Press focuses on concern raised by ECOWAS over growing terrorism, piracy in W/Africa, others

The concern raise by the Presidents of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) over the growing terrorism and…

The concern raise by the Presidents of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) over the growing terrorism and piracy violation in West Africa sub-region and the agreement reached by South-West governors and Cattle Breeders Association to curb insecurity are some of the leading stories in Nigerian newspapers on Tuesday.ThisDay reports that the Presidents of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have expressed concern over growing terrorism and piracy violation in West Africa sub-region.

They also called on member nations to pay up their commitments to the fund set aside to fight terrorism in West Africa.

A communique issued yesterday after the 58th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS, which was held on January 23, 2021 via videoconference, under the chairmanship of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana, stated that the act of terrorist attacks in frontline countries of Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria, despite the intense efforts deployed by these countries has become worrisome.

It further noted with concern the increased spate of attacks, in the form of reprisals, against the civilian population as seen in the attack perpetrated in Nigeria by the Boko Haram on November 29, 2020, in the vicinity of Maiduguri, in Borno State, during which dozens of farmers and fishermen were killed, and in Niger Republic January 2, 2021, when armed individuals killed around 100 people in attacks on two villages in the Tillabéri region along the border with Mali.

The heads of state also reaffirmed their determination to relentlessly combat this scourge and expressed solidarity with the affected member states and their populations.

The Guardian says that rising from a meeting with South-West governors in Akure, yesterday, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) agreed to work with governments in the region and security agencies to curb insecurity.

The meeting followed the tension generated by a seven-day eviction notice issued by Ondo State Government to unauthorised herdsmen to quit the state’s forest reserves, which expired on Sunday.

South-West governors in attendance were Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti State), Seyi Makinde (Oyo State), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun State) and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State.

In a communiqué issued after the meeting, the governors and MACBAN agreed that the order of the Ondo State Governor was misconstrued and misrepresented and that he only ordered those occupying the forest reserves in Ondo State illegally to quit.

The Vanguard reports that despite rising security challenges facing the nation, Nigeria is still safer under President Muhammadu Buhari than what he met on assumption of office in 2015, Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, boasted on Monday at a news conference in Abuja.

Mohammed, who was flanked by his Interior ministry counterpart, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, pointed out that Nigeria had made tremendous progress in the security circles since Buhari took over.

“We are witnesses to the clear fact that no territory of Nigeria is under Boko Haram control as was the situation before Buhari took over in 2015 and no structure in Abuja has come under their attack as they used to do before this administration came into office,” Mohammed boasted while responding to a reporter’s question on whether Nigeria was safer under Buhari than the previous administration.

The Punch says that the Nigerian Government is to engage 30,000 graduates to serve as agriculture extension workers who will provide strategic support to farmers across the country.

It also announced on Monday that it had empowered 20 young Nigerian farmers with an initial take off grant of N30m, adding that the fund was provided through the Bank of Agriculture.

Executive Secretary, National Agricultural Land Development Authority, Paul Ikonne, told journalists in Abuja that the graduates would be trained in agriculture extension services including the collection of soil samples and how to conduct soil tests.

He said the approval to engage the graduates was given by the President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that the extension workers would be deployed across the country.

Ikonne said, “Mr. President has given approval to engage over 30,000 graduates who would be engaged under the National Young Farmers Scheme.”

The newspaper reports that the nation’s refineries lost a total of N152.08bn in 15 consecutive months of being idle, the latest data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation have shown. Analysis of data collated from NNPC monthly reports revealed that all the refineries did not refine crude oil from July 2019 to September 2020.

The refineries, which are located in Port Harcourt, Kaduna and Warri, have a combined installed capacity of 445,000 barrels per day but have continued to operate far below the installed capacity.

The country relies largely on importation of refined petroleum products as its refineries have remained in a state of disrepair for many years despite several reported repairs.

The Kaduna refinery incurred an operating deficit of N57.99bn from July 2019 to September 2020, according to the NNPC data. Port Harcourt refinery lost N48.99bn in the period under review while the Warri refinery lost N45.10bn.

The Sun says that the Nigerian Government has recorded a N4.45 trillion deficit spending in ten months. The deficit which climbed by 17 per cent, year-on-year (y/y), against N3.8 trillion recorded in the corresponding period of 2019.

The sharp increase in deficit was driven by the decline in revenue which worsened in October, falling by 6.5 per cent, month-on-month (m/m) to N275 billion from N294 billion in September.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) disclosed this in its monthly economic report for October 2020. Breakdown of the CBN economic reports from January to October last year showed 28 percent, y/y, decline in FG’s retained revenue during the ten months period, to N2.88 trillion from N3.99 trillion recorded in the same period in 2019. In the same vein, the FG recorded 6.0 per cent y/y decline in expenditure to N7.33 trillion during the 10 months period to October 2020, from N7.78 trillion in the same period of 2019.

Narrating how the fiscal position of the FG worsened in October last year, especially the deteriorating trend in revenue, the CBN, in the report said: “The persisting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the fiscal profile and operations of the Federal Government led to a huge deficit in October 2020.