Bloody accident and rain mar joyful Rio carnival

Revellers of the Academicos do Salgueiro samba school perform during the first night of Rio's Carnival at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, early on February 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / VANDERLEI ALMEIDA

A huge float carried by an out-of-control truck at the Rio de Janeiro samba parade struck at least six people, seriously injuring two.

The accident late Sunday, which coincided with heavy drizzle, marred the start of the all-night samba dance-off at the Sambodromo stadium.

The truck, topped with one of the extravagant floats that symbolize the world's most famous carnival, was at the tail end of the Paraiso do Tuiuti samba school parade — the first of six schools competing overnight.

It drove too close to a fence at the entrance to the competition piste, leaving several people unable to escape. One woman, a news photographer, had a leg badly crushed.

"There are six people injured, two in a serious state," a fire department officer told journalists.

Despite the incident and pools of blood on the rain spattered ground, the party soon got back in swing.

Brazilians living through two years of steep recession and nearly 13 percent unemployment have grasped this year's carnival as a chance to let off steam. In Rio especially, the thrill of hosting the Olympics six months ago has given way to the grim reality of rising crime and near bankruptcy of the state government.

So there were intense cheers around the packed stadium of 70,000 people the moment that drumming began to thunder up from the piste.

Samba queens dressed in sequined micro-costumes and vast feathered headdresses danced at dizzying speed. Behind them came armies of drummers and costumed dancers, interspersed by the floats.

Each school picks a theme for its parade and is judged according to strict criteria. Another six schools were to parade on Monday night, with the champion being announced on Wednesday, the start of Lent in mostly Roman Catholic Brazil.

– Save the Amazon –
The most daring parade was from the samba school known as Imperatriz Leopoldinense, which chose the destruction of Brazil's majestic Amazon rainforest as its theme.

Schools typically pick politically safe themes, often paying homage to Brazilian musicians. Paraiso do Tuiuti, for example, honored the 50th anniversary of the "Tropicalia" musical movement.

But Imperatriz Leopoldinense waded into the debate over indigenous rights, agribusiness expansion into once pristine lands, and the future of the ever more under pressure Amazon.

Floats included portrayals of the jungle, indigenous musicians, piles of skulls and a giant head of a crying indigenous man, crushed by a log the size of a bus.

Members of real native tribes were joining the parade to raise awareness about their plight.

"This parade is incredibly important," said Leticia Campos, 35, who was participating in a tight green costume with bright red wings, representing the forest on fire.

"People here never pay attention to the Indians when in fact they are the masters of the rainforest and it was stolen from them."

The parade has infuriated members of the powerful agribusiness sector, which is frequently accused of being a major contributor to global warming through logging and cattle ranching.

The Brazilian Association of Cattle Breeders called the parade "unacceptable." The rice industry lobby warned of "damage to the country."

Rio is Brazil's carnival capital. Tourism officials told Globo newspaper Sunday that as many as 1.5 million tourists have descended on the city, the best result in eight years, injecting some three billion reais ($960 million) into the local economy.

Original Article

PDP secretariat: Makarfi asks police to flush out Sheriff

*Warns of potential violence
*We followed court order —Ojougboh

By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor

LAGOS— The Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led faction of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has petitioned the police over the forced entry of Senator Modu Ali Sheriff into the national secretariat of the party, saying it could not guarantee a breakdown of law and order instigated by their supporters.


Sheriff and Makarfi

Spokesman of the faction, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, told Vanguard on telephone that the Makarfi faction, which ironically controls the mainstream of the party, has petitioned the police to “flush” Sheriff out of the secretariat on the claim that the keys to the secretariat were currently in the custody of the Board of Trustees, BoT.

He spoke as the Sheriff leadership, yesterday, affirmed that it had almost completed renovation of the secretariat.

Deputy national chairman, Dr. Cairo Ojuogboh, told Vanguard that its action in taking over the secretariat was based on court processes served on the police.

Responding to the development yesterday, Adeyeye told Vanguard: “We have contacted the appropriate authorities since we are not in a lawless society. He (Sheriff) broke into the secretariat and we are not lawless like him because the keys are with the Board of Trustees and they are the custodians of all the property, assets and liabilities of the party.

“Our lawyers have written to them to let them know what they have done. I believe that if the police want to do their job and want to be impartial and want to respect the law, then they have to flush him out of that place.”

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Unraveling the history of Lagos Brazilian Quarter

By Prisca Sam-Duru

Atlantic Triangle, an exhibition of artworks organised by the Goethe Institut, Lagos, is set to tell the historical reconstruction of the conditions of exploitation through timely configuration of cultural dynamics and interdependence of the Brazilian Quarter in Lagos.


One of the works to be displayed

The exhibition which is part of a larger project that includes shows at Saracura Art Space (Riode Janeiro) in June, 2017, and the 11th Mercosul Biennial in Porto Alegre (Brazil) in April, 2018 will feature these artists; AbdulrazaqAwofeso (Nigeria), George Osodi (Nigeria), Karo Akpokiere(Nigeria), Ndidi Dike(Nigeria), Andréas Lang, Germany , Mario Pfeifer, Germany, Iris Buchholz Chocolate, Germany-Angola, Arjan Martins, Brazil, Dalton Paula, Brazil, Vivian Caccuri, Brazil and Jaime Lauriano, Brazil. Also to be exhibited areselected works of traditional Nigerian sculpture from the Femi Akinsanya collection, Lagos.

Speaking of the exhibition, Director of Goethe Institut, Mr Hug Alfons disclosed that “the Goethe-Institut, Lagos, is located right in the middle of what is known now as the Brazilian Quarter, a district reminiscent of the old towns in Rio de Janeiro or Salvador-Bahia, constructed in the 19th century by a group known as the Retornados.

To the Retornados called Amarôs or Agudas in the Yoruba language, Africa represented a promise of a return of history and of mercy. Constructions by Brazilian master-builders such as Water House, Ebun House, the Shitta BeyMosque, and other landmarks in old Lagos, now scarred by the ravages of time, clearly cling to a past that is in danger of being swept away by the megalopolis and its 22 million inhabitants.

On the far side of the Atlantic, in Rio de Janeiro, construction work for the Olympic Games unearthed the foundations of the former slave market at Cais do Valongo, where more than one million slaves were sold between the 16th and 19th centuries.” added Goethe Institut director.

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Original Article

Mandela, Tutu’s advice prompted my running for President — Obasanjo

By Daud Olatunji

ABEOKUTA—Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has disclosed that former President of South Africa, late Nelson Mandela and a South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop, Bishop Desmond Tutu’s advice among others that prompted him to go into the presidential race in 1999.

Obasanjo revealed this while speaking at the celebration of his 80th birthday organised by the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Ogun state chapter, held at the Treasure House of God, Agbeloba, Abeokuta, the state capital.

Obasanjo who expressed gratitude to the organisers of the programme said God has been partial to him considering the unmerited favour he had received.


Olusegun Obasanjo

The church programme was attended by dignitaries including, the Deputy Governor of Ogun state, Mrs Yetunde Onanuga, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Suraaj Adekunbi, House of Representative member representing Remo constituency, Mr Ladi Adebutu.

Others include; the former minsters of Finance, Mr Onaolapo Soneye, Mrs Iyabo Anishulowo, the Alake and paramount ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, his counterpart in Yewaland Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, the Olowu of Owu, Oba Adegboyega Dosumu, the Olubara of Ibara land, Oba Jacob Omolade, among others.

Meanwhile, the Olowu, Oba Adegboyega Dosumu at the function appealed to Chief Obasanjo to stop the importation of Indian garri into the country in the interest of the country.

Also attesting to the former President’s good deed, the Alake, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo described Obasanjo as a God’s sent for the emancipation of human race especially Nigerians.

Alake also revealed that Obasanjo saved him from being killed during the military rule, adding that his advice was the saving grace.

Also in the course of the celebration, CAN Ogun State chapter decorated Obasanjo as the Asiwaju Onigbago of Christians in Ogun State. (Christian foremost leader.)

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Nigerians in CAF root for Hayatou

Nigerians in CAF have kicked against Nigeria Football Federation President, Amaju Pinnick’s support for Mr Ahmad of Madagascar in the forthcoming CAF elections.


Issa Hayatou

In a release signed by nine Nigerians holding different offices in CAF: General Dominic Oneya, Dr Amos Adamu, Amanze Uchegbulam, Sani Lulu Abdullahi, Aminu Maigari, Dr Bolaji Ojo-Oba, Paul Bassey, Aisha Falode and Barrister Chris Green, they protested that no Nigerian member of CAF has been consulted nor informed out of courtesy about the ambitions of the NFF President.

‘’We do not remember Mr Ahmad visiting Nigeria to solicit or canvass for votes nor do we have any record of Mr Ahmad’s pedigree in the running of football in Africa that would have led Mr Pinnick to dangerously throw all of Nigeria’s eggs in his basket. We stand dangerously threatened.

The same cannot be said of CAF President Issa Hayatou, FIFA Senior Vice President, who overtime has been a pillar of support and true friend of Nigerian football and whose service to the round leather game cannot be disputed given the giant strides that football in the continent has taken especially in the areas of sponsorship and partnership, and the spread of the game to all nooks and corners of the continent.

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Dalung holds emergency meeting with nff tomorrow

The Minister of Youth and Sports Solomon Dalung has called for an emergency meeting with the executive board members of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

Nneka Ikem Anibeze, SA Media in a statement released yesterday said the meeting would hold on Feb. 28, in the Minister’s conference room, National Stadium, Abuja at 11am.


Dalung

The statement emphasised that attendance of all board members to the emergency meeting was mandatory.

The meeting might have been called to discuss the position of Nigeria with regards to the March 16 election into the Executive Committee of CAF to hold in Addis Ababa.

NFF president Amaju Pinnick was said to have told CNN that they were expecting the current CAF president Issa Hayatou would be statesmanly enough to throw in the towel.

“People want change and a new generation of leadership. I join those advocating for the change,” he said.

When asked of his opinion should Hayatou suddenly withdraw from the race, Pinnick remarked that it would be the height of statesmanship.

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Original Article

Globalisation of markets and western duplicity

By Dele Sobowale

“In today’s global markets, you don’t have to go abroad to experience international competition. Sooner or later, the world comes to you. The global market place is information based. Knowing how to learn is the central skill that allows a company to move up the value curve. The trick is to protect the past while building the future.— Harvard Business Review. HBR, March-April 2003. VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, P 75.

THE first tentative ideas about globalization of markets originated in the US at Harvard Business School, HBS, where people like Professor Theodore Levy were pushing the idea of open markets worldwide. In the beginning it was an idea promoted by the West and Japan, who were dominant in the global economy.

They had the lead on everything which could assist them in dominating world trade – computers, ICT networks and human resource development capacities, among others. But, by 1993, even believers from other nations were beginning to buy the idea of globalization.


Naira

In 1993, an Indian manager was writing in support of globalization in the same HBR, March-April 1993. In his words, “Think global and act local” goes the saying, but that is only half the truth. International managers must also think local and then apply their local insights on a local scale.” With Americans leading the universal crusade and everybody attending HBS swallowing the pill, it soon became the Holy Grail of economic policy everywhere. To make it more palatable for the world to swallow the dubious medicine, the US generously supplied the funds to nations willing or eager to accept it. And, those nations grew rapidly – especially the nations of South East Asia whose successes were then advertised as the way to go.

The same trick was tried in Africa. But, our leaders being generally unimaginative and selfish did not even realize that they would have had more money to steal by helping their nations to bake bigger cakes. They were contented to steal from the small piece of cake.

That was their tragedy and ours – because we never had a chance to experience the inflow of vast amounts of dollars on the same scale as the Asian Tigers and even tiny Singapore. Today, however, what was a tragedy in the last forty years might now be turning out to be a blessing in disguise. The US, UK and some nations of Western Europe are now getting ready to disclaim the globalization they once actively promoted. The question is: why?

One article will not sufficiently allow us to discuss all the worldwide ramifications of globalization. So readers can expect more articles as events unfold in the future because the turnaround by the West on a policy they once championed will have long term implications for the Nigerian economy. The younger the reader is, the more he is urged to follow the series as it goes on. Even Nigerian economic policy makers are asked to pay attention because failure to prepare Nigeria for a future that is rapidly unfolding will bring another series of disastrous consequences.

Only one country, in the entire world refused to be bullied into accepting totally the principles of globalization as advanced by the West. That nation was China. Its people partially closed their borders; determined their own long term goals and development plans; poured funds into education and research; selectively borrowed ideas from the world – especially the US, Germany and Japan.

Chinese local innovation

They then worked on the improvement of those ideas; mixed them with Chinese local innovation and today have emerged the second largest economy racing to be number one. It is the rise of China to economic leadership, now and in the future, which had thrown Western leaders like “Fuhrer” Donald Trump of the US,

“Mussolini” May of the UK and “Copy Cat” Pen of France of France into a frenzy. They can foresee a future in which white people no longer dominate the world and dictate to coloured races; and instead, they will be dominated. For them that future is real and scary. China had risen to global economic leadership by, first, rejecting the dictates of globalization. Then, after China had sufficiently strengthen itself, it had accepted globalization and it is forcing the West to take the poison they forced the poor nations of the world to swallow – for their own benefit.

What China saw right from the start, which escaped the rest of the world, became more apparent to the South East Asian countries later. Lee Kuan Yew, the father of Singapore, made two observations in his global best seller, FROM THIRD WORLD TO FIRST. First, he wrote, “None of the leaders [of South East Asia] realized the implications of the globalized financial market of instant communications between the main financial centres of the world – New York, London, Tokyo –and their representatives in the capitals of East Asia. The inflow of funds from the industrial countries brings not only benefits of high growth but also the risk of a sudden outflow of these funds.” [Underlining mine].

Nigeria is currently experiencing the implications of that statement by Yew. When crude oil sold for $110-145 per barrel, there was no scarcity of dollars on account of huge Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, flowing into the oil sector. As crude prices started the slide downwards the International Oil Companies, IOCs, first reduced the inflow of FDI; then they started selling their less profitable oil blocs and repatriating their funds – IN DOLLARS!! Today, the inflow of FDI into the oil sector had stopped almost completely. Outflow is increasing.

Why is Nigeria in this predicament? The answer can partly be found in the diagnosis of the problems of the South East Asian countries when they had their fianacial crisis. As Yew rightly observed, “In a globalized economy, where Americans and Europeans set the rules [underlining mine], through the WTO (World Trade Organisation) and other multilateral organizations, it is wasteful to use capital without regard to market forces.”

Until recently, the West set the rules and ensured they were in its favour; they established several global organizations as referees, confident that they will always win the game. They also encouraged wasteful spending in places like Nigeria – NNPC is example. It never occurred to them that any country outside the global “cabal” will rise up, despite the deliberate disadvantages placed in their ways by the West. But, today BRICKS – Brazil, Russia, India, China, Korea (South) and South Africa – had stepped up to challenge the West and they are winning.

The temper tantrums of Trump, May, Pen and others wanting to overturn globalization is akin to a cheater at a card game who keeps losing despite his unethical behaviour suddenly getting up and wanting to end the game prematurely or wants the rules changed once again. The West is losing badly in a game they started, and forcefully promoted worldwide.

They are poor losers. Mrs May needs to be reminded that Britain originated the beautiful game of football, but, it has only one miserable World Cup to show for it. Sportsmen/women, unlike politicians don’t change the rules of the game when they are losing. Only unethical politicians do that. Globalisation has failed because it had created a larger pool of “Have-nots” in the world compared to “Haves”. It is partly fuelling global terrorism today by increasing the number of those who have nothing to lose.

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Original Article

The unresolved burden of 5 rates of naira to the dollar

By Henry Boyo

The strength of a nation’s currency is an expression of the vibrancy, and robustness of that country’s economy. Conversely, a very weak currency therefore is a mark of a country with a perverse economic mix.

Our currency has plummeted in 30 years from 60 kobo=$1 (when we could not be described amongst the world’s poorest) to the present N132.80=$1, to now become classified amongst the world’s poorest, even when our $17billion reserves is the highest in 30 years! What a veritable paradox, alarmingly nonetheless, there is still no tangible impact on social welfare.

A country’s economy is considered to be relatively stable if its foreign reserves readily cover up to six months of imports; thus, a nation’s export competitiveness and consequent trade balances will induce currency appreciation. Regrettably, despite, positive trade balances for several years, with reserves that cover over 18 months of imports, according to CBN sources, Naira has inexplicably failed to meaningfully appreciate against dollar.

The cause of this contradiction can be found in the manner our foreign exchange earnings are currently infused into the economy. The current practice is for CBN to substitute Naira for distributable dollar revenue each month, with an exchange rate which is unilaterally determined by CBN.


naira

This practice requires the provision of a relatively huge naira cover, which keeps the mints busy while the inflationary product of this arrangement, will be ironically restrained by the compulsion for CBN to borrow back the resultant Naira surplus through the sale of treasury bills with aggressive and distortional interest rates of up to 17%; surprisingly thereafter, rations of dollars retained by CBN after Naira substitution would be auctioned in a money market which is undeniably, embarrassingly overwhelmed with surplus Naira, which will fuel inflation.

The inability of industries to thrive with CBN’s deliberate inducement of interest rates as high as 25%, the related high rate of unemployment, and inordinately high Commercial Bank profits, even when the real sector is embattled, are all traceable to this odious payments model.

The scourge of multiple exchange rates is also a fallout of the inability of the current system to produce a workable single naira exchange rate. Alarmingly, Nigerian economy presently features at least five different exchange rates. Let us take a look at some of these.

THE FIVE RATES OF THE NAIRA

  • The rate at which CBN converts the monthly distributable dollar revenue into naira before sharing to constitutional beneficiaries maybe described as the Revenue Rate; this rate has hovered between N100-110=$ since 2001.
  • The special rates for oil marketers’ fuel imports: this rate became unavoidable after the upward surge in demand of fuel importers for foreign exchange after deregulation to keep prices stable. There is no official confirmation of this rate but it may not have remained at N123=$ as before.
  • The N132.80=$ DAS rate is generally regarded as the official rate, and is determined at weekly auctions in which CBN, would, as in a monopoly, provide all the dollar supply; however, by depositing huge cash surpluses of government agencies in commercial banks, CBN inadvertently, also partly funds commercial banks’ purchase of dollars auctioned. Evidently, there is no semblance of a free market with multiple sellers of dollars in DAS auctions. What we have is CBN’s monopoly of dollar and Naira supply.

Regrettably therefore, Naira rate has unexpectedly primarily remained impervious to increasing dollar supply. For example, dollar lost 25% against most international currencies last year, yet, despite Nigeria’s consistent trade surpluses with increasing reserves, naira inexplicably remained resistant to dollar at N132.8=$ for about eight months. This rate becomes a depreciation of over 20% when compounded with dollar depreciation against Euro and Sterling.

  • The export proceeds rate is the rate at which banks sell forex inflow from private sectors exporters and foreign direct investors outside CBN sources. The applicable rate is usually some percentage points higher than the official DAS rate. There are suggestions, however, that most of the funds traded as export proceeds are actually roundtripped foreign exchange from the official DAS.
  • Incidentally, CBN has also publicly decried the indulgence of several banks in large-scale round tripping; surprisingly however, so far, only one or two banks have been given slap on the wrist sanctions for this fraud! Critics have also suggested that the huge gains from round tripping may be partly responsible for the rapid expansion and apparent profitability in the banking sector, despite the continuous contraction of the real sector, whose fortunes under normal circumstances, should move in unison with that of banks!
  • The interbank rate is adopted for forex transactions between fellow banks. The forex supply to this market is derived from the so called export proceeds market referred to above.

In the preceding narrative, we have identified five different exchange rates already, but we cannot complete this piece without mention of the ubiquitous black market rate, which has been described as the tail that wags the dog! The black market, by its nature, is normally relatively shallow as can be observed in the frenzy of operators to consolidate exchanges above $1000 at any of the ‘joints’ in Martins Street or Allen Avenue in Lagos.

So why should such a presumed small market that primarily serves, the forex needs of travellers surprisingly control the official DAS rate. Generally, the gap between the black market rate and DAS hovered between 4-15% since 2001, and the current rate is N140=$. The CBN’s traditional equalization strategy is to attempt to close the gap between the black market by raising the official rate, but soon after such adjustment, the black market rate would once more outstrip the DAS rate and this will once again be followed by further adjustment in an endless cycle of Naira devaluation.

The net consequence of having a multiplicity of exchange rates against the naira is an incoherent and obtuse foreign exchange market. The leakages which are made possible by the system translate into a virus in the economy where the absence of a level playing ground creates distortions to a free market system with adverse consequences for efficient resource allocation. The system encourages indolent rent seekers and also disturbs the ‘work and reward ethic’ as huge sums can be made without any real direct contribution.

A country with a multiplicity of exchange rates will have a rudderless monetary framework; besides its currency would remain weak, even if external reserves continuously increase! It is clearly recipe for economic backwardness!”

The above article was first published in Vanguard Newspaper in January 2005. Regrettably the predicament of widely divergent multiple exchange rates still prevails in 2017.

THE NAIRA SAVE, SAVE NIGERIA!

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Original Article

Nigerian insurance market bigger than South Africa’s – Old Mutual

By Michael Eboh

Old Mutual Insurance has disclosed that the Nigerian insurance market is far bigger than the South African and Ghanaian insurance markets.

Speaking in an interview in Abuja, during the relocation to a new office space in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Mr. Zomunoda Chizura, Chief Executive Officer, Old Mutual West Africa, also stated that the company, which is less than four years in the Nigerian market, had put strategy in place to ensure that it ranks among the top five insurance companies in Nigeria within the next five years.

Chizura noted that though the company was yet to record significant returns on its investment, it is hopeful, especially with the size and potential of the Nigerian insurance market and the fact that the Nigerian market is bigger than the South African market.

He said, “The returns, though we have not yet gotten them, but we are long term. We see a massive potential. The population in Nigeria is big; the insurance penetration is big; they are 70 million formally employed people in Nigeria.

“It is bigger than any of the markets that we have presence in Africa. It is bigger than Ghana and bigger than South Africa. In South Africa, the entire population is 50 million, but in Nigeria, the people that are employed are 70 million, so it is a very exciting market for us.

“Our plan is to grow massively. Right now, we are sort of maybe at the bottom of the middle, in the next five years, we want to be among the top five in the market. Definitely, that is where are going to be.”

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Original Article

RCCG’s 75-hour marathon praise begins today

By Sam Eyoboka
FOFTY-THREE year old Nigerian gospel singer, songwriter, saxophonist, televangelist and Director of Music with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, Pastor Kunle Ajayi is expected to lead over 140 worshippers to perform at this year’s Marathon Messiah Praise worship which begins at noon today.

Theme of this year’s 75-hour programme in honour of the church’s General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye is: “The Sovereign God.”

The Marathon Messiah’s Praise, the world’s longest annual non-stop gospel musical extravaganza was specially packaged to express gratitude to God for His mercies upon Pastor Adeboye who turns 75 years on March 2, 2017.

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Original Article