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Buhari’s first term below average, non-inclusive – Ezeife, Amaechi, others

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Buhari’s first term below average, non-inclusive – Ezeife, Amaechi, others

Sequel to the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term in office, some prominent Nigerians, comprising groups and individuals, have lamented the last four years of the administration, citing killings, kidnappings and other lapses among the vices that scored the regime low. Among those who aired their views on the administration are some of the leaders of the South-East geo-political zone, who rated as below average, while lamenting that the zone was not well included in the scheme of things. In their assessment of the first term of President Buhari administration, First Republic Minister for Aviation, Chief Mbazurike Amaechi and former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, said South-East didn’t gain much from the incumbent government. Ezeife said the four years of Buhari’s first term in office was flawed by the imbalance in political appointments as well as capital projects. His words: “It is a known fact that the last four years recorded below average on the part of the South-East geo-political zone. When you look at the appointments of ministers and other political positions, you will discover that we did not gain much. “How can you appoint a professor and former Vice Chancellor of a university, a minister of State for Education while the senior minister knows nothing about education? When you look at the appointment of Service Chiefs in the military, how many of them are from the South East? Even when an Igbo person was to become the Inspector General of Police, they dropped him and appointed another person.” He however noted that there are federal projects in the area, which he said, only took off towards the electioneering campaign, while advising that the projects should not be abandoned midway because the elections are over. In the same vein, Amaechi lamented that the wounds of the Nigerian Civil War had refused to heal following what he called the politics of noninclusion during the first four years of Buhari administration. “The way and manner our people are being integrated in the Nigerian project leaves much to be desired and it goes to remind us of the Civil War that ended about 50 years ago. “The policy of Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction put in place by the then regime of General Yakubu Gowon has not changed anything because successive administrations in the country have continued to subjugate us at every time. “We urge the President to get us more involved in the governance of Nigeria because it is only the Igbo that are the real Nigerians. We are everywhere in Nigeria and we go to any part of the country and develop the area and help the economy of the area to grow,” he said. Amaechi however expressed happiness with the pace of the construction of the Second Niger Bridge and other federal roads in the South-East.

Buhari performed below expectations -lawyers

Some legal experts also added their voice to the issue, saying that the first term was far below expectations compared to the president’s manifestos while campaigning for vote in 2015. They further expressed concerns that Buhari’s first term in office showed flagrant disregard to the rule of law, which uniquely damaged his government’s fight against corruption and the country. The lawyers who spoke with Saturday Telegraph premised their submissions on various unfolded events in the last four years of the Buhari administration.

Ahamba

In his comments, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN), scored the president low on his performance on all the three. He said: “My assessment is one of disappointment. I had expected the president to do better. I am disappointed as to how the issue of security is being handled as well as his partisan approach to the issue of corruption. Security is an 80 percent failure. I had expected that he would not allow anything partisan to happen during his tenure. But the reverse is the case. “My opinion of him was that he is a good Muslim. In fact, in one of my interviews, I said if Buhari is a Christian, he would have been in the category of those who called themselves born-again Christians. At that point time, my opinion was based on his actions which was that he didn’t care where you worships but he was only concerned about what where you worships made out of you. But, what I am seeing is totally different from what I believed. “For instance, on the fight against corruption, I refuse to believe that it is only governors and officials who served under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that are corrupt in this country. Even those who left PDP and crossed to APC suddenly became absolved of corruption. I don’t think this is right. It cannot be true that only PDP members are corrupt in this country. Corruption fight is one sided. It is a 50 percent failure. “On the issue of economy, there were too many Nigerians in tears and suffering. This shows that the economy is not people-oriented and I can never be in support of such economy”.

Sowemimo

Another silk, Mr. Seyi Sowemimo, while also expressing his displeasure on the growing insecurity in the country, however thumbed up the president on his fight against corruption. “My initial view just a few months after President Buhari assumed office was that we seemed to be winning the war against Boko Haram and that things were improving. “But, in recent months, the situation has deteriorated, even to the level of kidnapping and killer herdsmen attacking people here and there. So, I am now of the view that in terms of security, the president cannot get a pass mark. More still needs to be done. “On the fight against corruption, the president has scored some victory. But there’s more also that needs to be done. On the economy, there is still nothing yet to show that we have moved away from where we are some years back. So, in his second term, the president should do much more to show that he can cope with the realities on ground”, the silk said.

Chukwuebuka

In his own reaction, an Abuja based lawyer and rights activist, who is also the Convener, Rule of Law Crusader, James Chukwuebuka rated the first term very low in terms of rule of law His words: “The first term of this government is nothing to write home about as it affects rule of law. This went a long way to affect the decisions of our courts which were not fully obeyed. There was no focus, no improvement and no reinforcement of the anti-corruption agenda. “It reminds us of the military regime where some people are more equal than others. His non recognition of the rule of law have been particularly notable in three areas: failure to obey decisions of Nigerian courts, failure to push for transparency in asset declarations by high-ranking public officials and failure to push for unexplained wealth orders against former presidents and former governors and other senior public officials suspected of living on proceeds of corruption and ‘dirty money’. “There was no respect for human rights and the rule of law. Treating the decisions of Nigerian courts as not binding is antithetical to any contemporary notion of the rule of law and democracy, and clearly counter-productive to the fight against corruption.” Onasipe Another lawyer, Chief Adeolu Onasipe, observed that the first term of Buhari in office was full of sentiments and concentrating on one particular region for appointments and development. He noted that it cannot be said that the government is inclusive, considering tribes and religions. “Without the struggle for the realisation of June 12, Nigeria would not have a day like May 29, set aside for handing over of power from one leader to another. The ideals of June 12 are to ensure that the true of the practice of democracy, which includes credibility of the electoral process and rule of law exist in the country. “The ideals of June 12 are not about handover notes or salutations of soldiers during march pass parades or inter-denominational church services but about the universal adult suffrage, the credibility of our electoral processes, the integrity of our institutions, the rule of law and above all, the sanctity of the collective will of Nigerians,” he said. He further noted that there is no a smooth and working relationship among the three tiers of government in the country in the last four years. “All appointments were concentrated in one place. That is not good enough. It did not show this government as a one that respects the oneness and indivisibility of the country. This government has further created more gaps among the different tribes of the country. “The economy must be revamped urgently to stimulate growth and tackle the massive unemployment in the country. The right economic environment including infrastructure must be put in place. Insecurity must, therefore, be dealt with urgently having reduced the unemployment level in the country. “An inclusive government that eliminates the perception of nepotism and clannish practices must be seen to be operational. The fight against corruption as an existential challenge must be intensified but clearly within the parameters of extant laws,” he suggested.

Okpe

Also reacting, Wisdom Okpe noted that Nigerians expected that Bubari would tackle the growing insecurity, fight corruption and grow the economy. According to him, “Boko Haram terrorists launched daring attacks across the North, particularly in the North East, and then President, Goodluck Jonathan, appeared to be unable to bring the bloodshed to an end. “Buhari, as former military general, was to do much better and possibly bring an end to Boko Haram. He indeed promised to do so in the first few months of his administration. “On this call, the president performed below expectation in this regard. The terror group’s attacks have continued, and now largely confined in the North-East. But at the same time, other frontiers of insecurity have opened and escalated in the form of Fulani herdsmen and banditry, rolling back whatever progress achieved in tackling Boko Haram. “The Buhari government has, to a large extent, explained away these failures by blaming past governments. The default line of defence for the government’s failures is that the PDP government damaged the country, almost beyond repair, and that it would be unfair to expect it to correct in three or four years, PDP’s 16 years of misrule. “The APC’s excuse is of course, untenable. The administration’s failures is mostly self-inflicted, and as a consequence of structural inefficiencies. But all the same, the excuse of past governments being responsible is largely swallowed by the supporters of the president.”

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Fuel tanker on fire along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway

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A petrol tanker is currently on fire along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway just before the Redeemed Christian Church of God campground, according to commuters.

Details shortly…

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New minimum wage: FG, Labour finally reach agreement

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The Federal Government and organised labour, on Thursday finally reached an agreement on the percentage increase on the consequential adjustment in workers’ salaries, as a result of the new minimum wage of N30,000.

The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, disclosed this on his Twitter page late on Thursday.

“After some delicate negotiations (with both ministers as conciliators), the government and labour have finally reached an agreement on the consequential adjustment of other wages following the implementation of the enhanced minimum wage of N30,000. We are working on the communiqué,” he tweeted.

The President of the Trade Union Congress, Quadri Olaleye and the Secretary General, Musa-Lawal Ozigi, confirmed the peace pact in a statement.

It read: “We commend the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, and her team for their sincerity.

“Though, they argued that the government could not afford to meet our earlier demand of N30,000 minimum wage across board because of the economic situation in the country, we made them understand that some people could not be more Nigerian than others.

“If we are tightening our belts, government should also do so.”

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Ed Woodward slams United critics, backs Solskjaer

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Ed Woodward slams United critics, backs Solskjaer

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward says claims non-football people take major football decisions at the Old Trafford club are “a myth” and “an insult”.

United are 12th in the Premier League and 15 points behind leaders Liverpool, who they play on Sunday (16:30 BST), reports the BBC.

It has been claimed Woodward has too much influence on Solskjaer’s squad, and Jose Mourinho’s before him.

But Woodward says decisions on players are “not made by senior management”.

Amid United’s current struggles, particular attention has been paid to their failure to sign a striker once it became obvious Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez would be leaving for Inter Milan.

It is understood Juventus front-man Mario Mandzukic was considered but manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided against making a move.

The decision seems to have backfired as United have struggled for goals – scoring just five times in their past seven league games.
Woodward, speaking at the club’s annual all-staff meeting, says some of the allegations that have been made in recent times are wrong.

“There is a myth that we have non-football people making football decisions,” he said. “I think that is insulting to the brilliant people who work on the football side in this club.”

He added: “We’ve expanded our recruitment department in recent years and we believe this now runs in an efficient and productive way.

“Player recommendations and decisions are worked on by this department and by the first-team manager and his staff, not by senior management.”

Woodward backs under-fire Solskjaer
Woodward has come under fire recently, while the club’s owners, the Glazer family, were the subject of supporter discontent during the dismal 1-0 defeat at Newcastle on October 6.

However, it is being stressed funds will be available should potential signings emerge in January, which is seen as a key month by some in making sure a disappointing season doesn’t career out of control.

Club sources are aware the current situation is far below expectations.

This is United’s worst start to a league campaign in 30 years, with three wins from 11 games in all competitions and no more than one goal in any game since the 4-0 victory over Chelsea on the opening day of the campaign.

Yet any mid-season recruitment will be done with a long-term view. Signing older players for the sake of it is being ruled out.

United’s three summer signings – Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James – have all made a positive impact.
“The changes we saw over the summer have resulted in a very young squad,” said Woodward.

“But it’s also a squad, with the players and the culture, that provides a base camp for us to build and grow from as we start our new journey.”

Solskjaer has power of veto over any signing and faced with the prospect of either operating with a slimmed down squad or signing players below the level he wanted this summer, went for the former option.

Senior United figures accepted this even though everyone, from the manager down, knew it brought inherent risk, especially if injuries struck in the way they have.

Now, Solskjaer is under pressure to turn the present situation around.

Well-placed sources are adamant the 46-year-old retains the support of Woodward and the Glazer family.

Woodward said last month the club needed to be patient and it is understood that even a heavy defeat at home to Liverpool on Sunday would not change the situation.

“The middle section of last season, after Ole’s arrival, feels most relevant to what we want to achieve and where we want to be,” said Woodward.

“We saw a team playing fast, fluid football, with a clear representation of the style and philosophy the manager wants.

“Ole has also instilled the discipline back into an environment where we may have lacked it in recent years. He is building a squad that respects the club’s history, in which players work hard and respect their team-mates. No-one is bigger than the club.”

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Buhari, govs, S’East leaders parley on infrastructure

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Buhari, govs, S’East leaders parley on infrastructure

Governors and leaders of the South-East yesterday met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja where they requested for a state of emergency on roads in the area.

The demand by the governors came as President Buhari approved a total of N10 billion as intervention fund for the upgrade of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu State.

Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, who made a presentation on behalf of the leaders during the meeting with President Buhari, decried the deplorable state of infrastructure in the region, especially roads which have negatively impacted the lives of the people.

He said: “We again plead with Mr President to kindly declare a state of emergency on our inter-state roads and issue a directive to this effect.

“The closure of the airport, deplorable state of the inter-state federal roads, plus challenging security situation in our region, have made life so difficult for our people. We are aware that some of the roads were awarded by Mr President, but the contractors complained of very poor funding or no funding at all,” he stressed.

Briefing newsmen at the end of the meeting, Umahi, who is also the Chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum, said the delegation drew the attention of the President to the deplorable state of South-East roads, as well as the plights of the people of the region, which he said had been worsened by the closure of Enugu airport.

Umahi said the situation needed immediate intervention in view of the industrious nature of the people of the South-East whom he said had to move from one place to the other as traders and business people.

However, the governor added that the president noted the complaints of the delegation and promised to act on them.

He also said the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, told the meeting that the hitherto impediment against the take-off of the expansion work in Enugu airport had been addressed and hence, the project would take off without any further delay.

According to Umahi, the necessity to start and complete the Enugu airport project had become compelling because “what Kaduna is to the North is what Enugu is to the South-East,” adding that rail projects in the region would also soon take-off.

“The good takeaway from the meeting is that we are happy because Enugu airport will be alive again. We are happy with the hardworking Aviation Minister,” Umahi said.

Following the complaints of the Igbo leaders, the president approved N10 billion for the take-off of the expansion and rehabilitation work in Akanu Ibiam International Airport with a remark that he had the assurance from Sirika that the project would be expeditiously executed.

Umahi also said the attention of the president was drawn to the state of Sam Mbakwe Airport in Owerri, Imo State, stating that there is a need to expand the runway of the airport and simultaneously carry out an extensive work on the tarmac.

President Buhari, who later tweeted the approval of the N10 billion on his personal twitter handle @Mbuhari, added that Sirika had assured him that work on the airport would be done speedily and be of a high standard.

It will be recalled that the House of Representatives had recently, in a motion sponsored by the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, and 11 other lawmakers, called on President Buhari to order the immediate commencement of works at the Enugu.

Following the closure of the airport, international flights have been diverted to the Port Harcourt International Airport in Rivers by Ethiopian Airlines, while domestic flights were diverted to the Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri, the Port Harcourt Airport and the Asaba Airport in Delta.

On the President’s twitter handle, Buhari said: “I have approved the sum of N10 billion for an intervention fund for the upgrade of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu. I have the assurance of the Minister of Aviation that the work will be done speedily and to the highest standards.

“Even as we have many items competing for our limited resources, we will continue to prioritize infrastructure investments in every part of the country. It is our responsibility to ensure Nigeria’s infrastructure is fixed; we will keep doing this.”

The President said he was aware of the central nature of the airport, which was closed for repairs since August 24, to the socio-economic development of the Southeast.

Buhari, who also said he was aware of the infrastructure deficits all over the country occasioned by lack of judicious use of available resources in the past, declared that his administration is working on remedying this situation.

“We’re trying our best to make sure that infrastructure rehabilitation is carried out very quickly.

“I personally firmly believe that if we get infrastructure correct, the roads, rail, power, most Nigerians will mind their businesses, they would not even care who is in government. But when you deny them infrastructure, it will be difficult for them to compete and move across the country and regions,” he said.

He appealed to the governors to explain this position to their people.

“Please, have the courage to continue to explain to your constituencies whenever they feel that there is laxity in government effort to rehabilitate infrastructure. We are doing our best within the resources available to the government.

“The Federal Government is working to fix infrastructure deficit in the country. The challenges are there. It is our responsibility to fix things, we are doing it and we will continue to do our best in this regard,” the President said. 

Attendance at the meeting comprised serving governors, former governors, ministers from the region, federal lawmakers and leaders of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Igbo socio-cultural organisation.

Other governors present at the meeting aside Umahi were Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Emeka Ihedioha (Imo), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and David Umahi (Ebonyi).

The governor of Anambra, Willie Obiano, was represented by his deputy.

Also present were the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim; Senator Sam Egwu, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, former Ebonyi State governor, Chief Martin Elechi; former governors of Imo State, Achike Udenwa and Ikedi Ohakim, former Enugu State governor, Sulivan Chime, serving ministers, among others.

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FG to Nigerians: No plan to remove fuel subsidy

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FG to Nigerians: No plan to remove fuel subsidy

midst apprehension in the country, the Federal Government has assured that there will be no removal of fuel subsidy by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, who disclosed this yesterday at a budget defence session with the joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on Petroleum Resources (downstream), explained that the government will not aggravate the sufferings of Nigerians by increasing the pump price of fuel.

The minister said “it was not on the cards” as the removal of fuel subsidy would visit untold hardship on Nigerians.

He said: “I want to say today that this government is not about to remove subsidy because it is difficult. We believe, as a government, that our people are already going through a lot of suffering and we cannot, as a responsible government, heap other issue of petroleum price hike or removal of subsidy on Nigerians.

“So it is not on the cards at all. We are just looking at how we can manage it.”

Already, Minister of Finance, Budget and National planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, has confirmed that oil subsidy regime, also known as under recovery for local consumption of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), is to be sustained in 2020 fiscal year with government earmarking N450 billion for it in the 2020 budget.

“We have a provision for under-recovery of PMS in the sum of N450 billion. If you look at the Budget Office website, it is in the fiscal framework, which is an annexure to the budget,” the minister said.

Sylva informed that the Federal Government was making efforts to revive all refineries before 2023, assuring that the Port Harcourt Refinery would resume production in January 2020, while work is on-going on Warri and Kaduna refineries, which are billed to resume later in the same year.

He also assured that work on the Port Harcourt Refinery would commence in January next year, adding that talks have reached advanced stage for Warri Refinery to follow suit within the same period.

On the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) natural gas pipeline project, he said notwithstanding experience in the hands of the Chinese government over conditionality before funding the project, he assured that the problem would be resolved next year.

He also disclosed that government has no capacity to offset the $62 billion outstanding debt on premium motor spirit (PMS) as well as the $9.6 billion judgement debt to Process & Industrial Developments Limited (PI&D).

According to him, “If there is a law and you are sleeping and wake up today to say they must pay $62 billion, I will say sorry. No company will have $62 billion sleeping somewhere. $62 billion is a whole lot of money and I don’t think we could get $62 billion, but we can discuss with them.

“In the process, we are amending the Deep Shore Act now. And why are we amending it? It is to be able to ameliorate some of these lacunas so that going forward, we will not miss some of these opportunities again,” the minister told the lawmakers.

On the $9.6 billion P&ID judgement, the minister described the whole process as “fraudulent”, insisting that Nigerian government will not pay the money.

He said if pre-emptive measures had been taken in the past, the matter would not have occurred, saying “we are fighting it and I believe in the end, we will triumph. We will not pay that money they are asking for because it is fraudulent.”

While speaking on the high level of oil theft, the minister assured that the ministry, in collaboration with security agencies, are working towards curtailing the menace which costs the country billions of naira on daily basis.

The minister claimed that the decision to shut the country’s borders is already yielding dividends as daily fuel consumption in the polity has reduced from over 60 million litres to about 52 million litres per day.

He absolved the ministry of the alarming level of crude oil theft in the country.

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Transcorp wins bid for Afam Power with N105.3bn

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Transcorp wins bid for Afam Power with N105.3bn
  • Quest Electricity wins bid for Yola DISCO with N19bn

 

 

The National Council on Privatisation (NCP) has approved Transcorp Power Consortium as the preferred bidder for the Afam Electricity Generation Company (Afam Power Plc and Afam Three Fast Power Limited) with a bid price of $343.6 million (about N105.3 billion) and Diamond Stripes Consortium as the reserve bidder with a price of N102.3 billion.

This was one of the major decisions taken by the Council, chaired by the Vice President and Chairman of Council, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo at the 2nd meeting of the NCP for 2019 held at the Presidential Villa, Aso Rock, Abuja on Monday.

The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), in a statement issued yesterday, noted that the winning bid of $343.6 million for the power plant is above the winning bid of $265 million in the previous privatisation transaction conducted in 2013; and that Transcorp Power Consortium (preferred bidder) plans to invest $350m in the firm over a period of five years after take over.

Council also approved Quest Electricity Nigeria Limited as the preferred bidder for the re-privatised Yola Electricity Distribution Company (YEDC) with a bid price of $62 million (about N19 billion) which is above the $59 million paid by the previous core investor in 2013.

It would be recalled that Council, at its first Meeting for 2019, held on Friday, April 12, 2019, granted approval to Diamond Stripes Consortium, Transcorp Power Consortium and Unicorn Consortium to proceed to the financial bids opening stage for the acquisition of 100 per cent shares in the Afam Electricity Generation Company (Afam Power Plc & Afam Three Fast Power Limited), having met the benchmark score of 750 points after evaluation in accordance with the criteria set out in the Requests for Proposal (RfPs).

It also directed Quest Electric Nigeria Limited to proceed to the financial bids opening stage for the re-privatisation of YEDC.

Recall that the privatisation of Afam Electricity Generation Company could not be concluded during the first round of the power privatisation in 2013 due to issues stemming from gas supply to the plant.

Following the termination of the Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) signed between Taleveras (the then preferred bidder) and BPE in 2016, Council at its 1st Meeting of 2017 held on 22nd and 23rd August 2017, approved the privatisation of the enterprise based on a strategy to be recommended by the Transaction Advisers.

For the YEDC, although it was successfully privatised and handed over to the core investor in 2013, a force majeure was declared in 2015 by the core investor citing insecurity in the North-East of the country. Following this, the company was duly repossessed by the Federal Government.

It is expected that the successful bidders will be responsible for operating the generation and distribution companies, making the necessary investments to improve the generation and distribution networks and customer service in line with the objectives of the Federal Government of Nigeria set out in the National Electric Power Policy.     

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CBN: Banks lost N14.31bn to fraud in 2018

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CBN: Banks lost N14.31bn to fraud in 2018
  • Lenders recorded 25,029 forgeries
  • Apex bank refunds banks part of N500bn sanction

 

Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in the country lost a total of N14.31 billion to fraud and forgeries last year, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said.

The apex bank disclosed this in its “Financial Stability Report (FSR) December 2018” posted on its website yesterday.

According to the CBN, while the losses to fraud and forgeries recorded by banks stood at N12.10 billion in the first half of 2018, the industry lost N2.21 billion to fraudsters in the second half of last year. This means that lenders lost a total of N14.31 billion to the criminals during the period.

The CBN also revealed that the reported cases of fraud and forgeries by DMBs increased to 25,029 at end-December 2018 from 20,774 at end-June 2018.

It, however, stated that the total amount involved, decreased to N18.94 billion at end-December 2018 from N19.77 billion at end-June 2018.

Similarly, the CBN stated that the total number of reported fraud cases in Other Financial Institutions (OFIs) – Microfinance Banks (MFBs), Primary Mortgage Banks and others – stood at 754 at end-December 2018, adding that the institutions recorded an actual loss of N120.98 million during the same period.

The CBN disclosed that Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and mobile channels recorded the highest incidence of fraud.

Furthermore, the CBN report shows that a total of 1,612 complaints from consumers of financial services were received in the second half of last year, indicating an increase of 173 complaints or 12.02 per cent over the 1,439 received in the first half of 2018.

“Of this number, 1,602 complaints or 99.38 per cent were against banks, while 10 complaints or 0.62 per cent were against OFIs. The complaints were in various categories, such as excess/unauthorised charges, frauds, guarantees, dispense errors, funds transfers.

“A total of 1,496 complaints were successfully resolved or closed in the period under review, compared with 4,723 in the first half of 2018, indicating a decrease of 3,227 or 215.71 per cent. Total claims made by complainants during the period amounted to N7.995 billion and $1.767 million, while the sums of N3.093 billion and $1.724 million were refunded to customers,” it added.

The CBN also revealed that, along with the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), it  carried out the examination of banks with composite risk ratings of ‘High’ and ‘Above Average’ and the three financial holding companies during the second half of 2018.

It stated: “The outcome of the examination showed that the composite risk rating of two banks improved from ‘Above Average’ to ‘Moderate’, while one bank improved from ‘High’ to ‘Above Average’. The examination of banks with composite risk rating of ‘Moderate’ and ‘Low’ was also conducted between October and November 2018.”

The CBN also revealed that during the period under review, the regulators carried out the examination of seven lenders categorised as Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs).

It stated that: “The banks were selected based on the D-SIB supervisory framework, given their size, interconnectedness, substitutability and complexity.

The D-SIBs accounted for 63.80 per cent of the industry total assets of N35.10 trillion and 65.23 per cent of the industry total deposit of N21.73 trillion as well as 66.00 per cent of the industry total loans of N15.34 trillion.”

Continuing, it stated: “The examination revealed that the D-SIBs were largely in compliance with the regulatory requirements, including capital adequacy and liquidity ratios. The average CAR for the D-SIBs stood at 19.82 per cent, while liquidity ratio stood at 46.29 per cent. There was an improvement in non-performing loans ratio from 11.31 per cent at end-June 2018 to 9.82 per cent at end-December 2018.”

In addition, the FSR showed that banking system credit to the private sector increased by 1.96 per cent to N22.72 trillion at end-December 2018, in contrast to a decline of 0.04 per cent at end-June 2018.

It attributed the increase to the 1.98 per cent and 0.57 per cent growth in claims on the core private sector and state and local governments, respectively.

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FG considers excise duty on soft drinks

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FG considers excise duty on soft drinks

The Federal Government is considering introducing excise duties on carbonated drinks, according to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed.

Ahmed gave the indication in an interview with newsmen yesterday on the sidelines of the on-going World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings in Washington DC, United States.

She said the idea was one of other areas, besides the proposed increase in VAT, that the government was looking at to broaden its revenue base.

The minister explained that the government was working hard to ensure efficiency in existing revenue streams while searching for new ones.

She said the government would consult with all stakeholders on the proposal in line with standard policy formulation process.

“Any tax that you are introducing will involve a lot of consultations and also amendments of some laws or introduction of new regulations,” she said.

Carbonated drinks include soft drink brands such as Coca Cola, Sprite and Fanta, while excise duty is a tax levied on locally produced goods.

Ahmed said her ministry was working with all the agencies to ensure that collaboration was strengthened in revenue generation.

“The government is trying to ensure that the work of the agencies are complementing each other as opposed to the past where everybody is working in silos.

“Efforts are on-going to improve the monitoring performance of the revenue generating agencies, especially government-owned enterprises.

“We have now in place a rigorous monthly reconciliation of revenues and that is ensuring that the leakages are minimised.

“There is several cost cutting measures in the SRGI and a number of cost cutting measures initiatives such as innovation and automation as well as capacity building of our people,” she said.

The minister reiterated government’s resolve to sanction revenue generating agencies that fail to meet their targets.

“Mr. President has said that targets will be set for ministers as well as heads of agencies and that when targets are met, there will be recommendations and when they are not met, there will be consequences.

“So, what was missing in the past was that there were no consequences. So if an agency underperformed, there is no consequences for doing do.

“But now, there will be consequences and we will be pushing to make sure that we provide all the support that the agencies will require to enable them perform,” she said.

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Imo uncovers 8,546 ghost pensioners, saves N280m monthly

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Imo uncovers 8,546 ghost pensioners, saves N280m monthly

No fewer than 8,549 ghost pensioners have been uncovered by the Imo state government just as N280 million was being saved monthly following a comprehensive evaluation and audit of pensioners and pension administration in the state. This was disclosed by Governor Emeka Ihedioha during a statewide broadcast on the pensions’ situation in the state yesterday.

Besides, he announced that payment of arrears of pensions to retired civil servant had commenced. The payment of arrears of pensions in the state came barely a week the governor had at a Stakeholders’ Meeting on Pensions Matters at Imo Concorde hotel, Owerri, announced that payment will commence yesterday, 17th October, 2019. In the broadcast, Ihedioha announced that the state government would be paying out N1, 218,175,387 monthly for both state and the local government pensioners. He said: “I would like to appeal to all our citizens that the challenge of payment of pensions’ bills standing over N1.2 billion monthly is very enormous. This calls for sacrifices by all citizens.

“We are confronted with the necessity to source for the revenue to ensure a good life for our senior citizens. “One of such frameworks was the Imo State Pension Board and its corresponding pension management system which was afflicted with intractable problems and riddled with corruption.

“Sadly, we inherited six years of pension arrears and discovered inexplicable discrepancies in the total number of pensioners in both the State and the 27 local governments. We received complaints on various forms of irregularities in the scheme from various pension beneficiaries and stakeholders. “When we made to resolve the contending issues, we were confronted with conflicting information from various offices in charge of pension administration. Consequently, we could not ascertain the proper position of monthly pension liabilities in the state.” “As you all are aware, it has been my declared commitment to ensure that our senior citizens retire in joyful hope, live in dignity and are extended the courtesy they deserve.” “It is very instructive that out of an initial monthly bill of N1, 499,157,895.00 being accrual for 33,541 state and LGA pensioners, presented to the state government as at May 2019, the amount has been trimmed down to N1, 218,175,387 for 24,992 pensioners.” “This entails a savings of N280, 982,508.00 or 18.7 percent per month. Consequently, a total of 8,549 or 25 percent of ghost pensioners in all were filtered out. This represents the amount of state resources that would have gone into the drains without the necessary due diligence.”

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President orders forensic audit of NDDC

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President orders forensic audit of NDDC

President Muhmmadu Buhari has ordered an immediate forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC).

The President said he is worried by the persistent criticisms of the operations of NDDC and the fact that the level of development in the South-South region does not reflect the amount of funds appropriated for the organisation in this regard.

The forensic audit of the operations of the organisation would cover from 2001 to 2019.

Receiving governors of the states that make up the commission, led by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State yesterday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, President Buhari said what is presently on the ground in the South-South does not justify the huge resources that have been made available to the organisation.

“I try to follow the Act setting up these institutions, especially the NDDC. With the amount of money that the Federal Government has religiously allocated to the NDDC, we will like to see the results on the ground; those that are responsible for that have to explain certain issues.

“The projects said to have been done must be verifiable. You just cannot say you spent so much billions and when the place is visited, one cannot see the structures that have been done. The consultants must also prove that they are competent,” the President said.

Buhari admitted that developing the Niger Delta area required enormous resources compared to other parts of the country with firmer lands.

“I am acutely aware, with my experience, that projects in your area are very expensive; that is why if any job is given, we must make sure that the company is competent and has the capacity to do it well with experienced consultants,” the President added.

He, however, said that he would wait for the report of the audit before deciding on the next line of action regarding the organisation.

Briefing journalists after the meeting, Dickson, who is also chairman of the South-South Governors’ Forum, listed the NDDC states as Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Edo, Cross River, Bayelsa, Abia, Imo and Ondo.

He said: “Our concern has to do with the stability and development of the Niger Delta. We had a robust discussion with Mr President who fully understands the challenges that come with development, and he promised to look into the challenges which he’s aware of and we all agreed to work together.”

Dickson had earlier expressed the disappointment of other governors with the operations of the NDDC, which they said was characterised by poor choice of projects, shoddy handling, uncompleted jobs and lack of the required support for the efforts of the states and local government administration in the region covered by the organisation.

The governor, therefore, called for the repositioning of the NDDC in order to achieve the objectives for which it was set up.

Present at the meeting were Governors Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Dickson (Bayelsa); deputy governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu; Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio; Minister of State for Niger Delta, Tayo Alasoadura; among others

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