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Mbah’s socio-economic policies of eradicating poverty in Enugu State

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Enugu State Governor, Dr Peter Mbah

By Ejeh Josh

In its recent report released on 13 of December, 2023, the World Bank presented a graphic image of a country receding deeper into the pit of poverty as a result of years of accumulated mismanagement, bad governance and poor system of leadership. The report shows an economy plummeting despite reforms by the present federal government to salvage the situation. This has sent, at least, 104 million Nigerians to the dungeon of extreme poverty, rapidly moving away from 79 million people living in poverty in 2018, according to the World Bank release. An attempt to understand the meaning of “extreme poverty” would have a recourse to the World Bank’s September 2022 adjustment to global poverty lines which benchmarks any person living below the sum of $2.15 per day as living below poverty line or held in extreme poverty.

The above figure is not new to Nigeria as the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in its 2022 National Multidimensional Poverty Index Report, squared 133 million Nigerians as multi-dimensionally poor. The reports noted that the reasons for the increase in poverty were not unconnected with the sluggish growth and hyper-inflation the country is going through. This has implications to the overall well-being of the country. First, more Nigerians will face a scourge of hunger as their purchasing power falls. Second, there is pressure and stress on those outside the poverty line for maintenance, and this may probably drag them down the line of poverty. Third, crime rate will increase among the youth. Fourth, high incident of school dropouts are expected. Fifth, human capital flight, known otherwise, as the “Jappa syndrome” which is a brain drain to Nigeria and its economy, will be on the rise. The list goes on almost without end.

Appreciating the above terrific throes Nigeria is presently mired, the Enugu State governor, Dr. Peter Mbah, threw down the gauntlet, first in his statement of purpose or manifesto which boldly has its vision statement as “making Enugu one of the 3 top states in Nigeria in terms of Gross Domestic Product, and to achieve a zero percent rate in the poverty headcount index.” This vision, although, sounds lofty, could only be achieved with focus, dedication, resilience, discipline, and “intentional” drive of disrupting the norm and its prevailing status quo. Like Mr. Mbah keeps reminding himself and his team, “we are in a hurry to achieve our humongous promises to the people of Enugu State”. A study of some of the policy and economic reforms being undertaken by the state government would reveal a government truly in a hurry to deliver on its mandate.

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First has been the intention of the Mbah administration to peg a timeline to every project undertaken and enjoin the citizens to participate in the process of execution by holding the government to account. Matching up these timelines are the core internal policies in which one is called, key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are measurable and quantifiable metrics used to evaluate and assess the performance of an organisation as to the extent its objectives or goals have been achieved. This adopted term is basically used in the private sector and development space to rate performance and award credit or sanction. With this, each appointee is under pressure to deliver within time allotted. Mbah has shown that governance is no longer a space for merrymaking. Every dime is accounted for and must be judiciously put to use for the benefits of the people. Underperformance, inefficiency is shown the way out, and this has become a KPI dashboard for self-assemment before general assessment.

This little deviation is necessary to underscore the discreet action behind every success story that the people of the state are telling about this government. In most states, the past six months had been dedicated for euphoria excitement of clinching to office. However, this government has remarkably moved from policy formulation to policy and projects execution. This permeates both the tangible projects such as road execution, provision of potable water, payments of salaries and other emolument to workers, training of youths on digital skills for global competitiveness, upgrading and building of new hospitals, construction of primary and secondary school blocks including the state-of-the-art smart schools with centres for robotics, artificial intelligence, creative studios, modern science laboratories, and a shift in the curricula of tertiary institutions to meet today’s needs with a view to thinking about future technologies. This gives credence to the gale of accreditations and upgrade some of the state institutions have received. From schools of nursing to colleges of nursing and degree-awarding institutions.

On the intangible aspect of the feats, the administration is championing a leadership role in digitisation and automation of all the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as a way of strengthening the state’s institutions, creating a viable social order that would allow citizens transact businesses in the state without necessarily having a physical interface with any of the MDAs. This is creating the much promised conducive environment for business and investment. A cursory look at the mission statement encapsulated by the administration will aid the better understanding of where the government is headed. In his mission statement, Mbah tersely captured it this way: “To deliver quality, people-focused governance by making Enugu the preferred destination for investment, business, tourism and living “. There is no magic that could make the state an investment hub without the deliberate reforms the administration is now undertaking. This could basically be seen as the process of derisking investment and guaranteeing that investors have flexible and friendly access to information needed for a start-up and other investment prospects.

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This being at the verge of completion, the governor had thrice hosted economic and investment summits, outlining pipeline projects that would activate the interest of investors given their promising return on investment worth over $2.1 billion. The recent trips to Lagos State, United States, Indonesia, Egypt, Abuja, for investment summits, economic talks among others, the administration had optimally maximised the opportunities afforded to woo investors to Enugu with their clear outlays of what the state has got to offer. Enugu is an unmined territory of gold the administration has laid out for exploration. There is no more any excuse for willing investors to have their presence in the state and have their return.

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Huge reforms had been carried out in the agro-allied space, with many now returning to agriculture in a modern way. With thousands of hectares of land earmarked for agriculture, and some already farmed, Enugu is poised to announce to the global market, its presence and products. Visits to different local government areas and their farmlands cultivated for rice, cassava, yam, special species of pepper, vegetables, and other staple food, the end of poverty is near in the state. Being passionate and committed about agriculture, the state seizing every opportunity to liaise with international agencies and donors by paying its counterpart funding boost the chain of food production. The target population includes women and youths. This accounts for the training and retraining of the population on the use of modern farming tools.

One of those issues usually raised as concern by investors is security. No business thrives in a swamp of insecurity. Mbah understood this immutable principle of a safe state for a thriving economy when he came in as governor. His series of security reforms alluded to it. First, he declared war against insecurity and the now forgotten illegal sit-at-home orders which had become a sub-culture of notoriety in the southern part of Nigeria, particularly the southeastern zone. Like the National Security Adviser to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, admitted last week, Governor Mbah was at the forefront of the battlefield against insecurity beyond Enugu State to the entire southeast region. With his resolute spirit, he dealt with the incidence of sit-at-home, eradicated the then looming unknown gunmen, flushed out kidnapping, and ensures that security and normalcy was returned to the state and the region by extension. The above was also corroborated by the Federal Minister of Works and Infrastructure, Engr. David Umahi, when he gave testimony of how peace returned to the zone. The message is clear; Enugu State is ready for business!

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Following all these efforts, investors have started scrambling for space, drilling down on the mission and vision of the administration. While the battle against a depressing economy continues at the national level, Enugu State has made some significant gains. First, some of the institutional mechanisms that would lead to a zero percent poverty headcount rate in the state are beginning to gain attention not withstanding that the state is also cushioning the effect of the “sluggish growth and high rise in inflation”. The 2023 to the second quarters of 2024 wage award the administration had outlined for workers in the state would increase the purchasing power of majority of the people in the state. Workers have received the first payment of such, boosting their capacity to invest from what they are earning. This welfarist policy has the tendency of impacting on the socio-economic status of workers leaping further upward the rung of the ladder of the economy.

These deliberate policies are geared towards upscaling the people’s economic welfare, insulating them from the national economic crunch. With the policies transforming into deliverables, and the economy rebounding from the shock of national economic crisis, eradicating poverty in the state could only happen sooner than projected.

Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year ahead!

e-mail: ejehjosh@gmail.com

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More pressures on pockets as food inflation rises to 40%

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More pressures on pockets as food inflation rises to 40%
•High electricity tariff to drive further rise — Analysts

•It’s bad for businesses – NACCIMA •Small businesses to lose capital base— ASBON

At the backdrop of sustained rise in prices of staple food items in the market, Nigeria has recorded an unprecedented food inflation rate of 40 percent in March 2024.

Economists and financial analysts explained that the development would put more pressure on the purchasing power of average Nigerian and they also predict that the trend will continue for some months before stabilising.

The food inflation drove the headline inflation rate to 33.2 percent, up from 31.7 percent recorded in the month of February.

The figures released yesterday by National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, in its Consumer Price Index, CPI, report for March 2024, represented a 2.09 and 1.5 percentage percentage points increases month-on-month.

But the analysts see a wider headline inflationary rise in this month to 34.6 percent, representing a 2.4 percentage month-on-month rise resulting from the recent hike in electricity tariff.

Electricity tariff hike to drive further inflation – CardinalStone

Analysts at CardinalStone Finance Limited, a Lagos based investment house, indicated that further inflationary upswing should be expected following the recent drastic hike in electricity tariff.

They stated: ‘’The inflation outlook is biased to the upside, a consequence of the recent implementation of a new electricity tariff. For context, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) have hiked price for Band A customer from N68 to N225 per kilowatt hour.

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‘’Nevertheless, we see some downside risk from the recent currency sustainability. ‘’Overall, we project inflation to print 34.6% in April 2024.’’

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Further rise will be slower – Alpha Morgan

In the meantime, analysts at Alpha Morgan Capital said: “From our analysis, we project that inflation will further increase but at a continuously slower rate. We tie this prediction primarily to the recent monetary interventions by the Central Bank of Nigeria in mopping up excess liquidity, curbing volatile exchange rate movement through various aggressive currency interventions, government fiscal policies, such as agricultural interventions, among others.”

Devpt is bad for businesses – NACCIMA

Meanwhile, OPS said that the persistent rising inflation could sound the death knell for small businesses in the country, with consequential loss of jobs and worsened insecurity.

Commenting, Director General of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Sola Obadimu, said: “Persistent rising inflation is bad for business as well as for individuals.

“It erodes income in value terms and purchasing power becomes weaker for both individuals and businesses. Inventories will continue to grow.

“It is bad for planning purposes and breeds growing uncertainty. Cost of doing business continues to grow leading to higher cost of goods. It’s cyclical.

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“Even when businesses or individuals tend to earn higher income, the value (in real terms) becomes lower.”

In his reaction, President of Association of Small Business Owners of Nigeria (ASBON), Dr Femi Egbesola, said the development will worsen survival of small businesses.

He stated: “The new and rising inflation rate, affecting largely food, essential commodities, raw materials, electricity and alternative power generation, transportation among others, will continue to worsen the survival and growth of SMEs.

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It will, no doubt, squeeze out the meager working capital of SMEs and make us more vulnerable to extinction.

“Not all costs can be passed to the consumers but even at that, certain costs will be passed onto them, and since they also have had their disposable income eroded by inflation, sales of goods and services of SMEs will drastically drop. For an average citizen, their standard of living and welfare will significantly drop too.

“More Nigerians will suffer from hunger, and lack of access to basic necessities and amenities, worse of it is health and medical needs.

“Overall, the implications of this on SMEs is that many more businesses will die off and become ailing, job losses will increase as many more businesses will lay off workers.

“There will be an increase in bad loans as more SMEs will be unable to fulfill their loan obligations leading to decreased access to funding from banks that will be more averse to lending to SMEs particularly with the increased interest rate, now coupled with inflation.

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“More insecurity will prevail in the land for many will look for alternative illegal ways of survival. More will migrate in the name of Japa.

“The extinction of more businesses will open doors for imported products to take their space which eventually will also stress the Naira exchange rate.”

In its CPI report NBS stated: “In March 2024, the headline inflation rate increased to 33.2 percent relative to the February 2024  headline inflation rate which was 31.7 percent .

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“On a YoY basis, the headline inflation rate was 11.16 percentage points higher compared to  the rate recorded in March 2023, which was 22.04 percent.

On food inflation the bureau said: “The food inflation rate in March 2024 was 40.01 percent on a year-on-year basis, which was 15.56 percentage points higher compared to the rate recorded in March 2023 (24.45 percent).

“The rise in Food inflation on a year-on-year basis was caused by increases in prices of the following items garri, millet, akpu uncooked fermented (which are under the bread and cereals class), yam tuber, water yam (under potatoes, yam, and other tubers class), dried fish sadine, mudfish dried (under Fish class), palm oil, vegetable oil (under Oil and Fat), beef feet, beef head, liver (under Meat class), coconut, water melon (under Fruit Class), Lipton tea, Bournvita, Milo (under coffee, tea and cocoa class).” (Vanguard)

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N20, N10, N5 rendered ‘irrelevant’ as inflation bites harder

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N20, N10, N5 rendered ‘irrelevant’ as inflation bites harder
Naira

Across major markets, prices of goods are moving away from the lower denomination of the Naira currencies as inflation bites harder.

Not too long ago, a sachet of pure water cost N5.

However, in the past couple of years, these notes have struggled to get items they could be attached to.

A market survey by DAILY POST showed that more than half of Nigeria’s legal tenders cannot make purchases.

Despite this, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, recognizes the following denominations; 50 kobo, N1 and N2 which are coins, and N5, N10, N20 and N50 which are printed on polymer materials.

A sachet of pure water now sells for N30. Retailed sugar no longer sells for N10, while candies like Tom Tom are retailed at two pieces for N50. To further compound the woes of these notes, goods are now rounded up to 50 or 100, which further makes these currencies irrelevant.

In the past six months, the Naira has depreciated considerably. At one point, it was about N1,900 to a single dollar until the intervention by the CBN with the naira now trading at about N1050 to a dollar.

The implication of it is that N1000, which is Nigeria’s highest denomination, is less than a single dollar.

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Anyone with $1000 is a millionaire in naira based on the current exchange rate, and anyone with $1 has more than N1,000.

Despite the recent surge in the value of naira, prices of commodities have not shown any significant signs of climbing down.

Experts believe that Nigeria’s inflation is a product of many factors, with FX being one of the numerous factors.

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But despite this, the Nigerian government is still printing some of the lower denomination currencies at a huge cost.

According to reports, in 2016, CBN had to temporarily halt the printing of N5, 10, N20 and N50 due to the cost of production.

The report said it costs N1000 to print each lower denomination because Nigeria Security Printing and Minting plc (NSPM) is unable to print on polymer.

Now experts are calling on the CBN to discontinue the printing of the lower denominations and review the currencies in line with realities.

Abiodun Ayangbemi, an economist, emphasised that the CBN must discontinue the printing of the lower denomination because the majority of those currencies have failed the basic principles of money— means of exchange and store of value.

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“The monetary authorities cannot continue to print those denominations when there is basically nothing to use them for,” he said.

Lekan Olaleye, a monetary policy expert, asked the federal government to take a copy of the re-denomination policy adopted by Ghana some years back.

He argued that the CBN should remove two zeros from the existing notes.

It would be recalled that Ghana had in 2007, re-denominated the Cedis by striking out four zeros from their currency and producing the new Ghana Cedis.

A former CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido had in 2012 announced a plan to introduce N5000 notes. In the same vein, there was also a plan to coin the lower bank notes of N5, N10 and N20.

However, the policy was met with a strong outcry from the public, who condemned the plan. Thus, the government shelved the plan.

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Years after the botched plan, prices of goods and services have spiked beyond the 2012 level. (Daily Post)

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We’re not aware of Ganduje’s suspension – Kano APC Chairman

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Ganduje, wife, son to be arraigned before Kano court April 17
APC National Chairman and former Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje

The Ganduje ward executives of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Kano State, have denied the reported suspension of APC National Chairman, Dr Abdullahi-Umar Ganduje.

The ward executives made the denial while briefing journalist at the APC State Secretariat, on Monday in Kano.

According to the ward Chairman, Malam Ahmad Ganduje, those purported to have announced the suspension were not members of the party.

He said they were solemnly behind the APC national chairman and have confidence in his style of leadership.

The ward chairman added that they had passed a vote of confidence on Ganduje, and urged all party members in the ward and across the state to remain calm and law abiding.

In his remarks, the APC Chairman, Dawakin Tofa Local Government Area, Alhaji Inusa Dawanau, said the party will take legal action against those the “impersonators”, who announced Ganduje’s suspension.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that, Malam Haladu Gwanjo, who claimed to be the Legal Adviser of APC in Ganduje Ward, had earlier announced the purported suspension of party’s national chairman.
Gwanjo, who cited alleged corruption and other vices as reasons for the suspension, said that the decision was taken by nine executive members of party in Ganduje ward.(NAN)

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