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Bayelsa guber: PDP govs beg Jonathan to support party’s candidate

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Bayelsa guber: PDP govs beg Jonathan to support party’s candidate

Onyekachi Eze, Abuja

Fear of losing Bayelsa State to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November 16 governorship election has prompted six governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to seek the intervention of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The governors, who met the former governor in his Abuja residence last Friday, pleaded with him to support the party’s candidate for Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri to win the poll.

The governors present, it was learnt, were Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia); Engr. Seyi Makinde (Oyo); Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Aminu Tambuwal Sokoto); Darius Ishaku (Taraba) and Senator Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), who is also the Chairman, PDP National Campaign Committe for Bayelsa State governorship election.

The Director General of PDP Governors’ Forum, Osaro Onaiwu, was also part of the meeting.

Jonathan, who is from Bayelsa State, it was reported, did not have a very rosy relationship with the state governor, Seriake Dickson.

It was also alleged that the former president was working for the APC candidate.

This, a source at the meeting said, the former president denied.

He quoted Jonathan to have asked: “How can I be working for the All Progressives Congress (APC) when I am a frontline stakeholder and a father of the PDP?”

According to the source, the governors, during the meeting, pleaded with him to forget what might have transpired between him and Dickson and work for the success of the PDP in the governorship election.

Also, he was told to support the PDP candidate notwithstanding any perceived grievances during the governorship primaries.

Jonathan was said to have supported another aspiriant other than Senator Diri, but he promised to use his influence as a leader of the PDP, not only in Bayelsa State, to campaign for Diri’s electoral victory.

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  1. Rey Shimon

    November 11, 2019 at 11:06 pm

    very cool

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Outcome of Bayelsa poll, big lesson for politicians – Rasaq

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Outcome of Bayelsa poll, big lesson for politicians – Rasaq

Chief Lanre Rasaq, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), believes that there was nothing unusual about the recent governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states, describing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a bad loser. He also speaks in this interview on the 2023 presidential election, among others issues. ADEWALE AJAYI reports

 

 

Some Nigerians as well as members of the international community have condemned the recent governorship elections held in Bayelsa and Kogi states, repudiating the violence that characterized the polls. How would you describe the elections?

I will take you back to the attitude of Nigerian politicians, when they win an election, it is the best conducted; when they lose, the process of conducting the election is bad. We are all living witness of what happened in Bayelsa State. The outgoing governor, Seriake Dickson decided to field an unpopular candidate despite appeal to him not to do so. Well, it is a lesson to those, who felt they are the all in all, and that they meant everything, thinking they have right of life and death because they are political leaders. That was what the people of Bayelsa just told Dickson that he could not do that to them, his folly became our blessing.

We in the APC went through the meticulous process of picking the right candidate and he was accepted across board and that reflected in the election result, so we are happy for it. When judgement was given against APC in Zamfara and Rivers states and we lost from the National Assembly election, through governorship and House of Assembly, because our candidates were not accepted by INEC, PDP members celebrated, stating it was the best that could have happened, but we never complained. When the PDP lost at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal and the Supreme Court, they condemned the judiciary that, saying is bad, it is corrupt. That means that it is only when judgement is in their favour that it is the best.

In Kogi State, the people chose Yahaya Bello as their governor because they knew about the resources available to him to manage the state and they believed that he has done wonderfully well in managing those resources. They also believed there is a need for him to complete his eight year tenure and consolidate on what he has done and take the state to the next level.

Of course, the people are equally aware that the APC government at the federal level is doing wonderfully well and they needed to be on the same page with the federal government, so that they can attract more development to Kogi State. The people have seen the PDP spent 16 years in government in Nigeria and they know the destruction the party did to their psyche.

How about the violence that claimed several lives during the elections?

They are entitled to make allegations, but whoever wants to ascertain the allegation or hold one party or the other responsible for the crisis needs to do a thorough investigation. I am not a security officer, but the information available to me pointed accusing fingers to PDP members, who wanted power at all cost, and it takes two to tango. Look at it this way, you cannot clap with one hand, that I know too well. It is all about attitude of Nigerians to politics, people wanting to be in office at all cost. It is about I want to govern the people, either they like it or not, but it shouldn’t be so. The people will react accordingly if a political party insists it wants to govern them at all cost.

The media has a role to play in disabusing the mind of the people, who have such mindset. And you will recall that former president Goodluck Jonathan once said that nobody spill the blood of an innocent Nigerian because of power. Spilling of blood is not the way of the APC. We are peaceful and committed to the development of the country, which explains why people continue to embrace our party.

The seeming face-off between President Muhammadu Buhari and his vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has been a source of concern to Nigerians and appears to be having negative impact on governance. What is your view on this though the duo have persistently denied the rift?

Nobody should cry more than the bereaved. The president has made it clear that there is no rift between him and his vice. Osinbajo has also made it clear that they don’t have problems. So, who is that person that is crying? The two of them are still working together towards actualizing the mandate that was freely given to them. Buhari is a man of God, he will not intimidate, embarrass or take a decision that will prevent his vice from performing his assigned duty. Those who are insinuating that there is a rift are just playing politics.

How about the sack of 35 aides of the vice president?

They may have reasons for taking such decision. It is not political, but for the benefit of the economic development of the nation. If you tell me that they are trying to impeach the vice president or that the vice president does not have an assignment, I will then believe that something is wrong.

What is your take on the Hate Speech and Social Media bills, which many see as an attempt to gag the media and Nigerians?

Nigeria is in democracy, and all of us without an exception have roles to play. The constitution guarantees freedom of expression. I have said it and I will repeat it that the bill they want to pass is unacceptable to democrats like me and to several other democrats, who believe in the rule of law and the provisions of the constitution because it is entrenched in the constitution that you have the right to express your views on any issue.

If somebody now seeks for someone to be killed for airing his views, I don’t agree with the proposed law. Several APC members also do not agree with the law and they don’t support it. So, I strongly believe that the bill will not see the light of the day because it is against freedom of expression.

It is believed that the card reader was introduced into the electoral process to check the issue of over voting, but INEC recently stated that it has outlived its purpose because it is not acceptable as evidence in court. What do you think should be done to bring sanity into the electoral system?

INEC is in charge, and when they say they are facing some challenges, they should be allowed to do more research into our electoral process. We deserve the best, so let them give us the best. Let the media sensitize politicians and the electorate to stop vote-buying, to stop monetization of votes and to ensure that votes count. If that is done, the electoral system will be better.

Don’t you think that it would be difficult to stop vote-buying because of the poverty level in the country?

You said one thing; that poverty is the driving force that made people to sell their votes, but I can assure you that after Buhari’s second term; he would have succeeded in almost eradicating poverty that people won’t go and collect money to vote. So, all I am saying is that people should give support to the Buhari administration, let there not be unnecessary distraction, so that it can deliver on dividends of democracy for poverty to be reduced.

But the general impression is that the level of poverty is increasing?

That is not correct. I am a public figure and I am in a position to tell you what the situation is. I know the number people who come to my house on daily basis to request for financial assistance when the PDP was in government. I know how many of them, who are coming now, but the number has reduced.

It is good news because instead of giving them money, I assist them to be in a positions to earn their own living and stop going around to beg because there are lots of job opportunities the current administration is providing. With the development and the way the president is taking Nigeria to the next level, I can assure you Nigerians will be out of poverty sooner than expected.

The jostle for 2023 has commenced in earnest. While some are of the view that the South-West should produce the next president, others are saying that it is the turn of the South-East. However, some Northerners are insisting on their region retaining power. Don’t you think that there is the need for your party to harmonise this to avoid creating problems for itself?

All what is happening is power play. Every Nigerian, irrespective of where he comes from is entitled to the position of president, but what we need to do, and which we are doing, is to let them look at each of the candidate and pick the best. To me, despite all the names being paraded, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu still stands shoulder high than any of the names mentioned so far. I want to implore you to educate Nigerians not to just pick a president, but a president who will be effective, acceptable, knowledgeable and has the capacity to understand what the office of the president is all about. Against this backdrop, I maintain that the best man for the position is Bola Tinubu.

There is no way many Nigerians will not be interested in that office because it is attractive, but there is the need for those who have the knowledge of all the candidates to educate the citizens on the implication of picking the wrong person at this critical stage of our economy. That is why we are offering Tinubu because he has what it takes to do the job. Let everybody be aware, that they don’t need to worry too much, as God has provided this man and has been protecting his life, so that he can provide the service Nigerians require of him.

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Day Lagos govt, ex-govs honoured Johnson

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Day Lagos govt, ex-govs honoured Johnson

TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE writes on the Day of Tributes organised by the Lagos State Government on Tuesday in honour of the first governor of the state, Brigadier-General Mobolaji Johnson

 

It was a memorable day as Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his predecessors, both military and civilian converged at the Onikan Stadium to celebrate and pay tributes to the first Military Governor of Lagos State, Brigadier-General Mobolaji Johnson (rtd), who passed on recently.             

The late Johnson, who is the first and longest serving military governor of Lagos State, governed the state from 1966 to 1975. He died on October 30 at age of 83 and several events were held this week before his remains were interred.

Since his demise on October 30 till date, there have been a lot of tributes and condolence messages from different quarters and there is no doubt that majority of the comments are in line with the Biblical verse of Proverbs 10:7, which states that “a good and honest life is a blessed memorial; a wicked life leaves a rotten stench.”

Lagos State has had a total of 15 governors both military and civilian since its creation by former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) on 27 May, 1967, but among the past leaders, Mobolaji Johnson stands tall because of his remarkable achievements in the Centre of Excellence.

The late Johnson played a crucial role in the growth and development of Lagos State and many believe that he laid the foundation for modern Lagos, considering the laudable projects his regime embarked upon during the eight years he steered the ship of the state.

While in office, he built a 60.7 Lagos–Badagry expressway, linking Nigeria with neighbouring countries of Benin, Ghana and Togo. He also constructed the Itokin Bridge to link Epe to Ikorodu; Eko Bridge as well as construction of a network of roads and bridges in different parts of the state. Another remarkable achievement of the Johnson’s regime is the reclamation of the Bar Beach shoreline.

The regime also embarked on the demolition the Ajele cemetery and the consequent disinterment of people buried at the cemetery. Notable among corpses affected by the rather unpopular decision were that of Samuel Ajayi Crowther, James Pinson Labulo Davies, Madam Tinubu, Thomas Babington Macaulay, and several others. The action was met with stiff opposition and lots of criticisms by many opinionated Lagosians back then.

Despite leaving office as governor about 45 years ago, Johnson will remain a name to be reckoned with in the annals of the history of Nigeria and Lagos in particular. His achievements earned him the privilege of a road, an avenue, a sports complex and a housing scheme been named after him.

Following the role the late Johnson played in the growth and development of the state, the Lagos State government, on Tuesday held a “Day of Tributes” at the Onikan Stadium in his honour as part of programmes for his funeral rites.

The event, which was well attended by serving and past public office holders in Lagos State, witnessed outpouring of tributes on the deceased by Governor Sanwo-Olu, his predecessors and other eminent Nigerians and members of the late Johnson’s family

Among those who graced the event were the National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC) and ex-Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and his wife, Oluremi; Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; Governor Sanwo-Olu wife, Ibijoke; Lagos State deputy governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat and his wife, Oluremi; first Lagos State civilian governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande; former military administrators of the state; Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (rtd), Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd) and Brigadier-General Raji Rasaki (rtd); Head of Service Hakeem Muri-Okunola; former Ogun State governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba; former Lagos State deputy governor, Princess Sarah Sosan; top military officers, politicians, white cap chiefs and traditional rulers.

Governor Sanwo-Olu as part of government’s resolve to ensure that Johnson’s name remains written in gold in recognition of his illustrious service as the first military administrator of Lagos State, renamed the newly renovated Onikan Stadium after the late Johnson. The stadium is now Mobolaji Olufunsho Johnson Stadium.

Paying tributes to late Johnson, the governor described him as a symbol of decency, humility and integrity, fairness and justice, who touched and transformed thousands of lives through his foresight, service and industry.

His words: “We gather here today not to mourn but to celebrate a distinguished life, the life of Brigadier-General Mobolaji Johnson, a great patriot, an accomplished administrator, one of the makers of modern Lagos who, sadly, will never share this physical space with us again.

“In whatever role we knew him, the first and longest serving military administrator of Lagos State stood out as a special person for his leadership and charismatic personality. If anyone was qualified to be addressed as ‘an officer and a gentleman’, it was General Johnson. Despite his imposing frame, he was as gentle as a dove. He never threw his weight around, even though he was a man of power.

“His regime witnessed an increase in the state’s revenue from N36.7million to N99.7million. The increase was largely due to the revenue allocation formula that had just been introduced and increased revenue from crude oil, which was partly shared out to the state governments. Under his leadership, the state government generated the larger proportion of its earnings from Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

“Our illustrious and now departed son of Lagos was a constant source of support and inspiration to successive governors of Lagos State, especially from 1999 till date. He was always willing to offer his wise counsel and experience whenever the need arose. Even while it was obvious that his health could not really rigorous endeavours, General Johnson was a regular feature at every major Lagos State Government groundbreaking events. Such was his unbelievable and unswerving commitment to the cause of Lagos State. How then are we not going to miss him sorely?

“In the realisation that Lagos State is the most populous and leading state in the federation, Mobolaji Johnson was determined to turn the state into the pride of the nation. The policy thrust of his administration was shaped by his faith in the creative capabilities and boundless energies of the people, especially the masses. Thus, his early days in office clearly showed him as a man who brought resourcefulness, experience and dynamism to the task of solving some of the teething problems of our dear state. He set Lagos on a course and a race of an unending quest for improvement, innovation and development.”

In his tribute, Tinubu described Johnson as a servant leader and man of incorruptible character, who never used the opportunity of power to amass personal wealth.

His words: “We are here to honour our hero and founding father, a man of integrity, first military administrator of Lagos state, a fine officer and gentleman, a servant leader and man of incorruptible character. He never used the corridor of power to amass personal wealth, a gallant officer who did not compromise military ethics and left office as governor with a good legacy in public service.

“Johnson was a true gentleman, a servant leader and a man of incorruptible character. He never used his position to amass personal wealth. He did not compromise in his profession. He left a good legacy in public service. He laid a durable foundation for Lagos State. He served the people and made them the cornerstone of social and economic policies.

“Johnson embarked on re-engineering and assembling the best cabinet to show transparency at that time. He showed courage and strong determination for the benefit of Lagos State. His retirement was sudden following the coup in 1975. He lived a life of great contentment.”

Tinubu also recalled that 10 state administrators were arrested for corrupt practices, when General Murtala Muhammed took over as Head of State in 1976, but only late Johnson was the military administrator absolved of corruption.

Hamzat, on his part, said the late Johnson lived above pettiness, describing him as a giant “who matched his stature with achievements.”

He said the late Johnson always preferred a Spartan life, which was why he chose to live his retirement life among average citizens of the state.

Also paying tribute to the deceased, Kanu said he was a quintessential officer, a first-class administrator whose interest was to better the lives of the general public during his tenure, while Oyinlola who thanked God for the late Johnson’s life, said he was marveled by the kind of humility that was exhibited by him. “I learnt a lot from him that helped me as a governor. There is nothing else to give than to honour an untainted soldier, governor and corporate world operator,” he said.

Rasaki in his tribute described late Johnson as “an officer and a gentleman as governor. He was a soldier of all soldiers, very nice to his junior, as junior officers under him we learnt simplicity, even as his juniors we go to party together and even as a governor he did not discriminate, he was more of a soldier than a civilian.”

Also speaking at the event, Osoba described the late first Lagos State governor as austere, frugal and a disciplinarian, noting that “even as a governor his children attended public schools in public transportation, his humility rubbed off on his wife and children.”

The first son of the deceased, Seyi, thanked the Lagos government for the honour done to his father. ”One of the lessons our father taught us as children is the attribute of tolerance. He told us not to discriminate against anyone irrespective of background,” he said.

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Lagos PDP: A new dawn beckons

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Lagos PDP: A new dawn beckons

From nowhere, a ray of light has shone on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State as a validly elected executive council was inaugurated after years of leadership crisis. In this report, WALE ELEGBEDE asks whether the Adedeji Doherty-led leadership can turn the tide for the party in the state

 

The Lagos State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has never been out of crisis for once, since the return of democracy in 1999. Expectedly, the crisis dovetailed into its performances in the elections and after every election cycle, the party disperses and congregates again just before another election year.

For party members and supporters, the trend of heaping up crisis in the party after every election and starting all over again to rebuild for another election cycle is both worrisome and demoralizing for the progress of the party.

All of its six different attempts to seize the governorship seat of Lagos State have been futile. From 1999 when the party fielded a former minister, Chief Dapo Sarumi against Senator Bola Tinubu till last March 9 election when its candidate, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, ate the humble pie from Mr Jide Sanwoolu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), it’s the same old story of playing second fiddle.

The cookies crumbled again after the 2019 election as the two major influencers in the party, former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George and its candidate, exchanged words over the loss of the party at the polls despite the seeming crisis of succession in the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).

But while the two forces are still settling their scores, the party’s National Headquarters, beamed its searchlight to see who can lead the affairs of the party in the state since the interim position of the acting Chairman, Dr. Dominic Adegbola, has lapsed after its timeline of three months.

Adegbola, a grassroots politician who became the party’s chairman following the defection of the party’s erstwhile chairman, Hon. Moshood Salvador, to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), was however, asked by the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) to handover affairs of the party to the National Vice Chairman of the PDP South West, Dr. Eddy Olafeso.

Last November, a notice of election was issued by the NWC to the party in the state. Expectedly, leaders and members of the party see the call differently. In fact, 24-hours before the scheduled date for the election, some members of the party in the state secured a court injunction from a Lagos High Court ordering all parties in the suit to maintain the status quo ahead of the proposed special election.

Regardless of the injunction, the party proceeded with its plan and the Senator Ben Obi-led three-man committee from the National Working Committee (NWC) conducted the election to fill some vacant positions in the party’s state executive. The election produced Engr. Doherty as chairman of the party after garnering 27 votes to defeat his closest rival, Omotanwa Kudirat, who polled 21 votes.

According to Senator Obi, the election had 68 delegates approved by NWC of the party but only 45 delegates voted at the election which took place at L’eola Hotel, Maryland.

Apart from Obi, members of the three-man committee included Muktar Ahmed, as secretary and Senator Biodun Olujimi, member, who was unavoidably absent, because she was engaged with her swearing-in ceremony at the Senate, having got  Appeal Court judgement in her favour.

Two weeks after the election, the party gathered again to inaugurate the newly-elected officials and this time, it came with fanfare as a handful of party members joined the party leadership at the event held in Lagos.

Conducting the inauguration on behalf of the NWC, Olafeso, congratulated the newly elected executive committee members who were elected to fill vacant slots in the state which came about from death, resignation or defection from the party to other political parties.

He said: “I commend all of you who participated in the process of peace that we have today.”

Olafeso, who reiterated that peace has finally returned to Lagos, said he had to visit Lagos State for about 67 times in his quest to find peace for the party in the state, he, however, said his current visit which is to attend the inauguration of the executive is his happiest.

“I commend you because you have fought a long and hard battle, it has not been easy. I commend all of you who participated in the process of peace that we have today.

“I am forever grateful for leaders like Chief Bode George and leaders of his generation and the foundation they had laid and for all the other leaders. We are happy to build on it.

“The South-West is at a crossroad, but this is a time for a new beginning indeed and with peace in Lagos State, it is the beginning of a new thing in the South-West. The challenges in the country today is enormous, there is a need for all of us to be united and I appeal to all of you to join hands with Doherty to take the party to new height,” he said.

Doherty was inaugurated alongside Sowole Jubril as state party vice-chairman (central senatorial district), Adejumo Ajagbe (Vice Chairman West), Prince Balogun Okanlawon (Lagos Island), Mrs. Ambode Linda (Kosofe LGA), Amode Akeem (organising secretary), Adeniyi Rotimi (assistant organising secretary), Muyideen Tejumade (legal adviser), Olalekan Akeem (assistant legal adviser), Olayinka Dada (assistant secretary), Kolawole Mike (party chairman, Apapa Local Government Area) and Akojemu Florence (party chairman, Badagry LGA).

In his inaugural speech after being sworn-in, Doherty said the PDP in the state is now well-positioned to wrestle power from the APC in 2023, saying that the state presently needs the PDP to experience development.

“Our democratic journey in Lagos over the past 20 years has been a tedious one, which has been marred with one problem or other which has led us to failures at every council, gubernatorial and presidential elections in the past.”

Giving insights on how he emerged as the party’s chairman, Doherty said that the failure of the party to win Lagos since 1999 created a serious concern for the National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, who then decided to create a fact finding committee headed by Senator Ben Obi to look for a long-lasting solution to the division and crises in the party.

“This committee met with all our leaders and stakeholders and finally came up with recommendations to the NWC for onward action and implementation at the state level. The recommendation was simple, that is , that all vacancies at every level of the Lagos State structure must be filled according to the constitution and not by nomination, imposition or the use of any sharing formula.

“It was this bold step taken by the Prince Uche Secondus-led NWC that has finally given birth to the new dawn in our party today. Having said this, I would like to thank the major actors in this process, who ensured that this decision by the NWC became a reality,” Doherty explained.

The new PDP chairman outlined a seven-point agenda through which his leadership would rebuild the party in the state, saying, “I plead with our aggrieved members who are in various cases in court to give peace a chance. The 65 per cent, 35 per cent sharing formula used in the past hereby comes to an end, PDP Lagos State will start afresh, we are one family and the party remains supreme.”

Congratulating the newly inaugurated executive, a former factional chairman of the PDP in the state, Mr. Segun Adewale, popularly called Aeroland said “PDP is the one winning elections for APC in Lagos State, APC doesn’t win any election, PDP wins for APC, they know that the only person working in APC is Tinubu, he is the only one and he can’t be everywhere, so the moment we have the right people at the polling booth we will win the election.

“What normally happens is that over 60 per cent of our polling booth agents work for APC, so we can’t win, but if we talk to him and he listens and we have the right people at the polling booths winning election in 2023 is done.

“How can you have almost 20 million voters and in the last election the present governor won by 880,000 votes, less than a million, that shows that there is apathy against APC, so for APC to win they have to plant their men inside us and that is what I have been fighting for in the last five years, but now we have the opportunity to savage the party through Deji Doherty, all we need to do is to rally round him and the moment we do that we don’t even need to campaign,” he said.

While it may not yet be Uhuru for the PDP in Lagos, political analysts are only curious how the newly inaugurated executive will bring all hands on deck to change the political trajectory of the party.

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2020: National Assembly raises own budget by N3bn

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2020: National Assembly raises own budget by N3bn

The House of Representatives on Thursday raised the National Assembly’s budget by N3 billion increasing it from N125 billion to N128 billion.
This is the earliest budget to pass by the National Assembly since 1999. The 2020 budget was presented to the National Assembly on October 8, 2019 and passed on December 5, 2019. It took one month and 27 days to be passed.
In the 2017, 2018 and 2019, the National Assembly budget was kept at N125 billion from the N150 billion, which had existed for years.
Explaining the reasons for the increase in the budget, chairman of the House of Representatives committee on media and public affairs, Hon. Benjamin Kalu (APC, Abia) said with the increment, “it is now clear that we are not a rubber stamp legislature as many people thought.”

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Balarabe: Nigeria risks a social revolution if…

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Balarabe: Nigeria risks a social revolution if…

Alhaji Balarabe Musa was governor of old Kaduna State in the Second Republic. He speaks in this interview with Felix Nwaneri on the state of the nation and the need for Nigerians to liberate themselves from the grip of the ruling class

 

What is your assessment of the recent governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states?

The elections were the worst that we have so far experienced, but we are going to continue to experience such in future elections unless something is done urgently.

Who would you blame for the ugly experience; the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies or the political parties?

The blame should be on the system itself because it was money and power that decided the outcome of the two elections. The violence, malpractices and other forms of irregularities that characterised the elections were as a result of money and power. 

Reacting to the outcry by the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the election, President Muhammadu Buhari advised the party to seek redress ion court. Do you see his advice as the best way of curbing the worrisome trend?

The President adopted that approach because his party was declared the winner of the two elections. They made sure that they were declared winner by any means and when those who were dissatisfied with the process protested; they said ‘go to court.’ They know that even if you go to court, they will take care of what will come out of the court, using money and power.

What does this worrisome trend in the electoral process portend for Nigeria’s democracy?

We are just deceiving ourselves; we have never had democracy. We have only had democratic aspiration, but we never had democracy. Democracy means more than what we have today. Democracy means the supremacy of the will of the people as demonstrated in the conduct of free, fair and transparent elections. Have we ever had that?

Some people will say that Nigeria experienced free, fair and transparent elections under the Prof. Attahiru Jega-led INEC…

Anyone who says that is deceiving him or herself because we’ve never had free, fair and transparent elections and there is no future for Nigeria until we do the right thing. We must ensure that there are free, fair and transparent elections that will lead to legitimate administrations at all levels of government. To ensure this, we must have a situation, where the voter freely decides the fate of political parties and their candidate during elections without being financially induced.

How feasible is that given the role money has played in the country’s elections of late?

We have to insist on that because other countries had the same problem at one time or the other, but they dealt with it and they now have peace, unity and progress.

Issues were raised about the card read after the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections and INEC even admitted that the card reader was circumvented by some politicians. Does this mean that the card reader has outlived its usefulness?

In the first place, the card reader was designed by those who are interested in winning elections at all cost. In any case, was the card reader used everywhere during the 2019 elections? I will tell you that it was not used everywhere because I voted without being accredited with the card reader and my polling unit was in an urban area. If the election took place in such an area without the card reader, you can then imagine what happened in the rural areas. I raised this issue then even before the media, but nothing was done about it.

Would you then suggest that the card reader should be jettisoned in future elections?

The issue is not the card reader itself; the problem is that everything about our elections is now decided by power and money and those in control of power use it to ensure that they are returned to office by any means.

That means you share the views of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who said that politicians are resorting to electoral coups to remain in power?

Didn’t Jonathan and others before him superintend over similar elections? We’ve been witnessing such elections under successive administrations, so we shouldn’t waste our time listening to people like Jonathan, Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida because they are responsible for the negative state of the nation and they are directly benefitting from that negative state. But the question is: As Nigerians; are we prepared to protect our interest by any means or we want to remain as slaves forever?

When you say Nigerians should protect their interest by any means, are you joining those calling for revolution?

I said by any means because that was what citizens of other countries did to liberate themselves. Countries like the United States, Britain, Russia, China and Germany, among others, didn’t get to where they are now by sitting down and wishing it. They sat down and prepared to go the whole hog for their freedom, which in turn, guaranteed their progress.

Do you see that happening in a complex nation like Nigeria?

Forget about that. Is Nigeria more complex that any of these countries that I just mentioned yet they sat down and insisted on democracy and national unity. Let’s go back to history; how did the countries of Europe – Britain, Germany and France, among others secure the right of the people to elect their representatives in their respective parliaments? Was that move not opposed by the monarchy that held sway then, but the people insisted on the right of the people to elect their representatives. In America, where there was no monarchy, the people had to fight slavery and British colonialism, and they used all means.

So, you can see that there is no country that is free now that didn’t pass through what Nigeria is experiencing at the moment, but they sat down and used all means to get to where they are presently. Do you know how China became a Peoples Republic in 1949? Did they just sat down and celebrated those who opposed the people’s freedom? No! They did what was required. So, we have to also do what is required. We have to it because Nigeria has virtually reached the end of the road. Nothing is working in Nigeria. Law and order no longer work; what is working now is balance of terror and you can see that clearly.

Even soldiers, policemen and personnel of other security agencies that are supposed to protect the people are being killed in their numbers these days. What is working in Nigeria today is balance of terror or what one will equally describe as bureaucratic anarchy, waiting for social anarchy to come about. Remember how Somalia got to where it is today. Today, nobody can stand up in that country because anything can happen at any time. Are you saying that we will not reach to that level? No, we will reach there unless something is urgently done to stop Nigeria’s continued slide to anarchy.

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is likely to disagree with you that Nigeria is on the road to Somalia…

Forget about the APC and the other opposition parties because they are the same. All the 91 political parties in Nigeria are the same except the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) because of the party’s commitment to socialist reconstruction of Nigeria, starting with the leading role of the government in the economy to ensuring peace, justice, equality and even development of the country. This makes PRP unique, but the party is ignored because it doesn’t have money. Why is it that the media don’t take on the parties, analyze what the stand for and present them before the people?

The issue is that parties come with great ideas, but most times a different thing is seen when they get to power…

But that was not the case when the PRP came to power in Kaduna State in 1979. Didn’t you see the difference during the four years PRP was in power in Kaduna State? For instance, immediately we were sworn-in on October 1, 1979, we identified that the poor state of the education sector as the fundamental problem of Nigeria and Kaduna State in particular. In terms of educational development, we identified that there was a forty years gap between the North and the South, and we Kaduna State committed ourselves to bridging that gap in 20 years.

We planned to reach the level of educational development of Oyo State, which was the number one in the country then within 20 years and we started the journey from day one by increasing the number of secondary schools in Kaduna State from 100 to 200. Was there any state government that adopted such a revolutionary step then? Why is the media ignoring that? I know that it is in the interest of other parties to ignore that, but why is the media also doing so? Within four years, we built 13 roads that linked the various local government areas of the state; we built 13 small scale industries that all started production, but later packed up because those who took over from us messed up everything.

What is your take on the threat by the PDP to pull out of future elections given what happened during the November 16 governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states?

What is the difference between APC and PDP? The PDP is even worst and that was why in 2015, they preferred not to win the presidential election. They sabotaged themselves in different ways because they preferred the APC to take over from them, knowing very well that APC will not last in power and that Nigerians would end up, saying that PDP should come back. That is what is happening in Nigeria today. Today, in terms of governorship, representation at the state and national Assembly as well as administration at the local government level, what is the difference between APC and PDP? They are neck-to-neck.

In 2015, PDP knew that if they continue to stay in power, there would be a social revolution that will wipe them out, so they preferred to defeat themselves. Their strategy was to allow APC, which they knew will not hold on to power for long to take over and they took over, knowing that after some time, people will start saying that even PDP was better, which is happening today.

Do you see the social revolution, which you said the PDP averted, happening given the way things are with the APC-led government?

Of course, it will happen because Nigerians are fed up with the present negative state of the nation and there will come a time, when the people will not take that any more. And you know that history has proved that slaves never remain as slaves forever; one day slaves will rise up to free themselves. In Europe and America, didn’t people fight against slavery, totalitarianism, monarchy and colonialism? Even in our history in Nigeria, didn’t we fight colonialism and saw to the end of it? What is the difference between what is happening now and during feudal times; the days of the emirs and chiefs, during the days of British colonialism and during the days of military dictatorship?

Some years ago, a farmer can survive on the income he makes from his farm produce and still have some to spare. Is there any farmer who can do that now except the big thieves, who have big and mechanized farms? Until the military came in 1966, a farmer anywhere in Nigeria survived on income from his farm and even had something to spare. When I started work in 1953, it was messengers who helped us out before we received our first salary. The salary of a messenger then was enough to sustain him and his family, and there was even something left to help others.

I started work as a clerk in 1953, but coming to city for the first time, I borrowed money from a messenger in order to survive, pending when I received my first salary. I didn’t borrow from a permanent secretary, but a messenger. Even when I was the governor of Kaduna State, you would be surprised to know how much I spent to take care of myself and my family. If I remember correctly, I spent about N6,000 monthly because I have a small family – myself, three children and two domestic staff.

How did the nation get it wrong and why is that President Buhari seems to be finding it difficult to reverse the trend despite the promises he made?

Things have gone from bad to worse and you will be deceiving yourself if you rely on those promises. Find out the reality on ground and compare it to the promises and you will realize that the promises were lies and deception.

Despite the picture you’ve painted about Nigeria, some politicians have kick-started the campaign for the 2023 elections…

What they are doing is all about gambling with the future of Nigeria and her over 180 million people. So, let us wait for the worst to happen or we stand up and prevent the worst from happening. The people of other nations, at a time in their respective histories, witnessed what we are experiencing now, but they stood up and freed themselves. So, it is left for us to stand up and liberate ourselves.

Do you see liberation coming through the ballot?

We know the reality, so let us not deceive ourselves. We know the level of poverty in Nigeria at the moment; the level of insecurity is clear; the level of dominance by the ruling class is clear; the level of looting of our common wealth is clear; the level of domination of our economy by a few imperialists is clear. All these negative indices are clear, so let us stand up and solve the problems by whatever means if we are people worth our names.

When you say by whatever means; some people called for revolution and the state moved against them and they are still in detention?

Those who freed the countries of Europe and America; was that not what they did? Why can’t we do that?

Are you not worried that the Hate Speech Bill that is pending in the Senate is part of the plot to gag Nigerians from speaking truth to power?

That is part of the plan by the ruling class to put opposition in check, so that it can remain in power. But, such did not start today. Even in feudal and monarchical times, those who advocated for freedom of speech and expression were arrested and shot. Even the religious bodies collaborated with the authorities by describing those advocates as heretics. So, those who are opposed to the Hate Speech Bill should know that there is a price to pay, but I will advise them not to give up.

How can a government that claims to obey the rule of law think of gaging the people with what it describes a Hate Speech Law, when the constitution provides for freedom of speech? We know the plan; the ruling class wants to remain in power, so opposition should not be tolerated and that is the reason for the Hate Speech Bill.

What are your thoughts on the rumoured third term plan for the President, which he has come out to disclaim?

What is strange about it? Haven’t we seen in the past, a man that wants to perpetuate himself in power, kick-starting the plot by organising groups to campaign for him to be given a third term. 

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Nigeria’s electoral process has been monetisied – Agoro

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Nigeria’s electoral process has been monetisied – Agoro

Dr. Olapade Agoro, a former presidential candidate and National Chairman of the National Action Council (NAC), in this interview with TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE, speaks on the Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections, electoral reform and 2023 presidency, among other issues

 

As a former presidential candidate and National Chairman of the National Action Council (NAC), what is your take on the recent governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states?

You asked a question that is salient to the socio-political issues that is on ground now in Nigeria. I must let you that I am not one of those who want to live in the rough fight of the political situation of Nigeria. If that is the type of election we want in Nigeria in year 2019, then I will say leave me out of it. I felt very bad about the violence and killings that took place during the Kogi State governorship election. I felt bad that a woman, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Woman Leader was burnt to ashes with her properties because of election. How can we recover that woman burnt because of politics?

You will recall that former President Goodluck Jonathan once said his election victory must not be built on the blood of anybody. With the killing of the PDP Woman leader and so many other people in Kogi and Bayelsa states in just one election, we must ask ourselves some questions: Are we animals in human skins? Do we have human blood in us? Do we have human feelings? How can someone win an election on the blood of people? That is my reaction. I don’t think it is an election one want to discuss. It is an election built on sham.

With what happened in Bayelsa and Kogi, are you not worried about what lies ahead of the 2023 general election?

I don’t think offering oneself for serve worth shedding of blood. Why should I kill anybody because of a dream? It is rather unfortunate that at the end of the day those who killed will also die one day.  Look at what happened to former President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who died at the age of 93. Look at the ruin he ended up leaving Zimbabwe with. Zimbabwe is now a ruined country and dilapidated nation. So, when you talk about Africans in politics, you are talking of animals in the jungle. We have no common sense and feelings for humanity.

Politics is all about service, but what do we get; you want to kill somebody else because you want to be in a position? Why should that be? Why must you believe that you must kill somebody because of ordinary position that is ephemeral? So, forget about 2023. If you don’t have today, you can’t expect to have tomorrow. We have not gotten today right, so thinking about tomorrow, we are wasting our time.

But some people have already started campaigning for 2023…

We are in 2019; we don’t know who will see 2020. I read something in the newspaper that made me puke. Some people are saying that the presidency of this nation should be limited to the North. That is sad. Is the presidency the property of some people? The belief that only people from a catchment area have the right to leadership is wrong. I think that may determine what we have to do with Nigeria. If I as a person cannot even dream of becoming a leader of my country; that leadership of this country has been arrogated to a catchment of an area; I think that is wrong. I think that is silly and playing God.

Are you invariably saying that the North should retain the presidency in 2023?

Why should it go to the North? That is the problem we have in this nation. We believe in leadership by right. If Barrack Obama, a black man could become president of United States; president of a white dominated nation, then I believe anybody should aspire to leadership anywhere in Nigeria. So, there is a need for us to sit down and call a national debate. Do we want Nigeria as a nation? If we don’t get it, then we need to decide the step we must take. Why should some people believe that leadership is their birthright just because of geographical difference? That is silly and talking nonsense. I believe God can use the youth of today to become leader tomorrow. I believe anybody can aspire to become the leader of this country any day, any time.

Muhammadu Buhari became president in the last election. He is a friend and I love him, but then he should ask himself, did he win the election freely and fairly? The election was marooned with unquantifiable quantity of naira. Nobody can say this is the actual money that was spent for the election. Is Buhari leading us right? The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) cannot sit down and say this is the actual amount of money that was spent for the election. A candidate must have spent about N20 billion for one election. That is wrong, silly and madness. There is nothing to rejoice about. That is telling you that Nigeria as a nation is not meant for a poor man.

Should the presidency return to the South in 2023 as being demanded by some southern leaders?

I don’t believe in the idea that a president should come from a particular area. The next president of Nigeria should go to a highly qualified person. We need quality in service. We need offering of quality not offering of naira. Barrack Obama was the poorest among those who have been contesting for the presidency of the United States, but he has the determination and courage and packaged everything he can, and suddenly started gathering money from here and there. At the end of the day, he won the election. But in Nigeria, we had somebody contesting election and spending money in billions just because he wants to be a leader.    

What is your take on the speculation that President Buhari is seeking a third term despite the president denying it?

I know Buhari and I will not allow anybody to talk evil of him. Buhari will never seek for anything called third term. He is lucky that he is even alive. You can contest election even if you are 80 years if you are still strong and healthy. During his first time in office, Buhari spent over three months in London; he went to hospital in London for treatment. Is that the man you want to say should be junketing about with a third term idea? I don’t believe Buhari is going for third term. I am sure immediately his tenure ends, Buhari will head to United Kingdom. He has a very good friend now in United Kingdom, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

Given what happened in Kogi and Bayelsa states during the November 16 governorship polls and other previous elections under the Prof. Mahmood Yakubu-led INEC, what should Nigerians expect in 2023?

As far as I am concerned, INEC is what you will call Nigeria. INEC is Nigeria, where nothing good works. Let us just forget about 2023 now and reform our electoral system. I will want to say that Buhari should give us reformed electoral system. We should sit down and work things out. The noise people are making now about Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is nonsense. Buhari should call his aides and assistants to order; they shouldn’t mess up with the vice-president. Osinbajo saved this nation when Buhari was not around. He did his best for Nigeria. So, those trying to push him out should please be told to watch it. All his aides, who were sacked, should be reinstated. Osinbajo is a professor of Law, so people should not toy with him.

Will you support the call for deregistration of some political parties, considering their poor performance in the last general election?

As far as I am concerned, having so many political parties in Nigeria without taking care of money in politics, we are wasting our time. What will the parties do without money? The 2019 presidential election cost All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) about N50 billion. Tell me other parties, which can raise N1 billion for an election? There were 71 political parties that contested the 2019 presidential election and 69 political parties scored less than one million votes, while Buhari and Atiku had over 27million votes. That will tell you that we have not gotten it right. We are not talking about the issue of political parties; we are talking about the system. The system has been ganged up in money. We are not voting in Nigeria, we are buying votes. So, when you talk about voting, we are wasting time; people buy votes in Nigeria. The more you have, the more you can get.

We have not gotten to the stage where you will have an idea of building a nation based on ideology. Which ideology do we have in our system? Buhari supported Governor Yahaya Bello in Kogi State and also supported David Lyon in Bayelsa State. The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and former Bayelsa State governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, also supported Lyon and you think Governor Seriake Dickson will prevail. The governor should have known that he was fighting a wrong battle. That is it. Buhari has decided that he has a stake in the political system of Nigeria. So, we have militarized and monitised Nigeria’s electoral process.

You hail from Osun State and recently three Chinese investors were kidnapped in the state. What is your take on this ugly incident?

The kidnap of the three Chinese investors and killing of a Police officer at Itagunmodi in Atakumosa area of Osun State is sad and embarrassing. Such should not be allowed to dampen the good work being done by the government of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola. Rather it should be seen as a surmountable challenge with good and strategic planning. The killing of a police officer in the incident should be seen as an affront at the law enforcement agencies with evil intention to discourage and disorganise them. The work of insiders must not be ruled out to prevent further occurrence. I am happy to learn of the release of those kidnapped yet the guard should not be let loose until the State of Osun can be safety quarantined for all and sundry.

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Scrutinize Dickson’s accounts, Lyon urges transition committee

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Scrutinize Dickson’s accounts, Lyon urges transition committee

Chief David Lyon the governor elect of Bayelsa State on Wednesday urged the transition committee set up by the All Progressives Congress to scrutinize the accounts of Governor Henry Dickson’s administration urging them to identify failures of the outgoing administration.
Inaugurating the committee in Yenagoa, the state capital, David Lyon urged them but also proffer possible solutions to tackle economic, security, development, infrastructure and the several other areas that often put the machinery of government in the negative perspective.
Lyon also set out a 12-point term of reference for the committee including the close monitoring of Dickson’s dealings with banks and financial institutions and scrutinise bills passed into law within the past four years.
Among other terms of reference are for the committee to interface with the out-going Administration for purposes of a smooth hand-over/take-,over and receive hand-over documents from Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
Chief Lyon, in his speech, also noted that though the challenges before the APC and the incoming administration is enormous, “No doubt, there are enormous challenges facing us as a people. Some of you here have witnessed these challenges before and may have, in your heart, been thinking of what you would do to address them if given the opportunity.
“Some others are here to contribute fresh ideas towards addressing the issues before us. We have often talked about the failures of the outgoing government and its inability to solve the problems bedeviling our state.
“The onus now lies on us to bring to bear those solutions that we have, for long, kept in our hearts. You must remember that the task before us is enormous and must, therefore, bring your utmost best in proffering solutions to our numerous challenges.”
He also pointed out that the size of the transition committee is made up of a “group of people with common dreams and ideologies who share common pains, aspirations and goals.”
Speaking, the Chairman of the Transition Committee and former Acting Governor, Werinipre Seibarogu, thanked the party and the Governor-elect for the opportunity to serve and vowed to fulfil the terms of reference handed the committee.

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South West PDP asks NASS to revisit electoral bill

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South West PDP asks NASS to revisit electoral bill
  • Says Nigerian elections no longer command respect

 

 

 

The South West zone of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Wednesday, asked the National Assembly to urgently revisit the electoral bill which was “curiously” vetoed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The party said the bill represents an immediate panacea to the growing malpractices and irregularities rocking the nation’s electoral process.
Rising from a stakeholders meeting held in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, the PDP leaders bemoaned the alleged surreptitious plot by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to subvert the mandate of Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State.
The party leaders also condemned the alleged use of security agencies to compromise election results in favour of APC in the recent gubernatorial elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States.
In attendance at the meeting were Governor Makinde, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Chief Bisi Ilaka; former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, former presidential spokesman, Dr Doyin Okupe, former House of Representatives member, Oladipupo Adebutu, and former Nigerian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ibrahim Kazaure.
Others include the PDP Deputy National Chairman (South), Elder Yemi Akinwonmi, PDP National Secretary, Ibrahim Tsuari, National Vice Chairman (South West), Dr Eddy Olafeso, and Lagos State chairman of PDP, Chief Deji Doherty.
Some of the PDP leaders took turns to express concern over the political situation in the country, saying it was degenerating under Buhari’s watch.
The party chieftains observed a minute silence for the late PDP Women Leader in Kogi, Mrs Salome Acheju Abuh, who was burnt to death recently.
In a communiqué issued after the meeting, the South West PDP renewed calls for urgent review of the electoral process towards sanitizing it to command respect.
It will be recalled that the 8th Assembly under the immediate past Senate President Bukola Saraki proposed an Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill but it was not assented to by the President.

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Reps: How lawmakers passed finance bill in a week

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Reps: How lawmakers passed finance bill in a week

Philip Nyam reports on how the House of Representatives conducted a public hearing and passed the finance bill in less than two weeks

 

 

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he House of Representatives kept to its promise by passing the finance bill last Thursday. The report of the committee on finance on the bill was laid same day and considered immediately at the committee of the whole.

The bill titled: “A bill for an act to amend the companies income tax act, value added tax, customs and excise tariff etc. (Consolidation) act, personal income tax act, capital gains tax act, stamp duties act and petroleum profit tax act to provide for the review of tax provisions and make them more responsive to tax reform, and for related matters,” is an executive proposed legislation.

 

 

Part of the amendments approved in the bill by the House according to the chairman of the House committee on media and public affairs, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, is the stripping of the Nigerian Postal Commission (NIPOST) of the responsibility of collecting N50 stamp duties and transferring it to Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

 

 

The N50 one-off stamp duty, however, exempts all electronic receipts or transfer of money deposited in any bank or with any banker, on any type of account, to be accounted for amounting from N10,000 upwards except monies paid into one’s account or transferred electronically between accounts of the same owners by the owner within the same bank.

 

 

The House also approved the increase of Value Added Tax (VAT) from five to 7.5 per cent. On sanction, the bill provides that a taxable person who fails or refuses to register with FIRS within the time specified in the bill shall be liable to pay N50,000 fine for the first month and N25,000 for each subsequent month of default.

 

 

“Where a taxable person permanently ceased to carry on a trade or business in Nigeria, the taxable person shall notify the Service of its intention to deregister for tax purposes within 90 days of such cessation of the trade or business.

 

 

“Nonresident company is also under obligation to be taxed on invoice for the supply of taxable services while the person to whom the services are supplied in Nigeria shall withhold and remit tax directly to the Service in the currency of payment.

 

 

“Any taxable person who fails to notify the Service of a change of address of business or trade shall be liable to fine of N50,000 for the first month and N25,000 for subsequent month of default.

 

“Any taxable person who fails to submit returns shall be liable to a fine of N50,000 for the first month and N25,000 for subsequent month of default,” the bill provides.

 

 

On the amendment to the Customs and Excise Tariff, etc (Consolidation), Act, the bill provides: “Goods manufactured in Nigeria and specified in the Fifth Schedule to this Act shall be charged with duties of Excise at the rate specified under the Duty Column.”

 

It also provides that goods imported and those manufactured in Nigeria shall be charged with duties of Excise at the specified rates in the Duty Column.

 

The provision is aimed at protecting local industries and to make their prices competitive, while avoiding double taxation. The Companies Income Tax amendment also affects real estate investment companies, dividend, interest, rent or royalty paid by companies. Section 23 of the report however exempts profits of any company being a statutory or register friendly society in so far as such profits are not derived from a trade or business carried on by such society.

 

Others include profits by a cooperative society, profits of any company engaged in ecclesiastical, charitable or educational activities of a public character, company sponsoring sporting activities and profits generated by registered trade unions.

 

In a bid to encourage diversification of the economy, the bill also provides for incentives for “any company engaged in agricultural production and processing in addition to other incentives. An initial tax free period of five years which may be subject to satisfactory performance of the agricultural business be renewed for an additional maximum period of five years.”

 

The public hearing

 

Before the House passed the bill on November 28, it held a public hearing on November 25, where stakeholders were invited to make inputs. While declaring opened the exercise, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila stated that the Tax and Fiscal Law (amendment) Bill before the National Assembly would determine the nation’s capacity to fund the 2020 Appropriation Act.

 

He said: “The Tax and Fiscal Law (Amendment) Bill which we have gathered here to consider and to contribute to, will determine amongst other things, our ability as a nation to fund the 2020 budget, meet the obligations of government and implement policies to build infrastructure, tackle insecurity, grow the economy, and provide jobs that pay a living wage and lift families out of poverty.

 

“It is an important piece of legislation, deserving of thorough consideration, and reasoned debate by the parliament of the people, acting in the best interests of the people. We have a responsibility as legislators to meticulously review and examine every aspect of this bill to ensure that we produce a legislative document that is clear in its objectives, thoughtful in the mandates it imposes and reflective of the best aspirations of all our citizens.”

 

On her part, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, explained that the Financial Bill 2019 seeks to promote fiscal equity by mitigating instances of regressive taxation; reform domestic tax laws to align with global best practices and introduce tax incentives for investments in infrastructure and capital markets.

 

She said the bill also seeks to support small businesses in line with ease of doing business reforms and raise revenues for government, by various fiscal measures, including a proposed increase in the rate of VAT from five to 7.5 per cent, while the Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT) seeks to improve revenue by removing the tax exemption granted for dividends or income received from companies charged under PPT.

 

In his intervention, Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babatunde Fowler, informed lawmakers that over 40,000 registered businesses do not pay requisite taxes in Nigeria.

 

 

Chairman, Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Paul McGrath, argued that stiff business environment left Nigeria with only three per cent out of the $73 billion of major project investments in Africa from 2015 to 2019.

 

According to him, OPTS represents 29 independent, indigenous and international E&P companies which operate about 90 per cent of the oil and gas production and have invested on average $15 billion per year in Nigeria over the last five years with significant benefits to the economy.

 

He, however, acknowledged that some sections of the composite bill seeking to reform the tax regime by amending several acts, namely Petroleum Profit Tax Act (PPT), Custom and Excise Tax Act, Company Income Tax Act (CITA), Personal Income Tax Act, Value Added Tax Act, Stamp Duties Tax Act, and Capital Gains Act, are geared toward encouraging small to medium companies flourish and also digitalize communications, especially the exemption of small to medium companies from VAT, as well as a 1-2 per cent bonus for medium-sized and large companies that pay their income tax liability early under the CITA.

 

He observed that certain provisions in the composite bills such as the proposed increase from 7.5 to 10 per cent withholding tax on dividends paid out of petroleum profits, which he argued “represents another layer of tax on the pre-existing 85 per cent petroleum profit tax rate will erode investment and investors’ confidence.

 

While cautioning against policy somersault, he observed that when Section 60 of PPTA was put in place, it was widely understood that Nigeria’s PPT rate of 85 per cent was very high when compared to other countries. “Therefore, the exemption of dividend payments from withholding tax was put in place to reduce the burden caused by the high tax rate,” he said.

 

He maintained that the additional tax will further erode returns on investment and will have a negative impact on Nigeria’s attractiveness as an investment destination, to the advantage of other countries, adding that the proposed hike will in the “short-term increase in revenue from all these provisions puts at risk Nigeria’s ability to sustain its current production through new investments.

 

“Without new projects, Nigeria’s production will be subject to a 15 per cent annual natural decline,” he said.

 

On the other hand, he urged that the proposal be removed from the Bill, and instead considered within the wider context of a Petroleum Industry Bill, so that its full implications for all stakeholders can be assessed and decided upon.

 

 

Speaking on the proposed 7.5 per cent VAT rate as contained in Sections 35 & 38 of the bill, McGrath kicked against the imposition of VAT on invoices and similar transactions which he stressed will “widen the operating expenses base, thus, increasing industry operational costs.

 

“Again, OPTS recommends the adoption of globally-accepted industry practice of exempting intra-company at cost services,” he said.

 

Despite the laudable objectives of the Nigeria Economic Reform Growth Plan (ERGP) aimed at building a competitive economy through improving the Nigerian business environment, he maintained that one of the proposed amendments would defeat this objective.

 

“It is noteworthy that total contributions from our operations have consistently constituted over 70 per cent of government revenue and 90 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange. This translates to cumulative $425 billion contribution to Nigeria’s revenue between 2007 and 2018,” he observed.

 

On her part, President/Chairman, Chattered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN), observed that most of the provisions that the bills seeks to amend have become obsolete in terms of global practice and have become practically difficult to implement in the Nigerian context.

 

According to her, “these have given rise to many loopholes that are exploited in widening the tax avoidance gap in Nigeria.”

 

The institute also commended the proposed amendment to the excise duties on goods imported for export oriented activities, just as it called for careful definition of the “range of products so charged as part of strategies targeted at aiding the country’s migration from net-importer to export-oriented nation.”

 

 

With the expeditious passage of the bill, it is expected that President Muhammadu Buhari will assent to it immediately it is forwarded to him by the National Assembly.

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Kano: Ganduje boosts state’s education status with France visit

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Kano: Ganduje boosts state’s education status with France visit

Recently, Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, was in France to stimulate the state’s relationship with France on educational development. During the visit, much was done, including the signing of an bilateral educational agreement. MUHAMMAD KABIR reports

 

 

T

here is no doubt that Governor Abdullahi Ganduje’s visit to France has attracted lots of goodies to Kano State, especially as regards to educational development.

During the visit, Ganduje renewed an educational agreement between the state and French Government under the Kano, France Governments Scholarship Agreement for five more years from 2020, when the existing agreement comes to an end. The current agreement was signed in 2016.

 

 

The governor said the extension for a period of five years was to enable those who would run doctorate degrees to have enough period to complete their studies in case of an extension of their academic engagements due to the peculiarity of their chosen fields of study.

 

 

Commending the existing academic partnership between Kano State government and the French Government, Ganduje said: “What we are doing now is targeted at educational programmes. In this programme for example, we target lecturers of our tertiary institutions, who will come back and impart what they were taught and trained on to their students.”

 

 

He made the disclosure, when he visited Kano students, sponsored under the programme at Campus France in Paris, while explaining that his administration accords priority to all stages of the education sector.

 

 

Campus France is a body that shoulders responsibility of managing Kano France Governments Scholarship Programme among others across the globe. The body currently has 4,000 students under its watch. It works by way of collaborative effort with all institutions of higher learning in France.

 

 

Ganduje, who expressed his believe that the education sector needs to have complete overhaul, said: “That is why we said for basic education; let us have free and compulsory primary and secondary education. A policy we have since started implementing. Because of the quality of students that are going to be produced from our primary to secondary schools, we now said that we have to prepare for quality tertiary institutions.”

 

 

According to him, the need to quip lecturers of institutions of higher learning, explained why they were encouraged to further their studies under the French programme. “It is not an issue of taking people to places without any direction. In our effort to prepare our tertiary institutions for quality response, we came up with this educational programme,” he said.

 

 

Speaking during the governor’s visit, the Director-General of Campus France, coordinating the programme, Beatrice Khaiat, who expressed satisfaction over what she described as exceptional performance of the Kano postgraduate students, numbering 26, out of which, 19 are running masters programmes and seven, doctorate programmes, informed Ganduje that more French universities are willing to accept more students from Kano.

 

 

Khaiat disclosed that Kano has set a standard by sending students for postgraduate studies in France. “What the Kano State government is doing by sending students, who are selected on merit, is extremely good for state, Nigeria and the world in general,” she said.

 

 

Noting that the Kano students are taking the lead in all their choice areas, she said the initiative of the Ganduje-led government will contribute to the development of the state and would be reflected as part of the legacies of his administration.

 

 

Governor Ganduje was in the course of the visit invited by the French Education Attachee at French Embassy in Nigeria, Mrs. Laila Matthew, to facilitate the participation of Kano State in the upcoming Nigeria Day in France, when Nigerian institutions of higher learning would be in France to meet with French institutions to explore opportunities for postgraduate studies.

 

 

“Kano is doing well in this agreement that was first signed in 2016. It is indicative to note that this agreement with the Kano State government opened doors for Nigeria as some other schools started showing interest in this great programme. So, Kano is a pacesetter. It may interest the governor to also know that most of the awardees, who are sponsored through the Petroleum Trust and Development Fund (PTDF), come from Kano,” Matthew disclosed.

 

 

She further revealed that at that commencement of the agreement with Kano State, it was predicted that many Nigerian states would follow suit. She therefor congratulated Governor Ganduje for the exceptional performance of the Kano students sponsored under the programme, noting that some of the PhD students are doing exceptionally well.

 

 

“We have a Kano student, who was even selected for a renowned international conference, where he did well as well,” she said.

 

 

As a show of appreciation and encouragement to the Kano State government, the French Committee of Vice Chancellors, which was represented at the visit, also acknowledged how Kano State students under the scholarship programme are excelling in French universities.

 

 

Meanwhile, after meeting with the officials, Ganduje had special a meeting with the Kano students. In his remarks during the meeting, the governor commended them for being good ambassadors of Kano State and Nigeria.

 

 

“While commending you for your exhibition of good character, I am also on behalf of the government and good people of Kano State, commending you profusely on your giant strides and performance in your fields of study,” he said.

 

 

While reiterating the commitment of his administration to provide quality education at all levels, he said: “We started with the accreditation of our higher institutions of learning. We then said education is now free in both primary and secondary schools. But that is not enough for us. We signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the French government in 2016 and we said this time around it must be a targeted educational programme.

 

 

“We found it extremely necessary to inform you first before doing that. Being stakeholders in this effort, as education is dynamic, we found it necessary to help you go deeper in global learning. We are also thinking of increasing the number of studenta and lecturers coming here for postgraduate studies,” he said.

 

 

The governor received a standing ovation, when he mentioned that.. Another standing ovation was accorded to the governor when he mentioned before the students that he doesn’t care about political party affiliation, when it comes to the selection process of beneficiaries.

 

 

The Chairman of Kano State Joint Scholarship Awardees, Bashir Ado, commended the governor for the untiring efforts. He revealed that they do not face any form of difficulty in their stay as students in France.

 

 

“We do not experience any hitch in any payment. We are comfortably facing our studies. For your information sir, Kano has the highest number of students studying in France among all other states in Nigeria. We are grateful for that,” he said.

 

 

The students’ body crowned Governor Ganduje with an Award of Excellence and Performance, as an appreciation of his effort in the education sector. The students emphasised that, when Nigeria is blessed with leaders like Ganduje, the country would, within the shortest possible time, compete with other big nations on earth.

 

 

“We do appreciate His Excellency’s committed commitment, dedication, patriotism and above all political will. We will not complete our remarks without thanking the Vice Chancellor of Kano University of Science and Technology, Wudil, Prof. Shehu Alhaji Musa for his unrelenting support and encouragement. So also the Coordinator of the programme, Dr Usaini Jarma, who has also being up and down to make sure that the programme succeeds and all other officials who give their support in one-way or the other,” they declared.

 

 

They also decorated Prof Musa and Dr Jarma with Awards of Excellence, with the permission of the governor, as protocol arrangement of such gatherings and meetings demands.

 

 

At CY Universite Cergy-Pontois, Ganduje was briefed by the Political Affairs Officer of the university, Clara Doly-Tacconi; Joelle Gury of International Relations department and Joachim Amdreas Honecker of Master Physics and was acquainted with the need for global partnership between the university and the Kano State government.

 

 

An MoU that was already signed between Kano and French governments would also include the university for the establishment of the vibrant synergy for the advancement of education in the state, where the state would be sending students to further their education at both masters and doctoral degree programmes.

 

 

Tacconi said their dream was to develop campuses in Nigeria and other African countries, adding: “We have found good partnership with the Kano State government. And looking at the high ranking nature of the university among others, calls for our serious partnership with the state government.”

 

 

In his remarks, Governor Ganduje assured them that the university would be part of the institutions to be considered in the already signed MoU between the French government and Kano State, which provides for the sending of lecturers from institutions of higher learning in the state.

 

 

His words: “We will be good partners in the area of education, especially looking at your position in the education ranking in the world. This university will be part of our MoU. And our target is to let our lecturers improve in their areas of specialty and capacity and to also expose them to research world.

 

 

“The state is tilting towards science and technology, so that we can continue to have productive manpower. While on urban development, as you have just briefed us, we need that in place. Kano being a mega city, there are issues like that of security, sanitation and transportation. So, for us, demographic studies is important.”

 

The need a population that is an asset, not a liability in the state, was what governor Ganduje assured that he would make the synergy between work, adding that “we are after affordability, accessibility and sustainability, that is why we are executing free and compulsory primary and secondary education policy in the state.”

 

 

Governor Ganduje and his entourage later proceeded to EPITA Bilingual School of Engineering and Computer Science, the first of all universities in France in the area Engineering/Computer Science. The school has working synergy with over 2,000 companies.

 

 

The Director of the institution’s International Programmes, Prof. Rabid Haddad, commended the Kano State government for its effort in sending postgraduate students the under Kano France Joint Scholarship Programme, where lecturers from tertiary institutions of learning are being send to further their studies at the postgraduate level.

 

 

On the entourage of Governor Ganduje were the Vice Chancellor of Kano State University of Science and Technology (KUST), Wudil, Prof. Shehu Musa; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Higher Education, Dr Binta Umar Bala; Executive Secretary, Kano State Scholarship Board, Abubakar Zakari and Usaini Jarma, former Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Higher Education, who is also the Programme Coordinator of the French/Kano Governments Foreign Scholarship Programme.

 

 

Others are the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, Auwalu Iliasu Riruwai; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Garba Ahmad; Managing Director, State Water Board, Tukur Makama Getso and Managing Director State Refuse Management and Sanitation Board (REMASAB), Abdullahi Mu’azu Gwarzo.

 

 

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