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No Subsidy Removal Now – Kachukwu

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L-R: Former Minister of State for Science and Technology, Alhaji Abdulahi Ibrahim, former Minister of Science and Technology, Mrs Pauline Tallen, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu and former Minister of Science and Technology, retired Maj.-Gen. Sam Momah, during the meeting of the Minister of Science and Technology and the Permanent Secretary with former Ministers of Science and Technology, in Abuja, yesterday.

L-R: Former Minister of State for Science and Technology, Alhaji Abdulahi Ibrahim, former Minister of Science and Technology, Mrs Pauline Tallen, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu and former Minister of Science and Technology, retired Maj.-Gen. Sam Momah, during the meeting of the Minister of Science and Technology and the Permanent Secretary with former Ministers of Science and Technology, in Abuja, yesterday.

The Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, said the Federal Government would focus on price modulation of petroleum products to ensure efficiency and provision of the products.
Kachikwu said this while addressing newsmen day in Abuja, yesterday.
He said the price modulation had nothing to do with the removal or existence of subsidy.
“There is too much emotion around subsidy issue, but our focus is that the Federal Government should not spend as much as it spends every year on subsidy.
“First, it is an issue of irresponsibility; this year we have spent about one trillion and given the state of the finances, we have to save money from every means.
“What I am trying to do is to make sure that whatever we do, the poor people will not be affected. So whatever we are going to do will be intellectual,’’ he said.
On the way forward, the minister said that the NNPC would review the template of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and achieve reduction in the cost for clearing goods.
According to him, foreign exchange provisions will be looked into, to ensure stability in the system.
He added that efforts were being made to ensure more allocation to the oil industry to ensure certainty in the system.
He said that Nigeria consumed below 40 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) per day, adding that a reduction in smuggled products would put the level of consumption between 35 and 36 million per day.
“If we take this analysis, we can deliver products today with the price of oil where it is and also sell close to the prices we have today.
“It is not that we have removed subsidy but the application of market forces will enable you to sell products as close to the prices we have today.
“Is it going to be between N87 and N90; we will have to get PPPRA to do those templates and at 35 million (litres) we may sell products at N87; by the time we consume 36, we may be selling at N90 or N91,’’ he said.
He said a band had been approved between N87 and N97 to look at price modulation, adding that it would look at price at every given time of crude.
The minister said that the price would no longer be fixed, noting that the price of crude would continue to determine what the price of product would be.
Kaichukwu said that the report that pump price would go back to N97 in 2016 was not true, adding that a band of N87 and N97might be adopted,
“ Today the prices are largely close to N87; there might be no need to change the price by January, and it might go up or come down slightly by April.
“It is all the dynamics of what the crude is; so, I have not put a static figure, myself and PPPRA will sit down and do the calculations and be able to announce what price PMS will sell in January,’’ he said .
The Minister added that there was no anticipation of any major shift in regards to the price of crude.
On the state of the refinery, he said that as at October, the four refineries performed at zero level but noted that in a few days, the Port Harcourt and Kaduna refineries might be able to bring up some production.
He said that the refineries would not be relied on until the state of their maintenance was completed, adding that Federal Government had agreed that it would not sell them at their present state.
“We are going to try and repair them; we are going to find external funding to be able to repair them, and my preference is to find somebody who is a technical partner to invest,’’ he said.
He expressed hope that two of the nation’s refineries would be at the level of completion in 2016, adding that if Port Harcourt reached 60 per cent completion, it would produce an average of five million barrels.
He blamed fall in global oil price, poor contracting, lack of efficiency, funding and even focus to losses in production in the year.
Commenting on the Petroleum Industry Bill, he said it would be split into segments to enable passage by the National Assembly.
He said that the two segments were fiscal and non fiscal segment, adding that a draft on the non fiscal had been received.

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North Can Live Without VAT Accruals, NEF Boasts …Backs Wike, Southern Govs On Fiscal Federalism, Restructuring

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The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has boasted that the North was a rich region, and can survive on its resources without the “billions” accruing to Southern states.
The NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, made this known, yesterday, when he featured on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ breakfast programme.
He was reacting to the tussle between states and the Federal Government on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).
VAT is a consumption tax paid when goods are purchased and services are rendered, and charged at a rate of 7.5 per cent.
Although Rivers and Lagos states have started the process of collecting VAT within their territories, the Court of Appeal, in a ruling on September 10, ordered that status quo be maintained pending the determination of an appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) against the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt.
Apart from Lagos and Rivers states, Ogun State has also started the process of passing a bill on VAT in its House of Assembly.
At the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in Enugu, last Thursday, the 17 governors insisted that they have the constitutional mandate to collect VAT, and vowed to ensure that the rule of law prevails in the matter.
While some northern governors like Aminu Masari (Katsina), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), amongst others, had kicked against the move, the 17 Southern Governors led by Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) had unanimously supported the position that “the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.”
Speaking, yesterday, during the television programme, Baba-Ahmed said, “I will advise that we wait to hear what the court says. However, even the fact that it has become an issue suggests that we really do need to address the fundamentals and the manner in which the federation works.
“We have always supported restructuring. We have always asked that a major and genuine shift initiative either by groups or the National Assembly so that matters like this be addressed properly.
“If we don’t do that now, then, we should get a leader that would do that in 2023. This administration appears not to understand the importance of restructuring; we do in the North, we recognise the fact that we need to change the manner in which we generate wealth and allocate (it).
“The thing is: the North wants restructuring; the North wants fiscal federalism. We are a rich region, and we can live on what we have, even if we don’t have the billions that accrue to others states. Our poverty is not a kind of problem that we would break this country over.”
According to him, the VAT war is a wake-up call to northern governors who need to recognise the fact that VAT or no VAT, they need to develop their resources and develop the human capital of the North.
The NEF spokesman added, “North, you said you have many people but you are under-developing your own people – the biggest liability of the North is that we have a huge population that is under-developed. You need to develop the human capital that you have.
“We need leaders; the current governors don’t recognise this. Otherwise, they won’t be involved in this argument; allow the court to decide.
“But for goodness sake, (they should) begin to think — what else can we do if the court decides now that Rivers State is right, Lagos State is right, and the Southern states are right, and they won’t be getting all these billions coming in from VAT? What happens?”
Baba-Ahmed said the Northern governors at this stage should not be sleeping, noting that the North is “sitting on wealth, we have massive resources in this country, we have to fight insecurity first, and the Federal Government has to help us, we need to clear the bushes, the forests and all the criminals that are there, and we need to go back to farming.
“Agriculture is a major asset; we have land, we have water, we have livestock, we have minerals that are literally begging to be picked from the ground but our governors are too focused on the pittance that they are getting. This is wrong”, he argued.

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Boxing: Joshua Facing Toughest Test In Usyk?

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Boxing champion, Anthony Joshua could face his toughest test yet when he fights Oleksandr Usyk in London on Saturday, says ex-world champion George Groves.
Joshua, 31, puts his WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world heavyweight titles on the line against Usyk, a former undisputed cruiserweight world champion.
The 34-year-old Ukrainian has won all 18 professional fights, beating Tony Bellew and Derek Chisora on that run.
“Technically, Usyk is brilliant,” said Groves . “He showed that in unifying the cruiserweight division in great fights and I believe he could be Joshua’s toughest test to date. This is the first fight when I wouldn’t be surprised if Joshua got beaten.
“Joshua has fought [Wladimir] Klitschko and been in with Joseph Parker and also been beaten [by Andy Ruiz] and the only question mark for Usyk Is he big enough to compete with AJ?
“If Usyk keeps a high pace and makes Joshua miss with a lot of shots, that will work to Usyk’s advantage as he has probably got a better engine.
“Joshua is a phenomenal athlete with tremendous punching power and strength but has a tendency to tire out if the pace is uncomfortable for him.”
A crowd of more than 60,000 is expected and it will be the largest attendance Joshua has fought in front of since his win over Alexander Povetkin with 80,000 at Wembley Stadium in September, 2018.
Since then, Joshua has lost to Ruiz in New York before winning the rematch in Saudi Arabia and gained a ninth-round victory over Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena last December, with only 1,000 fans attending because of Coronavirus restrictions.
Both Joshua and Usyk won gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, at super-heavyweight and heavyweight respectively, with the Briton going on to win 24 of his 25 professional fights, including 22 inside the distance.
Meanwhile, Dillian Whyte, who lost to Joshua in 2015 and is pushing for a rematch with him or a shot at WBC champion, Tyson Fury, believes the key to beating Usyk on Saturday is to adopt an attacking strategy.
“I think it’s a great fight and Joshua will stop him in the first six or seven rounds,” Whyte told Tidesports source.
“Usyk will start fast and Joshua should be cagey as Usyk is a bit lighter. Joshua can sometimes lack confidence but hopefully he goes back to the old him, starts pressing, being the bigger, stronger guy and gets the job done early.
“If Joshua sets the pace, he can get an early knockout and if he is strong, confident and walks him down, then I don’t see Usyk’s punches troubling Joshua.”
Groves, who held the WBA Super-Middleweight belt in 2017 and 2018, added: “If I was Joshua, I would take control of the ring and try to dominate and bully off the front foot.
“Usyk will want to be off the back foot for the first couple of rounds, then try to pepper Joshua.
“If I was in the Joshua camp, I would say: You want to keep this guy in his box. You don’t want Usyk having any confidence, so hit him hard and early.
“In the first three rounds, you want to land something big on him.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn also suggested Joshua could get an early victory.
Hearn said: “I’m always nervous for an Anthony Joshua fight, especially when you’re fighting someone that really believes he is going to win”.

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2022 AFCON: ‘Cameroon On Track’

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The Confederation of African Football (CAF) President, Patrice Motsepe, has said that Cameroon is “on track” to successfully host the Africa Cup of Nations early next year after visiting Olembe Stadium in Yaounde last weekend.
The venue will host the opening match and final of the AFCON in January and February of 2022.
A CAF delegation, including President Motsepe and General Secretary, Veron Mosengo-Omba, were joined by Cameroon’s Sports Minister, Professor Narcisse Mouelle Kombi in inspecting progress made at the Olembe Stadium and various other facilities in the capital city.
“I’m very satisfied with the briefing I got and what I saw. I saw the Olembe Stadium and it is world class; we should all be proud as people of Cameroon and as Africans,” said Motsepe, as quoted by CAF’s website.
“We must applaud Cameroon [for] building such infrastructure. In partnership with the Government, the Minister of Sports, LOC, FECAFOOT President and CAF administration under Veron [Mosengo-Omba], I’m certain that in January next year, the rest of the world will be impressed. I’m very satisfied with what I have seen. We are on track.”
Motsepe continued: “The quality of football that will be played here will once again show the world that Africa has the quality to one day win the FIFA World Cup, that is the ultimate goal. The AFCON is special and I think it is important for us to set the tone in Cameroon.”
Mosengo-Omba also heaped praises on Olembe Stadium: “The infrastructure and architecture of the stadium is world class and can be compared to many other famous stadiums globally. In Cameroon, we have six beautiful match venues. Our job now is to ensure that we are ready with everything else.”

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