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NIGERIA TO SPEND NEXT 40 YEARS REPAYING CONTROVERSIAL N23.72TR CBN OVERDRAFTS TO FG

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• Senate approves restructuring of controversial loan

• Reps may accede to request next week

• Liquidation of facilities to be spread to 2063

• Spending requires thorough investment not approval, says Owoh

• Approval could open floodgate of litigation, expert warns

• CBN’s budget support grows by 2,900% in eight years • Funding prevents shutdown of governance, Senate Committee claims

• Restructuring to reduce cost of servicing loan by 57%

The Senate, yesterday, abandoned its previous hard line stance and approved the conversion to a 40-year bond of the N23.72 trillion Federal Government’s unappropriated expenditure funded by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through its ways and means (W&M) window.

President Muhammadu Buhari, last year, wrote the National Assembly to approve the amount alongside a fresh N1 trillion it planned to take from the window (bringing the total value earmarked for securitisation to N23.72 trillion) for conversion to a 40-year tenure bond priced at nine per cent.

The bond conversion, which would ultimately move the amount from the balance sheet of the CBN to the Debt Management Office (DMO) for management, has a three-year moratorium, the Buhari administration disclosed.

The Senate and the House of Representatives had at several times turned down approval for lack of proper explanation on how proceeds of the loans would be spent.

With the Senate’s approval, the President’s efforts to push through has now narrowed to the House of Representatives, which had rejected the plea for lack of sufficient explanation of the utilisation of the facility. Sources said the Reps might discuss the request for possible approval when they convene next week.

The lower chamber would have approved the fresh additional borrowing of N1 trillion before proceeding on election recess but held back its approval for the restructuring of the controversial N22.72 trillion, seeking further explanation on the accumulation.

When the lower chamber of the National Assembly approves the request, the amount would be moved from the CBN book where it is currently being serviced at 21 per cent interest. The Federal Government said it agreed to an interest rate payment of the going monetary policy rate (MPR) plus 300 basis points (bps) as the price of the loan. MPR is currently 18 per cent with the possibility of a further upward review.

Buhari hinted late last year that the Federal Government would spend an additional N1.8 trillion servicing the debt except it is converted to a sovereign bond priced at nine per cent. The Guardian had reported that with the current interest of 21 per cent, the government could spend as much as N4.6 trillion as the cost of yearly servicing.

If the President secures consolidated approval in the coming weeks, the current cost of the loan would come down by as much as 57 per cent. But that depends on if the nine per cent negotiated bond price subsists as the cost of commercial debt has increased in the past months.

The approval could open a floodgate of litigation over the legality of the accumulated W&M advanced ab initio. When the Buhari administration assumed office, CBN’s overdraft to the government stood at N789.7 billion. The amount has since 2015 ballooned by 2,902 per cent to its current value (N23.72 trillion).

But the controversy is more about its alleged violation of the CBN Act than the alarming growth. According to Section 38 of the CBN Act, “the Central Bank may grant temporary advances to the Federal Government in respect of temporary deficiency of budget revenue at such rate as the Bank may determine.”

But it adds: “The total amount of such advances outstanding shall not at any time exceed five per cent of the previous year’s actual revenue of the Federal Government. All advances shall be repaid as soon as possible and shall, in any event, be repayable by the end of the Federal Government financial year in which they are granted and if such advances remain unpaid at the end of the year, the power of the bank to grant such further advances in any subsequent year shall not be exercisable, unless the outstanding advances have been repaid.”

Yesterday, a renowned monetary policy expert and professor of applied economics, Godwin Owoh, said Senate’s approval amounts to illegality that would be challenged by the court by interested Nigerians.

Describing the legislative action as approval in arrears, he said the National Assembly should have focused on interrogating how the proceeds of the loans, which were not appropriated.

The administration relied on the window to cater to short-term or emergency needs and fund delayed expected cash receipts.

Adopting the report of its special committee on W&M advances, which considered the request of the President on the issue, the Senate said the restructuring was approved because the advances were made to ensure that the government did not shut down.

The Senate further approved the sum of N180.46 billion being the balance of the supplementary budget and the interest accrued on the W&M advances.

The upper legislative chamber warned that subsequently “if there is a need to exceed the five per cent threshold of the prior year’s revenue, recourse must be made to the National Assembly for approval.”

On states, whose budget shortfalls were also funded through the CBN lending window, the Senate advised: “The Federal Government should begin the process of recovering the portion of the W&M given as loans to state governments as further deferment of the repayment of the loans by the states will not be healthy for the economy.”

It also urged the government to expedite action on the repayment of the loans through treasury bills and bond issuance, saying it will not condone future accumulation without recourse to the National Assembly.

Presenting the report of the special committee, its Chairman and Senate Majority Leader, Ibrahim Abdullahi Gobir, said the committee found out that “part of the monies were given to state governments as loans to augment budgetary shortfalls in their various states”.

“Most of the requests for funds for an increase in W&M were made to Mr. President on the need to finance the budget due to revenue shortfall. Such requests were either made by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning or the CBN Governor.

“The Federal Government as a result of revenue shortfalls occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and low oil prices relied heavily on the W&M to finance its budget deficit to keep the country working for the people. The monies received by the Federal Government were actually used for funding critical projects across the country.

“Due to the serious shortfall in Government Revenue, the Federal Government for the economy not to collapse, was compelled to borrow repeatedly from the CBN, exceeding the five per cent threshold of the prior year’s revenue as stipulated by the CBN Act,” the report stated.

The report further disclosed, “the Federal Government through the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning has concluded plans to convert the CBN loans to tradable securities such as treasury bills and bond issuance”.

Mobilising his colleagues for the rejection of the President’s request earlier, Senator George Thompson Sekibo explained that the advances were illegal and unconstitutional. He informed the Senate that the action of the President was in breach of the CBN Act and the Senate standing rules.

“We should be abreast with the information that such money was going to be taken because it was being taken on behalf of the people of Nigeria and we are entrusted with the power to make laws. They brought this without details for us to approve,” the Senator said.

But the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, attempted severally to get the Senate to accede to the president’s request – a plea that hit the rock.

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THE IGBO CULTURE OF I KPÓPÙ (TAKING SOMEONE OUT)

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The Igbo culture of I kpópù is one such lingo in the Igbo language that cannot be given an easy, direct translation, just as it is somehow complex in its simplicity, for the non-Igbo to understand, replicate, or practice.

One can only contextually approximate an interpretation, like to say it is about ‘taking someone out’, which as a normal English language expression could mean to kill someone. But here, it is directly opposite to the above, to mean or at least suggest, to take someone to another clime, to teach or help him secure a means of livelihood, for a better future.

The Igbo culture of I kpópù is very well different from I gba boyi, which is the popular system where a lad is taken into apprenticeship in a business by an established person he serves for some time, usually going into years, and is thereafter settled with a start-up at the end of the term of his learning. There are usually agreements that are followed, even when nothing is cast in stone.

In I Kpópù, a person, younger or older, simply follows someone, a relative, friend, or just somebody persuaded to assist, to his base, within the country or abroad, to help him ‘find his feet.’ He could take him into his business or give him out to someone else who does the kind of business the young man is interested in. Whatever, he serves as his guardian and mentor hence he oversees everything he does, to ensure he is well and achieves his aspirations.

Most times when people are taken out, it is an epic, destiny-shaping journey. While the benefactor makes everything available within his powers, to make the beneficiary succeed, it is expected of the latter to apply himself fully and with diligence to his hustling. Most times, they are taught trades or skills, or even become boyi (apprentice), depending on many factors, ranging from personal preferences to available opportunities. Of course, the conditions are usually not a bed of roses, of which the indomitable Igbo spirit of can-do, overcomes.

In most cases, whoever is taken out is not expected to pay back as it is usually help just offered to a kinsman, friend, or even a recommended stranger, keen to succeed in life. However, appreciation is usually shown in many ways, like acknowledging the benefactor’s intervention through verbal testimonies, presentation of gifts as well as hosting of such individuals and friends, among others, while also making oneself available as an instrument of help to others. That is why for everyone who takes out someone, someone else had possibly taken him out, just as the last in the chain is expected to take someone out too in the future.

Igbo people, especially the youths, value this Igbo culture of I kpópù a lot. Many lives have been changed through this practice. Today in Igbo land, it is therefore common to rate people, not necessarily by what they have for themselves, but by the number of those they have helped to also become successful. And this is one of the means. So, now the seasons and celebrations are over and people are returning to their bases, many have in tow youngsters who are going to pursue their dreams and destinies across the world. And rest assured by this time next year, many of them would come back successful.

And they would be very much ready to take yet other scores of young men with them, to take their shots at life. This is one of the ways the South East of Nigeria has continued to have the highest per capita income in the country. As such, while it is everyone’s right to hustle, it is expected of every brother to extend that privilege of assistance to a brother, to make his dreams come true.

Written by Wordshot Amaechi Ugwele

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EEDC NOTIFIES CUSTOMERS OF PLANNED PREPAID METER UPGRADE

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Below is an official statement to that effect:

The Enugu Electricity Distribution Company PLC (EEDC) has notified its customers that by 24th November 2024, all prepaid meters in its network will cease to accept credit tokens, unless they are upgraded.

This is as a result of a software upgrade which will be affecting all Standard Transfer Specification (STS) compliant prepaid meters across the globe.

The upgrade will be implemented through a special ‘reset token’ known as “Key Change Token” (KCT), which will be loaded on their meters, to have them upgraded.

Customers of EEDC that are using prepaid meters are therefore advised to ensure that their meters are upgraded before the set date of 24th November 2024, to avoid losing them.

The management of EEDC appeals to its customers to remain calm and not panic, as they will be notified of the process and modalities for the upgrade.

For enquiries and further clarification, customers are to call: 084 700 100, SMS/Whatsapp: 0815 082 6060 or 0815 082 6061, or send email to: customerservice@enugudisco.com

EMEKA EZEH
HEAD, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, EEDC
24/07/2023

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[TACKLING HARD TIMES] HERE ARE VEGETABLES YOU CAN GROW IN POTS ON YOUR BALCONY

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Today, many Nigerians are particularly challenged as to how to make ends meet. It is therefore important to think of simple and creative ways to boost your standard of living without spending more. As vegetables are what we need all the time, sourcing them can be quite expensive and time-consuming too.

But you can create your own little garden within the building and have fun too in having handy those fresh veggies you desire. This is all too easy if you have water as we already have enough sunlight here to provide the ideal weather needed for the plants to grow and do well.

hot peppers growing in a container

Indeed, there are many people that would love to start a vegetable garden but simply don’t have the outdoor space to do it. These days, many people live in apartments and high rises and simply don’t have any outdoor space to work with for gardening. Luckily, gardeners are no longer relegated to building raised beds or starting in-ground gardens, and there are a wide variety of vegetables that are well-suited to container gardening. 

Growing vegetables in containers gives you the option of creating a vegetable garden on your balcony or patio, or even indoors near a sunny window.

Just about every vegetable that you could ever want to grow outdoors in a garden can also be grown in a container garden on your balcony, and your vegetables will thrive in containers as well, as long as you provide the proper growing conditions and care, and select a container that is large enough to house the plant comfortably, and allows plenty of space for its roots to expand as it matures. 

In this article, we’ll tell you which vegetables are great for growing in pots in a balcony or patio garden setup, go over each vegetables basic growing preferences, highlight the best varieties of each vegetable for container gardening, and finally, we’ll give a few tips and pointers about starting your own balcony vegetable garden.

red tomatoes

TOMATOES

Tomatoes are some of the easiest vegetables to grow in containers. As long as you have a location that receives at least five to six hours of sunlight per day, you can grow tomatoes in your balcony container garden with ease. If you have limited space, try growing a dwarf variety, or cherry tomatoes instead of one of the larger tomato varieties. Tomato varieties that are well suited to container gardening include Patio Princess, BushSteak, Sweetheart of the Patio, Tumbler, and Glacier. 

For more on how to grow tomatoes in containers, click here.


BEANS

Pole beans and bush beans are both well-suited to container gardens. All you need is a spot that gets lots of sunlight, a pot that is at least one foot deep, and a trellis-like structure for the vines to grow on (for climbing varieties), and you can expect to see a good crop of beans that are ready to harvest within just a few short weeks. Good bush bean varieties to grow in containers include Bush Blue Lake, or Contender. For pole beans that are well-suited to containers, try Cherokee Trail of Tears. For green bean varieties that grow well in pots, try out Mascotte Green Beans.  

For more information on how to grow green beans in containers, click here. For more on how to grow other types of beans, click here.


PEPPERS

Aside from tomatoes and radishes, peppers are the easiest vegetable to grow in containers, and they are voracious producers as well. You will need to provide a large, deep pot, preferably at least one foot deep for ideal growth. Keep your peppers in full sun and start providing fertilizer when the plant flowers until it is done producing fruit. The best pepper plants for containers are Jalapeno, Yellow Spice Jalapeno, Early Jalapeno, Shishito, Poblano, Bolivian Rainbow, Numex Twilight, Fushimi, and Devil’s Tongue peppers

To learn more about growing hot or sweet pepper plants in containers, click here.

CARROTS

Carrots are easy to grow in containers as long as you select the right varieties. You want to pick carrots that are short instead of the standard carrot types, as the standard carrot varieties need more room for their roots to grow. Also, make sure to select a container that is deep enough to support their long taproots. Avoid overwatering and keep foliage dry to avoid issues with mildew. The best carrot varieties for pots are Romeo, Tonda di Parigi, and Little Finger. 

For more on how to grow carrots in containers, click here


PEAS

Pretty much all varieties of peas are good for container gardening, but dwarf varieties and bush varieties are preferred, especially if you are limited on space for your vegetable garden. Peas enjoy moist soil and cool weather and containers that are six to 12 inches deep depending on the cultivar. If your container is at least one foot in diameter, you can fit four to six pea plants in it comfortably. The best peas for container gardening are Peas-in-a-Pot, Tom Thumb, Snowbird, and Little SnapPea Crunch

To learn more about growing peas, click here


EGGPLANT/GARDEN EGG

Eggplants are fairly large vegetables, but as long as you provide at least a five-gallon pot that is wide enough to provide plenty of room for each eggplant you grow, they will perform very well in pots on your balcony. Eggplants require six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day and regular fertilization. Eggplant plants require support when they start producing fruit, so make sure to remember to provide stakes or cages to help support the weight of the heavy eggplant fruits. The best varieties of eggplant for container gardening are Fairy Tale, Bambino, Crescent Moon, Hansel, and Gretel. 

To learn more about growing eggplants, click here.


TIPS FOR GROWING VEGETABLES IN POTS ON YOUR BALCONY


  • Do not use soil from the ground when growing in containers, as it is typically heavy and may cause drainage issues, and it may contain pests or soil-borne diseases that could hurt your crops. Instead, use potting soil, preferably potting soil that is specifically formulated for vegetables. A top of the line, organic potting soil is ideal, and feel free to mix in some well-rotted compost, or worm castings to increase the organic matter and improve water retention and drainage. 
  • Make sure that your balcony gets plenty of sunlight, as the majority of vegetables and herbs enjoy at least eight hours of sunlight per day. If your balcony or patio area doesn’t get that much sun, you will need to adjust what you are growing in that area. A handful of root vegetables, like carrots and radishes, as well as leafy greens like lettuce, chard, and kale, only need four to six hours of sunlight to thrive. Look for a spot on the porch, deck, or driveway area that does get eight hours of sun for your other vegetables and herbs that thrive in full sun conditions. 
  • Make sure that you have a water source nearby, as vegetables are very thirsty plants and they will need a lot of water during the growing season to develop plenty of fruit for harvests. Having a water source nearby will keep you from having to lug watering cans full of water for long distances to keep your plants hydrated. 
  • Take a look above the location where you are planning on keeping your containers for your vegetable garden and try to avoid placing them under the awning of your balcony or right up against the house. Making sure your plants have access to rainfall can cut a lot of work out of caring for your plants, as you won’t need to manually water them after a heavy rain, as long as they are in a position where they are receiving that rainfall whenever it comes along. 
  • Pick containers that are large enough to support the root systems of the plants that you are wanting to grow and large enough so that the plants have plenty of room to grow to full size without needing to be repotted. Make sure that the containers that you choose have ample drainage. Here is a quick guide to selecting the right size pots for the vegetables and herbs that you want to grow:

One to two gallon containers (for small plants) – Leafy greens like lettuce, kale, chard, collards, and spinach. Other plants that work for one to two gallon containers include grape and cherry tomatoes, kohlrabi, and individual herb plants.

Five to eight gallon containers (for medium plants) – Most brassicas fit into this size container, including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, as well as medium-sized tomato plants, okra, and bush-style cucumber plants. 

Eight to ten gallon containers (for large plants) – Most large vegetables will fit into these size containers, including peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, tomatillos, large tomatoes, and bush type winter squash varieties. 

Ten to fifteen gallon containers (for extra large plants) – These extra large containers will suffice for individual plants of extra large tomatoes, winter squash, pumpkins, and artichokes. 

  • Good companion plants for pairing up veggies in extra large containers or for growing near to each other in separate containers:
    • Plant beans with carrots and squash, or pair beans with eggplants. 
    • Plant tomatoes with basil, garlic, and onions. 
    • Pair lettuce with herb plants like basil, rosemary, and thyme. 
    • Plant spinach with chard and onions.
  • Avoid planting these plants near one another, even in separate containers:
    • Keep bean plants away from onion and garlic.
    • Keep carrots away from dill or fennel.
    • Don’t plant tomatoes near squash or potatoes.
    • Don’t plant onions near beans or peas.

Starting your own vegetable garden on your balcony or patio space is fun and easy. Growing vegetables in containers can be nearly as prolific as growing them directly in the ground, and container gardening can drastically reduce issues with pests and soil-borne diseases. If you have a balcony or patio with ample space and plenty of sunlight, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t start your own container garden today. 

Source: Gardening Channel

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