiders say is indicative of broken morale in the army. An additional 24 soldiers are exiting because they want “to take a traditional title,” an unnamed source told the online news site. Totalling 380, two Master Warrant Officers and 28 Warrant Officers are voluntarily discharging from the army, sources said. The army is currently engaged in various combat operations, including Boko Haram in the Northeast, as insecurity worsens across the country. Many of the soldiers are among the troops engaged in the decade-long war against the Boko Haram terrorist group among others. Others are from various other formations across the country. The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, already has, this July, approved the voluntary discharge of all the 380 soldiers who are to proceed on terminal leave on 20 December and disengage on 3 January next year in accordance with Nigerian Army Administrative Policy and Procedure 27 Paragraphs 3 and 4, the sources told the newspaper. One of the army insiders said, “That the reason given by most of them is ‘loss of interest’ is an indication of low morale in the army due to poor leadership.” The insider claimed the army had been “broken, demoralised and polarised more than ever before under Buratai.” Another officer aware about the disengagement said the development “is an indication of the rot in the system. There have been videos recently where commanders and soldiers appeared to complain about logistical support and equipment available to them to combat the terrorists in a war that has in ten years precipitated a humongous humanitarian disaster in the Lake Chad region, displacing millions of people and killing thousands. Some have also complained of sabotage among the top officers of the force.
The office of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit has been attacked and computers destroyed by unnamed persons who were allegedly plotting to frustrate the probe of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the ongoing investigation of its suspended chairman, Ibrahim Magu. According to ThisDay reports, the NFIU office which is inside the Aso Rock Presidential Villa was burgled and at least seven computers containing sensitive financial information were taken away and others badly damaged in the attack believed to have happened overnight but discovered Friday morning. Some NFIU officials on Thursday appeared before Justice Ayo Salami’s panel, which is investigating allegations against Magu. The panel had also requested for the transaction history of a Kaduna-based bureau de change, sources told TheCable as the BDC which allegedly has links to the suspended EFCC boss, has recently transacted businesses worth over ₦500 billion in different currencies — ₦336 billion, $435 million and €14 million. However, the NFIU officials told the panel that by operational protocols, they don’t go about with sensitive documents. The officials then advised members of the panel to visit their office Friday morning, to sight the documents requested for. However, before the panel members got to the NFIU office in the morning, the room where the documents were kept in computers was broken into. NFIU was only recently severed and is the agency that investigated all the allegations of financial malfeasance against Magu. The Director-General of NFIU, Modibbo Hamman-Tukur, met with President Muhammadu Buhari to report the incident, a situation sources said, resulted in the president’s decision to approve Magu’s suspension. Meanwhile, the panel, led by Ayo Salami, former president of the court of appeal, was also told that an unnamed Lagos-based pastor who is very close to Magu has ₦573 million in his bank account. The pastor will be invited by the panel for questioning.
The cap placed on estimated electricity bills by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has cost the power sector an average of ₦13.9 billion revenue monthly, the distribution companies, the revenue collection outfits of Nigeria’s power sector, have said. This came as the Discos called for realistic indices before the implementation of the proposed service reflective tariff, which would have been implemented from 1 July. According to the Managing Director, Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, Ernest Mupwaya, there were some outstanding requirements before the service reflective tariff could be implemented, including the removal of estimated billing caps. The financial impact of the Capping Order undermines the minimum remittance requirement, Mupwaya said. The 1 July service tariff implementation was halted by members of the National Assembly, who prevailed on the Discos to shelve the date to the first quarter of 2021 due to the current economic challenges in Nigeria.