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N77tn Debt Not Manageable, Says OPS

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The Lagos Chamber of Industry as well as the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture have expressed dismay at the recent revelation that Nigeria’s debt could hit N77tn if the National Assembly agrees to the Federal Government proposal to restructure its N22.7tn Central Bank of Nigeria loan.

Reports say Nigeria’s public debt burden might hit N77tn if the National Assembly approves the request by President Muhammadu Buhari to restructure the Ways and Means Advances.

This followed comments by the Director-General of the Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha, who spoke during the public presentation of the 2023 budget organised by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed.

Speaking in an interview with The PUNCH, the Deputy-President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gabriel Idahosa, said the government ought to find creative solutions to revenue generation beyond its frequent recourse to taking loans.

He also noted that government borrowing, especially when it is as frequent as it has been with the current administration, ends up stifling the private sector’s ability to take loans from the banking system.

READ ALSO: 77 Trillion Debt: Alarm Over National Debt Unnecessary – DMO

He said, “The issue of sustainability is no longer being considered by the government. This government just wants to borrow its way out of the remaining term and then leave the problem for the next government. That’s just to put it mildly. So, the bigger picture of sustainability and structure will have to be addressed by the incoming government because the level of borrowing now is not sustainable by our revenue.

“As a country we are not generating enough revenue to service our debts and still run a government. Since last year, we have been living on borrowed money because the debt servicing has crossed 100 per cent of our revenue. If you look at our budget every year, when you look at the debt servicing, it is higher than the estimated revenue. So we just borrow on top of all that to run the government. That is what we are doing now. It is not sustainable.”

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Oasis Magazine Retracts Story, Apologises To Abraka Youth President

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Oasis Magazine Retracts Story, Apologises To Abraka Youth President

Oasis Magazine has retracted a story on Comrade Efe Kigho published by the medium headlined ‘OYC: Call Efe Kigho To Order, Umukoro Tells Oruarivie-Abraka Kingdom Monarch.’

In the said report, Comrade the news outlet claimed that youth activities were suspended in Abraka due to the gross misconduct of the President of the youths, Efe Kigho, saying he extorted certain individuals and brutalised youths in the town.

In a statement on Saturday signed by the publisher, Daniel Umukoro, the media outfit said: “We apologize to Comrade Efe Kigho over the said publication.

“It’s a fact that youths activities were generally suspended in Ethiope East and not because of any acts of gross misconduct by Efe Kigho as our source said.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Give Tinubu Time To Get Things Done, Gowon Begs Nigerians

“The statements by the said source is not in tandem with the facts at our disposal at the moment because Kigho was not at any time suspended and we use this medium to tender an unreserved apology to Kigho.

“Truth is, Kigho is a celebrated youth in Abraka with his many records of impact. He is an exemplary leader and an uncommon youth.

“We wish to use this medium to retract and state that the picture painted by the source about Efe Kigho is false.and biased based on facts before us at the moment.”

Adding: “We apologize to the youth leader for any consequences the said report would have caused.”

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Terrorism: Court Frees Rivers APC Chieftain After Two Years

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A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has discharged and acquitted a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and Deputy Chairman of Youth Movement in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State, Chief Fubara Ohaka, of charges filed against him by the Federal government.

Ohaka had been standing trial on six counts of alleged involvement in illegal oil bunkering, terrorism, dealing in illegal refining products without a licence, and conspiracy among other charges preferred against him since 2022 by the Federal government through the Department of State Services.

Delivering judgment in the matter, the trial judge, Justice Stephen Dalyop-Pam, held that the Federal Government failed to provide evidence to back its claims, hence failing to prove its allegations against the defendant.

READ ALSO: Rivers Eders Drag Tinubu, Others To Court Over Peace Agreement

Our correspondent reports that Justice Dalyop-Pam agreed on no-case submission by the counsel for the defendant and thereby discharged and acquitted him.

Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom, Ohaka expressed happiness that he has been vindicated, saying the judgment has put shame on the faces of all those who conspired to tarnish his image.

He said, “I’m happy that the judiciary has vindicated me today. I told the world that I never had any idea of the allegations against me, I am not a bunker, I have never sponsored any person to do bunkering,

READ ALSO: Fresh Bill Seeks Creation Of Three States

“Thanks to the judiciary who in its wisdom have reached to the root of the matter and proven to be the last hope of the common man.

“I want to thank those who stood by me in the time of trial, I’m happy that I never disappeared from them when I was told I was innocent of the allegations against me.

“Let me also use this medium to advise government agencies to always carry out proper investigation before engaging in legal battles, because if they had I would not have spent the number of months I spent in detention before the legal action that turned out in my favour today.”

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NLC Insists On Planned Protest, Knocks DSS

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The Nigeria Labour Congress has insisted that the planned protests against the prevailing economic situation in the country will hold contrary to the warning issued by the Department of State Services to shelve its protests.

The organised labour, on Monday, began mobilising its members for a nationwide protest slated for February 27 and 28 over the cost of living crisis in the country.

The Federal Government’s failure to fulfil its promises after the 14-day ultimatum by Labour, according to sources, will be met with a two-day nationwide protest already slated for February 27 and 28.

Reacting to the planned protests in a statement on Wednesday, the DSS spokesman, Peter Afunanya, urged the union to shelve the plan in the interest of peace and public order.

READ ALSO: Economic Hardship: CSO Gives FG Ultimatum, Threatens Nationwide Protest

The Secret Service urged the union to pursue dialogue and negotiation rather than engage in conduct that could heighten tensions.

However, the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, in a statement he personally signed on Wednesday evening, noted that the protests will still hold and questioned why the DSS had yet to execute the arrest of those planning to disrupt the protests.

We are concerned by the unsolicited advice of the Department of State Security to shelve our planned protest against the unprecedented high cost of living despite the indescribable suffering in the land, spiralling inflation, deepening poverty and the Naira at an exchange rate of N1,900 to the US Dollar.

“According to the Service, the planned protest should be shelved ‘in the interest of peace and public order’, pre-supposing that the action is intended to be violent and disruptive even when we have a history of peaceful protests’.

“More worrying is the new role the Service has assigned to itself, the chief spokesperson of the government.

READ ALSO: Obasanjo Advocates Law To Curb Organ Trafficking

“We are equally worried that although the “Service is aware that some elements are planning to use the opportunity of the protest to foment crisis and by extension, widespread violence and yet have not executed the arrest of these elements,” the NLC president said.

Ajaero noted that the NLC will not compromise the sovereignty or security of the country while assuring that the protests would be peaceful.

We are equally intrigued by the innuendos of the Service, their philosophy of “peace” and wild allegations and we want to reassure them that no one loves this country more than us and on our honour, we would never do anything that will compromise its sovereignty or security.

“Having said this, we would not have ourselves blackmailed or lied against by the Service. Our protest is a peaceful one against the unpardonable cost of living of which the unserviced personnel of the Service are also victims.

“We cannot fold our hands and pretend all is well. That will be a grievous conspiracy that history will not forgive,” he said.

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