The Senate has approved the 2021 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP). The lawmakers maintained the crude oil benchmark price of $40 per barrel as proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari. The Senate also approved the total estimated expenditure of ₦13.08 trillion for the 2021 fiscal year against the ₦12.66 trillion proposed by the president. Adeola Olamilekan, the Chairman of the National Assembly Joint Committee on Finance, who presented the report, said the committee put daily production output at 1.86mbpd, 2.09mbpd, and 2.38mbpd for 2021, 2022 and 2023 respectively. This, he said, “is in view of average 1.97mbpd over the past three years and the fact that a very conservative oil output benchmark has been adopted for the medium term in order to ensure greater budget realism and disruptions due to attacks/sabotage in the Niger-Delta which has substantially abated for a while”. The Senate also urged the Executive to reduce the number of its agencies in order to reduce the cost of governance.
The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge. The cost of the project was put at $3.02 billion. Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi told reporters at the State House that the council also approved the construction of a deep seaport at Bonny and a railway industrial park in Port Harcourt at the cost of $703.1 million. He, however, said the two projects would be at no cost to the FG but will be funded through a Public-Private Partnership arrangement. In addition, the FG announced the allocation of ₦653.8 million for the purchase and deployment of a spectrum monitoring system across the South-East. Communications and Digital Economy Minister, Isa Pantami said his ministry had found that 106 out of 320 frequencies that his ministry had discovered in five of the country’s six geopolitical zones of the country were illegal. “This is very worrisome because the usage of this illegal spectrum or frequencies will compromise our security and safety in the country”, Pantami said. He added that “for the legal ones, it is to ensure they renew their licenses annually and for the illegal ones, necessary actions are being taken according to the gravity of the offence.” The ministry’s monitoring had not covered the South-East up until now.
Less than two weeks before Guinea’s tense presidential election, the United Nations has expressed alarm at ethnically charged hate speech rising in the lead-up to the polls, warning the situation is “extremely dangerous” and may lead to violence. In a joint statement on Wednesday, the UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet and Pramila Patten, the world body’s acting special adviser on the prevention of genocide, decried the “increasingly pervasive and divisive appeals to ethnic affiliations” before the October 18 vote. They also urged the candidates to “refrain from using provocative language that may lead to violence, discrimination and other human rights violations”. Guinea’s politics are mostly drawn along ethnic lines. The country’s 82-year-old President Alpha Conde, who is seeking a controversial third term, is largely backed by Malinke people, while his main opponent, Cellou Dalein Diallo of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) party, is largely backed by Fulani people – although both insist that they are pluralist. The candidates have made specific mention of the Malinke and Fulani ethnicities and had suggested violence could follow the announcement of the results. Conde, a former opposition activist, became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010 after decades of authoritarian rule in the former French colony. He won re-election five years later. In March, he pushed a constitutional amendment that allowed him to stand again and potentially extend his rule, despite protests from the opposition.
A Kenyan court found two men guilty on Wednesday for their part in aiding Al-Shabaab gunmen who attacked the Westgate mall in Nairobi in 2013, killing 67 people. A third accused person was acquitted. After a trial that began in January 2014, Magistrate Francis Andayi found that Mohamed Ahmed Abdi and Hassan Hussein Mustafa conspired with and assisted the four attackers, who died in a siege claimed by the Somalia-based Al-Qaeda-aligned group. The third accused, Liban Abdullahi Omar, was acquitted of all charges and immediately allowed to leave the dock. Although there was no specific evidence that they had provided material help, the judge said he was satisfied that “their communication with the attackers was giving support to their endeavours” and justified the guilty verdict for conspiracy. At midday on 21 September 2013, a four-man commando team raided the upscale Westgate shopping mall in the Kenyan capital, throwing grenades and firing indiscriminately on shoppers and business owners. A four-day siege ensued during which Kenyan security forces launched a series of assaults to retake the mall and subdue the attackers. The attack was claimed by Al-Shabaab in retaliation for Kenya’s military intervention in southern Somalia in 2011.