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NLC protests: Why Nigeria’s economy is in such a mess

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Nigeria is currently experiencing its worst economic crisis in a generation, leading to widespread hardship and anger.

The trade union umbrella group, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), held protests in the main cities on Tuesday, calling for more action from the government.

A litre of petrol costs more than three times what it did nine months ago, while the price of the staple food, rice, has more than doubled in the past year.

These two figures highlight the difficulties that many Nigerians are facing as wages have not kept up with the rising cost of living.

Like many nations, Nigeria has experienced economic shocks from beyond its shores in recent years, but there are also issues specific to the country, partly driven by the reforms introduced by President Bola Tinubu when he took office last May.

How bad is the economy?

Overall, annual inflation, which is the average rate at which prices go up, is now close to 30% – the highest figure in nearly three decades. The cost of food has risen even more – by 35%.

However, the monthly minimum wage, set by the government and which all employers are supposed to observe, has not changed since 2019, when it was put at 30,000 naira – this is worth just $19 (£15) at current exchange rates.

Many are going hungry, rationing what food they have or looking for cheaper alternatives.

In the north, some people are now eating the rice that is normally discarded as part of the milling process. The waste product usually goes into fish food.

Widely shared social media videos indicate how some are reducing portion sizes.

One clip shows a woman cutting a fish into nine pieces rather than the average four to five. She is heard saying her goal is to ensure her family can at least eat some fish twice a week.

What is causing Nigeria’s economic crisis?

Inflation has soared in many countries, as fuel and other costs spiked as a result of the war in Ukraine.

But President Tinubu’s efforts to remodel the economy have also added to the burden.

On the day he was sworn in nine months ago, the new president announced that the long-standing fuel subsidy would be ending.

This had kept petrol prices low for citizens of this oil-producing nation, but it was also a huge drain on public finances. In the first half of 2023, it accounted for 15% of the budget – more than the government spent on health or education. Mr Tinubu argued that this could be better used elsewhere.

However, the subsequent huge jump in the price of petrol has caused other prices to rise as companies pass on transportation and energy costs to the consumer.

One other factor that is pushing up inflation is an issue that Mr Tinubu inherited from his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, according to financial analyst Tilewa Adebajo.

He told the BBC’s Newsday programme that the previous government had asked the country’s central bank for short-term loans to cover spending amounting to $19bn.

The bank printed the money, which helped fuel inflation, Mr Adebajo said.

Chart showing the changing food prices

What has happened to the naira?

Mr Tinubu also ended the policy of pegging the price of the currency, the naira, to the US dollar rather than leaving it up to the market to determine on the basis of supply and demand. The central bank was spending a lot of money maintaining the level.

But scrapping the peg has led the naira’s value to plunge by more than two-thirds, briefly hitting an all-time low last week.

Last May, 10,000 naira would buy $22, now it will only fetch around $6.40.

As the naira is worth less, the price of all imported products has gone up.

When will things get better?

While the president is unlikely to reverse his decisions on the fuel subsidy and the naira, which he argues will pay off in the long run by making Nigeria’s economy stronger, the government has introduced some measures to ease the suffering.

Nigeria’s Vice-President Kashim Shettima announced the establishment of a board charged with controlling and regulating food prices. The government also ordered the national grain reserve to distribute 42,000 tonnes of grains, including maize and millet.

This is not the first time the government has said it is distributing aid to poor and vulnerable Nigerians, but labour unions have often criticised the government’s method of food distribution, saying much of it does not reach poor families.

The government has also said it is working with rice producers to get more of it into markets and customs officials have been instructed to cheaply sell off bags of the grain that they have seized. In a sign of how bad things are, on Friday this led to a crush in the biggest city, Lagos, which killed seven people, local media report. These hand-outs have now been halted.

The rice was seized under the previous government, which banned imports of rice to encourage local farmers to grow more. That ban was lifted last year in at attempt to bring down the cost but because of the fall in the value of the naira, that has not worked.

Around 15 million poorer households are also receiving a cash transfer of 25,000 naira ($16; £13) a month, but these days that doesn’t go very far.

Culled from the BBC

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Senator Cory Booker Leads a Congressional Delegation to Nigeria

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Photo: Senator Cory Booker (In the back) and a Diplomat from the US Department of State, joins with members of the Academy for Women Alumnae Association including Mercy Ogori of Kokomi Africa and Adebisi Odeleye of Moore Organics.

Senator Cory also met women entrepreneurs from the Academy for Women Alumnae Association

Last week, US Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey led a congressional delegation to Nigeria, which included House of Representatives members Sara Jacobs and Barbara Lee from California. The purpose of the visit was to discuss a partnership on sustainable development. During the talks, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu expressed his administration’s dedication to strengthening democracy through upholding the rule of law and ensuring good governance, justice, and fairness for all citizens. Senator Booker emphasized the shared values of democracy, the rule of law, and commitment to peace and good governance that bind Nigeria and the United States as partners.

The delegation also met with women entrepreneurs from the Academy for Women Alumnae Association, who had participated in US-sponsored exchange programs. Led by Adebisi Odeleye of Moore Organics, the businesswomen shared their experiences and discussed their entrepreneurial endeavors. Other Academy members were Mandela Washington Fellow, Nkem Okocha of Mama Moni, Inemesit Dike of LegalX, and Mercy Ogori of Kokomi.

The partnership between the United States and Nigeria has lasted over six decades, focusing on addressing security challenges, enhancing health security, and responding to global health crises. Despite obstacles like corruption, poverty, and insecurity, the US remains dedicated to supporting Nigerian institutions and promoting free, fair, transparent, and peaceful elections.

During the visit to the State House, Senator Booker reiterated the shared values of democracy, the rule of law, and commitment to peace and good governance that unite Nigeria and the United States as partners.

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Breakforth Summit Houston 2024 “Worship & Healing Encounter” debuts in Houston

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In two weeks, citizens from across the city of Houston will spring into the new season with the official launching of a transformational faith-based praise, worship, and healing experience that guarantees to bring full restoration, excitement, and joy into the lives of many!

Pastors Dr. Andy Osakwe and Ndidi Osakwe (who recently arrived in the city to meet with fellow faith-based leaders) will host the inaugural Breakforth Summit Houston 2024 “Worship & Healing Encounter” (Presented by AOMI and Mission USA) on Sunday, April 7th at The Power Center’s ‘Community Collective for Houston’ (12401 South Post Oak). The on-site event will be located inside the Jesse H. Jones Ballroom and event doors will open promptly at 5 PM.

Join pastors Dr. Andy Osakwe and Ndidi Oaskwe as they host this transformative healing encounter infused with soul-lifting worship from gospel music’s finest, led by international gospel star recording artist Pastor Nathaniel Bassey, Lakewood Church worship leader, Pastor Fiona Mellett, popular Houston-based worship leader and Pastor Dr. Ronke Adekosan, and recording artist, social media faith influencer Minister Melissa Bethea.

The Sunday evening celebration will feature a variety of well-known and emerging faith leaders and musical performances that will usher the audiences through prayer declarations, reading of scripture, praise and worship sessions, laying of hands, deliverance, and testimonials. Over fifty faith-based practitioners worldwide will be present to help orchestrate an experience that will deeply transform the lives of many from within. The event will present an opportunity for individuals from all walks of life and faith to join together in an environment that will spread love, encouragement, and support for all of mankind. Complimentary child care is available for children between the ages of 4 and 10.

Additionally, the Breakforth Summit Houston 2024 “Worship & Healing Encounter” will serve as an official launch pad and countdown for Pastors Andy and Ndidi’s official Houston church and ministry planting in continuation of their successful global ministry work. It is the hope and desire of the pastors to support communities to overcome adversities faced in life regularly. Dr. Andy Osakwe is the founder and overseer of the Summit Bible Church and president of Andrew Osakwe Ministries International.

Ultimately, Dr. Andy’s hope and desire to establish a worship and healing experience speaks for itself. “It will be a phenomenal and highly impactful spiritual encounter that will result in restorative liberty and transformation, which will usher in a new season of fruitfulness and personal advancement for each person in attendance.”

For Press & Media Inquiries (832) 941-8952 evomahcomm@gmail.com

To learn more about the Breakforth Summit 2024 registration and volunteer opportunities, please visit the official event website online at  www.breakforthsummit.com/htx or to keep up with the latest updates from Dr. Andy and Ndidi Osakwe, please visit www.andrewosakweministries.org.

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Fani Willis Judge Rules that Trump Cannot Hire Co-Defendant – He’s Black

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Judge Scott McAfee, who is presiding over the sweeping election interference case against former President Donald Trump and his allies, is not allowing co-defendant Harrison Floyd to work for Trump’s 2024 campaign.

McAfee denied Floyd’s request to revise his bond agreement in a short order on Thursday. Floyd, who led Black Voices for Trump four years ago, asked the judge last month to loosen the conditions of his bond so that he could work on Trump’s presidential campaign and speak about Trump on social media. McAfee had said, at the time, that he’d be open to modifications so that Floyd could speak about current events.

Floyd, who was indicted on three felony counts stemming from his efforts to help Trump overturn his loss in Georgia, is currently prohibited from having contact with the witnesses and other co-defendants in the case. He was also banned from speaking about them on social media after he posted comments that some witnesses interpreted as threatening.

Floyd, a senior campaign staffer for Trump’s 2020 campaign, was indicted alongside the former president and 17 others for violating Georgia’s racketeering laws in August. Floyd was also charged with influencing a witness and conspiracy to commit solicitation of false statements. Trump and Floyd have both pleaded not guilty.

According to the indictment, Floyd allegedly harassed Fulton County election worker Ruby Freeman after she refused to change the results of the county’s vote in the 2020 election.

He was the only one of the 19 defendants in the case to spend time behind bars at the Fulton County Jail. Floyd, unlike the other defendants, turned himself in without a lawyer or bond agreement on August 24. He was not released until August 30 after his lawyer negotiated a $100,000 bond.

Floyd is also facing federal charges for allegedly assaulting two FBI agents who were sent to serve him with a grand jury subpoena.

In November, McAfee had rejected a call from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis‘ office to revoke Floyd’s bond and jail him, citing recent social media posts that prosecutors said “demonstrate that he poses a significant threat of intimidating witnesses.” McAfee found no intimidation in any of those posts but found a technical violation because Floyd tagged witnesses in the posts. As a result, he banned Floyd from making any posts about those involved in the Georgia case.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last month that Floyd attorney Christopher Kachouroff told McAfee his client wanted to resume his role as a paid Trump campaign operative, which would involve communications with the former president or other co-defendants in the case.

Kachouroff also said Floyd wanted to speak about his case over social media to help raise money for his legal defense. Many of the other co-defendants have started crowdsourcing donations for their legal fees.

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