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Nigeria @ 57: What The People Say

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Exactly 57 years ago, the colonial rule of the Great Britain in Nigeria came to an end after years of struggle by some of our past heroes.
As always, today October 1, the country marks the anniversary of the great event.
But how has the country fared in these past 57 years? What can the citizens say about Nigeria at 57? Our Deputy Editor (Features), Calista Ezeaku sought answers to these questions from some Port Harcourt residents.
Excerpt:

Barr Emeka Onyeka: It is really good we are celebrating. It is really good we’ve come this far, but it is not yet an Eldorado. I think it calls for more of sober reflection than bonfire in the sense that it is really a good time for us to do a stock keeping, checking ourselves from 1960 till date, so far, how far? What have we done? What have we achieved? Are we making progress? Are we actually on a steady decline?
So for me, it’s neither here nor there.
Sincerely,  I don’t think this is a time to merry, given the present condition of the country. What really calls for rolling out of the drum is the happy mood of the people. When a greater number of the people are hungry, what are we rolling out the drum for? By doing so you will be irritating them. You will be angering them and if you don’t take time, the anger might translate to action. I think what we need to do is for us to check ourselves, look at our people, which is the primary responsibility of the leaders and know wether the leaders have actually been fair to the citizens.
There are so many things that we have not gotten right in the past 57 years. The first one is fairness. Sincerely, people are not treated fairly.  I believe strongly that people should be treated fairly. Our resources should be distributed fairly. You know that fairness is justice. Appointment of individuals or groups to government positions should be done fairly to reflect the true federalism that we claim to have in practice. A situation where you see people in leadership acting with some sectional colouration, does not augur well for the nation.
Going forward,  for me I think it is a wonderful opportunity that we are one. I strongly believe that we should remain one. Being one is of great advantage.The greater advantage is there when everybody is treated fairly.
What I recommend is this, irrespective of where the president or  even the governor comes from, he should see every citizen of the nation or his state as one and the same and treat them as their children.  When you start treating some of the children as outsiders, naturally, you can never be fair to them. The President and the Governors should treat their subjects better than they are doing at the moment.
The strike and agitations that have been going on in the country for sometime now are anger in action. They are anger demonstrated, animosity displayed. People are not happy for one thing or the other.
You see a situation where those at the federal level are spending money as if others simply escorted them to the nation,  without having any stake in the nation called Nigeria. I mean it is annoying! Every person feels so bad. The workers are not paid adequately, and those who are elected to serve us are taking all and at the end of the day, we are all going to the same market. So how do you think the workers will feel? Naturally they will feel bad. The resources are not fairly distributed. Naturally the people, especially those from whose areas the resources are being generated, will feel bad.
So as a person, I strongly support restructuring. True federalism is what will make people sit up.

Mr Monday Johnson – Driver:
What I can say about Nigeria at 57 is that things are not moving on well in the country.  There is bad leadership.  Just look at the roads we ply here in Rivers State,  they are bad . The  East/West road is very bad. There is hardship every where.
Our hope is that with the Independence day celebration, there should be some positive changes.
We will be very happy if they can fix the roads and make life better for us.  Government should invest  in the education sector and also the health sector so that the poor people will have reasons to rejoice.

Miss Mercy Kaneh- Young School Leaver:
Nigeria today is a very difficult place to live in. Cost of living is so high, business is not flurishing. I help my elder sister with her business and I know how hard it is for her to sell her goods and even make profit. Look at me, I’m supposed to be in a higher institution but because of economic  hardship I couldn’t go. So we want a change in this country.  I want better leadership that will make things easy for the people.

Mr Franklyn Obiene –  Public Servant/ Youth Leader:
There are many good reasons why we should celebrate Nigeria at 57. Because it is Nigeria’s birthday, because we are alive, because we are a united country, we should celebrate. But the growing insecurity in the country is a big concern. People are no longer free to move around because of fear of the police, militants or political party fanatics. In other parts of the country, we have the IPOB challenge, the boko haram and other agitating groups. All these create tension in the country and make people feel unsafe.
So let government think of measures to tackle the problem of insecurity and what is making people to agitate. Let our leaders lead us well and then the people will follow.
They said, they are fighting corruption abi? Let them do it without fear or favour. Any corrupt person, no matter how highly placed, should be fished out and brought to book. Let government at various levels empower the youth.  It is said that the future of any country is in the youth but I don’t see any attention being given to these future leaders.
Every administration that comes on board will tell you they will do this and that for the youth but at the end of the day, nothing is done. The situation still remains the same. Let them empower the youth, please.

Mr Salisu Musa – Businessman:
We thank God for keeping us alive to celebrate Nigeria at 57.  For me, l like as the country is now. The fighting has reduced. The tribalism issues are coming down. In Rivers State here, our roads are better. As Federal Government dey fight corruption, l like am. Government should create job opportunities for the people.
Many companies are laying off their staff, that  is not good. Government should build industries that will employ the jobless people. They should equip public hospitals.  Before now, they use to give us free drugs at the hospitals. Today, there is nothing like that anymore.

Mrs Ngozi Amadi – Teacher:

The country has come a long way. Struggling with challenges ranging from insurgency, militancy, Ebola, corruption and others.
A country where leaders have emerged with the sole motive of enriching their pockets and saving for their generations unborn. Being the most populous country in Africa coupled with the instigations from outside and within the continent, to mention but a few.
Regardless of these numerous challenges, Nigeria has remained integrated. Nigeria is a great country, I am proud to be a Nigerian. My advice to fellow Nigerians is to come together and let’s fight all appearances of corruption at all levels and make this country an envy to the rest of the world.

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Fuel Subsidy To Gulp N450bn In 2020 – Minister

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The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, says under-recovery of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly referred to as fuel subsidy will gulp N450 billion in 2020.
She said this on Monday in Abuja, at the public presentation of the 2020 budget proposals.
Ahmed said it was called ‘under-recovery’ because it was the cost of operation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
“We have a provision for under-recovery of PMS in the sum of N450 billion. If you look at the Budget office website, it is in the fiscal framework, which is an annexure to the budget,” she stated.
President Muhammadu Buhari had last Tuesday, presented a budget proposal of N10.33 trillion to a joint session of the National Assembly.
He put the Federal Government’s estimated revenue in 2020 at N8.155 trillion, comprising oil revenue of N2.64 trillion, non-oil tax revenues of N1.81 trillion and other revenue of N3.7 trillion.
Other estimates are N556.7 billion for statutory transfers, N2.45 trillion for debt servicing and provision of N296 billion as sinking fund.
The 2020 budget is based on an oil production estimate of 2.18 million barrels per day, oil price benchmark of 57 dollars per barrel and an exchange rate of N305 to a dollar.
Ahmed said that recurrent (non-debt) spending was expected to rise by 11.28 per cent, from N4.39 trillion in 2019 to N4.88 trillion in 2020.
This, she said, would reflect in salaries and pensions, including provisions for implementation of the new minimum wage.
Ahmed said that the overall budget deficit of N2.17 trillion represents 1.52 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and N1.64 trillion of it would be funded by both domestic and external borrowing.
According to her, the external sources will provide N850 billion, while domestic sources will provide N744.99 billion.
Citing the top 12 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) capital allocations, she said the Ministry of Works and Housing was allocated N259.2 billion, Ministry of Power N127.67 billion, Ministry of Transportation N123.07 billion, Ministry of Education (including Universal Basic Education Commission) N162.74 billion.
Others are Ministry of Defence N99.87 billion, Ministry of Health N90.98 billion, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development N79.79 billion and Ministry of Water Resources N78.34 billion.
Some others are: Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development N45.45 billion, Ministry of Aviation N53.85 billion, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment N41.34 billion and Ministry of Science and Technology N37.55 billion.
She, however, said that there were key expenditures captured in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), but were not in the 2020 budget.
“They are N61 billion for the Presidential Power Initiative, N1.22 trillion for federally funded projects in the oil and gas sector to be undertaken by NNPC on behalf of the federation.
“Others are: N272 billion as transfers to Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) for infrastructure projects in tertiary institutions and N82.35 billion as transfer to Nigeria Sovereign Wealth Investment (NSIA) for Public Private Partnership/Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF),” she said.
For revenue, Ahmed said there were Strategic Revenue Growth Initiatives (SRGI) aimed at boosting revenue generation to meet targeted revenue to GDP ratio of 15 per cent.
She said further that the SRGI would be implemented with increased vigour to improve revenue collection and expenditure management.

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FG Insists On VAT Increment, Gives Reasons

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The Federal Government, has insisted that Value Added Tax (VAT) has to increase.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said this while noting that the nation will not be able to reach 80 per cent revenue performance for 2019.
Ahmed at the public presentation of the 2020 budget proposals, said that as at half year, the actual aggregate revenue for 2019 was N2.04 trillion, which was 58 per cent of the prorate target.
Ahmed said of the figure, oil revenue accounted for N900 billion, Company Income Tax (CIT) N349.11 billion, Value Added Tax (VAT) N81.36 billion and Customs Collections N184.10 billion.
“As to whether we will reach the N8.33 trillion at the end of 2019 is very unlikely and that is why we have to make special efforts to boost revenue performance.”
“It is clear that we can not reach even 80 per cent and that is why we have to do several things to make sure that revenue performance is enhanced.
“Releases did not start until late July and as at last week we had scheduled and releases are now up to N650 billion.”
According to the Minister, N294.63 billion was released for capital expenditure as at the end of September, but the target is to be able to reach N900 billion by the end of December 2019.
Ahmed said that of the total appropriation of N8.92 trillion, N3.39 trillion had been spent by June 30, as against the prorated expenditure budget of N4.58 trillion, representing 76 per cent performance.
The Tide reports that the 2019 Appropriation Bill was presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on December 19, 2018, but was signed into law on May 27, 2019.
The N8.92 trillion budget had a revenue projection of N6.97 trillion, consisting of oil revenue projected at N3.73 trillion while non-oil revenue was estimated at N1.39 trillion.

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Mining: FG Warns States Against Royalty Payment Evasion

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The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, says the Federal Government will no longer tolerate evasion of royalty payment by states.
The Minister said this yesterday in Abuja while declaring open the 2019 Nigeria Mining Week organised by the Miners’ Association of Nigeria (MAN).
“Under the proposed Mineral Export Guidelines, there would be no room for royalty payment evasion.
“All mineral exports shall be inspected by government appointed independent pre-shipment inspection agents, who are empowered by law to render quantity and quality control services and monitor pricing.
“This control mechanism is in accordance with the Pre-Shipment Inspection of Exports Act,’’ the minister said.
He noted that while mining had a significant role to play in the diversification of the country’s economy, the sector was still classified as non-performing.
Adegbite said this was in spite of the abundance of mineral resources that abound within the 36 states of the federation.
According to him, the existing documented stock of mineral resources across the country, can kick start a boom in the mining industry.
He said it was, however, unfortunate that Nigeria still attracted low private sector exploration funding, a situation he said was unacceptable.
The minister noted that to address the situation, the ministry intends to partner with a broad spectrum of stakeholders in the industry to deepen government reforms of the sector and foster a conducive ecosystem for private sector participation and growth.
He said the ministry was poised to creating a value chain in the mining sector that would ultimately benefit the citizens.

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