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Gov of Anambra State ,His Excellency Willie Obiano Presents 2018 Budget : Full Speech

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Full Speech of The 2018 Budget Presented by the Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano, to the Honourable Members of the Anambra State House of Assembly on Thursday, November 30, 2017.

Protocol

Your Excellency, the Deputy Governor,
The Right Honourable Speaker, Honourable Deputy Speaker,
Principal Officers of the House and other Honourable
Members of the Anambra State House of Assembly,
The Chief Judge of Anambra State,
The Secretary to the State Government,
The Chief of Staff,
The Head of Service,
Honourable Commissioners,
Special Advisers to the Governor,
The Clerk of the House,
Permanent Secretaries,
Traditional Rulers,
Members of the Press,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning.

1. With a heart full of gratitude, I stand before you today to present my administration’s Draft Estimate and Roadmap for the next fiscal year.

2. Madam Speaker and Honourable Members of this great citadel of democracy, the outgoing year has been a phenomenal year for Ndi Anambra for so many reasons.

3. It is a year in which our great state took its rightful place as Light of the Nation by establishing itself as the shining light of Nigeria’s nascent democracy.

4. Yes, We set new records in enthroning popular democracy and yet another enviable record in managing the grievances and rancour that often lead to costly legal battles after each election in Nigeria.

5. Ndi Anambra, we have done great honour to our dear state and ourselves with the degree of enlightenment, decency and decorum that we brought to bear on the last gubernatorial election and in the commendable display of brotherly love and great team spirit by my fellow contestants who did not waste time to call and congratulate me on my re-election.

6. That was an epic moment for Anambra State and a historic milestone for Nigeria. It is a watershed in our political evolution as a people bound together by history, culture and blood! That moment will remain evergreen in my memory and I am grateful to you all for bringing it to pass. Dalunu rinne!

7. I have said it before but it is important that I say it again here – Anambra State belongs to all of us.

8. So, we are all winners. Therefore, we must come together and build a proud and prosperous state!

9. A Review of the 2017 Fiscal Year

10. Madam Speaker and Honourable Members, the outgoing year stands out in my reckoning as the year in which Anambra State showed a remarkable capacity to take charge of its own affairs. Like the year before it, the nation’s economy groaned under the crushing weight of recession.

11. The parlous state of the economy showed its unpleasant face on all sectors as recession ravaged households and businesses leading to more hardship for the citizens. All over Nigeria, families devised new survival strategies to save their loved ones from the after effects of shrinking incomes and dying dreams.

12. But Madam Speaker and honourable lawmakers, our story is different in Anambra State. We had made adequate preparation to keep the levers of governance grinding, delivering on our basic promises to Ndi Anambra.

13. That is why in a year that Nigeria recorded a slip in her GDP, our beloved state grew her GDP by 1% from N3.7trn to N3.8trn. This is a clear demonstration of our capacity to fight back from the bottom with swift decision making, clear-headed thinking and masterful policy implementation.

14. Indeed, my Team and I took decisive steps to cushion the effects of recession when we launched a comprehensive Economic Stimulus Package to reflate our sub-national economy and put more money in the hands of our people.

15. We suspended taxes and pumped more money into SMEs and other growth areas of the economy. We launched the N20m Choose-your-Projects initiative to bring financial relief to many households and restore the confidence of the people in the government. All these measures prepared the path for the eventual growth we recorded in our GDP.

16. Madam Speaker and Honourable Lawmakers, My Team and I have kept an eye on the prize. We are focused on the realization of my administration’s Vision and Mission Statements through a faithful implementation of my Economic Blueprint, made up of the 5 Pillars and 14 Enablers.

17. We did not allow the despair in the economic environment to distract us for one moment. We ensured that Anambra retained its status as Nigeria’s safest state. We made sure that not a single successful kidnap operation took place within the borders of Anambra State.

18. Our success in providing security has led to a sharp rise in the number of investors that are coming into Anambra State and an increase of about 70% in the hospitality industry as more hotels open up in Awka leading to the creation of jobs and more jobs!

19. In the period under review, we sustained our giant strides in Agriculture with the bold entry of JOSAN Integrated Rice Farms and Mills Limited in Ufuma. This ultramodern integrated farm has helped our dear state to increase our annual rice production capacity from 244,235.25 metric tonnes to 322,000 metric tonnes per annum.

20. Thus in four years, we have grown our rice production from 80,000 metric tonnes per annum to 322,000 metric tonnes, thereby surpassing our annual rice consumption rate of 320,000 metric tonnes. Madam Speaker, this is no mean achievement.

21. We also continued the export of our farm produce with more consignments airlifted in October this year to the United Kingdom. But perhaps more importantly, Madam Speaker, we eventually succeeded in creating a synergy between Delfarms Limited in Igbariam with SABMiller Breweries in Onitsha for the supply of sorghum to SABMiller’s 2.7 hectolitres brewery. This will lead to jobs, jobs jobs!

22. Similarly, our special attention to Agriculture has continued to attract more people into farming. We have grown our farmers’ data base from 97,487 in 2016 to 106,000 famersthis year, spread across the agricultural belt. This is a very positive development.

23. Madam Speaker and Honourable Lawmakers, I am delighted to report here that my administration maintained a fairly competitive edge in Education during the period.

24. Contrary to the wild claims by some people, Anambra has made steady progress in Education in the past four years; rising from a 65.07% success rate among students with 5 credits including English and Maths in NECO Exams in 2015 to 75.31% this year.

25. We have continued to invest in education in three key areas – Students Welfare, Infrastructural Development and Teachers Welfare.

26. It is obviously for this reason that our own Clement Nwoye Okodo won the Overall Best Primary School Teacher in Nigeria this year. Again, this is something to be proud of.

27. Our story is no less fascinating in the Health Sector where we have flagged off the Universal Health Insurance Scheme to ensure that Ndi Anambra have access to quality healthcare, regardless of whether one is rich or poor.

28. We have earmarked the sum of N200m and 10 Million Euros obtained as a grant from the European Union for the full activation of this scheme.

29. At the same time, the Anambra State Primary Healthcare Development Agency has come into existence. The Agency has a mandate to restructure, coordinate and manage healthcare activities in Anambra State under one umbrella.

30. We figure that running our Healthcare Sector through institutions like this Agency will enhance our effectiveness and efficiency in delivering good health to our people.

31. Madam Speaker and Honourable Lawmakers, I am proud to report to Ndi Anambra once again that my administration did not drop the ball in the construction of roads and bridges in the outgoing fiscal year. Madam Speaker, I make bold to say that we actually surpassed the modest expectation imposed on us by the painful pangs of recession in the country.

32. It is important to note here that at the onset of this administration, I made it very clear that I was interested in building roads that would have economic importance.

33. Madam Speaker, I have kept my promise with the construction of key bridges and roads leading to our oilfields, the agricultural belt and the industrial clusters.

34. In more specific terms, Madam Speaker, we inherited 101 roads from my predecessor and completed 51 of them. We inherited 6 bridges and completed 3 of them. We awarded 94 new roads and completed 20 of them. We also awarded 12 new bridges and completed 5 of them.

35. So, at a most difficult period when Nigeria has witnessed the worst economic recession, my administration has completed 71 roads and 8 bridges in four years. More roads are being added to this list as I speak.

36. Madam Speaker and Honourable Lawmakers, I am also delighted to report here that the first round of our highly acclaimed N20m Community Choose-Your-Project Initiative has almost been concluded with various communities already putting their chosen projects to use.

37. Consequently, the second round of the initiative has commenced in earnest bringing it to N40m per community. The beauty of this idea remains its capacity to touch each community in a way that is special to it and deliver the democratic promise of my administration.

38. In all, the implementation of the first round of the projects has created over 2000 direct jobs. I think we should all be proud of this initiative too.

39. Madam Speaker and Honourable lawmakers, another source of pride to my Team and I is the Light-up Anambra Campaign and the glamour it has brought to our cities and towns at night. Indeed, any visitor to Anambra State who arrives at night will not have any second thoughts about the greatness of our dear state.

40. The dazzling streetlights that splash endless rays of light across our streets and highways announce the readiness of our people to engage the world on our own terms. In the meantime, we have taken delivery of over 400 units of new transformers and I have no doubt that they will boost our capacity in this regard.

41. So, this Christmas, Madam Speaker, Anambra will transform into one megacity of light at night. With a water-tight security and a well-lit and smooth network of roads, the time has come to explore the wonders of Anambra night.

42. The Anambra Airport City Project is one big idea that finally took a definite shape in the outgoing fiscal year, Madam Speaker.

43. The Project is my administration’s biggest leap of the imagination and our strongest link to the future. It has all the potentials to unlock the economic growth of the South East region and position Anambra State as the leading hub in the aviation industry in Africa.

44. Already, the Chinese investors behind this project have secured a $600m guarantee from HSBC to ensure that the project is executed to the letter. The good news is that work has since commenced on the project location in Umueri. And as we all know, the state is not putting a kobo into the project. Madam Speaker, Anambra State is truly on the rise!

45. I also think that it is important to remember that my Team and I have kept our promise to Anambra workers. In the midst of extremities, we have continued to pay salaries and pensions as and when due.

46. We even took a step further when we cleared the arrears of pensions and gratuity that were owed the former staff of ABS and National Light since the creation of this state.

47. Indeed, we have continued to remind Ndi Anambra in more ways than one that this administration is all about the people. That is why we have committed to increasing the salary of workers in the coming year. And by the grace of God, we shall keep that promise.

THE 2018 BUDGET

Madam Speaker and Honourable Lawmakers, over the last four years, working closely with you all in this hallowed chamber, we have been able to jointly address key socio-economic challenges impacting our dear state.

Under my watch, our State has experienced sustained growth and development in spite of a challenging macroeconomic environment.

Our performance was further re-emphasized during the recently concluded election when Ndi Anambra reaffirmed their confidence in my administration by voting landslide in favour of our Great Party, APGA.

Madam Speaker, this massive endorsement by Ndi Anambra conveys an underlying message to our government; which is…

“We Have Done Well but WE EXPECT MORE”.

This message is also synonymous with our campaign slogan, which states “Better today. Greater tomorrow”.

Therefore, in line with my promise to build a greater tomorrow, I present to this great Assembly the Draft 2018 budget estimate titled “the Budget for Value-for-Money, Economic Diversification and Job Creation”. The proposed budget size is N166.9bn, representing a 43% increase on the current year’s budget. Madam Speaker, this expansionary budget illustrates my administration’s resolve to continue to deliver the dividends of good governance to the people of Anambra.

The FY2018 Budget Policy Thrusts

Madam Speaker and Honourable Members, the 2018 draft budget estimate was created in line with the following policy thrusts:

a. Value-for-Money: To succeed during the 2018 fiscal year, we must carefully assess all activities and make difficult trade-offs to ensure we focus solely on implementing projects and programs that provide commensurate value to Ndi Anambra. The underlying principle going forward shall be… “Doing Even More with Less”. There will be a ZERO tolerance for corruption and corrupt practices as any government official found to be engaged in such will face the brunt of the law.

b. Economic Diversification: Secondly, the objective is to ensure that Anambra attains fiscal independence over the next four years i.e. our internally generated revenues should be able cover our recurrent expenditure with the balance to support capital interventions. We hope to aggressively embark on public finance reforms to optimize and strengthen our tax administration processes.

c. Job Creation: Thirdly, the primary outcome of all our interventions will be to create as many jobs as possible to ensure that we tackle unemployment, underemployment and more importantly, provide a means of livelihood for the poor and vulnerable in our dear state.

d. Strategic Collaborations: Fourthly, we hope to develop stronger ties with the Federal Government MDAs and key Development Partners (such as the World Bank, European Union, United Nations System, etc.) to jointly intervene in Social Investments, Works & Infrastructure, Education, Healthcare and Environment sectors of our economy. To achieve this, we have aligned this budget to the National Economic Recovery & Growth Plan and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.

e. Public-Private-Partnerships: And finally,our fifth target outcome will be to strengthen and refocus our Public-Private-Partnership Strategy. Significant resources will be channelled towards targeted promotional processes to attract large scale export-driven investments across our key economic pillars in the State.

Basis and Assumptions for the Draft FY2018 Budget Estimate:
As we plan for the FY2018, our budget estimates are predicated on the following assumptions:

1. We projected a Crude oil price benchmark of US$43/bbl and an average daily production of 2.1m barrels, this implies a projected monthly FAAC of N2.52bn/month compared with 2017 YTD average of N2.15bn. This is slightly conservative compared to Federal Government’s crude oil benchmark price of US$45/bbl and 2.3m bbl/d;

2. Value Added Tax revenues is projected at N1.0bn monthly, representing a ~9% growth on 2017 YTD average of N920m;

3. Internally Generated Revenues are projected at N2.5bn monthly compared with the current run rate of N1.35bn monthly. To achieve this, we expect to aggressively focus on growing our tax database, optimizing our IGR windows while eliminating leakages through the deployment of technology. Madam Speaker, it is important to note that there will be no increases in taxes & levies.

4. Grants and Counterpart funds are estimated at N20bn;

5. Other Capital Receipts comprising of concessionary debt financing for our social sectors is estimated at N18.4bn;

6. We also expect to receive Reimbursements and Refunds from Federal Government for works done on Federal roads and Paris Club payments, this figure is estimated at N28bn of the 43.8bn owed to the State;

7. While, we have provided N15bn fordomestic debt financing comprising of single digit concessionary program lending for interventions in Agriculture, Youth Empowerment and the MSME space;

8. Personnel costs are estimated at N21.6bn vs. 2017E of N20.4bn. This figure will accommodate new hires into the civil service, replacement of retired teachers, promotions and appointments.

9. Social Benefits and Contributions including (Pensions, Gratuities and group life insurance) are projected at N13.2bn.

10. While total Overheads are estimated at N21.2bn to accommodate increased subventions to Chukwuemeka OdumegwuOjukwu University, its teaching hospital and the newly accredited Polytechnic in Mbakwu, Awka North, among others.

FY2018 Budget Envelope

Once more, Madam Speaker and Honourable members, we are proposing a budget size of N166.9bn, of which the state expects to spend N63.9bn on Recurrent Expenditure and N103.1bn on Capital Expenditure to drive our policy thrusts of “Value-for-Money, Economic Diversification and Job Creation”.

It also highlights the significant infrastructural development expected in 2018, leveraging on the successful stability in our domestic economy during the challenging periods in 2016/2017.

This budget is the first meaningful step towards consolidation of our previous performance to transform Anambra into a hub for business and investments as well as the poster-boy for inclusiveness and sustainable development in Nigeria.

Here are a few highlights of our Sectoral Capital Plans:

Roads & Infrastructure

.​Our continued intervention in Roads and Bridges, which will always be a key strategic focus of my administration, is estimated at N27.93bn of which Road construction and rehabilitation will gulp N25.7bn, completing approximately 150km of roads across the State. We have also budgeted N1.2bn for Anambra State Road Maintenance Agency (ARMA) to procure earthmoving equipment and support on-going reconstruction and rehabilitation of rural/community roads. We have also taken the unique step of constructing our own Asphalt Plant which, once operational, would significantly reduce the cost of road construction in the State by at least 20%. Consequently, we have made provision for the installation of Traffic Lights on strategic roads to reduce traffic congestion significantly in the State.

Agriculture and related Sectors

.​In agriculture, we are aiming to sustain the current successes achieved in the last four (4) years by implementing a two (2) pronged strategy of (i) facilitating private sector and export-driven large scale agro-allied investments; and (ii) empowerment of small scale farmers in the State, consequently alleviating poverty as well as creating jobs. To achieve this, we have developed the Community Agriculture Land Development Project where we expect to develop over 1,500 hectares of land across the three (3) senatorial zones of the State. We shall augment this by allocating over N700m to the procurement of agro inputs, including seedlings and fertilizers, to support our farmers.

Being the largest creator of jobs, we intend to harness this by implementing a number of youth orientated empowerment schemes such as the Youth Empowerment Scheme for fish farming, animal husbandry and crop production as well as the development of a world-class Fingerling Production Facility, enabling the State to leverage on its competitive advantage in fish production. Finally, we shall continue to implement a number of developmental programs in conjunction with our development partners (Central Bank of Nigeria, FADAMA and IFAD) to ensure our programs and policies in Agriculture are implemented. To achieve this we have allocated the sum of N3.8bn to the Agricultural Sector.

Education
.​To ensure that we continue to deliver on credible and globally competitive education, we must ensure that this sector is properly funded and catered for. Hence, we are projecting a total capital expenditure spend of N9.5bn in Education spread across some of the following areas:
• N1.1bn counterpart fund for UBEC,
• creation of a N1bn Education Development Fund; and
• N1.2 World Bank Assisted State Education Program & Intervention Project (SEPIP); among a few others.
There shall also be significant funds expended on the improvement of infrastructure and institutionalization of accreditation program in strategic universities/colleges and polytechnics in the State.

Youth Empowerment & Development
.​Considering that the current labour market nationally is currently in a dire state, my administration shall ensure that Youth Empowerment is a Key Covenant between us and the people we govern in the 2018 Fiscal Year. Providing meaningful employment opportunities to our teeming youths is vital toensuring the continued socio-economic growth of the State as well as sustaining the current security narrative in the State. The main driver in achieving this would be through the Youth Entrepreneurship & Empowerment Program where we have allocated N5bn to empower up to 10,000 youths through vocational, agricultural and artisan training programs as well as the provision of interest-free start-up capital to commence their businesses.

Health
.​In the health sector, my administration will continue to embark on numerous strategic developmental initiatives aimed at improving the quality of healthcare services for NdiAnambra. Will shall boost the Anambra State Universal Health Insurance Scheme with an additional N2bn, to ensure adequate implementation of the program state-wide, specifically providing cover for the downtrodden and most vulnerable. We shall also utilize over N1bn in Constructing & Equippingthe Anambra State University Teaching Hospital and the Specialist Diagnostic Centerrespectively. To achieve this and other strategic interventions in Health, we have budgeted N7.8bn.

Small & Medium Enterprises Development
.​Considering that MSMEs are the engine room of any economy, we have allotted over N1bn for Micro Small & Medium Enterprise Funding Programs to be implemented through the Anambra State Small Business Agency (ASBA) for 2018, consolidating on the funding success of 2017 where over 50,000 jobs were created through this funding program. We shall also commence the development of a modern all-inclusive SME Industrial Park in the State.

Water Resources and Public Utilities
.​In the area of Water resources and Public utilities, we will complete the Onitsha Water Scheme, ensuring that over 5,000 households have access to pipe-borne water. We shall also invest heavily in the development of the greater Awka Water Development Scheme as well as the Nnewi Water Development Scheme. Nonetheless, we shall continue to invest heavily in Rural Water Rehabilitation Scheme across the State. We shall also sustain our considerable achievements in our “Light-Up AnambraProgram” and other Rural Electrification Schemes, which has been effective in tackling insecurity as well as creating a “Night-Life Economy” hitherto not seen in the State. To achieve this and more we are allocating N5.1bn.

Community Social Development Program
.​The far reaching benefits of the “N20 Million Community-Choose-Your-Own-Project” initiative cannot be over emphasised. Through the novel project, my administration has been able to give Ndi Anambra a sense of belonging as it has positively impacted all 181 communities in the State, increasing economic activity across the nooks and crannies in the State as well as creating jobs for the youth and unemployed. This unique program has had such a tremendous effect within the State that other States have begun to replicate it. We shall take this Program to the next level in the coming year. We have budgeted N7.5bn for the second phase of this initiative.

Conclusion
Madam Speaker and Honourable Lawmakers, if you cast your minds back a little, you may recall that our 2017 Budget was titled – “Budget for Economic Recovery and Inclusive Growth.” This year, we have tabled before you a budget titled – “Value-for-Money, Economic Diversification and Job Creation.” Madam Speaker, with the tremendous achievement we recorded in our GDP in the outgoing year, it is only logical that this budget should focus on “Economic diversification and Job Creation.” Therefore, this is a budget of hope. It looks beyond the overcast of recession in the horizon at the moment to a brighter future which we can all collectively bring about with our creativity, quickness of thought and audacity to surmount challenges.

Madam Speaker, this budget is in every sense, a-call-to-arms. It places our future in our own hands. It urges us to stand tall and take charge of our lives. It encourages us to look behind the present clouds of economic difficulties to see the silver lining in the skies.

I have no doubt whatsoever that this budget will serve as an important instrument, guiding the activities of the government and steering conversations in the areas that will lead to growth and productivity in our sub-national economy.
I therefore appeal for accelerated consideration and eventual passage of the budget to ensure a timely take off of implementation.

God Bless Anambra State
God Bless Nigeria
Willie Obiano
Governor

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Emir Sanusi: Path to Africa’s development

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Africa’s development agenda must focus on the socio-cultural and commercial interests of Africans and the upliftment of Africa’s trade and economic ecosystem, said Muhammadu Sanusi II, the Emir of Kano and a former Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank, during his address at the 2018 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group in Busan, Korea.
“Africa’s economic transformation will be best achieved through fast-tracking regional cooperation and the execution of hard-nosed structural reforms that focus on the development of the continent’s human capital and material resources,” said Emir Sanusi II.
The Emir shared insight about revamping African regional integration, trade and economic relations with Executive Directors and Governors of the Bank, comprising Finance, Budget and Economic Planning Ministers from member nations.

An economist and financial risk expert, the monarch traced Africa’s post-colonial economic woes to the continent’s fiscal indiscipline and endemic disregard for its competitive advantages. For these reasons, he asserted, Africa’s development was stunted and its global trade ties lopsided in favour of offshore trading partners.
“Nine out of every 10 countries in Africa have huge trade deficits with China, but Asia developed mostly on domestic investments and resources,” he noted, underscoring the need for African Governments to invest in and promote creativity and indigenous enterprise.

The Emir advocated a series of structural reforms, including strategic investments in key sectors including agriculture, infrastructure, education, and small and medium enterprises. He called for deliberate industrial diversification noting that China has begun to move its mega-sized manufacturing capabilities out of low-cost industries.
African Governments also need to eradicate constitutional provisions and structures that increase the cost of governance at national and sub-national levels, manage demographic growth, and revamp and harmonize moribund and ineffective customs and excise duties that promote cross-border smuggling and revenue losses to governments, he said.
Africa’s debt burden continues to inhibit capital investment in industrialization, he observed, lamenting the misallocation of resources: “We need to begin to ask ourselves, ‘what do we do with the available funds in our coffers?’”
“Perceptions matter. So there is an urgent need for improved transparency, as this is clearly linked to good governance,” he said. “We need to accept that we have a perception problem that we must address. We need to tackle corruption, block leakages and create opportunities for new jobs.”
“Private sector capital is crucial for sustained economic growth but so is government’s intervention in guaranteeing business externalities like power, water and waste management, roads, housing and the legal and regulatory environment for innovation, commerce and industry.”
On trade, the Emir called for a regional and pan-African approach to trade negotiations, a tactical model which should be led by the Bank.
“The African Development Bank has the intellectual resources and clearly is better positioned to negotiate with China on behalf of Africa as a bloc of nations,” he said. “Europe approached global trade as a bloc so why can’t African nations do the same? This is clearly another area in urgent need of the Bank’s intervention.”
President Adesina recalled the Emir’s progressive posture during his time in public service.
“As Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was pro-development. He channeled significant investments into agriculture, infrastructure and SMEs.”

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Ndigbo ask for Better Nigeria with Ekwueme Square Declaration

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By James Eze (eziokwubundu@gmail.com)

The Igbo ethnic nationality of Nigeria rose from their Summit on the Restructuring of Nigeria in Awka the capital of Anambra State on Monday with a Ten-point wish list seeking for a balanced federation that would meet their needs and the needs of other ethnic groups in Nigeria.
The Igbo position on restructuring which has been re-christened as ‘The Ekwueme Square Declaration;’ is a tightly knitted ten-point demand for a better Nigeria which opens with a demand for a Constitutional Conference backed by a law from the National Assembly that would provide a unanimously accepted platform where the diverse people of Nigeria would hammer out a new constitution that would be known as “The People’s Constitution.”
Delivering the Declaration at the hugely successful ceremony, the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof Chukwuma Soludo who is the Chairman of the Organizing Committee stated that the second item on the Igbo demand seeks a slight amendment to the current system of government as it recommends the retention of the presidential system only at the federal level, leaving the regions or states to choose the type of government that is best for them. But perhaps the most audacious demand under this point is that the tenure of the office of the President should be a single term of six years with five Vice-Presidents representing each of the geopolitical zones except the zone that produced the President. The demand prescribes the same tenure for Governors and Deputy Governors which would be rotated among the senatorial districts.
The third demand asks for six geopolitical zones forming the federating units or six regions of the country. There will therefore be six regional governments, each comprising the current states within each zone and any other state that may be created within the zone from time to time. Each Region will have its own Constitution, for the good governance, peace and development of the region. Such Regional Constitutions have to clearly delineate levels of authority between the regional government and the component states (that is, defining powers that are exclusive to the Region and powers that are residual to the states). The Regional Constitutions will not be inconsistent with the Constitution of the federation, and will be invalidated to the extent of its inconsistency with the federal constitution. It seeks a review of the current revenue sharing formula based on local governments to a new structure based on regions. Consequent upon this, the Ekwueme Declaration therefore demands for an additional state for the South East Zone in line with the 2014 National Conference which states that in the spirit of reconciliation, equity, fair play and justice, a new state should be created in the South East.
The forth demand is for equality of all the regions or states that become the federating units while the fifth insists on the scrapping of the concept of State of Origin from the constitution to be replaced by the State of Residence. Expounding this concept The Ekwueme Square Declaration recommends that ‘any child born of Nigerian parents anywhere in Nigeria should acquire the indigeneship (residency) rights of the area at birth. It also recommended that any Nigerian citizen who has resided in any part of Nigeria and paid taxes there for a period of ten years can acquire the indigeneship (residency) rights of the area, except the right to their traditional stool.
The sixth demand makes a solid case for a two or three-tier police structure with defined responsibilities that would be controlled by the federal and state or regional governments respectively while the seventh seeks the abrogation of section 162 of the 1999 Constitution which vests control of resources in the federal government. It recommends a truly federal system that gives control of resources to the federal units, vesting ownership rights, control and exploitation of resources in the states. It also argues that the federating units should keep 50% of rents, royalties and profit taxes on minerals from their lands while paying 20% to the regional government and 30% to the federal government.
Demand number eight makes a strong case for the replacement of the Federal Character Commission with Merit and Equal Opportunities Commission to ensure that merit is entrenched in the conduct of national and regional affairs, prescribing that 60% should be reserved for merit and 40% for affirmative action.
The ninth item demands that elections into the office of the President and federal legislature should be conducted by the electoral body of the Federal Government while elections into regional/state offices should be conducted by electoral bodies set up by the regional/state Constitutions or laws.
And finally, the tenth declaration seeks the latitude for federating units to have their own judicial systems with courts of first instance, appellate courts and Supreme courts to adjudicate on matters that are in the concurrent and residual lists as well as matters exclusively preserved for the federating units.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano had recounted that for 58 years, Ndigbo had worked tirelessly with other Nigerians to lay a foundation for a better federation and a more perfect union.
“We have made the most sacrifices and more often than not, we have also paid the supreme price for the unity of this country. But we have made these sacrifices in the belief that in the contemporary history of mankind, the road to nationhood is often paved with the blood of patriots. Indeed, Ndigbo have paid the price for Nigeria’s greatness. We paid in blood. We paid in FULL!” he declared.

Then, rallying Ndigbo to rise to the occasion, Governor Obiano observed that “the future summons us to a brighter dawn! And we must walk in the shadows of our fathers. Yes, our fathers played a major role in Nigeria’s long road to independence. And today, we have gathered to dream a balanced federation into existence for Nigeria and Nigerians.”

Noting that every nation on earth is work in progress, Governor Obiano observed that “citizens of both advanced and developing countries continue to ask their countries hard questions that will lead them to a better federation, a better nation and a better society. And Nigeria cannot be an exception to this rule. So, we must ask Nigeria hard questions too!”

Governor Obiano further observed that following in the footsteps of their forebears who invested their youthful hopes and intellectual power in Nigeria, the younger generation of Ndigbo have ‘invested our wealth, our enterprise and our emotion in remaking Nigeria. Indeed, no other ethnic group has as much emotional investment in the Nigerian project as Ndigbo. And now, we have been called upon to re-imagine Nigeria. We welcome this challenge with both hands.”

Articulating the wishes and aspirations of Ndigbo, Obiano declared that “as governor of Anambra State, I was born and raised in Nigeria and I have lived in Nigeria for the better part of my life. I have lived the Nigerian Dream and experienced the horrors of Nigeria’s many Heartbreaks. I know what my people want from Nigeria and the question we must ask of Nigeria. We must ask what every forward looking people want from any socio-political arrangement… life, liberty and a chance to raise happy families. We must ask for a just, fair and equitable federation where every citizen is guaranteed the freedom to be the best they can be and to aspire to the highest position in the land regardless of their tribe, culture or religion. And this is what Nigeria in its present structure, has not given to us!”

Also speaking, the 91-year old leader of the Ijaw ethnic nationality, Chief Edwin Clark observed that Ndigbo had been treated very unkindly by the federal government and wondered why Igbo youths who bore no arms and hurt nobody had to be branded as terrorists.

Chief Clark also blamed the federal government for not giving Ndigbo an additional state as recommended in the 2014 Constitutional Conference and insisted that such denials and deprivations were behind the spate of separatist agitations from the region.

The event also featured moving speeches from the leader of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, leader of the Middle Belt, Dan Sulaiman, Chairman of the occasion Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and former Nigerian Ambassador to Spain, Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu among many others.

 

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Zimbabwe applies to re-join Commonwealth, 15 years after leaving

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Lagos, Nigeria – Zimbabwe has applied to re-join the Commonwealth after the country withdrew its membership 15 years ago under former President Robert Mugabe.
Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, said Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa submitted a application on May 15 for the country to return to the 53-member group of mostly British former colonies.
“Zimbabwe’s eventual return to the Commonwealth, following a successful membership application, would be a momentous occasion, given our shared rich history,” Scotland said in a statement.

To rejoin, Zimbabwe must go through an assessment followed by consultations with other members states, the statement said.
Zimbabwe was first suspended from the Commonwealth in 2002 on the grounds that Mugabe, who had ruled the country since independence in 1980, rigged his re-election in 2002 and persecuted his opponents.

The former dictator withdrew Zimbabwe’s membership out of the group after the country’s suspension was renewed in 2003.
Mugabe was ousted last November following a military takeover and impending impeachment ending his 37-year rule over the country.
The Commonwealth secretariat will send observers to monitor the country’s elections in July, following an invitation from the Zimbabwean government, the statement said.

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Ohanaeze Ndigbo seeks 6-year single term for president, governors

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Ohanaeze Ndigbo, a socio-cultural umbrella of Ndigbo, has called for the adoption of a six-year rotational single tenure for the president and governors of 36 states in the country.
It also demanded creation of one additional state in the South-East geo-political zone, scrapping of local government system and resource control for states where natural resources were exploited.

These were some highlights of the resolutions tagged, “Ekwueme Square Declaration 2018’’, which members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo reached during their one-day summit in Awka on Monday.
Charles Soludo, the Chairman, Planning and Strategy Committee and Organising Committee, read out the resolutions.
Mr Soludo further said Ohanaeze want the federal government to adopt the report of the 2014 National Conference.
He said the resolution already ratified by all the component arms of Ohanaeze, equally demand that the current Constitution of Nigeria, which he stated was the product of the military, be redrafted.
Mr Soludo added that Ohanaeze recommended that a constituent assembly for the drafting of a new constitution be constituted and thereafter a referendum be held, adding, “Whatever recommendations of the group would be sent to National Assembly.”
He said the group also demanded for the scrapping of state of origin and its replacement with residential rights whereby a Nigerian would have full right in any place he or she resides for 10 years.
On the six years single tenure, the group noted that six vice presidents from each of the six geo-political zones should be elected, while the governorship seat would be rotated among the senatorial districts.
On his part, John Nwodo, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said the summit was organised to enable Ndigbo articulate major challenges affecting the country.

Mr Nwodo claimed that the present constitution of the country was skewed against Igbo people and should be redrafted to give Igbo people fair treatment.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, challenged the Ohanaeze leadership to convince those yet to support the restructuring of the country to back the idea.

Mr Ekweremadu assured that he would table any bill on the restructuring of the country whenever the Ohanaeze present it at the National Assembly.
A former Foreign Affairs Minister, Ike Nwachukwu, who also spoke called on the people of Middle Belt to support the call for restructuring of Nigeria, claiming that they stand to gain more.
Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, the Chairman of the summit, called on Igbo people especially the leaders to exhibit honesty in their affairs, to help move the people forward.
Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra in his address thanked the organisers for choosing his state for the summit organised for the Igbo people to articulate what they want as Nigerians.
Earlier in a sermon, Ben Osisioma of the Anglican Communion, called on Ndigbo to rely on God for solution to their challenges in Nigeria.
The summit was attended by prominent Igbo leaders from Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Abia, Rivers and Delta.
(NAN)

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Flutterwave Chief Executive Joins World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders Community

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Flutterwave, Nigeria Chief Executive Iyinoluwa Aboyeji has been nominated amongst one hundred that are joining the World Economic Forum (WEF) Young Global Leaders community this year.

He is the co-founder of a digital payments platform designed to make it easier to do business across the continent. Previously, he was one of the founders of Andela – a company training African developers and hiring them out to global tech companies – which received investment from Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan.

The one hundred of the world’s brightest under 40 invited to Shape an inclusive and sustainable future according to WEB. “One hundred of the world’s most promising artists, business leaders, public servants, technologists and social entrepreneurs have been asked to join the World Economic Forum’s community of Young Global Leaders. They are joining a community and five-year programme that will challenge them to think beyond their scope of expertise and be more impactful leaders. They were nominated because of their ground-breaking work, creative approaches to problems and ability to build bridges across cultures and between business, government and civil society.

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