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ideas have consequences

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Wole Soyinka – Great Collective conscience of Now

By Emeka Chiakwelu


The quest endures frills not space as it fills
Words really have meaning in the hands of a warrior chronicler
A brilliant mind that free words to be active
Never knew words have momentum
Yes buttress the society with words with consequences
You liberated the words and liberated Blackism



Africanism survives with your golden words
A concerted effort to shame Africa was thwarted
Through your words Africa continues to stand and shine
Minds were liberated and thoughts were reinvented
Slow minds were made faster, dull minds were invigorated



Hero the greatest victory 
Conscience the zenith of courage
Greater than hero with unbelievable courage  
Enamored of Africa despite her standing, inclinations
Who can speak and voice words for Africa
Yes.  Africa never has a better son



You come, you write, you speak
Knowledgeable mind is a complex mind
World celebrated you for the words,
Africa celebrated you for the humanity
A powerful mind, a thoughtful conscience indeed


Fearless mountain hairs, a mountain of knowledge
Keep on talking, keep on standing
A brave soul with a brave mission
The vanguard of moving ideas
Protagonist - The champion of the our collective conscience


Daalu


Poem dedicated to The Great  Wole Soyinka on his 82 birthday celebration.


Emeka  Chiakwelu, Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL. His works have appeared in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes and many other important journals around the world. His writings have also been cited in many economic books, publications and many institutions of higher learning including tagteam Harvard Education. Africa Political & Economic Strategic Center (AFRIPOL) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it       www.afripol.org



 

Governor Obiano is a change maker.



Something great is happening in Anambra State of Nigeria. This is nothing short of intellectual, economy-metaphysical and human capital revolution. The salaries of Anambra State workers are paid on time, even with incremental benefits, the schools are excelling and are scoring the best results in the WASSCE, Nigeria.



In addition, there are fly over bridges constructed in capital city of Awka and Upper Iweaka Road in Onitsha. When the pictures of the well designed and solid built fly over bridges were displayed in the social media. Most people could not believe the level of the architectural sophistication , for the construction were impressive as those in developed countries.



It was also in the news that Anambra State is now exporting products to Europe and has already generated over $5 million dollars. Despite the financial crunch in many states in Nigeria and inability of many states to meet their financial obligations, Anambra State is waxing stronger and stronger under the leadership and steady hand of the effective Governor Willie Obiano.



Chief Obiano has displayed a keen financial and managerial acumen that are rarely seen among Nigerian policy makers and leaders. He has shown that a visionary and prudent leader can over come economic challenges with determination and well planned policy. Obiano is making Ndi-Igbo and Nigeria proud.



For his willingness and steadfastness in leading Anambra State to the road of prosperity and greatness: The entire staff of AFRIPOl, hereby chose Chief Willie Obiano as the Afripol Person of the Month.


Africa Political & Economic Strategic Center (AFRIPOL) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa. Emeka Chiakwelu, Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it www.afripol.org

Monday, 25 July 2016 23:53

On the Travails of the Naira


We must begin with the end in mind: a stable (but not immovable) currency, the exchange rate of which broadly reflects both an approximation of its true market value as well as Nigeria’s broader economic interests. Which raises the question: between a fully flexible exchange rate (full float) and a peg or a managed float of the currency, where does Nigeria’s national interest lie?  Answer: whichever will make Nigeria’s economy more efficient and encourages production.




Before we proceed, let’s be clear about two things. First, with extremely few exceptions such as Canada and the United States, the central banks of the advanced industrial economies that mainly use flexible exchange rate policies manage their currencies through occasional interventions in financial markets to stabilise those currencies. They also carry out occasional competitive devaluations, in this case because they are productive, export-oriented economies.



Second, the naira’s (and our economy’s) woes were exacerbated by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s prolonged pegging of the naira to a fixed, artificial exchange rate of 199 naira to the dollar, when all the rational economic factors that previously sustained this exchange rate had collapsed, rendering the peg unsustainable. This contributed to black market devaluation-fueled inflation, and unemployment, as manufacturers could not access forex at the official rate and output productivity dropped sharply.  We are now in a recession.




But that is water under the bridge.  With its policy decision in May 2016 to move to a fully flexible exchange rate, the CBN capitulated to reality, heralding a more rational policy direction that significantly addressed widely held economic and market concerns. Nonetheless, the naira is not out of the woods. Forex liquidity constraints persist because foreign investors remain on the sidelines, and the gap between the parallel and interbank markets remains wide. Typical of our national patterns, we are seeking “quick fixes” to the currency’s malaise without fully assessing the interlocking challenges that confront it. The naira’s problems are symptoms of deeper economic, governance and institutional malfunctions. Without confronting these problems, our quest for “solutions” may be skirting the real issues. There are eight specific challenges we must address.




The fundamental problem is the absence of a productive economy. Two most important aspects of this challenge are electric power to support the growth of a productive, manufacturing industrial economy, on the one hand, and removing the obstacles international trade policy places on our industrialization prospects by stymying the viability of our local industries, on the other. Cheaper foreign manufactures have easy access to our markets. Conversely, our own manufactures are unable to access foreign markets because value-added goods from our country are blocked by high tariffs imposed by our trading partners (but our raw materials for their own industries are welcome and attract low tariffs!). Quality standardization concerns also dog Nigerian exports.




What is the solution? We need to shift from the never-ending quicksand of gas-based power to a focus on renewable (solar, wind, geothermal and biomass) energy for household consumption and hydro and coal-based power for industrial production. And we need to impose “smart” protectionism through high tariffs that can be justified under the rules of the World Trade Organization, on imports from foreign markets that are snuffing out our local industries in several sectors such as textiles. Absent these two policy approaches, we are treading water. If we combine these policies with a flexible exchange rate policy that makes export-oriented value-added products more profitable than importation, the naira will ultimately realize a beneficial effect from its inevitable devaluation. This is the answer to President Muhammadu’s Buhari’s (and many other Nigerians’) understandable concern about the absence of any benefits from prior devaluations. Those devaluations, though involuntary because of external shocks to which the nature of our economy exposes us, only imported inflation. That reality was not offset by any benefit because of there were no complementary policy actions in other economic sectors outside of finance.





The second problem is the absence of a well-articulated, medium to longer term economic strategy to take us forward in light of new realities. The 2016 budget, or the budget for any particular year, cannot be such a strategic plan. This kind of strategy, which needs to be multi-year and have clear, interlinked components with timelines and accountabilities, would be an ideal backdrop against which the CBN can situate medium term monetary policy thinking.



Third, and related to this, is the evident absence of a strategic linkage between fiscal policy, which is the role of the Ministries of Finance and Planning/Budget, and monetary policy which is the central bank’s domain. A central bank can contribute to national economic policy, but does not on its own make such policy in the holistic sense. Rather, monetary policy complements a robust fiscal policy by maintaining monetary and price stability. This role can be a defensive one where fiscal policy is deficient. For instance, a central bank may raise interest rates if it believes there is excessive, politically inspired “fiscal dominance” that can trigger inflationary trends. The absence of a solid, comprehensive fiscal strategy is one reason why the CBN is overburdened with quasi-fiscal functions and ever-increasing development finance interventions.
Fourth, the CBN itself needs to develop a more strategic approach to monetary policy and financial stability, even within the limitations of the absence of a larger national economic blueprint. The Bank’s responses to the challenges of the past two years have appeared short-term, reactive, episodic and experimental, and without a larger plan of action that is evident to all Nigerians, the financial markets, and foreign investors.




Fifth, adequate understanding of basic economic principles that should inform public policy is lacking in our country’s populace. Populism often reigns as a result, as emotional passions take hold and get translated into the “national interest” or that of “the masses”.  Zimbabwe and Venezuela offer sobering examples of this kind of approach to economic problems. Meanwhile, other oil and commodity producers have made (certainly painful) adjustments to their currencies in response to changed fundamentals in the past two years. Even the great British pound sterling sharply lost value as a consequence of Brexit.




Sixth, the modern world and the fickleness of its financial markets requires highly adept communication by central banks. The CBN cannot escape the need to communicate effectively to Nigerians the fundamentals of the naira’s travails, and its plan to meet evolving challenges. The new forex policy is a good basis to build on.



Seventh, the institutional and policy autonomy of the CBN has increasingly become compromised. It is unclear whether these challenges have been self-inflicted or externally induced, or both. There are very sensible reasons why the laws of Nigeria provide for the independence of the CBN in the exercise of its functions, as in the case with the central banks of many nations that are making economic progress. Recent negative trends in the Nigerian economy have borne out the foresight in this principle. It is the duty of a central bank to tell a political leader not necessarily what he or she wants to hear, but rather what the leader needs to know. This is what the national interest and professionalism require. It also is a foundational basis for a serious response to economic crisis.




The CBN should educate Nigeria’s political leadership class, for example and especially in connection with devaluations of the naira since 1985, on the global implications of the evolution of the international monetary system since 1914. Fixed exchange rates worked well only when the whole world used them. Currencies were pegged to gold from 1870 up to 1914, and then to the dollar which itself was backed by gold, after 1945. This was abandoned in 1971 when the US dollar became unable to maintain its value of $35 for one ounce of gold. Countries progressively adopted floating exchange rate regimes of various shades and complexities, and fixed exchange rates were completely abandoned by most countries in 1985. Nigeria’s economy was of course not left untouched by this evolution.



Eighth, as the International Monetary Fund noted in a recent report, investor confidence in the Nigerian economy is low. All the seven factors above have contributed to this reality.



Today, we know that fixed exchange rates, though they may appear to provide an appearance of stability, are largely inappropriate for the nature of the contemporary world economy, and tend to cause currency crises as we saw with Mexico in 1995 and the Asian and Russian currency crises of 1997. Flexible exchange rates, on the other hand, can also engender instability, especially for developing countries. This is why many countries have a “managed float” of some sort or the other. That is therefore not abnormal. We have done this for many years, but the circumstances today differ fundamentally from yesterday’s. First, therefore, let us find the naira’s true value and narrow the gap between the interbank and parallel market. Then, the CBN can intervene in the markets as may be necessary, but from an evidence-based standpoint.



The economy will be the loser otherwise, as dollar liquidity shortages continue, driving the naira ever downward and foreclosing the prospects of its recovery in the absence of better news for oil. The economic precept that no central bank can have at the same time a fixed exchange rate, free movement of capital, and an independent monetary policy (a choice of two of these must be made, while markets determine the third) still holds sway. Floating exchange rates, despite their risks (which can be managed) serve the very useful function of letting monetary policy serve purposes beyond certitude. In the case of Nigeria, it can play the key roles of attracting much needed forex liquidity in the markets, and nudge the economy towards a more productive state when combined with effective trade and industrial policy.


Image result for kingsley moghalu• Prof.  Kingsley   Moghalu is the President of   Sogato Strategies LLC, and was a Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria from 2009-2014.

Boris Johnson is an embodiment of a colonial nostalgia.



The blond red-faced bombastic rabble rouser is back again on the international news-scene. I am talking about Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London, who aspired to become UK prime minister before he changed his mind.



Boris was appointed the new British foreign minister by the new installed British Prime Minister, Theresa May.   Boris Johnson is a controversial conservative Troy politician that never runs away from public eye and has low tolerance for political correctness. Some have even described him as the British Donald Trump.


According to BBC News, “Boris Johnson, who has just been appointed as the UK's new foreign secretary, has said several controversial things about Africa during his time as a journalist. He has defended the history of colonialism, saying that it would be best if African countries were still colonised, and has also used language to describe black people which many consider racist - for which he has apologised. “




Boris Johnson view on Africa is not pleasing to hear as he sounded more like a colonial master posted in African mainland than a supposedly English gentleman. He described Africans as “piccaninnies” and “watermelom smiles”. His words:


“What a relief it must be for Blair to get out of England. It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies; and one can imagine that Blair, twice victor abroad but enmired at home, is similarly seduced by foreign politeness.”



Johnson continues, “They say he is shortly off to the Congo. No doubt the AK47s will fall silent, and the pangas will stop their hacking of human flesh, and the tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down in his big white British taxpayer-funded bird. Like Zeus, back there in the Iliad, he has turned his shining eyes away, far over the lands of the Hippemolgoi, the drinkers of mares' milk. He has forgotten domestic affairs, and here, as it happens, in this modest little country that elected him, hell has broken loose.”




With such a racist utterances - does Boris Johnson have the discipline, intellectual decorum and political savvy to be the flag bearer for British diplomacy in the turbulent global village?





With British departure from European Union, she needs a steady hand and cool-headed diplomat to repair bridges in the continent and extend hand of friendship to rest of the world. But looking back at some of Johnson’s undertakings in the past reveals that he may not be suitable for the job of diplomacy.




Boris Johnson even referred to Obama as “part-Kenyan president" during his campaign against British membership in European Union (EU). Another British politician   Chuka Umunna condemns his remarks as “beyond the pale.”


Writing on The Sun newspaper, Boris Johnson accused Obama of being anti-British and for removing the bust of Winston Churchill from White House when he was elected president in 2008:


“Something mysterious happened when Barack Obama entered the Oval Office in 2009. Something vanished from that room, and no one could quite explain why. It was a bust of Winston Churchill – the great British war time leader. It was a fine goggle-eyed object, done by the brilliant sculptor Jacob Epstein, and it had sat there for almost ten years. But on day one of the Obama administration it was returned, without ceremony, to the British embassy in Washington. No one was sure whether the President had himself been involved in the decision. Some said it was a snub to Britain. Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan President’s ancestral dislike of the British Empire – of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender.”



The new Prime Minister, Theresa May was probably paying back Boris’s goodwill with this latest appointment, for he stayed away from not contesting and running for the post she is currently holding.  But her home work on this appointment was a bit of disappointment especially to the rest of the commonwealth members   that deserve some respect from a high esteemed lady that is presently occupying 10 Downing Street.

Good day.


Emeka Chiakwelu writes for AFRIPOL


The currency of a nation is a vanguard bulwark that safeguards  the wealth of a nation. Nigeria’s naira holds the intrinsic and inclusive value to country’s GDP and wellbeing. A deteriorated and weaken naira invites aggressive currency speculators to devour the wealth of a nation. Naira value must be aggressively protected because a given currency can be use to monetize debt and for settlement of debts but not necessarily for credit liquidity.  This is why currency can be subjected to herculean inflationary trend when its elasticity approaches a deformed point.



From the BEGINNING, President Buhari has never been comfortable with outright devaluation of the naira. But as time goes and changes comes, it becomes imperative that naira devaluation maybe inevitable as pressure mounts from inside and outside the country. 



Economic and monetary policy impulses notwithstanding, the real clamoring for devaluation was coming from international bodies especially IMF and top global financial media together with Nigerian experts that imbibe any economic theories coming from London, Paris or New York.  For some of our local financial experts, to belong means to be carrying “banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors” membership card of the neoliberal globalization gang.



Nevertheless, I am not implying that the apparent Nigeria’s economic reality must not be acknowledged. The erstwhile propping up of the fixed naira rate with dwindling foreign reserve cannot be sustained. The nosedived of oil price and Nigeria’s incoherent economic policy are effecting the value of naira. Simultaneously, the uncontrollable free flow of naira has its downside too. As Nigeria proceeds with new policy on naira devaluation, interval evaluation and introspection cannot be negelected.





President Buhari questioned the benefit of the currency flexibility policy that has brought about 40 percent of naira devaluation as he spoke to the country’s business cream of crop at Aso Rock:



“I don’t like the returns I get from the CBN concerning the devaluation of the Naira.  In August 1985, the Naria was N1.3 to a dollar but now you need N300 or N350 to a dollar. What do we derive from that? How much benefit can we derive from this ruthless devaluation of the Naira? “I’m not an economist neither a businessman, I fail to appreciate what the economic explanation is. What has happened to us now is that we have maneuvered ourselves into mono-economy which led to the collapse we are seeing now”.




The point Mr. President has succinctly made with above mentioned commentary was that the peril of naira devaluation has detrimental effect on the macroeconomic stability of Nigeria. The rising unemployment, hunger and economic dislocations can be attributed to the steep-curve rising inflation that has its root on the currency flexibility policy and the subsequent massive naira devaluation.



I will recommend to the presidency and top monetary policy makers to organize an international seminar in Abuja where the pro and cons of naira devaluation can be debated for its worth. The outcome of the seminar and debate will give Nigeria the upper hand to make a decision based on detailed and coherent economic policy rationzation.



A review and evaluation of the state of naira will not imply that flexibility policy will be abandon. But a measured, prudent and calculated devaluation will be incorporated to avoid total destruction of the worth of the country’s medium of exchange. If things are left the way they are with regards to the unchecked currency floating, Nigeria’s lopsided economy cannot be sustainable with limited supply of dollar.


Image result for emeka chiakweluEmeka  Chiakwelu, Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL. His works have appeared in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes and many other important journals around the world. His writings have also been cited in many economic books, publications and many institutions of higher learning including tagteam Harvard Education. Africa Political & Economic Strategic Center (AFRIPOL) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it       www.afripol.org

 


Hollywood movies depictions of Africans, Black faces and Black skins on the silver screen have been used by the whole wide world to justify racism toward Africans and Black people. Go to China, Japan, India and many foreign lands that have never interacted or ever meet Black people in their lives and already they have pre-conceived notions about people with greater melanin visibility.


How and where did these people learn about Blacks and feed themselves with morbid negativity on blackness? Hollywood and international News media are the culprits. 



Let us talk a little about the movie and book named “Tarzan”.  In the movie Tarzan, bad and unfathomable things happen to image and humanity of Africans. The hero of the movie was a White man – the king of the Jungle (man and beast) while Africans the owners of the land were depicted as salvages. 


“Tarzan is a fictional character, an archetypal feral child raised in the African jungles by the Mangani great apes; he later experiences civilization only to largely reject it and return to the wild as a heroic adventurer. Created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan first appeared in the novel Tarzan of the Apes (magazine publication 1912, book publication 1914), and subsequently in twenty-five sequels, several authorized books by other authors, and innumerable works in other media, both authorized and unauthorized.”




The great African American actor, Harry Belafonte once described “Tarzan” as the Hollywood most racist movie. He even put Tarzan movies in same category with the venomous D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation. This is how Belafonte described his experience with Tarzan movie:



“In 1935, at the age of 8, sitting in a Harlem theater, I watched with awe and wonder incredible feats of the white superhero, Tarzan of the Apes. Tarzan was a sight to see. This porcelain Adonis, this white liberator, who could speak no language, swinging from tree to tree, saving Africa from the tragedy of destruction by a black indigenous population of inept, ignorant, void-of-any-skills, governed by ancient superstitions with no heart for Christian charity.Through this film the virus of racial inferiority — of never wanting to be identified with anything African — swept into the psyche of its youthful observers. And for the years that followed, Hollywood brought abundant opportunity for black children in their Harlem theaters to cheer Tarzan and boo Africans.”


In the 2016 Tarzan movie, a popular Black actor, Samuel Jackson was featured in the movie as second fiddle to Tarzan main character, who is the hero of the movie. Showing a Black face and black body was necessary in 2016 to deny any racism perspective and to avert any backlash that will question Hollywood commitment to racial justice and fairness. 



In Hollywood movies, Africa will ever remain the “dark continent” and place of noble salvages that cannot survive without “Tarzan” aid and benevolence. Many Africans can never fathom why the Hollywood gatekeepers chose to depict the cradle of civilization, a continent of more than 55 countries as primitive and without history. But an old habit is difficult to let go. 



Thank God for the rise of Nollywood and with it Africans can begin to tell their stories and rewrite many injustices done to them on the silver screen. It is now left for Nigeria’s Nollywood to counteract Hollywood propaganda and tell the whole wide world that Africans can see, hear and talk.




Emeka  Chiakwelu, Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL. His works have appeared in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes and many other important journals around the world. His writings have also been cited in many economic books, publications and many institutions of higher learning including tagteam Harvard Education. Africa Political & Economic Strategic Center (AFRIPOL) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it       www.afripol.org

 

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