By Dakuku Peterside
There is fire on the mountain. It seems too far away, and the fire looks more like a smoldering fire than a volcano. However, the molten lava is simmering in the belly of the volcano, waiting to be unleashed. No matter what we do, although living in a faraway land, the lava shoots out like a rocket-propelled missile, and the ensuing heat will eventually reach and affect us. Should we be overwhelmed by the fear of the unknown? Or should we not work out the unknown from the known and put our house in order, as every good family head will do? Some facts are not just obvious but apparent. It would be best if you connected the dots to get the full import of the picture. We are in such a situation now. Fact number one: the world is headed for a prolonged war in the Ukraine / Russia crisis, and now the Israel/ Hamas conflict has ensued. After nearly 18 months of gruesome warfare and its adverse impact on living standards, no one can wish for another row of any dimension. Fact number 2: the global economy will be affected if this conflict continues in its current trajectory and may get complicated if the sphere of war expands to Iran. Fact number 3: the Nigerian economy would be significantly negatively impacted if we do not take steps to hedge our economic projections and plans. The latter is the focus of our discourse for today.
The ramifications of these conflicts are too huge to contemplate. The sensitive nature of the Israel-Palestine brouhaha touches the emotional nerves of the world, polarizing the world into two dominant frames: supporters of Israel versus supporters of Palestine. The baggage behind this support is generational and more heuristic than logical. It is tainted with elements of religious dichotomy.
The economic interlinkages of the global community are manifesting clearly as the Russia- Ukraine war ravages the economies of nations and is now further complicated by the hostilities between Hamas and Israel. The global economy would sink deeper in three significant ways. Israel- Hamas conflict will most likely engender a spike in energy costs. It would add to inflationary pressure already escalated by COVID-19 and the Russia- Ukraine war. And it may lead to a global recession. Bloomberg economists predict global growth may drop to 1.7% and, in the worst-case scenario, may lead to another recession.
Nigeria is already grappling with multiple economic challenges, and other developing economies are seriously and multidimensionally impacted. The discourse around mitigating the adverse negative economic impact of the two war fronts in Nigeria must be on the table. This new scenario presents another addition to issues that must be considered in navigating the complex global linkages to strengthen our economy and reduce the burden on citizens. If the crisis between Israel and Hamas expands to a regional one involving Iran, Lebanon, and Syria, crude oil prices will spike, and if not, the price rise will be marginal.
For Nigeria, a crude oil-producing nation, this is paradoxical in two ways. First, the attendant shortfall in supply resulting from disruption in production in the Middle East may boost oil supply revenue. But we may not harness those benefits because of the Niger Delta oil production conundrum. We have yet to be able to meet our OPEC quota. Hence, only a little may be gained through an increase in supply, at least in the short run. Second, the prospect of an oil price increase seems reasonable especially if Iran is drawn into the conflict. The government of Nigeria would earn additional income from the sale of crude, and that can help shore up our currency, which is crashing like a house built on sand. However, when you juxtapose this with the fact that we import all our petroleum products and export less than our OPEC quota, whatever benefit there is vanishes to the air.
The Guardian economists argue that the brewing energy crisis may force the Nigerian government to spend N644.8 billion subsidizing Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) monthly. They argued that with “PMS trading at $1,023.00 per metric tonne at the international market as Naira exchange above N1,020/$, crude oil price at about $100 per barrel would push the difference between the current pump price and the actual price to about N400. This difference amounts to about N644.8 billion monthly given the current consumption of about 52 million litres daily.”
The conflict in the Middle East could lead to additional inflation in Nigeria. Shipping costs would increase because of insurance. It might cause massive disruption in global trade logistics, and when you add this to the mix of higher gas prices, inflation is the natural result. Inflation will worsen for Nigeria, which imports substantial consumer items, and most families cannot afford basic needs. Inflation will worsen poverty and the crime rate.
While we battle inflation, the Naira might weaken because of impending slow growth projected at 1.7%. The government would be forced to intervene on two fronts, first to try to stabilize the currency by injecting non-existent foreign exchange and secondly, by reintroducing subsidies on a smaller scale to cushion the effect of a hike in the cost of petroleum products or allow for an increase in petrol price. The only saving grace might be if the Dangote refinery comes on stream and at least two of our refineries become functional.
There is also the possibility of the FG and State government borrowing more as they struggle to implement the budget. State governments have already borrowed about N46.17bn from banks to pay salaries between January and June 2023. The FG borrowed a $800 million loan from the World Bank to cushion the adverse effects of the supposed removal of subsidy. It further followed an alleged loan of $1.95 billion from the World Bank in the first four months of this government.
Our government and economic managers must think ahead, plan, and be more disciplined, as there are turbulent paths ahead. Policymakers must weigh the immediate economic needs against long-term sustainability and be prepared to make tough decisions. Nigeria needs to prepare itself for a potential surge in the domestic price of petroleum products with the attendant increase in the cost of transportation, cost of doing business, and hardship, especially for those at the economic periphery. Citizens may be impoverished more, and the number of multidimensional poor Nigerians will exacerbate. We cannot afford to play the ostrich while the deities in Russia, Ukraine, Israel, and Hamas play the Game of Thrones. We are at the receiving end, so we must think outside the box to navigate these unusual times.
As a nation, we must work back our economic numbers and plan on worst-case scenarios so we are better ready rather than live in optimism and ignore global economic realities that would ultimately unfold and engulf all, hitting the least planned nations. The dual inferno has been ignited in a faraway mountain, but what we do now in our distant land will define our future. We hope that the war in the Middle East will de-escalate as soon as possible. But we must do more than hope. Nigeria’s challenge in all these remains that of forward global strategic thinking which had never been part of our government culture. We are a reactive nation and not a proactive nation with a sense of mission. We must plan and act to protect ourselves from the potentially harsh consequences of our economy. In the medium to long term, Nigeria may need to diversify its economy, reduce its dependence on oil exports, and promote domestic production and non-oil sectors to mitigate the potential negative impacts. Additionally, fostering diplomatic relations and strengthening regional cooperation can help minimize the adverse effects of these conflicts on Nigeria’s economy.
Group Calls For Protection Of Journalists In Bayelsa, Imo, Kogi States
The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has urged for necessary measures to protect journalists and other media workers during this weekend’s off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi States.
The group sent the request to the federal and state governments, as well as law enforcement and security agencies, stressing that the role of journalists in disseminating information about the electoral process is critical to ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections.
In a statement issued ahead of the elections in Lagos and signed by the Communications Officer, Media Rights Agenda, Idowu Adewale, MRA also urged journalists to be cautious and to use its existing hotline (08138755660) to report any threat or attack they may encounter during the process, as well as any obstacle.
Adewale said in the statement: “Given the pattern of heightened attacks on journalists and the media during previous elections, including the recent 2023 general elections, as well as the tense political climate in the three states in the lead-up to the elections, measures must be taken to ensure general security during the elections and provide adequate protection for journalists covering the elections.”
“Access to information allows citizens and other members of the public to have the information they need about political and electoral processes, facilitating effective public participation in elections,” he says.
“Journalists and the media play an important role in ensuring residents and other members of the public have access to information and may participate in the process.
“As part of efforts to preserve the integrity of the polls, it is also critical that the safety and well-being of these interlocutors be assured and safeguarded.”
Lamenting the increased number of attacks on journalists in the run-up to the off-cycle elections, as well as earlier this year in the run-up to the general elections, he emphasised that “a free and vibrant media is fundamental to a healthy democracy, and journalists must be able to carry out their duties without fear, coercion, or violence.” During this vital phase, MRA stands ready to assist them and assure their safety.”
Police Nab Husband, As Mother Of ‘Mummy Be Calming Down’ Boy Takes Own Life
Men from the Edo State Police Command are said to have detained Mrs. Toluige Olokoobi’s husband after he allegedly murdered her.
Olokoobi was the mother of Oreofeoluwa Lawal-Babalola, the tiny boy whose video went viral in 2020 after he pleaded with his mother, “Mummy be calming down.”
Oreofeoluwa rose to prominence on social media after a video of him crying in an attempt to confidently appeal to his mother, who chastised him, went viral.
The film inspired Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who used it to deliver an Eid-el-Kabir appeal to Muslims and Lagos people in general to remain calm during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Following that, the youngster and his family met with the governor, who praised his bravery and poise.
While little has been heard about the family in three years, heartbreaking news broke on social media on Tuesday that the boy’s mother had committed suicide.
According to an X user, Olokoobi committed suicide in Benin, the capital of Edo State, for unknown reasons.
The X user, who stated that he was present at the site on Monday afternoon, went on to say that she had refused to disclose her difficulties with anyone before committing herself.
“The woman in the viral Mummy Calm Down video has just committed suicide here in Benin,” he stated in an email.
“She refused to discuss her problems with anyone.” She abandoned three children for her husband, including the well-known Mummy Calm Down boy.”
Meanwhile, confirming Olokoobi’s death in a chat with BBC Pidgin, the spokesperson of the Edo State police command, Chidi Nwabuzor, said her husband has been arrested and detained for questioning.
Nwabuzor said the husband reported the matter to the police.
The police spokesperson quoted the husband to have said that “he came home from the market when he saw his wife hanging with rope on her neck”.
Nwabuzor said she was rushed to the hospital and then to the mortuary after she was confirmed dead. (Adapted from a Vanguard report).
Anambra: CP Aderemi Adeoye Decorates Promoted Officers With New Ranks
The Anambra State Police Command Headquarters Conference Hall was a hive of activity Thursday as CP Aderemi Adeoye took turns decorating around 18 promoted officers of the command with their new titles.
The delight of some of the officers whose wives assisted the CP in decorating their husbands with their new ranks knew no bounds, as their husbands duly saluted their wives and the CP for their new positions and responsibilities.
Obi Innocent, one of the officers elevated to the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), whose wife joined CP Aderemi Adeoye in adorning him with his new rank, said it was wonderful that the Inspector General of Police thought him worthy.
CSP Obi Innocent, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13, Police Zonal Headquarters Ukpo, stated that his new rank was a call to service and that he would do his best to uphold the charge given to them by CP Aderemi Adeoye to respect and protect the citizenry’s fundamental rights in the discharge of their new assignments.
Charity Akharame, who was honoured with the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and was the only female officer among the 18 promoted officers decorated with new ranks, said it was not an easy feat but she was grateful to be among those who were decorated with their new ranks.
DSP Charity Akharame, the officer in charge of stores in the Anambra State Police Command, recalled how she began as a Police Constable and worked her way up to her current position as Deputy Superintendent of Police.
She stated that as a very disciplined police officer, she would follow the Police Commissioner’s directions regarding respect for all and sundry in the fulfillment of her constitutional obligations.
Jane-Frances Obi, one of the spouses of the officers elevated to the level of CSP, stated that being the wife of a police officer was not an easy assignment. As a result, she recommended any lady who is married to a police officer to be patient and understanding because the job is quite demanding.
Jane-Frances Obi, whose husband is Innocent Obi, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13 Ukpo, believes the promotion is a reward for years of being patient, understanding, and standing in for them when they are not present.
Meanwhile, Emenike Chinenyenwa, who was decorated with the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and presented a vote of appreciation, expressed deep gratitude to the IGP and the Chairman of the Police Service Commission for considering them worthy of being adorned in their new ranks.
ACP Emenike, the officer in charge of Medicals, stated that the elevation comes with increased responsibility and that they will work harder in their new tasks.
CP Aderemi Adeoye praised the current promotion winners in his remarks, noting that two aspects make the police career very interesting and eventful. He stated that one is for promotion and the other is for positions.
CP Adeoye, on the other hand, urged the newly honored officers to develop more empathy, compassion, care, and dedication in the performance of their jobs.
The police chief insisted that newly promoted officers must first recognise that they share the same humanity as others, and as a result, they must treat all people with dignity and protect their fundamental human rights at all times.
CP Aderemi Adeoye stressed that without the enormous roles of spouses, they wouldn’t have been successful in their careers. He therefore congratulated all the promoted and prayed that God gives them good health to enjoy the new ranks and the energy to discharge the responsibilities of their new offices.
- Source: Independent