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NEC Affirms Nigeria’s Unity, Seeks For Consultation Over Agitations, Denys Printing Of Naira For March Allocation |RN

Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo

STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

NEC STRONGLY AFFIRMS NIGERIA’S UNITY, DIRECTS STATE-BY-STATE CONSULTATIONS

■ Unanimously debunks claim Naira was printed to support March allocation



Welcoming recommendations of a national townhall meeting on Enhanced Security and National Unity recently held in Kaduna, the National Economic Council (NEC) rose from its monthly meeting today strongly affirming the unity of the country, emphasizing that staying as one country remains the best option for Nigeria.

The Council’s position was among resolutions adopted at the 4th 2021 meeting of NEC, chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, which also had in attendance State Governors, FCT Minister and the Central Bank Governor. Also at today’s meeting were the Finance, Transportation, Information, Aviation and Water Resources Ministers, and the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning.

While emphasizing the need to address the problems of agitation in parts of the country, Council noted that “these agitations are common with countries with huge and diverse populations like ours and it is important not to allow the minority to hijack the mainstream of opinion.”

The Council also directed States “to hold consultations and dialogues on the issues and report back by the next meeting of Council so that a firm position would be taken on the recommendations of the Townhall many of which it already welcomed.”

NEC urged all States (even where there are no agitations) to hold wider consultations to have diverse opinions on the burning issues, taking into consideration local peculiarities and report back to NEC the outcome of the consultations.

The Council resolved that after the planned State-wide consultations a national consensus would be reached on the recommendations of the national town hall meeting held in Kaduna which included the adoption of State Police among other matters.

Taking a position on the alleged printing of N60 billion after receiving presentations from the Minister of Finance and the Central Bank Governor, the National Economic Council (NEC) stated that the claim as reported in the press is outrightly false, affirming that no money was printed to shore up allocation for the month of March.

The Governors, having critically reviewed the matter, unanimously expressed satisfaction with clarifications made by the NGF represented by its Chairman, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Finance Minister, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed and the Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele.  While the Finance Minister categorically debunked that Naira was printed to back up allocation last month, the CBN Governor fully supported the position of the minister, and the Chairman of NGF also noted that he knew no such thing happened at all.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS 115TH NEC MEETING:

BUDGET AND NATIONAL PLANNING MINISTER TO BRIEF ON FINANCE UPDATES:

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning gave update to Council on the under listed accounts as follows:

1.     EXCESS CRUDE ACCOUNT (ECA)

Balance as at 22nd April 2021 stood at N72, 413,008.60

2.    STABILIZATION ACCOUNT

Balance as at 22nd April, 2021 was put at N23,299,008,799.06

3.    NATURAL RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT ACCOUNT

Balance as at 22nd April, 2021 was N77, 742,012,342.87

BUDGET SUPPORT
On the budget support facility, Finance Minister observed that the deductions for repayment by States are meant to resume in May. The Governors however requested for an extension considering the economic challenges in the States.

The Central Bank Governor explained the technical challenges involved should there be a further postponement of the deductions. The Vice President then directed that a meeting be held soon after today’s NEC where the issue would be properly considered and a decision reached.

The VP will chair the meeting and the Governors would be represented by Governor Kayode Fayemi, while the Finance Minister and the Central Bank Governor both of whom attended the meeting today will also participate.

Council also received a presentation on the current status of water, sanitation, and hygiene services level across the country as revealed by the 2019 WASH National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASH-NORM II) survey jointly carried out by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and National Bureau of Statistics in collaboration with UNICEF.

Under the 2019 survey, six modules were adopted: (1) Households, comprising Water Quality assessments and household WASH; (2) Water Facilities, (3) WASH in Educational Facilities, (4) WASH in Health facilities and (5) WASH in Public places (markets and motor parks), and (6) Water Utilities and Consumer Satisfaction Survey.

Key findings from 2019 WASH-NORM survey:

The percentage of the population with access to basic water supply services has steadily increased from 67% in 2015to 68% in 2018, and 70% in 2019. In terms of population figures, these changes equate to about 9 million more people gaining access to basic water supply services between 2018 and 2019. However, only14% of the population has access to safely managed drinking water supply services, which means that up to 171 million Nigerians are still off the SDG target 6.1.

On access to sanitation, indicators across the country show a slight improvement as 44% of the population were found to have access to basic sanitation services in 2019 compared to 42% in 2018. Only 17% of the population use improved sanitation facilities that have proper handwashing facilities with soap.
The number of people practicing open defecation marginally changed from 24% in 2018 to 23% in 2019 meaning that about 46 million people are still defecating in the open.

About 27% of markets and motor parks have access to basic water supply services. Accessibility of persons living with disabilities is very low at 17%. About a quarter of markets and motor parks (24%) have access to basic sanitation services and slightly more than half (53%) of markets and motor parks do not have toilets for public use.
28 out of 36 States plus FCT have urban water utilities out of which only 16 are functional and producing water for the people.  The functional 16 State Water Agencies (SWA) have a total number of 1,171 water works which 41% is operational.

Council, therefore, welcomed the key findings from the 2019 WASH-NORM survey and noted that the Ministry has commenced the third round of WASH-NORM Survey in 2021 and is hereby urging all the States and FCT to support the process.

PRESENTATION ON NATIONAL AVIATION INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT PLAN, PROSPECTS OF LEVERAGING PRIVATE SECTOR CAPACITY ON INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT BY SENATOR HADI SIRIKA, MINISTER OF AVIATION

The Minister stated that the Federal Ministry of Aviation is saddled with the overall responsibility for the formulation and management of aviation policies and was given the following mandates:

1.     Conclude the Concession of Murtala Muhammed International Airport (Lagos), Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (Abuja), Aminu Kano International Airport (Kano) and Port-Harcourt International Airport (Port-Harcourt).

2.     Implement a plan for effective maintenance and optimal use of Airport facilities across the Country.

3.     Ensure and facilitate the Establishment of a National Carrier.

4.     Actively collaborate with the Private sector to create a large number of well-paying jobs for Nigerian youths.

5.     Implement a strategy towards the realization of Mr. President’s June 12 promise to take 100 Million Nigerians out of poverty in the next ten years

KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS

1.     Concession of four International Airports – Lagos, Abuja, PH and Kano

2.     Implement a plan for effective maintenance and optimal use of all Airport facilities across the Country

3.     Ensure and facilitate the establishment of a National Carrier

4.     Actively collaborate with the Private sector to create a large number of well-paying jobs for Nigerian youths

5.     Implement a strategy towards the realization of Mr. President’s June 12 promise to take 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next ten years

Council Resolution:

The Minister should make available copies of the presentations to states so that Council will have a fuller understanding.

PRESENTATION ON THE PROGRESS REPORT OF RAIL DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA BY RT. HON. CHIBUIKE ROTIMI AMAECHI, HONORABLE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT

Council was informed on how Rail Development was stalled in the 60s until 1986, when the Federal Government of Nigeria commenced the construction of 326 km standard gauge (1,435m) rail lines phase 1 from Itakpe – Ajaokuta – Warri.

Furthermore, rail infrastructure development halted until the present Administration came on-board and brought to reality the railway modernization plan of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) by commencing the implementation of the 1,367 km Lagos – Kano railway lines. The outcome of the present government intervention includes:
Completed and made operational the 186 km Abuja – Kaduna Standard gauge rail lines;
Commencement of 185.5 km Lagos-Ibadan new Double standard gauge rail lines in 2016 and is almost completed;
Completed and made operational the 302 km Itakpe – Ajaokuta – Warri standard gauge rail lines; and
Connected the Apapa Ports by Rail, while that of Warri Port has been concessioned.

THE 25 – YEAR RAILWAY STRATEGIC VISION
The Federal Government in its determination to revive and modernize the Railway System in line with the 25-year Strategic Vision, adopted a Systematic dual approach.

This entails the rehabilitation of the entire existing narrow gauge lines simultaneously with the development of standard gauge lines.

The Ministry/NRC is rigorously following the strategic vision in developing its short and medium-term plans
KEY CHALLENGES

Finance

Inadequate Funding

Operational challenges
Insufficient locomotives, coaches and wagons, leading to congestion
Obsolete Machineries and workshop equipment
Access to only two seaports and none to airports
Lack of capacity to recover encroached premises and rental debts from government organisations

Security
Porosity of rail corridors and level crossings
Vulnerability of outdoor Signalling & Telecommunication installations to vandalism

Legal and Legislative
The Railway Act of 1955 does not encourage Public Private Partnership.

Council welcomed the presentation and looked forward to further collaboration with the FG on this matter.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
22nd April 2021

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BREAKING: Buhari Orders Reopening Of Closed Land Borders |The Republican News

Muhammadu Buhari


By Kayode Oyero


The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Wednesday, ordered the immediate reopening of four land borders.

The Presidency made this known in a tweet today. “President Buhari has directed the immediate opening of four land borders: Seme, Illela, Maigatari, and Mfun,” @NGRPresident tweeted.

Nigeria had in August 2019 closed its land borders to curtail illegal importation of drugs, small arms and agricultural products into country from neighbouring West African nations.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had last month hinted on the reopening of the nation’s borders.

Ahmed had said the presidential committee set up on the matter had completed its job and had recommended the reopening of the borders.

The minister, on Wednesday, after a Federal Executive Council meeting, disclosed the reopening of Seme Border in Lagos State, Illela Border in Sokoto State, Maigatari Border in Jigawa State, and Mfun Border in Cross River State.

According to her, other borders would be reopened before December 31, 2020. (Punch)

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FG To Open Country’s Land Borders Soon — Zainab Ahmed |The Republican News

Minister of finance and budget, Mrs Zainab Ahmed


The FG has disclosed that the nation’s land borders could be reopened soon, after being closed for over a year.

By Chike Olisah


The Federal Government has announced that the country’s land borders which have been closed since August 2019 may be reopened soon.

The country’s various borders were shut down to curtail the smuggling and illegal importation of drugs, small arms, food and agricultural products into the country and even the smuggling of petrol from Nigeria to neighbouring West African countries.

This disclosure was made by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, during a media chat with State House correspondents on Wednesday, November 25, 2020, in Abuja.

According to a report by Punch, Ahmed revealed that the presidential committee set up to look into the matter has completed its assignment and has recommended the reopening of the borders.

Although the minister did not disclose when the report will be submitted, she, however, said the committee would soon submit its report to President Muhammadu Buhari after which a formal pronouncement would be made on the matter.

Details later…

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Appointed Member Of South Africa’s Presidential Economic Council |The Republican News

By Oluseyi Awojulugbe

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, two-time minister, has been appointed as a member South Africa’s presidential economic advisory council.

Clarification sought by TheCable from close parties to the economist revealed that she is a member of the council, not the head as reported by some platforms.

The council is chaired by Cyril Ramaphosa, the South African president.

Pictures shared on Twitter by the official handle of South Africa’s presidency and Okonjo-Iweala showed the latter in a meeting with local authorities.

The pictures were captioned “With President Ramaphosa, members of cabinet, and members of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council in Pretoria discussing sources of growth for the South African economy and win-win economic interactions with the continent.”

Cyril Ramaphosa, the South African president, appointed the council on September 27, 2019.

In a statement published on its website, the presidency said the council will “ensure greater coherence and consistency in the implementation of economic policy and ensure that government and society in general is better equipped to respond to changing economic circumstances”.

The council, which is made up of local and international economic thought leaders, is expected to “advise the president and government more broadly, facilitating the development and implementation of economic policies that spur inclusive growth.

“The council is a non-statutory and independent body chaired by the president and brings together prominent economists and technical experts drawn from academia, the private sector, labour, community, think tanks and other constituencies. The members, who will volunteer their time and be compensated for subsistence and travel, are appointed to serve a three-year term.”

The council held its second meeting on Friday in Tshwane.

South Africa’s economy is currently in a recession; its second in two years.

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South Africa Goes Into Recession, Against Predictions Of Growth |The Republican News

           South African president Cyril Ramaphosa

South Africa’s economy tipped into recession as it shrunk 0.7 percent in the second quarter, official data showed Tuesday, dealing a blow to President Cyril Ramaphosa who came to office in February.

The downturn, which was the second consecutive quarter of negative growth, was driven by contractions in agriculture, transport, trade and manufacturing industries.

StatsSA said agriculture was hit by a fall in field crops, drought in the Western Cape and severe hailstorms in Mpumalanga province that damaged production.

After a revised 2.6 percent contraction in the first quarter, the latest data piled pressure on Ramaphosa who has promised a “new dawn” after his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s scandal-tainted nine-year reign.

Micheal Power, an asset manager at Investec, said domestic and international events had combined to stall economic growth.

“We are getting no help from the outside with the strengthening dollar, the escalating trade war and issues that are now facing emerging markets,” he told AFP.

“In some respects, this can be seen as a good thing if it means that we are now not drinking to avoid the hangover.”

The recession is the first in South Africa since the 2008–2009 global financial crisis, when South Africa experienced three consecutive quarters of economic decline.

Before Tuesday’s data, Bloomberg said only one of 12 economists surveyed had predicted a contraction.

Independent analyst Daniel Silke said on Twitter that the figures reflected an “inability to create confidence-building measures to enhance work opportunities and uplift investor sentiment.”

Ramaphosa, who faces elections in 2019, has been on an investment drive to attract foreign investment and tackle unemployment of about 28 percent.

(AFP)

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Nigeria Records 1.9% GDP Growth In Q4 2017 |The Republican News

Samuel Bello, Abuja

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), said the nation recorded a growth of 1.92 percent in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2017 while maintaining its positive growth trajectory since the economy exited recession in the second quarter of 2017.

In its Q4 report released on Tuesday in Abuja, NBS stated that the growth compared to a contraction of –1.73 percent recorded in the fourth quarter of 2016 and a growth of 1.40 percent recorded in the third quarter of 2017.

According to the bureau, 2017 recorded a real annual growth rate of 0.83 percent higher by 2.42 percent than –1.58 percent recorded in 2016.

“In the quarter under review, aggregate GDP stood at N31,209,137.74 million in nominal terms and higher when compared to N29,169,058.99 million in Q4 2016, resulting in a nominal GDP growth of 6.99 percent. This growth is lower relative to growth recorded in Q4 2016 at 12.49 percent.

The bureau reported that in the period under review, oil production averaged 1.91 million barrels per day (mbpd), -0.12 million barrels lower than the daily average production recorded in the third quarter of 2017.

It added that oil production during the quarter was higher by 0.15 million barrels per day relative to the corresponding quarter in 2016, which recorded an output of 1.76mbpd.

In term of contribution, NBS stated that the oil sector contributed 7.17 percent of total real GDP in the fourth quarter of 2017, up from figure recorded in the corresponding period of 2016 and down from the preceding quarter, where it contributed 6.75 percent and 10.04 percent respectively.

“Quarter-on-Quarter, the oil sector dropped by–25.52 percent in Q4 2017. The annual growth of the oil sector stood at 4.79 per cent higher than the previous year’s growth of –14.45 per cent.

The statistics office also reported that the mining and quarrying sector contributed 8.30 percent to overall GDP in the fourth quarter of 2017, higher than the contributions recorded in 2016 fourth quarter at 6.70 percent but lower than the previous quarter recorded as 11.17 percent. It’s annual contribution to GDP in 2017 stood at 9.22 percent as against 5.39 percent in 2016.  (The Sun)

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I’ll Take Nigeria To The Next Level, Says Buhari |The Republican News

Buhariworksfromhome
                         File Photo: President Muhammadu Buhari

Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday promised to take Nigeria to the next level despite the nation’s current challenges.

Buhari made the promise in his remarks at the induction of the Nigerian Air Force’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, Tsaigumi, in Kaduna.

A copy of his speech was made available to journalists by the Presidency’s media office.

The President said his administration was determined to overcome all challenges militating against the country’s security and development.

He therefore appealed to all Nigerians to support his administration to achieve its objective.

Buhari said, “Let me again reiterate our commitment and firm resolve to take this nation to the next level.

“We remain determined to overcome all challenges to our security and development as a nation.

“I enjoin all well-meaning Nigerians to join hands with us to make our collective dreams of greatness a reality.”

The President said his government was committed to delivering the much-needed change that would make the difference in the nation.

“Government remains determined, despite numerous challenges to bring about the much-needed change that will lift our beloved nation to its rightful place as a major economic and political force on the world stage,”he added.

Buhari disclosed that part of government’s drive to achieve the goal is to enable enterprise and the improvement of the quality of life through massive improvement of national infrastructure.

He said as he outlined in his New Year Day broadcast to the nation, the present administration has designed a series of key projects to dramatically overhaul national infrastructure and overcome the deficit in that vital area.  (Punch)

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55 Percent Of FG VAT Generated In Lagos, Says Adeosun |The Republican News

 Kemi-Adeosun-Ogun
            The Minister for Finance, Kemi Adeosun

Ifeanyi Onuba, Abuja

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun on Tuesday said that 55 per cent of the revenue generated by the Federal Government from Value Added Tax receipts is collected from Lagos State.

Adeosun, according to an online publication-The Cable, said this during a meeting with progressive governors forum.

She explained that the balance of 45 per cent is generated from the remaining 35 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

Giving a breakdown of the receipts from VAT, she said while Lagos accounts for 55 per cent of VAT revenue, 20 per cent comes from FCT.

She added that Rivers, Kano and Kaduna accounts for six per cent, five per cent and one per cent respectively.

Cumulatively, she noted that these four states including the FCT account for 87 per cent of the entire collections from VAT

She described the tax compliance rate in the country as very low, adding that this was why the Federal Government is taking proactive steps to improve the rate of voluntary tax compliance.

She said,“There is no poor country that has a high tax compliance rate, and no rich country that has a low one.

 “55 per cent of Nigeria’s VAT is collected in Lagos State. 20 per cent in FCT, six per cent in Rivers, five per cent in Kano, one per cent in Kaduna”.

“I’m hoping that one day, Finance Commissioners will stop needing to come to Abuja monthly to share FAAC (Federation Account Allocation Committee) because IGR (Internally Generated Revenue) will be sufficient.”

Based on allocation from FAAC, the Federal Government gets 15 per cent of VAT revenue, while the states and local governments get 50 per cent and 35 per cent respectively.

Based on figures from the National  Bureau of Statistics, the sum of N204.77bn was generated as VAT in the first quarter of 2017 as against N207.35bn generated in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Out of the total VAT generated in the first quarter of 2017, N126.64bn was received as Non-Import VAT locally while N31.72bn was generated as Non-Import foreign VAT. (Punchng.com)

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The Purpose Of Wristwatch Is to Keep Time, I’ve Had Only One In 17yrs – Peter Obi

Peter-Obi1

Former Governor Of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi

A former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, has said that he has only one wristwatch, which he has worn for 17 years, alongside two pairs of black shoes, which he travelled in with most times.
 
Speaking at The Platform, the flagship programme of Covenant Christian Centre in Lagos, Obi said when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) searched his house at Osborne, Ikoyi, Lagos, they found nothing.
 
He said the anti-corruption agency said he does not leave there because they could not find wristwatches, jewellery and other exotic materials.
 
Speaking of the Ikoyi cash, Obi said: “Let me tell you what is worrisome; well we don’t know, they are still dealing with who owns the money or who doesn’t own the money, but that will one day be clarified”.
 
“Let me tell you where I am even worried. Why would anybody put it in such a circumstance, what if it caught fire? If that money was put in our banking system, whoever kept it would have earned eight percent per annum so he would have earned about $7 million by now.
 
“$7 million is about N2.8 billion today. That is the amount I spent for all secondary schools in Anambra in a year. If he decided to be generous and give it to graduates, they would have shared it to 2,800 graduates, out of which 2,000 would have been successful.
 
“I live there, but having been governor of Anambra for eight years, I cannot live outside Anambra. The only place I have a house officially built is Onitsha if you see any house in Lagos, Abuja or anywhere else belonging to Peter Obi, confiscate it. I leave that place for my wife and children.”
 
On the search of his Ikoyi home, Obi said nothing was found except his wife’s cloth and shoes, adding that he has only one wristwatch, which he has used for 17 years.
 
“Ask those who searched it. I was abroad, they said they wanted to search my house, I sent the key, and they searched my whole apartment and I can tell you the only thing they found.
 
“They said this man doesn’t live here. It was only his wife’s clothes and shoes that we saw, we didn’t see anything belonging to him.
 
“I have said it to Nigerians, Peter Obi wears only black shoes, and I have two pairs of it, and I travel with it. The purpose of the shoe is to protect the leg from being hurt. Nothing else. I bought this from Marks and Spencer, $49.99, finish.
 
“They said ‘we didn’t even see watch’, and I have said it to everyone, this is the only watch I have, I have worn it for 17 years. The purpose of a watch is to keep time. Why would I keep a watch at home? Whose time is it keeping?”

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Federal Government May Collapse, Atiku Warns |The Republican News

• Says recession has exposed govt’s weaknesses

By Moshood Adebayo

Former vice president, Atiku Abubakar said the current recession in the country has exposed the weaknesses of a federal system of government.

Atiku, an advocate of restructuring, who spoke through his Twitter

account, Atiku Abubakar (@atiku), yesterday, said the federal government could no longer meet its obligations.

Questioning the rationale behind having a central government that can no longer meet its obligation, the former number two citizen asked rhetorically, “does it still make sense to have centrist federal?”

Atiku said responsibilities of the federal government must be reduced to avoid it collapsing “under the weight of too many responsibilities it burdens itself with.”

“So, not only is our federal government too large, the economic downturn has exposed fundamental weaknesses. Yes, federal government duties need to be reduced.’’

Concluding the tweet, the Turaki Adamawa said: “The economic consequence of over-centralisation is that the federal government may collapse under the weight of too many responsibilities it burdens itself with.”

He urged  the federal government to reduce its control on the economy.

Atiku said this would make  the economy more efficient.

The former president has been at the forefront of those canvassing the restructuring of the country’s federalism, saying it is the only way forward to a more vibrant and prosperous nation.

However, he added that although Nigeria’s federalism was due for restructuring, “it is not the way small groups in the country clamour for it.

“Secession and resource control are not antidotes for a better Nigeria.”

Atiku said while the current system in the country might be working for some elite, “it is not in the overall interest of all.”

While proffering immediate restructuring of the country as an antidote to the many of her problems, Atiku said a better federalism would have a ripple effect on every aspect of the country.

“Doing otherwise would only continue to increase the negativity that has become the order of the day in Nigeria.”

“The only way forward is for every part of the country, every arm of government and the Nigerian people to be involved in negotiating the country’s future.” (Punchng.com)

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