The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday assured Nigerians that its Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar will reduce the pump price of petroleum products if elected President in 2019.
PDP disclosed that Abubakar has “worked out a pricing template that will immediately crash the pump price of fuel in the country,” since the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress, APC, administration, “in its insensitivity, has failed to do the needful in the last three years.”
In a statement by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP rejected the Buhari-led Federal Government’s “increase of the official prices of diesel and kerosene,” stressing that such will bring more “economic pressure on the already impoverished nation, as most businesses and homes across the country heavily depend on these products for sustenance.”
The opposition party revealed that Abubakar has been in, “high level talks with top international players in the oil and gas industry,” adding that “its engagements have shown that the appropriate pump price of fuel in the Nigerian market, under the current subsidy regimes of the Buhari Presidency, should be within the borders of N87 to N90 per litre as against the N145 currently being charged.”
PDP said with the “current price template of crude oil in the international market, the Buhari administration has no justification to keep the pump price of fuel at N145 per liter and watch Nigerians groan under the weight of high prices, while a cabal at the presidency loot the funds meant to subsidize the product.
“We note that for every N145 paid for a liter of fuel, the Presidency cabal diverts a hidden N58 which Nigerians have continued to pay since the fuel price was increased from N87 to presumably subsidized cost of N145.
“Apart from failing to account for the over N1.4 trillion allegedly syphoned through sleazy oil subsidy deals, the Buhari-led Federal Government is burdened to account for the over N3.49 trillion stolen under the hidden N58 per liter of fuel on over 50 million daily domestic consumption estimated in the last three years.
“We note that had the Buhari administration heed wise counsel to be transparent in its dealings in governance and to engage more experienced hands on petroleum issues, the nation would not have been in the dire straits we face today.
The party, however, urged Nigerians not to despair as Abubakar, “has already worked out a blueprint that will end sleazes, ensure appropriate pricing template and free resources to guarantee availability of product on a national pricing regime.”
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Thursday “sternly” warned the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu over his smear campaign against its Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
PDP warned the former Lagos State governor, “not to draw himself out by joining in the smear campaign and unsavoury comments” against Abubakar.
Tinubu, who had yesterday dismissed the strategic meeting held by Abubakar in Dubai had said, “We don’t fear. Whether it is in the jungle, or it is in Dubai or it is in Abu Dhabi, people are free to meet and strategise in any way they want but we are not going back to the illusion of the PDP.
However, PDP’s spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan in a statement warned Tinubu not to reduce himself by engaging in, “indecorous utterances,”
The terse statement reads, “Asiwaju, as an elder, should not reduce his pedigree by engaging in indecorous utterances which has become the trademark of his dysfunctional party.
“It is also instructive to state that a person of Asiwaju status can conduct his political activities without recourse to indecent language that is lacking in respect for a personality, such as Atiku, whom Nigerians, across board, have generally resolved to be their next President.
“For the avoidance of doubt, despite the ludicrous disposition of APC and its leaders towards the 2019 Election campaign, the repositioned PDP and our presidential candidate remain committed to our promise to focus on solutions to the myriad of problems facing our people and transform their lives for the better.
“We, therefore, caution Asiwaju Tinubu to redirect the discourse of his party to productive issues instead of this unbridled resort to lies, deception, beguilement, propaganda, smear campaign and uncouth language, which Nigerians now resent.”
Similarly, the spokesman of Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation, Segun Sowunmi, on Thursday, said the fall of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, from political grace is imminent.
Nigeria records 10% increase in immunization coverage Speaking with Vanguard in Abuja, Sowunmi said Tinubu’s remarks that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, could meet with his supporters anywhere in the world including a jungle to strategise but that Nigerians would not vote for him in 2019, was self delusional. Former vice-President Atiku Abubakar Who is to blame for Nigeria’s dysfunction?
He said: “It is only a man of questionable pedigree whose certificate are dogged with a lot of confusion; whose parental background is pretty much unknown; whose state of origin is opaque and unclear, that can understand how life is in the jungle.
“If Asiwaju Bola Tinubu means that his life is in a jungle, we want to say to him that pride goes before a fall. Those who disdain men that are going to contend with them for the goodwill and votes of the Nigerian people with careless talk is what we find even with Buhari.
“I pity him (Tinubu) because his arrogance will fall-off his eyes like a scale when the votes are counted in 2019. Let him just understand that nobody is going to allow them run a chaotic, opaque and corruption-marred election. Let me also tell them that INEC will not help them.
We shall all meet on the day of the election. Bola can deceive himself but Nigerians are not easily deceived.”
He further said his principal would, if given the mandate in 2019 and beyond, do four things for Nigerians viz: job creation, expansion of the economy, uniting the country through restructuring, and overhaul of the country’s security architecture.
RSG, Not FIRS, Entitled To Collect VAT, Related Taxes In Rivers -Court
The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has declared that it is the Rivers State Government, not the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), should collect Valued Added Tax (VAT) and Personal Income Tax (PIT) in the state.
The court, presided over by Justice Stephen Dalyop Pam, also issued an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Attorney General of the Federation, both first and second defendants in the suit, from collecting, demanding, threatening and intimidating residents of Rivers State to pay to FIRS, PIT and VAT.
Pam made the assertion while delivering judgement in Suit No. FHC/PH/CS/149/2020, filed by the Attorney General for Rivers State (plaintiff), against the Federal Inland Revenue Service (first defendant) and the Attorney General of the Federation (second defendant).
The court, which granted all the 11 reliefs sought by the Rivers State Government, stated that there was no constitutional basis for the FIRS to demand for and collect VAT, Withholding Tax (WHT), Education Tax and Technology Levy in Rivers State or any other state of the federation, being that the constitutional powers and competence of the Federal Government was limited to taxation of incomes, profits and capital gains, which do not include VAT or any other species of sales, or levy other than those specifically mentioned in Items 58 and 59 of the Exclusive Legislative List of the Constitution.
The judge dismissed the preliminary objections filed by the defendants that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the suit and that the case should be transferred to Court of Appeal for interpretation.
Pam, who also dismissed objection raised by the defendants that the National Assembly ought to have been made a party in the suit, declared that the issues of taxes raised by the state government were issues of law that the court was constitutionally empowered to entertain.
He declared that after a diligent review of the issues raised by bothplaintiff and the defendants, the plaintiff had proven beyond doubt that it was entitled to all the 11 reliefs sought in the suit.
The court agreed with the Rivers State Government that it was the state and not FIRS that was constitutionally entitled to impose taxes enforceable or collectable in its territory of the nature of consumption or sales tax, VAT, education and other taxes or levies, other than the taxes and duties specifically reserved for the Federal Government by Items 58 and 59 of Part 1 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Also, the court declared that the defendants were not constitutionally entitled to charge or impose levies, charges or rates (under any guise or by whatever name called) on the residents of Rivers State, and indeed, any state of the federation.
Among the reliefs sought by the Rivers State Government, was a declaration that the constitutional power of the Federal Government to impose taxes and duties was only limited to the items listed in Items 58 and 59 of Part 1 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The Rivers State Government had also urged the court to declare that, by virtue of the provisions of Items 7 and 8 of the Part II (Concurrent Legislative List) of the Second Schedule of the Constitution, the power of the Federal Government to delegate the collection of taxes can only be exercised by the state government or other authority of the state, and no other person.
The state government had further asked the court to declare that all statutory provisions made or purportedly made in the exercise of the legislative powers of the Federal Government, which contains provisions which are inconsistent with or in excess of the powers to impose tax and duties, as prescribed by Items 58 and 59 of the Part I of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, or inconsistent with the power to delegate the duty of collection of taxes, as contained in Items 7 and 8 of Part II of the Second Schedule of the Constitution, were unconstitutional, null and void.
Lead counsel for the Rivers State Government, Donald Chika Denwigwe (SAN), who spoke to journalists after the court session, explained that the case was all about the interpretation of the Constitution as regards the authority of the government at the state and federal levels to collect certain revenues, particularly, VAT.
“So, during the determination of the matter, some issues of law were thrown up like, whether or not the case should be referred to the Court of Appeal for the determination of some issues.
“The court noted that the application is like asking the Federal High Court to transfer the entire case to the Court of Appeal. In which case, if the court so decides, there will be nothing left to refer back to the Federal High Court as required by the Constitution.”
According to Denwigwe, the court refused that prayer, and decided that the case was in its proper place before the Federal High Court, and was, therefore, competent to determine it.
Speaking on the implications of the judgement, Denwigwe said it was now, unlawful for such taxes as VAT in Rivers State to be collected by any agency of the Federal Government.
“In a summary, it is a determination that it is wrong for the Federal Government to be collecting taxes which are constitutionally reserved for the state governments to collect. The implication of the judgement is that the government (federal and state) as an authority under the constitution,should be advised by the judgement that it is the duty of all government authorities to comply with and obey the law so long as the court has interpreted it and said what that law is.
“So, in other words, the issue of Value Added Tax (VAT) in the territory of Rivers State and Personal Income Tax should be reserved for the government of Rivers State.”
Counsel to FIRS, O.C. Eyibo said he will study the judgment and advise his client.
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.
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