arely two months after his inauguration for a second term, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, forwarded a list of 43 ministerial nominees to the Senate for screening and confirmation.
This is as the Senate resolved to commence screening of the nominees today just as it suspended relevant sections of its Standing Orders, to enable the lawmakers to sit on Friday this week and Monday next week, with a view to completing the assignment in one week.
The apex legislative chamber also resolved to postpone its recess by one week, in order to finish the ministerial screening. The Senate would have embarked on its annual recess at the end of this week, a holiday which usually lasts six or seven weeks.
The new cabinet is unique in many respects. It has nine former governors and 14 former ministers who had served the nation at different times.
It is the largest cabinet since 1999 when Nigeria returned to democratic rule having 43 nominees.
In previous dispensations, the cabinet usually consisted of 42 members made up of one nominee from each of the 36 states and an additional one nominee from each of the six geo-political zones in the country.
The current cabinet is also unique in the sense that the North-West region, which has seven states – Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara – and should have had a maximum of eight ministerial slots, now has nine.
Similarly, there are seven female ministers which appear to be a response to recent agitations for more gender sensitivity and inclusiveness in the governance system.
Top on the list of nominees were the former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio; former Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi; former Governor of Benue State, Senator George Akume; former Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chris Ngige.
Also nominated into the new cabinet were former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu; former Governor of Ekiti State, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo; former Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and former Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Timipre Sylva.
The appointment of Akpabio and Akume, who served in the Eighth Senate, is seen largely as a reward for their unflinching support for their party.
The two former lawmakers were believed to have lost their return bids to the Senate in the 2019 general election as a result of their ardent support for President Buhari, a situation that pitched them against their constituents.
The 14 former ministers who served in the last cabinet and have been re-nominated as ministers include: Ngige (Labour and Employment), Onu (Science and Technology), Lai Mohammed (Information and Culture), Hadi Sirika (Aviation), Ameachi (Transport), Abubakar Malami (Justice) and Adamu Adamu (Education).
Other returning cabinet members are: Geoffrey Onyeama (Foreign Affairs), Fashola (Works, Power and Housing), Muahammad Bello (FCT), Zainab Ahmed (Finance), Mustapha Baba Shehuri (Power and Housing, State), Suleiman Adamu (Water Resources), and Osagie Ehanire (Health, State).
The seven women that made the list are: Maryam Katagum (Bauchi), Sharon Ikeazor (Anambra), Ahmed (Kaduna), Ramatu Tijani (Kogi), Gbemisola Saraki (Kwara), Pauline Tallen (Plateau) and Sadiya Umar Farouk (Zamfara).
Other ministerial nominees are: Uche Ogar (Abia); Godie Jerry Agba (Cross River); Festus Keyamo (Delta), Clement Agba (Edo); Ali Pantami (Gombe), and Emeka Nwajuba (Imo).
Nwajuba is currently serving as a member of the House of Representatives on the platform of the Accord Party.
Also on the ministerial list are: Sulaiman Adamu (Jigawa); Dr. Muhammad Mahmud (Kaduna); Sabo Nanono (Kano); Maj.-Gen. Bashir Saleh (Kano).
Other are: Adeleke Olorunnimbe Mamowora (Lagos); Zubairu Dada (Niger); Olamilekan Adegbite (Ogun), Tayo Alasoadura (Ondo); Sunday Dare (Oyo);, Mohammed Maigeri Dengaji (Sokoto), Saleh Momoh (Taraba); and Abubakar D Aliyu (Yobe).
Meanwhile, former Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu and the immediate past Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, were conspicuously missing from the list.
Again, the former Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, who was highly expected by many Lagosians to make the list, was also not nominated.
“Why do you expect Ambode to be in the list; has he finished serving his punishment? Don’t you know that he is under punishment for disobeying the National Leader of the ruling party? Abeg, leave Ambode out of this matter and let us discuss another thing.
“You want to tell me that you don’t know that there are people who determine what happens in this country? Remember that “Otoge” has not taken place in Lagos as it happened in Kwara; and until it happens, Nigerians will still be at the mercy of the whims and caprices of a few who think that Nigeria and Nigerians are in their pockets,” a highly disappointed observer sarcastically expressed.
In his remarks after presenting the list to his colleagues, the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan said that the screening of the nominees would commence today.
Most of the senators had earlier expressed willingness to get the ministerial nominees screened before embarking on their annual recess, which is usually between six and seven weeks.
This led to several speculations and miscalculations in media reportage, trying to predict the time of presentation of the list to the apex legislative Chamber by Buhari.
Briefing journalists after plenary, the spokesman for the Senate, Dayo Adeyeye, disclosed the resolution of the Senate to suspend its recess by one week, and also to hold plenary sessions on Friday this week and Monday next week.
His words: “The Senate is going to do the confirmation hearings without delay. Consequently, the Senate has decided to alter its timetable. To this effect, plenary will hold on Friday this week and Monday next week.
“We have decided to make a lot of sacrifices to make sure the ministerial nominees are screened before we go on recess. We will work in unusual hours. We are going to work until we are tired on Friday. We will sit till late, to ensure that we conclude the confirmation next week.”
Adeyeye also said that the Senate would drop anybody who did not perform up to the expectation of the lawmakers, expressing doubts however, if any nominee would not perform well, considering the credentials of the nominees.
Fuel tanker on fire along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway
A petrol tanker is currently on fire along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway just before the Redeemed Christian Church of God campground, according to commuters.
New minimum wage: FG, Labour finally reach agreement
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.”
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.”
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.
FG to Nigerians: No plan to remove fuel subsidy
A 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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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