President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered the Nigerian National Petrolium Corporation (NNPC) to pay the controversial $1.485billion into the account of Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) for disbursment.
This was disclosed at the monthly FAAC meeting held yesterday in Abuja.
Meanwhile, the sum of N500.130 billion was shared among the three tiers of government for the month of January.
In a statement issued by the technical sub-committee of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), at the meeting, the amount shared represents a short fall of N80.248 billion from N580.378 billion shared in the previous month.
According to the committee, the reduction was due to drop. In crude oil prices from $77.53 million in November to $52.34 million in December, 2014.
Also, the drop was attributed to a 33 per cent decrease in export volume between November and December, 2014, which translated to a loss of $159.88 million.
Of the amount shared, state governments received the lion share of N30.689 billion, representing 50 per cent, while Federal Government and local government councils received 15 and 35 per cent, respectively.
It was stated that additional N4.419 billion payment was made by NNPC with N6.330billion refund to Federal Government purse.
Additionally, the sum of N776 million was also added to the shared money as residual balance, while N63.935 billion was added from Value Added Tax (VAT).
However, the Minister of State for Finance, Ambr. Bashir Yuguda debunked the rumour making rounds that Nigeria is broke, insisting that the economy is resilient and strong as evidenced in all the economic indices.
According to him, the domestic account of the country stands at $19 million, while the excess crude account is $2.60 million.
Bashir, who blamed the current economic challenges on devaluation of naira as occasioned by hostility in the oil market, assured that the situation will soon better as government has decided to cut down travel and expenses.
However, the House of Representatives has for the second time on Wednesday asked the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to submit the full version of the forensic audit report on the alleged missing Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation $20billion to it.
The House gave the first directive on Thursday last week, following a motion moved by its Minority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila.
On Wednesday (yesterday), the House again asked the minister for the report after Gbajabiamila complained that almost one week following the first resolution, Okonjo-Iweala had not responded.
He said, “Mr. Speaker (Emeka Ihedioha, presiding), we request the Clerk of the House to formally write the Minister to produce that report to every member of this House.
“She has not produced the report, irrespective of the standing resolution of this House. We want to have the full report, not the snippets that they have been flying about.”
The House endorsed his submission and directed the minister a second time to comply.
An auditing firm, PriceWaterHouse Coopers, had carried out the forensic investigation on behalf of the Federal Government.
The Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Mr. Solomon Olamilekan, told reporters shortly after the House rose that the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation only presented a “highly-condensed version” of the report to the public.
He recalled that in the condensed version, the NNPC was directed to remit a “minimum of $1.4billion into the Federation Account.”
The lawmaker said that, as the committee overseeing public accounts, PAC was duty-bound to ensure that the minister produced the report.
He ordered Okonjo-Iweala to submit the report not later than one week from Wednesday.
Olamilekan added, “The PAC, cognisant of the provisions of the Constitution (1999), and empowered by the resolution, hereby requests that the full report on the forensic audit by PWC, which must include the initial raft report, the executive summary, management /internal control letters, should be forwarded to the National Assembly not later than one week from today(Wednesday).”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has, in spite of the drop in its oil revenue and dwindling allocations to the three tiers of government, insisted that Nigeria is not broke.
“The country is not broke, we have been meeting our obligations despite the challenges we have had with oil revenue streams but we have been doing the best that we can to improve our revenue from the non-oil sector,” the Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda, said.
Yuguda spoke with journalists after this month’s Federation Accounts Allocation Committee meeting in Abuja on Tuesday night.
The minister who, put the excess crude account at about $2billion, also spoke briefly on the forensic audit report and the amount to be refunded by the NNPC to the federation account.
“I have engaged the minister of petroleum and we have discussed the time frame on the refund of that amount,” he said.
However, the All Progressives Congress Vice-Presidential candidate, Yemi Osinbajo, has said that the biggest problem facing Nigeria is corruption and not dwindling oil prices.
Osinbajo stated this in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on Wednesday during the presentation of APC’s 2015 manifesto on Securing Nigeria’s Future.
He said, “Nigeria problem, as you know, is not lack of resources. The government of today has tried to give the impression that the problem of the country is that of falling oil prices, which is now below $50 per barrel.
“That is not true, that is not the problem. The problem is the corruption or the theft of resources.”
The former Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, added that the Federal Government itself had confirmed that over 400,000 barrels of oil are stolen every day from Nigeria.
He put the value of the stolen oil at N3.1trillion a year.
Declare Buhari’s Seat Vacant, Owuru Urges Court
The candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the last presidential election, Chief Ambrose Owuru, has approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to declare the seat of President Muhammadu Buhari vacant.
Owuru, who was among the four petitioners that went to tribunal to challenge Buhari’s re-election, in his fresh suit, sought for an order to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from “undertaking or planning any other election into the office of the President”, in 2023.
The Plaintiff, in his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/480/2021, maintained that Buhari is “an unlawful President that is illegally occupying the Presidential seat”.
It would be recalled that Owuru and his party, HDP, had in an earlier appeal they litigated up to the Supreme Court, insisted that the Justice Mohammed Garba-led Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, erroneously dismissed a petition they lodged against the return of Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the presidential election that held on February 23, 2019.
They specifically prayed the apex court to sack Buhari on the premise that he emerged through an illegal process.
According to the Appellants, INEC, failed to follow condition precedents stipulated in the Electoral Act, when it unduly postponed the presidential election that was originally fixed for February 16.
The HDP claimed that its candidate, Owuru, secured over 50million votes in a referendum that was conducted by both electorates and observer networks that were dissatisfied with the unilateral postponement of the presidential election by INEC.
However, in a unanimous decision, a five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Odili, struck out the appeal for constituting “a gross abuse of the judicial process”.
Meantime, in the fresh suit, Owuru and his party argued that their suit against Buhari at the Supreme Court was inconclusive.
The Plaintiffs argued that the case was fixed outside the 60 days period that was allowed by the law.
Owuru asked the court to declare him the authentic winner of the last presidential poll, as well as, to issue an order for his immediate inauguration to take over from Buhari.
He prayed the court to declare that he is entitled to serve out a tenure of 4 years after his formal inauguration.
More so, the HDP presidential candidate, aside from asking for Buhari’s immediate removal from office, equally prayed the court to compel him to refund all salaries, allowances and emoluments he collected while he unlawfully stayed in office as President.
Owuru also asked the court to give an order that salaries, allowances and emoluments be paid to him from May 29, 2019, when he ought to have been sworn in, till date.
The Plaintiff further applied for, “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Respondents by themselves and acting through their agents, servants, privies and or proxies howsoever from any further organizing, undertaking or planning of any other election into the office of the President of Nigeria or any such other Presidential Election interfering, harassing and or disturbing the Applicant adjudged acquired right as unopposed and unchallenged winner of the original scheduled and held the February 16 Presidential Election thereof until the 1st Applicant unserved constitutional four years term of office is served pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit by this honourable court”.
Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the matter were Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation, and INEC.
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the matter to be heard.
World Bank Report Exposes Buhari’s Lies, PDP Affirms
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the report by World Bank that 7 million Nigerians have been pushed into poverty in the last year, has clinically belied the integrity posturing of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The opposition party said the World Bank report came in the face of the recent claims by President Buhari that his administration has lifted over 10 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years.
The PDP asserted that the report by the World Bank has further vindicated its position that President Buhari runs an uncoordinated and clueless administration that thrives on lies, false performance claims, deceit, and perfidious propaganda.
The statement added that, “Nigerians can now clearly see why the APC and President Buhari’s handlers are always in a frenzy to attack our party and other well-meaning Nigerians whenever we point to the poor handling of the economy and on the need for President Buhari to always be factual on pertinent issues of governance in our country.
“Unfortunately, it indeed appears that Mr. President enjoys living in denial while watching millions of Nigerians go down in abject poverty, excruciating hunger, and starvation as our country now ranks 98th out of 107 in Global Hunger Index under his watch.
“Otherwise, why would Mr. President claim that his administration has lifted over 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty while official figures even from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show worsening poverty rate with 142.2% growth in food inflation and over 82.9 million Nigerians being unable to afford their daily meals due to the failure of the administration to take practical steps to grow and protect the food sector?
“Under President Buhari, Nigerians are now subjected to the worst form of poverty and hardship, with collapsed purchasing power, occasioned by a voodoo economy management that has wrecked our productive sectors and pummeled our naira from the about N167 to a US dollar in 2015 to the current over N500 per dollar.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. President will choose to always bandy fictitious figures and false performance claims, when he has, in a space of six years, destroyed our national productivity and reduced our country to a beggarly nation, a laughing stock and object of pity among the comity of nations.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note President Buhari and APC’s similar false performance claims in other critical sectors, including power, transportation, road infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, security, aviation among others, where the Buhari administration has been bandying fictitious figures with no tangible project to point at.
“Our party counsels President Buhari, his handlers as well as their party, the APC, to note that Nigerians have seen through their deceitful clams.
“The PDP, once again, urges Mr. President to end his false performance claims and get more competent hands to manage the economy before every Nigerian is turned into a street beggar.”
Amnesty Kicks As FG Pushes Social Media Regulation
Amnesty International has strongly opposed the call by the Nigerian Government to regulate the use of social media and online broadcasters.
It would be recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had urged the House of Representatives to include regulation of Twitter in the National Broadcasting Commission Act.
The minister made the call at the public hearing on a bill to amend the NBC Act organised by the House Committee on Information.
“I will want to add, that specifically, internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have responsibility to monitor content— including Twitter,” he said.
Reacting, Amnesty International, in a tweet via its Twitter account, yesterday, kicked against the motion.
It noted that when social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the internet and limit access to social media.
It further noted that criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“When social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the Internet and limit access to social media.
“Criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“Regulating social media in Nigeria could be easily abused to punish critics of government policies and actions, and anyone who asks difficult questions could find themselves liable for ‘diminishing public confidence in the government.’
“Seeking a law to prohibit abusive, threatening and insulting behaviour is open to very wide interpretation. This section would pose a threat to critical opinion, satire, public dialogue and political commentary,” the statement added.
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