59 years after, stock market still bogged down by neglect, crisis of confidence, illiquidity

By Helen Oji03 October 2019   |   4:15 amNigeria contributes $26b of developing countries’ $7.8tr external debt13 hours ago‘Terminal decommissioning puts $400 million investment, jobs at risk’13 hours agoLondon stocks slip on global woes, UK recession fears1 hour ago

Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE). Photo/rainbowfm

Presently, increased volatility and illiquidity have continued to trigger persistent downturn in the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), raising more questions regarding the timeframe for the end of the current weak performance.

Indeed, the persistent apathy and waning investor confidence that have bedeviled the nation’s stock market in the past few years continued to reflect on market indices and trigger persistent fall in share prices of listed firms as most bluechip stocks have fallen 10 year low.

According to the NSE, polls trading figures from market operators on their Domestic and Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI) flows, domestic transactions in the nation’s bourse decreased by whooping 66.68 per cent from N3.556 trillion in 2007 to N1.185 trillion in 2018.

The country’s capital market has continued to trail behind that of peer countries. The flagship securities exchange, the NSE, is small compared to the major international exchanges, with a total market capitalisation of about N13 trillion, compared to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) for example with equities capitalisation alone a little shy of $1 trillion representing over 280 per cent of South Africa’s GDP and over 380 listed companies not to mention the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) whose market capitalisation is about $21 trillion with more than 2000 listed companies.

The current size of the capital market constrains its role in national economic development. Market liquidity as measured by trading volume and turnover is comparatively low.

The issuer base is not diversified. More specifically, industry composition in the stock market is concentrated in a few sectors namely Dangote cement, Nestle MTN Nigeria and Airtel Africa.

The major equity index (NSEASI) has significant weights in banking stocks, which are sensitive to business cycles. In contrast, agriculture and technology sectors critical for economic diversification take up a much smaller proportion.

Most of the systemically important corporations such as the International Oil are not listed on the stock market.

Foreign investors are significant players in the equities market often dictating the pace of market activity.

This leaves the market vulnerable to external shocks. Local institutional investors such as pension funds and mutual funds are less active in the equities market with asset allocation concentrated in government bonds and Treasury Bills generally considered safe and liquid.

How the nation’s stock market came into existence
The Nigerian stock market was established in September 15, 1960 with the establishment of Lagos Stock Exchange, which became operational in June 5, 1961.

In December 5, 1977, following the recommendation of the government financial system review committee of 1976, the Lagos Stock Exchange was renamed and reconstituted into the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

It is worthy of note that since 1977, there has been a decline in the share of government stock in the stock exchange.

The growth of government stock started decreasing while industrial equities and bonds as well as second tier securities market continued to increase yearly.

But the internationalisation of the market in 1995 accentuated the interest of the private sector investment in the stock market. Conspicuously, as government stock traded in millions during 1995 , industrial equities accelerated to billions .

Within the period, the total market capitalisation increased tremendously. From N16348.40 million in 1990, it increased to N466058.70 million in 2000 and in 2006, the figure rose to N5.12 trillion.

The market enjoyed a decade- long boom and attained its highest growth in March 2008, with the All-share Index (ASI) of the NSE hitting 66,000 points with a value of daily transactions reaching over N12 billion.

The effect of the 2009 global financial crisis on NSE
Unfortunately, the bubble of 2008-2009 global financial crisis instigated a worldwide economic recession, bringing to a halt more than a decade of increasing prosperity for western economies and wiping a staggering $1 trillion off the value of the world economy.

In the aftermath of the crisis, equity capital formation started receding as financial assets took flight to safety in fixed-income securities. The stock market started declining and has currently suffered its worst bearish run since the inception.

Consequently, the NSE, which grew steadily from N35.7 billion in the year 2000 to the highest point of N2.6 trillion in 2008 receeded, asthe All Shares Index (ASI) shed more than 70 percent of its value between March 2008 and April 2009.

Foreign investors, who realized the danger posed by the on-coming financial turmoil, withdrew their funds, depressing the stock market further.

The unprecedented lull triggered panic in the stock market within the period. The level of panic was such that it induced a spate of suicide among traders. Retail investors also suffered a stroke due to a loss of investments.

This is because the financial fortunes of many retail investors are tied in some way to the market either directly through investments or indirectly through the pension funds.

Therefore, the collapse of the market reverberates through the whole of society. Subsequently, Nigerians have developed an aversion for the stock market, as many of them have not recovered from the losses.

Govt. unfavorable policies and neglect of the stock market
It is worthy of note that 12 years after the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, Nigerian investors are recounting their loss, even as they battle with perennial issues bedeviling the nation’s capital market.

This is due to what capital market stakeholders described as an abysmal neglect of the market. The stakeholders had stressed the need to prioritise the sector and unlock its potentials.

According to them, despite efforts by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to undertake a number of initiatives to boost investors’ confidence, the capital market continues to trail behind its peers in other countries in volume, liquidity and sectoral representations.

Integrating the Nigerian capital market master plan into the country’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) will position the market for sustainable growth.

Regrettably, government’s ERGP seems not to recognise the place of the capital market in capital formation and economic growth. Throughout the 140-page ERGP document, no mention was made of government’s plan for the capital market.

In contrast, in Malaysia and other emerging economies, sections of even annual budgets are devoted to addressing government incentives for the capital market. The 2018 Malaysia budget for example, has a section on ‘Tax incentives for Malaysia’s capital market’ in which the budget proposes a three-year exemption on stamp duty for exchange-traded funds in order to promote Malaysia’s capital market and make it internationally more competitive.’

In addition, the budget offers tax relief for venture capital companies and income tax deductions for environmentally and socially responsible islamic bond issuers”.

The stakeholders suggested that government must replicate the successes recorded in other sectors of the economy on the market to grow the economy.

The stock market had long lost some gains recorded during the boom period to the global financial crisis of 2008.

NSE embroiled in crises of confidence and other perennial issues
As industry regulators were struggling to restore investors’ confidence in the capital market, the market was embroiled in crises of confidence and other perennial issues.

The crisis ranges from over N700 billion trapped in private placement scams during the era of stock market boom to the sale of the three nationalised banks. Also the case involving 300 investors of Partnership Investment Plc whose stocks totaling N4.8 billion were involved in a ‘shady’ deal with the crises of confidence rocking Oando Plc and allegations of fraud against the Director-General (DG) of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mournir Gwarzo.

Investors on rampage over non-payment of dividends… SOURCE: Google

Companies, which had undertaken private placement during the stock market boom period, had tied down funds without listing the shares on the exchange to generate returns as, stated in the prospectuses.

The situation thus created much liquidity problem for the equities segment and further depressed the market, as these retail investors did not have the purchasing power to patronise the market after the global financial crises.

Consequently, whopping N700 billion investors’ funds were discovered to have been trapped in private placements by firms. The affected investor, therefore, urged industry regulators to wade into the perceived scam.

Trapped funds in Nigeria’s capital market, especially when it happens in less than transparent manner is considered a failure of regulation.

Part of this contributed to the market crash 10 years ago. Continued scam in Nigeria’s ailing capital market could also have eroded confidence and deprived the NSE of the much-needed recovery.

Checks by The Guardian revealed that many of the firms were successful in their bids and sourced over N700 billion, but a large portion of the money was diverted into other investment outlets outside the objectives declared in the prospectuses.

The shareholders, who spoke through a telephone interviews with The Guardian said the situation had created much liquidity problem for the equities segment and further depressed the market, as these retail investors do not have the purchasing power to patronise the market.

Retail investors, still grappling with the loss of investment, occasioned by the global financial crises were faced with the dilemma arising from the sale of the three nationalised banks: Keystone Bank Limited; Mainstreet Bank; and Enterprise Bank.

The shareholders of the banks have found themselves in dilemma as they lost their investments estimated at N83 billion. Investigation had shown that one of the reasons why retail investors had shown apathy to the Nigerian stock market since the meltdown in 2009 was because of the issue of nationalised banks.

Another issue that eroded confidence in the nation’s stock market was the case of the N10 billion scandal, relating to diversion and misappropriation of funds by Partnership Securities Limited (PSL), and its sister companies – Partnership Investment Company Plc; Life Care Partners Limited; and SBDC Microfinance Bank Limited where over 300 investors of Partnership Investment Plc whose stocks total N4.8 billion are involved in a ‘shady’ deal.

According to investors, the SEC’s inability to upgrade its operational guidelines by using modern Information Technology (IT) facilities to monitor day-to-day market operations, especially the trading platform would continue to undermine efforts to restore confidence in the market.

These investors who used partnership Securities Limited as their broker said they were persuaded by the company to deposit their portfolio with the Partnership Securities Deposit Account (PSDA) for trading activities.

A shareholder with investment portfolio worth N36 million said that when it was obvious that the company was no longer following the terms of agreement, he wrote a letter to the company, demanding a termination of his investment.

According to him, he requested that the shares should be returned to the Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) to enable him to claim the shares but the request was not granted.

Few months after the incident, crises erupted in Oando Plc where aggrieved shareholders of the company, apparently worried about the future of the oil company, in view of the unresolved corporate governance issues relating to the group’s financials stormed the venue of the Group’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Calabar, Cross River State.

In a letter read out by the leader of the shareholders, Clement Ebitimi, had accused the Oando management of mismanagement, following allegations of infractions filed against it by Ansbury Inc., and Alhaji Dahiru Mangal on Wednesday, October 18, 2017.

Subsequently, the NSE, with a directive from the SEC, announced the suspension of trading in the shares of Oando Plc from October 20, followed with a forensic audit of the company to the tune of N160 million.

Afterwards, Oando filed a court order restraining the suspension of its shares on the exchange, accusing SEC of bias in the management of the crises noting that the penalties for the alleged infraction far outweighed the offence.

Shortly after the event followed another saga in the nation’s capital market, involving N104 million-severance package fraud against the DG of the SEC, Mounir Gwarzo.

With the barrages of crises rocking the nation’s capital market, investors who spoke with The Guardian maintained that poor regulatory roles, coupled with sleaze and mismanagement in the affairs of listed firms’ and government neglect of the capital market have caused Nigerian investors intense hardship.

The local investors who are basically retail investors are shying away from the market due to various crises and policies that has subjected them to hardship in time past.

They urged federal government to tackle challenges of confidence and trust in the nation’s capital market in recent times.

President Buhari’s inauguration and subsequent political risks
After the inauguration of President Buhari in 2015, stock market investors heaved a sigh of relief. Hopes of increased market liquidity and investors’ confidence were rekindled.

Unfortunately, expectations that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration would spur activities in the market and restore the exchange to a path of sustainable growth were dashed, as the nation’s capital market contributed very little to the economic development of the country in recent times.

The initial enthusiasm that immediately greeted his victory in 2015 has since faded because investors were unable to identify any value addition to the capital market by his government.

The situation was exacerbated by political intrigues ahead of the 2019 general elections, causing stock market investors to lose virtually all their investment.

contrary to general expectations of positive earnings in 2018, as the once-troubled economy emerged from a recession at the end of 2017.

Analysts, operators and investors linked the decline to ‘extraneous factors’ and ‘profit taking’, because the subsisting market’s fundamentals and upbeat economic data failed to support a much-expected healthy stock price recovery.”

This gives credence to the fact that investors are concerned about the political risk associated with general elections, which is linked to the decision by investors and traders (mostly foreign) to sit on the fence.

For instance, after posting a 26 per cent loss in 2016, the Nigerian equities market gathered momentum in 2017 with an increase of N4.5tr in market capitalisation.

This was from N9,158 trillion at which it opened the year on January 3, 2017 to N13.519 trillion as at December 28, 2017. The All-Share Index (NSE ASI) rose by 43 per cent in 2018n financial year from 26, 616.89 to 37,990.74.

The rally extended to the current financial year, as market capitalisation of listed equities stood at N13,617 trillion as at January 2, 2018 and rose by N2,074 trillion or 13.2 per cent to N15,691 trillion as at Friday, January 26, 2018.

Also, the ASI, which opened the year 2018 at 38,264.79 rose by 5,508 points or 12.6 per cent to close at 43,773.76. Surprisingly, after the January and mid-February 2018 rally, the market recorded unprecedented reversal in performance contrary to analysts’ predictions.

The capitalisation, which stood at N15,549 trillion as at Wednesday, February 28, 2018, depreciated to N14,820 trillion as at Thursday, May 10, 2018, representing N729 billion or 4.9 per cent loss.

Also, the ASI declined by 2,415.6 points or 5.9 per cent to 40,914.94 from 43,330.54, achieved as at February 28, 2018.

The analysts blamed the flattish look of the market on the tension that has plagued the political space in recent times. They said killings by Fulani herdsmen and cases of political thuggery aggravated apathy in investment, especially on the part of the foreign investors.

Stock prices record free fall across every segment
There has been an astronomical fall in the share price of listed firms across sectors on the NSE in the past five years, owing to illiquidity and low investors’ confidence triggered by the current weak macro-economic situation of the nation. Shares of listed equities in all segment of the market have continued to tumble in the last five years of President Buhari’s administration.

For instance, the logistics industry, like any of its peers is currently faced with various challenges ranging from high interest rates and high fuel cost and stringent government regulations.

Indeed, poor transportation infrastructure is considered to be the most significant challenge facing logistics provider, which must be addressed if further business opportunities would be unlocked in the industry.

The above factors had been listed as the major ills militating against the growth of the industry, just as the sector had witnessed sustained sliding profile in the last few years.

Specifically, Associated Bus Company Plc, also known as ABC Transport Plc, a Nigerian transportation company has continued to diversify its operations over the years, expanding into such areas as cargo services, haulage services, importation/sale of vehicle spare parts, assembling of heavy-duty trucks, and installation of vehicle speed devices.

But the company is currently hit by harsh operating environment, which has adversely affected its financial performance and stock prices on the Nigerian NSE.

A look at the five-year financial reports (2013-2017) for ABC Transport (the company) shows that revenue began to decline in 2016. Note that this is around the same time GIGM Motors had just unveiled its rebranded and refocused business model.

The company’s (group) revenue for full year 2017 stood at N7.1 billion, against N6.7 billion recorded for it in 2016. Profit after tax for the group in 2017 was N513 million, compared to N599 million in 2016.

For its Q1 2018 result released earlier this year, reported revenue stood at N1.4 billion, compared to N1.7 billion reported for the same period in 2017. In the same vein, profit after tax was N65 million compared to N192 million reported for Q1 2017.

Similarly, the effects of challenging operating environment has continued to assail the operations of the nation’s conglomerates sector, just as the bottom-line of the industry’s quoted companies in the last few years had remained subdued, occasioned by assessed policy issues.

[FILES] Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE)Worsened by parlous infrastructure, which has inevitably transferred the high production cost to consumers, the companies are now less competitive, with shrank profit margins, as naira depreciation takes its toll on imported raw materials.

Indeed, increase in Nigeria’s exchange rate has forced most conglomerates and manufacturing sector to borrow at a high rate, compelling them to raise cost of production.

Most hit within the period were the share prices of these companies on the trading floor of the NSE, which have remained stagnated at the nominal value year to date, following negative sentiments that have enveloped the demand for the stocks.

For instance, from a nominal share price value of 59 kobo in September 2017, to 26 kobo as at close of trading on Thursday, September 19,2019, large Nigeria-based conglomerate, A.G. Leventis (Nigeria) Plc has continued to battle with lower sales and declining bottom line, posting a loss position in 2016, closed 2017 in the same trend and continued the 2018 unimpressively, finishing both first and half quarters of the year with a loss after tax.

Stakeholders blame market woes on govt. policies, proffer solutions

Analysts, operators and investors who spoke with The Guardian on the issue said the nation’s stock market is still very far from attaining the heights it got to before the global financial crises in 2008.

Specifically, a Professor of Corporate Law and Governance at the Department of Business Law, College of Law, Igbinedion University, Okada, Prof. Nat Ofo maintained that virtually all the initiatives introduced by the team of competent professionals manning the NSE at the moment have not yielded the desired results.

“This is not surprising as the nation’s stock market is generally a reflection of the economy. It goes without saying that the Nigerian economy is in shambles, barely climbing out of an unfortunate recession.

“In spite of massive budgetary figures, the hardship in the land does not seem to be abating anytime soon.

He added: “Deliberate policy decisions must be made to revive the Nigerian capital market. Without such policy, it does seem the gloom would be around much more than is tolerable.”

The Chief Research Officer of Investdata Consulting Limited, Ambrose Omodion said the nation’s stock market has failed to recover since after the global financial crises due to government abysmal neglect of the market, in addition to the nation’s to poor economic environment.

He regretted that the capital market, which is supposed to be the parameter and engine growth of the economy has been neglected and given little attention by the government.

He argued that the economy reflects the capital market and vice-versa, because Nigerian economy is the outcome of commercial activities in the country, even as the market remains a critical hub for commercial deals and parties to such transactions.

“Yes, the Nigerian stock market after the global financial meltdown has failed many attempts to recover due to policy summersault and poor leadership.

“It is true that regulation and transparency had improved after global financial crisis but low liquidity and low market depth have impacted negatively on the market.

“This is because the number of active listed companies had remained low. While fewer new companies are listed, the old ones are delisting for one reason or the other.

“More so, shallow knowledge of the rudiments of stock market have led to low patronage and over dependence on foreign investors in the nation’s stock market.

He continued: “Due to lack of investment education and government failure to woo retail investors back to the market through appropriate incentives and favorable policies, the market has been dominated by foreign portfolio investors since after the meltdown.

“But if the needful is done by the regulators and government through initiating appropriate policies that would support the capital market, it would surpass the previous peak, drive job creation and spur national growth,” he added.

The National Cordinator of Progressive Shareholders Association, Boniface Okezie said the Nigeria stock market has not fared well since after the global financial crises of 2008.

According to him, while other global markets like the London Stock Exchange (LSE), NYSE and even the JSE have wriggled out of that crisis, the NSE is still wobbling under low patronage and illiquidity.

He identified low patronage, unfavorable operating environment, lack of incentives, fewer product offerings and inconsistent government policies as factors inhibiting the growth of the nation’s capital market and consequent contributions to the economy.

He said: “The NSE has not recorded this level of unprecedented lull witnessed currently in the market. For the past 10 years, investors have been losing their investment in the market.

“I have not seen it so bad like this since I entered into the stock markets as an investor. With this level of governments neglect on the market, I do not see the market rebounding soon to contribute meaningfully to the economy.

“ The needed rebound we are yearning for can only be achieved unless government decides to replicate the reforms achieved in other sectors of the economy like the telecoms and aviation in the market.”

“ Again, the industry as a whole has failed to live up to expectations in their over sight regulatory functions.

We can only hope and pray that government will do the needful by addressing issues confronting the economy so the market can improve.”

Osinbajo: The fight-back begins!

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By Leo Sobechi, Seye Olumide, Joseph Onyekwere (Lagos) and Terhemba Daka (Abuja)26 September 2019   |   4:40 amAlleged N54.3m fraud: EFCC re-arraigns NEMA director on amended charge3 hours agoAlmost 600 Burundian refugees return home from Tanzania1 hour agoFour police killed in Paris stabbing, attacker shot dead1 hour ago

[FILES] Osinbajo• I will waive immunity to clear my name, says VP
• Vows to prosecute Frank, Ononuju for peddling ‘falsehood’
• Media house retracts story on alleged corruption
• Lawyers differ over renunciation of legal protection

The ongoing controversy surrounding the office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo over an alleged strained relationship between him and his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari, took a new dimension yesterday when the former in a statement declared his readiness to waive his constitutional immunity to “enable the most robust adjudication” of several baseless allegations, insinuation, and falsehoods against his person and office.
Last week, Buhari set up an Economic Advisory Council (EAC) which, according to a statement from by his media aide, was to replace the Economic Management Team (EMT) headed by Professor Osinbajo with directives that members of the newly created body would report directly to the president.
The decision, which was given several interpretations, suggested that Buhari in collaboration with the ‘cabal’ might have made up their mind to frustrate the vice president or force him to resign.

Osinbajo has also recently been accused of mismanaging N90 billion, being funds allegedly provided by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for the prosecution of the general elections.

But Osinbajo, in a tweet personally authored yesterday and made available to the media by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, said: “In the past few days, a spate of reckless and malicious falsehoods have been peddled in the media against me by a group of malicious individuals.

“The defamatory and misleading assertions invented by this clique had mostly been making the social media rounds anonymously.

“I have today instructed the commencement of legal action against two individuals, one Timi Frank, and another Katch Ononuju, who have put their names to these odious falsehoods.

“I will waive my constitutional immunity to enable the most robust adjudication of these claims of libel and malicious falsehood.”

However, Osinbajo’s plan to waive his immunity is generating reactions, with some Nigerians asking if he has the constitutional right to do so.

Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, described the resolution as a serious and intricate question because it is a constitutional matter.

He said the vice president does not have the capacity as an individual to waive his immunity. “However, this shows Nigerians that Osinbajo is clean from all the allegations against him. He has no skeleton in his cupboard. I can personally swear on his behalf that he will not tamper with the public fund but will rather use his personal money for the good of Nigeria if the need arises.”

In another reaction, a former Minister of Information, Prince Tony Momoh, who is also a lawyer, said the vice president has no constitutional right to waive his immunity as far as Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution is concerned.

According to Momoh, “Osinbajo has no right to waive his immunity except he resigns from office or if he is impeached. My advise to him is to allow those who made the allegation to go and prove their case in the court. As a public officer and politician, he should develop a thick skin to accommodate all forms of criticism. I don’t think he can waive his immunity without resigning from the office. But as long as he is doing well, we will encourage him to continue offering his good service to the country.”

A professor of History and Strategic Studies, Ayodeji Olukoju, told The Guardian that even though the constitution does not allow the vice president to waive his immunity, “if the man feels strongly to defend his integrity, he should be given the opportunity. This shows the premium he places on his integrity, which to me he values even more than the office he is currently occupying. This is an indication of his readiness to sacrifice his position to clear his name, which is very rare in Nigeria or among our public officers.”

Olukoju also commended the vice president’s courage, saying that he has raised the bar in terms of governance and integrity. He added that if the decision to waive his immunity is unconstitutional, Nigeria should make it a convention henceforth that if allegations are weighty, public officers should waive their immunity if they wish to clear their name and integrity.

According to the don, “What the vice president has done will introduce a new dimension of discipline in Nigerian politics and democracy.”

But sharing a different opinion, factional chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State, Mr. Fouad Oki, said it is within the ambit of Osinbajo to waive his immunity if he feels strongly that his name and integrity are at stake.

In a telephone conversation with The Guardian yesterday, Oki said: “Since Osinbajo is a beneficiary of the immunity clause, he also has the right to waive it to prove his integrity. This has shown that he is a honourable man who is above board. It shows a lot of guts and courage on his part. I hope other politicians and public officers like him will follow his example. We support his decision, not because he is Yemi Osinbajo but because his action represents the Nigeria of our dream.”

Osinbajo’s travails might not be unconnected with the struggle for power among southwest political gladiators ahead of the 2023 elections. The rising profile of the vice president and his acceptability in the north in recent times is said to be creating confusion in some camps that have vowed to bring him down.

Nothing exposes the fact that Osinbajo is not a politician than the recent decision to announce his resolve or preparedness to waive the constitutional immunity conferred on his office in a bid to regain his credibility in the face of allegations of purloining campaign funds.

As a lawyer and pastor, Osinbajo seems not to have come to terms with the knife fights in Nigerian politics. As such, by joining issues with those who flew the kite about his current travails with the famed presidency cabal on the claim of unaccounted campaign fund deployment, he fell into an ambush.

Despite the alleged imbalance in the use of the campaign fund believed to be from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the vice president should have known better that as sociologists say, scandal improves by refutation.

But jumping the gun to extricate himself from the messy tales, the law professor will be surprised by other details that have been making the rounds in hushed tones.

Now having been boxed into a corner, the vice president will begin to confront his travails all alone because Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who should have taken up the fight, allegedly has some misgivings about him too, The Guardian has learned.

It is alleged that Osinbajo, at the height of his efforts to distance his political progression from Tinubu, claimed at one point, “somebody somewhere nominated me as running mate to Buhari.”

Apart from that, sources said it was allegedly the vice president’s covert plot to use the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) as a possible platform for his 2023 presidential ambition that threw some ice on his relationship with the former Lagos State governor. 

While the vice president was said to have worked in cahoots with the very cabal that is currently going for his jugular to ensure that ANN was put beyond Mr. Gbenga Olawepo, Tinubu was informed about that scheme.

Moreover, the fact that the sum of N500 million was allegedly moved into ANN’s account from the presidency to engineer the quiet takeover of the party, seemed to have convinced Tinubu that the vice president was not being frank to him.

In his home state of Ogun, at the peak of the supremacy battle between former governors Ibikunle Amosun and Segun Osoba, Osinbajo was said to have adopted the ostrich style by refusing to back Osoba or Amosun. 

But while he was adopting the non-aligned posture in the southwest caucus of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Osinbajo was made to walk a tight rope in the presidency.

Sitting at the head of the committee that investigated former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal, the vice president refused to use “the eyes of an elder” to view the case against Buhari’s Adamawa-born ally.

Although the indictment of former Director-General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayo Oke, was meant to uphold Osinbajo’s impartiality, at the end of the day, the cabal reportedly held the fall of Babachir against him.

Again, the duo of Chief of Staff Abba Kyari and Babagana Monguno were said not to be impressed with the way Osinbajo capitulated to the intrigues in the Adamawa chapter of APC, which led to the fall of Babachir.

Yet, the insistence of the vice president on retaining Ibrahim Magu as the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was said to have convinced Buhari’s inner men that Osinbajo wants to measure strength with them.

To make matters worse, the speed with which the vice president pushed through the sack of a former past Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura, was said to have compelled the cabal to move against ‘the pastor’.

Relieved of his position in the DSS, Daura was said to have invested his time digging into various departments and agencies under the vice president, especially all dealings that had to do with money.

Having come to the conclusion that Osinbajo’s continued stay in office could jeopardise their plans to execute a mutually beneficial succession plan in 2023, the cabal allegedly decided to unleash their well-orchestrated plan of diminishing his clout and possibly engineering his resignation from office.

It all started with a seemingly innocuous internal memo to the Executive Chairman of FIRS, Babatunde Fowler, seeking clarifications over a shortfall in internally- generated revenue.

Then came the howler from Comrade Timi Frank, which claimed that the unfolding travails of the vice president were traceable to the sum of N90 billion from FIRS, which Osinbajo could allegedly not account for.

Meanwhile, The Vanguard yesterday issued an apology on its FIRS story. It said: “On our website publication of  Monday, September 23, 2019, we published a story titled “N 90 Bn FIRS Election Fund: Osinbajo’s problem, not 2023 politics.” We have since discovered that the story lacks factual substance and we hereby retract it in its entirety. We tender our profound apology to Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on whom the story touches directly, the All Progressives Congress, and the FIRS for any inconvenience or embarrassment the publication has occasioned them. We hold Prof. Osinbajo in the highest esteem.”

In other reactions by legal minds on Osinbajo’s willingness to waive his immunity, Lagos-based attorney, Nwachukwu Odoemela, said: “I wonder how the vice president can achieve this tall height. Would I say that he wants to surrender himself in the face of the constitution or is the vice president calling for an amendment to Section 308 of the constitution? He cannot waive the immunity granted to the executive as mentioned by Section 308 unless there is an amendment to the Section. His best bet is to tender his resignation from office and surrender himself to law enforcement agents.”

Lagos-based lawyer, Ikemesit Effiong, said: “The simple answer is no. It will take a very creative interpretation of the constitution for him to ascribe and waive immunity.”

Owerri-based lawyer, Ike Augustine, noted: “It is pertinent to distinguish between private rights and rights of interest to the public. As a person can waive a right conferred upon him by a statute, so also he can waive his constitutional right. The court thus recognises the difference between purely private rights and rights, which though conferring benefits on litigants, are also of interest to the public.”

The managing partner, The Law House, Lagos, Theophilus Orumor, said: “Immunity does not stop the investigation. It only stops the prosecution. He cannot waive his immunity. There is no constitutional provision for this under the CFRN 1999. If he is so serious and insistent, then he can resign his position and be subjected to prosecution.”

Abuja-based legal practitioner, Dr. Agada Elachi, said: “There are no precedents for such waiver.”

Olumide Braithwaite, a lawyer, and son of former legal activists,’’ Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, noted: “This issue of institutional immunity is long overdue for a challenge. The office of the vice president also serves up a tasty discourse, as it is constitutionally the second office to the president of the federation.”

Lagos-based human rights activist, Inibehe Effiong, said: “Based on the extant constitutional regime, the vice president cannot waive his immunity. The Supreme Court decided in 2001 in the case of Tinubu v. I. M. B. Securities Plc that the constitutional immunity under Section 308 of the Constitution cannot be waived by the persons to whom the provision is meant to protect.”

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Some places are special. They might have natural beauty, amazing sporting or educational facilities. They might be full of welcoming and friendly people, have great cafes, or hold regular cultural festivals. 

Rarely does a place have them all. Geelong does. 

You might have heard of Melbourne, the cultural capital of Australia, but have you heard of the State’s second city? Located between Corio Bay and the Barwon River, Geelong is the perfect place to live and study.

So what are the top 5 things that make Geelong so appealing?

1. Small town feel yet close to a major international city

One of things people love about Geelong is the small-town vibe. It has all the benefits of a connected, local lifestyle but with everything you need. You won’t need to leave to see a national-level sporting game, enjoy a festival or shop at a mall. The city’s beloved Geelong Cats – one of the top teams in the Australian rules football league – is based here and they have their own stadium! There are world-class facilities, all the major shopping brands you’d find in Melbourne, great coffee and more. But less traffic!

Australian rules football team the Geelong Cats play their exciting game

Geelong has a welcoming cosmopolitan environment with people from all over the world living and studying in harmony. You will find the diversity of food you would only expect in a capital city. Whether it’s Asian ingredients, an Aussie pub meal or a fancy seafood dinner, you will eat well in Geelong.

For those looking for the occasional jolt of big-city excitement, Melbourne is only a short train trip away and trains run regularly each day.

2. Great location with fresh air and natural beauty

If pristine air, green landscapes and a healthy coastal lifestyle are what you are looking for, Geelong is for you. The city has stunning countryside and outdoor activities on its doorstep, and most famously it is the gateway to the surf coast with the world-famous Bells Beach and the Great Ocean Road. With Eastern Beach just moments from the central business district you can go from lecture to lunch by the water in minutes.

Within the city there are charming colonial era buildings sitting alongside modern apartments. The hills surrounding the city provide sweeping views and great walks. Geelong even has its own airport, not that you will want to leave!

Geelong’s waterfront which is lined with shops and restaurants

3. Affordability

There’s a big plus about Geelong and it’s the price tag. The city has a choice of accommodation, with housing up to 50% cheaper than in Melbourne. It is so much more affordable that many people who work in Melbourne live in Geelong and travel each day. You might want to rent a house with a garden and enjoy it for the cost of an apartment in Melbourne. Your dollar takes you further in Geelong allowing you to enjoy all that food and festivals that the city has to offer.

4. A city of hidden surprises

Geelong is a city in touch with its past as it forges an exciting new future. Once known for heavy manufacturing, Geelong is vibrantly entering a new age. It is Australia’s only UNESCO City of Design. It has a stunning botanic garden, city gallery, library and community centre. There is street art and sculptures. Australia’s leading performing arts companies visit Geelong for performances. And there are festivals galore! From the arts to sport to health and wellness, you will find a festival to enjoy. There is a hidden gem around every corner and something to inspire, delight and enjoy every day.

5. A world-class University

The fifth reason is just one word: Deakin. Deakin University, ranked in the top 1% of universities worldwide (ShanghaiRankings), is a huge part of the city’s vibrancy. It has two Geelong campuses, both containing the very best facilities and learning environments. Both campuses are engaging student hubs that offer interactive study spaces and a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere.

Deakin’s Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus has expansive grounds and impressive new buildings. It is home to cutting-edge engineering and medical facilities, as well as some of the world’s most advanced material science research spaces. The campus also offers incredible sporting facilities, including Deakin’s Elite Sport Precinct, which includes an Australian rules football oval, FIFA-grade soccer pitch, athletics track and basketball courts. 

Students enjoy the expansive grounds at Deakin’s Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus.

Deakin’s Geelong Waterfront Campus is located right on Corio Bay in the heart of Geelong, making for spectacular views from its many study spaces. The campus has a modern industrial feel, mostly due to its history as wool stores in the 19th Century. The unique mix of old and new allows for engaging and creative spaces, and its central location means you can visit Geelong’s central business district between classes.

Deakin’s Geelong Waterfront Campus overlooks the Corio Bay.

Plus, studying in Geelong means you could take advantage of the Australian Government’s new Temporary Graduate visas. These skilled regional provisional visas allow eligible graduates to an additional year of post-study work rights, meaning you could live and work in regional Australia for three years upon graduating. This is an exciting opportunity to apply your skills and knowledge in the Australian workforce and extend your stay in this fabulous city. You can learn more by visiting the Australian Government website.

If you are thinking of studying in Australia there’s a hidden gem you might not have considered. Discover all that Geelong has to offer.





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