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Press zooms in on Senate’s approval of new foreign loans request of President Buhari, others

The approval by the Senate of President Muhammadu Buhari's request for ongoing external loans to the tune of $8,325,526,537 and…

The approval by the Senate of President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for ongoing external loans to the tune of $8,325,526,537 and €490,000,000 (Euros) under the 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan is one of the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Friday.The Guardian reports that the Senate, yesterday, approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for ongoing external loans to the tune of $8,325,526,537 and €490,000,000 (Euros) under the 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan. The approval followed the consideration of a report on the 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan by the Committee on Local and Foreign Debt.

Nigeria’s debt profile has continued to rise as the government continues to seek borrowings to meet annual budget deficits. According to the Debt Management Office (DMO), Nigeria’s total public debt stock stood at N32.92 trillion ($86.39 billion) in 2020, compared to N27.40 trillion ($84.05 billion) in 2019, representing an increase of 20.12 per cent in Naira terms.

This has, however, moved to N33.107 trillion as of March 31, 2021, and excludes the Senate’s previous approval of the Federal Government’s borrowing of $2.18 billion in May, $6.1 billion last week, and another $8.3 billion-plus €490 million yesterday.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Clifford Ordia, in his presentation, said the Committee noted with utmost importance, the genuine and very serious concerns of Nigerians about the level and sustainability/serviceability of the country’s borrowings in the last decade.

According to the lawmaker, “Nigeria’s debt service figures constitute a huge drain on our revenue to the extent that it accounts for over 30 per cent of our expenditure in the annual budget.”

The newspaper says that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has expressed shock over the rejection of electronic transmission of election results by the Senate.

The party stated this in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, in Abuja on Thursday.

Ologbondiyan said the PDP and indeed majority of Nigerians were shocked over the decision of the Senate rejecting the demand by Nigerians across board for the electronic transmission of election results without conditionalities.

The decision, according to him, amounts to undermining Nigeria’s electoral process.

He alleged that action of APC Senators was an “atrocious assault on the sensibilities of Nigerians, who looked up to the Senate for improvement in our electoral process in a manner that would engender free, fair and credible process”.

He said “it is outrageous that the APC-led Senate, in the bid to annex the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), sought to route a statutorily independent commission to the approval of the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) before conducting elections.”

ThisDay reports that the Nigerian Air Force said yesterday that the long-awaited first batch of six A29 Super Tucano aircraft, ordered by the federal government from the United States, were on their way to Nigeria.

The fighter jets, bought following the award of a $329 million foreign military sales contract to SNC by the United States government to build 12 A-29s for the Nigerian Air Force in November 2018, are expected to fly through five countries, notably Canada, Spain, Greenland, Iceland and Algeria before arriving in Nigeria.

The jet fighters were billed for delivery to Nigeria between 2021 and 2022. The air force, in earlier statements, had said six of the fighter aircraft were to be delivered by July while the remaining six would be in Nigeria by December.

The air force had also completed construction of a hangar in Jaji, Kaduna State, where the attack aircraft would be domiciled.

A delegation of the House of Representatives had some weeks ago visited the United States to ascertain the state of the fighter jets.

The delegation had raised questions over the delay in the delivery of the fighter jets.

A statement by the Nigerian Air Force Headquarters said the first batch of the fighter jets departed the United States on Wednesday.

The newspaper says that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, yesterday, lamented that African countries have not realised their true potential in bilateral trade with India.

In his address at the 16th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India and Africa Project Partnership with the theme: “Harnessing the Africa-India Opportunity: Connect, Create, Collaborate”, the Minister said despite the fact that India is Africa’s third-largest trading partner, African countries predominantly export raw crude oil and other extractive resources to the Asian country.

He said: “As you may be aware, India is now Africa’s third-largest trading partner. Yet the bilateral trade data and patterns suggest the true potentials have not yet been realised as African countries predominantly export raw crude oil and other extractive resources to India.

“In the light of Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, and as African countries aim to reduce their economic dependence on resource trade, India could play a catalytic role in Africa’s collective efforts to boost the region’s manufacturing and service exports.”

He listed the main export destinations for India in Africa to include South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria, Tanzania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Algeria, Ghana, and Ethiopia.

The Punch reports that the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, has advocated the production of indigenous solar cells, saying this will lead to a 60 per cent price drop of solar panels and contribute to Nigeria’s transition into a green economy.

Onu spoke at a virtual meeting with the Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency, Mr Francesco La Camera, according to a statement on Thursday titled ‘Onu calls for indigenous solar cell production’.

He was quoted as saying the production of indigenous solar cells would have a positive attendant effect on many industries in the country.

The minister sought the assistance of IRENA on institutional capacity building for research in enhancing green hydrogen energy. “We want to make our solar cells in Nigeria; more foreign investors should be encouraged to come into Nigeria, which has a huge market of 200 million people,” he said.

The IRENA DG assured the minister that the agency would collaborate with Nigeria in developing renewable energy and boosting foreign direct Investment.

The Sun says that the Nigerian Government, in alliance with the government of Japan and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) on Tuesday, unveiled a study that will solve the problem of plastic waste pollution in Nigeria by providing innovative packaging and recycling technologies and alternative materials to plastics.

The research project titled “Nigeria’s Study on Available Technologies that Meet the Need in Africa to Reduce Plastic Leakages to the Environmental” was executed by the UNIDO and funded by Japan.

Speaking at the event in Abuja, Minister of Environment, Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, said the new study was part of government’s numerous actions to address the challenges of plastic wastes in the country in a holistic and sustainable manner by delivering alternatives to drive investment and sustainable development.

“Plastic pollution has become one of the gravest environmental problems confronting the global community with impact transcending national, regional and international boundaries. “Nigeria, with a population of about 200 million people generates about 1.5 million tons of plastic waste every year of which less than 10 percent is recycled.

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