Nigeria has slipped into a recession after its gross domestic product contracted for the second consecutive quarter, according to data released on Saturday which showed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and low oil prices. Africa’s biggest economy was last in recession in 2016, its first in a generation, and emerged the following year. But growth has been fragile and the pandemic has hit the economy hard, amid low oil prices. The continent’s top oil exporter relies on crude sales for 90% of foreign exchange earnings. “Q3 2020 Real GDP contracted for the second consecutive quarter by -3.62%,” Yemi Kale, the statistician general, said on Twitter. “Cumulative GDP for the first 9 months of 2020 therefore stood at -2.48%,” he added. The oil sector contracted by 13.89% in the third quarter against growth of 6.49% in the same period a year earlier, according to data cited by Dr Kale, while the non-oil sector shrunk by 2.51% in the three-months to September. The last time Nigeria recorded such a cumulative GDP decline was in 1987, when GDP declined by 10.8 percent. This is also the second recession under President Muhamadu Buhari’s democratic reign — and his third as head of state. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in its annual Goalkeepers report, said the last time this many countries were in a recession at once was in 1870.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has met with newspaper distributors and vendors in Abuja over the killing of one of them, Ifeanyi Okereke. Okereke was allegedly killed by one of Gbajabiamila’s security aides on Thursday. The Speaker had earlier on Saturday visited the family of the slain newspaper vendor at Okereke’s family home in Kwata village in the Madalla/Suleja area of Niger State. The incident, which occurred at the Federal Secretariat, Abuja, around 1500 hours on Thursday, had caused panic in the area. The victim was taken to the National Hospital by his brother and some police officers, where he eventually died. The shooting happened when Mr Okereke and other street vendors flocked around the convoy of the Speaker, who was said to be in the habit of giving out money anytime he passed them. Mr Gbajabiamila had later confirmed that the killer security aide is an operative of the Department of State Services.

Philip Shekwo, the chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Nasarawa has been found dead. Armed men abducted Mr Shekwo from his residence in Lafia, the state capital, on Saturday night. They were said to have exchanged gunfire with the security detail attached to the APC chairman before whisking him away. Bola Longe, police commissioner in the state who confirmed the incident, had said his men were combing forests and flashpoints to ensure that Mr Shekwo is rescued. But on Sunday, Raman Nansel, spokesman of the Nasarawa police command, said that Mr Shekwo had been killed. “We discovered his corpse today and it has been taken to the morgue for post mortem examination,” he said over the phone. “Investigation has begun. We are determined to unravel the cause of the incident.”

China is expected to take a bigger role in the peace and stability of the Sahel region of West Africa after pledging to boost funding and troop numbers for United Nations missions. Dai Bing, China’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, has said Beijing would continue working with the international community for long-term peace in the Sahel. Dai told a UN Security Council briefing that China would provide 300 million yuan (US$45.7 million) to the Joint Force of the Group of Five (G5) for the Sahel – a security and counter-terrorism initiative covering Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. He called on the Security Council to give priority to those G5 nations and provide more stable financial support to the joint force. Dai also said China supported efforts to find African solutions to African issues, and a greater role for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union in regional affairs. China is the second largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget – which now stands at about US$6 billion a year – covering 15 percent of its costs, according to the International Crisis Group. The United States contributes 28 per cent of the budget. The unstable Sahel region is meanwhile a strategic point for Beijing’s trade ambitions in Africa. Chinese investments in the region are vast – spanning Senegal, Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Sudan, with recent advances in Burkina Faso after it switched diplomatic allegiance from Taipei to Beijing.