Nigerian press zooms in on ratification of AfCFTA membership, others

The decision taken by Federal Executive Council to ratify Nigeria's membership of the African Continental Free Trade Area dominates the…

The decision taken by Federal Executive Council to ratify Nigeria’s membership of the African Continental Free Trade Area dominates the headlines of Nigerian newspapers on Thursday.The Punch reports that the Nigerian Government on Wednesday ratified Nigeria’s membership of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The decision was taken at the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by the President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. AfCFTA was created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union nations.

Mohammed said with the ratification, Nigeria has beaten the December 5, 2020 deadline set for all countries to ratify their membership.

The minister said, “The Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment presented a memo today (Wednesday) asking the Federal Executive Council to ratify Nigeria’s membership of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The newspaper says that the Lagos Railway District Manager of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, Jerry Oche, has said the Lagos-Ibadan railway line will be operational before the Yuletide.

Oche noted that the track was ready but for some of the station buildings being worked on by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.

The NRC boss noted that things were being fashioned to make sure that the track was ready before the year ran out.

He said, “They contractors have not handed over the line. The track is almost ready but the station buildings and communication is not yet ready. “We cannot run passenger trains because the contractor is still working there. There is a serious discussion with them. So we can hopefully start before Christmas.”

The Sun reports that the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), yesterday, said a meeting it held with the Federal Government was inconclusive.

The union’s President, Mr. Felix Osifo, who disclosed this in a statement, said the meeting ended in a deadlock because the government was yet to address some of PENGASSAN’s demands.

The union on Monday embarked on an indefinite strike, following expiration of an earlier seven-day ultimatum given to the government to accede to its demands. The action followed the protracted disagreement between PENGSSAN and the Federal Government, over the latter’s directive on registration of its members on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

“PENGASSAN maintained that Petroleum Training Institute and Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency, must be paid using the harmonised template of 2015.

The newspaper says that the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said that at least half of Nigeria’s population in the North Central (48 percent), North East (63 percent) and North West (67 percent) are poor while an estimated 11 million are living with various forms of disabilities.

In its 2019 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping Report, the Bureau also noted that the health status of households shows that about one in 10 households (11 percent) are reported to be suffering from diarrhoea in the past six weeks preceding the survey and among these households, 72 percent of the household members who suffered diarrhoea cases are children under five.

The survey also shows that one in 10 households has at least one person living with disabilities, while the proportion of the entire population living with disabilities is six.

This, NBS said, amounts to about 11 million people in Nigeria living with disabilities. “At the time of the survey, slightly more than 58 percent of households lived in core rural areas, while 41 percent households ranked among the poor to the poorest wealth quintiles.

The Guardian reports that with the continued delay in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) leading to a frigile fiscal regime mired by uncertainty, the African Energy Chamber (AEC), has said Nigeria and other African countries should expect a capital expenditure (CAPEX) spending cut of $30 billion by next year.

Specifically, the Chamber said it expects a CAPEX spending cut of $30 billion over the 2020-2021 periods, and has identified a further $80 billion of investment whose sanctioning will depend on improving market conditions, along with bold policy and fiscal reforms from African regulators.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, had earlier last month, said the National Assembly shifted the PIB deliberation to the first quarter of next year. The postponement, according to stakeholders, creates uncertainty in the industry, as operators seek clarity on legislations before making investment decisions.

The AEC, in its African Energy Outlook 2021, disclosed that with the $24 billion loss of investments in the oil and gas sector, Nigeria would account for 30 per cent of the total of $80 billion loss of investments that would be recorded in the petroleum industry across Africa.

ThisDay says that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has released the draft consultation document for deployment of fifth generation (5G) mobile technology in Nigeria.

This is coming on the heels of the successful three months trial test of 5G network in key cities across the country last year. The draft document defines the implementation plan for the deployment of 5G in Nigeria.

It provides a background into the benefits of 5G technology and outlines the Commission’s plans and strategies for a successful implementation of 5G in Nigeria. It presents guidelines for the relevant areas of the technology and the expectations of the Commission from the operators.

The plan takes into account the expectations of all the stakeholders in the communications industry in Nigeria. The draft document for 5G rollout in Nigeria, envisaged a two-stage deployment approach with the phase one based on the Non-Standalone approach and the Phase two based on the Stand-alone system.

With the assurance that there are no health challenges related to 5G, NCC said the phase one is planned to commence in 2021 and the phase two deployment, which will rely on new spectrum allocations is planned to commence in 2022, and by 2025, the technology is expected to have to covered major urban areas in the country.

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