The Sri Lankan authorities had lifted the curfew imposed on parts of the country on Monday, a day after a string of bombings at churches and luxury hotels across the Indian Ocean island killed 290 people and wounded about 500, but there were warnings more attacks could come.
There was no claim of responsibility for the Easter Sunday attacks on two churches and four hotels in and around Colombo, the capital of predominantly Buddhist Sri Lanka, and a third church on the South Asian nation’s northeast coast. Four of the bombs went off at roughly the same time, at 8.45 a.m., with the other two coming within 20 minutes.
Sri Lankans accounted for the bulk of the dead and wounded although government officials said 32 foreigners were killed, including British, U.S., Turkish, Indian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch and Portuguese nationals.
President Maithripala Sirisena, who was abroad when the attacks happened, had called a meeting of the National Security Council early on Monday, a government source said. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would attend the meeting, the source said.
The Sri Lankan military, who were clearing the route from Colombo airport late on Sunday in preparation for Sirisena’s return, found a crude bomb near the departure gate, an air force spokesman said.
Nigeria’s rising debt profile. The Finance minister said that there is no cause for alarm. Nigeria indebtedness now has hit N24.39 trillion (about $79.44 billion).
The debt figure, which, as at December 31, 2018, comprised Eurobond loans, facilities from the World Bank Group, China and Africa Development Bank Group constitute over 80 per cent of the total debt stock.
It represents a year-on-year growth of 12.25 per cent and is higher than the 2017 figure by N2.662 billion.
Finance Minister Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who made the disclosure at the sidelines of the just-concluded International Monetary Fund/World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington D.C, explained that despite warnings by the multilateral institutions, the country was not in any way near a debt crisis.
Her position was collaborated by FSDH Research latest report on Nigeria’s debt position titled: Is Nigeria public debt too high? Analysts at the Lagos-based investment company argued that since Nigeria’s public debt-to-Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio was still under 20 per cent, precisely 18.89 per cent, it can still get more loans to reach the 25 per cent benchmark set for itself and the 56 per cent international threshold set for countries in Nigeria’s peer group.
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The analysts at FSDH Research said Nigeria still has room to borrow an additional N7.89 trillion before reaching a threshold of about N32 trillion.
FSDH Research data showed that countries like China, South Africa, India, UK, Brazil and the United States (U.S.) all have high debt-to-Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 50 per cent, 57 per cent, 70 per cent, 87 per cent, 88 per cent, 91 per cent and 106 per cent respectively.
It, however, stressed that these countries have successfully managed to deploy their borrowings into activities that can stimulate revenue generation including education, transportation, construction, security, technology and other growth-enhancing infrastructure.
The FSHD report explained that by utilising the borrowed funds in areas that improve the ease of doing business in their countries, they have been able to grow their economies further, create job opportunities, and create more avenues for their governments to grow their revenue.
It said: “The 25 per cent benchmark gives Nigeria a leeway to borrow an additional N7.89 trillion given her level of GDP. But before you are quick to celebrate, there is the need to consider one very important factor: the ability of the country to service the debt without causing untold hardship on the country.
“In measuring the ability of a country to service her debt obligations, we look at the ratio of domestic debt service-to-Federal Government of Nigeria Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) allocation.”
The IMF had during the Spring Meetings warned Nigeria and other emerging market countries taking excessive loans from China to consider the terms of such facilities, especially, their compliance to the Paris Club arrangements.
Director, IMF Monetary and Capital Markets Department, Tobias Andrian, said there was nothing bad in borrowing from China, except that the terms of such loans are always questionable.
He said: ‘Loans from China are good, but the countries should consider the terms of the loans. And we urge countries that when they borrow from abroad, that the terms are favorable for the borrower, and should be conforming to the Paris Club arrangements”.
Continuing, Andrian, who spoke on the Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR) said: “Let me reiterate that in many frontier markets, we see that the share of debt that is not conforming to the Paris Club standards is on the rise. And that means that if there is any debt restructuring down the road one day that can be very unfavorable to those countries. So, the borrowing terms, the covenants, are extremely important. And we do see a deterioration in that aspect.”
But Mrs. Ahmed explained that while government borrows to deliver on its promises, it is also mindful of rising debt burden, which eats up about 25 per cent of the country’s annual earnings.
The minister said: “The World Bank and IMF are cautioning us on the rate at which we are borrowing. They are also cautioning us on the need to build fiscal buffers because the global economy is going to be facing some risks and we agree with that.
“We are very mindful of the level of our borrowings. Our borrowing is very much within fiscal limits right now. What we are doing is to increase our revenue generating capacity to make it easier for us to meet our debt obligations, routine and capital expenditure.”
Responding to concerns on Chinese loans to finance the Idu-Kaduna, Lagos-Ibadan and Abuja light rail projects, expansion of four airport terminals and some hydroelectric projects across the country, the minister said: “To borrow, we go through several processes of assessments as well as negotiations. We make sure we get the best possible terms and whether we are borrowing from financial institutions or in Europe or China or anywhere else, we try to get the best rates of borrowing. So far, the conditions we have got are very good ones.”
Mrs. Ahmed said the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to ensuring that the country grows in a manner that would bring many people out of poverty.
According to her, it is for this reason that the government takes its social investment programmes like the school feeding, Conditional Cash Transfers to the poor and vulnerable and TraderMoni programme, very seriously.
I am a full blooded Nigerian. The former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has faulted the claim by the All Progressives Congress (APC) that he is not a Nigerian by birth and, therefore, not fit to be President.
Atiku, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the February 23 presidential election, said he is a Nigerian by birth and was born on November 25, 1946 in Jada, Adamawa State by Nigerian parents and he is, therefore, a citizen of Nigeria by birth.
He said this in a joint reply he filed with his party to the response filed by the APC against their petition before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) sitting at the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
Atiku, who gave details of his early life, also spoke about his working life and political career in Nigeria to support his claim that he is and has always been a Nigerian by birth.
Atiku and the PDP argued that it was late in the day for the APC to query his qualification for the election, having not done so at the pre-election stage.
They said: “Contrary to the allegations contained in paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the 3rd respondent’s (APC’s) reply, the petitioners state that the 1st petitioner (Atiku) is a citizen of Nigeria by birth and thus qualified to vote and be voted for and returned in the election to the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, held on Saturday 23rd February, 2019, going by the relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“The 1st petitioner was born on 25th November, 1946 in Jada, Adamawa State by Nigerian parents and he is therefore a citizen of Nigeria by birth.
“The 1st petitioner’s father, Garba Atiku Abdulkadir, was a Nigerian by birth who hailed from Wumo in present day Sokoto State while the mother, Aisha Kande was also a Nigerian who hailed from Dutse in present day Jigawa State.
“The parents of the 1st Petitioner are both Fulani, a community/tribe indigenous to Nigeria.
“The birth of the 1st petitioner in Jada, in present day Adamawa State of Nigeria was occasioned by the movement of his paternal grandfather called Atiku who was an itinerant trader, from Wumo in present day Sokoto State to Jada in the company of his friend, Ardo Usman.
“That in Jada, Atiku, the grandfather of the 1st petitioner, gave birth to Garba who in tum gave birth to the 1st Petitioner and named him after his own father Atiku.
“The 1st petitioner’s mother, Aisha Kande, was the grand-daughter of Inuwa Dutse who came to Jada as an itinerant trader too from Dutse in present day Jigawa State.
“All averments concerning Germany, British Cameroons, League of Nations and Plebiscite are false and misleading in relation to the 1st Petitioner and therefore completely irrelevant, more so that the 1st Petitioner is a Nigerian by birth within the contemplation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic ofNigeria, 1999 (as amended).
“The averments in the aforesaid paragraphs are indeed fabricated, contrived, made in bad faith and designed to embarrass the 1st petitioner.”
The APC had, in its response to the petition by Atiku and the PDP, argued that, by virtue of his not being a Nigerian by birth, Atiku was not qualified to have contested the last presidential election.
It contended that by Section 131(a) of the Constitution, a person must be a citizen of Nigeria by birth to be qualified to contest for the office of the President of the country. It noted that Atiku was born on November 25, 1946 in Jada, now Adamawa State, then in Northern Cameroon, “and is therefore a citizen of Cameroon.”
The APC said: ”Atiku had no right to be voted for and returned in the election to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held on Saturday 23th February, 2019 having regard to the clear provision of Section 131(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) 1999 as amended, which unequivocally stipulates inter alia, that for a person to be qualified for election to the office of President, he must be a citizen of Nigeria by birth.”
Atiku and the PDP, in their reply, also faulted the APC’s claim that the Independent National Electoral commission (INEC) did not transmit the results of the election by electronic means, by using a server.