The political atmosphere in Nigeria leading up to the February polls is tense. Challenging the status quo are new and younger contenders promising hope and change.
As the 2019 elections draw close in February in Africa’s most populous country, Atiku Abubakar has emerged the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) while President Muhammadu Buhari has been affirmed for the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) ticket.
Abubakar, a former vice president of Nigeria, has begun his campaign against president Buhari by highlighting the popular frustration of Nigerians over the rise in unemployment and poverty (two of the biggest voter concerns) on Buhari’s watch,as well as growing insecurity in central Nigeria.
Nigeria was recently voted the world’s poverty capital by the Brookings Institution. Consequently, the handling of the economy has already emerged as a major issue at the start of the election cycle.
In 2016, the country entered its first recession in 25 years due to a slump in oil prices and attacks in the Niger Delta oil-producing region. Although emerging out of recession in 2017, growth still remains tardy and inflation is just above the central bank’s single-digit target range.
Investor sentiment in the country is also low especially with leading telco giant MTN Nigeria being ordered by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to return $8.1 billion to the country claiming it was illegally repatriated from Nigeria.
“If the fine is found to be unjustly imposed, it would have a negative implication on the image of Nigeria as a destination for foreign investors. Investors only invest in environments that have laws that protect them. If people are punished when they have not done anything wrong, that destroys investor confidence,” says Bismarck Rewane, CEO of Financial Derivatives, an economic think tank in Lagos.
This will be the fourth attempt by Abubakar to win a presidential election mirroring Buhari’s 2015 elections win. He defected from the ruling APC party and re-joined PDP to win the presidential ticket. In a speech in London, Abubakar unveiled his plans to offer a matching grant of $250 million each to the 36 states of the federation to challenge them to enhance their internally generated revenue (IGR).
Meanwhile,just as the election was shaping up to be a contest between two male political veterans, Obiageli Ezekwesili, a woman with a strong track record in economic leadership has announced her presidential candidacy for the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN).
Ezekwesili,who is the co-founder of the #bringbackourgirls movement, is perhaps the most prominent woman to challenge for the top job.
Her campaign for the return of the 276 Chibok girls kidnapped in northern Nigeriain 2014 by Boko Haram sparked worldwide support and led to the return of more than 100 girls to their families.
Ezekwesili also served as the country’s education minister and Vice-President of the World Bank. In a speech to her party, Ezekwesili said the two men she faces represent a “mediocre political class that bumbles from one crisis to another”. Her campaign strategy is to position herself as the candidate bringing hope back to Nigeria by challenging the status quo.
Also as part of her strategy, Ezekwesili, 55, is trying to appeal to Nigeria’s youth by highlighting the lack of understanding of technological advances happening in the country by her challengers, Buhari, 75, and Abubakar, 71.
However, in spite of her immense appeal, perhaps the youth might just need a candidate of their own who understands their needs and can speak for a nation where more than 50% are under the age of 30.
They may just have their wish. A welcome development to this election is the reduction of the age by which Nigerians can contest the election for public office.
The bill, popularly referred to as the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill, reduces the age qualification for president from 40 to 35; governor from 35 to 30; senator from 35 to 30; House of Representatives membership from 30 to 25 and State House of Assembly membership from 30 to 25.
Bukunyi Olateru-Olagbegi, a 27-year-old entrepreneur and an up-and-coming political leader, has taken advantage of this new window to register his own political party, Modern Democratic Party. The party is putting education at the top of its agenda and calling for the youth of Nigeria to stand together and have a unified voice.
“We offer hope. Ours is a generation that is young, bold and open to possibilities. We believe that if hope can be returned to the heart of the common man/woman, they may once again start to believe in things becoming better. Right now, a lot of parties sing the word ‘hope’ and yet their internal democracy itself is hopeless,” he says.
“The masses are not blind. They see the internal wrangling in these political parties on the pages of newspapers. How then can they truly believe in a message of hope by these same people? Our youthfulness and firm grasp of the complexities and blistering pace of the world we live in today, easily make us,in our opinion, fit to lead. We understand the power of flexibility and we understand what ‘change’ really means. The world needs the youth right now, and we are finally ready to step up.”
He says his party is committed to building a structure capable of winning elections across all political spheres and levels with a resolution to put a spotlight on the downtrodden in society, a society that, according to Olateru-Olagbeji, is in critical need of deliverance from bad leadership.
“As a party, we hope to correct the present for the sake of the future; we hope to harness the mental and resources of my generation with fresh ideas and innovation because this generation is not tied to the prejudices and biases of the ones before us, we don’t see tribe, religion and even gender; we are united in our hunger for success. We hope to inspire a generation of young Nigerians and Africans to work at building our nation and continent, community by community, till we become the leading and ruling party,” he says.
The political atmosphere leading up to February is extremely tense.
No matter who is contending for the top job, one thing is certain,Nigerians need a new economy, one that provides them with opportunities for growth and prosperity, and they need that, yesterday.
Coca Cola South Africa Improves SME Role In Value Chain
Coca Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) launches an R20 million fund for small supplier development and procurement, annually, for the next five years.
This was announced by the Financial Director, Walter Leonhardt at Gallagher Convention Centre at the third annual Supplier Development Conference.
CCBS is the South African-based subsidiary of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA).
Leonhardt said the purpose of this fund is to assist young upcoming black entrepreneurs in the Coca-Cola value chain.
“We are, today, launching the CCBSA supplier fund of access to funding. To address the issue of access to funding which most SMEs experience,” said Leonhardt.
This will enable the entrepreneurs’ procurement process to be easier.
“It is to help them buy equipment, fund working capital and to help them overcome something we have identified as a challenge for upcoming businesses, which is access to capital on quit lenient terms,” said Leonhardt.
Budding entrepreneurs can visit their website to find out how they can access the funds.
There were over 120 suppliers of CCBSA in attendance.
Managing director of CCBSA Velaphi Ratshefola said they spent R2.35 billion last year, supporting 567 black-owned suppliers, of whom, 265 were black female owned suppliers.
“So for me, it is clear that this is working. We have helped create a very inclusive economy. We need to play our part and we need to ensure that only through an inclusive growing economy we can create a stable environment where businesses can flourish.
“If we do not have a stable environment, a stable economy, we will have a lot of disturbances which are never good for business,” said Ratshefola.
“So for all of us, we should not do it just for social reasons, we must do it for the success of businesses and imperative,” said Ratshefola.
Zimbabwe Central Bank Borrows $985 Million From African Banks
Zimbabwe’s Reserve Bank has borrowed $985 million from African banks to purchase fuel and other critical imports with current reserves covering imports for just four weeks, underscoring the severity of dollar shortages, governor John Mangudya said.
The southern African nation last month ditched a discredited 1:1 dollar peg for its surrogate bond notes and electronic dollars, merging them into a lower-value transitional currency called the RTGS dollar.
Mangudya said the central bank borrowed $641 million from the African Export and Import Bank, $152 million from Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank, and $25 million from Mozambique’s central bank, among others.
The loans, which would be repaid from future gold earnings, have a tenure of between three and five years and attract an interest of up to 6 percent above the Libor rate, Mangudya said.
Gold is Zimbabwe’s single biggest mineral export earner, accounting for a third of its $4.2 billion earnings last year after a record output, central bank data shows.
“These loans are well structured facilities contracted last year. They will be paid from future (gold) export receivables,” Mangudya told a parliamentary committee.
The central bank takes 45 percent of dollar sales from gold producers and half from other miners to fund imports like fuel and power and repay foreign loans.
But the miners only have 30 days to keep their dollar balances in local foreign currency accounts, after which they must sell them. The companies have asked the central bank to extend the period they may keep their dollars to 90 days, according to mining executives.
Unable to get funding from foreign lenders like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank due to arrears of more than $2.4 billion, Zimbabwe has looked to financiers from the continent and local banks to shore up its budget.
The central bank chief said Zimbabwe had just $500 million in reserves, enough to purchase four weeks’ worth of imports.
Mangudya said government borrowing from the central bank reached $2.99 billion in December, about three times its permissible overdraft limit.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has promised to curb borrowing in 2019 under reforms to revive the southern African economy, after the budget deficit soared last year following a spike in spending ahead of elections.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said last week that the local RTGS dollar, Zimbabwe’s new de facto currency, will be backed up with fiscal discipline and the government would allow it to fluctuate but would manage excessive volatility.
On the interbank forex market on Monday, one U.S. dollar fetched 2.5 RTGS dollars, the same rate as on Feb. 22 when the central bank sold some dollars to banks. That compares to a rate of 3.5 RTGS dollars per U.S. dollar on the black market. -Reuters
Volvo To Limit Car Speeds In Bid For Zero Deaths
Volvo Cars said on Monday it will introduce a 180 km per hour (112 mph) speed limiter on all new vehicles as the Swedish automaker seeks to burnish its safety credentials and meet a pledge to eliminate passenger fatalities by 2020.
While Volvo, whose XC90 flagship SUV currently has a top speed of 212 km/h, has made progress on its so-called “Vision 2020” target of zero deaths or serious injuries, Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said it is unlikely to meet the goal without additional measures to address driver behavior.
“We’ve realized that to close the gap we have to focus more on the human factors,” Samuelsson said. Volvo did not elaborate on the data but said its passenger fatalities were already well below the industry average before the goal was announced in 2007.
In addition to the speed cap, Volvo plans to deploy technology using cameras that monitor the driver’s state and attentiveness to prevent people driving while distracted or intoxicated, two other big factors in accidents, Samuelsson said.
The company is also looking at lower geo-fenced speed limits to slow cars around sensitive pedestrian areas such as schools, while seeking to “start a conversation” among automakers and regulators about how technology can be used to improve safety.
Volvo, which is owned by China’s Geely, announced the new speed limitation policy on the eve of the Geneva auto show, where its new Polestar performance electric-car brand is showcasing its second model, the Polestar 2.
While Volvo buyers often choose the brand for its safety, Samuelsson conceded that the speed cap could be a turn-off for a few in markets such as Germany, where drivers routinely travel at 200 km/h or more on unrestricted autobahns.
“We cannot please everybody, but we think we will attract new customers,” the CEO said, recalling that the roll-out of three-point seat belts pioneered by Volvo in 1959 had initially been criticized by some as intrusive.
“I think Volvo customers in Germany will appreciate that we’re doing something about safety,” he said. -Reuters
– Laurence Frost; additional reporting by Esha Vaish
30 Years And Still Grooving
African footballers are a wanted commodity but are not necessarily from the continent
The Million Dollar Game
Noëlla Coursaris Musunka The Trailblazer In The Congo
His Bosses Rejected His Idea. Then Hans Langer Became A Billionaire From His Plan For Giant 3D Printers
- Cover Story1 week ago
Businesses Of The Future: 20 New Wealth Creators On The African Continent
- Cover Story2 weeks ago
The Monk Of Business: Ylias Akbaraly Talks About Secret To Success And Plans To Take Africa With Him
- Current Affairs3 weeks ago
Botswana Offers Zimbabwe $600 Million Of Loans: Report
- Billionaires2 weeks ago
At 21, Kylie Jenner Becomes The Youngest Self-Made Billionaire Ever
- Brand Voice3 weeks ago
Rising Africa Series: Thought Leaders Africa
- Focus4 weeks ago
IN PICTURES | Is vaping really helping you quit traditional tobacco cigarettes?
- Woman2 weeks ago
Naomi Campbell: Africa Is One Of The Leading Continents In The World
- Cover Story2 weeks ago
A Solution To Improve Madagascar’s Local Economies