Nigeria has increased its crackdown on cryptocurrency platforms in the country, leading to reported disruptions for several users. The Binance platform was specifically targeted in this crackdown following accusations by the Central Bank governor of being used for illegal transactions.

Renowned Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, graced PUNCH Newspaper’s 50th anniversary. Did the efforts by the Nigerian Labour Congress to shut down the country through protests fail to achieve the desired outcome?

President Bola Tinubu dusted off the Oronsaye report and called for immediate implementation. Here are highlights from the week’s biggest news stories, from February 25 to March 2, 2023.

Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, criticised previous national conferences in Nigeria, describing them as deceitful attempts to pacify citizens rather than genuine solutions for national challenges.

Speaking at a public lecture to celebrate PUNCH Nigeria Limited’s 50th anniversary, Soyinka urged leaders to prioritise decentralisation for effective national development, stating that it is essential for maximising productivity and self-sufficiency.

“When the word restructuring is booted around, we often have the challenge, what do you mean by restructuring?

“Well, I don’t even like the word restructuring, I prefer the expressions like reconfiguration, decentralisation. And those who lead us they recognise the necessity of it; they recognise the importance and almost the inevitability of decentralisation until they get in power,” he said

Soyinka emphasised decentralisation’s importance in enhancing food production and addressing hunger.

“Palliatives remain crude, short-term, stop-gap measures only.

“As a veteran of food security working conferences from Uganda to India, from Paris to Sochi, I insist that for a nation to be food self-sufficient, and sustainably, decentralisation is the key, not collectivisation,” he said.

He stated that decentralisation is not just a slogan but a necessary step towards addressing the nation’s incomplete mission of nation-building.

The Nigeria Labour Congress and affiliated unions initiated a national protest on Tuesday, addressing concerns about the high cost of living, inflation, insecurity, and general hardship in the country.

Protesters, led by NLC President, Joe Ajaero, marched to the National Assembly and presented a letter of demands to President Bola Tinubu through the lawmakers.

However, following the first day of protests, the NLC announced the suspension of the nationwide demonstration slated for Wednesday.

In a communiqué issued after the National Executive Council meeting, the NLC expressed confidence that the government had received their message effectively.

Despite the decision to suspend the protest, Ajaero revealed at a subsequent press briefing on Wednesday that the congress faced intimidation and threats, compelling them to halt the demonstration.

He said, “We were threatened with all manners of consequences that would be meted on us if we went ahead.

“We were, however, not perturbed, as lifting the heavy yoke of suffering upon Nigerian workers and masses left us with no option than to press on,” Ajaero revealed.

Ajaero highlighted the NLC’s commitment to alleviating the hardships faced by Nigerian workers and the general public, despite the obstacles.

Additionally, he disclosed he has evidence of the “importation of agents” mobilised to disrupt the peaceful demonstration through violence during Tuesday’s protest

The Federal Government is intensifying its scrutiny of Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange company, amid concerns about its impact on Nigeria’s economy.

According to reports, the government is considering demanding over $10bn from Binance as a penalty for its alleged involvement in illegal transactions in the country.

Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, revealed in an interview with the BBC that discussions on compensation and fines are ongoing, highlighting the potentially significant losses Nigeria has suffered while Binance profited.

This move comes amidst efforts to stabilise the value of the naira, as Binance users allegedly manipulated dollar-naira rates, leading to a sharp decline in the currency’s value.

Onanuga also stated that Binance is not registered in Nigeria and has no physical presence in the country.

The Office of the National Security Adviser confirmed that Nigerian authorities are investigating Binance’s operations.

This development follows reports of Binance executives being detained by the Nigerian government and the platform’s suspension of naira-denominated transactions.

It also comes after Binance’s settlement of $4.3bn in criminal money laundering charges with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Twelve years after the submission of the Stephen Oronsaye Report, the Federal Government announced on Monday its approval of the implementation of some of its recommendations aimed at reducing the cost of governance.

Consequently, 29 government agencies will be merged, while eight parastatals will be integrated into eight other agencies.

Additionally, four agencies are set to be relocated to various ministries, and one agency is slated for scrapping.

As per the announcement made by Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, it comes in response to the 2012 Oronsaye report, which pointed out the increase in government parastatals and suggested major restructuring.

The report suggested reducing the number of statutory agencies from 263 to 161, scrapping 38 agencies, merging 52, and reverting 14 to departments within ministries.

It also proposed repealing the law, establishing the National Salaries and Wages Commission and merging Nigeria’s top three anti-corruption agencies.

The decision to implement the Oronsaye report was part of President Bola Tinubu’s agenda for governance reform.

Agencies slated for merger include the National Agency for Control of HIV/AIDS, the National Emergency Management Agency, and the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa.

Certain agencies such as the Federal Radio Corporation and the National Commission for Museum and Monuments are set to be merged or subsumed into other entities.

Some agencies, like SERVICOM and the Border Communities Development Agency, will become departments within other agencies.

The restructuring effort aims to enhance government efficiency, reduce duplication of functions, and free up resources for developmental projects. To facilitate the restructuring and ensure legislative amendments, President Tinubu constituted a committee with a 12-week mandate to oversee the process.

Portuguese coach José Peseiro has said goodbye to the Super Eagles following the conclusion of his contract. He expressed his pride in his time with the team, highlighting their second-place finish at the 2023 African Cup of Nations.

Amidst the uncertainty surrounding his future, negotiations for a contract extension were in progress. Peseiro has mentioned receiving attention from other national teams.

There was a lot of talk about who might take over, with Emmanuel Amunike and George Finidi being considered.

Some people have suggested hiring a local coach, but technical director, Austine Eguavoen, backed the idea of extending Peseiro’s contract for stability.

As conversations progress, Nigerians are eagerly anticipating clarification before the upcoming 2026 World Cup qualifiers in June.

Peserio was appointed head coach of the Super Eagles in 2022 and he helped the national team finish second at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

Another Nigerian coach had an interesting experience this week in the form of voodoo. When the Super Falcons beat the Indomitable Lioness of Cameroon 1-0 at Moshood Abiola Stadium in Abuja to advance to the final stage of the 2024 Olympic Games, discussions about voodoo and juju in football circles came up.

Esther Okoronkwo’s goal propelled Nigeria to the final stage of the qualifiers. However, in the closing minutes of the game, Cameroon sent Annie Enganemben on as they were about to launch a free kick into the Nigerian box, with claims that the player was sent on to touch the net in a bid to give Cameroon a saving grace as they were running out of options, and had to resort to diabolical means.

In an already viral video, the substitute, alongside another striker, were seen trying to run towards the Nigerian goal in an attempt to touch the net, but Asisat Oshoala and other Super Falcons players took it upon themselves to prevent that from happening.

The drama led to the player being sent off after she hit Nnadozie in the process.

However, Super Falcons manager, Randy Waldrum, dismissed the notion, stating his disbelief in voodoo. Player Deborah Abiodun emphasised the team’s focus and faith amidst distractions, highlighting their belief in God.

“We kind of saw it as a point of distraction but we remained focused regardless of whatever they believe in, we believe in God and in Him we stand. So we don’t care about the voodoo,” Abiodun stated.

With the Super Falcons striving to qualify for the Olympics after their last appearance in 2008, there is optimism under Waldrum’s leadership to end this drought and clinch a spot in the Olympics.

On March 1, 2024, the entertainment world was plunged into mourning as news broke of the untimely passing of popular actor, Quadri Oyebamiji, fondly known as Sisi Quadri, at the age of 44.

Reports indicated that the actor had been battling persistent hiccups, attributed to a kidney-related ailment, while in his hometown of Iwo, Osun State.

Mourners, filled with sorrow, gathered at the residence of Quadri’s father, Alhaji Jimoh Oyebamiji, in Iwo, to lament his passing.

Quadri passed away slightly more than a year after his mother’s death in February 2023. He leaves behind a legacy of remarkable performances known for his distinctive fast-paced dialogue delivery and witty insults.

The news of his passing elicited an outpouring of grief from colleagues and fans alike, with fellow actors such as Abiola Adebayo, Bolaji Amusan (Mr Latin), Saidi Balogun, and Odunlade Adekola expressing their condolences on social media.

Quadri’s death was a major blow to the Nigerian entertainment industry, creating a void that will be that will be difficult to fill.