Tag Archives: NASS

[Nigeria] FG seek Assembly’s approval for $1.2BN Agric loan from Brazil

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The minister also spoke on the Police reforms and prayed that the review would be completed quickly so that while the appropriation process is going on, the revised salaries would be included in the 2021 budget.

The Federal Government is seeking the approval of $1.2 billion loan from the National Assembly to address issues in the agriculture value chain, finance minister Zainab Ahmed said on Tuesday in Abuja at the ministry’s budget defence.

Ahmed told the House of Representative Committee on Finance that the loan would be sourced from the Brazilian Government.

“We need to address issues in the agriculture value chain as the country moves towards other sources of revenue.

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“Already, the federal government is making efforts to acquire100,000 hectares of land per state for food production.

“Roads will be built in such locations to provide access for farm inputs and ease the movement of farm produce to the markets.

“If the farmers can move their farm produce to markets, it will reduce post-harvest losses,” she said.

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“If it’s not completed, we will contemplate doing amendment or supplementary budget,” she said.

She said that the federal government was bent on the use of Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) for the payment of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

She added, however, that ASUU’s newly developed University Accountability and Transparency Solution (UTAS) would also undergo verification by experts.

The minister said that N1.647 billion was proposed for personnel cost, N1.70 billion for overhead, while N4.005 billion was allocated for the ministry’s capital expenditure in 2021.


#Newsworthy…

My hands are clean – Lagos NASS speaker, Obasa react to EFCC’s charges against him.

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The Lagos assembly speaker was accused of embezzling public funds and abusing his office.

Mudashiru Obasa, speaker of the Lagos state house of assembly, says he has nothing to hide on the corruption allegations against him.

On Thursday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had begun questioning Obasa over the alleged fraudulent activities linked to him.

In a statement after the interrogation by officials of the EFCC in Lagos, Obasa said he decided to honour the invitation of the anti-graft agency as a responsible lawmaker.

“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission invited me today (Thursday). As a responsible citizen and lawmaker, I honoured the invitation. I have nothing to hide,” Obasa said.

“When we are called upon by law-enforcement agents in their investigations, as responsible citizens, it’s our duty to oblige them.”

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Noble Reporters Media known Media had carried out an investigation on the speaker who allegedly owns more than 60 bank accounts.

He was accused of using his office to misappropriate funds and allocate contracts to himself through third party sources, as well as other acquaintances.

The state house of assembly had cleared the speaker of the allegations, saying they are untrue.

However, civil society organisations petitioned the EFCC to carry out a comprehensive investigation on the matter.


#Newsworthy…

Present 2021 Budget on 8th of October – Buhari writes NASS.

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President Buhari has written to the National Assembly informing lawmakers that he will be presenting the 2021 budget at a joint sitting on Thursday, October 8, 2020, by 11 am.

In a letter read by Senate President Ahmed Lawan on Tuesday at the resumption of plenary, President Buhari is requesting the audience of lawmakers in both chambers for the presentation of the budget.

The Senate is expected to consider and pass the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework MTEF and Fiscal Strategy Paper FSP before President Buhari submits the 2021 budget.

The Federal Executive Council had last Wednesday after its weekly meeting estimated the budget to be N13.08trn for the 2021 fiscal year.

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The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this to journalists at the Presidential Villa.

The breakdown of the proposed budget is N13.08 trillion total aggregate; expenditure (29% Capex), with a deficit of N4.48 trillion; FX: N379/$; and GDP growth targeted at 3%.

She further disclosed that the President was expected to present the budget to the National Assembly with a deficit of N4.48 trillion, while the oil production rate is pegged at 1.86 million barrel per day with the oil benchmark standing at $40 per barrel.

The Federal Government is also targeting the inflation rate at 11.96 per cent.


#Newsworthy…

China loan: Amaechi pleads National Assembly not to halt agreement process

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The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on Saturday appealed to the National Assembly to halt its questioning of Nigeria’s loan agreement with China.

Mr Amaechi said questions from the National Assembly is likely to deter China from extending credit to the country, especially the $5.3bn required for the Ibadan-Kano railway.

He made the remarks during an inspection tour of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail project which is being primarily financed by Chinese banks.

“They are not investigating corruption in construction,” Mr Amaechi said. “We want the National Assembly to allow us to get the loan for Ibadan to Kano, which is about $5.3bn.

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“If you are telling the man who lent you money you don’t like the way he lent you, he won’t lend you any further.

“For this one (Lagos-Ibadan rail project), we have $1.6bn for which we are contributing about $200 and $300 million. But don’t forget, they have not finished paying, they can stop at any time.”

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi speaks to a Chinese construction official during an inspection tour of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project on August 15, 2020. (Noble Reporters Media //)

The House of Representatives had raised an alarm about the nature of loans received from China which, it said, puts the country’s sovereignty into question in the case of a re-payment default.

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However, Mr Amaechi has insisted the loans, which are primarily spent on capital projects built by Chinese companies, will benefit the country.

Touring Lagos-Ibadan Railway
On his Saturday inspection tour, Amaechi was accompanied by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, and top management of the Nigerian Railway Corporation.

According to a correspondent, the inspection started from the mega station in Ebute Metta to Apapa in Lagos and moved all the way to Ibadan, Oyo state.

The ministers inspected the construction of all boarding stations and yards along the route.

Mr Amaechi expressed satisfaction at the pace of work, despite the delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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However, he did not specify when the project will be completed. “Let’s hope by January, this thing will be ready,” he said.

Mr. Amaechi said the Ibadan-Kano rail project is being delayed by the expected approval by the national assembly to acquire a loan for its execution.

On his part, the Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, said monies borrowed from China are being utilised judiciously for capital projects.

Meanwhile, Managing Director of the NRC, Engr. Fidet Okhiria, said skeletal operations are likely to commence from Yaba to Ibadan in September.


#Newsworthy…

High court order arrest of Ex-NASS clerk, Omolori Sani

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A Federal High Court sitting at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has issued an arrest warrant against the immediate past clerk of the National Assembly, Mr. Sani Omolori.

Ruling on an exparte motion filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Justice Suleman Belgore gave the order following claims by the anti-graft agency that Mr. Omolori ignored its invitation to report at its office over an investigation of a petition.

The EFCC in its motion stated that it was investigating a petition, alleging diversion of 14 Toyota Hilux vehicles and 13 Peugeot 508 valued at over 400 million naira.

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It added that, as part of its investigation activities, it invited the secretary of the national assembly commission, Adamu Fika, Mr. Oluseye Ajakaye and others to its office.

The commission added that Mr. Fika and Mr. Ajakaye made revelations indicting Mr. Omolori, following which invitation letters were sent to him on November 4, 2019, which he allegedly ignored.

The anti-graft agency, further noted that it sent another letter to the former clerk on March 16, 2020, which he still ignored.


#Newsworthy…

How Assembly’s probe pose threat on NDDC forensic audit

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…Stakeholders Demand International Forensic Auditors
…Forensic Accountants Back Audit, Indigenous Firms Participation
…NDDC Playground For Corrupt People, Including NASS Members – Onuegbu
…Groups Want Nunieh Investigated, Akpabio, Pondei Removed, Prosecuted


There are growing concerns that the outcome of the probe by the National Assembly (NASS) of the allegations of financial malfeasance in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) may impact the forensic audit of the agency ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Even though the Presidency, on Friday, said Buhari would act decisively on the resolution of the legislature at the right time, stakeholders in the region are already expressing doubts about the capacity of the audit firm engaged to do a thorough job, especially with the allegation that high political office holders have their hands in the pie.

Consequently, the aggrieved stakeholders are calling on Buhari to engage globally renowned forensic auditing firms to carry out the exercise. They alleged that since the Procurement Act was abused in the process leading to the emergence of the engaged firm, there is the tendency that the outcome of the audit may be compromised.

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In the midst of this, groups including Youth in Africa Anti-Corruption Network (YIAA Network), and the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI Network) have called for the immediate removal and prosecution of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Obot Akpabio, the acting managing director of the NDDC, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei; Commissioners and everyone, who in one way or the other, is allegedly involved in the grand corruption taking place at the agency.

The groups also insisted that the erstwhile managing director of the commission, Dr. Joi Nunieh, should be properly investigated by the Code of Conduct Bureau, while the National Assembly should re-invite Pondei for a full investigation.

They, however, urged the National Assembly to resist the temptation of discharging Pondei from further investigation and interrogation, alleging that failure to reschedule Pondei’s interrogation means the lawmakers were conspiring to cover up allegations made against some of its members by Akpabio.

THE Coordinator, National Coalition on Gas Flaring and Oil Spills in the Niger Delta (NACGOND), Dr. Edward Obi, while weighing in on the N81b saga said as the NDDC continues to face credibility crisis, Buhari should immediately engage reputable forensic auditors to audit its finances and projects.

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Obi, who said it was illegal to award the auditing contract without due process, stressed that Nigerians should be brought into the discourse as far as the choice of a transparent, reputable auditing firm with international pedigree is concerned to unravel the true state of the alleged malfeasance.

“I stand to be corrected, the NDDC is not all about making Niger Deltans rich; it is not about giving jobs to Niger Deltans; It is about creating opportunities for Niger Deltans to take advantage of what is available to them. So, I don’t believe that giving jobs to Niger Deltans is what NDDC is for, No. If that agency had done what it ought to have done, by now there would have been a multiplicity of opportunities for Niger Deltans and other Nigerians to make business by themselves.”

IN the same vein, a business mogul and 2019 Action Democratic Party (ADP) governorship candidate in Rivers State, Mr. Victor Fingesi, described the scandal rocking the agency as an embarrassment to the country, insisting that concerted efforts must be made through an independent forensic audit that will unmask diverters and plunders of development funds through the NDDC.

“It is time to bring in an international auditor, KPMG, and some of those firms that have international repute to immediately audit the NDDC, and thereafter advise the Federal Government on what to do about the looted funds. If you are given a contract and you don’t execute it, you should bring back the money.

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“Auditing firms in the country have been auditing too many agencies; too many companies, that they all now have friends everywhere. With what is going on today in the NDDC, people can reach people. So, for a thorough, I think we have to bring in an independent auditor that does not operate here. I named one, KPMG,” he said.

THE former board chairman of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives (NEITI), Ledum Mitee, wondered why the Federal Government failed to engage NEITI, which has the statutory responsibility to audit, track revenues from oil to probe the NDDC.

He explained that NEITI in its Fiscal Allocation and Statutory Disbursement 2007-2011, and 2012-2016 audited reports, revealed a lack of accountability and transparency in the financial activities of the NDDC.

“With just half of the money that they are spending on forensic audit, NEITI can do a very thorough job on the NDDC. The whole process of the NEITI audit is not easy to compromise. Mind you, it involves multi-stakeholders as people from the oil companies are there; civil society groups are there, as well as government agencies. But, why do you pay as much as N1b to an auditing firm, that will be superintended over by those already in the eye of the storm, and who have already been indicted? How would Akpabio sit over that? How would the IMC superintend over such an audit…?”

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Mitee pointed out that for every hour the National Assembly spends questioning NDDC officials’ financial recklessness, somebody in the Niger Delta is dying from either preventable diseases like malaria or the contaminated water that they are drinking.

THE National Vice President, Trade Union Congress, Chika Onuegbu, who is an economist cum chartered accountant, said given the level of fraud and irregularities that have taken place in the NDDC, an independent forensic audit, which goes beyond the mere presentation of invoices, names of companies, or certificate of work completed, to unravelling who did what job, and on the spot assessment of jobs awarded and paid for, is needed.

“Payments from banks have to be traced, not just to those companies, but the ultimate beneficiaries. That is why the support of the Central Bank of Nigeria is required. If N10m was paid to YWZ Ltd, who are those authorised to withdraw the money? Who has the BVN? Companies are legal entities, but of course, companies are not human beings, it is human beings that run them. The CBN should avail information and support to the forensic audit so that the final account where the monies ended up would be unveiled,” he said.

Onuegbu described the NDDC as a playground of many corrupt people, including members of the National Assembly, who are deeply concerned about the forensic audit, as opposed to the normal audit.

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“Let the forensic audit go on, let the report of that forensic audit be made public, and let whoever feels aggrieved write a petition for another audit firm to come and check. But let us not scuttle the forensic audit. All of us that are from the Niger Delta know that the NDDC is a colossal failure and the epicentre of fraud in Nigeria.

“The forensic audit is not the solution to the problem of NDDC. It is just a process of unearthing the massive corruption that has taken place in the place. After that, there is a need to review the NDDC Act, either the NDDC is scrapped and the fund channelled to oil-producing communities,” he said.

UCHE Onyeagucha, a former Secretary to the Imo State Government described the NDDC as a filthy institution to the extent that with or without a forensic audit if Nigerians don’t change their attitude towards corruption, not much would be achieved.

“There should be a total, comprehensive audit of every person in the NDDC. And then you can still feel free to investigate all the properties and assets of all the persons, who have served there from the beginning to date. You should also go back and investigate the property and assets of all those who have been members of the NDDC Committee of the House of Representatives, all the NDDC Committee of the Senate, from the beginning to date. Where their property, assets, and bank accounts fail to match their income, they should be made to explain. That is how you will do the cleansing, which has to be comprehensive” he said.

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MEANWHILE, the Global President, Association of Forensic Accounting Researchers (AFAR), Prof. Godwin Emmanuel Oyedokun has lauded the forensic audit but faulted the process that brought up the exercise.

He said: “The only thing that I have a problem with is the process that brought that forensic process up. A forensic audit is necessary and good, but who initiated it? Is it a group or the NDDC office that initiated it, and do they have the power to do so? If there is a problem from the beginning, the process can’t be legal. The Federal Government doesn’t have the power to initiate it. The Federal Government through the management of NDDC should have been the one to do so.”

Oyedokun who is also the President, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), Lagos Chapter, explained that forensic audit is a procurement issue and when carrying out procuring services, it should be the responsibility of the NDDC.

“The Federal Government can mandate the directorate of NDDC to do so. That was the reason that the National Assembly argued that the minister was usurping the powers of the NDDC board to initiate the contract because the forensic audit is also a contract.”

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Contrary to calls by some groups in the Niger Delta that an indigenous forensic firm mustn’t be allowed to carry out the probe, he said it’s an abuse of freedom of speech to say that indigenous auditing firms shouldn’t be involved in carrying out the forensic audit of the NDDC.

For those canvassing for foreign audit firms, he asked: “Are they also ridiculing their professionals and saying that we should go and hire somebody from the United Kingdom to come and do the audit? Would such people know the terrain of Nigeria more than the indigenous experts? It is a misuse of freedom of speech.”

He further said that accounting firms like, KPMG, Deloitte, and PwCs are not foreign audit firms, they are still Nigerian companies only that they are using the network names across the world.

“If a Nigerian joins a network of audit firms, he is still a Nigerian. With international qualifications, you can’t work as an accountant in Nigeria. The Chairman of Deloitte in Nigeria, for example, is a Nigerian and would lead a team of Nigerians and Nigerian facilities to carry out a forensic audit. There is a difference between conventional auditor and forensic auditors. Once the people that selected Olumuyiwa Bashiru & Co., can confirm that the so-called firm has partners that have been trained in forensic auditing, with evidence, then so be it. It must be noted that forensic report is quite different from auditor’s report,” he said.

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THE past president, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Alhaji Rasaq Jaiyeola told The Guardian that Nigeria’s accounting firms have many professionals that can carry out thorough forensic auditing of the NDDC.

He explained that the institute started training members on forensic audits over 10 years ago, stressing that before then, many of its members have been practising internationally.

“We have national firms that are well-grounded in forensic auditing. We have many capable hands with international affiliations. So, I don’t see any big deal in forensic auditing that ICAN members cannot do. As long as they are ICAN members, they should be able to perform,” he said.

According to him, ICAN founded the Audit, Investigations and Forensic Accounting Faculty in the year 2009 and started its certification programme in forensic accounting in 2011.

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“As at December 2014, ICAN had trained and inducted 382 members as Certified Forensic Accountant of Nigeria,” he said.

SPEAKING on behalf of the groups calling for the removal and prosecution of Akpabio and Pondei in Abuja, the President of YIAA Network, Ovo Emokiniovo Otarigho said: “We are dismayed with the accusations and counter-accusations between Senator Akpabio and the erstwhile Managing Director of the commission, Dr. Joi Nunieh, as well as the shameful drama presented by Prof. Pondei. We demand that the people entrusted with the responsibilities of our commonwealth should face justice and be accountable to the citizens, and not to serve themselves. On account of that, we vehemently reject the statement of the Speaker of The House of Representatives, that Prof. Pondei might be excluded from further interrogation. We, therefore, call on him and members of the committee to re-schedule another day for the continuation of the investigation of Prof. Pondei on account of his stewardship. We shall view the failure to reschedule his investigation as an act of complicity on the part of the National Assembly over allegations made by Senator Akpabio.”

“Furthermore, we call on the National Assembly to expose all its members alleged to have been involved in this grand-scale scam to defraud the people of the Niger Delta of their rights to experience development through the NDDC. In the bid to unravel the truth, all witnesses in this investigation must be protected. We, hereby call on the Inspector General of Police to live up to the essence of his duties, which is to protect the lives of the citizens. All attempt by alleged conspirators in this corruption to threaten witnesses to thwart the truth must be discouraged and resisted by the Police.”


#Newsworthy…

Akpabio: Most NDDC contracts ‘awarded’ to NASS members

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The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, on Monday, said most contracts from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) are awarded to National Assembly members.

The Minister made the comment as he was being grilled by members of the House of Representatives committee on NDDC in a public hearing.

The Minister had been invited by the lawmakers on Friday to defend his actions as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and shed more light on financial misappropriation within the NDDC.

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Akpabio’s comment surfaced as he was responding to a question about NDDC expenditure amid a forensic audit.

“We cannot close down the Niger Delta Development Commission because of the fact that we are doing (a) forensic audit,” he said.

“The NDDC plays a vital role in ensuring the peace and security of the region and 90 percent or more of the resources of the country come from there.

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“If you close it down in totality all you will have is chaos. You will have a lot of, not just militancy, you will have a lot of insurrection.

“So it is important that people who have gone to court, people who genuinely did jobs should be paid for their jobs. For me, I am not against it because, of course, who are even the greatest beneficiaries? It is you people.”

A member of the committee took him up on his “you people” allegation and asked him to clarify.

“I just told you that we have records to show that most of the contracts in the NDDC are given out to members of the National Assembly,” the ex-Senator said.


#Newsworthy…

Ondo Chief Judge reject NASS request to probe Ajayi

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Ondo State Chief Judge, Justice Oluwatoyin Akeredolu, has rejected the State House of Assembly’s request to investigate the State Deputy Governor.

This comes after 14 members of the Assembly served an impeachment notice on the deputy governor, Mr Agboola Ajayi, whom they accused of gross misconduct.

However, nine other lawmakers were opposed to the planned impeachment of Mr Ajayi by their colleagues in the Legislative House.

According to the Chief Judge, the Assembly did not meet the constitutional requirements needed to impeach the embattled deputy governor, adding that the Assembly failed to form the two-third majority required to impeach the deputy governor.

Governor Rotimi Akeredoluand Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi

Justice Akeredolu also said she had received a letter from Ajayi’s lawyers stating that the process of impeachment was sub judice.


#Newsworthy…

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Investigate allegations against Ajayi – NASS tells C.J

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A call has been made to the Ondo State Chief Judge, Justice Oluwatoyin Akeredolu, to immediately set up a panel to investigate the allegations levelled against embattled deputy governor, Mr Agboola Ajayi.

The call was made in a letter to the Ondo State CJ on Thursday which was issued by the Speaker of the Assembly, Mr Bamidele Oleyelogun.

The speaker stated in the letter that the setting up of the panel to investigate Ajayi was in line with section 188 (5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

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In the letter to the CJ which was signed by the speaker, it was resolved by the Ondo State Assembly that the allegations against Ajayi be investigated forthwith.

Ondo State Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi

The letter read in part, “By the Resolution of the House today (Thursday) pursuant to Section 188 (3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, it was resolved that the allegations be investigated forthwith.

“It is in line with the above that request that you set up a seven-man panel to conduct the investigation as resolved by the Honourable House and the panel shall, as soon as possible, report back to the House,” it added.


#Newsworthy…

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Sen. Suswan reveal why NASS halt tariff increment

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Senator Gabriel Suswan (PDP-Benue) says the National Assembly has directed the Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) not to increase electricity tariff because of the current economic challenges occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic across the country.

Suswan, Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, made the disclosure in an interview in Abuja on Thursday.

He said that the increase in the tariff had to stop for now even when it was obvious that an increase, given the provision of necessary distribution infrastructure in the electricity market, would help the sector to be solvent.

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Suswan noted that an increase in electricity tariff in this period would worsen the economic hardship faced by Nigerians, hence the intervention of the National Assembly to prevail on the DisCos to suspend the increase until the first quarter of 2021.

“Under a normal situation, an increase in tariff increase will help the operators to meet their remittances 100 per cent, and the government will not need to subsidize.

“Now governments all over the globe are giving palliatives to their citizens; in America, for instance, most of the people who fought for palliatives for not being employed receive some stipends weekly.

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“Now, here we have people who are unable to feed family because of the COVID-19 pandemic and DisCos is saying it will increase tariff at the same time; we are saying yes, reflective cost tariff is the way to go because we need the sector to be solvent, but the timing is not auspicious.

He also explained that the government had also reduced the petrol pump price because it did not want to increase the burden on Nigerians, observing that it would not make sense if DisCos increased electricity tariff.

“In the interim, the government will continue to subsidize petrol pump prices because that is the responsibility of the government, no government will want a situation where their citizens would be overburdened with prices of goods.

“So, that was why we stepped in and good enough with the decision we took, the president has agreed with us and said they should not activate the increase until certain things are in place,” he explained.`


#Newsworthy…

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DisCos agree with NASS to halt tariff increase.

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The leadership of the National Assembly on Monday succeeded in persuading the electricity distribution companies (DisCos) to defer the planned tariff hike till the first quarter of 2021.

The Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media and Publicity, Ola Awoniyi, who disclosed this in a statement, said the NASS leadership would meet President Muhammadu Buhari later on the matter.

Many of the electricity distribution companies had announced last week that the implementation of the new tariff regime would begin on July 1.

The Ikeja Electricity had said in a statement issued by its Head of Corporate Communications, Mr. Felix Ofulue, that the new tariffs, which are service reflective, are end-user rates to be paid for electricity based on the level of service.

Monday’s meeting between the NASS leadership and the electricity distribution companies was attended by the Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and other principal officers of the parliament.

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Also at the meeting were the chief executives of the electricity regulatory agencies and the DisCos.

The statement read: “The National Assembly leaders were emphatic at the meeting that the timing of the planned hike was wrong even though there is the need to introduce cost-reflective tariffs for the power sector to attract the much-needed investment.

“In the course of the meeting, the DisCos too admitted that they were not well prepared for the planned hike in tariffs even though they so much desired the increase.

“The meeting agreed to defer the planned hike till the first quarter of next year while the leadership of the National Assembly promised to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on the issue.”


#Newsworthy…

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VAT revenue increases to N339B in first quater


The federal government has generated additional N30.46 billion in the first quarter of the year (Q1 2020) based on the hike in Value Added Tax (VAT) from five per cent to 7.5 per cent that became effective from February 1, according to data released yesterday by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The NBS figures were released just as the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, met with the National Assembly leadership in Abuja yesterday to discuss the proposed cut in the 2020 Budget.

The cut, which amounted to N71.5 billion, was subject of economic analysts’ conversation with Media last night as many of them saying the reduction should reflect the country’s economic realities.

With the extra cash, VAT receipts closed at N338.94 billion in the first quarter of the year, from N308.48 billion in Q4 2019.

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The improved performance represented a 9.87 per cent increase in value quarter-on-quarter.

It also represented a 15.66 per cent rise (year-on-year), when compared to the N293.04 billion realised in Q1 2019.

According to the sectoral distribution of VAT data for Q1 2020, which was published by the statistical agency, professional services generated the highest amount of VAT with N38.30 billion and closely followed by manufacturing that generated N37.37 billion.

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Commercial and trading generated N17.19 billion while mining recorded the least amount of N61.83 million.

Textile and garment industry and local government councils recorded N306.05 million and N319.04 million respectively.


#Newsworthy…

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Just in: NASS meet with finance minister over 2020 budget amendment. [Nigeria]


The Leadership of the National Assembly on Thursday met with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to be briefed by the latter on the plan by the Federal Government to amend the N10.59 trillion 2020 budget passed by the National Assembly in December last year.

The meeting which had in attendance principal officers from both chambers was presided over by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

The Senate President, in his welcome address, told the Executive arm of Government to ensure that the interest of Nigerians remains protected in the proposed cut to the 2020 national budget.

Lawan also expressed the willingness of the Federal lawmakers to expeditiously consider the proposed amendment to the 2020 budget which the Minister said would be presented to the National Assembly by next week.

“The budget amendment is very important, but I believe that when we are faced with this kind of challenge (COVID-19 pandemic), it is an emergency and we should do everything and anything possible to fast track the passage and implementation of the government intervention that is so critical and crucial at this stage.

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“I believe that we shouldn’t delay it any longer. Next week, and I will suggest the early part of next week, we should have that document(MTEF) ready so that we can consider it alongside the budget. It is supposed to be the tonic of what Nigerians are waiting for.

“We have listened to the various adjustments you have made to avoid going into recession. However, to avoid going into a deeper recession, I think we need to do a little bit much more.

“After this meeting with the leadership, I suggest that you engage with our relevant committees in the Senate and House of Representatives to look at the nitty-gritty that would be considered more in detail at the presentation level.

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“On the whole, let me assure you that the National Assembly and Executive arm are on the same page, and that is to say that we will work to ensure that we have a budget 2020 amendment that will address the needs of the people of this country.

“One thing is that the net public expenditure must be targeted at net maximum performance for the benefit of the people of this country.

“In other words, we must come up with an amended budget that is operable and favorable to Nigerians,” Lawan said.

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In his remarks, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, called on the Federal Government to adopt a feasible benchmark in the proposed amendment to the 2020 budget.

“The benchmark is so critical and so important because once you passed the law, it becomes difficult to adjust that benchmark, and then what happens to the excess?

“We have always had problems with the Excess Crude Account, potentially an account which has no backing of the law. So, let’s even assume that the price remains static at $35, which means we have $10 going to the Excess Crude Account which we have no control over in terms of spending, that is why we guard that benchmark price very jealously.

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“Is there a possibility of having a provisio built-in in the budget…So that there can be an automatic kick in if the benchmark price goes beyond $26 or $27. We want you to explore that possibility.

“So, I think you should study the market and see what happens next week by the time you present the adjusted budget,” Gbajabiamila said.

Speaking on Nigeria’s debt profile, the Speaker said, “I would also want to address the issue of our deficit and tie it with the issue of debt relief. I’m not sure I heard any presentation on how much we owe and how much we are paying back in this budget.

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“The reason I asked is that at the moment, I believe, for want of a better word, some of our creditors are very vulnerable right now. And depending on how you package your case, I believe they should be the ones coming to beg you to take debt relief, if not outright cancellation.”

Earlier, the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, while briefing the leadership of the National Assembly said, “the US$57 crude oil price benchmark approved in the 2020 budget is no longer sustainable.”

The minister said further that: “it is necessary to reallocate resources in the 2020 budget, to ensure the effective implementation of required emergency measures, and mitigate the negative socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Ahmed stated that in line with the global economic outlook and relevant domestic considerations, the assumptions underpinning the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the 2020 Budget was revised to slash crude oil benchmark price from US$57 per barrel to US$25 per barrel; reduce crude oil production benchmark from 2.18 million barrels per day to 1.9 mbpd.

She added that the federal government also adjusted the budget exchange rate to N360/US$1; and reduced the upfront fiscal deductions by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for mandated Oil and Gas sector expenditures by 65 percent from N1.223 trillion to N424 billion.

She disclosed that the amount available for funding the 2020 Budget is now estimated at N5.548 trillion, down from N8.419 trillion, a revised revenue estimate which is 34 percent (N2.87 trillion) lower than what was initially approved.

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Federal Government’s aggregate expenditure budget was slashed by N88.412 billion; Statutory Transfer from N560.47 billion to N397.87 billion; and Overhead costs of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government from N302.43 billion to N240.91 billion.

Debt Service provision was, however, increased from N2.453 trillion to N2.678 trillion.

On Provision of N500 billion for COVID-19 Intervention Fund, the Finance Minister in her presentation explained that N263.63 billion will be sourced from Federal Government Special Accounts, N186.37 billion from Federation Special Accounts and the balance of N50 billion expected as grants and donations.

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According to her, “the sum of N186.37 billion will be applied toward COVID-19 interventions across the federation, while an additional N213.60 billion was provided in the Service Wide Votes for COVID-19 Crisis Intervention recurrent expenditures.”

She disclosed that while a total of N100.03 billion was provisioned in the Intervention Fund for new capital spending, the Federal Government carried out a cut in capital expenditures for Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government from N1.564 trillion to N1.262 trillion.


#Newsworthy..

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Senate approve Buhari’s N850bn loan request, PDP react. [NIGERIA]

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on the National Assembly to ensure the prudent use of the N850 billion loan it approved for the Federal Government on Tuesday.

Recall that the Senate on Tuesday approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for N850 billion loan from the Capital Market to finance projects in the 2020 budget.

It further mandated its Committees on Finance and Appropriation to liaise with the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmad for details of the loan.

Reacting, the party in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in Abuja, also advised the presiding officers of the Senate to ensure prompt repayment of the loan.

Ologbondiyan expressed concerns over what he described as hasty approval of the N850 billion loan as requested by President Muhammadu Buhari.

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He said that the party was concerned that in spite of the huge natural and human resources at the disposal of the country, the government was still accumulating loans, without repayment plans.

Ologbondiyan also expressed worry over the transparency and management of the country’s loans.

“The PDP, therefore, charges the Senate Presiding officers to note that in approving this loan, the nation holds them responsible to ensure strict oversight monitoring of the handling of the money.

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“This is especially as it is being sourced from the capital market, which hosts investments by private individuals and firms.

“The Senate must ensure judicious use of the funds as well as prompt repayment.

“This is because our nation cannot afford any default, as such is capable of crippling the capital market and worsening the economic hardship already being faced by Nigerians,” he said.

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Ologbondiyan advised the Federal Government to articulate innovative ways to create wealth and plug wastes, instead of resorting to borrowing.

He said what was expected of the government at a time such as this was to immediately cut on luxury.

The PDP spokesperson also advised the government to slash the number of presidential appointees, cut down huge allowances and maintain a lean budget that would centre on health, research and growth of the economy among other critical needs.

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“The PDP, therefore, urges all stakeholders, particularly fiscal transparency groups, the Nigeria Corporate World and management of the capital market to protect Nigerians by closely monitoring the performance of the loan.

“This is to guarantee effective management and prompt repayment,” Ologbondiya added.


#Newsworthy...

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Senate approve Buhari’s new loan request for this reason. [Nigeria]

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The Nigerian senate, on Tuesday afternoon, approved a fresh N850 billion naira loan request made by President Muhammadu Buhari.

NobleReporters learnt that the senate gave accelerated approval to the request as its no longer news that the Nigerian economy has been taking huge hits as Oil prices plummetted worldwide amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.

President Buhari will now be able to request for a fresh loan of N850 billion from the domestic capital market, although the senate mandated its committees on finance, appropriation, Domestic and Foreign Debt and National Planning to liaise with the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed to get more information on the loan request.

Investigations show that the loan is necessary in order to funds to finance projects in the 2020 budget. The approval was issued by the senate after Senate president, Ahmed Lawan read out a letter from the president to senators during plenary on Tuesday.

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The legislative arm of government comprising of the senate and the house of representatives resumed today after being shut dor 36 days due to the Coronavirus Pandemic currently sweeping through the country.

NobleReporters sensed that senators had masks on and complied with the social distancing directive needed to prevent the spread of the virus.


#Newsworthy…

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NASS approve Buhari’s N850bn loan amid lockdown resumption.

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Nigerian President, Muhammed Buhari’s request to the Senate to secure a fresh loan of N850 billion to fund some projects in the 2020 budget has been approved.

He made the request in a letter read by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, on Tuesday on the floor of the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

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According to the letter, President Buhari seeks to raise the loan from the domestic capital market to ensure adequate funds to finance projects in the budget.

After the letter was read, the lawmakers gave accelerated approval to the President’s request to raise the loan.


#Newsworthy…

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