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Another Useless Debt Burden!

In her maiden address to journalists on Wednesday, 24/08/2011, the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister for Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, alerted Nigerians that Nigeria’s domestic debt was about N5.2 trillion ($33bn), while external component is about $5.3bn. In other words, at today’s exchange rate of N152=$1, Nigeria’s total debt is over $39bn; that is about $4bn above ‘crisis’ level of $35bn in 2006, when we were stampeded to part with almost $18bn from a healthy reserve base of over $50bn. As at August 2011, our current debt burden exceeds our ‘paltry’ reserve base of about $33bn, but surprisingly, our ex-IMF President assures us that “Nigeria is in good shape, as the debt profile is only 20% of Gross Domestic Product”.

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“In spite of Organised Labour’s recognition of the real advantages that a deregulated downstream oil sector would bring to the economy, there is yet no sign that Labour’s opposition to this policy has waned! Labour, of course, recognizes that NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation), like all monopolies (especially state run monopolies) create price and market distortions which do not generally favour the masses. Thus, even when it is clear that deregulation will not only release at least N600bn revenue annually for critical infrastructural upliftment, but also reduce the space for corrupt enrichment within the petroleum subsector and induce keen competition with improved consumer services, Labour is not convinced that deregulation would translate into cheaper or stable petrol prices, especially when global crude oil prices usually follow an upward trajectory over time.

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The Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan administrations have all decried what they consider to be the unnecessary and stifling burden placed on the economy by government’s increasing subsidy on the price of petrol. Last week, the Finance Minister, Olusegun Aganga was quoted in an interview he granted in faraway London that the cost of subsidies which touched N1 trillion (N1, 000bn) in 2009 would fall to about N520bn according to CBN estimates.

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N10,000 Note? Perish The Thought!

The Guardian Newspaper’s editorial of Monday, 13th June proffered what it considers a plausible alternative to Central Bank’s recent directive on cash withdrawal/deposit limits with Money Deposit Banks. Indeed, Nigerians have largely been agitated by CBN’s advance notice of daily cash withdrawal/deposits limits of N150,000 and N1 million for individuals and corporate bodies respectively, as from June 2012, in place of current limits of N1 million and N10 million respectively.

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