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Press zooms in on Buhari’s review of state of the nation, others

President Muhammadu Buhari's review of the state of the nation and stating that Nigeria, in spite of its numerous challenges,…

President Muhammadu Buhari’s review of the state of the nation and stating that Nigeria, in spite of its numerous challenges, is lucky to remain one indivisible entity dominates the headlines of Nigerian newspapers on Wednesday.ThisDay reports that President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday reviewed the state of the nation and said Nigeria, in spite of its numerous challenges, is lucky to remain one indivisible entity.

 “We are a lucky country and should congratulate ourselves, despite challenges that could have torn us apart,” the president told a delegation of the House of Representatives that went to see him at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Buhari spoke while receiving the report of the National Security Summit of the House from the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, and said the citizens’ right to freely choose their leaders during elections, irrespective of party affiliation or religion must be respected.

“Our leaders must respect the people, from the lowest to the highest, so that it becomes a duty to them (the people) to pay back to the leadership,” he said.

According to him, respect for the people should be demonstrated by allowing them to choose who they like as their leaders, irrespective of political party or religion.

The Guardian says that it seemed the triumph of people’s power as both chambers of the National Assembly, yesterday, buckled to strident opposition from the public and key stakeholders to the Nigeria Press Council (NPC) and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Amendment Bill, as well as the nomination of Lauretta Onochie as Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

A day after national dailies boldly printed ‘Information Blackout’ on their front pages to raise support against the proposed NPC/NBC amendment bill that would allow authorities to control the press and shrink civic space, Segun Odebunmi, the lawmaker sponsoring the bill, yesterday said the House of Representatives has agreed to stay action on it.

Odebunmi, who is the Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Information National Orientation Ethics and Values, told Channels TV that the suspension was necessary for proper consultation over the bill while appearing on Sunrise Daily.

“We have been on this process for a while and right now, we have suspended it for more consultation to happen on it,” he said.

The lawmaker had earlier faulted claims that the Bill was targeted at gagging the media. He rather maintained that it is aimed at removing identified hindrances to optimum performance.

Lawmakers said the bills are intended to curb fake news, but critics said the bills would give authorities the power to hit media outlets and journalists with huge fines and give journalists up to three years in jail.

The newspaper reports that the Senate, yesterday, passed the all-important bill seeking to establish the Electoral Offences Commission.

The passage makes snatching of ballot boxes an electoral offence that attracts a 20 year jail term.

The piece of legislation added that any candidate or agent, who damages or snatches ballot boxes, papers or election materials before, during and after an election without the permission of the presiding electoral official at the polling station attracts a minimum of 20-year imprisonment or a fine not less than N40 million.

The move was sequel to the consideration of a report by the Kabiru Gaya-led Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In his presentation, Gaya said the bill became imperative in view of the electoral umpire’s inability to prosecute electoral offenders in accordance with Sections 149 and 150(2) of the Electoral Act (as Amended).

The upper legislative chamber also confirmed receipt of the 2022-2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper from President Muhammadu Buhari for its consideration.

The Punch says that the N15tn Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria will begin operations in the third quarter of this year, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced on Tuesday.

CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele, who announced this during an investors’ webinar organised by the Bureau of Public Enterprises, said InfraCo would help bridge the huge infrastructure gap in Nigeria.

He said analysts estimated that over N350tn was needed to support infrastructure investments over the next 10 years, adding that if these investments were made, Nigeria was likely to attain a Gross Domestic Product growth rate of over 10 percent annually.

“It will be difficult to support these investments using government revenue sources alone. Harnessing available funds from the private sector is therefore vital,” Emefiele stated.

He noted that it was as a result of this that the CBN, working with key stakeholders such as the African Finance Corporation secured a presidential approval to set up the Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria.

The newspaper reports that fuel marketers and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, on Tuesday, expressed their opposition to a provision in the Senate version of the Petroleum Industry Bill that allowed only active refinery licence holders to import petroleum products into the country.

Subsection (8) of section 317 of the bill says the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority shall apply the backward integration policy in the downstream petroleum sector to encourage investment in local refining.

“To support this, licence to import any product shortfalls shall be assigned only to companies with active local refining licences. Import volume to be allocated between participants based on their respective production in the preceding quarter,” it adds.

The Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria and the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria noted in a joint statement that the clause restricted the licence to import all refined products into the country to a very small number of local refiners.

They said, “This restriction extends to products that have long been deregulated such as diesel, kerosene (household kerosene and aviation turbine kerosene, Liquefied Petroleum Gas and base oils.

“As industry stakeholders and professionals with heavy investments in the downstream sector, we welcome the entry and participation of local refineries.

The Sun says that the National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) has promised to focus on full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, harness technology and digital ecosystem to boost trade.

The chamber argued that doing so is the only way the country could tap from the huge benefits presented by the trade agreement.

The new president, Ide John Udeagbala, who made the remark during the maiden press conference where he presented the association’s agenda during his tenure, noted that the agreement was a giant leap towards increasing intra-African trade and creating collective wealth.

Udeagbala, who also advised small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to form clusters to gain edge and recognition as organised enterprises, said as clusters, they can work as a team and access funds in respect to the AfCFTA.

He noted that SMEs find it difficult to access intervention and facilities due to their individualistic approach. Noting that the trade is a bold step to take Africans out of poverty, he said this is “why we have focused on it at this conference.

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