luwo of Iwoland, Oba (Dr.) Abdulrosheed Adewale Akanbi, has called for the incorporation of traditional rulers in finding lasting solution to incessant attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa.
The monarch who made the call in a statement in Osogbo yesterday, stated that, the power of traditional bond is exceptional and perennial as part of the lasting panacea to the recurrent hostility against Nigerians resident in South Africa.
He however charged the Federal Government to delegate first class traditional rulers to meet the Zulu king in South Africa, noting that government’s formal agreements not enough to sustain mutual affinity between the two African countries.
He said: “Usual formal agreements are not enough to sustain and grease the bilateral affinity between Nigeria and South Africa. I will strongly suggest traditional interaction between the two countries and the best approach aside official engagement is to delegate first class traditional rulers to meet Zulu king in South Africa.
“Traditional tie is a covenant of merit. It is not easily broken. Monarchs and traditional chiefs are the closest to the grassroots, natural and unofficial managers of crisis. As we create official interaction, I want to urge the Federal Government to additionally manufacture traditional affinity in addition to the official bond.
“No doubt, there is symbiotic engagement between Nigeria and South Africa, the current happening if not permanently controlled will not be too good for the two of the giants of Africa”
Oba Akanbi further called on Zulu King to intervene and talk to his people to nip in the bud the killing of Nigerians and launch a vigorous appeal for peaceful coexistence.
The royal father who noted the grievances of Nigerians as a result of the inhuman development, charged them “to control their mental temper to desist from retaliation that could further prone us into attacking ourselves.”
US judge blocks $3.6bn transfer to Mexican border wall
A federal judge on Tuesday issued a permanent injunction barring President Donald Trump’s attempt to transfer $3.6 billion in military construction funds to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Judge David Briones, of U.S. District Court in El Paso, Texas, issued the injunction in a 21-page ruling.
The ruling is a setback for Trump, whose administration has vowed to build at least 450 miles of wall along the border by November 2020, when the U.S. presidential election will take place. Trump has argued the wall will deter illegal border crossings, a major focus of his presidency, reports Reuters.
A Justice Department spokesman said the administration would appeal the ruling.
Trump declared a national emergency last February in order to transfer funds from the Pentagon to build the wall after Congress refused to provide the level of funding he sought.
Top Democrats in Congress have criticized the project as wasteful and ineffective.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs, El Paso County and the Border Network for Human Rights, an El Paso-based immigration reform group, argued that Trump exceeded his authority when he declared the emergency and sought to redirect the funds.
Kristy Parker, counsel for Protect Democracy, an organisation that represented plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement that the order “affirms that the president is not a king and that our courts are willing to check him when he oversteps his bounds.”
Briones ruled in October that the proclamation was unlawful and then asked the plaintiffs to file a proposed preliminary injunction. He said in that ruling that the transfer of the military funds was unlawful because it went against the intent outlined by Congress in the spending bill it passed in January 2019.
Trump had pressed Congress in December 2018 for $5.7 billion in funds to build a border wall, which led to 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government when Congress. When lawmakers provided only a quarter of that amount, Trump declared immigration a national emergency as part of a plan to use a similar amount from the Defense Department and Treasury Department for wall construction.
The Supreme Court ruled in July that the Trump administration could access a separate pot of $2.5 billion from a Pentagon counter-narcotics fund to pay for wall construction pending a related appeal – a major victory for Trump.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said at news conference in El Paso last month that 83 miles of border wall had been built under Trump and that another 153 miles of border wall was under construction.
“President Trump has been clear,” Wolf said. “We will build the wall, and he is following through on his promise.”
Police officer, five others killed in New Jersey gunbattle
Six people, including a police officer and three bystanders, were killed in a furious gunbattle Tuesday that filled the streets of Jersey City with the sound of heavy gunfire for hours, authorities said.
The dead included two suspects, Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly said.
The shooting took place at two scenes, starting at a cemetery, where the officer was gunned down, and continuing at a kosher supermarket, where five more bodies were found, Kelly said.
“Our officers were under fire for hours,” the chief said.
He would not say exactly what set off the shooting but that he believes the officer who was killed was trying to stop some “bad guys.”
City Public Safety Director James Shea said that authorities believe the bloodshed was not an act of terrorism but that it was still under investigation, reports The Associated Press.
Two other officers were wounded but were later released from the hospital, authorities said.
The bullets started flying early in the afternoon in the city of about 270,000 people, situated across the Hudson River from the Statue of Liberty.
The shooting spread fear through the neighborhood, and the nearby Sacred Heart School was put on lockdown as a precaution.
SWAT teams, state police and federal agents converged on the scene, and police blocked off the area, which in addition to the school and supermarket included a hair salon and other shops. Dozens of bystanders pressed against the police barrier to capture the action on their cellphones, some whooping when bursts of fire could be heard.
Video shot by residents recorded loud volleys of gunfire reverberating along one of the city’s main streets and showed a long line of law enforcement officers pointing guns as they advanced, yelling to bystanders, “Clear the street! Get out of the way!”
“ It’s like firecrackers going off,” said Andy Patel, who works at a liquor store about three blocks away. “They were shooting like crazy. … The cops were clearing everyone off the streets.”
Suicide bomber detonates explosives outside main US base in Afghanistan
A suicide bomber in Afghanistan detonated explosives on Wednesday outside the United States’ main military base of Bagram in an attack that wounded five people, Afghan and NATO officials said.
There was no immediate claim of reponsibility for the blast, reports Reuters.
All five wounded in the attack at the southern entrance to the base were Afghans, said Wahida Shahkar, a spokeswoman for the governor of Parwan province, where the base is located.
“A 30-minute clash also happened between the attackers, who obviously wanted to enter the base, and foreign forces,” she told Reuters.
The attack was “quickly contained and repelled” and there were no U.S. or coalition casualties, but a medical base being built for locals was badly damaged, Resolute Support, the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, said in a statement.
Wednesday’s attack comes as the United States looks to revive stalled peace talks with Taliban militants who control more territory than at any point since being ousted from power by coalition forces in 2001.
Ebonyi demotes 3 Principals, withholds 10 teachers’ salaries
Ebonyi State Government yesterday demoted three senior Secondary School Principals for alleged dereliction of duties. This is even as 10 teachers in the state would lose their December salaries for same offence. Chairman of the State Secondary Education Board (SEB), Dr. Uchechukwu Ezenyim disclosed this in Abakaliki. She said the punishment for the affected workers would serve as deterrent to others. The SEB Chairman listed affected Principals to include Mr. Nwotolo J. N of Community Secondary School (CSS) Nzashi in Ikwo Local Government Area; Mr. Nweke C.J of Community Secondary School (CSS) Nkomoro in Ezza North LGA and Mr. Anyigor E.N of Community Secondary School (CSS) Okpoto in Ishielu LGA of the state.
The trio had been reported to the zonal office of SEB located at Onueke, in Ezza South LGA of the state, according to her. She, however, did not give the names of the ten teachers who were to lose their December salaries.
Ezenyim said: “The said Principals, three of them in number, during the just concluded first term examination were involved in non-challant attitudes toward their duties. “During our monitoring, we found that some of them were not complying with the rules and regulations guiding the examination.
“When we tried to enquire why they were not doing what they were supposed to do, they were giving us flimsy excuses. “But the major reason we decided to sanction them to serve as a deterrent to other Principals is that the concerned Principals are hiding some of the teachers who are believed to be having two jobs. Maybe, a Federal and a State job at the same time. “And His Excellency, the governor has been demanding to know those ghost workers.
“I wonder why a teacher will not be in school for two good weeks to three weeks and no report is given about the whereabouts of the said teacher. And when you try to ascertain from the Principal who is in charge of activities in that school, he/she won’t even give you a proper excuse on the movement of their teachers. “Therefore, we de cided to take this drastic measure on them, so that those who are hiding will come out and we will know them
The 10 teachers involved are to lose their December salaries. “While His Excellency is trying to rebuild our education system, they are there in the field drawing the state back. “Some of them are refusing the assistance that the Stakeholders in the communities wanted to give through their non challant attitudes.
Take for instance, the grant given to them for agric farm in their schools, because of His Excellency’s policy that every school would be producing what they would eat and they have been doing that, but some of the Principals are misusing that fund.”
$41.9bn oil theft: Obaseki calls for special courts, judges
orried over the increasing rate of oil theft in the country, the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, yesterday called for the establishment of ‘Special Courts’ and training of judges to prosecute and convict perpetrators of crude oil theft in the country.
Obaseki, who chaired a committee set up by the National Economic Council Committee to find a lasting solution to the issues of oil theft and pipeline vandalisation, made the call during the inaugural Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) policy dialogue with the theme: “Stemming Oil Theft in Nigeria.”
While raising concerns that no one has been prosecuted or convicted for the $41.9 billion revenue reported to have been lost in the last 10 years and the huge environmental degradation in affected communities, the governor explained that within the first six months of this year alone, about 22 million barrels of crude oil valued at $1.35 billion were lost to thieves.
Obaseki, who revealed that most of the crude oil losses were recorded on trunk lines being operated by companies, which owned production fields and pipelines, however, noted that the situation was disturbing as those outsourced to third parties recorded the least breeches.
He called on the Federal Government to take over operations of the trunk lines operated by International Oil Companies (IOC’s) temporarily, pending when the issue would be critically looked into and addressed.
The govrnor said: “We lost 22.6 million barrels of crude oil at an estimated cost of about $1.3 billion, but these losses occurred specifically in the Nembe trunk line; we lost 9.2 million barrels in the Trans Niger pipeline; we lost 8.6 million barrels; and in the Trans Forcados pipeline 3.9 million barrels.
“What is interesting is that the largest losses came from lines that were owned and operated by the same companies which explored and produce oil. We also noticed that the lines that were outsourced to third parties recorded the least losses so there is a very interesting correlation between the ownership production into the lines and the level of losses on those lines.
“When breeches are reported, when products are lost, we just deal with the financial losses to the operators, but what happens to government? Nobody is ever held accountable; nobody is brought to order. Looking through the law, we could not find any concrete evidence of people who were caught, prosecuted and convicted on the crime of stealing crude product.”
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, who said there was need for a collaborative effort to check oil theft in the country, lamented that amid operating difficulties, it had caused a high cost of production and assets divestment by some companies.
Sylva, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Niger Delta, Mr. Felix Bobnabena, disclosed that despite the sophistication of weapons committed to ending the incidences of oil theft in the region, hinted that the government would continue to review current efforts to end oil theft in the country.
On his part, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari, described the high spate oil theft in the country as a threat to national economy, given the critical role revenues from the oil and gas sector play in the country.
Kyari, who was also represented by the Chief Operating Officer, Upstream, Mr. Roland Ewubare noted that between 2001 and 2017, NNPC recorded 45,374 breeches on its pipelines.
“NNPC as a player in the downstream sector has felt direct brunt of the attacks on our facilities and assets. Between 2001 and 2019, we recorded a total of 45,347 pipeline breaks and breeches on our downstream pipeline network. If you do the arithmetic, it comes to about an average of seven incidences on a daily basis,” he added.
DisCos increase revenue collection by N43bn in one year
he Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) say their revenue has increased by N43 billion in the last one year.
Mr. Sunday Oduntan, Director, Research and Advocacy, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) disclosed this in a statement in Abuja yesterday.
Oduntan said that the increase has reduced their Aggregate Technical, Commercial and Collection (ATC&C) losses to 45 per cent.
Oduntan said that from October 2018 to June 2019, the 10 DisCos raised their energy revenue to N466 billion.
He said that this was higher than the N423 billion collected from customers between October 2017 and September 2018 when the collection efficiency was 65 per cent.
“The DisCos also raised their collection efficiency to collect money for energy supplied to customers by 67 per cent.
“This was higher than the N423 billion they collected from their customers between October 2017 and September 2018 when the collection efficiency was 65 per cent.
“This is a reflection of DisCos’ commitment to reduce losses, even within the context of the financial crisis of the power sector,” he said.
Oduntan said that the DisCos, while increasing their collections by N43 billion in a year, by a rate that represents over 10 per cent of improvement, also raised billing efficiency by five per cent during the period under review.
According to him, an analysis of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) submitted to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) shows that the DisCos reduced their ATC&C losses by 3.6 per cent within one year.
“The ATC&C was 49 per cent in 2018 and has been reduced to 45 per cent in 2019.
“The reduction is even more significant, relative to a starting point of 54 per cent, at handover, and within the context of liquidity challenges and lack of access to capital for investment,” he said.
He said that on energy delivered to the DisCos, customers were billed for 20,600 Gigawatts hour (GWH) of energy from 2017 to 2018, amounting to N650 billion, of which N423 billion was collected.
Oduntan, however, said for the period of 2018 through 2019, the DisCos recorded huge improvement in billings, adding that they billed 21,650GWH of energy totalling N693 billion and collected N466 billion.
Ganduje: We’ll continue to pursue economic development
ano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, yesterday said his administration would continue to pursue economic development policy aimed at serving the people in the state.
The governor gave the assurance at the Kano/Zamfara Special Day at the 40th International Trade Fair held at Kano Trade Fair Complex in the city.
Ganduje noted that; “There is a lot of commercial and economic value in creating conducive environment that responds to the needs of the people, especially those that have the talent to utilise them.
“Hence in our attempt to make Kano a mega commercial city, the government had embarked on the provision of qualitative and robust infrastructure at strategic locations to create a rapid ‘transit system’ in the city,” he said.
The governor, represented by his Deputy, Alhaji Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, said for the first time in history, the state had executed a gigantic development project at Kwari Market and created a market management board to modernise the largest textile market in the West African sub-region.
He said: “This government is replicating same in other selected markets, which will inevitably have positive effect on regeneration of modern business/trades in the state, especially the establishment of business clinic with a view to diagnosing various business illnesses across the state for better economic growth.”
Governor Ganduje, however, rejoiced with the success recorded by the state chamber of commerce in the last 40 years of staging what he called successful trade fair against all odds, adding that the chamber also created a strong broad-based membership that cut across the Ministry of Commerce.
He maintained that the state would continue to give all the necessary support to stimulate commercial, industrial, cooperative, solid minerals and agricultural investments in Kano and Nigeria at large.
In his remarks, Zamfara State Governor, Dr. Bello Mohammed, represented by the Speaker, Zamfara State House of Assembly, Hon. Nasiru Mu’azu Magarya, said the main focus of this year’s trade fair was to draw the attention of both local and international investors to the enormous potentials available in the various parts of the country.
“We are more committed to participating in fairs and exhibitions, considering the fact that our administration has carefully mapped out avenues of reviving the economy, which is emerging from years of crisis,” Bello said.
Sowore: EU demands due process, rights enforcement
he European Union (EU) Delegation in Nigeria has asked the Federal Government to ensure it follows the due process of the law in handling the vexed issue of the detained activist and publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyole Sowore, as well as other detainees in Nigeria.
On its part, the House of Representatives has mandated its joint committees on national security and intelligence, judiciary, and human rights to investigate the invasion of a Federal High Court in Abuja by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) to re-arrest the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Sowore, in the court premises.
The delegation said it has been following closely the developments and hoped that the justice system in Nigeria will do all that is necessary to ensure that the rights of citizens to freedom of expression and personal liberty were not trampled upon.
EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, stated this yesterday at an event organised by the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and the British Council to mark the 2019 International Human Rights Day in Nigeria.
Karlsen, who was responding to question on various incidents of human rights violations in Nigeria, noted that the EU would remain firm on the principle of freedom of speech.
He described the concept of free expression as a fundamental pillar of democracy which is enshrined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights Convention as well as the European Convention on Human Rights.
“In any democratic society, there is the need for people to be able to express themselves freely and be able to participate as long as they do so peacefully. This is a crucial element of democracy.
“As a matter of principle, it is important that when somebody is detained, there is a due process and the justice system provides access to justice. As always, it is not for the European Union or the EU Ambassador to interfere in the democratic process in the countries where we operate, but it goes without saying that we are following the issue (Sowore’s detention saga) very closely and as much as we can. We hope that there will be due process and that the justice system will do all that is necessary for detainees to access justice,” he said.
The event was organised around two panel discussions on pressing issues affecting ordinary citizens in Nigeria namely, Law Enforcement, Citizen Liberties and the Rule of Law in Nigeria as well as Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Nigeria.
It was also the grand finale of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence in Nigeria.
According to Karlsen, given the long years of struggles to ensure that human rights were equally guaranteed to all without regards to gender, one would have expected that everything would be rosy by now.
“But as we all know, I think that is not the case. We must not take human rights for granted because everywhere you go, either in the European Union, Africa or Nigeria; we still have issues of human rights. So we must not give up the fight for human rights in general and women’s right in particular.
“People have said that women’s rights are human rights, but it seems that sometimes it is not exactly the case as we have seen with the increasing cases of gender-based violence,” he said.
Karlsen attributed the increasing rate of gender-based violence in Nigeria on a number of factors, including socio-cultural practices and conflicts in some parts of the country.
He urged the generality of Nigerians, especially the celebrities and social media influencers, to advance the agitation of zero tolerance for gender-based violence beyond the ceremony.
The event had in attendance an array of Nigerian celebrities.
Meanwhile, the resolution of the House to investigate the invasion of the Abuja court by the DSS was consequent upon the adoption of a motion sponsored by the minority leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu (PDP-Delta) on the “invasion of the Federal High Court premises, Abuja by yet-to-be-identified persons.”
Leading debate on the motion, Elumelu described the invasion of the court by the unidentified persons as “disregard for the rule of law”.
He informed that: “The videos emerging in public domain shows these unidentified person trying to bundle Omoyele Sowore and his co-accused, Olawale Bakare, away from the courtroom room, while Sowore’s supporters were resisting them, which is an abuse to the sanctity of the courtroom.”
The lawmaker expressed concern that “men of the civil society” claimed that the unidentified masked men were DSS agents.
“The DSS has denied through their spokesman, Peter Afunanya, that its personnel were never involved in the incident.
“Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, guarantee the separation of powers and the independence of every arm of government.
“A situation where one arm is seen to be overpowering another in the course of dispensing its duties will definitely spell doom for the separation of powers as enshrined in the constitution.”
He also expressed worry that the “act of the persons disrupted judicial proceedings and made the presiding judge to abandon her duty post because of safety concerns.”
He said that if the action was not properly checked, the National Assembly “may one day be invaded and the relevant security agencies will claim not knowing who the offenders are.”
He also said that the physical assault on Sowore and his co-defendant, Bakare, by the yet-to-be-identified persons inside the courtroom was the “highest act of sacrilege” on the judiciary.
The motion was unanimously endorsed when Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila put it to question.
Senate investigates CBN, banks over N20trn unremitted stamp duties
he Senate, yesterday, directed its Committee on Finance to investigate the alleged non-remittance of over N20 trillion into the Federation Account by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The whopping sum of money was an amount allegedly collected as stamp duties from banks and other financial institutions in the country by the apex bank, which it allegedly failed to remit into the coffers of the federation as required by law.
The lawmakers resolved to carry out the inquest while considering a motion entitled, “the need to improve Internally Generated Revenue of the Federal Government of Nigeria through non-oil revenue”, sponsored by Senator Ayo Akinyelure (PDP, Ondo Central).
Leading debate on the motion, Akinyelure told the Chamber that the CBN had, in January 2016, issued a circular directing all banks and financial institutions to charge stamp duty of N50 on lodgements into current accounts against revenue projections by the Federal Government of N2.5 trillion annually.
He stated that after the issuance of the circular by the CBN, all deposit money banks and financial institutions effected N50 per eligible transaction in accordance with the provisions of the Stamp Duty Act 2004 and Federal Government Financial Regulations 2009.
The lawmaker, however, noted that efforts by the Federal Government to recover over N20 trillion from Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBBS) to the Federation Account were frustrated by the CBN.
He said: “The CBN and NIBBS have technically refused to comply with the Presidential directives for the recovery of over N20 trillion revenue into the coffers of government.
“The CBN and NIBSS deliberately failed to cooperate and comply with the directives of Mr. President for the realisation of over N20 trillion revenue due from stamp duties collected for 2013 to 2016 and subsequently over N5 trillion minimum revenue due to be collected annually to the Federation account to be shared among States of the Federation for infrastructural and economic development.”
Akinyelure posited that since the Federal Government issued the directive for stamp duty collection, banks had not been transparent in its transactions in this regard, and that the apex bank had not been furnishing the public with reports on the matter.
“Since the implementation of the collection of stamp duties, accountability by banks has not been transparent and no report by CBN or its subsidiary (NIBSS) to the Nigerian public to know the actual revenue generated, collected and transferred to the Federation Account,” he lamented.
The lawmaker reminded his colleagues that the House of Representatives and National Economic Council (NEC) had, in May 2019, decided to intervene in the matter and recommended that all agencies should support the Federal Government’s recovery mandate on the over N20 trillion stamp duty.
According to him, the Special Presidential Investigation Panel on Recovery of Public Property (SPIP) and Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) have adopted the combined resolutions of the House of Representatives and NEC.
He further lamented that before the Joint Task Force could move to recover the huge unremitted fund, the CBN, in August 2019, released a report that its borrowings to banks would hit N23 trillion by the end of this year.
“The Senate must consider whether the target N20 trillion fund is being recycled into private banks (with impunity) when Federal Government had directed its recovery,”Akinyelure said.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said: “I engaged the Ministry of Finance and CBN for an interaction, and I discovered that what we have been expecting to be available as stamp duty is not so.
“I was under the impression that we had over N20 trillion somewhere. It will interest you to know that we don’t even have N1 trillion.
“What has happened is because those that are supposed to collect the stamp duties were taking advantage of the non-electronic transaction.
“With the passage of the finance bill, this is an opportunity we have to start getting what ordinarily should go to the government.
“The banks and many private organisations have taken advantage of the way the stamp duties have been.
“I want to believe that from January 2020, when the Finance Bill will start being effective, the stamp duty collection will be significantly improved.
“It is for our Finance Committee to monitor closely what the collection should be.
“We have also come up with another idea of engaging all the revenue generating agencies on a quarterly basis.
“We have got already a list of all of them from the Federal Ministry of Finance. We will put them into maybe four groups, and the first meeting for evaluation of their collection will be sometime in March.
“We would like to know in the first quarter how much they have collected, and if they have not met targets; if they have met targets, how do we do better than that? The idea is not to slow down the operations of the agencies.”
Nigeria needs $22.7bn loan to fix infrastructure – FG
n order to bridge the infrastructural deficit in the country, the Federal Government has declared that it will require borrowing at least $22.7 billion.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed; her Works and Housing counterpart, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, that of state for transport, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, as well as the Director-General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms. Patience Oniha, made the disclosure at an interactive session with the House of Representatives’ Committee on Aids, Loans and Debt Management led by Hon. Safana Dayyabu (APC, Katsina).
The ministers, who were before the committee to defend the loan request of $22.718 billion made by President Muhammadu Buhari, underscored the urgent need to fund the budget, improved on infrastructure development and create jobs with the loan.
According to the DMO, Nigeria’s Total Public Debt Portfolio as at June 30 stood at $83.88 billion (N25.7 trillion).
The 8th National Assembly had received the proposed projects for 2016 to 2018 Medium Term (Rolling) External Borrowing Plan put at $30 billion.
The ministers, however, presented the same proposal at $22.7 billion and gave reasons why the country should have funds as soon as possible.
They emphasised that the loans would promote infrastructure development and job creation.
In her lead presentation, the Finance Minister, Ahmed said: “We need to invest in roads, rails and to be able to grow at a growth better than we are growing now. They are strictly for infrastructure development so that we can address the deficit that we have. We know we must comply with some criteria.”
Defending the proposed loan, the minister said that “Nigeria does not have a debt sustainability problem, but revenue challenge.”
She added that “every kobo borrowed will be judiciously used.”
Also speaking, Fashola said that the government cannot ignore the demands for infrastructural sustainability. “It is right to have this hearing because we cannot ignore the concerns of the members of the public over the debt profile of the country.
“As we cannot ignore the concerns about debts, so we cannot ignore the concerns and demands for the provision of life sustaining infrastructure.
“So, everybody wants a road, everybody wants a rail project, everybody wants a port and efficient airports. They want to ensure that our ports are efficient so that business can function more effectively, so that clearing of goods can happen more quickly and cheaply.
“And in the midst of these physical challenges, the revenue is not just enough to meet these challenges.”
Fashola said that there are a total of 524 ongoing road projects across the country, but there is no money to execute them, adding that “524 roads projects are currently being executed. N73 billion was released this year. We have contractors willing to do the work, but we cannot pay them.
“We have had deficit budgets for a long time and so we have to borrow.
“Over four years, we have never received full funding for any budget. There is deficit and we cannot finance it.
“Some of the roads we are investing in will last for upwards of 20 to 30 years if well maintained and not abused. For rail assets, usually the tracks will last for at least 100 years. Power plants like the Mambilla will be there for many decades.
We must find a way to finance these assets. We will be spending today’s money to secure tomorrow’s assets.”
On the current status of East-West Road, the minister said it was not under his ministry, adding that a substantial part of the road had been completed.
“East west road is not under my ministry. It is under Niger Delta Ministry. I can say here, that a substantial part of that road has been executed. I drove through the stretch in 2016. Large part of it has been completed,” he said.
On Benin-Auchi-Okene road, the minister said: “From the briefings from Ministry of Finance, there are external borrowings. There are also internal borrowings. The road is being funded under SUKUK which is local borrowing. The SUKUK is not enough to fund all the roads. We get N100 billion, we shared it across all the six zones.”
He also denied insinuations that Nigerian roads were not built up to global standards.
“Nigerian roads are designed to global standards. We are not doing things as we want, but according to global standards,” Fashola said.
The view of the Minister of State for Transport, Gbemisola Saraki, was not different on why the Federal Government needed to borrow as she pointed out the need to complete Kano-Lagos and Niger Delta coast rails.
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