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The devaluation of Naira recommendation by IMF is without logic

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization founded with a prime objective of stabilizing international monetary exchange rates and facilitating development through the application and enforcement of liberalizing economic policies to its 187 member countries which includes Nigeria.

This time around IMF has definitely proven to us that its recent prescription for Nigeria to devalue her currency naira is not based on sound and logical economic proposition. Not that any time in the past that IMF monetary recommendations on and for developing economies have been logical. In the 1980s when many developing nations especially in Africa were cash scrapped and were in deep recession they turned to IMF as a lender of last resort. The period marked the nadir point of haplessness in Africa due to IMF‘s structural adjustment program known as conditional ties given to these countries before they could be eligible for the loans they were asking from the institution.

Nigeria this time is not asking for any intervention from IMF. The economy of Nigeria is growing progressively at above 7 percent and naira is relatively strong and stable. The weak point that can be perceived from the economy is the growing deficit trade especially from China, rising inflationary pressure and continuous depletion of the crude account by excessively withdrawal. Even with that Nigeria has a substantial foreign reserve which falls to U.S $33.12 Billion in January. But thanks to rising oil price the reserve will commence to replenish and grow.

The volume of the foreign reserve is not bad by any standard especially with regards to the country‘s GDP which was growing at 7.4 percent in first quarter 2011. The point is that Nigeria has adequate war chest to defend naira and ward-off aggressive currency speculators. Therefore IMF suggestion that currency is overrated has no basis for Nigeria can defend her currency standing in the global currency market. Moreover the local high demand of dollar has become a check on the value of naira.

Lead Image

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Afripol organization experts discussed the issue of IMF and naira’s devaluation. Afripol concluded that there is absence of monetary logicality for devaluation of naira.

Gideon Nylan, an expert on political economy of developing nations at Afripol, concluded, "The Nigerian middle class has yet to recover from the IMF devaluation of 1986. Suddenly teachers, lawyers, doctors, and civil servants saw their life savings disappeared. In order to support their families and create a better living for themselves, they left the country for greener pastures in other countries."

Emeka Chiakwelu, Principal policy Strategist at Afripol commented, "Bretton Woods institution (IMF) asking Nigeria to devalue her currency is akin to throwing kerosene to a burning fire. There is no logic to that, Nigeria’s currency has already been steadily diminished by the rising inflation and further devaluation is contrary to a sound economic judgment."

Chiakwelu noted that, "IMF should be in business of enhancing an economy by giving logical counsel not by depreciating methodology. IMF has the power to increase Nigeria’s special drawing rights (SDRs) and including naira into ‘basket of currencies’. Instead IMF chose to play a role that will be increasing the price of foods and raw materials in Nigeria by devaluation of naira. "

Beware of Trojan horse coming as IMF helping- hand because history has proven that it has severe ramification. What will be the justification for Nigeria to devalue her currency?

The economy is not wholly export base except crude oil and the economy is not diversified with array of manufactured products for export. The logic of devaluation is to induce and increase export by lowering the prices of local manufactured products making them attractive for export. But that is not the case with Nigeria, a mono-product exporting country, crude oil which generates about 90 percent of the country’s foreign exchange. By devaluating naira the price of oil will nosedive and country’s foreign reserve will dwindle, while the incentive to buy Nigerian fiduciary bonds and securities in international market will depreciate.

To be factual Nigerian currency naira has already be weaken by rising inflation. At this point in time the inflationary trend is gradually creeping into the monetary base and with that naira is gradually but steadily losing its ground. Therefore what is logic of further devaluating a currency already weaken by rising inflation and by so doing summon a hardship that will be felt by majority of Nigerians. Most of the products and materials utilized by final consumers and raw materials in Nigeria are mostly imported from abroad. With the devaluation of naira importation and oversea products will become more expensive and out of reach of majority of Nigerians.

Devaluation may discourage importation and foreign products in Nigeria as a result of the subsequent appreciation of foreign currencies for trading notably dollar as naira loses value. But with that Nigeria may not gain or take the advantage because the economy is not diversified and our local production is still at the rudimentary stage. Nigerian industries are still dependent on foreign expertise and raw materials to function at a reasonable capacity and with devaluation of naira the prices of dollar and pound will soar with relative to naira. Subsequently, it will have adverse effect in our growing local industries. The prices of food and agricultural products will be high away beyond the masses in a nation where 70 percent of the population survived with less than two dollars per day.

African experience in 1980s with IMF left a bad taste in their mouths, when the cash strapped African nations turn to IMF for credit. It became a disaster for Africa and the consequences of Africa's entanglement with IMF sow the seed for economic depression in today's Africa. IMF‘s conditional ties for loans were so stringent for these nations to swallow. It was called structural adjustment programs which will supposedly reform the economies.

The pathways to IMF’s structural adjustment initiative were paved with hardship and misery. These nations, poor nations of Africa were compelled to cut their spending drastically without putting into consideration the suffering of the masses especially women and children. On the wise counsel of IMF and its Ivy League experts African nations devalued their currencies on the grounds that it will increase export.  They failed to see that most African nations were not producing anything but relied on agricultural crops and donors to finance their budgets. With the devaluation the price of crops decline sharply on the international market and Africa’s yoke enhanced.

The criteria for obtaining loan by devaluation of currency coupled with neo-liberal economic policy based on liberalized trade and open market was once IMF prescription for Nigeria in 1980s. At that point in time Nigeria was being heaped with foreign debt and was falling behind in the service of her foreign debt. Thus it became difficult, if not impossible for the country obtain line of credits unless the swallow the austerity measures given by IMF. The consequences were annihilation of infant industries and untold hardship of average Nigerians. The problem of Nigeria then was more of mismanagement and misplacement of priority.

But that is not the case with the present Nigeria that is not seeking any loan or aid from IMF. Nigeria GDP is bulging with economy projected to grow at more than 7 percent in 2011, although with vulnerabilities of inflation and excessive spending and depletion of foreign reserve. The withdrawal may make sense because the country needs to defend the value and stability of naira from international and aggressive speculators.

Nigerians for one moment can walk a little taller, knowing quite that the caliber of men and women at Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) led by Governor Sanusi Lamido are willing to stand up when necessary and defend the economic and financial interest of the country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 29 September 2010 04:20

The collapse of the Naira

Nigeria's Strategic Blunder

Nigeria has so far achieved theoretical quantitative macroeconomic fundamentals, but a lot needs to be done particularly on stabilizing her bearish Naira currency. Although Naira is relatively stable, it is weak and soft when you compare it to other major currencies like dollar and euro. Presently Nigeria is having one of the lowest debts to GDP ratio in the world. This is attributed to her recent payment of foreign debt and the reasonably macro-economic stability she achieved through economic reform measures with a huge foreign reserve. Yet the value of Naira continues to be depressed.

Nigeria's financial and economic community is quick to point out that the fate of Nigeria's currency Naira - the gyrations, floundering and nose-diving is the ramification of global economic meltdown. This is not entire the case, we can recollect couple of months ago that Nigeria was celebrating because Merrill Lynch, an international investment banker rated Nigeria as one of the top ten nations that were safe for investment. The rating may be incredible - "at least to anyone living in Australia, much of Europe and U.S. -- because it ranks Nigeria (where the per capita GDP happens to be a paltry $2027 a year) as the safest economy in the world, which certainly seems like a stretch given it's the 38th-largest economy in the world and 137th when based on per capita GDP -- not to mention it suffers from social unrest."

So with this highly publicized rating one can extrapolate that the Naira is out of harm's way, from the tumbling of the global economic downturn. The subsequent dramatic falling of Naira cannot be justified for Nigeria's economy is not wholly exposed to floundering of world market.

Nigeria may be perceived to be safe because she has not really submerged in the mainstream of financial and economic globalism. Nigeria has not met the criteria to be fully vigorous and integrated player in the world trade theatre; Nigerian economic indicators and metrics including statistics, benchmarks and indices on the economy is the testament of the country's inactivity on international stage. Again Nigeria does not have a credit based economy and lacks the serious capitalists and capital to be among the chief players in the global trade.

So, why is Naira falling? The currency Naira is falling due to both tactical and strategic blunder.

Nigeria's economy is fragile and weak because Nigeria operates one commodity based economy, which is oil, a major source of her foreign currency.

In the short range, Nigeria is obsessed with easy money of oil trading and out rightly rejects the growing diversifications of her economy she initiated. A great nation like Nigeria has refused to grow her economy with all the natural and human capital at her disposal. Nigeria exports the crude oil to developed nations who refines the oil and Nigeria will in turn buy back the refined oil from the outside and subsidize the gasoline for local consumption. The oil refineries are not performing at an appreciable and optimum level, instead they are abandoned to waste away for Nigeria lacks maintenance culture.

This logic, mindset and modus operandi towards wealth creation forges and set the stage for the scarcity of dollars.

Forces of Demand and Supply

The Naira demand and supply is determined by the market forces because Naira is allowed to float without any fixed exchange rate. The relative weakness of Nigeria's entire economy does not seem favorable to the status quo. The GDP is relatively small compared to industrialized nations and this negates the stability and international purchasing power of Naira. The amount of importation overwhelms the economy and a low return of foreign exchange due to lack of exportation to generate foreign exchange.

The crux of the matter is the demand for dollars are extremely high among Nigerian banks. Nigeria does not generate enough foreign exchange to satiate local consumption. Therefore the demand for dollar drives the value of Naira that is ubiquitous and weak. Nigerian source of dollars and foreign exchange comes only from the export of oil and its overdependence for foreign exchange from oil.

The  psychology of the meltdown

The psychological impact of the global economic downturn must be appreciated. With global access to the international news networks including CNN, BBC and others remote corners of the earth become nominal partakers in the global village. Therefore pseudo feeling of the bad news might creep into Nigeria's mindset and usher in a psychology that may trigger the fall of naira in the real world.

What Nigeria must do

As the value of Naira nosedives, Nigeria has another alternative to prop up the Naira by withdrawing her huge war chest - her enormous foreign reserve and liquefy the financial and banking market. This is a delicate tactical action because drawing down of the reserve can lower Nigeria's credit worthiness and financial rating.

Nigeria's financial actors cannot fold their hands and blame this whole sorry episode on the global economic meltdown. Naira as currency is not readily convertible which becomes a barrier in the active participation in global trade especially in currency transaction.

The governor of central bank deserves some credit for his early vision. Professor Soludo has called for pegging of Naira by making it convertible but Nigeria's gatekeepers failed to heed to his recommendation. But it is never too late to act, for there must be a consensus on this matter via enlightenment of the Nigerian public and elites on the merit of readily convertibility of Naira. Convertibility is akin to setting up a wall in the defense of Naira from hostile local and international currency traders that hoard dollars in Nigeria thus creating artificial demand and scarcity of dollar.

Nigeria must make foreign exchange available to its local banks. The banks need the dollar for its customers who are engaging in foreign transactions. At the moment Nigeria need to withdraw some money from her foreign reserve, which will be pump into the market which will definitely reduce the scarcity of dollars. This will in turn enable Naira to regain some of its value and withhold the trashing from dollar. But all this is a temporary measure and not the panacea to a healthy and sustainable currency.

Nigeria has become responsive to the diversification of her economy, not minding she has a long way to go. The country knows what to do, but procrastination and intellectual lethargy have always retarded her progress. Oil cannot continue to be her only high yielding sector; agriculture must be expanded and retooled. Investment must be made in research and development.

A paradigm shift

There must be strategic planning by the responsible parties in Nigeria: The politicians, business community and bureaucrats must stop talking and launch operation economic diversification. The economic reforms must be practical and pragmatic to the marketers and citizens.

Fiscal and monetary policies can be applied to regulate and appreciate naira but it is not doable and workable, for although the fundamentals of the economy may be sound but it lacks the stability and zest to leverage against the dominant dollar.

 

 

Published in Archive

Economic perspective and analysis by Afripol Organization www.afripol.org

The West African energy giant, Oando Plc of Nigeria is set to raise the sum of 21 billion naira ($140 million) by selling shares in the capital market. The capital raised will be used to finance ventures in energy sector and

"refinancing the acquisition of upstream assets, providing operational capital to fund the operation of the upstream business, and short and medium term investment in its gas and power business segment."

Oando Plc headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria is the biggest indigenous energy firm in Nigeria that market oil products and involve in oil exploration at its acquired upstream assets, the segment that will receive the largest chunk of the proposed capital infusion.

Oando Plc will raise the capital "through a Right Issue of 301,694,878 ordinary shares of 50 kobo each at N70.00 per share on the basis of one 1 new ordinary share for every 3 ordinary shares of 50 kobo each held as at the close of business on Friday, 18 December 2009." Two powerful and resourceful companies in the capital market: Vetiva Capital Management Ltd. and Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc will participate in the selling of the shares to raise the proposed capital.

The capital market venture was announced by the CEO and Group Managing Director, Mr. Wale Tinubu at the end of the meeting of the executive board of directors. According to Mr. Wale the company planned to raise the capital for the refinance its acquisition of upstream assets.

The achievements of Wale Tinubu, the erudite and efficient chief executive officer must be acknowledged as a driving force at Oando Plc for his vision and leadership. Under his strategic leadership Oando‘s growth has been tremendous thus appreciating the shareholders’ dividends.

During the press conference Wale reaffirmed, "the size of the business we run at Oando Plc would require a substantial amount of capital. We are doing things in several stages. The one we are doing now is Right Issue which is a small amount of N20 billion for the recapitalisation process. Then we will be proceeding to do a much larger international equity Issue which would occur at the beginning of the second quarter. Then there is going to be two debt issues. One is a local five year debt issue which we are working on right now and the mandate has been signed, it’s in the final stages."

Wale further emphasized: "the final thing would be the bond issue. We are in the process of fund raising the debt restructuring 5 year term for N60 billion. Then we would do an international equity and debt raising of N75 billion which would come in the 1st week of April (second quarter). The bulk of the money is going into our gas and upstream division for the upstream, we have our crude oil. You are aware; we have diversified heavily towards increasing our production in the crude oil sector."

The bold move made by Oando Plc buttressed the company’s growth and strong confidence even in the turbulent oil industry especially in Nigeria with her unending problems in Niger Delta. The issue of Niger Delta has a global effect on the oil price and energy sector but with relatively less impact on the oil-marketer Oanda.Oando Plc is listed on both Nigerian and Johannesburg Stock Exchanges, and has been concluding the arrangement to be listed in London Stock Exchange.

Recently it was reported by Reuters that "Dow Jones Capital Markets Report reported that Oando Plc had signed Memorandum of Understanding with Gazprom OAO. The two companies have agreed to collaborate on the development of oil and gas assets and infrastructure in the West African sub-region and the Gulf of Guinea." 

Oando Plc is growing rapidly by increasing the number of oil rigs and "All Africa reported that Oando Plc has increased its fleet of oil drilling rigs to three with the acquisition of a USD 53.5 million rig, named the Constitution. Constitution, a swamp barge rig, has capacity for approximately 15,000 psi pressure output, about 3,000 horse power as well as the ability to undertake drilling operations, work over and high pressure/high temperature (HPHT) wells of over 30,000 ft drilling depths. The facility was purchased in July 2008, and was recently delivered to the Company. "

Emeka Chiakwelu, Principal Policy Strategist at Afripol, recently speaking at Energy Workshop noted that "Energy industry is capital intensive and continuously needs injection of large resources. The growing energy companies in Nigeria and Africa must be willing to look beyond the continent to raise capital that Africa cannot provide." Therefore Oando Plc is moving in the right direction.

Oando Plc is gradually but steadily making impact in the energy industry, therefore the infusion of the 21 billion naira will strengthen and energized its business prospect.

Oando’s stocks are doing well in the stock market in spite of the global economic downturn. Oando Plc must widen its scope beyond Africa and venture into new territory particularly in East Asia and Latin America. And the company must spend more resources in public relation to become an international household name, thus deemphasizing its Nigerian localized image.

Oando Plc has the potential and the credibility to become a major player in the global energy industry in 21 century. With this enormous injection of proposed capital Oando Plc is geared up for growth and expansion.        

Africa Political and 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.

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Published in Archive

Naira must be protected from further weakening

It is arduous, if not a herculean task to safeguard and revamp a currency in the era of globalism and international currency trading. The recent and precipitous declining value of Nigeria’s naira to major currencies including dollar, euro, yen and others is something of great concern. The slumping naira can be revamp, although it is easier to say than done because the means to the end and options available are limited. With a blink of an eye the computerized trading of currency can alter and devalue a currency, therefore the mission to refurbish naira becomes more complex. Ultimately, the value of nation’s currency is a reflection of the well being of a nation.

There are myriads causative under linings and implications associated with the weaken naira. The rudimentary of a strong currency is determined by the GDP of a nation particularly the vibrancy, volume and richness of the export. An export based economy can readily build and possibly protect a currency from speculators because they can accumulate a large foreign exchange which becomes the war chest to deter any hostile takeover. Even with such a sound economy, capitalism is subject to creative destruction which implies that a larger economy and more active speculators can still overwhelms and weakens a currency by fiercely and voraciously going after the targeted currency. Currencies cannot be fully fortified for in the international trade, they are exposed to the forces of demand and supply.

Nigeria’s naira can be rebuild and possibly fortified from foreign invaders, although it is a tall order. The task of having a sound currency is intertwine with a healthy economy. Nigeria has some advantages, her economy is relatively sound although it is bedeviled with poverty, gigantic unemployment and troubling banks. Nigeria is among the lowest debtor nation in the world, it is an advantage because she does not have to used a lot of generated exchange to service her debt. Nigeria to her merit do not have a large and run away trade deficit, Nigeria even enjoy a healthy trade balance with some industrialized nations. Another good thing going in favor of Nigeria is her large foreign reserve, it can act as a war chest and can become a psychological tool to discourage predatory speculators. Lately the foreign reserve has commenced to dwindle. But with the price of oil rising, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) pledged to continue to build up the foreign reserve.

The declining foreign reserve was as a result of increasing withdrawal from the reserve. It is imperative that the withdrawal be utilized as prop up for naira or be used as investment to the economy, which at the long run can become the best stimulus for naira. The danger of continuous decreasing of the foreign reserve can culminated to steady devalue of naira. For instance the Standard and Poor’s rating for Nigeria was slashed from BB- minus to B- plus. The reason given for the lowering of the rating was the printing of over N 400 billion by Central Bank of Nigeria to rescue the five melting and battered banks in Nigeria. With a rational CBN the printed money can be release efficiently into the system to avoid inflation and overheating the economy. Inflation poses the greatest danger to the value of a currency. Naira can be fortified from inflation with a sound monetary policy coming from the CBN together with sensible fiscal policy from the executive branch of the government especially the avoidance of over taxation.

In totality Nigeria economy is not very active for it is a commodity based economy. The economy lacks diversification and becomes relatively weak when compares to industrialized economies of the West and East. The point here is that the source of generating foreign exchange to Nigeria is quite limited. For the major source of foreign exchange for Nigeria comes from oil. Therefore Nigeria lacks the adequate vim and resources to constantly fends off speculators and buy back the naira in the hands of foreign currency traders. Nigeria needs a export driven economy that will enable her to accumulate a large and intimating foreign reserve.

Import based economy of Nigeria hampers the full blooming of naira because the importers are busy sending the precious foreign exchange to oversea and foreign land. The infant industries are left unprotected. Let us be careful, no one is calling for economic nationalism at the expense of free trade in order to protect naira. That will be self defeating and a waste of energy and resource.

In the short run Nigeria option is limited. Nigeria can dip her hands into her foreign reserve and ease the scarcity of dollars by liquefying her capital market. But once Nigeria does that she increase the internal demand of dollars and other major currencies. But it will temporary cool off the hyper demand of the foreign currencies and buy more time for Nigeria to come up with a long time strategy.

The path way to stronger currency are paved with discipline, hard work and commitment. First and foremost Nigeria must accept that she cannot continue to build an economy with one major export which is oil. The key and the operating word is diversification. It is becoming redundant and superfluous to say the word diversifications in Nigeria. An emerging economy cannot have a strong economy with a mono-exporting commodity. Naira can be as strong as the economy. And by the way when the economy is diversified a too strong currency can depressed trade because the products will be expensive compare to nations with relatively lesser strong currencies. The challenge to Nigeria is to start to lay foundation for a healthy currency and economy by doing the right thing especially providing the adequate infrastructure that will enable industrialization and export driven economy to germinate and grow.

The wrong application of monetary and fiscal policies can weaken a currency. To this, CBN will encourage and enforce low to moderately interest rates while the executive branch of government (federal and state)will lower taxes that will attract resources and investors. Another devourer of currency is inflation which must be vigorous monitored and controlled with logical monetary policy. The readily convertibility of naira can aid to peg naira to some fixed values but it not the panacea to the sorry state of naira. It is tactical move but at the long run a strong naira will eventually be allow to float.

Restoring, rebuilding and even protecting the falling naira must be undertaken with a comprehensive strategy. The economic paradigm must be constructively redrawn to include economy’s diversification. Intrinsically, infuse of investments particularly rebuilding of the infrastructure, including a bold but closely controlled monetary policy can put naira back to a highly valued currency.

 

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