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Press highlights clarification on US hostage rescue mission in Nigeria, others

The clarification from the Nigerian government on the US rescue mission in the country and the criticisms and rejection that greeted the resolution taken by northern leaders regarding Social Media Bill and EndSARS protests across the country are the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Wednesday.

ThisDay reports that the Nigerian government yesterday formally reacted to the rescue in Sokoto State of a kidnapped United States citizen by the US military, saying the rescue mission was with the consent of the Nigerian government.
The development has confirmed THISDAY’s exclusive report that President Muhammadu Buhari approved the US
 mission.

A senior diplomat had told THISDAY that the Nigeria intelligence community provided the intelligence operation that made the rescue mission of the American, Mr. Philip Walton, successful.

But the federal government accused some foreign nations of deliberate attempt to thwart Nigeria’s efforts at fighting insurgency in the North-east of the country.

The Guardian says that criticisms and rejection have greeted the resolution taken on Monday by northern leaders regarding Social Media Bill and EndSARS protests across the country.

Nineteen northern governors, traditional rulers, legislators and other stakeholders had held an urgent meeting in Kaduna to discuss recent EndSARS protest and insecurity in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police (IGP), the Ministers of Information, Lai Mohammed, the Federal Capital Territory, Musa Bello; Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; and the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari attended the meeting.
Their position was delivered by the Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Simon Lalong. They condemned the EndSARS protest, saying, “the meeting rejects and condemns the subversive acțions.”

It also noted that agitators and other change-regime agents “outside the ballot box” took advantage of the peaceful protests to push for their separate agenda.

On social media, it said the meeting took note of the devastating effect of uncontrolled social media in spreading fake news and called for major control and censorship of social media in Nigeria.

The Punch reports that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said Nigeria’s total public debt will hit N38tn by December 2021.

Ahmed said this on Tuesday in her presentation to the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts. The minister said, “The total public debt stock comprising the external and home debts of the federal and state governments and the Federal Capital Territory stood at N31.01tn ($85.90bn) as of June 30, 2020.

“It is projected, based on existing approval, to rise to N32.51tn by December 31, 2020 and N38.68tn by December 31, 2021.” This means that the country will borrow N6.17tn in 2021.

The minister attributed numerous abandoned road projects across the country to poor funds releases occasioned by dwindling revenue. Ahmed explained that the current Sukuk fund was N162bn for 45 roads cut across the six geopolitical zones.

She said, “I am one person that feels that we should just take one major road in one geopolitical zone and finish it. “We were not able to do that because of the processes in which appropriation is made both at the executive as well as the legislative arms of government.

The newspaper says that the Nigerian government is seeking a $1.2bn external borrowing from Brazil to finance agricultural programmes in the 2021 budget.

A request for approval has also been transmitted to the National Assembly. The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, who appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Finance in Abuja on Tuesday to defend the budget proposed by her ministry, made this known. Ahmed disclosed that the Federal Government sent a request to the National Assembly to approve the loan from the Brazilian government to address issues in the agriculture value chain as Nigeria.

Ahmed also said the Federal Government would acquire 100,000 hectares of land in each state for food production, adding that link roads would be built in such locations to provide access for farmers to move farm produce to markets and reduce post-harvest losses.

The Chairman of the committee, Mr. James Faleke, had asked the finance minister about diversification of the economy. Responding, Ahmed said, “For borrowing to improve industry, we are before the parliament. I request for the approval for loan that we call the Green Imperative Programme which is for loan of $1.2bn from the Brazilian government.

The Punch also says that the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, has reported an explosion at a production facility in Oil Mining Lease 40 involving its partners, Elcrest Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited. Spokesperson for NNPC, Kennie Obateru, said on Tuesday that the explosion led to the damage of a marine storage vessel and led to a reduction in crude oil production by 10,000 barrels per day.

He said the explosion recorded no fatalities, adding that it occurred while the companies were carrying out production evacuation at Gbetiokun Early Production facility. Obateru said in a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday that the explosion also recorded no injury and no significant spill in the community where it occurred.

“There was, however, significant damage to the marine storage vessel, MT Harcourt, which will impact production by about 10,000 barrels of oil per day,” he said. He said the NNPC had since commenced investigation to ascertain the cause of the incident with a view to averting future occurrence.
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Published on 10.02.2021

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