Press focuses on Nigeria’s technical exit from recession, others

The report that Nigeria's resilient private sector helped the economy to exit recession in the fourth quarter of 2020 with…

The report that Nigeria’s resilient private sector helped the economy to exit recession in the fourth quarter of 2020 with a growth of 0.11 percent against all projections and the approval of AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for use in Nigeria by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control dominate the headlines of Nigerian newspapers on Friday.The Guardian reports that defying projections and leveraging opportunities presented by the coronavirus pandemic through technology and remote work, Nigeria’s resilient private sector helped the economy to exit recession in the fourth quarter with a growth of 0.11 percent.

However, there are concerns about the country’s structural problems in the form of foreign exchange pressures, relatively lower oil prices and production, subdued global demand, spiralling consumer prices, repressed purchasing power, heightened unemployment levels, weak investor confidence, worsened insecurity and social tensions.

The country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 0.11 percent in the three months through December from a year earlier, compared with a decline of 3.6 percent in the third quarter, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) yesterday.

Though weak, Nigeria’s exit from recession was driven by the non-oil sector, especially the Information and Communication (Telecommunications & Broadcasting). Other drivers were agriculture (crop production), real estate, manufacturing (food, beverage & tobacco), mining and quarrying (quarrying and other minerals), and construction.

On the contrary, average daily oil production of 1.56 million barrels per day (mbpd) was recorded in the fourth quarter, lower than the daily average production of 2.00mbpd recorded in the same quarter of 2019 by -0.44mbpd and the third quarter of 2020 by – 0.11mbpd.

Members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS), including the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said that output contraction recorded in year 2020 further highlighted the country’s weak macroeconomic fundamentals and the persistent structural, policy and regulatory issues in the economy.

The newspaper says that the Counsellor for Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Mission to Nigeria, Gerald Smith, has noted that the introduction of U.S. dairy cows to the country will boost local milk production and contribute significantly to ensuring sustainable food security in Nigeria.

Smith explained that the successful cattle shipment was a result of the strong partnership between the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Mission in Nigeria, the Ikun Dairy Farm and senior officials of the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, with support from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“The United States is the leader in producing dairy cows. Promasidor Nigeria Limited in partnership with Ekiti State Government and with the strong support of the CBN has successfully started an integrated dairy industry in Nigeria with the acquisition of the first batch of pregnant Jersey breed dairy cows from the U.S.

“A sustainable dairy industry requires modern genetic cows. This collaboration marks the start of increasing milk production and enhancing the dairy value chain in Nigeria,”

Smith said in a press release issued by the U.S. Consulate General yesterday. To further support the Nigerian dairy industry, Smith noted that the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Mission is designing a two-week long training programme in the United States for diverse Nigerian dairy stakeholders.

The Vanguard reports that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has approved the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for use in Nigeria.

The approval came on the heels of the World Health Organisation’s listing of the vaccine for emergency use on Monday.

Under the WHO Emergency Use Listing, EUL, the quality, safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines are assessed as a prerequisite for the COVAX facility vaccine supply.

Announcing the approval at a media briefing in Abuja yesterday, NAFDAC Director-General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, said the evaluation of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, codenamed Covisheild (AZD1222), showed it was effective against the variant of the coronavirus first discovered in the UK, several cases of which had been reported in Nigeria.

Adeyeye said the agency obtained the dossier of the vaccine last week and its safety committee immediately began evaluating its safety and efficacy for Nigerians.

She said the recommendation for emergency use authorisation was based on rigorous scientific considerations.

The Punch says that the Federal Government plans to earn a total of N493.4bn from the sale or concession of about 36 of its assets across the country.

Some the assets up for sale or concession include the country’s refineries, the International Conference Centre in Abuja, Yola Electricity Distribution Company, Zungeru Hydro Power, Tafawa Belewa Square, among others.

The assets and the projected amount expected from their sale or concession were contained in a document that was put together by the Bureau of Public Enterprises.

The document showed that the properties were classified under energy assets, industries and communication department, as well as development institutions and natural resources.

Others include infrastructure and public private partnership and post transaction management department.

The Federal Government had made it clear that it would sell or give out in concession some of its assets in order to raise funds to finance the 2021 budget.

ThisDay reports that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday directed workers in all the states where the national minimum wage of N30, 000 is yet to be paid to immediately proceed on strike.

Although it did not name the states yet to honour the minimum wage, NLC said about half the 36 states of the federation were yet to conclude negotiations on payment of the minimum wage.

However, ThisDay checks showed that Kwara, Imo, Osun, Ekiti, Ebonyi, Zamfara, Gombe, Rivers and Ogun States are among those yet to fully implement the new wage bill as of October 2020.

The NLC also demanded a downward review of the template used in determining the pump price of petrol to stave off an imminent hike in the cost of the commodity following the rising price of crude oil in the international market.

In a communiqué issued at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC), the union urged the federal government to reduce the cost of gas sold to electricity generating companies to $1.5 cents as a means of driving down electricity tariffs.

The NLC resolved to issue a 14-day ultimatum to the management of Turkish Airline and Caverton Helicopter to reinstate all sacked trade union executives and desist from further anti-union actions.

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