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Buhari’s Row with Wife Signals Frustration over FG Inertia

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A row between the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and his wife has brought cracks in the ruling party right into the open, as frustration grows over government inertia in trying to drag the country out of its first recession in 25 years.

Aisha Buhari publicly criticised her husband’s record in office, saying she might not support him if he seeks re-election in 2019 unless he shakes up his administration, which she said had been hijacked by a “few people”.

The president tried to laugh off the rebuke from his wife of 27 years, saying “she belongs in the kitchen” – but without addressing the substance of her remarks, made last week in an interview with the BBC.

Reuters reported that the 73-year-old won last year’s election promising a new era in the West African nation, where graft has enriched an elite while most of the 180 million Nigerians live in poverty despite the OPEC member’s oil wealth.

Buhari came to power backed by his All Progressives Congress (APC) party, a broad coalition of politicians who united to remove his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, without having a joint plan on how to run the country.

Now, 17 months into office, there are few signs of Buhari’s promised reforms to diversify the economy away from exporting crude, prices of which have halved since 2014.

Already the naira is down 35 percent this year, making it one of the worst performing currencies in the world, and the National Bureau of Statistics forecasts the economy will shrink by 1.3 percent in 2016.

But criticism of the government goes beyond an apparent lack of urgency in tackling the economic crisis. A belief is growing that power is concentrated among Buhari’s chief of staff and an inner circle at the presidential villa, making it difficult for ministers to get the attention of the president.

The first lady is not alone in her views. Senate President Bukola Saraki, the third most senior politician in Nigeria, took to Twitter to express his concerns.

“It has become clear that there is govt within govt of @MBuhari who’ve seized apparatus of Executive powers to pursue their nefarious agenda,” he tweeted in June.

Buhari’s spokesmen declined to comment while the president himself has defended his economic record in general terms.

“I believe that this recession will not last,” he said this month. “We have identified the country’s salient problems and we are working hard at lasting solutions.”

Annual inflation accelerated in September to 17.9 percent, a more than 11-year high, and last week about 100 young people demonstrated near the central bank over the naira’s fall.

But, generally, the discontent has yet to turn into mass protest. “Let me commend Nigerians for your patience, steadfastness and perseverance. You know that I am trying to do the right things for our country,” said Buhari.

Nevertheless, Buhari has not answered questions about how Nigeria is governed under his presidency.

“People feel that the country is being run by a small clique of people who have taken over and are acting in the name of the president,” said Clement Nwankwo, director of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, a think-tank in Abuja.

Buhari has put Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, a commercial lawyer, in charge of economic politics. But Osinbajo, who favours a more flexible currency policy to attract badly-needed foreign investment, has struggled to get his ideas heard.

“There is great worry that the input of the vice president does not seem to be taken into account in implementing policies, especially on the economic front,” Nwankwo said.

Buhari has said that as an ex-general he is no expert in economics, and yet he long rejected a devaluation of the naira – just as he did as military ruler in the 1980s when Nigeria was also in recession.

When the central bank finally dropped the naira’s peg to the dollar in June, the currency slumped 30 percent and many equity and bond investors had in any case long since gone.

Even now, Nigeria is operating a “managed float” which is keeping the official naira rate at around 305 to the dollar, far stronger than Monday’s black market rate of 455.

As ever in Nigerian politics, the division of powers between the mainly Muslim north, where Buhari is from, and the Christian south is playing a role.

Diplomats say members of northern circles known to Buhari for decades have resisted some ministers such as Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun, a southerner in her 40s who was not his first choice.

A source close to the presidency described the accusations of inertia as grumbling by some in the APC who had hoped for jobs or contracts under a system of patronage which Buhari stopped under his anti-graft drive.

Buhari needed to pick a cabinet from the APC but this was complicated because he was constitutionally bound to pick a minister from each of Nigeria’s 36 states.

To insert his influence he then brought in people he has known for decades. Members of his “kitchen cabinet” include his chief of staff Abba Kyari, whom Buhari has also put on the board of state oil firm NNPC, his uncle Mamman Daura and Babachir Lawal, the secretary to the government of the federation.

“Buhari is deeply suspicious of politicians because of Nigeria’s history of graft,” said one Western diplomat. “There are few people he trusts or regularly talks to to seek their advice.”

The pre-eminence of the inner circle has, say political insiders, created a rift between the president and Bola Tinubu, a former Lagos state governor who rallied southern Christian elites to help win power.

Tinubu has issued statements attacking APC chairman John Oyegun and oil minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, deepening divisions in the party.

Buhari has won plaudits from ordinary Nigerians by saying he will target a hyper-rich elite accused of massive corruption.

He has also managed to retake most territory lost to the Islamist militants of Boko Haram and negotiated the release of 21 of more than 200 girls kidnapped in 2014, although suicide bombings remain part of life in northeastern Nigeria.

But much of his first year in office was beset by slow progress. A five-month wait for his cabinet to be formed was followed by wrangling with parliament over the 2016 budget, which was only signed off by Buhari in May.

Efforts to make Nigeria more business-friendly have stalled. Trade Minister Okechukwu Enelamah wants to ease visa rules, acknowledging complaints from foreign executives about obstructive embassy officials, but has given no timeframe.

Nigeria could have earned as much as $8 billion in travel receipts this year, instead of the $500 million booked in 2014, had it adopted visitor-friendly visa rules like Ghana, Renaissance Capital said in a report.

Some investors have expressed frustration over hard currency curbs. “You can’t even discuss a rational foreign exchange policy,” David Lapido, director at Amaya Capital invested in Nigeria’s power industry, told a panel debate.

Leading economists recently met Buhari, stressing it was high time for action as there were just 18 months left before the next election would paralyse politics.

“We were very frank,” said Bismarck Rewane, CEO of Financial Derivatives consultancy who attended the meeting. “The president is paying serious attention to the economy. I am now more optimistic.”


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Shell to Sack 9,000 over Oil Output Drops

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Shell said on Wednesday that volumes of both Liquefied Natural Gas and crude production were down in the third quarter.

Shell to Sack 9,000 over Oil Output Drops

The oil major disclosed this in an update to the market, which also detailed plans to cut up to 9,000 jobs by the end of 2022 as it adjusts to the COVID-19 price collapse, according to S&P Global Platts.

Upstream production of oil and associated streams was significantly down in the quarter, in a range of 2.2 million to 2.3 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, from 2.6 million boe/d in Q3 2019.

LNG output was down in a range of 7.9 million to 8.3 million metric tonnes for the quarter, compared with nine million mt a year earlier.

In the update ahead of a full results statement on Oct. 29, Shell said its oil sales in July and August had reflected a 15-20 per cent discount to Brent pricing, similar to the second quarter, and its LNG business in the quarter had suffered a ‘significant impact’ from a lag effect in the oil-linked pricing of LNG.

It also highlighted refining weakness, with a utilisation level of just 64-68 per cent and margins “significantly lower” than in the second quarter 2020, and said it intended to reduce its refining footprint globally to less than 10 sites.

On its restructuring plans, Shell said, “Reduced organisational complexity, along with other measures, are expected to deliver sustainable annual cost savings of between $2.0bn to $2.5bn by 2022.

“This will partially contribute to the announced underlying operating cost reduction of $3bn to $4bn by the first quarter 2021.”

Worldwide job reductions of 7,000 to 9,000 are expected by the end of 2022, including 1,500 people who have agreed to take voluntary redundancy this year, Shell said.

It also said production levels in both the upstream business and the LNG business had been lower than in the second quarter, partly reflecting seasonal maintenance, but also the impact of hurricanes in the US Gulf of Mexico.

 

 

 

 

 


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Western Digital Unveils Speed, Portable SanDisk SSDs

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Western Digital Corp. yesterday released two new SanDisk® portable SSDs that offer nearly 2x the speed over previous generations. The SanDisk Extreme® and SanDisk Extreme PRO® portable SSDs are purpose-built to keep up with today’s high-quality content demands.

Professional photographers, videographers and enthusiasts capture and keep life’s best moments every day and they need reliable solutions that perform on the move at astonishing speeds.

With capacities up to 2TB*, the new NVMe™ drives are perfect for creating amazing content or capturing and moving incredible 4K and 8K footage with ease.

The flagship SanDisk Extreme PRO portable SSD features a forged aluminum chassis made to stay cool under the pressure of a heavy workload and a durable silicone design to withstand the rigors of production. The drives also help keep content safe with password protection and an upgrade to 256-bit AES hardware encryption1.

“When every second counts, I need fast and powerful solutions that work as quickly as I do. I rely on SanDisk SSDs to keep up with my creativity,” said Tyler Stableford, SanDisk Extreme Team member.

“As an artist, speed is one of my greatest strengths, and I know with the SanDisk Extreme line of SSDs, I can get the job done with greater efficiency and capacity, and I never have to worry about running out of memory wherever the job takes me.”

Rugged and Powerful SSD Performance

Designed with professionals in mind, the new SanDisk portable SSDs were built to reliably handle the most challenging assignments – whether at home, in the office or out on location.

The SanDisk Extreme portable SSD is a great go-to drive for those who need more memory and a durable and fast drive, while the SanDisk Extreme PRO was built for an avid pro who needs even, sustained performance and a drive that can go anywhere.

“For our customers, life is an adventure and they rely on us to raise the bar across our portfolio when it comes to delivering powerful solutions to consumers and professionals alike,” said Brian Pridgeon, director of marketing, Consumer Solutions, Western Digital.

“The SanDisk brand is trusted by professional photographers worldwide, which is why we built our Extreme family of drives to perform at the highest level. We amped up the speeds with the latest NVMe technology and used robust materials in our designs to handle the best shots and the most demanding jobs.”

Key Features

  • SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD

– Save time storing and transferring data with powerful NVMe solid state performance featuring up to 2000MB/s** read and up to 2000MB/s** write speeds.

– A forged aluminum chassis acts as a heatsink to deliver higher sustained speeds in a portable form factor.

– Up to two-meter drop protection and an IP55 rating2 make the drive tough enough to take on any adventure. The drive’s forged aluminum chassis and silicone shell design offer a premium feel and added protection.

– Helps keep private content private with password protection and an upgrade to 256-bit AES hardware encryption1.

  • SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD

– Get NVMe solid state performance featuring up to 1050MB/s** read and up to 1000MB/s** write speeds in a portable, high-capacity drive that’s perfect for creating amazing content or capturing incredible footage.

– For added durability, the drive features up to two-meter drop protection and IP55 water and dust resistance2.

– Durable silicone shell that offers a premium feel and added protection to the drive’s exterior.

– Helps keep private content private with password protection and an upgrade to 256-bit AES hardware encryption1.

Ready to move, consumers can use the handy carabiner loop to secure the drives to a belt loop or backpack for extra peace of mind. The new drives are compatible with PC and Mac computers.

In addition to moving content to a PC or laptop, the new products also now allow users to back up mobile content quickly and easily thanks to compatibility with a range of USB Type-C™ smartphones.

Availability

The SanDisk Extreme and SanDisk Extreme PRO portable SSDs are backed by a five-year limited warranty3 and are now available at the Western Digital Store, and at select e-tailers and retailers worldwide.

The SanDisk Extreme portable SSD is available now in 500GB* and 1TB*, and is expected to ship in 2TB* later this holiday season. The SanDisk Extreme PRO portable SSD is available now in 2TB*, and is expected to ship in 1TB* later this holiday season.


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ID Africa Announces ‘Neusroom Untold’ In Celebration Of People, Places And Events That Have Shaped Nigeria’s History

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In celebration of Nigeria’s 60th Independence anniversary, ID Africa, Marketing, Media and Technology company and media platform, Neusroom have announced the Untold project, a collection of 78 stories about important people, places and events that have shaped Nigeria’s history and some little known facts that are yet to penetrate mainstream consciousness, especially amongst young citizens.

 

Nigeria was under colonial rule from 1900 to 1960. Sixty years after independence, the country has survived a civil war, endured eight military coups and rule, and grown to become one of the most populous black nations on earth. With a GDP of $376.3bn, and $1.2 trillion PPP, Nigeria is ranked by the IMF as the largest economy in Africa. But many of the stories, ideas, and events that can unite, motivate, and inspire the mostly youth population appear to have been forgotten.

 

The Untold project is in line with the Neusroom’s long-term mission to research, document and publish important stories about Nigeria and its people.

 

The collection includes the work of six Neusroom and Netng writers published over the past two years, and are being presented to the world in honour of the country’s 60th year of breaking free from colonial rule.

 

At a critical time when access to historical facts  and verifiable information on some of Nigeria’s most important people, places and events has become a challenge for the younger generation, Neusroom is taking a position as a reliable information outlet by providing the public with credible, verifiable, and objective information about Nigeria and other African nations.

 

The Untold project includes profiles of some of Nigeria’s most revered and celebrated personalities such as potter Ladi Kwali, and Alimotu Pelewura, a fish seller who led Lagos market women’s protest against colonial masters. It also includes the detailed account of how Kudirat Abiola fought valiantly to ensure her husband’s mandate as elected President was returned to him, and how Samuel Okwaraji slumped and died on the football field while representing Nigeria.

 

Events and places such as the Nigerian Civil War, the Oyo town where every household has a set of twins, and the Kiriji war which is popular as the world’s longest ethnic war that pitched powerful Yoruba towns against Ibadan, also make up a part of the collection.

 

The collection which will be updated quarterly, is aimed at serving as a source of entertainment, knowledge and insight, in easily digestible formats, for today’s youth and future generation of Nigerians.

 

Speaking on the idea behind the project, ID Africa CEO, Femi Falodun says, “We are using Nigeria’s 60th Independence celebration as an opportunity to share some of the most remarkable stories we’ve curated over the past few years with a wider audience of young Nigerians who may not have previously known about these people, places and events.

 

Our ultimate goal for the Neusroom Untold Project is to document obscure parts of Nigeria’s past and recent history in short multimedia formats that are interesting, easy to read and readily accessible to anyone on the internet. And as history is constantly being made, we believe that this project will always be work-in-progress.”

 

Ayeni Adekunle, founder and publisher of Neusroom and Netng, said, “With The Neusroom Untold Project, we are celebrating Nigeria’s journey as a progressive nation with a spotlight on all of its important contributors whose stories may have been lost in the archives or not being told at all.

 

“We have and will continue to put together, through a thorough editorial process, this project which reflects the country’s rich history, achievers and events that particularly young Nigerians will find interesting and useful.”

 

Since it was founded in 2015, Neusroom has been a trailblazer in telling the most relevant and impactful Nigerian stories. In June 2020, the ID Africa-owned platform unveiled The Neusroom 100 Project, in recognition of 100 people, organizations, countries, and things helping the world fight the pandemic and flatten the COVID-19 curve.

 


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