Sunday, 21 January 2018

While Jose Mourinho is pleased with Manchester United's impressive start to the Premier League season, he wants to see how his side react to going behind.

United have enjoyed an excellent start to the campaign, picking up maximum points from their opening two games after repeat 4-0 wins over West Ham and Swansea.

United currently sit top of the table as a result, but Mourinho would like his side to fall behind in the upcoming weeks to discover if they can handle adversity.

"The thing I want to happen is for the team to be losing," Mourinho is quoted as saying by Sky Sports. "So I can see the way we react emotionally.

"At this moment, everything is going in our favour, but it is not always going to be a motorway. You can always find difficult journeys and road blocks, and we have to be ready for that.

"It has not happened so far but going a goal behind will be a different challenge and I want to see how these players try to change a result.

"Let's see how we are when we are in difficulties, when we need the last minutes to win matches."

Mourinho also said that he is not getting carried away by United's start, given they also picked up two wins from their opening two league games last season yet ended up finishing sixth.

"Of course I am happy with the way we have started the season," he added. "And the quality of our performances has given me even more confidence.

"But I don't forget that we started last season with six points from our first two matches and still finished sixth. That is not a lesson, it's the reality of football. Two wins are not paradise, just as two defeats are not the end of the world."

Published in Sports

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo attends the inauguration of President Paul Kagame of Rwanda in Kigali, the country's capital city, August 18th, 2017.

Published in Headliners
Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial capital, has been ranked as second world’s least liveable city.

It ranked second behind Damascus in an annual report by The Economist, which placed Melbrourne, Australia, as the world’s most liveable city for the seventh year running.

The Lagos rating was a fall from the third position from the bottom as contained in the 2016 report. 

The 2017 ‘Global Liveability Report’, which was released on Wednesday by The Economist’s Intelligence Unit, stated that terrorism and diplomatic tensions were eroding living conditions worldwide.

The report was premised on the criteria of stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

The “overall rating” of Lagos State stood at 36 per cent with stability, pegged at 10 per cent; healthcare, 37.5 per cent; culture and environment, 53.5 per cent; education, 33.3 per cent and infrastructure, 46.4 per cent.

Agence France Presse reports that conflict and terrorism were the major factors responsible for those cities finishing on the bottom of the survey.

“Violent acts of terrorism have been reported in many countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, France, Pakistan, Sweden, Turkey, the UK and the US.

“While not a new phenomenon, the frequency and spread of terrorism have increased noticeably and become even more prominent,” the report added.

Melbrourne, the Australian city was ranked number one out of 140 cities, slightly ahead of the Austrian capital Vienna, with the Canadian trio of Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary completing the top five.

The survey revealed that medium-sized cities in wealthy countries fared best.

“These can foster a range of recreational activities without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure,” the report said.

Major hubs like New York, London, Paris and Tokyo which were hives of activity reportedly lost points due to high levels of crime and overcrowded public transport.

Published in Headliners

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo Thursday in Ibadan described members of the National Assembly as a “bunch of unarmed robbers”, over their huge salaries and allowances.

Obasanjo, who hit hard at the National lawmakers, said the current legislators are one of the highest paid lawmakers in the world, despite the fact that  an estimated 75 percent of Nigerians populace live in poverty.

He added that the arm of government should be roundly condemned.

The former president spoke at the book presentation of Prof. Mark Nwagwu entitled: “I am Kagara, I Weave the Sands of Sahara”.

The event, which held at the University of Ibadan, had Obasanjo as the Chief Host while the former Minister of Education, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili chaired the occasion.

Stressing that he is expecting another round of bashing from the federal lawmakers, the former President said he would continue to lambast them for constituting a huge percentage of the nation’s overhead cost.

He lamented that the nation would hardly develop when about 90 percent of revenue was spent on overhead costs, rather than on capital expenses.

Speaking on the ongoing impasse between the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over the 2009 agreement, Obasanjo, said government allowed itself to be stampeded into signing agreements without full consultation within government.

However, he added that regardless of that, the government was bound to implement whatever agreement reached with workers’ unions.

He said: “Government allows itself to be stampeded into signing agreement particularly when one group or the other withdraws their service and go on strike. After the agreement has been signed, without full consultation within government, and implementation becomes an issue.

“But an agreement is an agreement whoever the agent is that signed that agreement on your behalf, you are bound by it. You may now have to renegotiate to have a new agreement but the agreement earlier signed remains an agreement.

“The universities teachers go on strike, there is an agreement; doctors go on strike, there will be a special agreement. And when the universities teachers see that the agreement reached with the doctors is different from theirs, they again go on strike and this is bad for our economy.

“The way we are going about spending all our revenue to pay overhead, we will not develop. And we will have ourselves to blame. Ninety percent of revenue is used to pay overhead, allowances, salaries and not much is left for capital development.

“In a situation like that, we have to rethink.

“It is even worse for the National Assembly. They will abuse me again but I will never stop talking about them. They are a bunch of unarmed robbers.”

“They are one of the highest paid in the world where we have 75 percent of our people living in abject poverty. They will abuse me tomorrow and if they don’t, maybe they are sleeping. The behaviour and character of the National Assembly should be condemned and roundly condemned.”

In her remarks at the occasion, the Chairperson of the event, Dr. Ezekwesili, remarked that the 289-page book, was a tool for Nigeria to examine the extent to which she had lost her values and culture.

She decried the loss of community spirit, warning that Nigeria must never negotiate her values.

According to her, the world was currently such that humanity tried to figure out what happened to morality.

The book reviewer, Mr Nwachukwu Egbunike, in his remarks on the book noted the theme of feminism and how women navigate life intricacies towards achieving success in life.

Egbunike also lauded the author’s ability to weave around different concepts in both the spirit and natural world.

Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships, University of Ibadan, Professor Olanike Adeyemo remarked that Nwagwu’s book was a veritable instrument to help the younger generation keep touch with culture.

The event was attended by both academic and non-academic staff of the university who were on hand to celebrate the author and his wife, Helen.

Published in Headliners
Any close watcher of events in the country in recent times would know that the country is passing through a very trying period. Never in the history of Nigeria has it faced this kind of troubles. The troubles are multifaceted. Over and above every other thing is the battle for the soul of Nigeria. The centrifugal forces from different sectors of Nigeria want to rip it apart. It looks like a joke. But never before has the country been so threatened to such an extent. Not even during the civil war.

The events of the Nigeria civil war were one directional. It was a section of the country contending against the whole, which made it fail. That was child’s play compared to what is happening at present. The country is facing multi-faceted problems from several directions. Each problem is potentially dangerous. The spate of agitations and quit notices being issued from right, left and centre are frightening.

At the last count, no less than five quit notices have been issues across Nigeria. The coalition of Arewa youths started it all when it issued an ultimatum to the Igbo resident in the north to leave their region or be forced out from October 1, 2017. That immediately sent jitters across the country and re-ignited the unending ethnic tension bedeviling Nigeria. Each ethnic group appeared to have been awakened from slumber.

As if that was being expected, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) readily welcomed the Kaduna declaration and saw it as oil that would lubricate the wheel of their march towards Biafra. IPOB called on all Igbo in the north to return en masse without wasting time. It also ordered northerners living in the South-East to vacate.

Almost immediately, a coalition of Niger Delta militants, in a sharp reaction, rose from a meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and ordered all northerners to vacate the oil-rich region. The militants threatened to attack all oil wells owned by northerners in the Niger Delta before October 1. They also threatened to declare the Niger Delta Republic. The group demanded for the return of all oil blocks given to none indigenes of the Niger Delta.

A group called the Middle Belt Renaissance Forum, made up of youths from all the states in the Middle Belt, after its crucial meeting in Abuja, declared that all herdsmen must vacate the Middle Belt by October 1. It declared that the Middle Belt is not in any way part of the Northern agitation for the Igbo to vacate. The Forum charged the North to stop using the Middle Belt to achieve its selfish political and economic aims as was the case in the past.

As if it wants to ensure that it was not left in the cold, a group of Yoruba nationalists had, after a meeting in Lagos, declared Oduduwa republic, which it said is seceding from the entity called Nigeria. Although, it did not issue quit notice against anybody, it slammed Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB, MASSOB, and the Arewa Consultative Forum for disrespecting the Yoruba nation for too long!

The Yoruba, to me, has been the only placating force holding Nigeria together after the other regions appeared to be set for a show down. That the Yoruba has now joined in this fray shows how serious the situation has become. As it were, virtually every section of the country wants to pull out of Nigeria.

Unfortunately, October 1, which normally, is used to commemorate Nigeria’s independence from colonial rule, has now become the new date set for the sharing of Nigeria to its component parts. What an irony of situation! Can Nigeria survive October 1, 2017? Would there be independence celebration this year? What is the government doing about these divisive forces? Is anything being done to assuage the situation? What is the way out?

Former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the other day, captured the terrifying situation when he said that Nigeria is sleep walking to national disaster and yet the present leadership of the country seems to be indifferent. Anyaoku spoke at a lecture he delivered in commemoration of the 98th birthday of Chief Akintola Williams, the renowned accountant.

But that, really, is not the case. The leadership cannot be said to be sleep walking, for that will mean they are unconscious of what is happening. Whatever is happening, including the leadership lackadaisical response is done in full consciousness. The leadership is not sleeping. Whatever it is doing is deliberate; in full consciousness and with all the senses very much awake. The absence of President Buhari has complicated the problem.

Just the other day, for instance, the National Assembly (NASS), threw out a bill on the devolution of power to the states, which would have served as panacea to the agitations to the chagrin of Nigerians. Nigerians had placed hope that passage of the bill could reduce tension in the country.

The issue of restructuring, which has gained currency across the country, could have been pushed forward if the devolution of power bill had been passed. But that seems to have failed, thereby, exposing the country to avoidable imminent danger. The rejection of the bill by the NASS confirmed what I had written in this column that the lawmakers are paying lip service to restructuring. The opportunity came for them to show patriotism and love for the country but they blew it and are now helpless.

For now, I can’t imagine what the NASS could do to save the country; they are averse to implementing the 2014 National Conference Report and have missed a golden opportunity to save the country. Why couldn’t the NASS make history as change agent that pulled the country out of the cesspit? Why have these peoples’ representatives refused to do the will of the people but pursue their own selfish agenda?

It needs to be stressed that miss-governance is at the root of all the agitations. Leadership failure is absolutely Nigeria’s main problem. It is worrisome that amid the tension in the land, the political leadership is acting as if all is well. By neglecting the situation, no critical effort is being made to deal with the situation.

Although, while at no time, since the war broke out in 1967, has there been absolute peace in Nigeria, a situation where every section of the country wants to break out is unprecedented. That is why there ought to be crisis emergency meetings going on in government circles to deal with the problem and save the country.

 
Published in Parliament

I refer to Chidi Anselm Odinkalu’s opinion piece titled, “Nigeria’s toxic NGO Regulation Bill” in The Guardian of July 27, 2017. His fears on a draconian bill from the federal parliament (House) to monitor the activities of non-governmental organisations are in order. Thanks to civil society, Nigerians are vibrant, and demand accountability from governments which have led to the ushering in of a degree of open governance.

Thanks to foreign aid, the AIDS scourge around the world has reduced tremendously. And unlike in times past, more people now have access to antiretroviral treatment than was previously possible. And deaths have reduced to a noticeable level. Currently, we do not look at AIDS patients with the woe-begone-thee outlook of before, thanks to enlightenment campaigns, so also is the reduction in the level of tuberculosis, malaria, improved education for girls, as well as improved agricultural practices etc. But are non-governmental organisations in Nigeria truly equipped to carry out the mission for which these aids are meant?
Do we really have the system in place, the political institutions built over time to sustain the works of non-governmental organisations in words and in deeds?

Can our people and government take actions on critical issues without reverting to donors? I am looking at taking ownership of the process. How is our level of diplomacy and engagement with open society? Maybe this is where a bill as proposed is needed. I have sat down to think about this. Just recently, I needed sponsorship for a programme to help young children. I wrote many letters to non-governmental organisations in-country. Only one sent a negative reply. Even then, they told me that their external donors determine projects they must fund locally. The outfit in question deals with issues that hover around children, I plan saving children. You wonder why they couldn’t take the lead to inform their donors about my plans but settled for the easy way out. 

In contrast, one U.S. foundation stationed in the United States to which I sent a letter – promptly replied within days. It regretted not being able to assist but gave me customised web links to download resource materials to help develop content for the proposed, programme. I can’t forget my trip to the British Council, of course supervised by Nigerians. I went there to see if I could get resource persons for a TV show on education. They were excited. They made me apply formally. This was in August 2016. As I write this essay, no-one has deemed it fit to reply, even though I had a meeting with a Nigerian manager in charge of education (even when I sent text messages giving gentle reminders) neither did they give me a resource person even when I told them the date I planned to go on air. I wonder what might have happened had I ventured there to ask for sponsorship. What then drives that British organisation to development? Or how do they support developmental progress when formal letters are received, acknowledged but statuses of applications never communicated to applicants.

Do we need to harp on recruitment into NGOs in Nigeria? Due to the need to staff top decision making positions with Nigerians, merit in many places has been thrown away and we have settled for nepotism. To get a job in many NGO outfit in Nigeria, you may need to be connected or come from a particular geographical location in Nigeria. I remember being interviewed for a position at The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in 2010 in Port Harcourt. Seven years later, not one person bothered to inform me why I failed the test and oral interview. I submitted efforts for two days. Silence means I failed right? No issue with failing though. Great men have failed at some things in earlier days. But courtesy demands I am informed, isn’t it? NGOs in Nigeria are proto-type of our civil service.

Our love for clannishness is not only affecting the decisions of donors in Nigeria but is also eroding the importance of NGOs in Nigeria. I remember how I campaigned to get a job in a USAID-funded NGO in 2009 in Port Harcourt but the top managers told me the available position was reserved for an indigene of the state even when no-one had applied for it. We fork out nativist agenda in growth agencies. I am not judging these NGOs. But we need to feel their presence in Nigeria and appreciate their unbridled interest and resourcefulness in addressing issues that have bedeviled our society. If truly we want to evolve as a people or develop as a nation, these issues must be squarely faced.

What do NGOs teach us here? And how effective are they to the Nigerian society? President Donald Trump plans to cut down drastically on U.S. foreign aids around the world. Experts have warned that it would harm U.S. national security. The Trump administration is also proposing cuts in U.S. funds to the United Nations. The president reasons, that the U.S. carries the burden of the world alone to a large-degree, with no gratitude from many countries that can’t survive without her foreign aids. Nigeria needs to begin to discharge her own burden – without being nursed, fraternally.

• Abah wrote from Port Harcourt.

Published in Parliament

Presidency rejects claim that PDP left healthy economy

The Presidency yesterday dismissed former President Goodluck Jonathan’s claim on the state of the economy at the end of his administration in May 2015.

Jonathan said at the weekend that he handed over a healthy economy to President Muhammadu Buhari.

“We tamed inflation at a single digit, maintained price stability, and drove the economy to become the largest in Africa”, the ex-president explained.

But the Presidency disagreed, saying the economy President Buhari inherited had crumbled.

In a statement titled “Your Excellency Dr Jonathan, this is the economy you left behind, in case you have forgotten”,  the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said: “With due respects to the former President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, these are the facts about the economy you left behind, in case you have forgotten.

“I hope this will help to erase the wrong statement credited to you at your party, the PDP Convention at the Eagle Square last weekend that you handed to President Buhari a robustly healthy economy.

“To the same extent, this should also help to erase yet another false statement by Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, the Caretaker Chairman of the party, to the effect that under the previous administration there was money but now things are very hard.

“Let me start by reasserting an obvious statement, which is that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was handed an economy ravaged by years of mismanagement and corruption.

“It is understandable that Dr Jonathon kept his comments short, because a cursory look at any sector clearly indicated that he and his government presided over the most monumental and tragic economic mismanagement recorded in our national history.

“The oil sector boomed under his tenure, with oil prices as high as US$ 120 and peace in the Niger Delta. Nigeria earned unprecedented dollar revenues. Sadly,that is where the story turns sour. There is nothing to show for the revenues earned, no major capital project was completed,  neither power generation, road development, rail nor agriculture benefited from the windfall earnings. Rather the administration presided over  the diversion of oil revenues on such a massive scale that even without the protection now accorded to Whistle blowers, the   then Central Bank Governor blew not only a whistle but a trumpet.

“He was hurriedly shown the door. Meanwhile, the acquisition by public officers and their cohorts of private jets, luxury yachts and the accumulation of expensive property portfolios world-wide continued unabated. Indeed the President once celebrated having the largest number of private jets, whilst our youth languished without jobs, our fields stood idle and our factories began the lay-off of workers.

“Government simply reticulated oil revenue  through personal spending by corrupt leaders, wasteful expenses and  salaries. This was done rather than investing in what would grow the economy. Economies grow due to capital investment in assets like seaports, airports, power plants, railways, roads and housing. Nigeria cannot record a single major infrastructural project in the last 10 years. In short the money was mismanaged.”

“Such was the looting that even the goose that was laying the golden egg was being systematically starved. The direct contractual  costs of oil produced , in the form of cash calls, remained unpaid.  The incoming, President Buhari’s welcome from the oil majors included  demand for US$6Bn owed by Nigeria for oil that had already been sold or stolen,” he said.

Shehu recalled that at the inception of the Buhari administration, 21 States were unable to meet their salary bills and the spectre of workers arrears had begun.

“The PDP solution was the raid of the Ecological Fund and it selectively granted N2Bn each to the PDP states.  It was only aggressive borrowing by the Ministry of Finance under Dr  Okonjo- Iweala that prevented Federal Government from also owing salaries. The economic wisdom of borrowing to pay recurrent bills  is a questionable one, particularly as those paid would have included over 45,000 that have subsequently been removed by the Buhari-led administration as ghost workers.

“It also included the lavish costs of chartering private jets, first class travel   and other wasteful acts that have been eliminated under this administration.

“To compound the problem, the government was borrowing heavily and owed contractors, and international oil companies. When this government took over we had accumulated debt back to the level it was before the Paris Club Debt forgiveness.

“All these factors  were building up to Nigeria heading for a major crisis if the price of oil fell. Nigeria did not have fiscal buffers to withstand an oil shock.

“The oil shock should and could have been foreseen.  When Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS, crisis started, it was clear that the United States of America wanted to cut off funds to terror groups by crashing the price of oil. When America granted permission for exploration of oil on land (Shale), the warning signs were evident, but these were ignored by Nigeria’s economic managers,” Shehu said

The spokesman added: “In summary, Nigeria earned a lot of money when oil prices were high but there is nothing to show for it. Now oil prices have fallen we are suffering.

“What could they have done differently? They could have begun doing the very things that the Muhammadu Buhari administration is doing so painfully now:

“Fight corruption, sanitise the huge salary bill  by eliminating payroll fraud, reduce wasteful expenses like first class travel and private jets, encourage state governments to reform their spending and build savings or investments, Increase spending on capital projects, especially on infrastructure needed to make Nigerian businesses competitive, and create jobs, block the leakages that allowed government revenues to be siphoned into private hands, Focus on key sectors  ( apart from oil) that can create jobs and or  generate revenue, such as agriculture, solid minerals and manufacturing.”

“If these things had been done when the oil price was as high as US$120 per barrel, Nigeria would not be in the current predicament.”

In Shehu’s view, Nigeria would not have been suffering, if we had cash reserves, power, or a rail system, or good roads, or good housing. “But we don’t have money and we don’t have the projects either.

“Now that the oil has fallen below those levels, it is very difficult to do what is needed but they must be done to save Nigeria. There is no other way if we want to be honest,” he said, adding:

“If PDP were still in power they would have continued deceiving people, by borrowing to fund stealing and wastage and the problem would have simply been postponed for future generations to face.

“One of former President Jonathon’s specific boasts is that dollar under him was N180 compared to today.  With such a line of  argument, it is clear why we are where we are. With oil prices as high as $120, the average inflow of dollars each month was high, making it easy to support cheap dollars. However with oil price plummeting as low as $28, the fundamental laws of supply and demand dictate that the currency would need to adjust, since oil was the sole export.  It is instructive to note that virtually every major oil exporter has witnessed currency adjustments with the fall in oil price.

“The Buhari administration has taken a long term strategic view of supporting a stable naira on both the supply and demand sides. President Buhari has driven Import substitution to reduce demand for dollars to buy things we can produce, thereby creating thousands of rural jobs in rice and other staples. In addition, there is a credible plan to diversify our revenue sources away from oil, with focus on export crops as well as solid minerals, with the release of US$100m fund to develop solid mineral extraction.

“President Muhammdu Buhari has a  positive and prosperous vision for Nigeria. A nation in which  the natural talent and hard work  of the people is  being supported by an enabling environment of  infrastructural development  and policy reforms that will develop a firm future for our nation.  Nigerians are looking forward and the PDP’s lurking in the economic rear view mirror only underscores the resolve of Nigerians, that as far as the economy is concerned it is ‘never again’” Shehu said.

Published in Headliners

Cristiano Ronaldo has been banned for five matches after pushing referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea during Real Madrid's 3-1 Spanish Super Cup first-leg win at Barcelona on Sunday.

Ronaldo's 24 minutes as a substitute at the Camp Nou saw him score a superb goal, pick up a booking for removing his shirt during the celebration, and then quickly receive a second yellow after De Burgos Bengoetxea ruled the Portugal captain had dived to try to win a penalty.

Ronaldo reacted to being sent off by pushing De Burgos Bengoetxea. The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) banned Ronaldo for one match for drawing the red card and the other four for pushing the official.

That was just one major talking point on a night that also saw Gerard Pique's own goal put Madrid ahead, Lionel Messi equalise with a controversial penalty won by Luis Suarez and Marco Asensio score a screamer to put his side fully in control ahead of Wednesday's second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Ronaldo has also been fined €3,805 for his actions, while Madrid were fined €1,750.

Ronaldo is set to miss the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup against Barcelona as well as Madrid's four opening La Liga games against Deportivo La Coruna, Valencia, Levante and Real Sociedad.

His next domestic appearance will come at home to Real Betis in La Liga in the midweek round of fixtures of Sept. 20, although he will be eligible to play in Real Madrid's Champions League group stage opener a week before and the Santiago Bernabeu Trophy friendly against Fiorentina on Aug. 23.

The RFEF says Madrid have 10 days to lodge an appeal with its appeals committee, while adding in its report that the club attempted to get the offence downgraded from a push to a minor "disregard" for the referee.

The official match report sent to the RFEF from the Camp Nou included Ronaldo's push in the "other incidents" section.

"Cristiano Ronaldo Dos Santos Aveiro -- having been shown the red card, the player pushed me slightly in a sign of his disagreement," the Basque official wrote.

The RFEF's disciplinary code appears clear that the punishment for such behaviour, even if only "slightly violent," is an extra suspension of four to 12 games.

"Pulling, pushing or shaking, or a general attitude towards the match officials which, even if only slightly violent, without confirming an aggressive attitude on their part, will be punished with a suspension of four to 12 games," says the code's article 96.

At the postmatch news conference, Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said the second yellow was "a bit too much" and hoped Ronaldo could still be cleared to play in Wednesday's second leg.

Madrid captain Sergio Ramos told Telecinco after the final whistle that he believed Ronaldo had not dived, and therefore the club would be able to appeal the decision.

"I was far away," Ramos said. "But I believe Cristiano lost his balance and did not fake anything. We can appeal, as it leaves us without a very important player, with 10 minutes left. [The referee] should have thought about it a bit more."

Ramos also said that De Burgos Bengoetxea had erred in earlier awarding a penalty when Suarez fell to the ground dramatically, having been challenged inside the box by Madrid keeper Keylor Navas.

"There is a lot of tension in these type of games," he said. "For me it was not a penalty. I don't believe the referee blew the whistle if he did not see anything; he must have seen it clearly. But for me there was nothing."

Madrid left-back Marcelo told the club's official website that the red card was "bizarre" while acknowledging that referees make mistakes.

"Cristiano being sent off was bizarre, but sometimes that can happen," the Brazil international said. "Referees can make mistakes, along with the things they get right."

Ex-Madrid full-back Alvaro Arbeloa, now popular among fans and pundits for his regular defence of his former club, tweeted after Ronaldo's sending off: "They are laughing in our face. Lamentable."

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 15 August 2017 00:01

Banks remove $1.2b 9Mobile debt from books

The 12 banks involved in the $1.2 billion 9Mobile loan are setting aside a large part of the debt from their books ahead of the December 31 end-date for the fiscal year.

The mobile company took the loan four years ago from a consortium of banks. It failed to repay the loan due to a currency crisis and the economic recession.

In the deal are: Zenith Bank, GTBank, First Bank, United Bank for Africa, Fidelity Bank, Access Bank, Ecobank, First City Monument Bank, Stanbic IBTC and Union Bank.

Zenith Bank yesterday announced that it had made a provision on 30 per cent of its loan to 9Mobile, the country’s fourth largest telecoms group formerly known as Etisalat Nigeria.

The bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Peter Amangbo, said: “We have taken about 30 per cent … as a provision, which we believe is very prudent as the company is undergoing restructuring … to prepare for a new investor.”

Zenith Bank is the largest lender to 9Mobile, one source familiar with the matter disclosed. The bank has declined to disclose its exposure to the telecoms group. The Tier-1 lender had last week reported a pre-tax profit of N92.18 billion for its half year against N53.91 billion a year ago.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) in July saved Etisalat Nigeria from collapse, stopping the company from going into receivership. But the telecom giant witnessed a board, management and name change.

Former Keystone Bank Executive Director Richard Obire said many other banks were likely to provide for certain percentage of the loans, depending on their profitability positions.

He said Zenith Bank, being a highly profitable bank, was thinking that it might not be able to recover the full money. “Zenith may be considering that when it gets down to negotiation with 9Mobile, it may end up giving about 30 per cent of the debt. The debtor may ask for more restructuring and loan forgiveness,” Obire said.

According to him, some banks are conservative and may want to stay within the five per cent regulatory non-performing loan threshold while some may want to exceed the limit. “Banks that are making more money are more likely to provide for their loans than those with less profitability,” he said.

Obire said by exceeding the 10 per cent peg for sub-standard loans to go for 30 per cent provision, Zenith Bank was indirectly saying that although the loan was not doubtful, but it was more than sub-standard. “If the bank does 30 per cent provision on the loan in 2017, it may do 50 per cent in 2018 while considering the variables surrounding the loans,” he said.

Head Treasuries at Ecobank Nigeria Olakunle Ezun said it is expected that the banks will provide for the loan, which he described as a bad debt. “For now, 9Mobile loan is like a non-performing loan for the banks. I understand that the banks are trying to restructure the loan. If they succeed, it will become a performing loan; otherwise it will have to be provided for in their books,” he said.

He said more banks may provide for the loan by year-end, but such a decision will be determined by the boards and their interpretation of the future of 9Mobile.

According to CBN Prudential Guidelines, banks are expected to review  their  credit  portfolio  continuously  (at  least once  in a  quarter)  with  a  view  to recognising  any deterioration in  credit quality. Such reviews should systematically and realistically classify banks’ credit exposures based on the perceived risks of default.

To facilitate comparability of banks’ classification of their credit portfolios, the guidelines said assessment  of  risk  of  default  should  be  based  on  criteria,  which  should include,  but  are  not  limited  to,  repayment  performance,  borrower’s repayment  capacity  on  the  basis  of  current  financial  condition  and  net realisable value of collateral.

The CBN prudential guidelines stipulate that a credit facility should be deemed as non-performing when interest or principal is due and unpaid for 90 days or more;   interest  payments  equal  to  90  days  interest  or  more  have been capitalized, rescheduled or rolled over into a new loan.

The guideline said a loan can be substandard, doubtful or lost. A loan is subs-standard when unpaid principal and/or interest remain outstanding for more than 90 days but less than 180 days. Credit facilities which display well defined weaknesses  which  could  affect  the  ability  of  borrowers  to repay,  such  as  inadequate  cash  flow  to  service  debt, undercapitalisation or insufficient working capital, absence of adequate financial information or collateral documentation, among others, are said to be sub-standard.

According to the CBN guidelines,  a loan is classified as doubtful when unpaid principal and/or interest remain outstanding for at least 180 days but less than 360 days and in  addition  to  the weaknesses  associated  with  sub-standard  credit  facilities reflect that full repayment of the debt is not certain or that realisable collateral values will be insufficient to cover bank’s exposure.

A loan is classified as lost when unpaid principal and/or interest remain outstanding for 360 days or more and in  addition  to  the weaknesses  associated  with  doubtful  credit  facilities,  are considered  uncollectible  and  are  of  such  little  value  that continuation  as  a  bankable  asset  is  unrealistic.

Published in Business and Economy
Monday, 14 August 2017 10:38

BREAKING: ASUU begins nationwide strike

 

The Academic Staff Union of Universities has commenced an indefinite nationwide industrial action.

The National President of the union, Dr. Biodun Ogunyemi, announced this on Monday during a meeting of the National Executive Council of ASUU in Abuja.

He said during the strike, there shall be no teaching, no examination and no attendance of statutory meetings of any kind in any of the union’s branches across the country.

According to Channels TV, Dr. Ogunyemi declared a total, comprehensive and indefinite nationwide strike after a nationwide consultation with members at an emergency NEC meeting held on Saturday, August 12, 2017.

Published in Headliners
Page 8 of 13

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