The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) says it is collaborating with the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Customs Service, the Nigerian Navy, the Nigeria Police Force and other agencies to curb trans-border crimes.

Mr Dominic Asogwa, the Comptroller, Seme Border Command, who spoke on crime prevention around the border during the election period, said the service was vigilant to its responsibilities.

Asogwa listed other agencies to include the Nigerian Air Force, Department of State Services, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.

“We are not working in isolation, but collaborating with other sister agencies to achieve government directives on security, particularly at this time of general elections.

“Here in Seme, our team is working as a family with other agencies to curb crimes, especially trans-border crimes; and the cooperation has been wonderful as many serious crimes have been brought under control.

“The Customs Area Controller in this command, Comptroller Mohammed Uba, has directed that all security officers participating in the border closure monitoring exercise, be fed during the elections period.

“This shows wonderful synergy and cooperation among us here, in spite of the fact that it falls under our purview to close the borders, but we have to carry others along,’’ he said.

Asogwa also said the command was also in partnership with neighbouring country security agencies to ensure that there were no loopholes in securing the country during the period of elections.

“We have also extended the hands of fellowship to both the Commissioner of Police and the Comptroller of Customs in the Republic of Benin.

“The NIS is having a good deal of inter-departmental relationship, and we participate mutually in activities that are affecting both countries.’’

According to him, the enormous effort the service is putting in combating trans-border crime has helped in the drastic reduction of crime in the area.

He, however, admitted that there was difficulty in curbing trans-border crimes as even developed countries like the U.S., were still struggling with trans-border crime.

Asogwa further said that the NIS Comptroller General Muhammad Babandede has embarked on serious training of officers and men of the Service.

“This time around, the officers have been trained and more conversant with their responsibilities.

“That is why when some of the officers posted here already know what to do, this is one of the ways we check trans-border crimes.

“We are trained to read the body language of people to detect who they are, that is why in a mix of people, we detect illegal immigrants,’’ he said.

New figures released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has shown that the Federal Government recorded a deficit of N3.4 trillion in its financial operations in 2018.
 
The 2018 budget, signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 20 last year, had total spending of N9.1tn, comprising of N2.87tn for capital expenditure, N3.51tn for recurrent (non-debt) expenditure while N2.01tn was budgeted for debt servicing.
 
Government had planned to fund the budget by generating N658.55bn from Companies Income Tax, N207.51bn from Value Added Tax, N324.86bn from Customs while N57.87bn was expected to come from federation account levies.
 
Also, the government planned to raise N847.95bn through independent revenue from its agencies, while tax amnesty income, signature bonus and unspent balance from previous years was to provide N87.84bn, N114.3bn and N250bn respectively
 
However, the CBN Economic Outlook Report for the fourth quarter of 2018 showed that the government’s revenue target was not met, as it was able to generate enough to meet its expenditure.
 
In the first quarter of last year, the Federal Government’s retained revenue was put at N884.88bn while it’s expenditure was N2.01tn. This resulted in a fiscal deficit of about N1.13tn.
 
In the second quarter of last year, the Federal Government earned N1.12tn while it’s expenditure was N1.63tn, resulting in a deficit of N504.8bn.
 
For the third quarter, the revenue of the Federal Government was put at N1.03tn with the expenditure of N1.89tn, leading to a deficit of N855.09bn.
 
For the fourth quarter, the fiscal deficit widened to N910.4bn as the government was only able to generate N916.44bn to take care of its total expenditure of N1.82tn.
 
The CBN said in the report: “The Federal Government retained revenue for the fourth quarter of 2018 was estimated at N916.44bn.
 
“This was below the proportionate quarterly budget estimate and the receipts in the preceding quarter by 51.5 per cent and 11.5 per cent, respectively.
 
“Of the total revenue, the Federation Account accounted for 90.4 per cent, while Value Added Tax, Excess crude/Petroleum Profit Tax,
 
“Federal Government Independent Revenue, Excess Non-oil and Exchange Gain accounted for 4.3, 3.5, 1.4, 0.3 and 0.1 per cent, respectively.
 
“The estimated Federal Government expenditure for the fourth quarter of 2018 stood at N1.82tn and was below the proportionate quarterly budget estimate of N2.37tn by 23.1 per cent and the level in the preceding quarter by 3.4 per cent.
 
“A breakdown of the total expenditure showed that the recurrent component accounted for 87.8 per cent, while capital and statutory transfers accounted for 5.9 and 6.3 per cent, respectively.
 
“A further breakdown of the recurrent expenditure showed that the non-debt component accounted for 53.8 per cent, while debt service payments were 46.2 per cent.”
 
The Advisory Power Team (APT) at the office of the Vice President of Nigeria has said the nation’s power sector lost N69.1bn between January 1 and February 19 this year due to the persistent challenges in the industry.
 
According to data from the APT released on Wednesday, the loss in the sector was due to insufficient gas supply to power generation plants as well as inadequate distribution and transmission infrastructure.
 
The data showed that a total of 2,332.95 megawatts of electricity was not generated due to the unavailability of gas on February 19, 2019.
 
The data further showed that 32.5MW of power was not generated due to unavailability of transmission infrastructure, while 543MW was not generated due to high frequency resulting from unavailability of distribution infrastructure.
 
On the same day, 150MW of power was recorded as losses due to water management constraint.
 
The APT said: “The power sector lost an estimated N1.468bn on February 19, 2019 due to insufficient gas supply, distribution infrastructure and transmission infrastructure.
 
“The estimated amount lost to insufficient gas supply, distribution, transmission and water reserves to date in 2019 is N69,064,000,000.”
 
Also on February 19, 2019, the average energy sent out in the sector was 4,408MW-hour/hour, up by 3.28MWh/h from the previous day’s figure.
 
The APT further noted that the dominant constraint on February 19, 2019 was unavailability of gas, preventing a total of 2,332.95MW from being available on the grid, adding that peak generation attained on the same day was 5,017MW, while peak average energy ever sent out was 4,557MWH/H on February 2, 2016.
 
The peak generation ever attained was put at 5,375MW, which was recorded on February 7, 2019.
 
A research report by the FSDH Merchant Bank has said the disparity between the growth rates of the Nigerian economy and its population shows that poverty is on the increase in the country.
 
According to the report titled ‘Final Judgment on Performance of the Nigerian Economy: Implications’, The Nigerian economy is growing slower than the growth rate in its population.
 
“This means that the economy is not expanding in such a way that can create enough job opportunities for the unemployed population, which the National Bureau of Statistics put at 21million as at Q3 2018,” the report stated.
 
The FSDH research also noted that ahead of the presidential election, the NBS released its final judgment on the performance of the Nigerian economy in 2018, adding that the report containing the judgment showed that the Nigerian economy had continued to recover. The economy expanded by 1.93 per cent in full year 2018, higher than 0.82 per cent recorded in 2017.
 
“The Nigerian economy is growing slower than the growth rate in its population, an indication of growing poverty! This means that the economy is not expanding in such a way that can create enough job opportunities for the unemployed population, which the NBS put at 21million as at Q3 2018.”
 
The report that said this is the sad reality, however added that there was a way out.
 
Nigeria could grow at above six per cent if appropriate policies and the will power to implement the policies were in place, it said.
 
“If you are searching sectors of the economy to start a business or to lend money to, you should be looking at the fastest growing or largest sectors of the economy,” the FSDH stated.
 
According to the report, these sectorsare where policymakers could easily achieve tangible results to show the impacts of their policies on the economy.
 
It said: “The most influential sectors that drove performance in FY 2018 are: Information and communication; agriculture; manufacturing, transportation and storage, and mining and quarrying sectors.
 
“The five fastest growing sectors on average between Q1 2017 – Q4 2018 are electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning supply; transportation and storage; water supply, sewage, waste management and remediation; information and communication and mining and quarrying.”
 
The report further noted that the fragile recovery in the economy meant that additional policies which would fast-track economic activities in the country were urgently required.
 
“This meant it would be a hard sell for the Central Bank of Nigeria to increase key interest rates in the country, it stated.
 
“Increase in the key interest rates like Monetary Policy Rate, Cash Reserve Requirement and Liquidity Rate may not be in view in the short-term.
 
“Usually, an increase in the MPR, CRR and LR may help to reduce a high inflation rate and keep the foreign exchange rate stable.
 
“However, such actions have the tendency to reduce economic growth, effectively it added.
 
“The growing recovery in the economy, if sustained, would reduce the business risks inherent in the country, which usually scared away investors”, the report said.
 
The Nigerian’s capital market witnessed a rebound on Tuesday with investors gaining N80 billion at the end of trading activities on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
 
The market capitalisation of equities listed on the floor of the Exchange increased from N12.004tn on Monday to N12.084tn on Tuesday, after losing N160 billion on Monday.
 
The All Share Index gained 0.67 per cent to close at 32,406.17 basis points from the 32,190.07bps recorded on Monday, while activity level also strengthened as 361.821 million shares valued at N4.160bn exchanged hands in 4,623 deals, representing a 55.4 per cent and 23.7 per cent increase in volume and value traded, respectively.
 
Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (120.2 million units), Zenith Bank (37.3 million units) and FBN Holdings Plc (31.2 million units) topped the most traded stocks by volume while Dangote Cement Plc (N951.6m), Zenith Bank (N925.5m) and GTB (N778m) led the top traded stocks by value.
 
Performance across sectors was largely bullish as four of five indices closed on a positive note.
 
The banking sector, which was the biggest loser on Monday, became the biggest gainer on Tuesday as it appreciated by three per cent, while the oil and gas and consumer goods sectors advanced by 0.7 per cent and 0.3 per cent, respectively.
 
The insurance sector was the fourth gainer, advancing by 0.2 per cent following investor interest in Custodian Investment Plc and Cornerstone Insurance Plc.
 
however, the industrial goods index shed 0.2 per cent on account of major sell-offs in Dangote Cement and First Aluminium Nigeria Plc.
 
Investor sentiment, as measured by market breadth strengthened to 1.1x from 0.3x recorded on Monday as 16 stocks advanced against 14 decliners.
 
The top five gainers were Japaul Oil & Maritime Services Plc, Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc, Associated Bus Company Plc, Custodian Investment and Academy Press Plc, which saw respective gains of 9.52 per cent, 9.52 per cent, 9.09 per cent, 8.26 per cent and 8.11 per cent.
 
On the flip side, First Aluminium, Transnational Corporation of Nigeria, Wema Bank Plc, Unity Bank Plc and Union Diagnostic and Clinical Services Plc, whose respective share prices shed 10 per cent, 9.74 per cent, 9.68 per cent, 9.65 per cent and 6.90 per cent, topped the losers table.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has injected another $210 million into the foreign exchange market in continuation of its intervention in the Inter-Bank Foreign Exchange Market.
 
According to the CBN Director, Corporate Communications, Mr Isaac Okoroafor, in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday, the apex bank offered $100m as wholesale interventions and allocated $55m to Small and Medium Enterprises, while another $55m was allocated to customers requiring foreign exchange for business and personal travels, tuition or medical fees.
 
Imitators further explained that Tuesday’s interventions were in continuation of the bank’s resolve to sustain the high level of stability in the foreign exchange market and also to continue to ease access to the currency by customers in different sectors.
 
Okoroafor said the CBN was optimistic that the Naira would sustain its run against the dollar and other major currencies around the world, considering the level of transparency in the market.
 
A branch of Nigeria’s ruling party, Rivers State All Progressives Congress (APC), has said that Nigerians should not think about having an election on Saturday except its candidates in Rivers State are included on the ballot papers.
 
Director of Strategic Communications for the Tonye Cole Campaign Organization, Prince Tonye T.J.T Princewill, gave the warning on Sunday in a statement he made available to Ripples Nigeria entitled, “Unless we’re on the ballot, the election won’t hold”. He added that he could “still see disaster come Saturday.”
 
Princewill while reacting to the postponement of the elections nationwide said that he stood by the statements from Festus Keyamo and Garba Shehu, which alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had collaborated with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to shift the polls date.
 
INEC had rescheduled the Presidential and National Assembly elections few hours before its commencement from earlier date of February 16 to February 23.
 
APC, following court judgments, has no candidate vying for position in all elections; Presidential, National Assembly, Governorship and state House of Assembly.
 
However, the Rivers APC chieftain said the delay not only “exposed the state governor, Nyesom Wike and the PDP’s unholy alliance with INEC, but showed the whole world that injustice to one was a delay for us all because they (PDP and INEC) have offended God.”
 
He outlined steps Rivers APC had taken to be fairly relisted on the ballot, including the contempt of court proceedings served on INEC, vowing that if APC Rivers State is still “treated with disdain, the said election will still not hold.”
 
He said, “Even though the postponement of the elections did not come to me as a total surprise, I was still expecting the INEC chairman to stubbornly push on and try to force through the elections regardless. I still see disaster come Saturday. Unless we’re on the ballot, the election won’t be smooth anywhere. The God of Rivers state wants justice and He will get it. We have not even had so much as an explanation from INEC.”
 
He alleged that the INEC chairman, who was once a subordinate to Wike when the governor was supervising Minister of Education under Jonathan, may have skeletons in his TETFUND closet, alluding that could be reason the former is scared he could be exposed by Governor Wike.
 
“I had continued to maintain that Wike had since penetrated the judiciary, our security agencies and civil society with our money. Now it appears that the electoral umpire too is no longer immune to the Wike virus too. All dealing with him, do need to be made aware, your temporary high will eventually be replaced by very permanent lows. I’ve seen people vomiting ill gotten wealth to then return it to the treasury. I’ve seen men and women lose their jobs for Wike. It’s not a very pleasant sight. We have two appeal court orders and one Supreme Court judgment in our favour. But if you listen to the Wike paid media, you will think that we lost. Money talks,” Princewill said
 
On the February 16 postponement, he thanked God for allegedly exposing Wike’s plans to use violence, technology and bribery to find his way, saying that his strategy was predicted, suspected and expected, but now it has been confirmed.
 
“Wike only has one strategy. Pay for the courts. Pay for the noise. Pay for violence. Pay-pay-pay. If only he had applied this to staff salaries, pensions and our scholars who are abroad, maybe the race would have been tighter. As it is now, even PDP want to get rid of him, if only Tonye Cole’s name and the names of all our other candidates are on the ballot. Wike knows this. This is why he will do anything to prevent it. It’s an exercise in futility for him. We will overcome,” he said.
 
Nigeria’s foreign reserve has declined to $42.86 billion, the lowest in two months, data obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, showed on Sunday.
 
The nation’s reserve stood at $43.17 billion on January 31 but dropped by $314 million in two weeks to$42.86 billion on February 14.
 
The external reserves had risen to a high of $47.865bn on May 10, 2018, but plunged to $41.523bn on November 22. It, however, stood at $42.8777 billion on December 13.
 
The fourth quarter 2018 report just released by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has shown that currency in circulation as at the end of December, 2818 rose 20.9 percent to stand at N2.32 trillion ($6.4 Billion).
 
According to the CBN report, the development relative to the preceding quarter reflected mainly 19.4 per cent and 7.5 per cent increase in its currency outside banks and demand deposit components respectively.
 
Also, the report puts the total deposits at the CBN at N15.7tn at the end of December 2018, indicating a 6.5 per cent increase above the level at the end of September 2018.
 
The increase, the CBN said is attributable to 13.0 per cent and 9.5 per cent rise in the other deposits of the private sector and the Federal Government respectively.
 
Of the total deposits at the CBN, the shares of the Federal Government, banks and private sector deposits were 49.6 per cent, 30.6 per cent and 19.8 per cent respectively.
 
Furthermore, the report showed that reserve money rose by 4.9 per cent to N7.135tn at the end of December 2018, compared with the increase of 7.0 per cent at the end of September 2018. The development reflected the increase in total bank reserves.
 
On money market development, the CBN disclosed that it was generally stable in the fourth quarter of 2018, as liquidity was buoyed by inflow from fiscal injections, Federal Government bonds, Nigerian treasury bills and maturing CBN bills, while outflow, such as the sale of CBN bills, FGN securities and provisioning and settlement for foreign exchange purchases, impacted on market liquidity.
 
Overall, the report indicated that banks continued to access the intra- day and standing facilities window to meet their short-term liquidity needs during the review quarter, while showing that total value of money market assets outstanding at the end of the fourth quarter of 2018 was N11.897tn, showing an increase of 0.4 per cent, compared with 1.4 per cent increase, at the end of the third quarter of 2018.
 
The increase, the report said was as a result of the 12.5 per cent and 1.5 per cent increase in bankers’ acceptances and FGN bonds outstanding, respectively, during the quarter under review.
 
 
Foreign election observers who are in the country to monitor the 2019 general elections have counseled the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on how to gain the confidence of the voting public in the new dates it announced for the elections.
 
It would be recalled that INEC had announced the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections from Saturday February 16th to Saturday February 23rd and governorship and state houses of assembly from March 2nd to March 9th just few hours before the commencement of voting on Saturday.
 
The postponement, according to the electoral body was due logistics and operational challenges.
 
The observers, including the European Union Election Observation Mission, Economic Community of West African States Election Observation Mission, among others, in a statement after a meeting in Abuja on Saturday, asked INEC to finalise preparations and adhere strictly to the new February 23, 2019 date for the general elections.
 
They also noted that the suspension of the polls due to logistical and operational challenges had caused disappointment for many, admonishing the commission to provide regular updates and information to the public on its preparations in the coming days and weeks to enhance confidence and trust in the process.
 
The statement read: “We, the Heads of the international election observation missions and the United Nations present in Nigeria, have taken note of the decision of the INEC to postpone the 2019 general elections due to logistical and operational challenges.
 
“We urge INEC to use this time to finalise all preparations and ensure that the new election dates are strictly adhered to. We encourage INEC to provide regular updates and information to the public on its preparations in the coming days and weeks to enhance confidence and trust in the process.
 
“As we continue to closely observe preparations across the country, we stand in solidarity with the people of Nigeria in their desire for credible and peaceful elections.”
 
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