Press zooms in on platform on ECOWAS Cross Border Co-operation support programme, others

The inauguration of the National Platform on the ECOWAS Cross Border Cooperation support programme (2021-2025) by Nigeria to consolidate its…

The inauguration of the National Platform on the ECOWAS Cross Border Cooperation support programme (2021-2025) by Nigeria to consolidate its cross-border relations with neighbouring West African countries is one of the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Wednesday.ThisDay reports that Nigeria has moved to consolidate its cross-border relations with neighbouring West African countries with the inauguration of the National Platform on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Cross Border Cooperation (CBC) support programme (2021-2025).

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and Chairman, International Boundaries Technical Committee, Zubairu Dada, while performing the inauguration yesterday in Abuja, noted that the overall goal of the new ECOWAS CBC programme is to strengthen cooperation and good relations among ECOWAS member states in order to ensure free movement of people, goods and services.

He stated also that there is a consensus understanding that cross-border cooperation is superior to unilateral action in the development of border regions and the facilitation of the much-desired regional integration, adding that this fact has necessitated the need to establish a national platform to serve as a springboard for the facilitation of the much needed cooperation.

Dada said: “Many protocols, treaties and decisions have been adopted by the ECOWAS member states to bring down barrier among us, key among which is the decision to adopt the concept of Cross Border Cooperation.

“This framework between inextricable and contiguous neighbours was adopted by the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS in January 2006 as a necessary mechanism for the transformation of border areas into zones of exchange and bridges of cooperation.”

The Minister added that the national platform is expected to play a vital role in the coordination of the programme at the national level, while listing part of the roles and responsibilities of the platform to include coordinating and managing national cross border cooperation, and multi-sectoral actions at local and national levels.

The Guardian says that prominent Northern leaders held a meeting in Abuja, yesterday, where they identified some of the problems clogging the wheel of growth and development in the 19 Northern states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

They also announced the formation of the ‘Abuja Roundtable’, a non-partisan and non-governmental group, designed to address the challenges facing the region.

Some of the leaders at the meeting include 1993 presidential candidate of the National Republican Convention, Ibrahim Tofa; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Yayale Ahmed; former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega; former governors, ministers, senators; and military officers.

Addressing journalists after the meeting, Tofa said: “These challenges are many and they cut across the region. These have manifested in the collapse of institutions and services, widespread poverty and inequality, mutual suspicion, endemic insecurity, disunity, despair, and a dearth of hope across the region. Every community has challenges. But to overcome challenges, there is a need to admit their existence.”

Acknowledging the failure of Northern leaders, the group said: “We have no difficulty admitting all is not well with Northern Nigeria and taking primary or vicarious responsibility for the current state of affairs. We must all – leaders, followers, and passive onlookers – accept our share of responsibility. But beyond that, we must collectively resolve to take action and remedy what went wrong going forward”.

The Punch reports that the Federal Government’s total borrowing from the Central Bank of Nigeria through Ways and Means Advances has ballooned to N15.51tn, rising by 2,286 per cent in six years, data collated from the CBN have shown.

The N15.51tn owed by the Federal Government to the central bank is not part of the country’s total public debt stock, which stood at N33.11tn as of March 2021, according to the Debt Management Office.

The public debt stock comprises the debts of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory. Ways and Means Advances is a loan facility used by the central bank to finance the government in periods of temporary budget shortfalls subject to limits imposed by law.

According to Section 38 of the CBN Act, 2007, the bank may grant temporary advances to the Federal Government in respect of temporary deficiency of budget revenue at such rate of interest as the bank may determine.

The Act says, “The total amount of such advances outstanding shall not at any time exceed five per cent of the previous year’s actual revenue of the Federal Government.

The Sun says that just as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) predicted, inflation for the fourth time, consecutively, plunged downward to settle at 17.38 percent (year- on- year) in July, 2021.

Confirming the slide in its Consumer Price Index (CPI) yesterday, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said that the drop indicates 0.37 percent points lower than the rate recorded in June 2021, 17.75 percent.

The NBS said prices of major items were on the rise, but at a slower rise than it did in June 2021.

“The rise in the food index was caused by increases in prices of milk, cheese and eggs, coffee, tea and cocoa, vegetables, bread and cereals, soft drinks, and meat”, NBS said. Cosequently, the bureau, said increases were recorded in all divisions that yielded the headline index.

“On month-on-month basis, the headline index increased by 0.93 percent in July 2021. This was 0.13 percentage points lower than the rate recorded in June 2021 (1.06) per cent. The per centage change in the average composite CPI for the twelve months period ending July 2021 over the average of the CPI for the previous twelve months period was 16.30 percent, showing 0.37 per cent point rise from 15.93 percent recorded in June 2021”.

The newspaper reports that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has maintained an unchanged economic growth rate of 2.5 percent for 2021 and 2.6 percent for 2022 in Nigeria.

According to a document obtained by Daily Sun, the upgrade in 2022, depends on the expected improvements in trade and oil productions. Also, improvements in external financial conditions is expected to increase despite the bouts of volatility.

“It (forecast) is also predicated on continued improvements in external financial conditions, which have, despite some bouts of volatility recently, have actually been fairly supportive of growth, and it’s important that that continues in order for this growth forecast to pan out.

“In terms of our forecast for Nigeria this year, we have maintained an unchanged forecast of 2.5 percent. And we have upgraded slightly for 2022, to 2.6 percent.

“The reason for the unchanged forecast for this year is because it’s a product of opposing developments. We saw activity, as elsewhere, respond a lot stronger than what we had expected earlier in the year. But looking out ahead, we think that the uptick in cases in the rest of the continent is going to pose a downside risk factor and is going to drag on growth going forward.”

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