Governors will back withdrawal of petrol subsidy to end fleecing of the country, it was learnt yesterday.
They also opened discussions with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corperaton (NNPC) over the oil giant’s “zero remittance for May” letter.
A governor, who spoke in confidence, told our correspondent yesterday that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) was on the same page with the NNPC because “fuel subsidy is a scam”.
The source added: “It is a case of heavens falling. All will be affected and hopefully, we will stop living a lie. We cannot continue with this scam called subsidy regime.
“Certainly, states may back withdrawal of fuel subsidy to have more funds for far-reaching and impactful projects for Nigerians.”
On the NNPC letter, the source said: “We are talking.”
Another governor, said: “Total withdrawal of petrol subsidy is inevitable. It is a reality we have to face as a nation.
“What is being shared from the Federation Account monthly to all the tiers of government is pittance because about N120billion is deducted for subsidy. This amounts to about N1, 3trillion to N1.4trillion annually.
“We are virtually subsidising the petrol being smuggled into neighbouring countries because our fuel consumption is between 55% and 60% of what is pushed out.
“With the subsidy level, about 27 states cannot break even. Instead, states have resorted to borrowing.
“We are already thinking ahead on palliatives which will mitigate the effect of the withdrawal of subsidy.
“The NGF is already talking with the NNPC on zero remittance and withdrawal of subsidy. The Federal Government has also raised a committee on petrol pump price ahead of the withdrawal of subsidy. The NNPC has presented all the indices to the FG-NLC committee.”
But Katsina State Governor Aminu Masari differs.
As far as he is concerned, the zero remittance plan of the NNPC will negatively impact the states and the battle against insecurity.
He told reporters at the Aso Villa after meeting Chief of Staff to the President Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, that “it’s with resources that state and local governments are able to contain some of these restive youths so that they can be used for better purposes because most of them might be foot soldiers for bandits.
“So, I think we have to look at this issue seriously, it will significantly affect even the capacity of states to pay salaries and to do what is necessary for the smooth running of government and fund the logistic requirements of security agencies.”
The federal government believes that zero remittance from the NNPC into the Federation Account next month will not amount to much.
A source at the Federal Ministry of Finance insisted yesterday that the “NNPC’s projections will not significantly affect FAAC disbursement for May”.
According to the source, “remittances from other agencies into the federation account have surpassed NNPC’s over time”.
“Contributions from the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and remittances from non-oil sources, especially other mineral proceeds, have always been higher than what the NNPC brings to the table.”
The Finance ministry official who is a FAAC member said FAAC had survived past funds denials from NNPC, especially with under-remittance until the Corporation was forced to remit all it was owing.
Asked how this will affect workers’ salaries in the affected months and beyond the zero remittance from the NNPC persist, the official said “there are other strategic accounts the government can withdraw from to augment funds for sharing”.
“Some of the strategic accounts are the Excess Crude Account (ECA) and the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).”
Reacting to the development, Prof Uche Uwaleke of Nasarawa State University said, NNPC’s zero remittance “will adversely affect the distributable revenue for the months due largely to rising under recovery costs or petrol subsidy”.
This he said: “Is because the NNPC is a major contributor to that pool. The others are the FIRS, Customs and to a little extent, Ministry of Solid Minerals”.
Prof Uwaleke warned that “this should be of concern to Nigerians, especially civil servants at the state level, given that staff salaries, unfortunately, are either delayed or not paid whenever there is a shortfall in projected revenue. Ditto for contractors handling various projects in states”.
He advised sub national governments “to reprioritise their spending, placing premium on salaries and deferring expenditures that can wait till the situation improves”.
According to him, “these austere times equally call for cutting costs and reducing wastes in government spending”.
The NNPC had written to the Accountant-General of the Federation that “the sum of N111.966,456,903.74 will be deducted from April 2021 Oil and Gas Proceeds due to the Federation in May 2021, which will translate to zero remittance to the Federation Account from the NNPC in the month of May 2021. This is to ensure the continuous supply of petroleum products to the nation and guarantee energy security”.
The NNPC said it arrived at the decision because “the average landing cost of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) for the month of March 2021 was N184 per litre as against the subsisting ex-coastal price of NI28 per litre, which has remained constant notwithstanding the changes in the macroeconomics variables affecting petroleum products pricing.
“As the discussions between government and the labour are yet to be concluded, the NNPC recorded a value short fall of N111,966,456,903.74 in February 2021 as a result of the difference highlighted above”.
The last two FAAC meetings witnessed major revenue shortfalls.
In April FAAC, though there was an accrued revenue of over N800 billion, the federal government adopted a tough stance the state governments to accept N680 billion as amount to be shared for the month.
The last two FAAC incidences corroborate the NNPC’s claims of sustained revenue decline affecting the federation account.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) was still awaiting the invitation of the Federal Government on resumption of talks on fuel pump price per litre.
The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), preemptively in March published a new price regime for Premium Motor Spirit.
It said with the new template, fuel was expected to sell at N209.61 per litre and at an upper retail price of N212.61 per litre.
A high-ranking labour leader said: “They said the FG-NLC committee will reconvene after the Easter break, we are awaiting the invitation of the government.
“We have made some cost saving recommendations to the government team led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha. We said N168 per litre pump price is realistic. We have rejected either N209.61 per litre or N212.61 per litre.”
East-West road, 43 others to be completed without delay – Fashola
All 44 road projects in the approved phase two of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme including the East-West road will be completed without any delay or break.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), stated this, stressing that sustainability of funding for the critical infrastructure in Nigeria would be guaranteed.
Fashola, who spoke in Abuja, noted that unlike in the past, when there was inadequate funding of infrastructure, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had secured alternative sources of funding that could guarantee sustainability from the beginning of the projects to their completion.
He said the tax credit scheme remained a new model that encourages partnership with private companies where taxes are paid in advance to enable the government invest in notable projects that would be beneficial to its citizens.
The minister said the Federal Government had focused on nine major axes of Nigeria, adding that the A1 – A4 axis covered the Northern part of the country, while the A5-A9 axis covered the East and West of the country.
He said the successful completion of all the roads would lead to sustainable mobility for Nigerians.
“The roads like Akure – Ado –Ekiti and East-West which people have been complaining about would be adequately catered for with the approval of the second phase of the NNPC Tax Credit Scheme,” he said.
On payment of compensation, Fashola noted that it would not be paid to anyone occupying the government’s Right of Way (RoW) and appealed to members of the communities occupying the areas to vacate.
Permanent Secretary of the ministry, represented by the Director overseeing the Office of the Permanent Secretary, Folorunsho Esan, said in line with the Executive Order 7 (2019), phase one was approved on October 27, 2021.
He stated that with the completion of phase one, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has also approved phase II of the scheme to fund 44 critical road infrastructure to the tune of N1.96 trillion naira.
Esan said that as it was done with phase one, phase two would be governed by a set of guidelines to be issued to each contractor, adding that there would be a funding intervention agreement to be implemented in addition to the standard condition of the contract governing the execution of the projects.
He said that the availability of this new funding window will ensure steady cash flow and a timely completion of projects.
He also stated that the NNPC intervention which began in October 2021 with phase one has now occupied the top of the log with a portfolio well in excess of N2.6 trillion.
On the part of NNPC, the Group Chief Executive Officer, Mallam Mele Kyari, who was represented by the Chief Financial Officer, Umar Aliya, said that funding would not be an issue anymore as the company is committed to fully funding the next phase.
“We are committed to setting aside funds for phase II. Funding would not be a problem. What is important to us is that our consultant will need to validate the value for money and the quality of work. We will not compromise the quality and timely completion of work,“ he said.
“There is no need for excuses. As for us, on our part, we are committed and we implore the contractors to do quality work and do it on time so that the road projects can be open for use to Nigerians,” he added.
The Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) Mohammed Nami, explained that most of the roads captured by Executive Order 7 to be executed by the NNPC were mostly road projects inherited by the administration of Muhammadu Buhari.
“So, we are appealing to Nigerians to trust Executive order 007 so that government will continue to provide the physical infrastructure that our people need,“he said.
Nigeria ranks 150 out of 180 countries in 2022 Transparency International Corruption Index
The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC), Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, has announced that Nigeria ranked 150 out of 180 countries in the 2022 Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI).
This according to Rafsanjani is four places lower than the 154th position in the country’s 2021 CPI results.
Rafsanjani made the announcement on Tuesday at a press briefing held at CISLAC meeting hall, Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
He however added that in terms of points, the country has retrained 24 points it had in 2021.
He also noted that the data index used for the CPI is not collected by CISLAC/TI- Nigeria but by Independent and reputable organisations with sound research methodologies.
“While Nigeria moved four places up on the country ranking, it has maintained it’s previous score of 24 which is it’s lowest score on the CPI since 2012, which suggests a slowdown in the steady decline observed in the previous three CPI’s, he said.”
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The CISLAC boss lamented the rate of corruption in the country and reserved some blames for the Judiciary.
“Nigeria as a country has reached a point where citizens should come out in their millions to protest against corruption, thus, with the expectations that this regime could address the issue of corruption, yet the world continues to face corruption with the help of high profile officials,” he lamented.
Among other recommendations, CISCLAC called on the executive arm of government to stop granting pardon to corrupt politicians recklessly.
As a means to curb and tackle the incessant corruption in Nigeria, CISLAC also recommended as follows:
1. The presidency, INEC, political parties, security actors and other relevant bodies should ensure that the 2023 general election are free, fair and credible.
2. The relevant anti-graft agencies should ensure that high profile corruption cases are pursued to their logical conclusion for the benefit of Nigeria and her citizens.
3. Agencies given the mandate to recover assets under the proceeds of Crime (and Management) Act 2022 should ensures that they establish a database where information about assets in their custody is easily accessed by citizens in line with the Act and the proactive provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
4. The Federal government should address the lingering issue of oil theft in the country.
5. The relevant agencies should investigate those behind the important of toxic fuel to Nigeria in 2022.
6. The National assembly should ensure transparency in the implementation of the constituency projects. The relevant agencies should ensure that those found guilty are brought to book.
7. With the election fast approaching, the judiciary should ensure more than ever to deliver justice.
The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) developed by theTransparency International (TI) in 1995 is an annual ranking of countries on the prevalence of corruption within each country, based upon surveys by experts and business executives. It’s aims is to serve as a basis for critical reflection on tangible ways to strengthen the fight against corruption.
No single government can solve Nigeria’s problems – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said that no single government can solve Nigeria’s problems.
Buhari, at a state- of- nation dialogue on security, economy and administration of justice in Abuja, stated that efforts of successive governments were required to see the country through its challenges
The President hoped that the event, which was organised by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), would contribute to Nigeria’s development. Buhari, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, reminded lawyers that they owed the nation some responsibilities.
“I would say no one government in this country would be able to solve the problems of Nigeria. But as we build on the precedent set by successive governments, not discarding completely what has been put in place, we would in the course of our desire to build a Nigeria of our dreams, be able to pick one or two things, on which we can concentrate and move.
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“As a government, the outcome of this dialogue can be transmitted to us so that whatever resolutions are reached, that would become part of the documents would prepare us as we transit and hand over to an incoming government.”
Kebbi State Governo, Atiku Bagudu, who also attended the event, said one of the ways to tackle insecurity was to give priority to primary education in the country.
He said most of the causes of insecurity were a result of the breakdown of the social contract towards the people.
Bagudu, therefore, advocated more investment in primary education to turn the situation in the country around.
The governor pointed out that in developed countries, as much as $27,000 is spent on a child, while in Nigeria, a rich state like Lagos, spends far less.
He said: “They (children) have not been provided education. The challenges of inclusion are the most current. We need to include more people and so we have to mobilise more resources.”
Bagudu praised the NBA for the theme of the dialogue, which according to him, is holding ahead of the general election.
Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Amina Mohammed, condemned the attacks on facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
She also frowned at attacks on some candidates for the general election, as well as fake news and hate speeches focusing on religious and ethnic identities.
The UN chief said: “INEC has been making great strides in improving the transparency, accountability and credibility of Nigeria’s electoral process. The increase in the number of registered voters from 84m to 93m is encouraging and suggests Nigerians are enthusiastic about the electoral process.
“However, we continue to witness attacks against the institution. Fake news, hate speech, based on religious and ethnic identities, violence against candidates as well as INEC facilities and staff since the political campaigns began.”
Mohammed hoped that the elections would provide an opportunity for Nigerians to unite and shape the future of the nation.
She said as Africa’s largest economy with a youthful population, Nigeria cannot afford to fail.
The UN chief said Nigeria must be steeped in economic, social and environmental principles and must be guided by Agenda 2030 and its 17 goals.
“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an urgent to-do list, a blueprint for global and local action. We needed it to develop peace and prosperity and a thriving natural environment for current and future generations.”
NBA President Yakubu Maikyau (SAN) said there was a need to continuously engage government at all levels on issues affecting the country and the citizenry.
He urged members of the Bench and Bar to always ensure that justice was served without fear of favour.
The New Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Solomon Arase, encouraged the deployment of technology to secure the country.
Arase, who added that government cannot solve security problems alone, said the establishment of reform panels over insecurity was a waste of time.
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