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Page 3 Buhari rules out naira devaluation By Isiaka Wakili President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday reiterated his opposition to the official devaluation of the nation’s currency,…

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Buhari rules out naira devaluation

By Isiaka Wakili

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday reiterated his opposition to the official devaluation of the nation’s currency, the naira, saying it would not yield any benefits to the nation.

He was speaking at the New Banquet Hall of the Aso Rock Presidential Villa during a Ramadan dinner with the business community.

He said: “How much benefit have been derived from naira devaluation in the past?…Now, you need N300 or N350 to a dollar. What do we derive from that? How much benefit can we derive from this ruthless devaluation of the naira? I am not an economist, neither am I a businessman.

“I fail to appreciate the economic explanation. What has happened to us now is that we have manoeuvred ourselves into a mono economy which led to the collapse we are seeing now,” he added.

The president said a lot of responsibilities now fell on the shoulders of the business community with a lot of investments as well as a number of people they employed.

Oil production rises as unions meet FG over strike threat

By Daniel Adugbo

Nigeria’s oil production has risen to 1.9m barrels a day (b/d) and should rise to 2.2m by July end if pipeline repairs are completed, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, said yesterday in a Bloomberg television interview monitored from Beijing, China.

Militant attacks earlier this year reduced Nigeria’s oil production to 1.3m barrels from 2.2m a day but the minister said an ongoing cease-fire with the militant groups had enabled repair works on some pipelines which had returned production volumes.

Nigeria lost its position to Angola as Africa’s top crude oil producer as a result of the attacks which have ceased after government announced it was ready to dialogue with the militants.

“There’s a cease-fire that is ongoing already, which is why we are able to repair some pipelines and bring back some volumes,” the minister said.

Kachikwu who is in China to lead a major road show to raise money for oil projects said Nigeria was seeking as much as $50bn in investment for oil projects as it signed a potential deal worth $8.5bn with China North Industries Group Corp.

“Going to places like China, which have huge capacities to put money in the oil sector, is very helpful,” he said.

Meanwhile, leaders of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) are scheduled to meet with Kachikwu and the labour minister, Chris Ngige, Thursday over strike threats, Bloomberg also reported.

The General Secretary of PENGASSAN, Lumumba Okugbawa, said the unions were concerned about sack workers or threats to lay them off at local units of Halliburton, FUGRO, Petrostuff and Frontier Oil.

The unions will meet on July 1 to appraise government position and decide on a strike.

Two suicide bombers die in Borno

Police in Borno State yesterday said two suspected suicide bombers killed themselves when they were intercepted on their way to attack a mosque in Sulemanti ward in Maiduguri.

Mr Victor Isuku, the spokesman of the command, told newsmen in Maiduguri that the bombers had targeted worshipers observing night prayers at the mosque for their attack before they were intercepted by vigilantes called Civilian JTF.

“The two suspects were strapped with Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) targeting worshipers at the mosque.

“But they were halted by the Civilian JTF before reaching their target forcing them to detonate their IEDs and killing themselves,’’ Isuku said.

He added: “A team of the Police Explosives Ordinance Department (EOD) has been deployed to the scene near Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) depot to further screen the area for unexploded explosives”.

Corroborating, a member of the Civilian JTF, Mallam Bukar Fantami told newsmen in Maiduguri that the suicide bombers were intercepted under a tree near the mosque planning to strike.

“We noticed that the suspects looked different under the tree, so we decided to question them.

“They became jittery immediately and started to shake, so we decided to challenge them on their mission to the mosque.

“The suspects knew that their time was up so they detonated their explosives and blew themselves up,’’ Fantami said.(NAN)

Constituency projects may suffer setbacks-SGF

By Abbas Jimoh

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal, has alerted that the economic downturn many negatively impact on constituency projects planned for execution by the National Assembly.

Lawal said this during the weekend in Abuja in a chat with reporters.

“Government might find it very difficult to implement the constituency projects to the latter because MDAs might not find constituency projects as critical to the execution of their mandate and given the dwindling resources this could be some of the areas that will suffer during implementation. Even those that have been appropriated for, in light of the dwindling revenue, government will still need to prioritize.

“If the revenue of the government improves, of course, all capital projects appropriated for will be fully implemented. But we do not see that happening soon. While the government is willing to do that, it is obvious that it can only implement that for which you have money and I think these are some areas that might suffer from the implementation in the budget,” he said.

FG cancels post-UTMEs

By Misbahu Bashir

The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, yesterday issued a statement officially cancelling post-Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) conducted by universities as entry requirement for undergraduate degree programmes.

UTMEs are conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) for candidates seeking admission into universities, polytechnics and colleges of education, but most universities resorted to post-UTMEs as a way of further ascertaining the academic competence of applicants.

JAMB charged N5, 000 per candidate for computer-based UTMEs while universities collected between N2, 000 and N60, 000 from admission seekers as post-UTME fees.

The minister said: “The ban is with immediate effect, and under no circumstance should any institution violate the directive.” He had earlier discouraged post-UTMEs, saying as long as universities had confidence in JAMB, there was no basis for post-UTMEs.

The statement signed by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations, Mr. Ben Bem Goong, said emphasis on the ban became necessary to ensure that no stakeholder was “left in doubt as to government’s position on the matter.”

The minister said there was no empirical evidence to show that since the inception of post-UTMEs, universities had been having better quality students, adding that students were still being expelled on a yearly basis for low performance even as they gained admission through post-UTMEs.

He also said he had received reports in which some staff of tertiary institutions took undue advantage girls in their quest to gain admission into the system while many parents had died in the process of travelling to secure admission for their wards.

The minister said the responsibility for admission into public tertiary institutions lied solely with JAMB and under no circumstance should anybody or institution take over that responsibility by proxy.

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