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FG Uncovers N450bn Surplus …After 33 Agencies’ Audit

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The Federal Government is set to recover about N450 billion operating surpluses that were not returned by 33 agencies from 2010 to 2015.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, made the announcement, yesterday, in Abuja at a news conference.

She said that an audit had been carried out on the agencies in compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), 2007.

The minister that a recovery committee headed by the Accountant General of the Federation had been set up to recover the money from the agencies.

Adeosun noted, however, that some of the agencies had started returning various sums, saying that N640 million had been received from the Nigeria Shippers Council.

“The total independent revenue generated between January and October, 2016 was N272.03 billion but there is a projected increase to N811.03 billion as we recover amounts owed.’’

She said that the audit revealed that there was a lot of non-remittances and under-remittances of operating surpluses and that some agencies were operating without an approved budget.

The minister added that there was overstating of budget and spending above budgeted amount, failure to reconcile accounts and existence of irreconcilable differences.

“The audit also showed that there was under-reporting of revenues, failure to submit audited financial statements, payroll fraud and exaggeration of payroll costs, over-payment of staff salaries and abuse of personnel grants.’’

She said that while there was unapproved monetisation of medical and other allowances, there was also non-compliance with the PPA and failure to convert to IPSAS accounting.

IPSAS stands for International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS).

According to her, some of the agencies affected are the Nigerian Communications Commission, Nigerian Ports Authority and Corporate Affairs Commission.

Others are the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Nigerian Export-Import Bank, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and National Open University of Nigeria.

Also affected are the Nigerian Railway Corporation, West African Examination Council, Joint Administrations and Matriculation Board and the National Hospital, Abuja, among others.

Adeosun said that some of the audit reports had been sent to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

“The financial regulations are very clear, where audit reports have indicted some of the officers, some of these audit reports are going to the EFCC.

“Some of the audit findings were so serious that the decision was taken that some of those particular reports must go to the EFCC.

“Remember that we are not a prosecuting agency, ours is to investigate and then we hand it over to the relevant agencies.’’

The minister said that the agencies that defaulted had been asked to come up with their repayment proposals to see how they could be made to repay the money.

“We know that in some cases that money would have already been spent so they will now give us a proposal of how they are going to repay but the money has to be paid.

“We are also looking at their Treasury Single Account (TSA) to understand how much money they actually have because in some cases these surpluses are in their accounts.

“Our plan is not to grind to a halt the activities of any agency but to institute fiscal discipline in all the agencies,’’ the minister stated.

Adeosun also said that a circular was issued on November 22, requesting submission of estimates of revenues and expenses for the next three financial years.

Other documents that were requested are the annual budget which must be IPSAS compliant and projected operating surpluses for review and approval.

According to her, a review team has also been set up to evaluate submitted estimates before budget submission to the National Assembly.

She said that failure to comply with the provision of the FRA to review and approve their budgets as advised would be restricted to payment of salaries only until the budget was regularised.

“We have the National Assembly’s support that if an agency does not have its budget approved; it really has no business spending.

“It is wrong for an agency to operate without a budget. It is public money and that means that the agency can do literally anything it wants and that is wrong.

“It is for those agencies who know that they do not want to be in the situation where they can only pay salaries to do the right thing, everybody knows the rule.’’

She said further that a circular on the inclusion of 92 additional corporations, agencies and government owned companies to the schedule of the Act had also been issued.

According to the minister, the exercise is an ongoing process and all agencies will eventually be audited.

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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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