The Senate has approved fresh external loans of $1.5 billion and €995 million for the FG. The upper legislative house okayed the foreign loans after considering the report of its committee on local and foreign debts during Wednesday’s plenary session. Clifford Ordia, chairman of the committee, told the lawmakers that the panel had considered the loan request and was recommending its approval. The €995 million loan is meant for agricultural mechanisation across all 774 LGAs while the $1.5 billion loan will be used to fund critical infrastructure in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. The lawmakers gave their nod for the loan request despite that Nigeria is struggling under the weight of increasing public debt stock which stood at ₦32.22 trillion as of 30 September 2020. Moreover, the committee on local and foreign debts had earlier expressed concerns regarding the loans while they were being considered. During one of its sittings in March, the Ordia-led panel faulted the action plan presented by Agriculture Minister and Rural Development Mohmmamed Nanono. The lawmakers had said the minister could not provide enough insight into how the FG intends to deploy the funds for the agricultural projects. The minister’s argument was mostly based on the ministry’s plan to utilise about 50 million hectares of land not being used across the country for mechanised farming. “The ministry is seriously in bilateral partnership with Brazil where 300 tractors are to be bought and imported for the project this year once the loan is approved….all these plans of ours, are geared towards food security in the country the population of which will be 400 million in about 40 years from now,” he had said. But The committee, however, said that his presentation contained “beautiful plans [that] are different from practical implementation.” Adelere Oriolowon, one of its members, had said: “The tractors you are planning to bring from Brazil will, in no distant time, run aground by people who are not trained for proper usage of such machines as it happened in Osun and Borno states recently. “Capacity building is very important for people to be engaged in mechanised farming which we didn’t hear from your presentation. And are you in touch with the real farmers who, if actually involved, will make the project impactful? “Beautiful plans like the ones you have just unfolded, are not new in this country. Please rejig the plans to be in tune with productivity needs of the real or rural farmers if you don’t want the money being sought for to go down the drain.”
Gunmen have attacked a private university in Kaduna State on Tuesday night, abducting an unspecified number of students. The academic institution, Greenfield University, located along the Kaduna–Abuja Highway in Chikun Local Government Area, was the first private university in the state established three years ago. The latest incident is the first major attack that bandits will launch on communities around the Kaduna-Abuja Highway since 300 female soldiers were deployed to the general area in January this year. Governor El-Rufai insists the state won’t pay ransom to kidnappers. Eyewitnesses said the gunmen stormed the university last night and started shooting sporadically, before taking some of the students away. The locals said the university, with a population of about forty students, does not have adequate security despite being located in one of the epicentres of kidnapping – a situation which they believe made it easier for the bandits to gain easy access into the institution. The latest attack comes less than two months after a similar incident in Igabi LG of Kaduna. Governor Nasir El-Rufai has repeatedly insisted his government will not pay ransom to the kidnappers despite pleas by the parents of the abducted students. The governor believes the renewed attacks on the northwestern state is due to his government’s stance that it will not negotiate with bandits. “We will not give them any money and they will not make any profit from Kaduna; anyone that comes to Kaduna will not get a penny from the state government, except he will get a bullet instead,” the governor added when he spoke in an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics on 4 April.
Lagos is preparing to establish its own electricity market to ensure more reliable power supply. The plan, if implemented, would be a first in Nigeria, where energy generation, transmission and distribution is overseen by the central government. Lagos hosts headquarters of most large international and domestic businesses present in Africa’s largest economy, contributes about 25% of gross domestic product and more than half of industrial and commercial output. Lagos’s government is proposing that generation, transmission and distribution functions “be owned and operated substantially by the private sector” and supervised by a regulator, state Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources Olalere Odusote said in a consultation paper. Companies using gas and renewable energy will feed the Lagos grid, which will be connected to its national counterpart and complemented by off-grid alternatives such as standalone solar solutions. Gas-fired plants already account for about 80% of Nigeria’s electricity capacity. Inadequate energy supply in Lagos is the “single biggest infrastructure and developmental challenge,” Odusote said. With a fast-expanding population of about 27 million people, Lagos currently receives an average of about 1,000 megawatts for no more than 12 hours a day, he said. The state requires nine times as much power around the clock, according to Odusote’s paper that was published on 19 April. Lagos’ government intends to publish an electricity policy before July and submit a draft law for the sector’s development to the state’s legislative assembly in the third quarter, according to the consultation paper.
Opposition politicians in Chad have rejected the army’s appointment of President’s Idriss Déby’s son to take over in the wake of his death. Déby, 68 – who had been in power for three decades – died after being shot as he battled rebels on the frontline. The rebels have also objected to the move, saying: “Chad is not a monarchy.” Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, also known as “General Kaka”, was in charge of the presidential guard and is to lead the country for 18 months until elections. Experts say the move is unconstitutional, and that the speaker of parliament should take over when a sitting president dies before organising elections. Déby’s death was announced on state TV on Tuesday – a day after provisional election results projected he would win a sixth term in office at the helm of the oil-rich country that has been at the forefront of regional efforts to fight Islamist militants. The government and parliament have been dissolved. On Wednesday, the borders were reopened and overnight curfew eased slightly. There are fears that the death could trigger political instability in the vast semi-arid country with a long history of rebellions and coup attempts and where the opposition is weak and divided. Tanks and heavy artillery are still deployed around presidential buildings in the capital N’Djamena, though rebel group Fact (the Front for Change and Concord in Chad) says it will halt its advance south to respect the country in mourning.