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Nigeria Fails All Areas of Sustainable Development Goals – UN Report




By David Torough, Abuja

Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun yesterday, in Abuja launched the 2023/2024 Human Development Report (HDI).

The 2023/24 Human Development Report (HDR) entitled Breaking the Gridlock: Reimagining Cooperation in a Polarized World showed that Nigeria has performed poorly in all areas of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The report prepared by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Nigeria noted that there was a rebound in the global Human Development Index (HDI) – a summary measure reflecting the country’s Gross National Income (GNI) per capita, education, and life expectancy as being partial, incomplete and unequal.

The minister said, “The HDR is a rallying cry that we can and must do better than this. And it charts a way forward for conversations on reimagining development cooperation for a better world.

“In re-imagining cooperation, international financial architecture ought to be structured to proactively support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the realization of human rights.

“The only way to facilitate such a structure is through ambitious reforms, starting with more inclusive, representative and, ultimately, more effective global economic governance.”

Speaking earlier, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mohamed Fall said, “The HDR argues that polarization and mismanagement of cross-border interdependencies are at the root of many contemporary challenges, ranging from debt distress in numerous low- and middle-income countries to threats to food security to a pervasive sense of disempowerment around the world.

“Polarization within and amongst our countries is creating ‘a global gridlock’ and preventing us from forging international cooperation towards addressing our shared challenges.

“This polarization, whether at the sub-national, national, regional, or global levels signifies an erosion of trust that is dividing societies into opposing camps and poisoning domestic and international cooperation.

“The HDI is projected to reach record highs in 2023 after steep declines during 2020 and 2021. But this progress is deeply uneven.

“Rich countries are experiencing record-high levels of human development while half of the world’s poorest countries remain below their pre-crisis level of progress.”

Similarly, the Resident Representative for UNDP Nigeria, Ms. Elsie G Attafuah said, “Since HDR inception, the Human Development Report has become a flagship knowledge product.

“This unique annual report has not only helped to establish a new broad definition of development but also to evaluate the progress made and highlight key challenges drawing on statistics.

“This report encourages political leaders and development practitioners around the world to keep raising our ambitions and following up on areas that need support.

“The report calls us to change course, otherwise the world may not recover from the decline in human progress.

“The repercussion of not changing course and removing the gridlock is in the additional lives that will be lost, in opportunities that will be forgone, and in feelings of despair.

“The report presents ways forward that hinge on reimagining cooperation in ways that do not assume away divergent interests or opinions but work with them to deliver global public goods – where we all stand to benefit.

“This report opens a new trilogy of human development reports that will explore further the layers of uncertainty identified in the latest HDR: how to address polarization (2023-24), shape our shared digital future to advance human development (2025), and marshal human aspirations to navigate the Anthropocene (2026).”

The UNDP has in the last 34 years, released the Human Development Report and Index annually, ranking all countries by health, education and living standards.

In the last three decades, UNDP has produced more than 800 global, regional, national, and sub-national reports, and organized hundreds of workshops, conferences, and other outreach initiatives to foster human development.

Human development is about expanding the richness of human life rather than simply the richness of the economy. It focuses on people and their opportunities and choices.

The UNDP published the first Human Development Report in 1990 with an introduction of a new HDI to measure development progress.

The underlying principle of the HDI, considered radical in 1990, was national development should be measured not simply by per capita income as had long been the practice but also by health, education and other important indicators.

Present at the launch were the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Abubakar Bagudu; Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkiruka Onyejeocha; Minister of Youth Development, Dr Jamila Bio Ibrahim; and the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Mohamed Fall.


Bad Economy: FG Slashes Allowances of Foreign Scholars by 23 Percent




By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

Nigerian students studying abroad under the Federal Government’s Bilateral Education Agreement (BEA) scholarship may find it tough meeting their financial obligations following reduction in their allowances by the government.The Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Education yesterday announced a reduction in allowances of the foreign scholars by 22.

7 percent.
This was contained in a memo signed by the Director of the Federal Scholarship Board, Ndajiwo H. A., on behalf of the Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman.The memo showed that the monthly allowances were slashed from $500 to $220; the graduation allowance from $2500 to $2000; and the PG research allowance was slashed from $1,000 to $500, among others.
According to the memo, the government’s decision to slash the scholars’ allowances was due to the economic crisis in the country.The memo which was dated July 23, 2024, and addressed to the scholars’ association stated that the decision was reached after consultations with stakeholders.“After due consultations, the Federal Scholarship Board has come up with adjustments in line with budgetary provisions in the payment of BEA scholar’s supplementation allowances for the 2024 academic year,” it said.Already, some students are lamenting in their countries of study.It would be recalled that Nigerian students studying in Russia, Morocco, Algeria, China, Hungary, and other countries recently cried out over unpaid allowances.Their president Ayuba Anas claimed, “For the past six to eight months, scholars enrolled in various institutions abroad have endured financial strain due to the delay in receiving their stipends.“In addition, from the last payments we received [March-August 2023], there was a shortfall of practically two-and-a-half months’ payment.“Moreover, some students in China have not received any stipends since they arrived in April and May 2023.”However, the Federal Government said, “The balances for the years 2023 and 2024 owed to scholars will be paid as soon as the funds are made available.”

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Green Economy ‘ll Create Greater Prosperity for Investors – Agama




By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

Stakeholders, intermediaries, issuers, investors, and regulators have been enjoined to take advantage of the enormous resources and potential of sustainable finance to build a green climate resilient economy in Nigeria and create greater prosperity for investors and Nigerians.

This was stated by Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Dr.
Emomotimi Agama during a capacity building workshop for capital market operators on Green Finance in Lagos yesterday.
The workshop is part of an ongoing capacity building initiative administered by the African Development Bank Group and financed by the Capital Market Development Trust Fund (CMDTF) of the Bank.
The SEC DG represented by Executive Commissioner Operations SEC, Mr. Bola Ajomale, emphasised that the Commission is steadfast in its commitment to champion sustainable finance initiatives as the Rules on Green Bonds have already facilitated a couple of sovereign issues and multiple corporate issues.Agama said, “The Federal Government through the Debt Management Office (DMO) has led the way in Africa in this regard by issuing the first sovereign green bond in December 2017. It has since followed up with another N15bn issuance in June 2019 specifically to fund renewable energy, afforestation and transportation.”The Commission also approved two green bond issues by North South Power Services Ltd and Access Bank Plc worth N8.56bn and N15bn respectively to finance various infrastructural projects in the power, water and agriculture sectors of the Nigerian economy. The onus therefore lies with all of us distinguished ladies and gentlemen to continue to expand these issuances by locating a need and fashioning appropriate sustainable financing products to meet themThe SEC DG disclosed that the Commission continues to strongly support and champion efforts to deliver coordinated and coherent policy advice, capacity building and regulatory support to leverage actions across a broad spectrum of sectors to build the momentum for a green economy, which could bring socially inclusive and environmentally sound economic transformation.Agama said the workshop presents an opportunity to stakeholders in the capital market to enrich the discussion on Green Finance and more importantly, take concerted action on issues relating to climate change and sustainability.According to him, “The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) defines a green economy as low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive economy. An economy where growth in employment and income are driven by public and private investment into such economic activities, infrastructure and assets that allow reduced carbon emissions and pollution, enhanced energy resource efficiency, and prevention of loss biodiversity and ecosystem services.”Climate change, as we all know, is one of the major risks threatening the well-being of mankind. Since the Paris Agreement was reached in December 2015, international efforts in combating climate change have gathered enormous momentum. According to the IMF, in the past four decades, we have witnessed the warmest years on record and the number of natural disasters more than doubled in that same time frame.”The SEC DG said embracing green finance remains a critical approach to addressing these challenges adding that it is crucial to involve key stakeholders in conversations that promote green finance.”We are at a pivotal moment where we can shape the future of our investment practices to align with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles. Transitioning to a green economy is crucial for the sustainable development of Nigeria.”The primary objective of the workshop is to provide capacity building for capital market operators and stakeholders to enhance knowledge and understanding of green finance, promote collaboration and networking among stakeholders, support regulatory compliance with SEC Rules, and facilitate the funding of innovative, environmentally friendly projects that will drive sustainable economic growth.”He expressed excitement at the promising trend of sustainability-themed funds gaining prominence, especially in developed countries, saying this reflects a growing global adoption of green finance criteria within the investment community, and notably, green finance performance has shown a strong correlation with overall financial performance.

Agama urged stakeholders, intermediaries, issuers, investors, and regulators, to support this transition through their business activities by directing financial flows towards more sustainable and climate-friendly solutions, divesting from unsustainable practices, setting standards and frameworks, and integrating green finance into investment decisions and practices.In his remarks, Executive Director, Climate Transition Limited Mr. Olumide Lala said that Climate change is real adding that the transition to a green economy is essential for Nigeria’s sustainable development, and green finance is a critical component of this transition.”It is not just about the impact on a world that is far from us, it is here with us. The message today is for us to invest in assets, infrastructure assets that are climate efficient.”If you look around today, the impact of climate is upon us, it’s affecting our food security, it’s affecting our way of life. It is even affecting our country’s security as people are moving from place to place in search of a better life” he stated.Lala said the desertification of the Sahara is impeding the world, as people are moving towards the south, water resources is being compromised and there is climate risk associated with the financial investments people make.”There is the need to reduce emission, essentially the message today is change. The regulator is here trying to reassure investors that the governance structure is there to ensure the safety of the money they are investing. The governance structure is constantly being enhanced in line with global values.”We see this as a market development opportunity to educate the market on the benefits as well as the risks. But more importantly, how do you change the risks into opportunities? As the market changes and as we develop more opportunities for those coming behind us,” he added.

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Senate Suspends Rules, Passes N70,000 Minimum Wage Bill to Hasten Implementation




By Eze Okechukwu, Abuja

The Senate yesterday suspended the relevant sections of its Standing Orders to pass the new minimum wage bill, 2024, saying the move was to fasttrack the implementation of the newly approved N70,000 minimum wage for Nigerian workers.President Bola Tinubu had earlier sent the bill to the two chambers of the National Assembly, and pleaded with them to give expeditious treatment to the proposal to enable him address the minimum wage crisis, which heated up the polity in the last few months.

The Leader of the Senate, Opeyemi Bamidele presented the bill titled: “A Bill for an Act to Amend the National Minimum Wage Act, 2019 to increase the National Minimum Wage and reduce the time for periodic review of the National Minimum Wage from five years to three years and for related matters, 2024 (SB.
550).”According to legislative tradition, the bill passed first, which was the reading out of President Bola Tinubu’s request; then it passed through second, which involved debate on general principles, and went through third reading, which was the final passage, all within one hour.According to Bamidele, the bill sought to raise the country’s minimum wage for the civil servants from N30,000 to N70,000, noting that N70,000 was agreed upon by all the parties after negotiations by the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage.“This is part of the Federal Government’s short term measure to mitigate the situation in the country,” Bamidele said.Contributing to the debate, the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Tahir Monguno said that there was a need to review the minimum wage to align with economic realities in the country.“The review of the minimum wage used to be after every five years. It is now every three years,” Monguno said.Also passed by the Senate yesterday is a bill, inter alia that sought to reduce the time for periodic review of the National Minimum Wage from five years to three years, and for related matters.The Executive Bill forwarded to the Senate by President Bola Tinubu was presented for the first reading, then scaled second reading and was read the third time and passed.In his lead debate on the general principles of the bill, Senator Bamidele said, “Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, I humbly rise to lead the debate on the general principles of the National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Bill, 2024 (SB. 550).“You will recall, Mr. President, my dear colleagues that in recent times, a plethora of agitations and clamours have been recorded from Organised Labour and another segment of our society, for an increase in the National Minimum Wage given the prevailing economic situation in the country.”In response to the agitations and after a series of negotiations between the Federal Government and the Organised Labour, the current National Minimum Wage of N30,000 only has been reviewed upward to the sum of N70,000 only.”

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