‘Elections Pose Risk to Nigeria’s GDP Growth Forecast’

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   By Raheem Akingbolu with agency report

Nigeria has been identified as one of the countries that will likely experience negative economic outlook next year as a result of the general elections holding in the first quarter of 2019.

According to a report by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), most African countries have a positive economic outlook, apart from those with upcoming elections, including Nigeria and South Africa.

In the report titled: “In Economic Insight: Africa Q4 2018,” launched recently, the accountancy body estimated GDP growth forecasts for various regions including East Africa which was seen to grow by 6.3 per cent, Western and Central Africa by 2.5 per cent, Franc Zone at 4.6 per cent and South Africa by 1.2 per cent.

According to the report, in West and Central Africa, average growth was predicted to be at 2.5 per cent. Ghana’s forecast was expected to expand by a decent 5.2 per cent, highlighting a stable economy.

However, this was not so for Nigeria whose growth was forecast at 1.8 per cent. The weak performance was aptly attributed to the upcoming elections.

Meanwhile, the report indicated that Zimbabwe’s government was already suffering from post-election credibility difficulties, with international lenders and investors unconvinced that the scenario has improved in Harare – after violence and fraud allegations marred July’s election.

In North Africa, Libya and Algeria are set to hold polls in the near future, in December 2018 and April 2019, respectively. Nevertheless, Libya’s election would almost certainly not go ahead as the legal framework for it was not yet in place. Incidentally, the two countries are the region’s fastest and slowest growing economies this year, at 14.7 per cent and 2.3 per cent respectively. Egypt which held elections in March to overwhelmingly return President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to power, was expected to grow by 5.3 per cent this year.

The certainty of Mr Sisi’s grip on power appears to be helping the country’s economic rebound.

The Franc Zone was expected to see GDP growth of around 4.6 per cent this year. Cameroon was expected to post a GDP growth rate of four per cent this year – up from 3.2 per cent in 2017.

This was despite the unpopular re-election of President Paul Biya and the violence that accompanied his re-election. Elections and accompanying political instability are said to be evidently have a complex relationship with economic growth.

Air Peace Unveils 2019 Projections, Plans Long-haul Service

Chinedu Eze

Air Peace has unveiled its 2019 flight operations and disclosed that it would kick-off its long haul service in the New Year.

These long-haul include Dubai, Sharjah, London, Guangzhou-China, Houston, Mumbai and Johannesburg.

 A statement issued by Air Peace Corporate Communications Manager, Mr. Chris Iwarah, quoted the airline’s Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Allen Onyema, to have urged staff of the airline to gear up to raise the bar of flight services to the travelling public in 2019.

 Onyema, commended the travelling public for preferring Air Peace and staying loyal to its brand in 2018, attributing the success of the airline in four years to the unflinching support of its customers, pledging that the airline would spare nothing in making their experience truly rewarding, exciting and safe.

 Air Peace said it was focusing on broadening opportunities to give its customers greater comfort, beginning with the extension of its operations from its hub at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos to the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA2) on January 2, 2019.

 It confirmed that its Lagos-Kaduna, Lagos-Asaba, Lagos-Akure and Lagos-Port Harcourt NAF Base flight operations would be moved to MMA2 from January 2. The facility, it said, would eventually handle all flights under Air Peace Hopper, the airline’s subsidiary.

 The expansion, Air Peace said, would create more space for it to provide exceptional flight services in an atmosphere of comfort.

 The airline also assured that its main project for 2019 would be in the area of giving the flying public a reliable, affordable, safe and convenient option on major international routes, including Dubai, Sharjah, London, Guangzhou-China, Houston, Mumbai and Johannesburg.

 The international services, Air Peace said, would give Nigeria and West Africa a sense of pride in the global aviation industry. It said it was in the final stage of doing demonstration flights with its Boeing 777 aircraft to Sharjah, Dakar, Freetown, Johannesburg, Port Harcourt and Kano as part of the process to induct the aircraft into its service.

“2018 was both challenging and exciting for us. It was the year we upped our record of firsts. In the year under review, we launched a number of domestic and regional routes under our no-city-left-behind project on the platform of our subsidiary, Air Peace Hopper. “We also made history as the first domestic airline to acquire and register the Boeing 777 aircraft in Nigeria. We have so far acquired four Boeing 777s, with two already delivered.

“We also successfully renewed our International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certificate and Air Operator Certificate (AOC) after a very rigorous process. We also diversified the aircraft in our fleet with the inclusion of six 50-seater Embraer 145 jets, which have so far helped our Yuletide operations in no small way.

“The real big leap came in September when we signed a deal with American planemaker, Boeing for the delivery of 10 brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, making us the first to achieve the feat on the West Coast of Africa.

 “We are sincerely grateful to our loyal customers without whose support, preference for our brand and patronage we could not have made a success of the target we set for ourselves in 2018. It was quite a challenging year too, given the dire economic situation across the world, but our esteemed customers supported us through it all.

 “In 2019, we are going to implement a series of bolder decisions aimed at giving the flying public a truly exciting experience. Already, we have begun the expansion of our flight operations to the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA2) in response to our customers’ wish for a better space to serve them.

“This becomes effective January 2, 2019 with the operation of our Lagos-Akure, Lagos-Asaba, Lagos-Kaduna and Lagos-Port Harcourt NAF Base services from the facility. All flights under our subsidiary, Air Peace Hopper will eventually be moved to MMA2.

FG Disburses $40m to Vulnerable Nigerians, IDPs

James Emejo in Abuja

The National Coordinator, Youth Employment and Social Support Operations (YESSO), Mrs. Hajara Sani, has said a total sum of $40 million had been disbursed to the poor and vulnerable people as well as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) under the World Bank assisted $400 million social empowerment programme.

YESSO is a flagship intervention programme aimed at strengthening the social safety nets system at the state level as well as increasing job opportunities for the poor, vulnerable women and youths who are captured in social registers to boost human development of households.

She said the scheme is currently catering for over 1.55 million persons from 340,000 households across the country.

She added that a unified register of IDPs in six North-East states alone had about 1.53 million individuals from 195,118 households being catered for.

Addressing journalists on the achievements of the scheme, five years after it was established, Sani said efforts were ongoing by government to incentivise IDPs whose home communities had been liberated from insurgents to relocate and start a new life, having been empowered by various skills sets while in their temporary shelters.

She said the social empowerment programme had been a huge success so far, athough challenges persist.

She said list of beneficiaries are periodically verified before interventions were done in order to ensure effectiveness and credibility of the programme, adding that there are payment system guidelines and legacy documents produced by YESSO.

She said about 91 beneficiaries had been provided with starter packs to enable them start their own businesses.

According to the YESSO National Coordinator, several families had indicated interest to be resettled, adding that once the project commences in full, each family will be given a total sum of N200,000 in four tranches to relocate to their permanent homes.

She explained that YESSO had three components aimed at reducing  poverty and promote work opportunity through Public Workfare (PWF), Skills for job (S4J) and Targeted Grant Transfer programmes.
she said: “The PWF involves cash transfers of N7,500 monthly, based on public workfare program for youth with low level of education from poor and vulnerable households.
“The programme covers youths from 18 to 35 years, however in the North-East, people up to the age of 50 years benefit from the programme, due to the uniqueness of the region.
“We also have the S4J, through which we transfer cash to youth with some level of education while providing them with economically viable skills through entrepreneurship, life skills and sector specific skills training.”

She said the Targeted Grant Transfer was meant to incentivise the IDPs in the North East to leave the IDPs camps and resettle in safe communities as well as cushion the effects of the Boko Haram insurgency on the people.

Furthermore, she explained that the sum of N30,000 would be given as basic relocation fee, N20,000 for relocation, N100,000 for resettlement and N50,000 as stabilisation grants.

She said there were verified names of the poor and vulnerable in 15 states including Bauch, Cross River, Ekiti, Kosi, Kwara, Niger, Osun, Oyo, Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe, Borno, Sokoto, Yobe and Ondo States.