Barely a week after the House of Representatives’ Ad-hoc committee, assigned to probe the Petroleum Subsidy Regime submitted its report for consideration by a committee of the whole, the self-styled leader of the Save Nigeria Group, Pastor Tunde Bakare and his ilk are calling for a public protest against perceived complacency on the part of Goodluck Jonathan Presidency. The over-blown claim is that the Federal government harbours a secret agenda and might not implement the House’ decisions.
Like a bad loser who sees nothing good in the government, which the Nigerian electorate forbade his kind, under the aegis of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) to form, Bakare is reported to have openly incited organised labour and the gullible citizenry to prepare and take to the streets, in a planned protest intended to vilify government and if possible, cripple the Nigerian economy. This, we are told is to arm-twist the Federal government into doing their bidding. The ill-timed protest is obviously targeted at some serving ministers whose sack, Bakare and co had repeatedly championed.
Ordinarily, in a democracy like ours, opinions naturally differ, there should be nothing wrong with a disenchanted citizen or groups of people protesting against a given public action or inaction. What is wrong is when such protest is obviously actuated by malice. And more importantly, when it ignores prevailing security implications, especially at a time the nation records one form of terror attack or another.
Let us recall that during the public protest and nationwide strike called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) early this year, to protest the hike in transport fares, on account of the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise called petrol, Bakare’s Save Nigeria Group openly called for ‘Regime Change’ and labeled President Jonathan in the most unsavoury of names – Badluck, Sadist, Anti-people and Inhuman were merely the lightest.
Infact, touts, common criminals and the vengeful political opposition, masquerading as civil/society groups hijacked that protest in an attempt to get through the back-door, the political mandate, which the Nigerian electorate denied them during the last general elections. Labour inadvertently conceded that much, when, calling-off the strike, after successfully pegging the pump price at N97.00 from, well over, N140, through dialogue with government.
In course of the protest, men like Bakare even questioned the authenticity of fuel subsidy claim by government and said it was merely an economic lie, a conduit through which government siphoned scarce resources for its personal aggrandizement. That was in spite of the fact that it was the same government that not only sought subsidy removal but also laid the foundation for probe of the regime, by setting up among others, the appointment of the Nuhu Ribadu Committee to help sanitise the sector.
Even so, spurred by their pre-conceived ends, nothing short of regime-change or at least the sack of both Ministers of Petroleum Resources and of Finance, has been their dream even as they call for implementation of a report that is yet inconclusive.
Not only has the final copy of the Hon. Farouk-Lawan Committee report, partially considered by the House, not gotten to the executive arm, some grey areas still remain unattended to. For instance, even after the presentation of the report to the House and in the middle of debates on the document, the Committee itself sought amendment to its own already submitted work. It concerned reaching conclusions without hearing from all accused persons.
Infact, it took the prevalence of reason and wisdom by some House members for the Committee of the whole to resolve that all those earlier indicted by the report but who were not granted benefit of self defence, be given another opportunity to defend their actions. That meant, some were indeed indicted without fair hearing. Is that the kind of report a reasonable executive arm should be arm-twisted into implementing within two weeks?
Only last month, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) also debunked one of the conclusions reached by the House Committee to the effect that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), received subsidy payments from two sources. The Ad-hoc Committee had in its report of the probe of the subsidy regime between 2009 and 2011 said: “The NNPC might have been withdrawing subsidy claims from two different points and should refund the excess to the Federation Account within 90 days.”
But in a letter addressed to the committee chairman, marked BPS/DIR/GEN/DOL/10/020 and dated April 27, 2012, the CBN denied that it ever paid any money to the NNPC in respect of subsidy claims. The letter which was a response by the apex bank to some observations and recommendations contained in the subsidy report, and signed by the CBN’s Deputy Governor (Operations), Mr Tunde Lemo, said emphatically, “There was no time CBN paid any money to the NNPC in respect of subsidy claim. It is pertinent to note that the NNPC started advising the CBN of the subsidy deductions from October 2009, after the states had complained at various Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meetings of lack of transparency in the management of the subsidy regime.
The CBN further explained that some of the payments received by the NNPC, which the committee had raised questions about, were indeed credits due to the NNPC in respect of its domestic crude allocations. It further said, “Direct deductions by the NNPC as per CBN records between October 2009 and December 2011 show a total figure of N844,944,471.72 before transfers to the FAAC were made.
To be sure, the CBN wrote, “CBN does not make any payment to NNPC on fuel subsidy.
If true, what this simply explains is that not all funds accruing to NNPC were tied to the subsidy fund as suggested by the report. That infact, some are indeed the corporation’s legitimate earnings as a corporate citizen and not multiple payments as the report made Nigerians to believe.
It was in acceptance of this shortcomings also, that the committee corrected itself on the floor of the House, when, it found out that not all companies that allegedly got Forex allocations did so as participants in the subsidy regime or fuel importers. That was also why the Lawan Committee eventually de-listed four firms earlier indicted.
The bottom-line is: the committee assignment is far from conclusive, particularly since all those earlier indicted have now been formally invited to present their various defences.
Beyond that, it is human nature that some individuals charged with the kind of responsibility as the House Committee is saddled with often fall into the temptation of reaching conclusions largely expected by the people and the critical press either to earn instant popularity or a folk-hero status. Could that also explain the Save Nigeria Group’s obvious anxiety to play to the gallery in veiled attempts to appear progressive and masses-friendly?
That is not how true democracy must work. It should instead respect facts as basis for any public protest and not just play to the gallery in a bid to incite the people against their government.
If indeed the Save Nigeria Group hates injustice and corruption and truly wants to institutionalise true Federalism, it should rally Nigerians and Labour to clamour for resource control; afterall that’s the hallmark of our mode of government. As lovers of truth, fairplay, equity and good governance, how many times has the Save Nigeria Group ever considered correcting the kind of lie, Nigeria has lived as a Federation? In which Federation does the centre appropriate resources sourced from the Federating units, rather than merely receiving Federal tax on resources from the units? Or is the group targeting the Goodluck Jonathan presidency?
These self-acclaimed progressives must be reminded that they do not enjoy the monopoly of calling to the streets hungry young men and women for the purpose of festering their hollow political nests. There are many other true believers in fiscal federalism who could march into the streets in larger numbers to demand for resource control, fiscal federalism and equity – a march which the economy can ill-afford.
This is why the House and indeed the Executive Arm must be given ample time to correct the huge mess left behind by successive administrations, the various groups’ faceless sponsors and tin-gods – an attempt no government, before the serving Presidency, ever ventured.
My Agony is that the subsidy report is not the only one. Why are very few clamouring for the implementation of the Orosanya Committee report which also recommended among others, scrapping of EFCC, ICPC and FRSC among others? Because these institutions serve their purpose of vilifying their political opponents for their own cosmic amusement? Or what?
Enough of this flip-flop.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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