Events likely to shape 2020
In spite of the various prophecies flying around, no one can actually lay claims to clairvoyance to accurately predict what shape 2020 will take. But, there are omens. In two more days from today, many Nigerians will turn the corner of 2019 – a blistering year for those hard done by socio-economic and political misfortunes and a blossomed moment for those, who could not ask for more – and be faced like every other year by the fabled Janus.
To many, there is no year that exists in a vacuum but a spillover of the previous one. With many busts and booms in the outgoing year, 2020 may seem like a period of denouement.
Against this backdrop, however, there are events that started in 2019 but their consequences are likely to be felt in 2020. There is a storm – perhaps positive – brewing in the insurance sector with the possible merger, acquisition, and liquidation of some firms.
Bigger than that is the news of the year in the oil industry as the Saudi behemoth, Saudi Aramco, went public on the stock exchange. Should Nigeria worry?
Boeing, Boeing, going? At the moment, the giant plane maker is caught in a web of crisis and uncertainty. In 2020, it will be clear if the 737 Max will be a phoenix. Considered as a money-guzzling entity, Nigeria’s National Assembly can’t be wished away as it awaits President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent to the Finance Bill.
What else? The Godwin Emefiele-led Central Bank of Nigeria is credited with keeping the nation solvent. Will he make Africa’s most populous nation prosperous next year? In Europe, bookmakers are interested. Gamblers are staking their fortunes and football enthusiasts wish they could tell which country will rule Europe at the Euro 2020: Is it Portugal? France? Or England?
Talking of England, have you pondered what life could be like after Brexit? Is it going to be a step backward or a leap into the future for Britons? Not a few people and nations are concerned about whether Brexit will be a rebirth of glory or regret of a misstep.
Perhaps, the biggest talking point and a lot of people are thinking: will President Donald Trump return to the Oval Office? He beat the odds in the last US presidential election and many believe he’s still the candidate to beat. But who will take on Trump in 2020?
The expectations for ahead of next year are a legion, but below are some of the events that would likely shape the New Year.
It’s Still the Economy, Stupid!
Following the myriad of bumps the Nigerian economy hit in the outgoing year, with some analysts even predicting that the coming year is unlikely to get any smoother, it is expected that the government would pay more attention to the economy in 2020.
The federal government is expected to take measures to reflate the economy and see that it moves to pass its anemic GDP growth rate of about two per cent, which remains far below the country’s average annual population growth rate of more than three per cent.
NAICOM’s Ambitious Projections
The New Year, 2020, will witness strong and vibrant insurance companies operating in the economy. This is because the recapitalization exercise in the insurance industry as directed by the National Insurance Commission, which took effect from May this year and scheduled to end by June 2020, will usher in adequately-capitalised institutions to handle big-ticket insurance businesses, hitherto the exclusive preserve of foreign insurance firms.
On May 20, NAICOM reviewed the minimum paid-up share capital requirement for all classes of insurers. The commission set the minimum paid-up capital share for life insurers business N8 billion, having been raised from N2 billion. It increased the capitalisation of general insurance businesses to N10 billion from N3 billion.
The composite businesses were raised to N18 billion from N5 billion and the reinsurance business was raised from N20 billion to N10 billion. Existing insurance and reinsurance companies are required to fully comply with the new minimum capital requirement not later than June 30, 2020.
A Finance Bill Cometh
The Finance Bill, which seeks to establish practical measures to generate additional revenues for the government to partly finance the deficit in the 2020 budget, has been passed by the National Assembly and awaits President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent.
The bill proposes fiscal measures in support of the federal government’s 2020 budget, with extensive tax implications for the country. With a total proposed expenditure of N10.33 trillion against total expected revenue of N8.15 trillion, resulting in a deficit of N2.18 trillion. Projected to be financed partly by tax revenues, the budget is expected to be generated through the key fiscal changes introduced by the bill.
The bill contains notable changes to the Companies Income Tax Act, Value-Added Tax (VAT) Act, Petroleum Profits Tax Act (PPTA), Personal Income Tax Act, Capital Gains Tax Act (CGTA), Customs and Excise Tariff Etc. (Consolidation) Act and Stamp Duties Act.
If signed into law, the implementation of the bill, which seeks to amend various tax laws in the country, will start in earnest. Implementation of the far-reaching measures outlined in the finance bill with a view to generating adequate revenue and up the ante will shape the economy in 2020.
In the outgoing year, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through its development finance mandate vigorously intervened in the economy in its drive to support economic growth. In fact, the hand of the central bank was seen in almost every aspect of the non-oil sector of the economy, ranging from rice, palm oil production, textile, among others, as it continues to push for increased domestic manufacturing.
This is expected to continue in 2020 in line with the federal government’s policy of lifting 100 million persons out of poverty in the next 10 years.
Timely Oxygen for National Theatre
The planned renovation of the national theatre by the Bankers’ Committee, whose repair works is expected to commence in January, will also attract attention in 2020. Already, it has been estimated that about N25 billion would be expended on the renovation of the national asset.
CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had disclosed that the Bankers’ Committee got a presidential approval to give the facility a lifeline. He also assured the workers at the national theatre that their jobs would not be affected.
Emefiele said at the Lagos facility, that the committee would thereafter intervene at the national theatres in Kano, Rivers and Enugu States.
Brexit and the Rebirth of Britain
The Brexit bill has passed its first hurdle in the UK parliament, as expected after the Conservatives won a majority in the general election. The Brexit date – when the UK leaves the EU – is currently set for January 31, 2020.
If the European Union parliament also gives the green light, the UK will formally leave the EU by the end of January with a withdrawal deal. But it will then go into a transition period that is scheduled to end on December 31, 2020.
During this period the UK will remain in the EU’s customs union and single market but will be outside the political institutions and there will be no British members of the EU parliament.
Dubai Expo 2020 Is the Future
As one decade ends and a new one beckons, an important event in the world’s tourism calendar is the highly anticipated Dubai Expo 2020 to be held in the UAE from October 2020 to March 2021.
Representatives of almost 200 countries will gather and discuss global issues, a great opportunity to find solutions for universal problems.
The theme of the event, ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, will provide a platform to foster creativity, innovation, and collaboration globally. It is based on the beliefs that sharing innovative ideas and building partnerships will inspire the way the future will be shaped in the most positive way possible.
Euro 2020: The ‘Coat of Many Nations’
The 2020 UEFA European Football Championship, commonly referred to as Euro 2020, is the 16th edition of the quadrennial competition.
For the first time ever, the tournament is scheduled to be held in 12 cities in 12 UEFA countries from 12 June to 12 July 2020. Former UEFA President, Michel Platini, said the tournament was being hosted in several nations as a “romantic” one-off event to celebrate the 60th “birthday” of the football competition.
Having the largest capacity of any of the stadiums entered for the competition, Wembley Stadium in London will host the semi-finals and final for the second time, having done so before at the 1996 tournament in its former incarnation.
This is an interesting proposition considering that Britain might have successfully negotiated its exit from the European Union by the time the competition commences.
Tokyo’s Legacy for the Future
Fifty-six years after organising the Olympic Games, Tokyo will be hosting a summer edition of the Olympic Games for the second time, from July 24 to August 9, 2020. The Japanese capital will be the first Asian country to host the Summer Olympics twice.
The Games in 1964 radically transformed the country and according to the organisers of the event, the Games of the XXXII Olympiad of the modern era will be “the most innovative ever organised, and will rest on three fundamental principles to transform the world: striving for your personal best; accepting one another (unity in diversity); and passing on a legacy for the future (connecting to tomorrow)”.
Trump Versus Biden or Bloomberg?
US presidential election is gathering its heat and the race to become the Democratic challenger to Donald Trump has gathered more momentum. Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders are the well-known frontrunners. Billionaire businessman, Michael Bloomberg a late entrant in the race might just cause an upset. He is currently polling 4 to 5%, but who knows, Joe Biden have repeatedly failed to break out from the crowd. The primaries promise some surprises.
Biden was chosen in 2008 as Barack Obama’s running-mate because of what the BBC called “his supposed folksy appeal to white working-class and middle-class voters – and that’s exactly why he could be a formidable candidate in 2020”. He has antagonised Trump for “trashing American values”.
And with Trump’s recent impeachment by the House of Representatives, Biden, if he emerged Democrats candidate, could leverage so much from that in terms of character debate.
How Saudi’s Aramco’s, IPO will Shape the Market in 2020
The recently concluded Saudi Aramco initial public offer (IPO) deal in which Saudi Arabia sold 1.5 per cent of its shares at $25.6 billion shook the international capital market and investment world. Days after its sale, Saudi Aramco was reported to have emerged the most valuable publicly traded company in history. Since opening on the Saudi stock exchange December 11, the valuation of the oil giant jumped to $2.03 trillion. The IPO adjudged as the biggest ever Saudi Aramco, ahead of offering, was almost three times oversubscribed, receiving orders worth 189.04 billion riyals ($50.4 billion).
With Saudi Arabia ceding a portion of its shareholding to the public, including institutional investors, in 2020 and thereafter, the nation, which controls 10 per cent of global oil production, will exert less influence over production decisions.
Analysts believe the age of Saudi Arabia as swing producers may soon be ending. Essentially, the dynamics in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which has Nigeria as a member, is expected to change in the coming year and beyond.
Besides, with the anticipation that when Saudi needs more money to fund its economic revitalisation plans, it will simply sell more shares in Aramco and its influence in the global oil production will be further whittled down.
Boeing, Boeing (737 MAX), Going?
Last week, Chief Executive Officer of Boeing, Mr. Dennis Muilenburg, resigned amid crisis rocking the plane maker over its troubled 737 MAX plane. The company’s Chairman, Mr. David Calhoun, will take over as chief executive effective January 13, 2020, in a leadership change the company believes was necessary to restore confidence.
Essentially, the leadership change was designed to win back the trust of regulators and the public after crashes of its 737 Max aircraft led to the deaths of 346 people and accusations that Boeing had misled regulators and its customers. Following the two Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft crashes in Indonesia in October 2018, and in Ethiopia in March 2019, causing 346 deaths, aviation authorities around the world grounded the 737 MAX series.
Boeing announced on December 16, 2019, that it would suspend production of the plane type from January 2020.
However, while Boeing, one of the world’s biggest plane makers, has had a tough operation and crisis of confidence in 2019, how it will handle and resolve the issues plaguing it in 2020, will impact the global aviation industry in the New Year.
Edo’s Pending Battle Royale
One major political event that would excite a majority of the observing public in the New Year is the governorship election in Edo State and the battle is in two folds. Apart from the fact that there would be crisis internally amongst the parties, the election proper is not looking good for either of the two leading parties also.
Governor Godwin Obaseki is having the battle of his life with the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and former governor of the state, Adams Oshiomhole, a development that could deny the governor a return ticket of the party. Also, with the recent defection of some heavyweights into the APC, the challenge appears tougher for the governor.
Although the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is not settled with itself also, as a result of some internal wrangling, a development believed to have pushed out Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the battle is open and most likely, the incumbency factor might only play a distant role.
Waiting for Lyon, Bello’s Coronations
All things being equal, the Bayelsa State governor-elect, David Lyon of the APC will be sworn-in sometime next year following his victory at the November 16 governorship election.
Thus, either for good or bad reasons, the Bayelsa’s political history will change next year as the state has moved from being in the hands of the PDP, its traditional party to the APC. This development is sure to tell in the economic, political and social life of the state.
In the same vein, the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello would stroll into office next year for his second term. He also won his election on November 16, in an exercise deemed an embarrassment to any democratic culture. The process that produced him was allegedly blighted.
Will Dasuki, Sowore’s Trials Begin?
With their eventual release last week after a long time in detention, the trials of the duo of former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki and publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore are expected to continue in the New Year.
Whilst Dasuki had been kept in detention for an upward of five years, Sowore had barely spent five months. But the struggle that led to their eventual release was not a child’s place. That it would take the involvement of some US lawmakers to get them out was an instructive message in itself.
What’s the Fate of El-Zakzaky?
It is trite to say that the former National Security Adviser (NSA) Sambo Dasuki and the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzakky started their detention journey together, today, however, Dasuki enjoys some respite while El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah are still in detention.
Although adherents of IMN had caused serious riots at different times that led to their proscription, when their last protest led to the killing of a senior police officer, nothing is being said for now about their freedom, even when they too had been granted bail at different times.
However, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, yesterday explained that the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim El-Zakyzaky was not released alongside Sambo Dasuki and Omoyele Sowore few days ago, because the case against him was a matter for the Kaduna State government. Explaining why El-Zakyzaky and wife are still in custody of the DSS against the judgment of the court, Malami stated that the case against the Islamic leader was a state matter.
The AGF’s position was contained in a statement made available to journalists by his Media aide, Dr. Umar Gwandu. Gwandu in the statement said: “On Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, the Minister said that the Federal Government does not interfere with the cases that are being prosecuted by a State Government.”
El-Zakyzaky and wife are currently being prosecuted by the Kaduna State Government on charges bordering on murder and disturbance of public peace.
The last time an effort was made to make him seek medical help outside Nigeria, it ended in a lot of drama that led to aborting the trip. Perhaps, his matter would be revisited in the New Year and a temporary closure sought, possibly through proper trial.
The Push for 2023 Continues…
It is outrageous for many that the race for 2023 started about the same time the race for 2019 was declared open. In fact, the outcome of the 2019 elections was a reflection of the positioning for 2023.
And that’s not going to change in the New Year as the political temperature is expected to go some notch up with its usual distractions and intrigues.
For the active political player, 2023 holds a lot of promises and worries at the same time, in terms of determining the future of the country. It is expected, therefore, that there would be realignment, collaboration and cooperation as being witnessed already. The push for 2023 is an inevitable character in the New Year.
Putin’s Russia Is 20 Years Old and Reshaping the World Order
A few months after his astonishing rise to power, Vladimir Putin, then 47, was eager to please at his first Kremlin summit with an American counterpart: Bill Clinton.
The retired KGB colonel’s charm offensive started with an elaborate dinner of wild boar and goose, followed by a tour of his private quarters and a jazz concert that entertained his saxophone-playing guest until midnight. At some point, Putin would later say, he dropped a bombshell by asking if Russia could someday join NATO, the Western military alliance created to counter Moscow’s global machinations after World War II.
“I have no objection,” Clinton replied, according to Putin. It was June 2000.
Two decades of animosity later, including almost six years of increasingly onerous sanctions that started over the war in Ukraine, Russia’s relations with the U.S. and its allies have rarely been more fraught. But Putin, who’d already outlasted 29 Group of Seven leaders by the time he won the final six-year term allowed by the constitution in 2018, appears to be turning the tables despite what he calls hysterical Russophobia in the West.
He has largely reshaped the world order; whether in Syria, Lybia or in his interference in US presidential election or Venezuela and winning Turkey to Russia, etc. His is sure going to continue his strategic interventions in world affairs in 2020 and beyond.
Trump’s Trial by the Senate and House Speaker Pelosi’s Gambit
In 2020 the US President already impeached the House of Representatives will face trial in the US Senate controlled by his Republican Party. He is expected to be exonerated. But until the articles of impeachment withheld Speaker Nancy Pelosi are transmitted to the Senate, the trial cannot commence.
Moments after a historic vote to impeach President Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House could at least temporarily withhold the articles from the Senate — a decision, she suggested, that could depend on how the other chamber chooses to conduct its trial on Trump’s removal.
“We cannot name managers until we see what the process is on the Senate side,” she said, referring to the House “managers” who present the case for removal to the Senate. “So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us. So hopefully it will be fair. And when we see what that is, we’ll send our managers.”
The comments came as a group of House Democrats pushed Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other leaders to withhold the articles — a notion that has gained traction among some on the political left as a way of potentially forcing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to conduct a trial on more favorable terms for Democrats. And if no agreement is reached, some have argued, the trial could be delayed indefinitely, denying Trump an expected acquittal.