Trading activities on the floor of Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) ended the month of September positive with record N59 billion gain to close at N13.450 trillion in market capitalisation.
The growth in market capitalisation during the month was due to positive sentiment by investors following the inauguration of ministers and other officials that will give clear policy direction of the economy and expectation of the third quarter’s financial performance.
Available statistics to New Telegraph showed that the trading year opened at N13.391 trillion in market capitalisation and 27,525.81 in index at the beginning of September 1, 2019, and closed the month at N13.450 trillion and 27,630.56 index points, thus gaining about N59 billion or +0.4 per cent.
However, market analysts believe bargain hunters, especially foreign portfolio investors, who dominate the market, traded cautiously during the month as selloffs persisted amidst growing insecurity and political tension from the delay in constitution of new cabinet by the Federal Government.
The move to assign portfolios came six months after Buhari won the presidential election and nearly three months after his second term began. The time taken to appoint ministers had caused jitters among investors and threatened growth prospects.
Even as the president had constituted his cabinet, market watchers still believe that investors, especially foreigners, were unlikely to make significant investment in the market until they had a clear picture of the policy direction of government.
This, according to them, is lack of vital information about what the economy direction is going to look like, which had left investors uncertain about what policies government would implement as regards the socio-political and economic environment.
The Managing Director, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, while reacting to the development, said policies of government would determine the return of foreign investors and an upturn in investment in the capital market.
Chukwu noted that the economic policies of the new government would make the capital market attractive or unattractive for investors, both local and international.
He said: “If government comes up with policies that make Nigerian instruments very attractive and then stabilises the exchange rate or the exchange rate is at a level where foreign investors believe it will not depreciate materially further, then you will see the return of foreign investors, which may up their shares in the market.”
Chukwu said to encourage more retail investors to come back to the market; the returns matrix must favour equities against fixed income.
United Capital Asset Management Limited Managing Director, Odiri Oginni, in a report, said despite the attractiveness of Nigerian equities when compared to other African and emerging markets, interest in Nigerian equities may remain depressed for the rest of the year as the overall economic condition remains challenging.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had said that the major contributory factor to the current downward trend of the market was the outflow of foreign investment.
Acting Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Ms. Mary Uduk, said recently that the outflow had led to sell pressure accumulating into depressed prices.
She said this was the reasons the commission is mapping out strategies to build confidence in the market and encourage more retail investors.
Presidency lobbies Senate for Magu’s confirmation
…alleges extortion of agencies, boards by lawmakers
Buhari orders security agencies to crush bandits
There are indications that President Muhammadu Buhari will re-nominate Ibrahim Magu to be confirmed as substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
This was even as the Presidency accused the members of the National Assembly of making monetary demands from the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government in the course of carrying out their oversight functions.
The Presidency, therefore, called on the leadership of the Senate to call to order, some of its standing committees allegedly involved in these indecorous extortions.
President Buhari had, during the 8th Senate, nominated Magu at two different times between 2016 and 2017 for confirmation in that capacity, but rejected by the Senate on account of unfavourable security report.
The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), made the request for Magu’s confirmation if re-nominated during a courtesy visit on the Senate leadership.
Sagay said that the country needed Magu in substantive capacity as EFCC chairman in the ongoing war against corruption.
According to him, Magu has performed creditably well as acting chairman of the anti-graft agency based on records on ground within the last four years and should be considered for substantive capacity.
He said: “In sustaining the ongoing war against corruption in the country, we wish to appeal to the Senate to consider the speedy confirmation of the acting chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, who has done magnificent work so far in the years of being in that position and who will be a good companion to the legislature in achieving the aims of anti-corruption in this country.”
He also called for the passage of certain anti-corruption bills like the Special Criminal Court, and other similar bills, which would help the anti-corruption war and ensure that the fight was successfully done with speed and energy.
The PACAC Chairman, however, shocked the lawmakers during the visit when he confronted them that some standing committees of the Senate were extorting government agencies under the guise of oversight functions.
“We also want to bring before the Senate, some of the criticisms of the public in the area of oversight. There is this constant complain that members of committees demand some form of gratifications before they would visit a place or write anything favourable about the MDAs.
“We appeal to the leadership to look into it and ensure that the oversight work of the Senate does not involve anything that will be described as extortion,” he said.
He also cautioned the Senate leadership, and by extension, the National Assembly, to look into the issue of constituency projects in saving their image.
His words: “This issue of constituency projects has been a controversial one. I don’t want to express any opinion. All I want to plead is that you look into it and ensure that it is something of benefit to the constituents and constituencies of this country and not a subject of controversy anymore.”
In his response, the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, said that as far as confirmation of Magu was concerned, a re-nomination would have to be done by the Presidency in line with the rules of the National Assembly.
According to him, the same rules and procedures also apply to anti-corruption bills being requested to be considered and passed as they will have to be re- presented for that purpose.
“You have talked about passage of anti-corruption bills, you have come to the right place, but you will also do your work.
“This is a new Senate. Going by our rules and I believe that goes for the House of Representatives too, any issue that was not concluded in the last National Assembly, will have to start all over again.
“So, as far as we are concerned, those bills will have to come again and start to go through the process from the very beginning. We are ready, in fact, we are in a haste if those bills are ready for us to start working on them.
“On the confirmation of acting chairman of EFCC, there is no request before this Senate now for such confirmation. This is a new Senate and therefore, until there is a request to this Senate, there is nothing the Senate can do.
“And I want to assure you that any request that comes from Mr. President is a request that will make Nigeria a better place in terms of appointments or legislation and the Senate will act expeditiously to ensure that we play our part in the confirmation or passing of legislation appropriately.
“As for oversight, as far as I know, I am not a receipt of any complaint and I have been in this National Assembly for 21 years. But Mr. Chairman, if any committee asks for anything from any MDA, that is not appropriate, the law is there to take its full course.
“We believe that no committee or member of the National Assembly will go out of his way to ask for anything before undertaking an oversight,” he said.
Protesters seek Oshiomhole’s sack as APC NEC meets
- Edo APC NASS Caucus endorses chair
- Obaseki kicks
Ahead of the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) holding today, some aggrieved members, yesterday, stormed the party’s national secretariat in Abuja demanding the sack of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of the party.
The protesters, numbering over 500, brandished several placards with various inscriptions accusing Oshiomhole of promoting rancour and de-marketing the party.
They claimed that Oshiomhole’s style of leadership has resulted into crisis in many states. They also argued that with APC in the hands of Oshiomhole, the party’s fortunes would continue to decline and members of the party will be worse for it.
Although the angry protesters made frantic efforts to gain access into the premises of the secretariat, security men prevented them from going through the gate.
One of the leaders of the protesters, Iyoha Toni Osakbovo, said the protest was geared towards saving the soul of the APC as a national party.
According to him, Oshiomhole was expected to uphold the party’s constitution, but has allegedly been working against it, leading to division in the party, especially in Edo State.
“I’m from Edo State and I am a member of APC Patriotic Stakeholders’ Forum. We have come to save our party, the person that we gave the mantle to uphold our constitution, we have realised that he is the person attacking the constitution.
“He swore to protect our great party, but so far, what we have seen is not what is working. He is the person attacking the constitution; he has factionalised the party in our state, Edo. As I’m talking to you now, he has created a faction in the party.
“We are begging Mr. President to come to our aid because the person that is supposed to uphold the constitution is now the person that is destroying the constitution. Our constitution is very clear, the National Working Committee (NWC) has no disciplinary power, but under Oshiomhole, the NWC is usurping the power of NEC. There is nowhere in the constitution that says NWC has disciplinary power, but how come under Oshiomhole the issues are now different? So, we are begging the president, it is time for us to start healing, enough of fighting,” he stated.
The protesters warned that if Oshiomhole refused to resign, they would mobilize more party members against his leadership.
However, the Edo State Caucus of the APC in the National Assembly, yesterday, passed a vote of confidence in Oshiomhole and wants him retained as the National Chairman of the party.
The caucus, led by Senator Francis Alimikhena, House of Representatives’ deputy majority leader, Hon. Peter Akpatason, Hon. Johnson Ogbunna and Hon. Julius Ihonvbere made the declaration yesterday at a press briefing in Abuja.
The caucus, which expressed displeasure over the crisis situation in the state, alleged that the “new culture of terrorism and political gangsterism” was designed to intimidate party members, officials and the general public as well as pave way for Governor Godwin Obaseki to obtain a second term by hook or crook.
Apparently linking the protest to the crisis rocking the party in Edo State, the lawmakers advised Governor Obaseki to immediately issue another proclamation as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and have all the 24 elected members of the State House of Assembly properly inaugurated to enable them to duly represent their constituents and make invaluable contributions to the growth and development of the state.
They also urged the governor to stop forthwith all forms of intimidation and harassment of elected officials, appointees and perceived enemies.
“We the APC caucus in the National Assembly, hereby without hesitation, express our undiluted and absolute confidence in the sterling and patriotic leadership of the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, who has been doing excellently well and just won two tough elections with landslides.
“We advise Governor Obaseki and his management to appreciate the damage they are doing to the state and APC with their undemocratic and unorthodox political actions and to retrace their steps.
“When the majority of the Executive came together and suspended the APC state chairman for anti-party activities, poor judgement and gross dereliction of duties, the governor organised a kangaroo meeting to suspend not just those members from the party, but also the National Chairman of the APC,” the caucus said.
The lawmakers also expressed concerns over the insinuation from Governor Obaseki and his team that the 15 out of the 24 members of State House of Assembly who were allegedly not loyal to him, planned to impeach him.
While condemning the terror unleashed against the 15 lawmakers at Golden Tulip Hotel in Benin City by thugs led by the Governor’s Chief Security Officers, the caucus maintained that: “This action was followed by wanton acts of violence, intimidation, gross violation of the rights of citizens and the use of hate speech on anyone perceived as being opposed to the governor.
“In fact, within a short time, all those perceived not to be loyal to the governor and his deputy were sacked from their jobs. These included commissioners, special advisers, senior special assistants, special assistants, and supervisory councillors. Four local government chairmen were framed on dubious grounds and also removed from office.
“The governor and his deputy abridged the rights of APC members to freely associate and organise themselves and threatened the leaders of the Edo Peoples Movement (EPM), a socio-cultural pressure group within the party. Their businesses were marked for demolition and their homes monitored by thugs.
“The shameful acts of indiscipline and political rascality displayed by the deputy governor of the state, Mr. Phillip Shuaibu during the first convocation ceremony of Edo University, Iyamho when he mobilized thugs and motorbike riders to what ought to have been a serene ceremony, was just one more effort to step up the culture of intimidation, arrogance of power and uncivil disposition by the custodians of state power and a failed effort to humiliate the National Chairman of the APC,” the caucus said.
But two members of the APC caucus, Hons. Patrick Aisowieren and Dennis Idahosa have dissociated themselves from the press conference held by the caucus and the vote of confidence passed on the National Chairman of the party.
When contacted on the development, Aisowieren and Idahosa denied knowledge of the press conference, saying they were not aware of it.
“I am not aware of it,” Aisowieren simply said via a text message. For Idahosa, he said: “I didn’t attend any caucus meeting today as stated in the press statement.”
Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, has dismissed the purported endorsement of Oshiomhole ahead of the NEC meeting.
According to him, the statement credited to a faction of the Edo Caucus in the National Assembly was the handiwork of Oshiomhole’s media aides “who are hell-bent on spewing falsehoods and propagating alternative facts to hoodwink the public. The statement should, therefore, be disregarded in its entirety.”
We’ll meet labour’s Dec deadline on N30,000 wage – Govs
Nigerian governors have given assurance that they would meet the December 31 deadline given by the organised labour for the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage to workers.
The governors, who met Wednesday night under the umbrella of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), also called on the National Assembly to follow due legislative process before the passage of the hate speech bill before it.
Deputy Chairman of the forum, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto who addressed newsmen at the end of the meeting, disclosed that negotiations on the new minimum wage have begun at state level.
“Various state governments have been engaging with their branches of Nigerian Labour Congress. I’m sure it is work in progress. Before December, all the states must have finished working out the details on the issue of minimum wage across the federation.
“We are very much committed to the welfare and wellbeing of our workforce and, therefore, we shall continue to ensure we do our best on what needs to be done,” he assured.
Tambuwal said the governors are not in support of the death penalty proposed in the hate speech bill before the National Assembly.
He expressed the belief that the National Assembly would hold a public hearing on the bill and follow due process of lawmaking so that Nigerians could express their views.
“They should respect the views of Nigerians in whatever may be the direction of debate and the eventual passage or otherwise of that bill,” the governor further advised.
The governors, however, expressed support for the increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) from five to 7.5 per cent, and said it is to increase revenue base of both the federal and state governments.
“We are appealing to those who probably have no proper understanding of contexts of those bills to kindly have a rethink of those bills and reflect on quantum of works ahead of us as a country and states.
“We need a lot of resources to turn around infrastructure, invest in education, healthcare and every sector of our national life.
“There is urgent need of more revenue in Nigeria. So I appeal that we should show more understanding with the Federal Government in that regards,” Tambuwal pleaded.
Buhari orders security agencies to crush bandits
…says Nigeria’s security situation unpredictable
President Muhammadu Buhari has described the current security situation in the country as unpredictable.
The President stated this yesterday while reacting to heightened acts of violence and kidnapping in parts of the country.
Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement, said Buhari ordered security agencies to be on the alert and crush the bandits.
Commending the security agencies for their dedication and sacrifices, President Buhari directed them to “redouble their efforts and make life uncomfortable for the bandits.”
“You should spare no effort in breaking the backbone of these savage mass killers and don’t hesitate to attack them with merciless intensity until they are crushed and ultimately defeated,” the President said.
The President charged the security agencies not to allow the bandits to hold Nigeria to ransom.
Buhari said: “In view of the unpredictability of the security situation, our security forces and the communities affected should be ever more alert because these murderous and remorseless criminals would take advantage of your complacency and strike again.
“The bandits should, under no circumstances, be allowed to hold the country to ransom on account of security loopholes which they seek to exploit to strike at their victims. The criminals always look for loopholes in our security system in order to remain in business and active, but we shouldn’t give them the space to achieve this diabolical objective by pre-empting them.”
President Buhari added that “complacency is a hidden or unnoticed enemy that we shouldn’t take for granted, because doing so could weaken our strategies.”
He called on security agencies and communities under threats of bandits’ attacks and kidnappings to be more vigilant and alert in the light of the latest incidents in Enugu, Zamfara, Adamawa, Katsina and Kaduna states.
The President, however, noted that the affected communities also have a responsibility to help the security agencies with the critically important human intelligence in order to stop the bandits in their tracks.
According to the President, “The bandits maintain networks of informants among the communities they attack. By identifying and reporting these informants to the authorities, it would be by far easier to foil the bandits before they reach their intended targets.”
Failed banks’ depositors to get N354.8bn
- NDIC earmarks N120.3bn to assist lenders
- Each account holder to get N500,000 each
The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has planned to spend N354.848 billion in the 2020 budget as payout to depositors of failed banks in the country.
The managing director of the corporation, Alhaji Umaru Ibrahim disclosed this during a budget defence session with the House of Representatives’ Committee on Banking and Currency.
Represented by the executive director (operations), Prince Eghatise Erediauwa, the NDIC boss said out of the N354.8 billion, N247.65 billion is for depositors of deposit money banks (DMBs), while N107.198 billion is for primary mortgage banks (PMBs) and micro finance banks (MFBs).
In the document presented to the committee, N500,000 and N200,000 will be paid per depositor in both DBMs/PMBs and MFBs respectively.
The corporation explained that the sum is N96.081 billion or 37.13 per cent higher than the provision of N258.767 billion made in year 2019, saying “the increase is to cater for the deteriorating condition of some problem banks.”
A provision of N120 billion and N300 million is made for DMBs and MFBs/PMBs respectively in the 2020 budget to cater for financial assistance to eligible insured institutions that may apply for it at an estimated interest rate of 15.50 per cent (MPR 13.50 per cent plus 2 per cent).
“The provision of N120.3 billion is lower by 14.26 per cent than the 2019 budget of N140.300 billion in year 2019,” he said.
In their reactions, members of the committee demanded details of the funds proposed for IT infrastructure, softwares as well as huge variable between what was spent on staff cost of N20 billion between 2018 and 2019 against the N31 billion proposed in the 2020 budget.
Meanwhile, chairman of the committee, Hon. Darlington Nwokocha (APC, Abia) has acknowledged the receipt of the approval granted to the NDIC Chief Executive Officer/MD, Ibrahim, to embark on overseas medical treatment, hence ruled that the delegation, led by Prince Eradiauwa, should present the budget.
Recall that the committee had, last Monday, declined to attend to the budget insisting that the MD appears himself to defend it.
Reps probe $396m spent on refineries’ maintenance
The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate $396.33 million spent on turnaround maintenance of the nation’s three refineries in four years.
The decision was taken after adopting a motion sponsored by Hon. Ifeanyi Chudy Momah (APGA, Anambra) titled, “Call for investigation of the $396.33 million allegedly spent in four years on turn around maintenance of the nation’s three refineries.”
Presenting the motion, Momah said that Nigeria’s three major refineries, situated at Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna, with an installed capacity of 445,000 barrels of oil, enough for domestic consumption and export, had not performed optimally.
He said that the underperformance was due to a combination of factors, including corruption and inefficiency in the running of the refineries which regular “turn around maintenances” have been mismanaged over the years.
“The House observes the assertion by the Nigeria National Resource Charter (NNRC) in the report that the NNPC spent a whopping $396.33 million between 2013 and 2017 to carry out repair works under the “Turn Around Maintenance” (TAM) scheme on its three decrepit refineries at Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna.
“Also observes the claim that the NNPC also spent N276.872 billion on operating expenses of the refineries between 2015 and 2018, as well as $36 billion on the importation of petroleum products between 2013 and 2017.
“Informed that the three refineries contribute less than 10 per cent annually to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and they are also among the league of refineries with the highest operating costs worldwide, as their consolidated capacity utilization dropped to 6.1 per cent at the end of September 2017.
“Concerned that the strategic goal of establishing local refining facilities and its associated supply chain as a socio-economic game-changer that will result in national development has continued to elude the country’s oil and gas industry.
“Further observes that going by the reckoning of the NNRC, the $36 billion the country spent on importation of petroleum products in the last four years could have built four brand new refineries of similar capacity for the country with the same 650,000 barrels per day processing capacity as the refinery that Dangote Group is currently building in Lagos State,” the lawmaker said.
While adopting the motion, the House called on the Federal Government to consider divesting a certain percentage of its shareholding in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna refineries to competent investors under the transparent and fair bidding process.
It mandated its committee on petroleum resources (downstream) to conduct an investigative hearing on the processes of the “turn around maintenance” (TAM) at the Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna refineries by the NNPC between 2013 and date and report within two months.
Tension as APC holds NEC meeting
There is palpable tension at the National Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting today.
Yesterday, some party members had protested at the National Secretariat of APC demanding the sack of the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
According to them, the only thing that would save APC from untold disaster is to ask Oshiomhole to resign.
In preparation for the NEC meeting, the National Working Committee (NWC) members had met thrice this week.
The party could not release any official agenda for the meeting.
Sources close to the party said the meeting would review the campaign and conduct of the general election.
Also to be discussed, according to the source, would be the crisis in the party that had pitched the NWC members against themselves and also against other party leaders.
The source stated that the issue of how to have a formidable NWC would be central at the meeting.
According to him, the vacant position in the NWC would be replaced.
The vacant positions of the NWC to be filled are: Deputy National Chairman (South), National Secretary, National Auditor, while the Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawal Shuiabu and National Vice Chairman (North-West), Inuwa Abdulkadir are on suspension.
Few months ago, when the NWC members visited President Muhammadu Buhari, he asked them to go and put their house in order.
The President also said that it was high time he started taking interest in the party.
Among those that would be attending the NEC are the leadership of the National Assembly who are members of APC.
This would be the first time they would be attending the APC NEC as the party had not held a NEC meeting since they were inaugurated in June.
When asked about the agenda of the NEC meeting, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, said that the agenda had been reported in the media.
Buhari: Constitution delaying legislative autonomy
President Muhammadu Buhari has blamed the Nigerian constitution for the delay in granting full autonomy to states legislature.
The President stated this yesterday while receiving the Conference of Speakers at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Buhari urged lawmakers in the country to always place interest of the people first in all deliberations and negotiations, while pointing out that the autonomy of state legislatures has been constrained by the constitution.
The President, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the constitution upholds the standard for all public officers and institutional operations.
He said it must be adhered to or altered to reflect some dynamics and realities of the country.
“I try as much as I can to always be loyal and obedient to the constitution so long as it is humanly possible,” he said.
The President said his administration will keep pursuing the prosperity of all Nigerians by creating more jobs for the people and plugging the weaknesses exploited by many to make quick money.
“The 8th National Assembly sometimes kept the budget for seven months. And I had to call the Senate President and the Speaker then. I told them by delaying passage of the budget, you are not hurting Buhari, but the people,” he added.
He said the delay persisted in spite of his efforts to seek more understanding.
The President said he will ensure equity and fairness that put the ordinary Nigerians on top priority, assuring that he will continue to focus on health, education, infrastructure and improving lives through social intervention programmes.
“We have, in the last four years, dedicated significant resources to key social services sectors, especially in health, education as well as our massive social investment programmes. We have also started restoring our infrastructure to levels that this country expects,” Buhari said.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Conference of Speakers, who is also the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, commended the President for the fight against corruption and insurgency, and efforts to ensure financial autonomy for the legislature and judiciary.
Obasa said the legislatures would be further pleased if the President issues an executive order directing the Accountant General of the Federation to separate funds for the state legislature and judiciary at source.
Adebanjo: Border closure won’t solve economic problem
Elder statesman and leader of the Pan-Yoruba sociocultural organisation, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, has said the closure of Nigerian borders would not help solve the nation’s economic problems. He described it as unfortunate, adding that the way to improve the economy is not to close the borders. Adebanjo stated this yesterday in Lagos while speaking with journalists at the launching of three poetry collections by Wisdom O. Dafinone at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Victoria Island, Lagos. The collections included Ode to Inamorata and Other Poems; Nature, Travelogue and Other Poems, and Contemplations: Faith, Hope, Dirges and Other Poems. According to Adebanjo, the country is rich, and there is no reason for unemployment. “It is unfortunate that our people don’t get their problems right; they don’t understand the problem not to talk of solving it. You must understand a theory before you apply the theory. That is not going to solve the economic problem; that is what I have been telling them. But they have their own ulterior motive; that is what they are doing.
“It is an unfortunate thing. The way to improve our economy is not to close the borders. They are punishing the nation for their own inefficiency, just as we are suffering in the country for bad governance. The country is rich; we have no reason to be poor; there is no reason for the unemployment.
But we have bad managers who don’t even appreciate that they are bad, and they want to impose their badness on the good people of this country. It is unfortunate,” he said. On security, the elder statesman lamented the killings going on in the country. “Have we got any security? When judges are being murdered, people are being killed in their premises. When, with all the security you have, people carry ballot boxes in broad daylight, and there is no arrest. And you say that you deployed about 30,000 security personnel to a location and yet such atrocities were committed.”
He decried the recent elections in Kogi and Bay-elsa States, describing it as “an organised killing”. His words: “That was mass killing, not an election. That was an organised killing of people who are opposed to you. How can you say you have security in a place where you show the whole world that you have imported so many thousands of soldiers and policemen, and the very thing they are supposed to do was done in broad day light, and there were no arrests? And there was an eyewitness there, who said he saw no policemen in any checkpoint, and he saw these thugs with AK47 around but nobody to arrest them. Who are you deceiving? They just want to take that place by all means; they want to rule this country by force. And that is why they opposed to changing the constitution.
Until you change this constitution, and remove the almighty power with Buhari, you won’t go anywhere. You can conduct elections 20 times in this country; without this constitution being changed for everybody to have his own autonomy in the region you are wasting your time.”
Finance Bill: VAT increase not targeted at the poor – Senate
…as rift between Senate and House over bill widens
The Senate, yesterday, said that the increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) paid on luxury goods from 5% to 7.5%, as requested for by the executive in the Finance Bill 2019, was not intended to impose economic hardship on poor Nigerians.
The Senate made this claim during the consideration and adoption of its Committee on Finance on the 2019 Finance Bill, earlier forwarded to it for approval by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Senate, while passing the bill for third reading, adopted almost all the 56 amendments sought for by the executive arm in the seven different tax Acts, which the Chamber consolidated into one bill.
This was, however, as rift which erupted between the apex legislative chamber and the House of Representatives on joint consideration of the bill deteriorated.
Consequently, the House is now planning to hold a fresh public hearing on the same bill on Tuesday next week.
The members of the House of Representatives Committee on Finance, who were to participate in the Joint Public Hearing with their Senate counterparts two days ago, had boycotted the exercise, on the allegation that they were not carried along by the Senate Committee.
Considering the proposed amendments, the Senate adopted the 2.5% increase the executive sought for on the VAT, which now made it 7.5% as against 5% it has been since 2007.
This proposed increase had generated debates and controversies since the bill was made public, as analysts argued that it would impose more hardship on the people.
Accordingly, some senators called for caution on its adoption, but the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, appealed to his colleagues to allow the bill pass, and it was approved when subjected to voice vote.
Senators Gabriel Suswam (PDP, Benue North East), Abba Moro (PDP, Benue South) and the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, in their contributions, called for retention of the current 5% VAT rate.
Suswam said: “Issues of tax are very technical, requiring caution from government, because whatever increase is made on VAT rate will cascade down to the downtrodden people in the country.”
In his remarks, the Senate President said that the increase made on VAT and other upward reviews carried out on other areas of taxation would not inflict pains on the masses.
“The amendments sought for in the seven Acts by the executive and adopted by the Senate as recommended by our Committee on Finance, are aimed at streamlining the tax system in Nigeria.
“They are not intended, in any way, to put burden on the ordinary people of the country, but to purely shore up the revenue base of the country for effective implementation of the N10.33 trillion 2020 budget.
“On our own part, we shall, through our various committees, ensure that the various revenue generating agencies as regards the taxes that have been reviewed, are on quarterly basis, monitored in assessing their performance on revenue generation, collection and remittances,” he said.
Commenting on the matter at a media briefing after the passage of the bill, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Solomon Adeola (APC Lagos West), said that 90% of what the bill sought to achieve was to review the tax regimes in favour of the poor by collecting more from the rich.
For example, the 2.5% increase made on VAT, he explained, was purely targeted at the rich in the society by focusing it on luxury goods which are not consumed by the poor people.
“Even on distribution of gains derived from the VAT, 85% of what is collected go to the state and local governments. Only a paltry sum of 15% stays with the Federal Government,” he said.
However, he noted that there was no love lost between his committee and that of House of Representatives on consideration and passage of the bill.
He said that the earlier plan was for Finance Committees of both chambers to have joint sitting at the public hearing held on Tuesday this week before they later decided to have a separate one on Tuesday next week.
Apart from the VAT Act (Amendment) bill adopted, other Acts from which amendments were sought and adopted were, the Finance and Company Income Tax, Personal Income Tax, Customs and Excise Tariffs, Capital Gains Tax Act and Stamp Duty Acts.
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