Why FG can’t pay salaries of former presidents – SGF

Nigeria has not paid salaries and other allowances to four former ex-presidents due to lack of funds.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, who disclosed this to visiting members of the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs in Abuja, said President Muhammadu Buhari could not approve payments for ex-presidents Shehu Shagari, Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan and Ibrahim Babangida in the last 10 months due to lack of funds.

The delay in paying ‘pension’ and other benefits to former presidents could deprive the incumbent of the much-needed support of his predecessors as economic downturn and government’s anti-corruption crusade impacts Nigeria’s political landscape.

Giving his own explanation of the development in a chat with the Senate committee led by Tijjani Kaura (APC, Zamfara North), the SGF attributed it to unavailability of funds in the service wide vote for salaries of ex-presidents. Payment schedules were said to have been sent to the President for approval to assess funds in the service wide vote, an emergency fund reserved for special purposes.

“There is a department responsible for payment of former president’ entitlements, Lawal said.

“At present, funds are not available in service wide votes to do that. We are aware there was a protest in Bayelsa State that the former president was not paid, but we’ve explained that he’s not the only one affected.

“Others affected are Inter-Religious Council, Traditional Rulers Council and so on. For some reason, we have been writing and writing, but there has been no response. And there is presently no money to pay them.”

The SGF continued: “The budget for this year’s democracy day was N33 million, and we had to do it on credit; we are yet to pay. There are lots of retreat, which ought to be organised but there’s no money to do any. The last time we got any release was in August.”

The senators were not swayed by the explanation. They insisted that joint efforts be made between the office of the SGF and the committee to find solution to the problem, which they described as “unfortunate.”

The lawmakers stressed the need to draw the attention of the budget office and ministry of finance to the development with a view to having it addressed immediately.

Vice Chairman of the committee, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, described the non-payment of former presidents as abnormal.

“What we have seen here is an abnormality. Before referring any matter to the National Assembly, it is a function of the executive to appropriate funds. Therefore, the SGF should understand that there is something wrong in this office that must be addressed.

“There is no way you can run the expenses of this office without cash backing. We definitely have to draw the attention of the budget office and ministry of finance to the problems,” Hunkuyi said.

The lawmaker also faulted the office of the SGF over the replication of 2016 budget details in its 2017 budget proposal.

Also condemning the development, former Governor of Sokoto State, and lawmaker representing Sokoto North in the National Assembly, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, said: “We can understand if former President Goodluck Jonathan has not been paid because he just left office. But for someone like Shagari, who lives from hand to mouth is something I can’t understand. This development is really unfortunate; it doesn’t indicate seriousness, and it doesn’t indicate fairness.”

But attempting to assuage the anger of the lawmakers, the SGF explained: “When I got into this office, there was a lot of money in this account, but there was no TSA (Treasury Single Account).

“Before the government left office, they jacked up salaries. We told former Presidents Jonathan and Obasanjo that they could not earn twice what the others were earning. So we told them we wanted to review it, and we did. So they now earn what the others earn as well.

“When I came into office, there was N1.5 billion in the account. We had payment of all liabilities, which came to N700 million. Then we wrote to the president to return what was left to the TSA. That was how we came back to a zero balance.

“It is painful to me because as a person I know all of them (ex-presidents) personally. Now, why have we not been able to get the money? We requested a budget of N700 million, but the president has his way of doing things.

“Look around, you’ll see government vehicles breaking down every now and then. Really, I know the challenges the budget office is facing, but the truth is the funds are not just there. In any government, there are certain agencies that must be served first before others. So we have agreed on that. However, we will lean harder on the finance ministry to see that the situation is turned around.

“As SGF I’m getting embarrassed and demeaned by chasing money. All MDAs come to me for things to be done, and it is not quite easy, but we try our best.

“Last year, these political appointees had nothing. As to assistance, we really need assistance to retain all that we have budgeted for,” he added.

Lawal also urged the National Assembly to approve funds proposed by his office in the 2017 budget to be submitted soon, saying: “We need your help to defend what is in our budget. This is part of the change agenda, so we must learn to sew our cloth according to the material.”

FG begins assessment of abandoned projects.

The Ministry of Budget and National Planning says it has begun the assessment of abandoned projects in the country to find ways of deriving maximum benefits from them.

The Director of Administration in the ministry, Christian Ezeilo, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja that all Ministries, Departments and Agencies had been directed to do same.

Ezeilo said: “If you look at what is going on, every MDA has been asked to come up with the list of all abandoned projects so that we can look at them critically.

“We need to look at them critically and see the ones that the private sector can help the government to complete and those that the government can also complete.’’

According to him, some of the projects have lasted for years and the government will need to complete them.

Ezeilo, however, said that the ministry would also partner with the private sector to develop some infrastructure in the country.

The director said the ministry had built the capacity of staff in some key MDAs on how to package bankable infrastructure Public Private Partnership projects.

He listed some of the heavy infrastructure MDAs as Works, Aviation and Transport, Water Resources.

He said: “We want to bring Nigeria’s infrastructure to that of South Africa.

“Nigeria’s infrastructure is estimated to be only 20-25 per cent in 2013, compared to South Africa’s 87 per cent.

“This necessitated the formulation of the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan, a 30-year plan aimed at increasing infrastructure stock to 70 per cent of Gross Domestic Product by 2043.”

According to him, the only way to implement the plan is to partner with the private sector.

NAN reports that the NIIMP stipulates that Nigeria will need an average of 25 billion dollars per annually for the next five years to sustain a robust economic growth.

NIIMP further projects that, to fund the infrastructure needs of the growing economy over the 30 years, the country would need to spend above three trillion dollars to close its infrastructure in core asset classes.

FG now engaged in several developmental projects – Presidency

The Federal Government has said the country is taking a giant leap in infrastructure development, as it is now speeding up ongoing projects and investing heavily in the construction and repair of highways, railways and power generating plants across the country.

 

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, stated this in an interview program on Express Radio in Kano on Tuesday. Garba said that the Buhari administration had chosen to fast-track projects related to infrastructure in order to pump money into the economy as a way of pulling the economy out of recession.

 

According to the SSA, an unprecedented amount of N750 Billion Naira has been released for capital projects in the last five months and that counterpart funds for the take-off of the USD 11 billion Kano-Lagos rail project had been paid.

 

The presidential spokesman said a number of projects existing on paper are now being activated, citing the Kano-Katsina dual road project as an example of what he called “deceitful and ghost projects now being given life.”

 

In his words, “Kano-Katsina dual highway was awarded three years ago by the last administration. They didn’t pay a kobo for its start-up. President Buhari just paid money for the first tranche of 75 kilometers and work has begun apace.”

 

Malam Garba explained the essence of infrastructure in the country’s economic and industrial take-off, describing it as the equivalent of the arteries forming the bloodstream in the body. “Without infrastructure, the country will not witness growth,” he noted.

 

On the resurgence of militancy and pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta region, Malam Garba appealed to militants to maintain peace in the region as the President seeks a permanent solution to the problems that are worrisome to every citizen.

 

“We must keep national interest above all else and give priority to eschewing violence and destruction,” he urged.

 

The Presidential spokesman expressed regrets that despite its good faith in pursuing dialogue with the Niger Delta stakeholders, the militant groups have not reciprocated the government’s good gesture in finding peaceful and lasting solution to the crisis in the oil producing areas of Nigeria.

 

In his words, “Despite the government’s practical demonstration of goodwill by bringing the parties or stakeholders to the round table, the militant groups have continued to blow up national economic assets.”

 

According to Malam Garba, the continued destruction of oil installations, including those repaired, has thrown a spanner in the works, causing enormous hardships on innocent Nigerians on account of declining oil production output and massive losses of revenues, which in turn, badly affect the ability of governments at all levels to meet their basic obligations, including payment of salaries.

 

The Presidential Spokesman, while cautioning that violence brings no benefits to anybody, appealed to Niger Delta leaders at all levels to exert every influence they have to stop the violence and economic sabotage “so that normalcy can return to the region.”

FG approves release of N30bn intervention fund for solid minerals – Minister

The Minister of Mines and Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said on Tuesday in Abuja that the Federal Government had approved the release N30 billion intervention fund for molid Minerals development.

Fayemi disclosed this at the fifth Extractive Industries Conference held by CSR-in-Action.

The theme of the event was: “Revisiting the Nigerian Economy beyond Oil: Prospects for a thriving Export-Driving Extractive Sector.”

The minister, represented by Prof. Okey Onyejekwu, his Senior Special Adviser, said the fund would be used for geosciences data generation, improve mines-field security and monitoring.

According to him, this is in line with the enforcement of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act of 2007.

He explained that the ministry was partnering International Development Partners via AFDB, the World Bank, UNDP, UNIDO and donor agencies such as DFID and Ford Foundation to ensure development of the sector.

He said that the ministry had formulated a new roadmap for the sector since his appointment one year ago.

According to him, there has been an improved funding for the sector through activation of the 0.5 per cent mining sector component of Natural Resources Development Fund.

The minister promised to ensure the nation’s development partners were engaged to implement MoUs, especially those on geosciences data generation, integration, storage and dissemination.

He said government would ensure there was an improved revenue generation, collection through identification and plugging of leakages.

Fayemi announced plans to review the royalty rates to reflect current commodity prices and also review mineral licensing fees to discourage mineral title speculation.

He said the ministry would target five per cent contribution to the GDP by the year 2020 as against the current 0.34 per cent.

Fayemi promised to facilitate infrastructure development through collaboration with relevant ministries, departments and agencies.

He said the current works on the standard gauge rail line from Warri to Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and Nigeria Iron Ore Mining Company Limited, Itakpe, were key to Nigeria‘s industrialisation.

According to him, the resolution of litigation and conclusion of final stages of mediation meant that Ajaokuta Steel Plant would soon be freed of encumbrances and government would give it to a competent investor.

The ministry had also revoked non-performing mineral titles in line with the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, to make the area financially and technically viable for investors.

Earlier, Waziri Adio, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives, said Nigeria’s problem was not its dependence on oil but the leaders refused to save for the rainy days.

According to him, Nigeria’s leadershp in the oil boom era failed to invest in other sectors like petrochemical which would have helped to diversify the economy.

Adio said: “If the nation should explore the economic recession well, diversify to solid minerals and do not make the same mistakes it made in oil sector, our economy will grow.”

The convener of the event, Bekeme Masade, Executive Director, CSR-in-Action, said SITEI conference started five years ago with the Deputy High Commission of Canada.

She explained that SITEI envisioned a platform that would unite the key drivers for change, not only within the industry but for the entire nation.

FG Approves N30bn Intervention Fund For Solid Minerals- Minister

The Minister of Mines and Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said on Tuesday in Abuja that the Federal Government had approved the release N30 billion intervention fund for solid minerals development.
Fayemi disclosed this at the fifth Extractive Industries (EITEI) Conference held by CSR-in-Action.
The theme of the event was: “Revisiting the Nigerian Economy beyond Oil: Prospects for a thriving Export-Driving Extractive Sector.’’
The Minister, represented by Prof. Okey Onyejekwu, his Senior Special Adviser, said the fund would be used for geosciences data generation, improve mines-field security and monitoring.
According to him, this is in line with the enforcement of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act of 2007.
He explained that the ministry was partnering International Development Partners through AFDB, the World Bank, UNDP, UNIDO and donor agencies such as DFID, and Ford Foundation to ensure development of the sector.
He said that the ministry had formulated a new roadmap for the sector since his appointment one year ago.
According to him, there has been an improved funding for the sector through activation of the 0.5 per cent mining sector component of Natural Resources Development Fund (NRDF).
The Minister promised to ensure the nation’s development partners are engaged to implement MoUs, especially those on geosciences data generation, integration, storage and dissemination.
He said government would ensure there was improved revenue generation and collection through identification and plugging of leakages.
He said the ministry would target five per cent contribution to the GDP by the year 2020 as against the current 0.34 per cent.
He said the current works on the standard gauge rail line from Warri to Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and Nigeria Iron Ore Mining Company Limited, Itakpe, were key to Nigeria‘s industrialisation.
According to him, the resolution of litigation and conclusion of final stages of mediation meant that Ajaokuta Steel Plant would soon be freed of encumbrances and government would give it to a competent investor.
Earlier, Waziri Adio, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives (NEITI) said Nigeria’s problem was not its dependence on oil but the leaders refused to save for the rainy days.
According to him, Nigeria’s leadershp in the oil boom era failed to invest in other sectors like petrochemical which would have helped to diversify the economy.
The ministry had also revoked non-performing mineral titles in line with the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, to make the area financially and technically viable for investors.
“If the nation should explore the economic recession well, diversify to solid minerals and do not make the same mistakes it made in oil sector, our economy will grow’,’ he said.

Credit:

http://sunnewsonline.com/fg-approves-n30bn-intervention-fund-for-solid-minerals-minister/

FG To Spend $150m On Rural Electrification Projects- Fashola

The Federal Government on Wednesday expressed its readiness to spend 150 million dollars on the rural electrification.

Mr Babtunde Fashola, the Minster of Power, Works and Housing, disclosed this in Abuja at a business forum on ‘’Financing Opportunities in the Nigerian Power Sector’’

He said government would use 44 tertiary institutions and small hydro dams in the rural areas as anchors for the electrification programme.

Fashola said the money would be deployed towards providing Independent Power Plants (IPPs) to supply electricity to tertiary institutions and rural communities.

He said that 37 out of the 44 tertiary institutions audited for the project were universities, while seven were teaching hospitals.

The minister said government would deploy 37 IPPs made up of nine gas plants and 28 solar plants with a combined generation capacity of 120 megawatts to power all the universities.

According to him, the 37 IPPs will replace 1,105 generators that were hitherto serving the institutions and generating 210 MW of inefficient and unclean energy.

He said the amount would cover capital expenditure, operations and maintenance.

On financing opportunities in the Nation’s power sector, Fashola, emphasised the need for financing and liquidity stability in the sector.

He said the Distribution Companies (DisCos) required financing for the supply of meters, upgrading distribution equipment like transformers, ring mains units, feeders for DisCos and funding, especially in foreign exchange.

For the GenCos, the minister said adequate liquidity was acquired to procure turbines, parts and accessories which were largely imported.

“They (DisCos) need a lot of operating capital to buy meters, to change transformers that are old, to extend access to their customers, to replace transformers and so on and so forth. They need operational capital and they need it in the mix of foreign exchange because some of the things they want to buy are not made in Nigeria and there are some made in Nigeria”.

Fashola said investment in the GenCos was also profitable, saying that when the market settled and stabilised, the return would be marvellous.

He said the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) would benefit from the financing of its grid expansion programme if it could present a detailed prospect plan that would demonstrate investment needs and return potential.

The minister said that solar, coal, and other energy suppliers required investment to finance the acquisition of photovoltaic panels, heavy duty equipment and related machines not made in Nigeria.

Fashola said Nigeria Buck Electricity Trader (NBET), a government-owned company, was planning to raise a bond for investors to buy into it.

On the financing opportunities in rural electrification, he said: “there exists a list of endless possibilities and opportunities for investment in the nation’s power sector.’’

Credit:

http://guardian.ng/news/fg-to-spend-150m-on-rural-electrification-projects-says-fashola/

FG Declares ASUU Strike Unconstitutional

The federal government yesterday declared the planned nationwide strike Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as unconstitutional given that the union was yet to exhaust all the necessary mechanisms required before a strike could be embarked upon.

The government also appealed to the union to shelve its planned strike billed to commence today.

In a statement released late last night and signed by the Director of Press, Ministry of Labour and Employment, quoted the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, as urging ASUU “to rescind its decision on the strike so as to give the government an opportunity to discuss the all contending issues arising from the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) it reached with government.

Ngige explained: “In view of the prevailing circumstances, the issuance of warning strike by ASUU was unconstitutional as the body was yet to exhaust the conflict resolution mechanisms clearly mapped out in the labour laws.

“The claims of nationwide consultations by ASUU cannot be true as the Ministry of Labour and Employment which is the chief conciliator of industrial relations disputes is yet to receive a direct petition from ASUU against the federal government who is the jurisdictional employer,” the minister stated
The minister therefore “appealed to ASUU to give the present administration the opportunity to fully address its grievances which stemmed from the inactions of the past administration.”

Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday waded into the rift between the federal government and ASUU and mandated its President, Bukola Saraki, to mediate on the matter.

The union had last Monday issued an ultimatum to the federal government to fulfill the agreement it reached with it in 2009 or face a one-week warning strike.

Moving a motion for Senate’s intervention in the matter yesterday, Senate Committee Chairman on Tertiary Education, Senator Jibril Barau, drew the attention of the parliament to the threat of warning strike by ASUU and harped on the need for the federal government to urgently engage the lecturers in a dialogue before the matter snowballs into a full bloom industrial action.

Jibril had argued that fulfilling the agreement it reached with ASUU in 2009 was necessary for the well being and development of the Nigerian public universities and warned of the consequences of failing to respond to ASUU threat.

“The ASUU is insisting that if the Federal Government of Nigeria continues to fail to implement their aforesaid agreements as well as made certain key necessities, the public shall continue to be incapacitated in carrying out their functions as centre for knowledge acquisition, research and community service in citadel of learning.

“The Senate further notes that there are six vital issues whose continued pendency before the federal government and ASUU are creating discontent among members of the union and they have therefore been calling for the intervention of stakeholders to prevent the breakdown in the university system nationwide.

“The Senate is further concerned that one of the six issues in contention is the introduction of the single treasury account (TSA) system in the universities which is believed by ASUU to be hampering the smooth running operations of public universities,” Jibril said.

The Senate therefore called “on the executive arm of government to engage the ASUU in first talks to proffer solutions on how best to implement all the agreements that both bodies entered into since 2009 and implementation of key necessities that are vital for the well-being and development of our universities as canvassed by ASUU.

The parliament also resolved that whatever “was agreed to be paid by lecturers and other actions to be taken as a result of prayer one above should be captured in the 2017 budget for prompt implementation.”
It also commended “ASUU for choosing the path of dialogue rather than confrontation as a means of resolving all the outstanding issues between it and the federal government and to urge the union not to relent in its approach of dialogue.

In his remark, Saraki said preventing the strike was imperative “in the interest of the people that we represent and to ensure that we must find a way of seeing the implementation of this agreement, which is over eight years now.”

Saraki promised to honour Senate’s mandate by getting “the relevant parties to quickly come to the table so that we can find a way of moving forward and report back to us.”

Credit: thisdaylive

Joe Agi Paid Justice Ademola 160 Million Naira Bribe – FG

The Federal Government has fingered Barrister Joe Agi (SAN) as one of the beneficiaries of the alleged Justice Adeniyi Ademola cash-for-justice case claiming he bribed the embattled Justice to the tune of at least 160 million Naira.

This information was contained in a court document with 15 charges prepared by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation against Justice Ademola and his wife Mrs. Olabowale Ademola, who is the current Head of Service in Lagos State named as an accomplice.

The defendants according to the charges are accused of receiving bribes from Messrs Joe Odey Agi and associates between 2013 to 2016 up to the tune of 160 million Naira in Charges number 1,2,3,4 and 12.

1) N30 Million from Messrs Joe Odey Agi Associates.
2) N40 million from Messrs Joe Odey Agi Associates.
3) N30 Million from Messrs Joe Agi Associates.
4) N30 Million  from Messrs Joe Agi Associates.
12) N30 Million from Messrs Joe Odey Agi Associates.

The charges prepared by Hajara Yusuf on behalf of the Attorney General were filed at the high Court of the Federal Capital Territory.

However, efforts to reach Barrister Agi fro comments proved futile as his phone was switched off as at press time.

Justice Ademola, a federal high court judge was arrested on October 8, 2016 alongside several other members of the bench in an operation by Nigeria’s secret police in what it says is a move to cleanse the judiciary.

Agi is currently in court with Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade in a pre election case of perjury and alleged falsification of age which the Supreme Court has set aside December 9, 2016 for a ruling on the matter

FG, Dangote Foundation join force against malaria in Nigeria.

Federal Government of Nigeria and Dangote Foundation have jointly launched a Document tagged “Engaging the Private Sector to Eliminate Malaria in Nigeria”.

 

This is a private sector initiative that would explore resources from private investors towards eradicating malaria in the country.

 

Malaria has been described as one of the major causes of death of Women and Children in the country, it accounts for 60 % of out patients visits and 30 % of hospital admissions in Nigeria. An estimated 1.1 Billion US Dollar is lost annually in Nigeria due to malaria treatment cost. It is the major cause of absenteeism in the work place.

 

Launching the Document in Lagos on Monday 14th November, 2016, the Minister of Health Prof. Isaac Adewole said that the present administration was determined to work with private sector not only in malaria control but also in the other health challenges in Nigeria.

 

He said: “Working with you today to launch this important document is a welcome development, it is important that we embark on this initiative, it would increase efficiency and ensure that we deliver”.

 

The Minister worried that despite the large volume of mosquito nets distributed in the country; the prevalence of malaria is still high which clearly indicated that most of those who received the nets declined to use it.

 

Speaking on local production of Mosquito nets, Adewole urged private investors to consider the possibilities of producing mosquito nets in the country.

 

He said “We cannot afford to be importing net, this net can be produced in Nigeria and the market is huge. We need about 30 million nets every year in Nigeria. A net has a life span of about 3years and if you compute on the bases of 1 net for two people Nigerian would need 90 million nets over 3 years so every year we need to replace 30 million nets, so there is a huge market apart from opportunities for export.

 

In his remarks, the Chairman Dangote Foundation who is also the Malaria Ambassador in Nigeria, Alh Aliko Dangote said that Private sector had an important role to play in mobilizing resources towards Malaria Elimination Programme in Nigeria.

 

Alhaji Dangote said that Private Sector Health Alliance in Nigeria which he is the funding patron and Co-founder focused on mobilizing the private sector across the country under one coordinated platform to leverage on private sector capabilities, advocacy, innovation and resources to complement government efforts in the fight against malaria.

 

He added that Mr. Bill Gates and Other Prominent Business leaders have collaborate with Health Alliance to provide resources in the fight against malaria in Nigeria.

 

“Through my foundation we continue to contribute funds to support the government on National Malaria Elimination Programme and other NGOs directly involved in the fight against malaria. I would continue to engage government and partners to advocate for increased commitment towards addressing the financing gaps that hinder the elimination of malaria in Nigeria”. He said.

 

Dangote said as Malaria Ambassador in Nigeria, he would lead by example through provision of comprehensive malaria education and treatment to all his staff at all his business locations across the country.

 

He further pledged to support the Save One Million Lives Initiative programme launched recently by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

 

Earlier, in his presentation, the National Coordinator, National Malaria Elimination Programme, Dr. Abdu Bala Muhammed, who was represented by Deputy Director, Dr. Aro Modiu Aliu, said that Private Sector could support the fight against malaria through communications (educational messages), Capacity building, information Technology to improve disease surveillance, Direct funding, purchase of malaria commodities amongst others.

Strike: Senate Asks Saraki To Mediate Between FG & ASUU

The Nigerian Senate has mandated its President, Bukola Saraki, to personally lead the intervention towards resolving the brewing industrial crisis between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.

The Senate resolved to muster efforts at stopping a protracted ASUU strike on Tuesday, barely 24 hours after the Union announced one-week warning strike, starting tomorrow.

The Senate resolution followed a motion on “matter of urgent national importance” with regards to the planned ASUU industrial action by Jibrin Barau (APC-Kano).

The warning strike, ASUU said, is over the failure of the Federal Government to implement terms of the 2009 and 2013 agreements.

“Many aspects of the 2013 MoU and the 2009 agreement with the Federal Government have either been unimplemented or despairingly handled,” ASUU President, Biodun Ogunyemi, said at the University of Abuja on Monday.

“The agreements are: Payments of staff entitlements since December 2015, funding of universities for revitalisation, pension, TSA and university autonomy and renegotiation of 2009 Agreement.”

Backing ASUU in his motion, Mr. Barau argued that ASUU was agitating for smooth running of Nigerian public universities and staff welfare which basically formed the terms of the agreements perfunctorily implemented – or not implemented at all – by the Federal Government.

In his contribution, Danjuma Goje (APC-Gombe), lamented plights of students of public universities whenever lecturers embark on strike, thereby calling for avoidance of ASUU strike.

Read More:

http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/215413-asuu-strike-senate-asks-saraki-mediate.html

BREAKING: FG will not allow Dasuki to attend father’s burial.

The former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki, will ?not be attending his father’s burial which is billed to take place in Sokoto later today, Tuesday, November 15, Daily Trust is reporting.
Dasuki is currently in a detention facility owned by the Department of State Services (DSS) over an allegation of corruption.
For nearly a year now, he had been held concerning a scandalous $2.2 billion supposedly meant for the purchase of arms to prosecute the war against insurgency but which was reportedly distributed among top politicians.
He was arrested on December 1, 2015 and has remained in detention despite the various bails granted him by the courts as well as the ECOWAS Court. His father, the deposed Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, died on Monday, November 14, in Abuja at the age of 93.
He would be buried after the 2 pm afternoon prayers at the Hubbaren Shehu Usman Dan Fodio site in Sokoto state.? Meanwhile, some Nigerians have expressed belief that Sambo Dasuki is facing the same predicament suffered by President Muhammadu Buhari as a military leader.
Buhari was arrested as a military leader by Sambo Dasuki. He was thereafter detained for years and not allowed any chance to pay his last respect to his mother that died.
Today, Buhari is an elected president while Sambo Dasuki is in detention and would not be attending his father’s burial.

Hunger Crisis Could Kill 200 Children Per Day, Humanitarian Agency Warns FG

Two hundred children could die every day from hunger in northeastern Nigeria as a result of the ongoing conflict in the country, a humanitarian agency has warned.

Up to half of all children under the age of five are acutely malnourished, international charity Save the Children said on Monday, after screening the health of boys and girls in the region between June and October in 2016.

The figure could be even worse in areas that are out of reach because of insecurity, according to the report.

“Children are presenting in desperate conditions and facing severe malnutrition, often in combination with other life-threatening illnesses like pneumonia, malaria and diarrhoea,” said Ben Foot, Save the Children country director.

“For some cases this may be the second or third time they have fought malnutrition so their immune systems are already severely weakened.”

Violent attacks on civilians since 2009 by the armed group Boko Haram have affected almost 15 million people in northeastern Nigeria, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Zainabu Ibrahim, a mother of five severely malnourished children who escaped the clutches of Boko Haram three months ago, lives in a Bakassi camp in Maiduguri, which is home to almost 21,000 other displaced people.

“Boko Haram fighters stopped us from farming. We were really living on wild fruits and leaves,” Ibrahim told Al Jazeera.

“When we came here months ago, six of us were registered as a family and were given two measures each of corn, rice and beans to take us through the month. We tried to convince them that won’t be enough but no one pays any attention.”

More than 2.2 million people have fled their homes in the region, while 7 million people are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the WHO.

Read More: aljazeera

FG charges Justice Ademola, wife with gratification offences.

The Federal Government on Monday filed gratification charges against Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Abuja, and his wife, Olabowale, who is the Head of Service of Lagos State.

The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation filed 15 counts in the suit with number, FCT/CR/21/2016, against the couple before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory on Monday.

The prosecution accused Ademola and his wife of “corruptly” receiving a total sum of N248,101,300 and $520,000 as gratifications from law firms and others between 2013 an 2016.

Justice Ademola was among the judges, including two Justices of the Supreme Court, Justices Sylvester and Inyang Okoro, arrested by the operatives of the Department of State Services between October 7 and 8 on allegations of corruption.

The Federal Government had already on November 8, 2016 charged Justice Ngwuta before the Federal High Court, Abuja on charges of money laundering and passport infraction relating to age falsification and obtaining of multiplicity of passports.

Justice Okoro has however not been charged.

In the charges filed on Monday, Justice Ademola and his wife were accused in counts one and two, of “criminal conspiracy to receive and/or obtain gratification contrary to sections 8(1) and 26(1) (c) of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission Act, 2011 land punishable under Sections 8(1) (iii) of the same law”.

The wife was accused in counts four to seven of “receiving gratification for other person, contrary to Section 8 of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission Act 2011 and punishable under the same law.”

In counts eight to 15, Justice Ademola was accused of receiving a total of N248,101,300 and $520,000 as gratifications other than his “lawful remuneration, a motive or reward for doing an official act and/or in the exercise of your official functions as judge of the Federal High Court.”

The offences were said to be contrary to section 115 of Penal Code Law (Laws of Northern Nigeria 1963) and punishable under section 115(iii) of the same law.

The charges indicated that various sums of money were paid into the Guaranty Trust Bank account of Justice Ademola’s wife by law firms and others as gratifications for onward payment to the judge.

The judge and his wife were accused of conspiracy to receive/obtain N30m gratification from Joe Odey Agi Associates between March 11 and 26, 2015.

They were also accused of conspiracy to receive N40m gratification from Joe Agi Associates between February 20 and 21, 2014.

Olabowale, allegedly, on March 11, 2015 received from Joe Agi Associates N10m on behalf of her husband.

On March 16, 2015, she allegedly received another N10m from Joe Agi Associates on behalf of her husband.

She also, on March 26, 2015, allegedly received the sum of N10m from Joe Odey Agi Associates.

On February 20, 2014, the prosecution alleged that she received N40m from a source not named on behalf of her husband.

In one of the counts, the judge himself was accused of receiving N30m from Joe Agi Odey Associates through the GTB account of his spouse between March 11 and 26, 2015.

The judge was also accused in counts eight to 15 of receiving gratifications from various sources including Joe Odey Agi Associates.

He allegedly received $520,000 from Johnson & Johnson Solicitors on May 6, 2013.

The judge was also accused of receiving the sum of N6m from Oshodi, Oshodi & Co. between February 25, 2015 and. April 16, 2015

The prosecution also accused him of receiving N55,650,000 from G.T.J Ademola & Co between January 5 and June 23, 2016.

He was also accused of receiving N40m from Vertice Solutions Ltd. on February 20, 2014.

The prosecution also accused him of receiving N47.6m from Acardian Energy Services Limited on February 20, 2014.

He will also be facing a count in which he was accused of receiving N34.08m from Omotayo Babafemi Aliyu between February 20 and 21, 2014.

He was also accused of receiving N4.7713m from Lawan Sulaiman between February 21 and November 7, 2014.

In the last count, he was accused of N30m from Joe Odey Agi Associates between February 20 and 21, 2014.

FG to scrap NNPC, DPR, PPPRA, others; to sell unprofitable refineries.

The Federal Government’s draft National Oil Policy has proposed to consolidate Nigeria’s oil industry regulatory authorities into a single agency to be known as Petroleum Regulatory Commission, PRC, while scrapping all other regulators, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, and Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, among others.

According to the document released by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, last weekend, the new regulator will incorporate the activities of the existing petroleum regulatory authorities and also cover some new regulatory activities not currently covered.

The document revealed that the existing institutional regulatory framework was weak, largely ineffective and inefficient, arising from a number of single-issue agencies; overlaps in regulation, gaps in regulation, mixture of policy, regulation and operations; and ineffective regulation.

It stated: “Although the agencies generally work well together, their roles, sometimes, overlap and there are significant information gaps within the government as, sometimes, one institution is unaware of what the other is doing.

“At the same time, policy making capacity has been weak, resulting in NNPC and its subsidiaries setting policy and regulation as well as conducting operations in the petroleum sector. The result is an ineffective and inefficient institutional environment in the petroleum sector in Nigeria.”

The draft policy is also proposing that, in order to reduce the inefficiencies in parastatals in the petroleum sector, the proposed single petroleum sector regulatory authority will operate under the policy supervision of the Minister of Petroleum Resources.

According to the document, the Minister will set the policy for the PRC; ensure monitoring of the implementation of the policy; and ensure monitoring of the performance of the authority.

“This does not mean that the regulatory authority will report to the Ministry on a day to day basis. The new single regulatory authority will be an operationally independent regulatory institution. The Minister’s involvement will be hands off and just to ensure that the regulatory authority properly carries out its roles of implementing the policy,” it explained.

Automatic oil licence renewal jettisoned

Meanwhile, the Federal Government is considering a policy that would rule out the automatic renewal and extension of oil and gas licenses, while it has listed stringent conditions which would be met before these can be granted.

This was also contained in the draft oil policy which indicated that the new oil and gas licensing processes would become more transparent in respect of allocations of oil blocs, mining licences and leases, while local communities would be able to compete in the bids.

According to the draft policy, licence renewals or extensions will now be based on progress made by licence holders in meeting their exploration or production targets.

It stated that licence holders, who do not meet licence conditions, including oil production, gas flare down, gas supply obligations, will risk losing the licence.

Regulate petroleum revenue spending

In addition, the document is proposing a policy that would ensure that certain percentage of petroleum revenue is set aside for capital expenditure and for savings for future generations.

According to the document, under the new policy, the government will agree to a cap on the proportion of petroleum revenues that can be spent on recurrent expenditure, while setting aside a percentage of the petroleum revenue for capital expenditure items and savings for future generations.

To give vent to this proposal, the document disclosed that appropriate legislation would be passed to back the policy.

Unprofitable refineries to be sold

The draft policy also stated that each of the country’s refineries will be given a transition period within which to become viable and profitable, adding, however, that the government intended to divest, sell off, concession or if necessary, close down any non-performing refinery that failed to make the transition.

It stated: “The aim is to make the NNPC refineries successful, high volume, commercially viable enterprises. They will be encouraged to become so and will be supported as much as it is within the government’s ability to do so.

“Of the three NNPC refineries (Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna), Port Harcourt is expected to be the best placed to succeed. It has installed its independent gas-fired power supply; it has undertaken its own turnaround maintenance; it is close to jetties and the pipeline length from crude oil suppliers is short (less of a pipeline security risk); it is operationally ready to produce refined products to international standards, although the cost structure is still not right.

“Of the three, Kaduna, is perhaps, the least ready currently because of its distance from crude oil supplies and reliance on a poorly maintained crude oil pipeline.”

Another measure planned under the new policy for revitalization of the refining sub-sector in Nigeria include the return of storage depot assets to the refineries.

It stated: “The storage depots were originally part of the refineries but had been subsequently transferred from the refineries to the Pipeline and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, (now Nigerian Petroleum Marketing Company, NPMC).

“This arrangement is not considered to have been successful. NPMC has failed to manage the depots effectively and the refineries have been denied an important part of their assets. The storage depots will, therefore, be returned to the refineries.

“In addition, the perimeter fence around the refineries will be set sufficiently far from the operations, including depots to ensure that proper security can be maintained. Everything inside the perimeter fence will belong to the refinery solely and will be on each refinery’s asset register.”

Again, the document noted that as part of their new independence, each of the refineries will be given commercial autonomy, meaning that they will be free to take crude oil from wherever and whoever they can.

According to the draft, they are not constrained to take NNPC deliveries only, as under the new policy, each refinery may choose to deal with any crude oil producer apart from NNPC or National Oil Company of Nigeria, NOCN.

“It should be commercially interesting for an International Oil Company, IOC, which has downstream operations in Nigeria, to have their own crude refined and sold in Nigeria, rather than exporting crude across the Atlantic and the refined product to be shipped back,” the document noted.

The Ministry of Petroleum Resources said the petroleum industry in Nigeria had been involved in the development of the petroleum policy, through their participation in industry fora and seminars, such as the Nigerian Chapter of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, the OPTS and the Petroleum Club.

According to the Ministry, the proposed petroleum policy, while driven by the government, is a joint effort of the government and the petroleum industry community in Nigeria, with domestic and international industry involvement.

We Did Not Pay Boko Haram $21million To Release Chibok Girls

The Presidency yesterday denied the alleged payment of $21million to Boko Haram leadership for the release of 21 Chibok girls.

It said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had no such money to pay as ransom.

 

This was revealed in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media and Publicity) to the President, Mallam Garba Shehu,

The statement said: “Over the past few days, some newspaper reports  ascribing the recent terrorist attacks in Borno State to the government’s negotiation of the release of 21 Chibok girls, with a particular report alleging the exchange of US$21 million for the girls are false and should be disregarded by members of the public. This loose talk is journalism at its most irresponsible and it’s most dismaying.

“As a responsible government that is run on the basis of the constitution and budgets duly appropriated by the National Assembly, we have no such money under any allocation to pay out this outrageous sum of money as ransom.

“Beyond the call of journalism, the newspaper making this charge has a national duty to point how and where this money was paid, and to supply leads as to where the “powerful weapons” were bought by the terrorists.”

FG set to pay N720bn debt to states – Dogara

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, has disclosed plans by the Federal Government to pay debts owed the 36 states by paying them N720bn with each state collecting N20bn a piece.

Dogara said the money would be used for the provision of infrastructure by the states.

Many states had in the past undertaken to rehabilitate failing Federal Government infrastructure in their domain, especially road projects with the understanding that they would be repaid by the latter.

A statement on Sunday by the Speaker’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Iliya Habila, quoted Dogara as making the disclosure during a visit to the Igwe of Ogwuekpele, His Royal Highness, Valentine Onyema-Ogidiga.

Dogara visited the monarch in his Ogwuekpele palace in Anambra State.

It read in part, “Regards to debts being owed to states, I can announce that very very soon, a chunk of money will be given to states.

“It is being processed and I know that no state will get less than N20bn from the money that is coming.

“That will be something substantial in the hands of the governors. Those that are spirited, I believe they will be able to translate that money into development so that they can support the diversification (agenda) of the Federal Government.”

The statement explained that Dogara was responding to complaints made by the monarch that social infrastructure in the state was decaying and needed urgent funds for resuscitation.

It added, “Without capital, you cannot invest; so these are the two things that this government is devoted to. By doing so, state governments can have enough capital; they will have the needed infrastructure for the establishment of functional industries for the evacuation of either solid minerals or agricultural products. And we know that agriculture has the potential of providing employment for the majority of our people.

“And I can assure you that when we talk about diversification, it is not just on paper. Recently, there are efforts by the government to source money so that it can begin in earnest the putting up of infrastructure; functional road networks, intermodal and multimodal connectivity of our transportation system and building airports, railways and integrating them with land transportation.

“These are the things that are on the agenda and then giving citizens access to cheap capital that they can use to better their lives and start business and provide employment that will earn us foreign exchange.”

The Igwe had earlier appealed to the Federal Government to support Anambra State in the building of infrastructure.

He said infrastructure would help farmers to move farm produce easily from the villages to urban markets in cities like Onitsha, Awka, Nnewi and beyond the state.

Blame FG for renewed attacks on oil facilities – Avengers

The Niger Delta Avengers on Sunday told the leaders of the Niger Delta region under the Chief Edwin Clark-led Pan Niger Delta Forum not to blame the group for renewed attacks on oil facilities in the region despite ongoing peace parley with the Federal Government.

 

The militant group said they could not help but bring down some oil facilities in the region because the Federal Government had allegedly refused to honour the ceasefire terms they both entered before they heeded the calls of the region’s leaders and traditional rulers to use dialogue as a means to ending the crisis in the region.

 

A statement issued by the group’s spokesman, Mudoch Agbinibo, told Clark and other leaders to blame both the Federal Government and the Nigerian military for the fresh attacks.

 

They added that the government was using military force to undermine the peace process by ‘unnecessarily’ harassing communities and arresting innocent people in the region.

 

The statement partly read, “…We see this as a deliberate move by the military establishment to undermine any effort of dialogue and negotiations with the people of the Niger Delta.”

 

NDA added that the struggle in the region did not just start for the sake of bearing arms against the Nigerian government, it stressed that over six decades of economic and constitutional colonialism against the region led to the struggle.

 

It added that not until the burning issues of resource control, fiscal federalism and inclusive development of the region were vigorously addressed, the use of military might would not stop the struggle as the people would fight “even with bare hands.”

 

“We ask for understanding on the side of the PANDEF and the general public. The High command of the NDA is only reacting to government’s deliberate attempts to undermine the dialogue process and negotiations.”

Nigerian cities’ contribution to economy low – FG

The Federal Government has lamented the low contribution of Nigerian cities to the economy, compared to those in developed and emerging countries, stating that this is unacceptable.

It attributed the situation to the current city management style, which it said should be reviewed as it was not working.

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said this at the 50th anniversary and 47th Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners in Abuja, with the theme, ‘Promoting Liveable Settlements’.

The minister observed that the cities were bogged down by a myriad of hindrances to economic growth, including dilapidated infrastructure, slum growth, transport gridlocks, poor housing, urban poverty, and dismal sanitary conditions.

Fashola said, “With the current urbanisation, Nigeria’s population stands at the threshold of becoming predominantly urban in the near future, having more than 800 urban settlements, including the Lagos mega city with about 15 million people, and about 10 other millionaire cities and so many intermediate cities.

“Indeed, it is estimated that by 2050,about 60 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa will be urban with Nigeria dominating the scene. The scenario is, however, worrisome, bearing in mind that the contribution of our cities to the growth of the economy is embarrassingly low, when compared with examples in developed and other emerging nations.”

Fashola explained that as part of strategies to make the cities and towns liveable, inclusive and sustainable, the Federal Government has launched fresh attempts to confront urbanisation along different fronts.

At the policy front, the minister said the government had successfully pursued the process of reviewing, revalidating and adopting the National Housing and National Urban Development policies.

He stated that his ministry had produced six designs of one-bedroomed, two-bedroomed and three-bedroomed flats, bungalows and condominiums to represent the Nigerian house.

The acting President, NITP, Mr. Luka Achi, in his welcome address, called for the implementation of the 1992 urban and regional planning law “in which the national urban and regional planning commission, state urban and regional planning development boards and local planning authorities are properly constituted.”

He argued that the non-inclusion of physical planning on the concurrent list of the constitution had created a gap in the planning hierarchy.

FG Is Warned Of Possible Encroachment Of ISIS Fighters Into Nigeria & Libya

As the military continued its onslaught on the Boko Haram insurgents in the Northeast, former General Officer Commanding, GOC, Infantry Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, retired Major-General Garba Wahab, has warned the Federal Government to watch its back.
His warning, according to him, was premised on the fact that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS militants, are already facing stiffer opposition in their host countries. Following that, he warned that the group may just relocate to Libya and Nigeria.
To this end, he advised the Nigerian government to be on the lookout, so as to save the country of “possible coordinated breach of security” that may bring the country to its knees.
Speaking in an exclusive interview, Gen. Wahab who also said ambush, was inevitable in any military operation and nobody, no matter the rank or designation can prevent it because it is not known before hand, however commended the military, for the feat it has achieved so far, in its war against the insurgents.
Gen. Wahab, spoke in reaction to the recent ambush by members of Boko Haram in Malamfatori axis of northern Borno State, which claimed the lives of celebrated Army officer Lt. Colonel Muhammed Abu-Ali and six others.
He reiterated the need for accurate intelligence gathering, which, he noted, remains the only way for the military to be on top of their game, as well as being the only means to overcome insurgency, which he said may take the country 13 years to completely eradicate.
On whether the country was really winning the war against Boko Haram, the retired GOC, said: “the direct answer to that, is yes.  But unfortunately, we don’t keep records in Nigeria and that is the problem we have. If we have records, we can always check back to arrive at decisive decision. For instance, we should be able to know whether the insurgents have gone back to regroup or not.
“We are winning, but then, we need to be cautious now that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are having problems back in Iraq and Syria. The possibility of the group relocating to Libya and Nigeria is very high and that is what we need to look out for and be careful about.
“What could be done better, is, improved security awareness that will involve everybody. We need integrated approach and that means everyone must be informed to work and live as security agents.
“Where are the local governments in Borno State? At the level we are, there are some things the civilians would have taken over as part of nation building. It is not the military that will build the schools, hospitals, roads or bring teachers, doctors etc but the civilians. The military will not rule that place but the civilian.
“Any weapon recovered from wrong hands whether small or mighty is not a waste of time even if it a single rifle because it can cause serious damage to the entire country. And the question we should ask is, where and how are the weapons getting into wrong hands? If we can provide sincere answer to that question, then we are not far from having a peaceful country of our dream as responsible citizens.
“What many don’t know is that not all the Boko Haram members carry arms. They are organised. For instance, when they are going on suicide bombing operation in the past, it was always beyond one person but host of others who use different vehicles to monitor film and supply fuel. So you have about five persons doing different things in a single illegal operation.
“At one point, we had to establish check points to monitor movement but people were shouting. Fortunately, banks have been able to stop funding Boko Haram so they have not been able to buy vehicles or materials.”
On the recent ambush, he said: “the guys (officers and men) there on the zone know what is on ground and that is why they are deploying the way they deem fit. But when it comes to ambush, nobody can prevent it. Don’t forget that they are dealing with people they don’t know. Some of the insurgents are members of the communities where our gallant soldiers are operating. Some of them come from outside, but majority are within the same area.
“So, information can only be provided by people within the area and that is why I’m suggesting intelligence gathering to win this war”, he said.
He went further to say “ambush is inevitable in any military operation and can affect anybody. In any operation, the military prepare seriously and that is why you will be told to sweat seriously so you can reduce the level of bleeding in operation.
“Their death is painful though, those things are expected to happen. The only thing is we should see it as a wakeup call or indication that when people are going out, they need to be conscious. They should not take anything for granted. Anybody could be ambushed. Even America with all the sophistication in Afghanistan, they lost some of their men few weeks ago.
“Insurgency is not what you can overcome within the short period of three to five years. It is supposed to take us 13 years. The guys need to be very cautious in whatever they do in that axis at least for now. You cannot say you are going to eliminate insurgents completely. So, their death is very painful but you cannot rule it out in any operation. You cannot,” he declared.

Credit:

http://sunnewsonline.com/boko-haram-beware-of-isis-army-chief-warns-fg/

Heads May Roll As FG Restructures Aviation Agencies

Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has said that restructuring of the agencies under his Ministry was one of the key policy initiatives of the Buhari administration.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja when members of the Senate Committee on Aviation visited the Ministry on an oversight function, Sirika said other key programmes of the regime include safety and security, infrastructure and airport concession, establishment of a national carrier and a Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility. Others are establishment of agro-allied cargo infrastructure and establishment of aircraft leasing company. He added that all the projects would be realised through Public Private Partnership (PPP) procurement method.
On the restructuring, Sirika noted that most of the parastatals suffered from manpower imbalance, adding that their operations were not in conformity with the Acts establishing them.
“That is why we want to restructure them so they become more efficient and service-oriented,” he said.
However, fears are rife that the exercise may lead to further sack of workers as the Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Adamu Aliero,  toed the Minister’s path as he insisted some of the agencies were top heavy, a development, he said, gulped a huge chunk of their budgets.
On the performance of the 2016 budget as at November 9, Sirika revealed his Ministry got N19,858,571,749 as appropriation for personnel, overhead and capital, adding that the total amount released stood at N8,457,010,646, while N4,290,948,284 was spent.
He stated that the balance on appropriation was N11,401,561,102 while balance on amount released stood at N4,166,062,362. In his submission, he said the total releases was 43 per cent while the total average performance was 65 per cent.
In his remarks at the event, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Adamu Aliero, lamented that some agencies were over bloated.
“There is one agency that has 10 General Managers. Paying salaries alone could take up to 30 per cent of what was appropriated as capital. That’s not good for this country,” Aliero said.
He expressed joy in the performance of the Ministry with regards to the budget, assuring that his committee would always support the Minister where necessary.

Credit:

http://sunnewsonline.com/heads-may-roll-as-fg-restructures-aviation-agencies/

FG To Procure 40 Rice Mills For Self-sufficiency

The Federal government says it is facilitating the procurement of additional 40 large-scale rice mills to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production by 2018.

Chief Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday at a workshop themed “Big Boost for Agro Diversification and Export.’’

Ogbeh said that the Integrated Rice Mills (IRMs) of the Ministry had increased the rice milling capacity in the country.

He said that the Ministry’s new goal was to attain self-sufficiency in food production and annually export 10 million metric tonnes of food to ECOWAS region and beyond by 2019. According to the minister, the country’s food import bill has further declined from N1.1 trillion in 2009 to N684 billion in 2013.

“Nigeria has huge agricultural potentials with 11 million hectares of arable land but only cultivates 40 per cent; 263 billion cubic metres of water with two of the largest rivers in Africa.

“We have a cheap labour force to support agriculture intensification. We grow our food, feed ourselves and create local and international markets for our farmers and also unlock our enormous potentials in agriculture.

“We can achieve the economic diversification goal of government and surmount the present economic recession.

“I hope with the help of the Pentair, Good Rain, Dayu irrigation, Zhong Zhou Poultry, Jinan and our local companies, we will diversify and get out of recession in no time,’’ Ogbeh said.

Don Ekesiobi, Managing Director, Eurobase Nigeria Limited, the workshop organiser, said his company and the Ministry of Agriculture brought to Nigeria six world leading agro companies for partnership.

Ekesiobi said that the companies would introduce and showcase for adoption, technologies to turn around neglected agro value chain of the country in six months.

Credit:

http://guardian.ng/news/fg-to-procure-40-rice-mills-for-self-sufficiency/

N2.2bn fraud: Court grants FG’s request for S’Court registrar’s arraignment

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has granted a request by the Federal government for the arraignment of the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Mr. Ahmed Saleh, and two other officials of the court on a nine-counts bordering on gratification and diversion of N2.2 billion belonging to the apex court.

 

The FG, through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), had on November 3, charged Saleh alongside Muhammed Abdulrahman Sharif and Rilwanu Lawal with the offences of receiving gratifications totalling N74.4m from private contractors providing services to the Supreme Court between 2009 and 2016.

Although, the arraignment of the defendants was scheduled for Wednesday before Justice A.B Mohammed, neither the accused persons nor their lawyers were present in court.

 

It was learnt that the defendants was yet to be served with the charges as of Wednesday morning.

 

The development forced the prosecuting counsel, Mrs. Hajara Yusuf, to ask for an adjournment to enable the prosecution to produce them in court.

 

She said: “We were made to understand that the matter was assigned to this court just yesterday morning.

 

“We will be asking for an adjournment to enable us to produce the defendants in court.”

 

The judge in granting Yusuf’s request then fixed November 17 for the arraignment of the accused.

BREAKING: FG files 9-count charge against Supreme Court Judge

The Federal Government has filled a 9-count charge of money laundering and corruption against Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court.

It would be recalled that the Department of State Services (DSS) had raided the homes of the judges between October 7 and October 8 while Ngwuta and six other justices were later suspended.

The charge, filed in Federal High Court, Abuja, alleged that Ngwuta illegally retained in his possession N35,358, 000.00 contrary to the money laundering (prohibition) Act 2011.

It was also alleged that the defendant retained in his possession $319,596.00 and 25, 915 pounds which are part of the proceeds of unlawful act contrary to the money laundering Act.

The charged alleged that several sums of cash were recovered from the defendant’s home, including N35.3 million, $319,596.00(USD) 25,915 pounds sterling and 280.00 r. 44.

It further alleged that four diplomatic passports, one official and two standard Nigerian passports all in the name of the defendant were found during DSS search.

The charge said the defendant allegedly obtained multiple passports contrary to section 10 of the Immigration Act, 2015 and punishable under the same section.

According to the charge the embattled judge allegedly made false statement to the Passport Office concerning his date of birth for the purpose of procuring an additional diplomatic passport for himself.

He was also alleged to have in his possession two valid diplomatic passports and thereby committed an offence under section 10 of the Immigration Act.

The case file has not to be assigned for trial.

Atiku rallies support for FG’s anti-corruption war

Former vice president and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar, has reiterated the need for the mass media to be in the vanguard of the promotion of good governance and anti-corruption campaign.

This is as the APC chieftain recieved the ‘Quintessential Pacesetter Award’ in recognition of his immense contributions to communication for the promotion of democratic values and ethos for nation building.

The Turakin Adamawa made the charge while receiving the management staff of the Atiku Media Office (AMO) at his Asokoro residence in Abuja, on the twin purpose of felicitating with him ahead of his 70th birthday anniversary and the establishment of the Atiku Media Office, 10 years ago.

The former vice president, who recalled the role of the media in partnering with progressive-minded politicians to end military rule and dictatorship in the country, said that the fourth estate of the realm has a more entrenched role to play to ensure that democratic tenets remain intact and are not assailed by anti-democratic forces.

While acknowledging the pioneering role the Atiku Media Office has played in the past ten years and continues to play in the promotion and sustenance of democracy in Nigeria, the former Vice President, however, observed that the media office was a creation of necessity.

FG shuns N144bn satellite, shops for two new ones.

With over N144 billion ($362 million) spent on its building and more on the construction of ground station infrastructure, the country’s communications satellite is still idle in the ongoing switchover from analogue to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) broadcasting.

The reason: there is no backup to switch to, if the satellite, for any reason, packs up, prompting a warning by experts that the entire DDT broadcasting could hit the rocks in the event of a system failure.

Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed, was, however, quoted recently as saying: “The process of digitalisation is unstoppable and irreversible; it’s not a matter of choice. If we do not follow the world to digitalise and meet the June 2017 target, it means our telephones, televisions and radios would not be free from interference.”

Mohammed said, “When the White Paper on utilisation came out, the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the digital team set up by government, paid a visit to Nigeria Communication Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT) and explained to them how ready they were to patronise them. But unfortunately, as we speak today, NIGCOMSAT has no redundancy. In other words, they have no backup. If we sign with them and for any reason the satellite goes down, it means we cannot transmit.”

He stated, however, that as soon as NIGCOMSAT scaled the hurdle, the Federal Government would have no choice but resort to the main local player.

Mohammed’s position corroborates that of his Communications counterpart, Adebayo Shittu. At the end of the National Council on Communication Technology (NCCT) in Kaduna, last week, Shittu highlighted the fears of investors and users about losing data to an unreliable satellite.

He disclosed government’s plans to procure two backups for NIGCOMSAT at the cost of $550 million.

“Once that is done, we can beat our chest and say, ‘nobody should take Nigerian money outside for the purpose of storing data’. I am confident that with the Federal Government’s approval, we will get what we want.”

FG foot-dragging on minimum wage review – NLC

The Nigeria Labour Congress has accused the Federal Government of dragging its feet on convening a meeting of the Committee on Minimum Wage.

The NLC General Secretary, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, made the accusation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja.

Ozo-Eson said that the discussion of the review of the minimum wage was long overdue.

NAN recalls that the Federal Government had on June 3 set up a 16-man joint committee to work out palliatives and fashion out a new minimum wage to cushion the effects of the fuel pump price increase.

According to Ozo-Eson, the meetings of the Committee on Palliatives have not produced any positive result.

Ozo-Eson said: “It seems that government is dragging its feet and just using the committee meetings as a way of just dragging the matter.

“Specifically, with respect to the minimum wage, we, from the very beginning, have been very clear, that the minimum wage is not something that should be subsumed under the palliatives discussion.

“The minimum wage demand was made independent of whatever they did with oil price.

“The way forward for discussing the minimum wage is established.

“It is a tripartite framework that should be set up; the ILO Convention of fixing minimum wage fixing procedures is very clear on that.

“Therefore, what we are waiting for the government to do is to actually convene that tripartite committee.”

Ozo-Eson said that it was high time government convened the meeting by appointing a chairman with equal representatives from government, labour and private employers.

He said that it was only then that government, labour and private employers would begin the discussion of the proposed new minimum wage.

He recalled that the present minimum wage of N18,000 came out of such tripartite arrangement under Justice Alfa Belgore’s committee.

He said: “Certainly, (the review) is already overstretched based on the underlining principle of understanding that the minimum wage ought to be reviewed after five years.

“So, it is clearly overdue for review and we think that there is urgency apart from the fact that the five years have passed.

“Today, N18,000 means nothing at all; cost of living has been going up and we know that N18,000 does not buy anything, just food alone today.

“So, the underlining parameters clearly require that we do a review and do such a review urgently.”

No more Business Class flights for DGs, MDs – Federal Government.

The Federal Government has directed all Director-General, Managing-Dirctors and Executive Secretaries of agencies to start flying economy class, TheCable reports.

In a circular dated November 2, 2016, the government said the decision was as a result of financial challenges Nigeria is facing.

It read, “In view of the ensuing budgetary and fiscal challenges faced by the Federal Government arising from low oil revenue, it has become necessary to review the Guidelines for Local and International Travels as provided for in Circular Ref. No. SGF. 6/S.2/X/545 of 31st March, 2016 with a view to further prune recurrent expenses on travels and tours.

“Accordingly, Government has decided that all Civil and Public Servants in the rank of Directors and below in Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well as Chief Executive Officers (Managing Directors, Executive Secretaries, Directors-General, etc) of Federal Government Parastatals, Agencies  and Institutions are henceforth to travel on Economy Class for both Local and International travels. Similarly, all non-executive Chairmen and members of Federal Government Boards of Parastatals are henceforth to travel Economy Class.”

A directive had earlier been issued barring minsters from flying Business class.

JUST IN: Nnamdi Kanu has been re-arraigned on an 11-count amended charges

The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu was on Tuesday re-arraigned before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.

The Federal Government re-arraigned Kanu before Justice Nyako on an amended 11-count charge bordering on terrorism, treasonable felony and publication of defamatory matter, following the withdrawal of the former trial judge, Justice John Tsoho of the same court.

Recall that Justice Tsoho had in September withdrew from the ongoing trial of the Director of Radio Biafra over allegation of bias levelled against him by Kanu’s legal team.

Following Tsoho’s withdrawal, the case file was transferred to Justice Nyako.

At today’s resumed hearing, Kanu, who was re-arraigned alongside Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, however, pleaded not guilty to the amended charges.

Against the backdrop of Kanu’s not guilty plea, Nyako fixed November 17 to hear the bail applications filed by lawyers to the accused persons.

Earlier, counsel to all accused persons, Chucks Muoma , SAN, Inalegwu Adoga, E.I Esene and Maxwel Okpara, lamented that the prosecution was bent on frustrating the case through unnecessary delay tactics.

Reacting to the counsels’ complaint, Nyako said since the case was before her for the first time, she was not interested in what had happened in the past.

“The case is coming before me for the first time, so let us start on a clean slate, forget what happened previously,” Nyako said.

FG Yet to Remit N63.34b Pension Fund – PenCom

The Federal Government is still having outstanding accrued rights due to its employees that retired between 2015 and October 2016 amounting to N63.34 billion.

Director General of National Pension Commission (PENCOM), Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, who disclosed this at a function organized by the National Union of Pensioners (NUP) in Abuja also said the total registered participants in the Contributory Pensions Scheme (CPS) have increased to 7, 240,196 as at September 2016.

The DG further said that a total of 174, 844 persons have retired under the CPS since inception.

Represented by Director of Surveillance at the commission, M.B Umar, she said the number comprised 140,532 retirees on monthly programmed withdrawal and 34,312 retirees on monthly annuity, adding that the monthly pension payment of the retirees were N4.67 billion and N1.72 billion respectively.

According to her, despite the success recorded, the CPS has some challenges especially in funding of accrued rights of Federal Government employees.

FG Yet To Remit N63.34b Pension Fund– PENCOM

The Federal Government is still having outstanding accrued rights due its employees that retired between 2015 and October 2016 amounting to N63.34 billion.

Director General of National Pension Commission (PENCOM), Chinelo Anohu-Amazu who disclosed this at a function organised by the National Union of Pensioners (NUP) in Abuja also said the total registered participants in the Contributory Pensions Scheme (CPS) have increased to 7, 240,196 as at September 2016.

The DG further said that a total of 174, 844 persons have retired under the CPS since inception.

Represented by Director of Surveillance at the commission, M.B Umar, she said the number comprised 140,532 retirees on monthly programmed withdrawal and 34,312 retirees on monthly annuity, adding that the monthly pension payment of the retirees were N4.67 billion and N1.72 billion respectively.

According to her, despite the success recorded, the CPS has some challenges especially in funding of accrued rights of Federal Government employees.

Credit:

http://sunnewsonline.com/fg-yet-to-remit-n63-34b-pension-fund-pencom-2/

The Nigerian Federal Government to roll out inclusive pension scheme.

The National Pension Commission, (PenCom), said that it has reached advanced stage of unveiling its Micro Pension (MP) project, an initiative that provides pension coverage to self employed Nigerians.

The initiative covers three strata levels, the low, middle and high income earners, targeting 20 million self employed by 2019. The MP project targets mainly artisans, mechanics, tailors, farmers and other forms of businesses in the informal sector.

Head, Micro Pensions Department, Mr Polycarp Anyanwu who disclosed this at a seminar said the Micro Pension Scheme was an offshoot of the Pension industry 5-year strategic plan to expand the coverage of the Contributing Pension Scheme (CPS) to 20 million contributors by 2019.

He said the informal sector is largely uncovered by any structured pension and represents over 70 per cent of Nigeria’s total working population in the country. He said that some of the peculiarities of the individuals that operate within the Informal Sector inter-alia are: Irregular flow of income, highly mobile and flexible jobs, Lack of permanent work address, Lack of official means of Identification and other documents.

He stated that Section 2(3) of the Pension Reform Act, 2014 extended coverage of the Contributory Pension Scheme to self-employed persons but for micro pension they have breakdown of family support and there was need to avert old age poverty.

He said that some of micro pension features was that it has simplified registration process, flexible frequency of contribution, easy method of contribution remittance. He stated that contributions would be split into two, a smaller percentatage shall be savings and accessible to the contributor while the greater per centage shall be strictly set aside for pension, adding that the same individual portable retirement savings account managed by PFAs and funds kept in custody of the PFCs.

He said that strict regulation of the investment of Micro Pension funds needed to guarantee safety and fair returns on investment.

He said the Commission planned to partner with trade Unions/Associations to assist introduce members to the Scheme for the Pilot phase while media professionals expected to assist to enlighten the public and create awareness of benefits and need for MP.

Apart from targeting that 250,000 contributors would be enroll within 6 months the Commission said it will test ICT technology to ensure adequacy.

Butchers’ Association Urges FG To Allow Cattle Free Access Into Nigeria

The Nigerian Butchers Association on Monday asked the Federal Government to allow cattle free access into the country, to allow for bountiful availability of meat and meat products in Nigerian markets.

Alhaji Asimiyu Tela, Chairman, Ondo State Chapter of the association, said this during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Akure.

Tela called on the Federal Government to collaborate with the association to find new ways for cattle to come into the country without any hitches, to enable the butchers to be able to meet the daily needs of their customers.
“If the Federal Government can ensure that cattle are able to come into the country in abundance, as was being done in the past, that will help butchers in the country to be able to satisfy the needs of their customers.

“The cows we have in Nigeria as at now are not enough to meet the demands of our customers and thereby, there are not enough of meat and meat products to meet local consumption,’’ he said.

Tela said that the association adhered strictly to the prescribed sanitary conditions for the handling of cow meat, stressing that erring members who violated such rules were usually sanctioned.

“The executives of our association take compliance with sanitary rules with all seriousness and members found culpable were usually handed over to the law enforcement agencies.

“There are also some punitive measures attached to going against the sanitary rules,’’ he said.

According to him, Veterinary Doctors on daily basis carry out tests on every cow before being slaughtered for sale and consumption by the public.

Tela assured that members of the association would contribute their quota to ensure that peaceful elections were held nationwide, to enable democracy thrive in the country.

He urged the government to revive all moribund industries and firms, adding that, “if the youths are meaningfully engaged, there would be peace and order in the land’’.

Credit: NAN

Budget: Economic recovery plan ready by December – FG

The Federal Government has again reiterated its commitment to reflating the depressed nation’s economy, even as it hinted that the national economic recovery plan for the next three years would be ready by December.

The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who stated this at an economics communications workshop in Abuja, weekend, explained that the plan would serve as a guide for the preparation of annual budgets.

She added that it would be a continuation of the initiatives contained in the Strategic Implementation Plan for the 2016 budget.

Ahmed said: “The plan is expected to build on the policies, initiatives, programmes and projects contained in the Strategic Implementation Plan for the 2016 budget. The economic recovery plan is expected to guide the economic management and budgeting process over the short to medium-term.

Government will continue to put in place policies to expand the revenue base, plug leakages in the system, ensure greater transparency and accountability in the use of public funds, and pursue job creation and support businesses and investments, especially local investments to grow,” she said.

FG employs 200,000 graduates, offers N30,000 monthly.

The Federal Government says it has employed 200,000 graduates who will work for only two years as teachers and agricultural extension workers throughout the country.

An online newspaper, The Cable reported that the new employees would be paid N30, 000 per month, which would be paid directly into their accounts.

Speaking in Abuja at the second presidential economic communication workshop organised by the office of the vice-president on Friday, the Senior Special Assistant to the VP on media and publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, said out of the fresh employees, 150,000 would work as teachers while the remaining 50,000 would work as extension workers.

Meanwhile, the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who spoke at a colloquium on ‘The Way Forward for Nigeria’ in Lagos on Friday, said the employment of 200,000 persons is the first batch of the Volunteer Job Programme that is to commence in about two weeks.

Osinbajo said, “The delay is because we are trying to provide as many equipment as we require. We also want to ensure that we provide opportunities across the states. Close to a million registered; we should start with the first 200,000 in 14 days or thereabout. It is a temporary opportunity for young graduates.”

At the event, which was organised by Coalition of Nigerian Apostolic Leaders, the Vice-President said the government was trying to create jobs directly while creating space for more private sector activities to facilitate economic growth.

FG, Kogi Mourn Slain Army Commander

Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali has described the death of Lt.-Col. Muhammad Abu Ali as a tragic and unfortunate development in the theatre of operations against the Boko Haram insurgents.

This is contained in a statement by the Public Relations Officer to the minister, Col. Tukur Gusau in Abuja yesterday.

Gusau said the minister received the sad news of the death of Lt.-Col. Abu Ali, while in Sokoto and prayed Allah to grant the war hero eternal rest. Also Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello has expressed shock and sadness over the death of Abu Ali, an indigene of the state, who was killed in an ambush by Boko Haram insurgents in Borno on Friday.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mrs Petra Akinti-Onyegbule yesterday in Lokoja, the governor described the death of army commander as “unfortunate and a monumental loss to Kogi state and Nigeria.”

Both the federal government and Kogis state commiserated with father of the deceased, the Etsu Bassa Nge Kingdom, retired Brig.-Gen. Abu Ali and prayed God to give him and the entire people of Bassa the fortitude to bear the loss.

He is a member of the 50th Regular Course. He joined the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) in 1998 and was commissioned on September 27, 2003. He was described by his colleagues as a gallant and brave soldier. He participated or even led many major operations in the North East, including the liberation of Mubi from the hands of Boko Haram.

He enjoyed an accelerated promotion from the rank of Major to Lieutenant Colonel and was decorated by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General TY Buratai at Gamboru Ngala on 9th September 2015 during an operational visit. He did YOC Armour, YOC Infantry, Platoon Commander’s Course, Tank Auto Instructor’s Course, Junior Divisions Course, Scorpion Conversion Course, Command and Staff Officers Operational Skills Corps.

He participated in the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), United Missions in Darfur (UNMO), among others.

Credit: dailytrust

FG To Review Fuel Price Template– Kachikwu

To eliminate NPA’s transport charges, others I’m not aware of price hike by NNPC stations — Kachikwu Senate demands daily oil, gas production records.

The Federal Government, weekend, said it would undertake a review of the pricing template for Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, also known as petrol, to forestall a further increase in the price of the commodity. Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, stated this during a grand award ceremony organised by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, branch of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN in Abuja. Meanwhile the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), has asked the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, to henceforth, prepare and forward to it, the daily product records of oil and gas in the country.

The committee said the record of daily crude oil production must be submitted to the Senate every month. This will include petroleum industry activities, data on seismic activities, crude oil production, liftings, allocations, exports by destination, receipts, gas production, utilization, sales, transmission and exports.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, who led members of the committee to the headquarters of the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, in Lagos on oversight responsibility, said the development would afford the Red Chamber the opportunity to have deeper knowledge of activities of the oil and gas sector in the country.

Alaosoadura, who represents Ondo Central Senatorial District on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, frowned at perceived sidelining of the legislature in the provision of some information on activities by agencies of government, saying the trend must stop.

Speaking on the pending review of pricing template, Kachikwu said it would help cushion the effect of rising foreign exchange rates and the dwindling value of the naira against major international currencies on the price of petrol.

Read More:

http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/11/fg-review-fuel-price-template-kachikwu/

 

Talks With Boko Haram Over Chibok Girls Still On- FG

Contrary to speculations that talks with Boko Haram over the remaining 197 abducted Chibok girls have broken down, the Federal Government has insisted that negotiation for their release is ongoing.

Three weeks ago, 21 of the girls were released, a development that rekindled the hope that others will get freedom.

One of the girls was found at the weekend with a baby. Troops of the 121 Battalion, Nigerian Army deployed at Pulka, Gwoza Local Government Area, Borno State, found Maryam Ali Maiyanga and her 10- month-old baby while screening escapees from Sambisa Forest.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed stated that there was no truth in the speculation making the rounds in Abuja.

The minister told said that the talks were still on, though he did not give details because of the security nature of the negotiation.

An earlier effort in the last few days to get information on the negotiations did not yield any positive result as security sources would not discuss the matter. Worse, there was no word from official security agencies as the Department of State Services (DSS) remains without a spokesman.

“It is not true (that the talks have broken down). Talks are still very much on course,” was all Mohammed volunteered.

Another source disclosed that as recently as last week Monday, when questions were put to the security services, they volunteered that negotiations were still on. “We make it our business to find out the level of negotiations going on, and of course with the way we asked, it was not possible for them to deceive us on the matter,” the source added.

It was learnt that the alleged freeze in discussions followed the failure of both parties to agree on the issue of money, though it could not be confirmed what money had to do with the negotiations, since the government has continued to maintain that it did not pay for the release of the first 21 girls.

The source said the insurgents’ negotiators appear to be asking for more money and release of some of their men in the government custody. “They are not happy with the initial claim that the girls were released for free,” a source said.

Read More:

http://guardian.ng/news/talks-with-boko-haram-over-chibok-girls-still-on-says-government/

FG is committed to developing Niger Delta – NNPC boss

The Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr Maikanti Baru, has said that the Federal Government was committed to developing the Niger Delta region.

Baru made this known in a statement released to newsmen by NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr Garba Deen Mohammed, in Abuja on Thursday.

Baru said this when he received the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, retired Brig.- Gen. Paul Boroh.

He said that the Federal Government’s amnesty programme was critical toward ensuring lasting peace in the Niger Delta region.

”The Amnesty Programme is key to restoring peace to the Niger Delta and the corporation remains ever committed to collaborating with relevant stakeholders towards developing the Niger Delta region.

”Insecurity has affected NNPC’s operations, especially in the region but with relative peace now coming back to the area, the NNPC will ramp up its oil and gas production to be able to deliver on its mandate to the nation,” Baru said.

Earlier, Boroh told Baru that he was at the NNPC towers to share some of the success stories of the programme, especially in terms of human capital development of the various beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme.

He intimated Baru that the programme had trained over 15,000 ex-agitators in various skills and trades.

”Fourteen of them graduated with First Class from various universities both in Nigeria and abroad,” Boroh said.

FG Pays 81 Months Pension Arrears

The Federal Government has paid 81 months pension arrears which were incurred from 33 per cent pension increment but left 87 months outstanding.

The money was paid to Police, Customs, Immigration, Prisons  and civil service pensioners.

A detailed  breakdown of paid pension arrears and outstanding months were made available to journalists in Abuja, when the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service, chaired by Senator Emmanuel Paulker, visited the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate for its oversight functions.

According to the documents, three months of 33 per cent increment were paid to Police Pension Department, leaving outstanding of 39 months to Customs, Immigration and Prisons Pension Department which had all its 42 months arrears paid off.

The Parastatals Pension Department had its 12 months arrears paid to leave 30 months outstanding.

The Civil Service Pension Department was paid 24 months leaving 18 months outstanding.
Similarly, the 33 percent pension payment came as a fall out of the upward review of the minimum wage to N18,000 in 2010.

Economic Recovery Plan Ready by December – FG

The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has said that the national economic recovery plan for the next three years will be ready next.

She explained at an economics communications workshop in Abuja on Thursday that the plan would serve as a guide for the preparation of annual budgets and would be a continuation of the initiatives contained in the Strategic Implementation Plan for the 2016 budget.

According to her, the plan will clearly state the economic policies of the government that will guide the investment decisions by domestic and foreign investors.

Ahmed said, “The plan is expected to build on the policies, initiatives, programmes and projects contained in the Strategic Implementation Plan for the 2016 budget. The economic recovery plan is expected to guide the economic management and budgeting process over the short to medium-term.

“Government will continue to put in place policies to expand the revenue base, plug leakages in the system, ensure greater transparency and accountability in the use of public funds, pursue job creation and support businesses and investments, especially local investments to grow.

“Approach adopted for the preparation of the plan is highly participatory and all-inclusive, with the private sector being actively involved in the process.”

In his keynote address, the Chief Executive Officer, Economic Associates, Dr Ayo Teriba, proposed a holistic approach to economic reform to encourage the inflow of foreign direct investment rather than demand restriction or price adjustment.

He identified the Diaspora funds as an immediate and steady source of foreign currencies and extensive infrastructural development as sources of the FDI in the long term.

Teriba explained that the impressive foreign investment and growth experienced in the telecommunications sector since 2001 could be allowed in other critical sectors.

He called for the liberalisation of the power sector, rail transport, gas pipelines, power transmission and housing, among others.

The economist suggested an integrated infrastructural development in which pipelines could be constructed underneath the rail tracks and power transmission network above the rail tracks.

The policy directive needed, according to him, is to break government’s monopoly across all infrastructure and allow foreign investors to play more role.

He said, “The experience of the telecoms companies that arrived in Nigeria in 2001 when the government liberalised the sector that had been a government monopoly since independence is a testament to the huge growth and investment opportunities that Nigeria presents.

“Nigeria had only 300,000 telephone lines in 2001, but these companies have raised that number to more than 160 million today.”

Ex-Customs Director General, Dikko, Returns N1bn Cash To The Federal Government.

A former Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko, has returned N1,040,000, 000 to the Federal Government, The PUNCH has learnt.

Dikko, who served as the head of customs between August 2009 and August 2015, became the subject of an EFCC investigation last year when the commission established that about N40bn was diverted from the coffers of the NCS under his watch.

The funds were allegedly drawn from proceeds of the seven per cent cost of collection and one per cent comprehensive import supervision scheme.

He was subsequently arrested by the EFCC in June this year but was released due to his poor health.

However, a reliable source within the EFCC told our correspondent that the suspect had been returning money to the government.

The source added, “So far, Dikko has returned over N1bn. He returned N1bn and then N4m. He is still expected to return more money.”

The EFCC had, earlier in the year, seized a mansion belonging to Dikko located at 1 Audu Ogbeh Street, Jabi, Abuja.

According to the EFCC, the mansion is worth at least N2bn.

Our correspondent, who visited the property, observed the inscription, ‘EFCC, Keep Off!’ painted all over the fence.

A source in the commission said, “The EFCC Act Section 71 (b) gives us the power to commence investigations into the property of any person if it appears to the EFCC that the person’s lifestyle and extent of properties are not justified by law.

“Section 28 says concerning those arrested under the Act, the Commission will immediately trace and attach all the assets and seizures of such a person which have been acquired.

“Section 29 permits the assets of a person arrested under Section 28 to be seized by the state.

“Dikko was a customs officer and served for about 30 years. He has to explain where he got the money to buy a mansion of N2bn.”

The ex-Customs CG is also believed to own properties in Dubai and in Katsina, his home state.

Ex-Customs Boss, Dikko, Returns N1bn Cash To FG

A former Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko, has returned N1,040,000, 000 to the Federal Government.

Dikko, who served as the head of customs between August, 2009 and August, 2015, became the subject of an EFCC investigation last year when the commission established that about N40bn was diverted from the coffers of the NCS under his watch.

The funds were allegedly drawn from proceeds of the seven per cent cost of collection and one per cent comprehensive import supervision scheme.

He was subsequently arrested by the EFCC in June this year but was released due to his poor health.

However, a reliable source within the EFCC told our correspondent that the suspect had been returning money to the government.

The source added, “So far, Dikko has returned over N1bn. He returned N1bn and then N4m. He is still expected to return more money.”

The EFCC had, earlier in the year, seized a mansion belonging to Dikko located at 1 Audu Ogbeh Street, Jabi, Abuja.

According to the EFCC, the mansion is worth at least N2bn.

Our correspondent, who visited the property, observed the inscription, ‘EFCC, Keep Off!’ painted all over the fence.

A source in the commission said, “The EFCC Act Section 71 (b) gives us the power to commence investigations into the property of any person if it appears to the EFCC that the person’s lifestyle and extent of properties are not justified by law.

“Section 28 says concerning those arrested under the Act, the commission will immediately trace and attach all the assets and seizures of such a person which have been acquired.

“Section 29 permits the assets of a person arrested under Section 28 to be seized by the state.

“Dikko was a customs officer and served for about 30 years. He has to explain where he got the money to buy a mansion of N2bn.”

The ex-Customs CG is also believed to own properties in Dubai and in Katsina, his home state.

Blame FG, govs for corruption in judiciary – CJN

Twenty-four hours after two Supreme Court Justices facing corruption allegation, Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta, stepped down from adjudicating over cases pending conclusion of investigation, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has blamed the executive arm of government for corruption on the Bench.

Okoro and Ngwuta, alongside five other judges, were arrested in sting operations on October 7 and 8 by the Department of State Services (DSS) on allegations of bribery and corruption. While the duo of Okoro and Ngwuta voluntarily recused themselves from judicial functions since their homes were raided, others were still at their duty posts adjudicating on cases before them.

However, Justice Mahmoud exonerated the judiciary and its highest organ, the National Judicial Council (NJC), from any guilt as he said the third arm of government should not be blamed for the endemic corrupt practices on the Bench.

Instead, he said blames should be put on the executive, as “the failure on the part of the executive arm of government to act upon recommendations by the NJC cannot be blamed upon the NJC.”

CJN said this in a letter dated October 26, addressed to a group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) that asked NJC to take over the alleged corruption case against the embattled judges from the DSS.

The letter, with reference No. CJN/Gen/MISC/ A37/Vol.XXI/8 and signed by CJN’s Senior Special Assistant, H. S. Sa’eed, was in response to SERAP’s request to Justice Mohammed, asking him to “take over from the DSS the cases of all the seven judges released by the DSS and refer the cases of those judges to anti-corruption agencies for conclusion of investigation and prompt prosecution.”

CJN said: “While restating the willingness of the NJC to act upon any petition as well as commitment of the Nigerian judiciary to the fight against corruption, his Lordship opines that any significant involvement in the fight against corruption will be upon a similar commitment of the prosecutorial agencies to actively prosecute their cases expeditiously when information about same is received.

“It is necessary to restate that the NJC is a creation of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) being established under Section 153 with its mandate clearly set out in Para 21, Part One of the Third Schedule to the Constitution.

“This provision clearly stipulates at Para 21(b) and (d) that the Council may only ‘recommend’ to the President and the Governors, the removal from office of judicial officers and to exercise disciplinary control over such judicial officers, which in effect is the extent of its power to discipline. Hence, the Council cannot, suo moto dismiss any judicial officer.

“The NJC can also neither ‘hand over corrupt judges to law enforcement agencies for prosecution nor recover proceeds of corruption, as you have suggested, it can merely recommend to act upon its findings as it has always done.

“However, in exercise of its constitutional mandate, the NJC has enacted the Judicial Discipline Regulations, 2014 in order to ensure that petitions are received, investigated and addressed as appropriate. As SERAP’s own Report attests, 64 judicial officers have been disciplined within five years even preceding the institution of the new guidelines. Any failure on the part of the executive arm of government to act upon such recommendations cannot, therefore, be blamed upon the NJC.

“To be sure, every citizen of Nigeria inclusive of judicial officers, are entitled to the protection of the law and a key provision of the Constitution is the presumption of innocence, as enshrined in Section 36(5) of the Constitution (as amended).

”I must also remind us that the seven judges, like all other persons, are entitled to a fair hearing as stipulated in Section 36 of the Constitution. As such, it would be presumptive and, indeed, pre-emptive to sanction the said judges without exhausting the proper procedure for their removal.”

FG To Rehabilitate P-Harcourt Airport With N1.7bn

The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has disclosed that the Federal Government will rehabilitate the international wing of the Port Harcourt Airport with N1.685 billion.
Sirika told State House correspondents that the Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved the contract which was awarded to Messers Entaba.
He said the council also approved the contract for the refurbishment of the airport terminal building, phase II domestic wing, from N746,830,782.12 to N1,411,662,855.67.
He said the projects were captured in the 2016 and 2017 budgets, assuring that they would be completed very soon as the Port Harcourt Airport “has been tagged the worst airport in the world, but by the grace of God and the wisdom of council, it will be completed.”
He said the government was addressing as airport security and safety, adding a stakeholders’ meeting would hold by the end of this month.
The minister also stated that the FEC approved the bilateral agreement against double taxation with Kenya. He added that the council also approved the ratification of the Climate Change Paris Agreement.
Credit: dailytimes

Give us FOREX or we leave Nigeria – Foreign Airlines warn FG

The Association of Foreign Airlines’ Representatives in Nigeria (AFARN), on Wednesday said its members had yet to benefit from the concession granted to them to access foreign exchange at the inter-bank foreign exchange market.

The AFARN President, Mr Kingsley Nwokoma, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the present exchange rate was seriously affecting their operations.

NAN reports that the forex concession was granted to the airlines by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) following the intervention of the Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika.

Sirika had assured the airline operators that their difficulty in sourcing foreign exchange for their operations would ease as a result of the move.

However, Nwokoma said the dollar scarcity problem was still persisting, warning that more foreign airlines could close shop if the issue was not resolved as soon as possible.

He, therefore, appealed to the Federal Government to hasten the ease of providing foreign exchange to the local and foreign airlines.

Nwokoma also said the AFARN was prepared to collaborate with stakeholders in the country to enhance the sustainable safety standards and policies in the aviation sector.

“There is need for stakeholders to collaborate in view of recent security developments in the world, in order to maintain safer skies.

“Aviation is a sector that everybody should come together to grow, and we will all be proud of it.

“There are so many units that make up the industry and collaboration is key to moving the industry forward. We want performance but we must drive safety with it,’’ he added.

Why FG Patronises Foreign Contractors, Not Local Ones– Fashola

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has blamed Nigerian engineers for creating the vacuum that made the Federal Government patronize foreign contractors.

Mr. Fashola said this on Tuesday in Abuja when a delegation of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) led by its President, Otis Anyaeji, paid him a courtesy visit.

He said that the failure of Nigerian engineering firms to bid for government projects was responsible for the patronage of foreign contractors.

“If there was no vacuum, there would not be foreign engineering consultants and contractors in Nigeria.

“Unless we honestly stand up and accept that there is a vacuum, we look in the mirror and tell ourselves that we honestly do not like what we see, it will not change.

“I can tell you from experience when I was a state governor, that when I advertised for rail project, no Nigerian firm bidded for it.

“Government will not stop the development of the country, if you are not ready.”

According to him, while we point a finger at government, we must also point the same fingers at ourselves because foreign companies doing business in Nigeria are privately owned.

He advised Nigerian engineers to accept their deficiencies and build their capacities to be able to compete with foreign firms.

Meanwhile, the minister decried what he called the over legislation of procurement process and called for a review, to enhance speedy development of infrastructure in the country.

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FG threatens to revoke Ekiti federal varsity building contracts.

The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Government Projects has threatened to revoke some contracts awarded at the Federal University, Oye Ekiti, in Ekiti State.

The committee issued the threat after inspecting some ongoing projects at the institution.

The team, led by the Deputy Director of Procurement in the Federal Ministry of Education, Mr. Musa Odiniya, particularly warned Tripod Nigeria Ltd. and Dumaco Best – the contractors handling the Central Administrative Block and the University Library projects, respectively.

The Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Kayode Soremekun, who conducted the team round the project sites, expressed disappointment at the slow pace of work on the two projects.

He said, “The larger story is that some of the critical projects have been abandoned. The contractors handling the construction of the library and the Central Administrative Block have been lackadaisical.’’

Soremekun said that he stopped the payment of N50m to a contractor because there was nothing to show for the N23m he had earlier received.

“What is the guarantee that he will not abscond again? The effect is that Nigerian students will study with substandard facilities. If these structures were put in place, Nigerians would generate foreign exchange because people from other countries would enroll their children here.”

The VC blamed the attitude of the contractors on impunity within the system, saying, “Some people believe they can do things without consequences. I hope there would be consequences this time. The implication is that you are killing the future of Nigerian youths that are supposed to be using the facility.”

The committee noted that the contractors did not show that they had the funds to handle the job even after 85 percent payment to one of them.

FG cannot support Biafra agitation – Minister Geoffrey Onyeama

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, has proffered reasons why government would not support agitation for “Republic of Biafra”. He said those angling for it have not followed laid down constitutional and diplomatic processes governing secession.

He said though it is their fundamental rights to clamour for Biafra, the agitators have engaged in uncivilised methods.

He, therefore, advised that “they should be rational and not emotional in going about their agitation.”

Speaking with newsmen in Enugu shortly after the end of a stakeholders/caucus meeting of the Enugu State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC), Onyeama said those spearheading the breakaway project should critically look at the rules governing secession.

Besides, he posited that those leading the agitation “are not speaking for Ndigbo, as they do not have the mandate of the Igbo race to do so,” adding that they should embrace dialogue rather than violence at all times.

He, however, called on Nigerians, particularly those of South-East extraction, to keep supporting the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government, in tackling the present challenges facing the nation.

In the same vein, a university don and Head of Department of Political Science, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Prof. Obasi Igwe, has said that agitation for Biafra nation will be needless if the Federal Government stops policies perceived to be anti-South-East region of the country.

According to him, what the eastern region needs is opening up of its economic prosperity through railway lines to the Middle Belt and North-East zones where the youths could do their business with a sense of belonging to a untied Nigeria.

Igwe, who spoke at the weekend during the Igbo Day celebration in Kaduna, said that most youths would find a better occupation in the business routes than to engage in militancy, kidnapping and other crimes.

In another development, Igbo leaders after a three-day summit organised by the World Igbo Summit Group (WISG) in collaboration with the Igbo Renaissance Centre of the Gregory University, Uturu, Abia State, have canvassed the repeal of the 1999 Constitution and implementation of the 2014 Constitutional Conference recommendations.

In a communique issued at the end of the meeting yesterday, the Igbo leaders implored governors to direct their state Houses of Assembly to enact laws making grazing illegal in their states.

According to the leaders: “In view of the threat by the Fulani herdsmen, which constitute present and imminent danger to peace and security in Igboland, the summit calls on Igbo governors and the state’s Houses of Assembly to immediately legislate against any form of open grazing in any part of Igbo land.”

On the call for the repeal of the 1999 Constitution, the chairman of the summit, Gen. Ike Nwachukwu (rtd), said: “Ndigbo insists that the 1999 Constitution should be repealed and a new one that will recognise the inalienable rights of each constituent group to self-determination and regional autonomy as enshrined in the 1960 Independence Constitution and 1963 Republican Constitution be enacted. We demand the inclusion of these elements in the implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 constitutional conference, which Ndigbo strongly supports.

FG hands over 79 trucks of grains to Borno for IDPs.

Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima, yesterday received a federal government delegation led by the Minister of state for Works, Power and Housing, Hon Mustapha Baba Shehuri, who is in the state to handover grains to the state government for onward distribution to IDPs and also inspect road construction projects in the state and beyond.

Speaking on his mission to the state, Shehuri recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had asked the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to release 300 trucks of grains for the people and that Borno was allocated 113 trucks around April this year and a committee was set up, chaired by him, to deliver the grains.

“But on coming here about 2 months back, we discovered that about 60 trucks were diverted by the contractor who was to convey these trucks to Borno State. We reported that, and I think the case is now before the EFCC as it is under investigation. I also learnt that 23 trucks have so far been recovered and I think there are also some funds recovered which are in the hands of the EFCC,” the minister stated.

The minister further stated that the delegation will also inspect some federal roads during the visit.

Gov. Shettima had while receiving the delegation commended the efforts of the federal government in the state and called for inclusion of some roads in the state in the 2017 budget.

“We are going to hand over the grains to Borno Flour Mills to fortify it with vitamin A and add value to it, so that it can be edible and for us to distribute it to our people because distributing it raw is not the ideal thing to do now due to the fact that our people are poor and so many of them cannot process it.

“We are also negotiating with Kebbi State government to procure 200 trucks of rice for distribution to our people,” Shettima added.

On the roads, the governor said, “it is gratifying to note that under the current dispensation, some roads that have been abandoned for ages are going to receive the much desired attention. Especially, vitally important link roads like the Biu-Gombe road, the Maiduguri-Gamboru which is an international road through which goods reach as far as Central African Republic.

“Intervention along that road in next year’s budget is timely, politically expedient and would bring about a real change in the lives of our people and economic activities of this sub-region. I also call on the Minster to extend it to Bama-Gwoza road because it was in terrible shape when last I went to Gwoza. Maiduguri-Monguno-Kukawa road and the Damasak-Gashigar-Malum Fatori roads should also be capture in the 2017 budget.

“I believe Nigeria goes beyond Lagos-Ibadan expressway: there are other parts of this country that acutely needs development, that deserve to be developed as well because politics is a game of numbers, it is a game of loyalty and any constituency that appreciates and identifies with the government, that constituency needs to be taken into cognisance as government spreads developmental initiative across the length and breadth of this country.”

Let Us See Results, Obasanjo Tells FG

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on the Federal Government to ensure that the results of its development initiatives are felt by Nigerians.

Obasanjo, who was one of the keynote speakers at the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum, which held on Saturday in Lagos, commended the government for its programmes aimed at creating jobs and diversifying the economy.

Also addressing Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, and Deputy Governor, Ebonyi State, Kelechi Igwe, at the event, the ex-president said there was the need to support entrepreneurs in their states to develop products that would be fit for export.

Obasanjo said, “What you say you are doing is commendable, please let us see the results. We have to ensure that doing business in Nigeria is easy. We have to make them (investors) come to Nigeria. We need to be able to register a company at a one-stop shop.”

Earlier, the Minister for Information and Tourism, Lai Mohammed, stated that the government was moving the economy from being a mono-product economy to investing in agriculture, mining and solid minerals sectors, among others.

Also addressing the 1, 000 entrepreneurs of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, the Group Managing Director, Rose of Sharon Group, Folorunso Alakija, advised them to pursue their businesses with passion, adding that they should be ready to take risks.

She said, “The hallmark of any entrepreneur is the ability to take risks. You need to fight yourself, friends, competition and government in order to succeed.”

Credit:

http://punchng.com/let-us-see-results-obasanjo-tells-fg/

FG To Establish Specialised Petroleum Force To Tackle Militancy

As part of its 2017 target to ensure zero militancy and drastic reduction of violence in the Niger Delta, which affect Nigeria’s oil production, the federal government has indicated that it would set up a specialised petroleum force, comprising coastal patrol teams, Niger Delta subsidiary police, and other paramilitary set-ups.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, disclosed this shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari launched his government’s policy document for the country’s oil and gas sector – the seven big wins in Abuja.

Kachikwu, who spoke during the post-event press briefing noted that the specialised force would complement whatever efforts and mechanisms oil companies would put in place to secure their production assets and activities.

Besides, he gave reasons why the planned co-location of new refineries alongside existing ones in Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Warri was taking long to be concluded as well as the delay in having a Final Investment Decision (FID) on Train-7 expansion project of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG).

The minister had initially stated that under a new security arrangement, the government planned to pull out the country’s military from the Niger Delta region and allow oil companies set up their own security processes to safeguard their production.

He also stated that the specialised force would be amphibious in character and equipped to support the security efforts of the oil companies.
According to him, some participants in the current Amnesty Programme for former Niger Delta militants would be incorporated into the force as the government looks to close down the programme in 2017.

“All over the world, oil companies take care of their facilities. The presidency has also agreed to look at the possibility of setting up a specialised petroleum force that is going to draw on the elites of the security services, and be provided with resources that are amphibious, that are technology-driven to enable them to be able to respond to the request of the oil companies if they get overwhelmed outside their first line security,” Kachikwu said.

He further stated that, “The government is looking critically at the amnesty programme and we are looking towards an eventual wind up of the programme in about one year period.

“The whole idea is within that time frame we need to address some issues. We are going to be looking at things like coastal patrols, Niger Delta subsidiary policing and some paramilitary type organisations not armed. You will be able to suck in some of those people who were trained.

“We are also going to provide funding for those who want to set up their own businesses within the corridors of those areas.”
Speaking on the delayed Final Investment Decision (FID) on NLNG Train-7 project, the Kachikwu explained: “Bonny Train-7 is an issue of money. The prices of gas today is low, so anybody who is going to put money into gas development today needs to have very really strong fiscals.”

He noted the government was still committed to the project, saying, “That is not looking very encouraging, but the nice thing is that the NLNG has done very well and has access to be able to get facilities. So, we are going to be working with them on Train-7, as Train-7 is what we have commitment to.

Read More: thisdaylive

Why recovered loot can’t be spent yet – FG

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has revealed that the federal government has, aside cash, recovered landed properties, high valued automobiles and jewelries from looters, pointing out that most of the monies recovered from treasury looters could not be used because they are bug down with litigations.

Adeosun spoke yesterday at the National Assembly during an interactive meeting on the performance of the 2016 Budget with the Senate Committee on Appropriation.

She explained that some of the buildings recovered had been converted into office spaces for government agencies that had no permanent offices, while the high valued cars could be used for the conveyance of foreign dignitaries on a visit to the country.

The minister further let the Senate Committee in on the obstacles being experienced by the Nigerian government on the recovery of stashed loots in Switzerland and United States.

“The process of recovering looted fund is an ongoing process. Indeed, money comes almost on daily basis into those accounts. We have not recovered much from foreign money. It is a little more difficult,” she noted.

The Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN had stated that the Federal Government has no exact figure of Nigeria’s looted funds abroad ; stating that Nigeria would continue to liaise with other countries on the repatriation of looted funds.

Kashamu asks court to stop FG’s move to abduct him.

The Senator representing Ogun West in the Senate, Buruji Kashamu, yesterday asked the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to stop the Federal Government from forcefully abducting and transporting him to the United States of America to face drug related criminal charges.

Joined in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA.

Kashamu, through his counsel, Charles Ndukwe, told Justice Gabriel Kolawale that since July when the court put on hold any plan to abduct him, the defendants have been making clandestine moves to get him to the US at all cost to face trial on hard drug offences.

The counsel informed the court that unless an injunctive order was made against the defendant, the fundamental rights of his client would be jeopadised.

Justice Kolawale, however, queried the counsel on the allegation on the grounds that no evidence of forceful abduction had been placed before the court.

Why we’re taking a huge N9.61 trillion loan – FG

The federal government has explained why it wants to take a $30.54 billion (about N9.61 trillion) loan, which is believed to be the biggest single external loan request by any government in recent history.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who on Tuesday requested the National Assembly’s accelerated approval of the borrowing plan, said it would include a $575 million World Bank loan.

The total loan will fund a number of key projects in the country, he said.

The projects cut across key sectors of the economy, with special emphasis on infrastructure development, agriculture, health, education, water supply, growth and employment generation, poverty reduction through social safety net programmes and governance and financial management reforms.

Mr. Buhari said the proposed programmes would receive about $11.274 billion of the total loan, while special infrastructure projects would take $10.69 billion. Euro bonds will take $4.4 billion and federal budget support, $3.5 billion, he said.

Details of the projects to be executed with the World Bank loan include polio eradication support and routine immunization project ($125 million); community and social development project ($75 million), and Nigerian states health programme investment project ($125 million).

Others include State education programme investment project ($100 million), Nigerian youth employment and social support project ($100 million), and Fadama 11 project ($50 million).

The huge loan is the highest single borrowing by the Nigerian government in history.

Consolidated public debt stock in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) annual report 2014 showed that between 2010 and 2014 the highest external loan by government was N1.65 trillion in 2014.

External debt for preceding years were N689.8 billion in 2010; N896.8 billion in 2011; N1.03 trillion in 2012 and N1.39 trillion in 2013.

The loan is expected to help reflate the nation’s economy has been in recession for months.

The government had earlier announced a $15 billion (N4.72 trillion) fiscal stimulus plan for the troubled economy.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, said the plan would be funded majorly through a number of sources, namely sale of some national assets and advance payment by joint venture operators for license renewals.

Other sources included infrastructure concessions, use of recovered funds as well as long term, low interest loans to bridge funding gap.

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, had also said as part of an external borrowing plan approved by the Executive Council of the Federation, the government would borrow cheapest available monies to fund key ongoing projects.

The huge borrowing is seen as an indication that the government might have quietly shelved the idea of selling asset, amidst stiff opposition from Nigerians.

The Director-General, Debt Management Office (DMO), Abraham Nwankwo, said on Tuesday that for Nigeria to pull the economy out of recession, government must seriously embrace “conventional public borrowing” to fund critical projects.

Mr. Nwankwo said long before the drop in global crude oil prices in mid-2014, it was clear Nigeria needed to invest about $25 billion per annum for 7 to 10 years to cover its huge infrastructure deficit.

With the drastic drop in oil revenues, he said the country faced additional challenge in financing gap in public revenues estimated at about $20 billion per annum.

“This means Nigeria’s total investment deficit is not $25 billion per annum, but $45 billion per annum,” Mr. Nwankwo said.

With the huge “structural financing gap (SFG),” he said the country needed to tap capital from all available sources, including short, term and long-term borrowing with tenors of 15 years and above, to survive.

With average cost of domestic debt higher than average cost of external debt by more than seven percent, the DMO boss said significant domestic borrowing would worsen existing high debt service-to-revenue ratio.

Prime lending rate range between 15.88 and 16.95 per cent, while maximum lending rate range from 25.07 to 26.07 per cent.

The decision to go for the huge external borrowing, he explained, was to avoid crowding out the private sector, to allow them enough borrowing space to play their role in growing the economy, in response to
the infrastructure environment by government.

“The essence of the massive investment plan is that within 5 to 7 years, the country should be moving on a trajectory of sustainable and continuously strengthening economic recovery.

But the borrowing plan has been criticised by some Nigerians.

The lead director, Centre for Social Justice (CENSOJ), Eze Onyekpere, described government decision to take more loan as “fiscal irresponsibility”.

“We are paying about $61 billion in external debt already. If we add another $29.96 billion to be borrowed, we will be talking about $90.96 billion. What kind of projects are they going to use the loan on?
Mr. Onyekpere admitted he was yet to get the details of the loans proposal.

“Unless, they are projects that can regenerate themselves for government to repay the loans. otherwise, we see it as high fiscal irresponsibility and recklessness,” he said.

FG to send 2017 budget to NASS next month.

Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, on Wednesday hinted that barring any interference, the 2017 budget will be sent to the National Assembly for deliberation next month.

Ahmed made the disclosure while addressing State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa.

Speaking on the performance of the 2016 budget, the junior Minister noted that the budget had recorded 50 per cent implementation, especially in the capital expenditure.

According to the Minister, “The 2017 budget preparation is at an advanced stage. The Economic Management Team has reviewed it extensively. The next step is that it is going to be brought into the Federal Executive Council for approval, thereafter, it will be sent to the National Assembly.

“Concerning the borrowing plan that Mr. President has sent to the National Assembly for 2016, indeed included in the borrowing plan is the amount that is required for both local and foreign borrowing to fund the 2016 budget deficit.

“The budget implementation itself is on course; the 2016 budget is fully performing to date in terms of personnel, that is to say we are not owing any salaries at the federal level. Operational expenditure has been disbursed for eight months and the ninth month is just being processed.

“Capital expenditure has been disbursed to the tune of nearly 50 per cent. About N720 billion has been released for the MDAs as at the end of September.”

Meanwhile, the presidency had last week Friday disclosed that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari will start the implementation of the 2017 budget on January 1.

Why We’re Taking Huge N9.61 Trillion Loan– FG

The federal government has explained why it wants to take a $30.54 billion (about N9.61 trillion) loan, which is believed to be the biggest single external loan request by any government in recent history.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who on Tuesday requested the National Assembly’s accelerated approval of the borrowing plan, said it would include a $575 million World Bank loan.

The total loan will fund a number of key projects in the country, he said.

The projects cut across key sectors of the economy, with special emphasis on infrastructure development, agriculture, health, education, water supply, growth and employment generation, poverty reduction through social safety net programmes and governance and financial management reforms.

Mr. Buhari said the proposed programmes would receive about $11.274 billion of the total loan, while special infrastructure projects would take $10.69 billion. Euro bonds will take $4.4 billion and federal budget support, $3.5 billion, he said.

Details of the projects to be executed with the World Bank loan include polio eradication support and routine immunization project ($125 million); community and social development project ($75 million), and Nigerian states health programme investment project ($125 million).

Others include State education programme investment project ($100 million), Nigerian youth employment and social support project ($100 million), and Fadama 11 project ($50 million).

The huge loan is the highest single borrowing by the Nigerian government in history.

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Don’t Borrow Above $22.8bn In 2017- DMO Tells FG

The Debt Management Office (DMO) has advised the Federal Government not to borrow above $22.08 billion in 2017.
It gave the recommendation on Tuesday in its 2016 Debt Sustainability Analysis (DSA) report, obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
In the report, DMO stated that the end-period on Net Present Value (NPV) of the Total Public Debt-to-GDP ratio for 2016 for the Federal Government was projected at 13.5 per cent.
”The maximum amount that can be borrowed (domestic and external) by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2017, without violating the country-specific threshold, will be $22.08 billion (i.e. 5.89 per cent of 374.95 billion dollars).
”The Debt Management Strategy, 2016-2019 provides for the rebalancing of the debt portfolio from its composition of 84:16 as at the end of December, 2015 to an optimal composition of 60:40 by the end of December, 2019 for domestic to external debts, respectively.
It explained that the development supported the use of more external finance for funding capital projects, noting that the policy was in line with the focus of the present administration on speeding up infrastructure development in the country.
The DMO stated that it would achieve this by substituting the relatively expensive domestic borrowing in favour of cheaper external financing.
”This policy stance has been reinforced by the recent deterioration in macroeconomic variables, particularly with respect to the rising cost of domestic borrowing.
“Hence, the shift of emphasis to external borrowing would help to reduce debt service burden in the short to medium-term and further create more borrowing space for the private sector in the domestic market.
”Accordingly, for the fiscal year 2017, the maximum amount that can be borrowed is 22.08 billion U.S. dollars and it is proposed to be obtained from both the domestic and external sources as follows:
”New Domestic Borrowing 5.52 billion U.S. dollars (equivalent of about N1.6 triilion) and New External Borrowing: 16.56 billion U.S dollars (equivalent of about N4.8 trillion).”
The DMO also emphasised that the recommendation was made, taking into account the absorptive capacity of the domestic debt market and the options available in the external market.
Nigeria’s total debt portfolio rose 30 per cent to $62 billion in 2014, up from $47.6 billion as at September 2013.
The country’s external debt stood at $9.52 billion, 15 per cent of the entire debt stock.
Domestic borrowing, however, accounted for bulk of the total money owed by Africa’s largest economy.
Prior to the 2005 debt relief, bad debt management practices led to the payment of $4.9 billion yearly on debt servicing.

Credit:

http://sunnewsonline.com/dont-borrow-above-22-8bn-in-2017-dmo-tells-fg/

FG to launch Information Portal for Nigerians at home and abroad – Minister   

The Federal Government will soon launch an Information Portal to keep Nigerians at home and in the diaspora abreast of government’s programmes and policies and also get their feedback.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday when he received the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diapora, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, on a courtesy visit to his office.

“I think what is lacking today is that most of our people in the Diaspora base their views and opinions, their actions and reactions about what is happening at home largely on second hand, third hand or fourth hand information and this is why this particular portal is very important.

”In particular, it will be provide our brothers and sisters in the diaspora with first hand information on what is happening at home. We will also ensure that this portal will enable us to get a feedback from them on what they are doing,” he said.

Alhaji Mohammed also announced that town hall meetings would be organised for Nigerians in the diaspora, especially in cities with large Nigerian communities, as part of efforts to engage them on the efforts the government is making to develop the country.

He said there were also plans to launch the Change Begins With Me Campaign in some major cities across the world, with a view to reinforcing the faith and belief of the diaspora Nigerians in the Nigeria Project and also to carry them along in the rescue mission to revamp the economy and ensure the return of moral values that will re-position the country on the path to greatness.

The Minister lauded the contributions of Nigerians resident abroad to the development of their host countries, saying they remain Nigeria’s ambassadors, whose views are not tainted by sectional, ethnic or religious prejudices.

He said in times of recession as currently being witnessed in Nigeria, the contribution of the diaspora community is capable of reflating the economy, particularly if the funds they remit come through the official sources.

“Unfortunately for us in Nigeria, even though a lot of money comes from the diaspora, it does not come through official sources. I think that the Central Bank is also doing everything possible to ensure that the inflow from the diaspora comes through official sources,” the Minister said.

In her remarks, Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa sought the partnership of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in building a formidable structure that will engage Nigerians in the diaspora.

While stressing the need for an accurate database of Nigerians in the diaspora, she said a diaspora policy would soon be put in place to define and facilitate the engagement with Nigerians residing abroad and harness the intellects of Nigerians in various fields in the diaspora to contribute positively to nation-building.

“We are coming up with a programme called PRIDE – The Presidential Initiative for Diaspora Excellence. We will bring it down to various fields; we are working on medicine and agriculture. So we are getting Nigerians in the diaspora in those fields that are going to come together and make sure they contribute positively to the progress and development of Nigeria,” the Senior Special Assistant to the President said.

Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa expressed the confidence that with about $21 billion remitted to the country annually, Nigerians in the diaspora are capable of pulling the country out of recession if they are adequate informed and engaged by the government, while also disclosing the plan to float a Diaspora Bond.

FG to reduce number of agencies at ports.

Worried about the loss of business to neighbouring countries arising from low competitiveness, indications emerged at the weekend that the Federal Government may further reduce the number of agencies at the nation’s ports.

This is part of measures to address complaints bordering on the ease of doing business.

The Government said efforts are underway to reduce human intervention at the ports, some of which have been responsible for the poor operational efficiency, by deploying technology and increasing stakeholder collaboration on regulatory frameworks.

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, noted that the present administration is looking at issues raised by stakeholders bordering on concessions, charges and local content as well as the number of agencies at the ports. This is with a view to improving earnings from non-oil exports as well as encouraging bilateral ties between Nigeria and other trading partners.

With many importers and traders diverting their cargoes to neighbouring countries, the Government noted that measures are underway to address the bottlenecks in the maritime sector.

Besides, the government also announced plans to invest massively in infrastructure and human capacity development, noting that it is focusing on policies and reforms geared at promoting diversification and structural reform of the economy.

The Government had in the past reduced the number of agencies at the ports in a bid to check complaints by operators on the number of signatories and turnaround time needed to clear their cargoes at the ports.

Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, noted that successful policies execution is expected to result in enhanced productivity growth; increase manufacturing share to Nigeria’s total export earnings and drastic reduction in susceptibilities of the economy to external shocks from commodity volatility currently being experienced by the nation.

He explained that reform efforts at the ports is focused on deploying a deliberate, well thought through automation strategy that achieves the tripartite objectives of blocking revenue leakages, improving process efficiency and reducing human intervention.

During a public-private dialogue on port efficiency and maritime sector roadmap organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), he revealed that in the strategic implementation plan for 2016, the Government is making efforts at facilitating trade by ensuring that the environment is conducive for operators and investors.

Osibajo, who was represented by the Senior Special Assistant ?to the President on Industry, Trade and Investment, Office of the Vice President, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, stated that to improve ease of doing business in Nigeria, particularly trade across borders, the administration is focusing on critical infrastructure to achieve the objective.
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In his words, “In light of the well-documented challenges experienced by users of Nigerian ports today, making it easier and faster to facilitate the exit and entry of goods into Nigeria, as well as improving the business environment are critical to the sustainable and inclusive development of the Nigerian economy.”

Extremism: FG urged to stop Nigerians travelling to study in Iran.

Africans studying various higher institutions in Cyprus under the banner of African Students in Cyprus have called on the Nigerian government to stop Nigerian youths traveling to the republic of Iran to study, warning that some of them end up being radicalized.

The students during a march to against terrorism and extremism at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus, said Nigeria faces future security risk if it continues to allow youths travel to countries where they end up being radicalized.

The President of the student group, Jeremiah Omadachi, who addressed the protest, said some youths who travel to Iran under the guise of studying are also shipped off to other countries such as Yemen and Somlia where the same fate awaits them.

The students warned the Nigerian authorities and foreign affairs ministry that the threat of radicalization by Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzakky’s Islamic Movement in Nigeria is real and should not be taken for granted by the country.

The students cited the example of underwear bomber, Abdul Mutalab.

They said it was an embarrassment to the country.

Omadichi said: “As Africans living here in Cyprus, we have followed events in Nigeria and must confess that we have great concerns about the growing sectarian division there. The names of several sects are coming up in the daily accounts being rendered online but the name of Shiite sect, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) has remained a constant.

“We are aware through contacts with other communities and nationals here that the cover that IMN and Iran use is to make youths pretend they are travelling to get education.

“The frightening reality however is that young Nigerians that travel to Iran end up being radicalised and indoctrinated into extremism. There has been indications that they are also getting military training provided by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.”

Omadichi said the Nigerian Government and other African leaders must do everything possible to prevent Iran from expanding the Middle East crisis to Africa by using IMN as a front.

According to him, the Islamic Republic must be told in very clear terms that it should sort out its problems with its regional neighbours and not attempt opening a new front in its war of attrition in Nigeria.

He said: “Our continent is too dear to us to keep quiet while Iran stokes the fire of sectarian strife.

“We appeal to the Nigerian government to immediately mount an enlightenment campaign that would educate Nigerian youths on the danger of travelling to Iran of all places in the erroneous impression that they will get useful education. They must be told of the reality of the harrowing experiences of those that have made the perilous journey.

“Some of the youths who think they will be getting education as professionals have ended up finding themselves as unwilling recruit into the Iranian terror infrastructure. Some have died in the course of being trained as terrorists while those that managed to return home to Nigeria often discover they have been fashioned into misfits.”

What Nigerian Government Should do For 21 Released Chibok Girls – Pope Francis

Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis, has identified one more thing the federal government should do to get the Chibok Girls back to normal life.

The pope emphasized that the girls need experts to rehabilitate them.

The Pope, who was represented by the President of Pontifical Mission Societies (Nigeria), Rev. Fr. George Ajana, said this during this year’s World Mission Sunday at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Area 3, Abuja.

The Pope stated, “The release of the 21 Chibok girls is victory, it is a very good sign and we are thanking God for it that some of the Chibok girls were released. Nigerians have been celebrating all this while, the church joins them in the celebration and we are one with them. So, we, first of all, thank God that a few of them, just 21 were released.

“The Chibok girls need medical assistance; the government is doing that already. They have been taken to the hospital. I think they will need psychological rehabilitation. The government needs to bring in experts to stabilize them because they must have gone through a lot of trauma.

“Now, coming back, I don’t think they will be their normal selves any longer. So, the Chibok girls need to be psychologically brought back to their real life. And we need to pray for them; the church will be very happy to do that.”

FG Okays Trial of Justices Okoro, Ademola, Others

The Federal Government, yesterday, shunned the National Judiciary Council, NJC, and pressed ahead with its decision to bring the seven suspected corrupt judges to justice.

The seven are among the 15 already identified by the Department of State Services, DSS, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, but the other eight are yet to be named and invited for questioning.

The NJC, which claimed to have omnibus powers over both criminal and administrative matters relating to judges in Nigeria, last week, disregarded the Presidency’s directive to suspend the suspected corrupt judicial officers from duty, pending the trial and disposal of the criminal allegations leveled against them.

Rather than comply with Presidency’s order, the NJC slammed the DSS for daring to search the homes of the judges in the night and making away with huge cash in local and foreign currencies.

Although none of the suspects denied keeping the huge cash in their homes, the NJC was silent on the propriety of the discovery of the money in the homes of the judges but disparaged the DSS for the raid, which it claimed was intended to cow the judges from doing their jobs.

In a brazen move to get at both the NJC and the suspects, who have tried to blame key ministers in Buhari’s administration for their ordeal, the Federal Government, last night, formally approved the prosecution of the suspects with immediate effect.

A top Presidency official confirmed to newsmen that the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, had approved the immediate prosecution of the suspects so as not to give the erroneous impression that government was promoting corruption. The top source said the trial of the suspects would be carried out in phases and handled by the National Prosecution Council, which was recently inaugurated.

The source said the refusal of the NJC to suspend the suspected judges was interpreted as a ‘slap’ on the Presidency and that no country would allow a few people to constitute themselves into a cabal that is ‘above the law’.

Asked to disclose the nature of the charges to be preferred against the judges, the official said:  “The charges are generally for corruption, with an isolated case of illegal possession of firearms to be pressed against one of the judges.”

‘The firearms were recovered from the home of one of the suspects by the DSS during the nocturnal raid on October 7, a development that had sparked national outrage.’

Giving further insight into the trial, the source hinted:  “I can tell you that the National Prosecution Council will lead the prosecution of the suspects, while the Director of Public Prosecution in the Federal Ministry of Justice will coordinate the team.

“The charges were cleared from the OHAGF only yesterday and the suspects are certainly going to be charged to court any moment from now. The Federal Government is not deterred by the refusal of the NJC to suspend the suspects from office.”

Efforts to speak with the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, proved abortive, as he was said to be outside Nigeria. None of his officials claimed knowledge of the approval of the charges against the suspected judges.

It will be recalled that the DSS had launched a sting operation in the homes of the judges on the night of October 7, 2016, recovering local and foreign currencies worth N360 million. Two of the judges are from the Supreme Court, while the rest sit in Federal and State High Courts.

While Justice John Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court claimed on Tuesday that $38,000 found in his home was his estacode, he did not say how the over N3 million cash was left in his home and not the bank.

On the other hand, Justices Ademola Adeniyi and Nnamdi Dimgba have blamed their ordeal in the hands of the DSS on the AGF over certain court verdicts they claimed they gave against him in the past.

Nonetheless, the allegations against Malami were not mentioned to anyone until the raids on their homes by the DSS.

Corruption: FG okays trial of Justices Okoro, Ademola, others.

The Federal Government on Wednesday shunned the National Judiciary Council and pressed ahead with its decision to bring the seven suspected corrupt judges to justice.

The seven are among the 15 already identified by the Department of State Services and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, but the other eight are yet to be named and invited for questioning.

The NJC, which claimed to have omnibus powers over both criminal and administrative matters relating to judges in Nigeria, last week disregarded the Presidency’s directive to suspend the suspected corrupt judicial officers from duty, pending the trial and disposal of the criminal allegations levelled against them.

Rather than comply with the Presidency’s order, the NJC slammed the DSS for daring to search the homes of the judges in the night and making away with huge cash in local and foreign currencies.

Although none of the suspects denied keeping the huge cash in their homes, the NJC was silent on the propriety of the discovery of the money in the homes of the judges, but disparaged the DSS for the raid, which it claimed was intended to cow the judges from doing their jobs.

In a brazen move to get at both the NJC and the suspects, who have tried to blame key ministers in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for their ordeal, the Federal Government on Wednesday formally approved the prosecution of the suspects with immediate effect.

A top Presidency official confirmed to Vanguard that the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, had approved the immediate prosecution of the suspects so as not to give the erroneous impression that government was promoting corruption.

The top source said the trial of the suspects would be carried out in phases and handled by the National Prosecution Council, which was recently inaugurated.

The source said the refusal of the NJC to suspend the suspected judges was interpreted as a “slap” on the Presidency and that no country would allow a few people to constitute themselves into a cabal that is “above the law”.

Asked to disclose the nature of the charges to be preferred against the judges, the official said: “The charges are generally for corruption, with an isolated case of illegal possession of firearms to be pressed against one of the judges.”

The firearms were recovered from the home of one of the suspects by the DSS during the nocturnal raid on October 7, a development that had sparked national outrage.

Giving further insight into the trial, the source hinted: “I can tell you that the National Prosecution Council will lead the prosecution of the suspects, while the Director of Public Prosecution in the Federal Ministry of Justice will coordinate the team.

“The charges were cleared from the OHAGF only yesterday and the suspects are certainly going to be charged to court any moment from now.

“The Federal Government is not deterred by the refusal of the NJC to suspend the suspects from office.”

Efforts to speak with Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, proved abortive, as he was said to be outside Nigeria.

None of his officials claimed knowledge of the approval of the charges against the suspected judges.

It will be recalled that the DSS had launched a sting operation in the homes of the judges on the night of October 7, 2016, recovering local and foreign currencies worth N360 million.

Two of the judges are from the Supreme Court, while the rest sit in Federal and State High Courts.

While Justice John Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court claimed on Tuesday that the $38,000 found in his home was his estacode, he did not say how the over N3 million cash was left in his home and not the bank.

On the other hand, Justices Ademola Adeniyi and Nnamdi Dimgba have blamed their ordeal in the hands of the DSS on Malami over certain court verdicts they claimed they gave against him in the past.

Nonetheless, the allegations against Malami were not mentioned to anyone until the raids on their homes by the DSS.

FG eyes $1bn from sale of broadcasting spectrum.

The Federal Government has the capacity to raise a digital dividend of $1 billion from the sale of spectrum emanating from the Digital Switch Over (DSO) from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting.

Also, the digital economy is expected to grow by $1 billion on a yearly basis through increases in advertising, Nollywood income, and value added services.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, disclosed this at the opening of the 11th edition of the International Conference for African Broadcasters, organised by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) in Abuja.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), yesterday, launched a crackdown on sellers of unregistered SIM cards in Kano. Six persons were handed over to the police for investigation.

“We want to get those that are involved, so that we can have a thorough investigation. It is a criminal offence to use SIM cards without proper registration. All new cards must be personally registered. We have to mop up all unregistered cards in our markets,” said Salisu Abdu, head of the Commission’s enforcement unit.

Mohammed noted that digitisation of the technology of broadcasting is rapidly changing the industry and offering fresh opportunities. It offers Nigeria a lot of opportunities in the areas of economics, politics, education, entertainment, science and technology, he said.

“Many have said that the impact of digitisation on television will be revolutionary and I cannot agree less. With digitisation, the TV industry in Nigeria will be able to raise over $I billion in one year.”

FG Appoints 2 New Directors For FAAN

The Federal Government has appointed two new Directors for the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

FAAN’s Acting General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, in a statement on Tuesday, gave the names of the new appointees as Mrs Nike Aboderin and Mr Sadiku Rafindadi.

NAN reports that the government had recently sacked some of FAAN’s directors as part of efforts to restructure the agency.

Yakubu said that Aboderin was appointed Director of Finance and Accounts, while Rafindadi was appointed as Director of Commercial & Business Development.

She said: “Aboderin is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (FCIB). She holds an M.Sc degree in Banking and Finance of the University of Lagos.

“Her over 23years experience in the financial services industry exposed her to both public and private exploits at different institutions including multinationals.

“She is an Advanced Management Programme (AMP) graduate of Lagos Business School and also holds a post graduate certificate in Global Strategic Management (GSM) of the Harvard Business School, Boston, USA.”

According to Yakubu, Aboderin is married and blessed with children.

She said that Rafindadi is a 1985 graduate of Economics of the University of Pittsburgh and also holds an MBA in Finance of Clark Atlanta University, USA.

“He attended Kaduna Polytechnic, where he obtained Certificates in Management Studies.

“Rafindadi is a seasoned amiable Manager who started his career as a young officer and rose to the pinnacle through diligence and commitment.

“Until his current appointment, he has worked in several Management capacities in different institutions, including, Phoenix Investment Services and British Petroleum.

“At the early stage of his career, he had a stint at the Ministry of Finance, Kaduna state, “she said.

According to the FAAN spokesperson, Ranfidadi is married and blessed with children.

Yakubu said the management and staff of FAAN looked forward to a good working relationship with the new appointees that would add value to the system.

Credit: NAN

UNICEF Urges FG To Rehabilitate Released Chibok Girls

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday called on the Federal Government to provide intensive support for the 21 released Chibok girls to safeguard their future.

The group made the call in a statement signed by Mr Gianfranco Rotigliano, its Country Representative and made available to newsmen in Maiduguri.

“The release is a great news and we are delighted to see the girls back with their families. “But we must keep pressing for all the women and children held by Boko Haram to be freed.

“And we must bear in mind that all of those who have been held by Boko Haram will face a long and difficult process to rebuild their lives after the indescribable trauma they have suffered,”

Rotigliano said. He also said that the more than 200 Chibok girls abducted by Boko Haram in April 2014 were among thousands of women and girls that UNICEF estimated had been held and subjected to violence by the group. “UNICEF has supported hundreds of women and girls who have already been released or escaped from Boko Haram.

“The girls’ report that they have been subjected to rape – frequently in the form of forced marriages – beatings, intimidation and starvation during their captivity. Many returned pregnant or with babies as a result of rape.

“When they do reach safety, girls who have been held by Boko Haram are often ill, malnourished, traumatised and exhausted.

“They are in need of medical attention and psychosocial support so that they can begin to come to terms with their experiences and reintegrate with their families and communities.

“Frequently, returning to their families and communities is the beginning of a new ordeal for the girls, as the sexual violence they have suffered often results in stigmatisation.

“People are also often afraid that the girls have been indoctrinated by Boko Haram and that they pose a threat to their communities. “The use by Boko Haram of children – mostly girls – as so called ‘suicide bombers’ has fueled such fears.

“Children born as a result of the sexual violence are at even greater risk of rejection, abandonment and violence.

“Since January, UNICEF and its partner International Alert have been providing psychosocial support for women and girls who have experienced sexual violence in the hands of Boko Haram.

“UNICEF and International Alert are also working with affected communities through a network of trained religious and community leaders to promote acceptance and to address negative perceptions that hamper the reintegration of women and girls who have suffered such violence.

“Funding from the Swedish International Development Agency and the UK Department for International Development has so far this year enabled UNICEF to provide a comprehensive programme of reintegration assistance to more than 750 women and girls subjected to Boko Haram-related sexual violence.

“With such large numbers of women and girls having been held by the group, however, the long-term provision of much-needed support remains heavily underfunded,’’ the UNICEF official said.

Credit:

http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/10/unicef-urges-fg-rehabilitate-released-chibok-girls/

FG working to secure release of 83 Chibok girls.

A faction of Boko Haram is ready to negotiate with credible intermediaries for the release of about 83 Chibok girls, President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman said on Sunday.

The terror group on Thursday released 21 of the more than 200 kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls held since April 2014 in a prisoner swap deal with the Nigerian government. The deal was brokered by the International Committee of Red Cross and the Swiss government.

“These 21 released girls are supposed to be talebearers to tell the Nigerian government that this faction of Boko Haram has 83 more Chibok girls,” presidential spokesman Garba Shehu, told Reuters.

“The faction said it is ready to negotiate if the government is willing to sit down with them,” said Shehu, adding that the state is prepared to negotiate with the branch of Boko Haram.

The group apparently split when the Islamic State group appointed Abu Musab al-Barnawi as the head of Boko Haram early in August. But the erstwhile leader of the group, Abubakar Shekau,countered the appointment, insisting that he was still in charge.

It is unclear what the Federal Government did to secure the release of the 21 girls freed on Thursday, but AFP quoting local sources said four Boko Haram commanders were freed.

“The four Boko Haram militants were brought to Banki from Maiduguri in a military helicopter from where they were driven to Kumshe in ICRC vehicles,” AFP reported.

But Shehu and Nigeria’s minister of information and culture Lai Mohammed insisted that the government did not release any Boko Haram prisoner.

Boko Haram ready to negotiate the release of 83 Chibok girls – Presidency

The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammdu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Sunday announced that the Boko Haram insurgents have expressed willingness to negotiate with the Federal Government on the release of 83 more Chibok girls.

Recall that the insurgents had on Thursday released 21 of the Chibok girls after over two years in captivity.

Reports filtered in yesterday that the group may give the government two conditions for the release of the girls.

Affirming the report, Shehu, in an interview with Reuters Foundation, said a faction of the Islamic sect released the girls to assure the current administration that they had them.

According to Shehu, “These 21 released girls are supposed to be tale bearers to tell the Nigerian government that this faction of Boko Haram has 83 more Chibok girls.

“The faction said it is ready to negotiate if the government is willing to sit down with them.

The Presidential media aide, also disclosed that the remaining abducted Chibok girls were with the Shekau faction of the terrorist group.

Boko Haram group was reported to have been factionalised, following the appointment of Musab Al-Barnawi by the deadly Jihadist group, ISIS, to head the sect in August.

However, the leader of the group, Abubakar Shekau had dismissed Al-Barnawi’s appointment, insisting he remains the leader of the extremist group.

Since FG won’t sell NLNG, Dangote acquires gas processing company in Netherlands

Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) has completed the acquisition of Twister B.V., a gas processing company headquartered in the Netherlands.

Twister B.V. used to be owned by Shell Technology Ventures Fund 1, before its recent acquisition by DIL along with its partner – First E&P.

A statement yesterday from DIL said the acquired company would help design and build the gas plants which would be critical in processing gas from oil fields for transportation via Dangote’s planned subsea pipeline (EWOGGS) for ultimate consumption by various industries and power plants.

Aliko Dangote, President & CEO of Dangote Industries Limited said, “This was an important acquisition for us. Twister’s cutting edge gas processing technology is fundamental to delivering our strategy to unlock about 3bcfd of gas in order to meet Nigeria’s gas needs.”

Twister’s CEO, John Young said, “We are delighted in the confidence DIL and First E&P have shown in Twister to be their core provider of gas separation solutions. After a very thorough due diligence our technology has been recognised as a key enabler to reduce gas project costs which is crucial in this current environment. We are excited to be part of the Dangote family of companies.”

It would be recalled that the refinery and fertilizer projects of Dangote Industries Limited are reported to have the capacity of creating a minimum of 235,000 new jobs – both direct and indirect jobs – as it becomes operational in the first quarter of 2019.

Aliko Dangote, who revealed this recently, also stated that the projects would cost a minimum of $17 billion.

Dangote said the $12 billion refinery would have a capacity of 650,000 barrels a day.

He assured that there would be market for the refined products because even in Africa, only three countries had effective functioning refinery with others importing from abroad.

He said: “Our refinery will be ready in the first quarter of 2019. Mechanical completion will be end of 2018 but we will start producing in 2019.”

When the projects fully take off in 2019, Dangote said it would help the country save $5 billion spent on the importation of oil into the country.

Negative comments can jeopardise Chibok girls release – FG

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has appealed to commentators and analysts to refrain from making statements that can jeopardise the release of the Chibok girls who are still in captivity.

A press statement by the Special Adviser to the Minister, Segun Adeyemi, said Mohammed made the appeal at a special thanksgiving church service and reunion of the 21 girls with their families, yesterday in Abuja.

“They are many reckless analysts and commentators who are not helping the situation. We still have many of our children in captivity. Therefore, we have to be careful with the kind of comments that we make. We must not make comments that will make the release of these girls difficult or impossible”, he said.

Alhaji Mohammed, who quoted from the scriptures stating: “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them,” said those who doubted the sincerity and commitment of the present administration to the safe release of the abducted Chibok girls have been disappointed.

“When President Muhammed Buhari said that the Boko Haram saga will not be closed until all the girls abducted have been released and reunited with their families safely, those who doubted did not believe us. So we thank God this day has come,” he said.

He appealed to the parents of the girls who are yet to be freed to continue to exercise patience, saying: “This is the beginning and we are very optimistic that very soon another batch, bigger than this, will be released. I want to assure you that these negotiations are ongoing even as we speak.”

Speaking, Chairman of the Parents of the Abducted Chibok School Girls, Yakubu Nkeki, re-echoed the minister’s plea and appealed to the people to stop spreading rumours, particularly on the social media, that will put the lives of the girls at risk.

In her testimony, the spokesperson of the released girls, Miss Gloria Dame, who recalled their ordeal in captivity, thanked God and all those who made their safe release and reunion with their families possible.

Miss Dame, who spoke in Hausa, prayed that God will ensure the safe release of the other girls still in captivity.

“We never thought we would ever see this moment, but God has made it possible for us. I want to appeal to all of us to fast and pray for the safe release of those left behind,” she said.

While delivering the sermon, Dr. Shiktra Kwali admonished the girls not to allow the experience weigh them down and urged them to remain steadfast in serving God.

FG okays $500m industrial port for Modandola Group.

The federal government has approved the development of a $500 million industrial port, which is to be executed by the Modandola Group.

The Federal Executive Council had on October 12, 2016 approved the proposal for the development of a multipurpose terminal along Badagry Creek, Apapa.

The port, which is capable of berthing 50,000 DWT vessels with a draught of 13.5 metres upon completion, will be sponsored by Modandola Group, together with their foreign partners through Creek Road Multipurpose Terminal Limited (CRMPT) as an SPV.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that upon completion, the project will bring about foreign direct investment (FDI), increase government revenue through taxes and royalties and creation of specialised port facilities for industrial cargo and raw material.

In addition, the port will afford skilled professionals and unskilled persons job opportunities. The industrial complex is also expected to house a power station, information/ technology operating system and modern terminal building to house the administration, shipping and other government agencies.

FG Releases N3.9tr To MDAs- Finance Minister

Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has said that at the end of September, N3.9 trillion out of the N6.1 trillion budgeted for the year has been released.

Mr Mohammed Dikwa, Director, Special Projects in the ministry, who represented the minister, made the statement at a stakeholders’ forum on reducing the cost of governance in Abuja.

In a paper entitled: ‘Public Sector Financial Management Reforms as a Strategy for Cutting Cost of Governance in Nigeria’’, Adeosun said only 18 per cent of the releases was for capital expenses as against 82 per cent for recurrent expenditure.

She, however, said that the releases to the productive sectors of the economy remained the highest in recent times.

She added that Nigeria’s inability to finance most of its development projects had been largely attributed to high cost of governance in the form of large recurrent expenditure.

“In order to grow the economy and fasten the rate of growth and development, there is the need to reverse the trend,’’ the minister said.

She stated that it was important to ‘’allocate through the budgeting process, a larger proportion of funds for massive investment in infrastructure and other capital projects.’’

Adeosun said in the last two decades, costs associated with the running of the government in Nigeria had increased dramatically.

She added that there was a decline in the proportion of the budget allocated to recurrent expenditure.

Adeosun said that from 60 per cent in 1990 to 36 per cent in 1998, the budget increased to 80 per cent in 2003 but dropped to 74 per cent in 2016.

She said that the rising cost of governance had been a vexed issue in economic discourse in Nigeria.

“Reasons for rising cost of governance in Nigeria are issue of inflation, misuse of public funds and corruption, increase in population, extra-large NASS, extra-large public bureaucracy and need for accelerated growth and development.

“Others are lack of economic efficiency and lack of well-defined rules and regulations,’’ Adeosun said.

She said it showed that all tiers of government in Nigeria spent far more than they earned such that between 2011 and 2015, Nigeria had a consistent annual deficit of over N1 trillion in budget execution.

Adeosun also said that the country’s external and domestic debts amounted to over 30 per cent of national revenue during the period

Read More:

http://sunnewsonline.com/fg-releases-n3-9tr-to-mdas-finance-minister/

FG will revisit tax holidays, waivers – Osinbajo

Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has said that though there might be challenges with the present duty waivers and tax regimes in the country, the federal government is working hard to correct the wrongs with the view to encouraging the growth of small businesses and attracting foreign investments.

Speaking at a forum on job creation, skills and employment at the ongoing 22nd Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja, the Vice President explained that the emphasis of the government on agriculture and agro-businesses was premised on its agenda on diversification and self-reliance in food production for domestic consumption.

According to a statement by his spokesman, Laolu Akande, Osinbajo said the enormity of the challenge with tax holidays and waivers could not be addressed by a ‘one size, fits-all’ tax holidays initiative, stressing that there were areas that the government would revisit and revise.

He said the Presidential Enabling Business Council, PEBEC, a special initiative of the federal government established by President Muhammadu Buhari in collaboration with the private sector, was looking at incentives and issues related to waivers.

The Vice President, who had spoken extensively on the administration’s economic policies on Day 1 of the summit, also emphasized what government was doing to support funding of small businesses in the country.

He said: ‘‘There are complications around funding and that is why in the short term, intervention funds are what we think might work. We are looking at intervention funds in agriculture, we have the anchor borrowers’ programme, we are resuscitating the Bank of Agriculture, and recapitalizing it.

‘‘We expect that the Bank of Agriculture and a few other banks will be able to provide some cheap funds for agriculture, we are already seeing that in the anchor borrowers’ programme.

‘‘We also think that intervention fund in setting up areas like health, before we are able to get the overall monetary environment right, is necessary.’’

Similarly, Osinbajo revealed plans by the federal government to raise up to N1 trillion with the help of private investors to finance mortgages for low-income earners, even as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it plans to sell N138.16 billion in short-dated treasury bills at an auction.

In a public notice, the apex bank said it would raise N36.78 billion in three-month papers, N35 billion in six-month bills and N66.38 billion in one-year bills. Payment for the purchases would be made on Thursday.

Osinbajo who did not specify when the fund would be raised said the capital raised would be used as an intervention fund to help low income earners afford homes of their own.

“It is actually a financial intervention fund. Already we are trying to aggregate funds from the private sector, local and international investors. The idea is that any Nigerian who earns at least 30,000 naira ought to be able to own a home,” he said, adding that the developers would be able to use the mortgages raised by the fund to build affordable housing.

Nigeria which has a population of more than 180 million people, suffers from a housing shortage.

FG Begins School Feeding Programme This Month- Osinbajo

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday said the government’s free National Home Grown School Feeding programme would start in some states of the federation this month.

According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, the Vice-President said this in an interview with some journalists.

The Federal Government had failed to commence the programme at the beginning of the current academic session in September as promised.

The programme, which was formally inaugurated on June 9, 2016 by Osinbajo, is part of the Social Investment Plans of the present administration for which N500bn has been budgeted for in the 2016 Appropriation Act.

The Federal Government, through the national manager of the programme, Mrs. Abimbola Adesanmi, had in July said it would commence the scheme in September when schools resumed, with 5.5 million pupils across the country.

But Osinbajo reportedly told the journalists that it was the expectation of government that the programme would kick off in several states before the end of the month.

He said while the Federal Government would fund the scheme for pupils in Primary One to Primary Three, it was expected that state governments would be responsible for pupils in primary four and above.

Osinbajo said, “Definitely before the end of this month, we expect that several states would have come on stream with their Home Grown School Feeding Programme.

“The programme will energise agriculture in the different states because it is what you plant that you feed the children with.

“We will be hiring caterers and cooks in each state because it will be Federal Government-funded from primaries 1 to 3 and the state governments hopefully would be able to cater for the other classes.”

The Vice-President said the programme was a section of the Social Investment programmes that would impact directly on the lives of Nigerian children and families.

Read More:

http://punchng.com/fg-begins-school-feeding-programme-month-osinbajo/

Arms Scam: FG Converts Badeh’s N1.1bn Mansion To Office- Report

A N1.1bn mansion seized from the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd.), has been converted to an office to be used by the Federal Government.

Reporters who visited the property located on Plot 6 Ogun River Crescent, Maitama, a highbrow area in Abuja, learnt that the property is being used by the Presidential Committee on the North-East Intervention headed by Lt.-Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, a former Minister of Defence.

It was observed that the warning, ‘EFCC, Keep Off!’ which was written in red ink on the fence, had been wiped off.

However, a second building (although uncompleted) seized from Badeh, which is located directly opposite the one converted by the Federal Government, still has the EFCC inscription on its fence.

Some gardeners and other domestic workers were seen clearing the grass and sweeping the compound. Reporters  who entered into the main building, noticed that the rooms had been converted into offices while desks had been set up at strategic positions.

 One worker who was approached said, “The property was given to us by the government to work. I know that the EFCC seized the property some months ago but it was given to us to work.”

The EFCC is prosecuting Badeh alongside a firm, Iyalikam Nigeria Limited, on 10 counts of money laundering bordering on alleged fraudulent removal of about N3.97bn from the Nigerian Air Force account.

Read More:

http://punchng.com/arms-scam-fg-converts-badehs-n1-1bn-mansion-office/

FG To Employ 200,000 Graduates In October

The Federal Government has announced on Tuesday that the implementation of its Social Investment Programmes would commence before the end of this month.

This, according to a statement issued in Abuja by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the Vice President, Mr Laolu Akande, is in fulfilment of the government’s campaign promises.

Mr Akande noted that the Vice President, Mr Yemi Osinbajo, confirmed that implementation plans for the effective commencement of a number of the Social Investment programmes of the Buhari presidency has reached advanced stages as the selection of the first 200,000 unemployed graduates to get jobs is now being completed.

According to the statement, Mr Osinbajo made this known while fielding questions in an interview with a small group of radio journalists and producers at the Presidential Villa.

“We expect that before the end of the month, we will engage 200,000 out of the 500,000 unemployed graduates the Buhari administration plans to hire in the N-Power jobs programme.

“The direct government jobs are meant to keep these young people occupied, pay them some amount of money and also give them a device, which will also help them to learn several skills that they can develop as time goes on.

“We expect that before the end of this month, we should have engaged 200,000 of them and we are hoping that before the end of the year we should have engaged more,” the statement quoted Mr Osinbajo as saying.

The Vice President explained that on the Home-Grown School Feeding programme, this will kick off in several states by the end of October.

“Definitely before the end of this month, we expect that several states would have come on stream with their Home-grown School Feeding Programmes.

“This will energise agriculture in the different states because it is what you plant that you feed the children with, we will be hiring caterers, cooks, etc in each state because it will be Federal Government funded from Primaries 1-3 and the state governments hopefully would be able to cater for the other classes,” Osinbajo was further quoted as saying.

FG delivers 5,136 bags of rice to IDPs in Yobe.

The Federal Government has made available 5,136 bags of rice and some other items to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Yobe State.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mrs Khadija Abba, delivered the items to the state government.

She applauded the resilience of the state government for the unique partnership with security agencies towards ending the Boko Haram insurgency in the region.

The Minister specifically described as “worthy of emulation”, the commitment of Governor Ibrahim Gaidam’s administration to supporting the war against insurgency.

She similarly commended the Deputy Governor, Abubakar Aliyu, who is the Chairman of the Resettlement Committee of IDPs in the state, for implementing all the resettlement policies of the government.

Mr Aliyu, who received the items on Monday on behalf of Governor Gaidam, extolled the Federal Government for remembering the insurgency victims.

According to him, the gesture “will go a long way in addressing food scarcity among the returnees who have not been engaged in any gainful ventures for several years”.

The Deputy Governor also described the action of the Federal Government as “very compassionate that should be emulated by non-governmental organisations and other spirited individuals.

The items received will be shared to some returning communities in Gujba, Damaturu, Gulani, Yunusari, Nguru, Geidam and Karasuwa,” local government areas of Yobe State.

Apart from the bags of rice, other items supplied include: vegetable oil, soap, cloths, foot wears and mosquito coils among several others.

FG to raise N1trn for housing scheme – Osinbajo

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the Federal Government is working with stakeholders to raise one trillion naira to provide affordable housing for Nigerians.

The vice-president spoke at the 22nd Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja on Tuesday where he chaired a Roundtable on Job Creation, Skills and Employment at the summit.

He said that the proposed project would also help to create jobs.

Osinbajo said that the job creation unit in his office had worked out a framework with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group to focus on three sectors to create employment.

He listed the three sectors as construction, agriculture and information communication technology.

Under construction, the vice-president said the Federal Government was trying to work on a social housing programme, called the Family Home Fund.

He said, “The Family Home Fund is a financial intervention into social housing in the country.

“We are trying to raise a fund which will come to about one trillion naira; we have aggregated fund from the private sector, local and international funds already.

“The whole idea is to be able to intervene in mortgage financing so that developers can build special houses to the specification of the Federal Government.

“Already eight or nine states are giving land and certificate of occupancy for social housing scheme.

“The idea is that any Nigerian who can afford N30,000 should be able to own a house.”

Osinbajo said that there would emerge job creation opportunities as technicians, engineers and skill workers would benefit from the scheme.

He said there would also be training opportunity from the scheme.

The theme of the summit is “Made-in-Nigeria’’.

The problem of housing in Nigeria has been of interest to every administration and official estimates suggest that more than 17 million houses are needed to cover the country’s 180 million citizens.

Each administration has introduced a different scheme but the impact is not felt by the people.

FG May Close Seme Border Over Smuggling

Nigeria may close its borders with Benin Republic to stem smuggling of rice and other consumables as well as the illegal importation of weapons into the country.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who expressed government’s displeasure over the porosity of the Seme border, said, it has rubbished efforts of the present administration in diversifying the economy, especially, through agriculture. He warned that government may be forced to take very drastic measures.

Speaking in Abuja when the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, led by its chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, visited the ministry, yesterday, as part of its oversight functions, Ogbeh recalled that former President Olusegun Obasanjo had threatened to shut the border but was prevailed upon by the then President of Benin Republic, Mr. Boni Iyayi, to rescind the decision.

“If that border will be a threat to the survival of Nigeria; we may decide to take very drastic action,” Ogbeh stated.

On his part, Senator Adamu urged government not to succumb to propaganda.

of those he described as powerful importers, who, according to him, “are bent on keeping farmers in foreign lands in business,” while their Nigerian counterparts live in penury.

He added that “the 70 percent tariff on rice should be maintained and progressed, proportionally, as the deadline for rice importation draws nearer.”

Credit:

http://sunnewsonline.com/smuggling-fg-may-close-seme-border/

Group Urges FG To Comply With ECOWAS Court Ruling On Dasuki

A Northern coalition of 14 human rights groups  on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, comply with the ruling of the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) by releasing former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.).

Speaking with journalists in Sokoto, the National Secretary of the Network for Justice and Human Rights Crusade,, Al-mustapha Abubakar Bello, said ignoring the ruling of the ECOWAS Court by the Federal Government would amount to impunity, abuse of due process and disregard for rule of law. 

“Since it is a government that believes in the rule of law, the federal government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari should adhere to the ruling of the ECOWAS Court.

“This competent court of law presided over by Justice Friday Chijioke Nwoke has ordered the immediate release of Dasuki on bail as stated in the judgement of October 4, 2016, with No: ECW/CCJ/JUD/23/16 of the SUIT NO: ECW/CCJ/APP/01/16,” Bello said.

According to him, the coalition lamented that having been granted bail by three different domestic courts, Dasuki is still in detention.

He said this was without respect for his fundamental human rights and personal liberty, which the present government preaches.

Credit: thisdaylive

Rice Price’ll Fall By November — FG

The Federal Government on Monday declared that the price of rice would start to fall from November this year.

It stated that more Nigerians had returned to their various farms, adding that at the next harvesting season next month, the price of rice would start to crash.

This came as the government said that the delay in the approval of the 2016 budget had made it impossible to implement the capital expenditure in the agricultural sector.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said this while addressing members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development at the headquarters of the ministry in Abuja.

Ogbeh, who stated that the government could not be involved in the importation of rice as speculated in some quarters, stressed that his ministry would not encourage rice importation because it would be detrimental to local production.

He said the Federal Government was against rice smuggling and noted that the Seme border had become a notorious route for the smuggling of contraband products into the country.

“We will not encourage rice importation and there is no way our ministry or government can be involved in importing rice when we are working hard to be self-sufficient in local production. By November when the full-scale harvest starts, rice prices will fall,” the minister said.

Early last month, the government had warned that the price of rice might hit N40,000 a bag. It is currently being sold around N20,000.

The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, said that the $22bn annual food import bill had led to the astronomical rise in the price of rice and other commodities.

He stressed that if Nigerians failed to produce some of the items being imported before December, the price of rice could skyrocket to N40,000 a bag.

On why the ministry had yet to start implementing its capital budget, Ogbeh said, “It is about now that the capital expenditure is beginning. One of the reasons why money is not circulating is that we need to follow the due process on issues of procurement, advertisement and others.”

According to him, his ministry has spent just N882.58m, representing four per cent of the N21bn budgeted for it in the 2016 Appropriation Act.

He also said, “You may be surprised to know that only six to seven states in Nigeria are showing enthusiasm in agriculture. Some by nature don’t seem interested, while others just can’t connect with whatever we are doing at the federal level.”

Ogbeh further stated that his ministry inherited N67bn debt when the present administration came on board, but added that N20bn had been paid to agro-dealers and distributed 900 million oil palm seedlings to farmers across the country.

Just In: FG set to press fresh charges on Saraki, Ekweremadu individually.

In what appears as pyrrhic victory for Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, the forgery case against them, which the Federal Government surreptitiously withdrew last week, is to be filed afresh by the same government.

However, according to findings by Vanguard, the government will charge the two Senate leaders individually as opposed to the previous one where they were jointly docked.

A top Justice Ministry official told Vanguard last night that the case was primarily withdrawn because the Nigeria Police Force, handling the case, was yet to conclude its investigation.

In fact, as the source pointed out, the NPF is yet to interrogate Saraki and Ekweremadu and other officials of the National Assembly said to have masterminded the forgery of the Senate
Rules used in conducting the inauguration of the 8th NASS.

“You can see that under the Criminal Justice Act, the statement of the accused persons and all the witnesses are expected to be filed and it would have been wrong to have pressed ahead with the case when the police are yet to conclude their investigations,” the MoJ official pointed out.

“The federal government considered it appropriate to withdraw the case and conclude the investigation and attach both the statements by the accused and the witnesses before filing fresh charges against the suspects.

“We want to strengthen our position and present a solid case against the suspects as required under the Criminal Justice Administration Act,” the official told Vanguard.

However when contacted, the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, confirmed that a fresh charge would only be pressed against the suspects when the government was ready and declined to say.

“I will get back to you on the matter when we are ready,” Malami said.

The fresh determination by the government to file charges against the Senate gladiators, appears to have short lived their celebration of the initial abrogation of the charges filed against them.

The withdrawal of the charges had elicited nationwide commentary, fuelling speculations that the Presidency, fingered as the arrowhead of the case, had opted to make peace with the NASS leadership, which it fell out with as a result of their emergence last year.

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, APC National Leader, Asiwaju Tinubu and other Nigerian leaders promptly lauded the move once it was announced.

But the optimism of the leaders appears to have been shortlived with the plan to slam the Senators with fresh charges.

FG to register poor, vulnerable persons

The Federal Government is to open a register for the poor and vulnerable persons, Hajia Maryam Uwais, Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Interventions, said on Friday.

Uwais made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

The special adviser said that the register would promote due process and reduce the number of vulnerable and poor people in the country.

“I urge community leaders to be sincere and transparent in selecting genuine poor and vulnerable people in their areas.

“They live among the people, so we believe they can help us out in identifying the real people that need government’s assistance.

“We will still meet with the state focal persons on the conditions for the national cash transfer,’’ Uwais said.

Also, Mr Peter Papker, the Coordinator, National Social Safety Net, told NAN that the national cash transfer fund was aimed at reducing extreme poverty in the society.

Papker said that it would also bridge the gap of inequality between the rich and the poor.

“Five thousand naira has been earmarked for each vulnerable and poor person per household.

“At the end of the exercise, the living conditions of the people will improve,” Papker told NAN

Report: We Will Comply With ECOWAS Court Ruling On Dasuki- FG

The Federal Government will comply with the ECOWAS Court order to release former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd) from detention, Nigeria’s chief law officer told Daily Trust yesterday.
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and minister for justice, Abubakar Malami SAN disclosed this on the sideline of the meeting of Attorneys General at the Transcorp Hotel, Abuja.

  “We will study the ruling, we are waiting for the ruling from the ECOWAS Court, and one thing that I am certain of is that there is room for judicial review.
“… But one thing I can assure you is that we will comply with the order and the necessary provisions of the law as applicable, so we study it in line with the provisions of the prevailing law in the country,” he said.
The ECOWAS Court last Tuesday in Abuja ordered for Dasuki’s release and also awarded a fine of N15m against the government for illegal detention of the former NSA.
Justice  Chijioke Nwoke who delivered the judgement said that even if the applicant had committed a crime, the law still has it that due process of the law must be observed in his trial adding that it is an established fact that the applicant was put on trial in three different Nigerian High Courts and was granted bails by the courts.
The court condemned the action of the Nigerian government in subjecting the ex-NSA to indefinite detention without trial.
The ECOWAS Court doesn’t have the instruments to enforce its judgments like other municipal courts in Nigeria, a constitutional lawyer and professor of law, Auwalu Yadudu, has said.

Read More: dailytrust

BREAKING: FG withdraws forgery case against Saraki, Ekweremadu.

The Federal Government of Nigeria has filed a motion to withdraw the charge of criminal conspiracy against Senate President Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu.

An affidavit in support of the motion was filed before the High Court of Federal Capital Territory on Thursday by a litigation officer from the Federal Ministry of Justice, Odubu Loveme.

Messrs. Saraki and Ekweremadu, as well as a former Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, and a former Deputy clerk, Ben Efeturi, were first arraigned before Justice Yusuf Halilu on June 10, 2016 via charge No. CR/219/16.

They all pleaded not guilty on July 27, 2016.

In the motion filed Thursday, Mr. Loveme said counsel to the Federal Government on the matter, Aliyu Umar, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, on September 30 in the office of the Director of Public Prosecution told him that he had studied the case diary and “ had decided to amend the charge in the manner stated on the face of the motion paper”.

Mr. Loveme added that he has, consequently, filed an amended charge.

“That I depose to this affidavit in good faith believing same to be correct to the best of my knowledge and information and in accordance with the Oaths Act Cap 01 laws of the Federation of Nigeria,” he said.

Based on the amended charge, only Messrs. Maikasuwa and Efeturi would face prosecution.

Count 1 of the charge against the two civil servants, is that of Criminal Conspiracy punishable under section 97 (1) Penal Code Act ( Northern States) Federation Provisions Act, 1960, Cap 345, laws of the Federation 1990 as amended.

It read that “ Salisu Maikasuwa and Benedict Efeturi, on or about the 9th day of June 2015 at the National Assembly Complex, Three Arms Zone, Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court agreed to do an illegal act, to wit to make the Senate Standing Orders 2015 as amended without the authority of the 7th Senate of the Federal republic of Nigeria which act was committed by yourselves and that you thereby committed the offence of criminal conspiracy.”

The two officials are accused of fraudulently amending the 2015 Senate Standing Orders without the authority of the 7th Senate “ with intention that the Senators elect of the 8th Senate would believe that the said Senate Standing Orders 2015 ( as amended) was made by the authority of the 7th Senate of the Federal republic of Nigeria.”

They are also accused of forging a document punishable under section 366 of the Penal Code Act ( Northern States) Federal Provisions Act, 1960, Cap 345, Laws of the Federation 1990 ( as amended).

The Nigerian Government also accused them of giving false information with the intention to mislead the public.

The Court had on September 28 adjourned the matter to Friday, October 7 for commencement of hearing.

Mr. Umar, in his written address in support of the motion to amend the charge on Thursday, stated that the sole issue for determination is “ whether the Court can permit the amendment of the charge in terms of the amended charge”.

He said the Court has the powers to permit the amendment based on the provisions of Section 216 (1) of the Administration o Criminal Justice Act.

The Section stated that “ A Court may permit an alteration or an amendment to a charge or framing of a new charge at any time before judgment is pronounced.”

He also quoted Section 216 (3) which states that “ Where a Defendant is arraigned for trial on an imperfect or erroneous charge ,the Court may permit or direct the framing of a new charge, or any amendment to, or the alteration of the original charge.”

FG distributes 4,116 buses ‘to provide cheap road transport’

A total of 4,116 buses valued at N37 billion have been delivered to beneficiaries nationwide under the federal government’s Public Mass Transit Revolving Fund (PMTF) Scheme.

Adekunle Oyinloye, managing director of The Infrastructure Bank, said this in a paper he presented at a workshop for chief executive officers of mass transit companies in Abuja.

Oyinloye said the buses were released to mass transit companies to provide cheap and affordable road transport services to Nigerians across the six geo-political zones and the FCT.

According to him, the vehicles were provided under Phases I and II of the N25 billion PMT scheme being managed by the bank.

He said that the scheme had also empowered over 50,000 Nigerians, including bus drivers, bus assistants, auto-technicians and booking clerks, through direct employment.

“In addition, the scheme has thrived in reducing poverty and enhancing regional integration, as more people are able to move easily across different regions of the country, and across the West African sub-region,” he said.

“The PMTF Scheme offers a single digit interest rate regime of five per cent per annum in Phase 1 and zero per cent per annum in Phase II.

“This has resulted in cost savings of about N10 billion when compared with the prevailing interest rate of about 25 per cent per annum obtainable in other financial institutions.”

Oyinloye said PMTF beneficiaries were investing those cost savings in providing allied transport infrastructure like motor parks, service centres, ICT platforms, fleet maintenance, among others.

“On our part as the fund manager, we have continually managed the PMTF in line with international best practices,” he said.

“These are premised on a sound internal credit procedure and robust risk mitigating strategies that ensure beneficiaries fulfill their loan obligations, as and when due.

“This is the foundation upon which the successes so far achieved by the Fund were built.

“We are on standby to assist the federal government and any agency to successfully launch and sustain an intervention fund programme for transportation and other economic sectors.”

FG Continues To Hold Dasuki, Despite Court Order.

24 hours after the ECOWAS court ordered the Nigerian government to release and pay fifteen million in damages Col Sambo Dasuki(Rtd) for violating  his fundamental human right, there are signs that the government is not in hurry to comply with the court order.

Salihu Isah, Special Assistant on media to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, told our correspondent that the government has not complied as directed because it needed to understand the content of the court’s proceedings and judgment.

His words: “We cannot just react. We will first of all study the judgment to understand its content before taking a stand,”

Asked how long it will take the goverment to study the  content of the court ruling,  Mr. Salihu Isah, said, he does not know.

Recall that Sambo Dasuki has been detention since December 2015, however, the ECOWAS court on Tuesday ordered his release, describing the detention as “unlawful and an arbitrary violation of his fundamental human rights”.

Mr. Joseph Daudu, counsel to Dauki insists that President Buhari through his comments on the presidential media chat in January 2016, confirmed that he was behind his ordeal. President Buhari had said  that  Dasuki and Nnamdi Kanu would not be allowed on bail because they would jump bail.

FG floats N25bn loan scheme for mass transit sector

The Federal Government has set up N25 billion revolving loan scheme for transport companies in the country to access funds for purchase of mass transit vehicles.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday at the opening of a two-day national workshop for chief executives of mass transit companies.

Enelamah said the initiative was aimed at boosting the country’s mass transit system as well as encouraging local patronage of local vehicle assembly plants.

He explained that the loan would be administered through the Infrastructure Bank at zero per cent interest rate.

The workshop is organised by the National Automotive Design and Development Council in collaboration with the Nigerian Institute for Transport Technology, Zaria, Kaduna State.

The theme of the workshop is: “Nigeria Automotive Policy: A National Agenda for Sustainable Mass Transit Operation Development.”

Enelamah said: “Government is determined to develop the automotive industry because of its extensive linkages, impact on job creation, technology transfer as well as foreign exchange savings and earnings.

“The response by investors has been encouraging and we have brought back vehicle assembly and are now focussing on local content development.

“Many of the new assembly plants produce buses and mini-buses. I hereby call on all Nigerians to patronise the products of these assembly plants.”

Enelamah urged the workshop participants to come up with innovative solutions for the development of an efficient and affordable mass transportation system in the country.

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, stated that the mass transit sector was one of the major engines driving the nation’s socio-economic and cultural development.

Amaechi, however, said in spite of this, the sector was facing huge challenges, including low operational capacity, broken down vehicles, obsolete facilities and poor maintenance culture.

The minister said a vibrant local automotive industry would significantly address those challenges, while at the same time depending on the mass transit sector for patronage.

He said: “This workshop is, therefore, organised to appraise the mass transit perspective of the Nigeria Automotive Policy.

“It is a platform for stakeholders to meet and exchange ideas on the effective implementation of the policy and make recommendations for realising a sustainable mass transport agenda for Nigeria.

“The dynamic leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari is poised to address the challenges facing the transport sector.

“The Federal Government is willing to invest heavily in this sector.

“We are already seeing practical efforts in that regard, especially with the rail transportation system.”

Why FG set up committee on electoral reform – Malami

The Federal Government has formally inaugurated the 24-man committee headed by former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, to review the 2012 Electoral Act.

During the ceremony at his office, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said the setting up of the committee was based on one of the promises made by President Muhammadu Buhari upon his inauguration, where he promised to deepen the country’s commitment to democracy and entrench the culture of an enduring electoral system.

According to Malami, Nigeria’s recent history of electoral practice and the challenges of managing elections require far-reaching measures to build consensus among stakeholders in order to institutionalise critical reforms.

He charged the members to seek possible amendments that would facilitate a generally acceptable electoral system in the country.

“It is my expectation that this committee will look into the possible amendments to the Constitution and the electoral act, as well as other legal instruments concerning elections to facilitate the attainment of a more robust and generally acceptable electoral system,” said Malami.

He added: “I reiterate that this is an electoral reform committee whose responsibility is not expected to end with mere recommendations, but expected by way of consolidation, to come up with a draft executive memo that will be submitted to the Federal Executive Council for approval, and support the same with draft executive bills meant to place our electoral system on a pedestal good enough to accommodate progressive reforms.”

Responding, panel Chairman Ken Nnamani said: “If we get our laws correct and appropriate, there will be a reduction in violence, particularly with regard to our elections.”

He added: “We understand the task ahead because what makes the difference between free and fair elections has something to do with the Electoral Act itself.”

The terms of reference of the committee include review of the laws impacting elections in Nigeria, such as the relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act (as amended).

They include a review of recent judicial decisions on election petitions as they relate to conflicting judgments, absence of consequential orders, delay in the issuance of Certified True Copies of judgements as well as harmonization of the electoral act with a view to enhancing the electoral
process.

The committee is expected to submit a report of its recommendations for reforms and draft clauses and provisions to be proposed for legislative action within 10 weeks.

Biafra: Activist urges FG to pardon detained agitators

A rights activist, Nnamdi Nwokedi, has appealed to the Federal Government to pardon all agitators and release them from custody as the country celebrates the 56th independence anniversary.

Nwokedi told reporters yesterday in Enugu that the best anniversary celebration gift that the government could offer Nigerians was to release all those locked up as a result of agitating for their rights.

He said this would foster peace in the country.

He specifically advocated the release of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, and members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).

Nwokedi said: “I am convinced that these agitations did not just happen, something triggered it. Since we have known the issues which led to it, why don’t we release these people in the spirit of the celebration and begin to address those issues which they raised for the benefit of the country?

“I want to ask the Federal Government to revisit the issue of these agitators and grant them pardon since we are celebrating our freedom.”

Before we sell public assets – Obiageli Ezekwesili

As if the current unclear economic policy context was not disconcerting enough, the sudden emergence of a raging debate on the sale of public assets has escalated one’s fears that easier things seem to appear more attractive to the government. Yet, in public policy, it is wise to be wary of the easiest options.

As a pro market economy advocate, I inherently support any programme of government that will help roll back the public sector from the economy because economic evidence shows this to be almost always correct. However, lacking the sound economic management and policy context as yet, I am presently opposed to what sounds like a proposal for “distress option” sale of public stakes, especially in NNPC and NLNG.

But the government can proceed urgently through the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to sell off those cesspools of corruption in our petroleum sector otherwise known as refineries. Their sale would in fact amount to fiscal savings beyond the proceeds and should therefore be supported by all.

I am opposed to the sale of any productive assets like the NLNG because there seems to be no clear economic vision and rigorous analytics to serve as the anchor for such a major policy thrust. We need well deliberated policies from our government including the plans for revitalization of the programme of privatization being run by BPE to properly situate public debate of economic structural change agenda. After all, even in our country, there is now proof that the economy can relatively respond to deliberate, well thought and rigorous analysis of context and sound policy options in resolving growth and development problems.

The evidence that backs this is that it was a modest range of such sound economic policies that helped deliver an average of 5-6 percent growth of our economy on a sustained basis over a long period of nearly a decade and half. It was only recently at the end of 2015 that growth dropped to below 3 percent.

True, the relatively impressive economic growth rate did not resolve the major challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. That 61 percent of our population is poor, according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (2011 Household Survey) is indicative of how growth and poverty reduction can often times disconnect. Also, according to NBS, unemployment rate stood at 10.5 percent at end of 2015 and grew to 13.3 percent by the second quarter of 2016, revealing that the economy is severely failing to absorb new entrants into the labor market — especially the 2-2.5 million youths that seek to do so annually.

With a high income inequality rate of .4 Gini-coefficient instead of a score closer to a perfect zero, the gap between our top income earners and the majority bottom poor earners is one of the highest in the world and is the reason why Nigeria stands at number 26 out of 190 countries.

So, yes again, there are very deep challenges that growth did not yet resolve for Nigerians since the early 2000s when it became normal in the economy.

However, we can objectively admit that if we had not grown steadily at those higher rates from 2003 – 2014, the economy would not have expanded as significantly as it did in the sixteen years of our 1999 cycle of democracy. The expansion of our GDP offered more diverse opportunities in sectors like telecommunication, agriculture and agri-business, entertainment and services.

In real human terms, a growing economy provided more and newer opportunities for citizens than was the case during the lost decades of the 80s and 90s known mostly for no, low or negative growth. The concept of economic growth must therefore not be derided nor dismissed as some usually do.

The fundamental anchor for Nigeria’s long period of economic growth was, when starting since 2003, policy makers managed to achieve macroeconomic stability through an effective mix of monetary, fiscal and some measure of structural policies. Whereas not many citizens would normally concern themselves with the rather arcane concepts that engage the minds of economic and finance technocrats; yet, growth policies are fundamental to economic progress of individuals, households, governments and businesses. This is becoming obvious to Nigerians in the last twelve months as more citizens now better see the relationship between growth and the fact that some who once had a job no longer have one.

What then was the genesis of the loss of economic growth? It came from the fact that we learned nothing from previous mistakes in the manner of poor governance of resources, especially oil earnings. Nigeria was once again extravagant during the most recent five years of oil boom.

That this happened even after the country turned the corner in 2003 when it set up oil-based fiscal rules on how best to save in plenty in order to prepare for the lean period, is all the more disappointing. Regrettably, in the period between 2010 and 2014 when oil prices were exceptionally high and several other oil-rich countries were accumulating reserves, Nigeria was acting out an alternate reality. We were incongruously borrowing during plenty to expand the consumption habits of all the levels and arms of government.

The parlous state of the Nigerian economy on 29th May, 2015 should therefore have instructed an incisive and urgent macroeconomic stabilization programme to realign price levels in the economy. If a menu of sound monetary and fiscal policies that the economy needed on May 29, 2015 had been provided, it would have sent the right signal to players that there was no cause for alarm. Had the government made quick and necessary adjustments that corresponded close enough to the level of impact that a 40 percent sharp drop in government oil revenue necessitated, the story would most likely be less negative today.

There is a new level that our post 2014 oil-shocked economy must find for stability in order to stop tottering reason and so we do need a string of policy responses that can enable this happen quickly. Such responses would have helped the economy absorb the shock, reassured investors and consumers, and thereby helped reasonably retain investor confidence. But that did not happen. The attendant fiscal pressure and the delayed right policy response were severe enough that by the end of 2015, economic growth sharply declined to 2.7 percent.

It was a major mistake that the economy did not get the timely and right type of policies that could have helped us avoid the calamitous collapse into negative growth in the last two quarters of 2015 that finally led us into a recession. The signals of statist economic policy preferences did in fact worsen matters and set off the wave of uncertainty that dented investor confidence in the economy. So, it is accurate to conclude that both the preceding and the successor governments conspired by their actions and inactions to throw the Nigerian economy into the deep rut from which it must be rescued to avoid social implosion.

The record of the government for timely and right action on the economy is however so far not encouraging. For almost one year, the government delayed right action on the fuel subsidy regime despite its aggravating impact on fiscal imbalance. Over the same period it delayed the right action on exchange rate policy despite its deleterious impact on foreign reserves, the value of the Naira and the rate of inflation. The government finally retraced its steps on the wrong petroleum subsidy regime and fixed exchange rate policies some five and four months ago respectively.

But the design and implementation of those policy changes were half hearted and therefore remain doubtful in their fiscal and monetary impact. The reluctance to fully embrace tested and sound policy options was what minimized the salubrious impact that the two highlighted key policy changes would ordinarily have had on stabilizing the economy.

With inflation- nay, stagflation- now at high double digits of 18% , with the decline of foreign reserve from $37.3 billion at end of 2014 to $25billion in September 2016, with an “administrative-floating ” exchange rate regime that still creates enormous opportunities for corruption and rent seeking arbitrage, with a high interest rate that poses a stress for the financial sector because of deteriorating bank asset quality as well as for limited access to credit by the real sector, with a continuously declining aggregate demand, with a shrinking gross domestic product, with 2016 budget deficit level of $11billion that still has unclear sources of financing; what more do we need before citizens stepped up a demand for the government to retrace its steps from its string of unsound economic policies?

All the sobering data are indicators of hugely deteriorating macroeconomic indices. The more such indices deteriorate, the harder it is for growth to resume.

The macroeconomic stability that poor choice of economic policy helped to unravel within one year had itself taken many years of arduous work to achieve. When therefore one hears the rather simplification of the economic recovery antidote being espoused by the government as “we shall spend our way out of recession”, it heightens anxiety. When one further hears that the sale of assets- especially some productive ones – is being proposed as key contribution to the Budget 2016 deficit financing options of the government, the immediacy of opposing such intention becomes self evident.

For Nigeria therefore, the most critical challenge that needs resolving is how to convince the federal government to urgently retrace its steps back to what it failed to do since 29th May, 2015. First, it failed to launch a deep fiscal consolidation program. Second, monetary policies failed to adjust to reflect new realities. Third, the government failed to present the most ambitious structural reforms ever that can materially improve the productivity and competitiveness of all potential existing and new sources of economic growth.

The third action could achieve the four decade-long diversification goal and help build a resilient economy that is insulated from the volatility of oil prices in the future.

These three broad actions were and still remain the key things mandatory for the economy to regain the lost macroeconomic stability that will drive growth recovery, move us to economic development and shared prosperity.

It is good economics to stimulate economy through increased government spending in a time of recession. So, there is a place for the stimulus spending proposed by the government. However, the economic vision that will arrest the macro imbalance in the short run must be deeper than the proposed plan to “spend, spend and spend”. After all, if massive government spending were to be the solution that can fix our economic failures, then they should never have happened in the first place based on our public expenditure record. Government spending has been the albatross of our economy.

The current administration has not communicated any persuasive basis for assuming that it’s proposed spending will achieve a different set of outcomes without being anchored first on sound economic policies. The current language of “massive spending” is therefore very unnerving because it is not accompanied with a corresponding agenda for massive restructure of the behemoth and the governance system that easily widens its mouth to gulp the largest scale of public resources.

By the way, whatever happened to the report of the Presidential Committee on the Rationalisation and Restructuring of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies which found that the cost of governance in Nigeria is one of the highest in the world? Did the report not recommend the scrapping of 102 statutory agencies on which we continue to spend scarce resources? Where is the fierce urgency required to implement this game changing report that can help roll back one of the most unproductively expensive governance architecture in the world?

I have a simple message: The Federal government should do the right first things, first. Change should begin with those who promised Change!

– Ezekwesili is Senior Economic Adviser of The Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative.

Dangote: Even if FG wants to sell NLNG on credit, I am not interested

Aliko Dangote, president of of Dangote Group, says if the federal government offers to sell the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) to him on credit, he is not interested.

Reacting to the criticisms that have trailed his advocacy for the sale of national assets, Dangote told THISDAY that his proposal was borne out of the desire to see Nigeria get out of the current economic recession.

In an interview with CNBC Africa, the billionaire had said the government would be able to raise between $12 billion and $15 billion from the sale of the company.

“If I had challenges in my company, I would not hesitate to sell assets, to remain afloat, to get to the better times, because it doesn’t make any sense for me to keep any assets and then suffocate the whole organisation,” he had said.

“The African Finance Corporation… it can fetch them $800 million easily. My own suggestion before was that they should even sell 100 percent of NLNG. I don’t think government should be in any business of investing in sectors of LNG.

“A company like that, with earnings of $1.5 billion on the average, they should get anywhere between $12 billion and $15 billion.”

The comment had generated reactions, with some saying the billionaire was interested in buying the company.

But Dangote waved aside the criticisms, saying he offered the suggestions as “a true Nigerian who really wants the issues about the economy to be sorted out”.

“You know the issue, once your reserves are low, the banks, entrepreneurs, including external forces, would definitely attack your currency. They would speculate on your currency,” he said.

“We all know that the exchange rate of almost N500 to the dollar is not a true reflection of the value of the currency – the naira cannot be almost N500 to the dollar!

“But you see, if this thing is not handled properly, it can get out of hand. It can get to N600 to the dollar, or even N700 to the dollar.

“But the issue is, why did I suggest that we should sell some of the assets? I know the touchy one is the NLNG. I want to make it categorically clear that even if the government is selling NLNG on credit, I am not interested in buying.

“I don’t have any interest in NLNG and I will not buy it. It is not a business that I want to invest in. It is a mature business; that is what people don’t understand.

“You see, we should have invested heavily in all these Brass LNG, Olokola LNG, etc, when former President Olusegun Obasanjo started work on the projects, but we missed the opportunity.

“Today, you have massive LNG projects that have been done by Qatar, Australia and the United States is also exporting. But right now, all the gas that we have is even in the ground. Even Mozambique has a massive amount of gas and also Tanzania, and they are nearer to the markets than we are.

“So, if somebody is even going to invest in LNG, he would go to those areas and invest there and not here in Nigeria, because the investment here is daunting. So my own suggestion is that even if we must sell, it doesn’t have to be 100 per cent of our interest in NLNG.”

Don’t Sell NLNG, NNPC, Ezekwesili Warns FG

The Senior Economic Adviser of the Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative and the initiator of Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) project, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, yesterday, joined the  league of prominent Nigerians opposed  to the sale of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG).
The former Education Minister in a statement made, said “I am opposed to the sale of any productive assets like the NLNG because there seems to be no clear economic vision and rigorous analytics to serve as the anchor for such a major policy thrust. We need well deliberated policies from our government including the plans for revitalisation of the programme of privatisation being run by BPE to properly situate public debate of economic structural change agenda. After all, even in our country, there is now proof that the economy can relatively respond to deliberate, well thought and rigorous analysis of context and sound policy options in resolving growth and development problems.” But for the refineries, she  said that  the government can proceed urgently through the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to sell them off, because, according to her, they are  acesspit of corruption in the  petroleum sector, stressing that their sale would amount to fiscal savings and should therefore be supported by all.
Exekwesili however, regretted that at the inception of this administration, on May 29, 2015, when the economy  showed signs of strait, the government did not act fast to prevent the present economic situation.
“The parlous state of the Nigerian economy on May 29, 2015 should therefore have instructed an incisive and urgent macroeconomic stabilisation  programme to realign price levels in the economy. If a menu of sound monetary and fiscal policies that the economy needed on May 29, 2015 had been provided, it would have sent the right signal to players that there was no cause for alarm. Had the government made quick and necessary adjustments that corresponded close enough to the level of impact that a 40 per cent sharp drop in government oil revenue necessitated, the story would most likely be less negative today.”
She further noted that “With inflation- nay, stagflation- now at high double digits of 18 per cent , with the decline of foreign reserve from $37.3 billion at end of 2014 to $25billion in September 2016, with an “administrative-floating ” exchange rate regime that still creates enormous opportunities for corruption and rent seeking arbitrage, with a high interest rate that poses a stress for the financial sector because of deteriorating bank asset quality as well as for limited access to credit by the real sector, with a continuously declining aggregate demand, with a shrinking gross domestic product, with 2016 budget deficit level of $11billion that still has unclear sources of financing…”

Read More:

http://sunnewsonline.com/dont-sell-nlng-nnpc-ezekwesili-warns-fg/

FG Names Ken Nnamani Head Of Electoral Reforms Committee

The Federal Government has constituted what the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation called a “constitutional and electoral reforms committee”.

A statement issued by Salihu Isah, the Special Adviser to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, said the committee was set up to reform the electoral process.

The committee will be inaugurated on Tuesday October 4, 2016 at the HAGF’s Conference Room, Abuja by 11am.

The statement said the 24-member strong committee would be chaired by the former Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani, while Dr. Mamman Lawal of Bayero University, Kano is the Secretary

?Other members of the committee are Dr. Muiz Banire, SAN, Dr. Clement Nwankwo, Chief A.C Ude and Mr. Tahir, Director, Legal Drafting, Federal Ministry of Justice, amongst others.

The statement said: “The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN, will on Tuesday October 4, 2016 inaugurate a committee on Constitutional and Electoral Reform at the HAGF’s Conference Room, Abuja by 11am.

“The committee is expected to Review Electoral environment, laws and experiences from recent elections conducted in Nigeria and make Recommendations to strengthen and achieve the conduct of free and fair elections in Nigeria.”

Credit: thisdaylive

FG To Disburse N200m Each To 8 States To Empower Women

The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Aisha Alhassan, said N200 million would be disbursed to eight pilot states each through the National Women Empowerment Fund (NAWEF) to empower women at the grassroots.

Alhassan said this during a media briefing on the take-off of the National Women Empowerment Fund (NAWEF) and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) in Abuja.

She said the eight pilot states are Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Nasarawa, Jigawa, Akwa Ibom, Osun, and Abia, adding that other states would benefit later. She added that “the NAWEF targets 10,000 women beneficiaries in each of the pilot states; the condition of the loans both under the GEEP and NAWEF are the same.

“The GEEP programme is one of the five Federal Government Social Investment Programme targeted at providing loans to young men and women from all states on liberal condition.

“Under both programmes, each beneficiary will receive between N10,000 and N100,000, depending on the type of business or trade with no interest, no collateral and repayable in six months.”

Read More:

http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/09/fg-disburse-n200m-8-states-empower-women/

Again, SSS Fails To Produce Dasuki In Court.

The Federal Government has again failed to produce the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, before an Abuja High-Court for trial.
Mr. Dasuki is accused of money laundering and corruption.

He was charged along with five others before Justice Peter Affen, and was granted bail. He was re-arrested and kept in custody of the State Security since December 2015.

Others being prosecuted along with the former NSA include a former Director of Finance in the Office of the NSA, Shuaibu Salisu, a former finance minister of state, Bashir Yuguda; a former Sokoto governor, Attahiru Bafarawa, the ex-governor’s son, Sagir Attahiru, and a firm, Dalhatu Investment.
At the resumed trial Thursday, counsel to the Federal Government, Rotimi Jacob, told the judge that he was surprised that Mr. Dasuki was not brought to court by his client.

Mr. Jacob said on his part he notified the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the trial and the need to produce Mr. Dasuki in court, but said that communication gap between the EFCC and SSS was responsible for non-production of the former NSA in court.

Mr. Jacob applied to Justice Affen to stand down the case for him to enable his client to produce Mr. Dasuki in court.
He could not give a definite period within which the EFCC would bring the ex-NSA to court.

The action of the prosecution provoked reactions from Olajide Ayodele (SAN) counsel to former Minister of State for Finance, Mr. Yuguda, who opposed the request.

The senior counsel said the failure of the prosecution to give a definite time within which Mr. Dasuki would be brought to court by either EFCC or SSS was an indication that he haD no knowledge of what was transpiring between the EFCC and DSS on the matter.
Mr. Olajide therefore pleaded with the judge to adjourn the trial.

His position was adopted by Jacob Daudu, who stood for Mr. Dasuki and regretted that the government which put the ex-NSA on trial was the one scuttling the trial.

Mr. Daudu said since June when the matter was adjourned, the EFCC which initiated the trial on behalf of the Federal Government ought to have known that it its responsibility to produce Mr. Dasuki in Court as required by the law.

Former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Akin Olujimi, who stood for former Sokoto Governor, Attahiru Bafarawa, also opposed the request to stand down the case without a definite time.
He pleaded for an adjournment.

In his ruling, Justice Affen agreed that it would be unfair to stand down the case without a definite time within which Mr. Dasuki would be produced in court.

The judge advised the government to ensure Mr. Dasuki is in court, and adjourned the matter till October 21, 2016.

FG Orders Reintroduction Of History In Schools

Following the outcry that trailed the suspension of History as a taught subject in schools nationwide, the federal government on Thursday reinstated it across basic schools in the country.

The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, who called for the disarticulation of Social Studies in the current curriculum of basic schools and reintroduction of History as a subject, said this had become imperative given the critical nature of History to the nation’s socio-political development.

The minister made the statement in Abuja yesterday while addressing delegates at the 61st meeting of the National Council on Education Ministerial Session.

The minister also urged the council to consider making the study of Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK) and Islamic Religious Knowledge (IRK) compulsory for Christians and Muslims to the end of Senior Secondary School.

Adamu said the reintroduction of History as a subject would give the Nigerian child a self-identity of who they really are.

He added that Nigeria owes present and future generations the responsibility of removing all inhibitions against opportunities of acquiring morals and ethics as taught in religious traditions.

Read More: thisdaylive

Foreign Nomads Responsible for Farmers, Herdsmen Clashes – FG

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engineer Babachir David Lawal, Thursday revealed that nomads from outside Nigeria have migrated into the country and that they are the ones perpetuating most of the crises among farmers and herders across the country.

He also reiterated the decision of the present administration to establish ranches and grazing reserves across the country as solution to the incessant clashes between cattle rearers and local farmers.

The SGF who gave the revelation when he received in audience, a delegation of Tabital Pulako Njode Jam Foundation, led by the Chairman, Alhaji Abdul Bali, assured that government will do the needful to enlighten herdsmen on how to make cattle rearing more profitable by utilising the ranches and reap other social and political benefitsthat such settlements will offer.

In another development, the SGF assured the people of the North East that government agencies responsible for the rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the region, do not discriminate, in the provision of relief materials to the various states.

According to him, relief items were distributed with a deep sense of equity and fairness, and emphasised that the severity of the hardships of the IDPs in the affected communities and states was the major consideration in the distribution exercise.

He made this clarification in his office when he received a delegation from another group, the Lardin Gabas Elders Forum led by the Chairman Board of Trustees, Captain Paul Tahir.

He explained that rehabilitation efforts in the North-East, apart from the of foods items, tents and building materials, included the reconstruction of schools, hospitals, police stations and barracks.

He said to streamline rehabilitation activities in the region, and accelerate the return of normal life to the North-Eastern states; a Presidential Committee on North-East Initiative (PCNI) will soon be inaugurated by Mr. President.

The Forum, according to the delegation, is ready to work with the Federal Government to ensure that succour is brought to victims of the insurgency. The forum also advocates the return of Christian Religious Studies to school curriculum to teach youths about good moral upbringing, early.

#Nigeria@56: FG Declares Monday Public Holiday

The Federal Government has declared Monday as public holiday to mark the nation’s 56th independence anniversary celebration.

The Minister of Interior, Lt Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd.), who made the declaration on behalf of the FG, congratulated Nigerians at home and abroad on the commemoration of this year’s independence anniversary.

He assured  them that the government was working assiduously to put in place “various palliative measures to cushion the effects of the current economic challenges.”

The minister, in a statement by the acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Alhaji Muhammadu Maccido on Thursday in Abuja, urged all Nigerians to continue to support President Muhammadu Buhari in his “avowed determination to build a strong, virile and united country in line with the dream of the country’s founding fathers.”

“He wished all Nigerians a happy anniversary celebration,” it added.

Credit:

http://punchng.com/independence-fg-declares-monday-public-holiday/

FG Okays New Water Policy

Yesterday, the federal government approved a new water policy that will improve the management and delivery of water in the country.

Speaking to State House correspondents after the FEC meeting, minister of water resources, Suleiman Adamu, said the Council approved the National Water Policy, National Irrigation Policy and a Draft National Water Resources Bill.

Adamu said, “National Water Policy seeks to provide strategies that will improve the management and delivery of water in the country in particular reference to water supply.”

He noted that the policy was followed by the enabling law – National Water Resources Bill – which essentially consolidates all the existing laws, the Water Resources Act, the River Basin Development Authority Act, National Water Resources Institute Act, National Hydrological Services Act and other Acts put together to form a national law that conforms to international standard and international best practices.

According to him, “By so doing, we have been able to streamline many of the overlapping laws. Sometimes we have conflict in laws; like the one we have with NIWA, about some laws relating to environment and mining.

Adamu noted that the bill seeks to sort out all those issues so that Nigeria can have a standard national law, adding that the country can set up a proper regulatory agency to regulate the water sector.

“With that, the door is now open for the private sector to come in a big way to invest in water supply schemes in this country. The irrigation and drainage policy seeks to recognise and bring in water users association and generally improve not only irrigation infrastructure but irrigation management in the country.”

He observed that Nigeria had the potential of 3.4 million hectares of land for irrigation and that only about 130,000 had been developed formally, with about 70,000 being utilised.

“So, there is a huge gap and we feel that introducing this policy will help us to work along at federal and at regional levels with the states, so that we will have an all-encompassing policy that will help our agriculture agenda for now.

“So it is a good thing that we brought the three policies together and we believe the water resources sector is going to be an entirely different ball game from now on,” he said.

Also speaking, the minister of information, stated that water has become one of the most important resources today with economic, social and political implications.

According to him, the judicious allocation of water for human, livestock, and industry has become one of the serious issues facing humanity.

“As a matter of fact, many countries have gone to war over the issue of water. So I believe it is only timely that Nigeria is proactive and considers the issue of water resources as not one that should be left in the hands of just anybody but that the federal government took it seriously,” Mohammed stated.

Rather Than Sell National Assets Revise The Budget, Cross River Speaker Tells FG

The Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Mr. John Gaul-Lebo, has advised the Federal Government to revise the 2016 Appropriation rather than sell national assets.

Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Calabar on Wednesday, Gaul-Lebo said national assets should not be sold to raise funds to bail the country out of its current recession.

He suggested that rather than sell the national assets, the Federal Government should revise the 2016 national budget from N6.06 trillion to N4 trillion. He said that the suggestion became necessary following the present economic recession and the challenges of funding the 2016 Budget.



He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to work with the National Assembly on the need to revise the budget for optimal implementation.

“If the economy is in recession and then the budget that we have is N6 trillion, the first thing to do is to revise the budget to an amount that is realisable.

“Mr. President should do a budget priority and identify those projects that can be funded. He should look at those projects that can re-engineer the economy and fund them adequately.

“If our budget can go down to N4 trillion that we can realise and spend, then it will be better. We should revise the budget rather than sell our national assets,’’ the speaker said.

Sale Of Assets, Mere Speculations, FG Yet To Decide – Lai Mohammed

Shortly after a meeting of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja today, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed described the many reports in the media about the sale of national assets as mere speculations saying he Federal Government is yet to make any decision on it. He said;

“What the government will do is to reflate the economy, everything you have heard so far is a just suggestion, until the government makes its position known. All these reports of the asset sale, asset leasing and whatever is being bandied about, are nothing but speculations.

“The government is yet to come out with its position on how to bail out the economy and it will take
that position,” he said.

When informed that a meeting of the National Economic Council, NEC, that held last week has recommended asset sale, the Minister said: “NEC will recommend but it is the Federal Executive Council that will decide and what we decide will be the position of the government.”

No Plan To Sell Any Asset Now- FG

The federal government Tuesday said it has not taken any decision to sell any national asset.

Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma appealed to those opposed to the planned sale of some national assets to exercise patience with the government “as the government is yet to decide on assets sale in its stimulus package.”

Udoma made the disclosure in Abuja at the 57th Annual Conference of the  Nigerian Economic Society (NES) where he stated that the idea of selling national assets “is just a proposal within the stimulus package of the federal government to scale up revenue but is yet to be finalised or even agreed on.”

The budget and national planning minister said government will consult widely and hear views on the cost and benefit of the planned sale before any such decision will be made.

He said the administration has several packages and plans that will ensure that Nigeria comes out of the current recession soon and stronger. One of such packages he noted is the stimulus plan to borrow from the World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB) and the China Exim Bank.

Udoma said that the stimulus package was being worked upon and was yet to be finalised, adding that to achieve this speedily “we are working to fast track procedures through presidential directives and legislation and I want to emphasis that notwithstanding the current economic challenges we face, we are not discouraged at all and this is a crisis we must not waste.”

Read More:

http://thenationonlineng.net/no-plan-to-sell-any-asset-now-says-fg/

FG Lists Conditions For Assets Sale

The Federal Government has given conditions that must be met before the sale of certain national assets.
Top among the conditions is that government will insert repurchasing clauses in the assets sale agreements. A top government source who declined to be named disclosed this.
The National Economic Council (NEC), chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, had, last Thursday, endorsed government’s plan to sell off some national assets as part of the solution to get Nigeria out of recession and revamp economic growth.
According to the source,  government has also ruled out outright sale of assets.
“The federal government has no plan to sell-off its shares outrightly in the LNG where it owns 49 per cent shares and the balance 51 per cent owned by private foreign interests.
“Government doesn’t own the entire gas company and will certainly not sell-off its entire shares but is open to the possibility of selling its 49 per cent ownership by five per cent or thereabout.”
On the repurchase clause, the source said: “Just as in other potential asset sales, there would be a repurchase option that guarantees the federal government’s opportunity to buy-back any such assets if circumstances change anytime in the future.”
Though a list of national assets to be sold is  yet to be drawn-up, the source said that there is also a clear decision not to sell any critical asset of the country.
“Some of the intended sales could be in form of time-bound leases, advance renewal payments on leasing licenses and concessioning which would attract buoyant signature fees. If we even want to sell  certain assets, while our target is to get foreign currency, specifically dollars, the option would also be opened to Nigerians at some point to buy limited shares through the Nigeria Stock Exchange.”

Read More: sunnewsonline

Again, Group Gives FG 1-week Ultimatum To Release El-Zakzaky

Again, group under the umbrella of Save Zakzaky’s life group of Nigeria has issued a one week ultimatum to the federal government to unconditionally release their leader Ibraheem El-Zakzaky from detention.

The leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh El-Zakzaky has been in DSS detention since December, 2015 following their clashes with the Nigerian Army.

According to the National coordinator of the group, Bashir Marafa, “We call on the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to release Sheikh Zakzaky who has been unjustly in detention without trial for the past nine month unconditionally.

“No doubt, Save Zakzaky’s life group of Nigeria, with the supports and aspirations of millions of Zakzaky’s followers within Nigeria and beyond, are greatly concerned over the deteriorating health condition of our great leader Zakzaky, who has been denied access to seek for good medical care, while he is being detained with no reason whatsoever, except what we see as “great oppression”, and denying his fundamental human right as a Nigerian citizen, by the Buhari administration.

Credit:

http://leadership.ng/news/552149/el-zakzakys-release-group-gives-fg-1-week-ultimatum

AfDB Offers $1Billion Lifeline To FG

The African Development Bank (AfDB) will support Nigeria with a sum of $1 billion to address the country’s N2.2 trillion deficit in the 2016 budget.

The gesture comes amid re-assurance by President Muhammadu Buhari that Nigeria has the wherewithal to surmount its current economic setback.

AfDB President, Akinwunmi Adesina, who was at the State House in Abuja, yesterday, also unfolded other packages the financial institution has for the country.

They include $300 million to create jobs for 185,000 youths; $250 million for North East infrastructure development; $1 million grant, to deal with challenges of Internally Displaced Persons; $300 million for infrastructure development around Abuja; and $200 million for the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).Receiving Adesina, Buhari said: “God has given us people and resources. It will take hard work on our part, but we will make it. We will get out of our problems.”

We are determined to produce what we eat, and stop importation. We will also chase those who stole, and get them to refund.”Adesina appreciated the country’s support when he contested the AfDB presidency, making him the first Nigerian to occupy the position since the bank was established in 1964.

The AfDB boss described recent economic policies in the country as “bold, tough, uncomfortable, but right,” adding that Nigeria would reap the dividends in due course.

Read More:

http://guardian.ng/news/afdb-offers-1billion-lifeline-to-federal-government/

Sale of national assets is unconstitutional – Falana tells FG

Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has described the suggestion to the federal government to sell some national assets as a way of raising funds to tackle recession as unconstitutional.

According to Falana, the suggestion is in total conflict with section 16 of the Constitution which has prohibited the concentration of the nation’s wealth in the hands of a few people or a group.

The human rights lawyer, who stated this in a press statement he issued in Lagos on Thursday, also advised President Muhammadu Buhari to stop appealing to the conscience of the leaders of western countries to repatriate the nation’s looted wealth.

He said in spite of several promises the British government did not return any fund under former Prime Minister David Cameron. In the same vein, the outgoing Barack Obama administration will not repatriate a dime to Nigeria.

Falana noted that since they have continued to benefit from the nation’s illicit funds kept in banks and tax heavens western governments are not going to let go without a serious legal challenge.

The lawyer asked the federal government to set up a team of local and foreign lawyers to initiate legal proceedings in the appropriate jurisdictions for the recovery and repatriation of the nation’s looted wealth.

On the issue of the suggested sales of national assets, Falana said by virtue of section 44 of the Constitution the nation’s natural resources shall be held in trust for the Nigerian people by the federal government.

FG to adopt telemedicine to tackle medical tourism, manpower gap

To bridge the manpower gap in the health sector and reduce medical tourism, the Federal Government yesterday announced plans to adopt the use of telemedicine.

This, according to government, would further expand the nation’s ability to provide what it described as excellent medical service through e-health support.

Experts say telemedicine allows health care professionals to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients in remote locations using telecommunications technology. It also allows patients to access medical services quickly without traveling overseas.

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said at the Future of Health Conference in Abuja: “This will help address the issues in health service delivery such as scarce skills and medical tourism.”

The conference, organised by Nigerian Health Watch, brought together stakeholders in the health and technology sectors to discuss strategies for a more innovative sector.

Represented by Dr. Ngozi Azodoh, the Director of Special Duties at the ministry, the minister also spoke of government’s plans to establish a fund to support innovations by the private sector.

Also, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has highlighted ways to achieve total eradication of polio and reduce maternal deaths in Nigeria.

Country Director of the foundation, Dr. Mairo Mandara, stated this while speaking on “Health and technology: Making science serve the context” at the conference.

According to her: “I know that health is not about diseases, and health is not static. Health is about complete, physical mental and social wellbeing and it is about the eco-system of this variable that no one stays in one place.”

FG Stalling On New Minimum Wage- NLC

National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC),  Ayuba Wabba, has accused the Federal Government of delaying talks on a new national minimum wage for workers.
He also dismissed as misleading, speculations that talks between organised labour and the Federal Government has collapsed.
Wabba said the talks had not even started.
On May 26, a tripartite committee, led by Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, was set up on the matter.
While the Wabba faction of the NLC put forward a demand of N56,000 as a realistic minimum wage, that of Joe Ajaero asked for N90,000.
On its part,  government proposed N45, 000 as the new minimum wage.
The joint committee is meant to iron out the differences in the various submissions.
According to Wabba, government is foot-dragging on the issue.
He said the tripartite structure that should consider the modalities for the implementation had not been inaugurated.
“Uptil now, government is still dragging its feet on talks about the minimum wage; the tripartite structure has not been put in place,” he said.

Read More: sunnewsonline

Labour Vows To Resist Sales Of National Assets, Says It Won’t Solve Our Problem

Labour warned yesterday that the Federal Government should reject the clamour for the sale of the nation’s assets to fight the recession.
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) described those pushing for the measure as enemies of the country, who are only bent on acquiring the nation’s assets for their personal use.

NLC President Ayuba Wabba told The Nation in an interview that the congress was against the suggestion that the Federal Government should sell off national assets to address challenges. To Wabba, experience has shown that privatisation has not worked. Most of the national assets Nigeria sold off have not done well; selling off the assets will not be in the interest of Nigerians, he said.

Said the NLC chief: “First, most of our national assets they have sold under the banner of privatisation, non of them has succeeded. Many countries of the world has passed through this same period of recession and their approach to addressing the issue is not to sell their commonwealth, leaving them in the hands of a very few.

“It is worrisome that those canvassing for this are looking forward to buying these assets themselves. I don’t think it will be productive for us as a nation to dispose off these assets to meet short time need. It will certainly not be productive and not in the interest of the larger Nigerian public.
“As NLC, we are against the sale of those assets because we have tried it even in the power sector and the result is very obvious. Those people are looking for opportunity to buy those assets themselves. We are against it, especially selling them to individuals because of the gee viols effect of those assets that have been sold in the last.

“In the past, they were sold at give away price and people just amassed them for themselves.
“There can be a coexistence with people coming to invest side by side and for the government to strategically hold on to these assets. NLC is totally against the sale of these assets in the name of trying to address a short time need to address the challenges we are passing through. That is not what other countries have done.”
Wabba said should the government listen to the proposal and sell off the assets, organised labour will lock down the nation until the decision is reversed. “If they go ahead to sell the assets, we will protest. We have done that in the past,” he said.

“When it comes to selling off our national assets, if you remember, there was a time when they tried to sell the refineries when Obasanjo left office. We protested against it and that was how that decision was reversed. It is not as if these assets cannot add value, but because they have not been allowed to operate maximally.
“Take the refineries, for example. Our refineries are still among the newest in the world and so, if we add value to them, it is possible for the refineries to stop importation. It is because of inherent corruption that these refineries have not been allowed to work.

“Instead of addressing the corruption, what they did was to shift the to the larger Nigerian people without addressing the inherent challenges in the system.
“Our position is very clear and that is the fact that we are against their sales because they are for our children and generations yet unborn. We will be doing a lot of disservice if we sell such items. How are we sure that if we sell them, it will address the current challenges.”

FG begins shortlisting candidates for 500,000 jobs – Minister

The Federal Government has commenced shortlisting candidates for the 500,000 jobs it promised.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this on Wednesday in Abuja when a delegation of the National Council for Women’s Societies paid him a courtesy visit in his office.

Mohammed said that applications were being received and government had started processing them for the recruitment.

He said: “The process for the recruitment has started.

“About 1.2 million people applied and they classified them into categories, including agriculture support officers, teachers, technical officers and so on.”

The minister also said that the payment of N5,000 conditional cash transfer promised by the government would begin before the end of the month.

He said the Minister of Finance, Dr. Kemi Adeosun, had earlier announced this.

Mohammed reiterated the commitment of the government to improving the well-being and standard of living of the citizens.

He said: “We are very concerned about the welfare of Nigerians and we are not sleeping; we are working day and night to ensure that the country retraces its step.

“Many of our critics have been unfair to us because many of them know that we did not invent the problems we are facing today.

“This is time to join hands together to support the government to move the nation forward.”

The National President of NCWS, Gloria Shoda, expressed the confidence in the resolve of the government to implement programmes for the advancement of girls and women in the society.

Shoda drew the attention of government to its promise of providing free maternal and children health care and implementation of the National Gender Policy.

Shoda also appealed to government to consider scholarship for girls pursuing medical courses in the universities to address maternal and child mortality.

FG Begins Shortlisting Candidates For 500,000 Jobs– Lai Mohammed

The Federal Government has commenced shortlisting candidates for the 500,000 jobs it promised.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this on Tuesday, in Abuja when a delegation of the National Council for Women’s Societies (NCWS) paid him a courtesy visit in his office.

Mohammed said that applications were being received and government had started processing them for the recruitment.

“The process for the recruitment has started. About 1.2 million people applied and they classified them into categories including agriculture support officers, teachers, technical officers and so on,’’ he said.

The minister also said that the payment of N5,000 conditional cash transfer promised by the government would begin before the end of the month.

He said the Minister of Finance, Dr Kemi Adeosun had earlier announced this. Mohammed reiterated the commitment of the government to improving the well-being and standard of living of the citizens.

“We are very concerned about the welfare of Nigerians and we are not sleeping; we are working day and night to ensure that the country retraces its step.

“Many of our critics have been unfair to us because many of them know that we did not invent the problems we are facing today. “ This is time to join hands together to support the government to move the nation forward,’’ he said.

Read More:

http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/09/fg-begins-shortlisting-candidates-500000-jobs-lai-mohammed/

Buhari May Cut Fashola’s Ministry To Give Way For Kachikwu

As President Muhammadu Buhari land in the United States of America for the United Nations Assembly summit, a new report has revealed details of a possible ministerial re-shuffling by the presidency.

As Nigerians await the alleged ministerial reshuffling from the presidency, SaharaReporters in a new post on their official Twitter page, has revealed that Babatunde Fashola’s ministry of Works, Power and Housing’s three portfolios might be reduced to give way to Ibe Kachikwu, the minister of state for Petroleum who will now have a full portfolio to himself.

FG to train ex-agitators on agriculture

The Federal Government will train 11, 500 ex- Niger Delta agitators in agriculture as part of moves to diversify the economy, a presidential aide said on Monday.

The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Brig.-Gen. Paul Boroh (retd), disclosed this at the inauguration of some poultry farms in Rivers State, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

The farms are located in Elele, Ikwerre local government area of the state.

“The Presidential Amnesty Programme has resorted to engaging ex-agitators in agriculture in line with the Federal Government Green Alternative Initiative which is designed to diversify and revamp the economy,’’ he said

Boroh said the training for the ex-agitators would commence soon and would be concluded before the end of the year.

Read More:

FG to train ex-agitators on agriculture

FG plans new initiative, targets 300,000 new homes

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, has announced plans by the Buhari administration to launch a new housing finance initiative.

Under the proposed scheme, the Federal Government is planning a mortgage system that will catalyse the development of the mortgage market in Nigeria with the provision of single digit interest rate mortgages and longer repayment periods such as 20 years.

The proposed scheme also aims to provide 300,000 affordable homes supported by mortgages and creates 700,000 new jobs across a range of disciplines and professions.

The minister who made this known at the Annual Conference and General Meeting of the African Union for Housing Finance (AUHF) noted that with housing deficit at over 17 million, Nigeria was ripe for radical intervention in the provision of housing.

She said: “We are committed to fundamentally addressing historical challenges to housing. This requires innovative financial solutions that will stimulate housing development, related industries, create jobs across the nation and satisfy yearning for security through home ownership.”

The minister, represented by Mr. Seye Senfuye said: “Nigeria deserve to acquire affordable homes, built to a standard of good quality, located in well serviced estates that will create ideal environments in which they can raise their families, instead of being saddled with the challenges and risks of trying to build their homes organically.

“Due to the current high rates of interest, we believe that government intervention to bring down rates and enhance affordability is needed and we are committed to doing this.”

The Central Bank’s Director of Other Financial Institutions, Ahmed Abdullahi, noted that the housing market in Africa and in Nigeria is underdeveloped, and that the contribution of the market to the GDP in the country is less than one per cent, compared to the United States, which is about 80 per cent.

Abdullahi stressed the need to address absence of long-term capital that could be used to create mortgages, high cost of building materials, and problems of registering and enforcing property rights.

His words: “Mortgages are not short-term but the deposits we have in the banks are short-term liabilities, and you cannot easily use them to create mortgage. So, we need to address these challenges before we can improve the contribution of the market to the GDP.”

Osun appeals to FG for release of ecological fund

Osun State government has appealed to the federal government to quicken the release of ecological funds to states to curb environmental disaster across the country.

The Osun state consultants on Urban Planning, Environment and Sanitation, Hon. Bola Ilori, made the call during his monitoring visit to Rasco bridge in Osogbo where dredging of water ways is going on.

Ilori blamed the recent flooding in parts of the state capital on massive and uncoordinated release of water from Asa Dam in Kwara State with direct consequence on Owala Dam that opened its gate for eventual flood that ravaged the town.

“The state was really shocked at the flooding that happened earlier in the week, we did not expect such level of flooding considering the efforts that had been put into dredging in the past five years.

“A critical study of the situation showed that the main cause of the problem was the uncoordinated release of water from Asa Dam in Kwara State that subsequently forced Owala Dam to open its gates which laid the foundation for the eventual flood that our people witnessed.”

“We have applied for the ecological funds and it is on record that Osun state has not earned 10kobo on ecological fund in the last five to six years since Governor Rauf Aregbesola came on board, yet we have dredged over 270 kilometres of waterway carting out 4.3 million metric tons of sand and debris in the last six years,” he said.

He stated that since year 2010 up to 2014, the state has been dredging the water ways but mid 2015 the dredging became a victim of financial situation.

He further disclosed that Osun have expended 2.8 billion on dredging of water ways over the period of five years, but last year till this year it has not really dredged anything because of the financial challenges in the state.

“And even out of the 2.8 billion we are still owing, over 35% of the money, we have not been able to pay all the money, that is looking at the issue of flood and erosion control on the Ministry of Environment side, apart from what Ministry of works have done in terms of concreting some water ways. The state has serious ecological challenges that deserve urgent support from the federal government,” he said

According to Ilori, the revenue mobilisation commission had upon evaluation of the state’s ecological situation recommended 12 billion naira for Osun September last year, but nothing has been released and if the money has been released the government would be able to pay their outstanding commitment and would be able to really line some of its water ways with concrete.

FG to probe banks for non-remittance of taxes

The Federal Government is set to appoint about 150 firms as consultants to probe revenues collected by banks on behalf of the Nigeria Customs Service and the Federal Inland Revenue Service between July 2012 and December 2015.

This is sequel to a probe of the revenues collected by the banks between January 2008 and June 2012, which revealed that the banks failed to remit N12bn that they collected in taxes and duties on behalf of the government revenue agencies.

Following the success of the first exercise, the National Economic Council at its meeting on April 21 directed the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to appoint consultants to ensure wide coverage in the verification of the activities of the banks.

Following the approval granted by the council, the RMAFC proceeded to advertise for the consultancy job in the July 24 edition of the Federal Tenders Journal.

Investigation showed that more than 150 consultants applied for the job. While many companies will be appointed, one of them will serve as the lead consultant. Each of the consulting firms will report to the lead consultant.

It was learnt that government decided to appoint a large number of consultants to ensure the coverage of most of the branches of the banks across the country.

Finance authorities believe that the first exercise would have revealed more gaps between what the banks collected and what they remitted if more consultants had been hired. The first exercise was based on samples of the branches of the banks.

It was also gathered that the consultants would be paid 15 per cent of whatever they unravelled as unremitted funds from the books of the banks in the belief that this form of remuneration would encourage them to do a thorough job.

It was gathered that almost all the firms that applied to carry out the verification of the banks’ books would be hired.

During the first phase of the exercise, JK Consulting Company Limited served as the lead consultant.

Speaking on the first report, the Chairman, Non-oil Committee of the RMAFC, Ajibola Fagboyegun, insisted that the collecting banks must return the over N12bn, which they failed to remit to the government coffers between 2008 and 2012.

Prof. Kperogi Denies Accusing FG Of Spending £6million On Buhari’s Health Trip

Popular Analyst and US-Based Educationist, Ass. Prof Farooq Kperogi has denied accusing the Federal Government of Spending Six Million Pounds during President Buhari’s UK Health Trip this year. Reports from the Trip showed that the President had an ear infection.

Prof Kperogi who shared on his Facebook wall yesterday that the Presidency spend such amounts, has received a Reply from presidential spokesman Garba Shehu saying He is Disappointed at Him.
Meanwhile, Mr Kperogi has blamed Vanguard News for such allegations.

See Farooq’s Reply Below:

“I didn’t make up the allegation that Buhari spent 6 million pounds to treat his ear infection. It’s been around since June. It was even reported in the Vanguard of June 9.

Now, I am the first to admit that Vanguard isn’t always a reliable source of news (I have written at least two scathing articles on Vanguard), but it’s also true that Vanguard is Nigeria’s most visited online news source, outranked occasionally only by Punch, according to Alexa.

You ignore it at your own risk. The presidency must be aware of this allegation. Why haven’t they denied it and set the records straight? Well, it’s probably because they didn’t or don’t want to lend wings to an embarrassing revelation. If they were never aware of this allegation until I brought it up in my column and status update, then they are more clueless than I thought.”

FG To Use Local Textile For Military, Paramilitary Uniforms

The federal government says plans are underway for Nigerian military and para-military personnel to use made in Nigeria textile for their uniforms.

 

The Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Hajiya A’isha Abubakar, said this, yesterday, in Benin at the 28th Annual National Education Conference of the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) and the Nigerian Textile, Garment and Tailoring Employers Association (NTGTEA).

Represented by a director in the ministry, Barnabas Jattau, Hajiya A’isha said: “The government is presently discussion with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on how to stop smuggling of textiles materials into the country through the nation’s border posts.”

 

“The other plan is to reduce production cost, especially the cost of gas. We are working out ways to change gas pricing from dollar to naira.”

 

She said that the government, worried by the state of textile industry in the country, would revive the sector by ensuring that made in Nigeria textile was patronised by Nigerians.

 

Earlier, the President of the NUTGTWN, John Adaji, urged the federal government officials to wear clothing from fabrics made in Nigeria to encourage local textile manufacturers.

 

He advised President Muhamadu Buhari to shift from rhetoric to practical actions on the nation’s textile industry, saying that his achievement would be measured by the success he recorded in reviving the textile sector.

 

Also speaking, the Director General of the NTGTEA, Hamman Kwajjaffa, said that poor electricity supply remained major challenge in reviving the ailing textile sector.

 

He condemned smuggling of textile goods from Asia and other parts of Europe into Nigeria.

 

On his part, the General Secretary of NUTGTWN and National Vice President, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Isa Aremu, said that the recent re-orientation campaign launched by Buhari should be embraced by especially members of his cabinet.

 

“The new change mantra must start from the textile industry with the president, vice president and ministers wearing made in Nigeria textiles,” he said.

 

“Our school uniforms, military and para-military uniforms, uniforms of the NYSC should be made in Nigeria with Nigerian fabrics, we must patronise our produce at home.”

BBOG Group Welcomes FG’s Feedback On Chibok Girls’ Rescue Operation

It seems the series of activities the #BringBringBackOurGirls group has embarked on in order to re-engage the government on the issue of the abducted Chibok girls have yielded fruit as government finally broke it’s silence.

The Buhari administration has announced a fresh bid to rescue the abducted Chibok schoolgirls from Boko Haram.

Recall that the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Friday has addressed Journalists on the issue.

Lai had said that previous efforts to bring back the girls were frustrated by in-fighting among the insurgents and middle men, who exploited the process for pecuniary gains.

Reacting to the minister’s  briefing, the spokesperson of the group , Abubakar Abdullahi stated that it was a welcome development adding that it hoped the feedback on the rescue operation of the girls will be a continuous process.

“It’s a start. We have been asking for feedback on the rescue efforts. We welcome factual communication and hope this signals a period of continuous feedback. We will monitor progress and act accordingly, “ he said.

Read More:

http://leadership.ng/chibokgirls/550888/bbog-group-welcomes-fgs-feedback-on-chibok-girls-rescue-operation