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Reuters: Baba Go-fast? Nigeria’s Tinubu Stuns Wary Investors With Quick Reforms

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Tinubu

 

Nigeria’s new president, in office for less than a month, is pushing to put Africa’s largest economy on a reform track that investors have eyed for decades, fuelling excitement that money could flow to a nation that many had deemed uninvestible.

President Bola Tinubu’s bold actions, including removing restrictions on the naira currency that allowed it to hit a record 790 to the dollar and subsidy removals that tripled petrol prices, could take stress off the battered finances of Africa’s largest economy.

But investors, burned by previous reforms that ultimately proved hollow, say it will take time to build trust and listed myriad questions over the final shape of the economy.

“The reaction is one of, ‘finally’,” said Tunde Ajileye, a partner at Lagos-based SBM Intelligence. “If this stays, then it would mean that (Tinubu) had been able to remove the two subsidies that have crippled Nigeria fiscally and monetarily for the last decade.”

Tinubu is from the same party as predecessor Muhammadu Buhari, dubbed “Baba Go-slow” for his pottering pace – taking six months to appoint cabinet members.

By contrast, Tinubu lifted fuel price caps days after taking office on May 29, suspended controversial Central Bank chief Godwin Emefiele some 10 days later and on Wednesday removed FX restrictions.

The tangle of multiple exchange rates for everything from international school fees to food imports created foreign currency shortages and hobbled investment due to issues getting money out.

“Just the fact that you have seen quite a bit of movement in a relatively short space of time has gotten a lot of people in the market excited,” said Goldman Sachs economist Andrew Matheny.

Nigeria’s international dollar bonds and the country’s stock market have been boosted by the speedy reforms.

BACKLOG, AND BURNED BEFORE

Investors, though, remained wary, citing years of damaging currency controls; Goldman Sachs pegged the backlog of FX demand at a staggering $12 billion.

“We are still to see whether this will allow the FX backlog to clear, where the new market rate will stabilise, whether this will catalyse inflows into the country and … that there will be no issues pulling money out of the country,” said John Mumo, a partner at Blakeney, an Africa-focused equities fund management firm.

Joe Delvaux, a portfolio manager at Europe’s largest asset manager Amundi, said it could take months or more to lure longer-term cash.

“Ultimately, you also have to keep in mind that the biggest provider of FX will still be the CBN,” Delvaux said.

“We need to see that the system works.”

 

Tinubu will also have to tackle the perennial corruption that has hobbled the country for decades. Nigeria is ranked 150 out of 180 in Transparency International’s 2022 corruption perceptions index – and has been on a downward trend since 2016.

Investors also worry about low tax receipts and falling oil output – structural reforms that will take far longer to sort.

Some are also hoping to see a more orthodox interest rate policy. Inflation hit a near 20-year high of 22.41% in May and a weakening naira will amplify price pressures. Meanwhile interest rates, which Tinubu has said he would like to see fall, were hiked by 50 bps last month to 18.5%.

“Investors will need to see positive real rates and evidence that they will be able to repatriate their earnings before local currency debt is back in play,” said Patrick Curran, senior economist at Tellimer.

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Unknown Gunmen Abduct Channelstv Reporter In Port-harcourt

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Some unknown gunmen have kidnapped Joshua Rogers, the ChannelsTV reporter in Port-Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

Politics Nigeria learnt that Rogers was picked up close to his residence at Rumuosi in Port Harcourt and to an unknown destination by the gunmen around 9pm on Thursday, April 11.

The reporter was driving his official ChannelsTV branded car when the hoodlums accosted, pointed a gun at him and took him away in the same vehicle.

 

Rogers was said to be returning from his official assignment in Government House after a trip to Andoni for a government event when the incident happened.

Already, the gunmen were said to have contacted his wife and demanded a N30million ransom for bis release.

His cameraman confirmed the incident and appealed to his abductors to set him free unconditionally.

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Lassa Fever Kills 150 In Nigeria — NCDC

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According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), 150 people died from Lassa virus in 125 local government areas throughout 27 states in the federation between January and March 2024.

The NCDC reported that the deaths were recorded with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 18.6% overall from week one to week thirteen, 2024. This is higher than the CFR for the same time in 2023 (17.5%).

In its Lassa Fever Situation Report Epi Week 13, which was released on March 25–31, 2024, the agency revealed that 806 of the 5,295 suspected cases that were recorded were confirmed. Eyes Of Lagos reports,

According to the report, in week 13, the number of new confirmed cases decreased from 25 in Epi week 12, 2024 to 15. These cases were reported in Ondo, Bauchi, Plateau and Edo states.

 

In total for 2024, 27 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 125 LGAs, even as 62 percent of all confirmed Lassa fever cases were reported from Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi states, while 38 percent of cases were reported from 24 states with confirmed Lassa fever cases.

Of the 62 percent confirmed cases, the NCDC said Ondo reported 24 percent, Edo 22 percent, and Bauchi 16 percent. The predominant age group affected is 31-40 years (Range: 1 to 98 years, Median Age: 32years), with a male-to-female ratio for confirmed cases of 1:1.

From the report, the number of suspected cases (5,295) increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2023 (4,338).

The agency confirmed that the National Lassa fever multi-partner, multi-sectoral Incident Management System has been activated to coordinate response at all levels at the Emergency Operations Centre, EOC.

No new healthcare worker was affected in the reporting week 13, the report noted.

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