The Forum of Commissioners of Finance from the 36 states of the federation yesterday, in Abuja, passed a resolution for the removal of fuel subsidy.
The Chairman of the forum, Mr. Timothy Odah, told journalists shortly after this month’s Federation Account Allocation Committee’s meeting, that the resolution was passed following irregularities observed in the fuel subsidy regime.
The forum passed the resolution just as fuel scarcity that started two weeks ago across the nation, persisted in the Federal Capital Territory and in most state capitals, with many motorists queuing at filling stations.
The FAAC meeting, which was chaired by the Accountant -General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla, was convened to consider and approve statutory allocations for February.
Odah, who is also the commissioner of finance representing Ebonyi State at FAAC, said the resolution would be sent to the Nigerian Governors’ Forum for transmission to President Goodluck Jonathan.
He described the payment of fuel subsidy as a scam against some states, especially the less industrialised ones as it had made “the rich to becoming richer while the poor are become poorer.”
He argued that if Nigerians had not protested against the removal of fuel subsidy in January 2012, most states would have experienced significant level of development.
The Federal Government has a budget of N971.1billion for fuel subsidy payment for the 2014 fiscal year, same as in 2013.
Odah, said, “We looked at subsidy on oil as more or less a solution worse than the problem it is meant to solve.
“Looking at it presently, you will discover that it is not solving the problem which it is meant to solve. In the first place, the NLC (Nigeria Labour Congress) and the majority of the Nigerian populace appear to have been deceived into clamouring for subsidy.
“It’s a system that robs Peter to pay Paul by making the rich to grow richer and the poor to go poorer.
However, the Senate Committee on Finance has given the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) two weeks to submit certification details of subsidy for kerosene and petrol from July 2013 to December 2013.
The committee is investigating the alleged non-remittance of $20billion to the Federation Account by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The PPPRA management had earlier requested for three weeks to enable it collate all details on the certification of subsidy for kerosene and fuel for six months.
The committee, however, turned down the request and granted the agency only two weeks to furnish it with the necessary documents to enhance its probe into the allegations.
The Chairman of the committee, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi, said the committee was expecting the report of the independent consultants it appointed to conduct forensic examination and audit of expenses incurred by NNPC.
Makarfi said that the Auditor-General of the Federation had written to the committee confirming he had commenced forensic checks on the alleged unremitted funds.
He said the Auditor-General had also assured the committee that the result of the forensic check, expected to cover all areas of concerns, would be made available to the committee.
Makarfi said the auditor-general had also written to the committee confirming that he would conduct forensic checks.
He added that the auditor-general assured the committee that the forensic check would be comprehensive and would cover all the areas of concern.
The chairman quoted the auditor-general as saying that the report of the forensic check would be sent to the committee.
He said that the committee would conclude its work and present its report to the Senate after it received the reports of the independent forensic auditors and the final certification from PPPRA.
The chairman said that the committee would not hesitate to invite any of the agencies for clarification during the course of the technical session to consider the submissions before arriving on specific decision.
But NNPC Group Managing Director, Mr Andrew Yakubu, insisted that there were no missing funds.
Yakubu said that it was wrong for anybody to claim that funds were not remitted to the Federation Account.
Yakubu told the committee that the ongoing investigations would enable the NNPC to give explanations that would help to clear the negative perception about the oil and gas industry.
He added that in the course of the investigations, the corporation was able to present a detailed breakdown of all the remittances it made to the Federation Account.
The NNPC boss said that the corporation was determined to present to the Senate a detailed analysis of the various streams of funds that belonged to all the key players in the petroleum business arrangement.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government, states and local governments yesterday shared N641.2billion from the Federation Account for February.
The Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Jonah Otunla, made the disclosure in Abuja when he addressed newsmen on the outcome of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting.
“The distributable statutory revenue for the month is N531.332billion, which is N27.647billion more than the N503.685billion that was shared for the month of January.
“Also distributed is the sum of N7.617billion refunded by the NNPC to be shared to states and local governments. In addition, the sum of N35.549billion is proposed for distribution under the SURE-P Programme.
“So the total revenue distributable for the current month, including Value Added Tax (VAT) of N66.801billion is N641.299billion,’’ he said.
A breakdown of the distribution showed that the Federal Government received N247.533billion, representing 52.68 per cent; states, N125.552billion, representing 26.72 per cent, while local governments received N96.795billion, amounting to 20.60 per cent.
Otunla added that N56.384billion, representing 13 per cent derivation revenue was shared among the oil producing states.
On VAT, the AGF said that the gross revenue collected in February was N66.801billion as against N82.277billion distributed in January representing a decrease of N15.476billion.
He said that the mineral revenue collected for February was N569.136billion, more than the N439.562billion realised in January making a different of N129.574billion.
He stated that non-mineral revenue collected during the period under review was N97.609billion.
The figure he added showed reduction of N3.699billion from the N101.308billion that was collected in January.
Otunla said that N135.413billion was transferred to the nation’s Excess Crude Account (ECA), thereby bringing the total in the account of ECA to $3.456billion.
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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