Press focuses on Presidency’s denial on having hands in the anti-media bills, others

The denial by the Presidency of having hands in the anti-media bills before the National Assembly, which some senior journalists…

The denial by the Presidency of having hands in the anti-media bills before the National Assembly, which some senior journalists and members of the House of Representatives kicked against on Wednesday is one of the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Thursday.The Vanguard reports that the Presidency has denied having hands in the anti-media bills before the National Assembly, which some senior journalists and members of the House of Representatives kicked against on Wednesday.

One of the bills is the Nigeria Press Council, NPC, Amendment Bill seeking control of the Nigerian media by the Federal Ministry of Information.

The piece of legislation, currently before the House of Representatives, sponsored by chairman, House Committee on Information, Segun Odebunmi (PDP, Oyo State), has also generated a lot of opposition from civil society.

The Presidency said it has no hand in the proposed anti-media legislation.

Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the First Lady’s Conference Room, Presidential Villa, Abuja, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the initiative is a government thing that only the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, could address.

Asked to comment on the issue, he said: “That is not strictly a Presidency thing because the President has nothing to do with that. It’s a government thing and it’s the Minister that can talk about it.”

ThisDay says that the Senate yesterday condemned the shooting incident by a Police Inspector in Enugu, the Enugu State capital, which led to the death of five persons with several other people sustaining injuries last Sunday.

The upper legislative chamber also flayed the alleged killing of a Germany-based Nigerian, Mr. Oguchi Unachukwu, near Owerri Airport in Imo State.

The resolution was sequel to a motion on the “Need to Investigate Fatal Shootings by Security Agents in Enugu and Imo State,” moved by former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu.

Moving the motion under Order 43 of the Senate Standing Rule, the ranking Senator noted with sadness the Sunday, June 20, 2021 shooting incident in Enugu in which an Inspector of Police attached to Special Protection Unit (SPU) Base 9, Umuahia, Abia State, opened fire on the people on sight, shooting five persons dead and injuring several others.

He stated that he is aware that the said policeman has reportedly been arrested by the police and taken into custody;

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment further noted with a deep sense of grief the May 31, 2021 fatal shooting of a Germany-based Nigerian, Mr. Oguchi Unachukwu, allegedly by personnel of the Nigeria Air Force around the tollgate of the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport in the presence of his wife, Mrs. Ijeoma Unachukwu, his two-year-old son and four-month- old daughter.

He expressed concern that no arrests have been made by the Air Force or law enforcement agencies regarding the gruesome death of Unachukwu.

The newspaper reports that 30 prominent professional bodies have called on the federal government to tackle the growing insecurity in the country, warning that if there’s no concerted effort to de-escalate the situation, Nigeria may be confronted with serious famine in the coming months.

Coming under the umbrella of the Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN), members of the group including the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), noted that the problem was making Nigeria unattractive for investors.

Some other members of the group include the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS), Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM), among others.

National President of APBN, Mr. Akinloye Oyegbola, in an address at the board meeting of the organisation held in Abuja, noted that the insecurity in the country was becoming intractable, stressing that it appears that the nation is currently not winning the war against bandits and other criminals.

“Because of the seeming intractability of it, the board believes it has become expedient for the federal government to overhaul its security architecture since it looks like it is not presently winning the war against these bandits and miscreants.

“The nation’s economy is being stunted and may not attract investments as long as there are these palpable feelings of insecurity in the land. The engagement of professionals in the security sector at all levels of governance is key to bringing down this monster that is poised to destroy our nation if drastic and collective actions are not taken,” the group stated.

On the state of the nation’s economy, the organisation stated that it has become a huge source of concern for the board that the country has suffered two recessions in the last five years, has an inflation rate of 18.12 percent and a 33.3 percent unemployment rate.

The Sun says that the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has reiterated the need for development finance institutions (DFIs) and other stakeholders to reduce access barriers against businesses in the country to bridge the funding gap for small and medium businesses.

The chamber noted that majority of Nigerian SMEs have not significantly benefited from available financing opportunities in the country, adding that limited funding is one of the major constraints facing businesses especially SMEs, citing the PwC report that the SMEs have a funding gap of about N617billion.

President of the chamber, Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, in a webinar with the theme: ‘Funding Opportunities for Businesses with the Bank of Industry’, said lack of information (on the part of businesses) about the funding schemes offered by different institutions, inability to meet the requirements for funding and contravening application guidelines.

She added that submission of wrong or outdated documents (such as tax certificate, financial reports, CAC registration certificate), poor record keeping and poor credit history, that is failure to service previous facility prevents business owners from accessing another, are major factors inhibiting many businesses from accessing loans from financial institutions.

The Punch reports that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, and the Director General of the World Trade Organisation, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Wednesday, differed on the nation’s debt-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio.

Experts who spoke to our correspondents also expressed worry over the nation’s rising debt profile. While Ahmed put the debt-to-GDP ratio at 29 percent,

Okojo-Iweala said it had risen to 35 percent. Both the minister and the WTO boss spoke at the African Development Bank High Level Knowledge Event with the theme: ‘From Debt Resolution to Growth: The Road Ahead for Africa’ which held virtually on Wednesday.

Ahmed also disclosed that Nigeria planned to borrow more money to fund its infrastructure capacity. This is in spite of voices calling on the government to halt borrowing and concentrate on other means of raising funds for the infrastructure needs of the country.

According to the Debt Management Office, Nigeria’s total public debt portfolio rose from N12.12tn in June 2015 to N33.11tn as of March 31.

The Guardian says that the Federal Government has called for the amendment of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) Act to address issues affecting seamless operations of Free Trade Zones (FTZs) across the country.

The Chairman Senate Committee on Trade and Investment, Francis Fadahunsi, made the call during an oversight visit, alongside board members of NEPZA to the Snake Island Integrated Free Zone (SIIFZ) in Lagos.

He said the amendment of the NEPZA Act would close up on all issues for easy operations of FTZs. While appreciating the various free zone enterprises and the huge revenue generated for the government through agencies stationed in the zone, he specifically commended SIIFZ’s contribution to the growth of the NEPZA in supporting one single free zone authority over the years.

Vice-Chairman of the committee, Ishaku Abbo, who also commended SIIFZ’s investment initiative, stated that the oversight visit was aimed at ensuring consistency in the payment of appropriate revenue into the federation account, through the regulatory body, while ensuring that the free zone operates optimally.

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