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Harsh Knocks For CBN Governor Over Naira Slump

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The public has been paying close attention to and harshly critiquing the Central Bank (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, as a result of the ongoing depreciation of Nigeria’s official currency, the Naira, in both parallel and official markets during the past several weeks.

Recall, few months ago, Emefiele intended to run for president in 2023 under the banner of the All Progressives Congress (APC) put him in the center of a maelstrom.

Many Nigerians anticipated Emefiele’s efforts to define the country’s economic environment when he took over as the head of the top financial agency in June 2014.

The continuous crash of the naira, however, portends really bad news for Nigeria on his watch, not only for inflationary pressures on the economy but for businesses, especially importers. The depreciation of the local currency has negatively affected businesses — most especially importers.

The naira has been on a free fall in recent weeks, depreciating to N430 per dollar at the official market, known as the Investors and Exporters forex window, and N710/$ at the parallel market popularly called the black market.

Many business owners complain about how they’ve been unable to access the foreign exchange from commercial banks, which can only satisfy customers’ requests based on allocations from the apex bank.

Owing to the increased public outcry, the Senate during the week resolved to invite Emefiele. He was asked to appear before the Senate in plenary and address the lawmakers behind closed doors.

It also mandated the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance, and Other Financial Institutions to assess the impact of CBN intervention funds meant to support critical sectors of the economy.

The resolutions were reached by lawmakers after the upper chamber considered a motion sponsored by Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi (APC – Ekiti North).

The motion was entitled, “State of CBN Intervention Funds and Free Fall Of Naira.”

Coming under orders 41 and 51 of the Senate Standing Order, as amended, Adetunmbi bemoaned Nigeria’s economic reality amid an urgent call for “extraordinary measures.”

He noted that the CBN, through its numerous multi-sectoral intervention funds, had provided special funds to support critical sectors of the economy.

Adetunmbi explained that in view of such interventions, it had become necessary to assess the state of implementation and effectiveness of the funds deployed for the purpose.

The lawmaker recalled that the CBN, in 2021, placed an indefinite halt on forex bidding by BDC operators and importers over allegations of abuse and mismanagement.

According to Adetunmbi, “the two instruments of Personal Travel Allowance (PTA) and Business Travel Allowance (BTA) could only serve less than 20 percent of the total forex demand by travelers and businesses.”

The lawmakers, however, did not fix a date for the governor to appear.

Unfortunately, the CBN has been long hit by scarcity of foreign currencies, especially the US dollar, as oil earnings, Nigeria’s major area of sourcing foreign exchange, dwindled due to a series of issues.

Since CBN’s clampdown of AbokiFX (the website that curates parallel market exchange rate) last year, buyers and sellers of forex have struggled to find a reference point for what the actual exchange rate should be.

But the country’s apex financial institution has often maintained that the parallel market is not the true reflection of the naira.

It also argued that the non-remittance of dollars to foreign reserves by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was largely responsible for the naira’s free fall in the official and parallel markets.

NNPC and its subsidiaries are the sole managers of crude oil which accounts for more than 80 percent of Nigeria’s Foreign Exchange (forex) earnings.

“Considering Nigeria’s heavy dependence on oil exports for foreign exchange earnings and government revenue, the impact of the oil market crash severely affected the government’s naira revenue and other macroeconomic aggregates including economic growth.

Hence, the rate of exchange between the naira and other currencies has widened over the past few years.” the CBN said in a statement.

A recent announcement that Nigerians buying dollars with naira will be “arrested” made by Emefiele had sparked mixed reactions.

The warning by the CBN Governor was to those who sought to convert the naira from their accounts into foreign currencies for election campaigns and not those who seek to exchange the currency for legitimate purposes such as payment for tuition and other personal expenses.

Reiterating Emefiele’s position, the CBN spokesman also frowned at the conduct of unauthorised movement of funds within and outside the country, saying it would use tools at its disposal to check the movement of illicit funds.

While it appears that CBN has established a slew of policies aimed at reducing demand for Dollars and maintaining a reasonable exchange rate for the naira, it appears the policies are not yielding good results.

Although, analysts have argued that there is also a huge demand now for forex among students who want to pay their school fees and that most students resort to buying from the black market because of the long queue at the bank as a result of limited availability of foreign exchange.

They also blamed the continuous weakening of the naira on rising import bills, dollar savings, and the accumulation of cryptocurrencies by Nigerians who have lost confidence in the local unit due to its massive devaluation against the greenback currency.

Also, at a recent MPC briefing, Emefiele in response to a question on the impact of election spending said: “For election spending as far as we are concerned what we do is to monitor liquidity in the system and once we see that there is excess liquidity we will continue to use our discretionary powers to mop up liquidity in the vaults of the banks so that they will not get involved in speculative activities with those who want to speculate with the currency.

 

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Gov Adeleke’s First Day In Office Off To A Violent Start

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On Monday morning, hoodlums unleashed indiscriminate attacks on various auto parks throughout the metropolis, terrifying residents of Osogbo, the capital of Osun state.

Fidel Info reports that Members of the transport unions were attacked at the parks in a coordinated attack that began at 8 a.m. at Oke-Baale, Old-Garage, Ilesa Garage, and Aregbe Garage.

Leaders who supported the state government, which was governed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and just finished its term, dominated the parks.

Gunshots could be heard throughout the area as union members at Old-Garage were pursued from the park toward Ayetoro.

One of the union members managed to flee from Ayetoro with matchstick cuts, but his car caught fire.

In an effort to stop the attacks from spreading, business owners quickly closed their doors.

At Oke-Baale, Aregbe Garage, and Ilesa Garage, union members were also the targets of attacks.

In the meantime, Governor Ademola Adeleke issued a directive to union leaders to uphold peace in all parks and issued a warning against violence in a statement through his spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed.

“The Governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke has warned against violence among transport workers’ unions in the State, directing security agencies to maintain status quo across the motor parks.

“All union leaders and their supporters are, hereby, directed to remain calm and bring any grievances to the dtate government for resolution.”

“Security agencies are consequently directly to maintain law and order,” it reads.”

Meanwhile policemen have been stationed at strategic areas in the state, including the motor parks.

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NIS Instructs Passport Offices To Work On Saturdays

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The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has ordered passport offices all across the nation to open on Saturdays in order to process the backlog of passport applications.

Fidel Info reports that This information may be found in a statement that the Service’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Tony Akuneme, made accessible in Abuja on Saturday.

According to Akuneme, the Comptroller-General, Mr. Isa Jere, who issued the direction, also gave his approval for the transfer of the Ondo Passport Controller to the NIS Zonal Office in Ibadan and the deployment of the Ekiti Passport Controller to Jigawa.

According to the NIS spokeswoman, for forward, the CG will hold passport officers responsible for any acts of indiscretion committed by officers working under their supervision.

The directive, he said, was intended to help the Service lessen the backlog brought on by the lengthy lockdown that would occur in 2020 and 2021 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The C-G has directed that Passport offices across the country with high volume of pending applications to work on Saturdays.

“The period for this exercise is expected to be every Saturday commrencing from Dec. 3, 2022 to Jan. 28, 2023 between the period of 10 am to 2 pm.”

“This is to enhance our service delivery to out esteemed clients.”

“The Saturday proceding the Christmas and New Year holidays are exempted, ” he said.

The spokesman said passport offices that fall within this category should contact him by Monday for further details.

Akuneme reiterated the resolve of the C-G to make passport services available and stress free to the traveling public, especially during the festive season.

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Biden’s Granddaughter Weds At White House

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Trailed by a lengthy, flowing veil, President Joe Biden’s granddaughter Naomi Biden walked across the South Lawn of the White House on Saturday toward an altar of shrubs and flowers to marry her longtime boyfriend Peter Neal in a rare wedding on the grounds.

Fidel Info reports that Theirs was just the 19th wedding in 200-plus years of White House history.

Under a sunny, blue sky paired with unseasonably crisp 40-degree temperatures, the bride and groom, both dressed by American fashion designer Ralph Lauren, exchanged “I do’s” as 250 family members and friends watched as they were united in a nearly hourlong ceremony.

Naomi Biden, 28, wore a long-sleeved, high-neck gown and veil covering hair that had been styled behind her head. Neal, 25, chose a navy blue, three-piece suit with a double-breasted vest.

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden hosted the wedding of their eldest grandchild.

“It has been a joy to watch Naomi grow, discover who she is, and carve out such an incredible life for herself,” they said in a statement announcing the marriage of Naomi King Biden and Peter George Heermann Neal.

“Now, we are filled with pride to see her choose Peter as her husband and we are honored to welcome him to our family,” they said. “We wish them days full of laughter and a love that grows deeper with every passing year.”

The south side of the White House, facing the lawn and Washington Monument, was decorated with wreaths and garland bearing white flowers. The bride walked down an aisle that led from the Diplomatic Reception Room to the altar of shrubs and white flowers.

Guests began arriving at the security checkpoint hours before the ceremony, including women in open-toed shoes despite the chill. Some guests were given hand warmers. Most wore coats, and some topped off with hats and scarves.

It is the first White House wedding with a president’s granddaughter as the bride, and the first one ever on the South Lawn.

Pennsylvania Avenue was closed to ordinary pedestrians before and during the ceremony, as was a sidewalk bordering the Ellipse, the park just south of the White House.

After the ceremony, the newlyweds, their families and the wedding party had lunch in the White House. A reception with dessert and dancing was planned for later Saturday. President Biden went to church in Washington in between events.

Unlike some past White House weddings, Naomi Biden and Neal barred journalists, although the ceremony was outdoors on the grounds of what the president and first lady call the “people’s house.” The White House released a photo, and others were posted on the wedding planner’s social media account.

Naomi Biden is a lawyer in Washington. She is the daughter of Hunter Biden and his first wife, Kathleen Buhle.

Neal, of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania law school. He works at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington. His parents are Drs. Mary C. and William “Bill” C. Neal of Jackson Hole.

The couple, who have been living at the White House, was set up by a mutual friend about four years ago in New York City and have been together ever since, the White House said. Neal proposed in September 2021 near his childhood home in Jackson Hole with a ring that repurposed the band of his grandmother’s engagement ring, according to the White House.

The White House has released few other details about the wedding, citing the couple’s desire for privacy. The Biden family will pay for all wedding activities, officials have said.

“Naomi and Peter have asked that their wedding be closed to the media and we are respecting their wishes,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Friday.

White House weddings are rare. There have been 18 documented weddings in the 200-plus-year history of the White House. Nine involved a president’s daughter, most recently Richard Nixon’s daughter Tricia in 1971 and Lyndon Johnson’s daughter Lynda in 1967.

But nieces, a grandniece, a son and first ladies’ siblings have also gotten married there. One president, Grover Cleveland, tied the knot at the White House, too, while in office.

Some of the weddings were open to coverage by the news media, while others weren’t at all.

Journalists were allowed into Tricia Nixon’s wedding to Ed Cox, the first wedding held in the Rose Garden. Her wedding planner — a three-ring black binder in the offices of the White House Historical Association — includes extensive notes on the media plan.

But the May 1994 wedding of a brother of then-first lady Hillary Clinton and the daughter of then-U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer — the first since Tricia Nixon’s marriage — was closed to the press. Clinton’s spokesperson commented afterward and the White House released a photo.

It was the same for the October 2013 wedding of Pete Souza, President Barack Obama’s official photographer, and his longtime partner, Patti Lease. The White House announced the wedding in a statement following the small, private wedding in the Rose Garden.

The White House Correspondents Association, which advocates for press access to the White House and the president, said it was “deeply disappointed” that the White House declined its request for press coverage of Naomi Biden’s wedding.

“White House weddings have been covered by the press throughout history and the first family’s wish for privacy must be balanced against the public’s interest in an event occurring at the People’s House with the president as a participant,” the WHCA board said in a statement.

Stewart McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Association, said it’s important to remember that first families are families first.

“Their privacy should be respected, their wishes should be respected,” he said.

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