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Excess Crude Cash And The Masses

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Over the years, the issue of sharing and disbursing excess revenue from the sale of crude oil to the various tiers of government has always been a subject of public discourse, and sometimes over-heating the polity.

Suffice it to say that during the Obasanjo-led government, the price of crude oil at the international market hit an upward trend following instability in supply due largely to crises in the Middle East. As a result of the development, the Federal Government at the time, raked in hundreds of millions of US dollars as excess revenue, accruable from the sale of crude oil.

But while the various tiers of government were awaiting the release and subsequent sharing of the excess crude oil money, the federal authorities slammed an embargo on the disbursement without any explicable reasons. Expectedly, the issue generated some palpable bad-blood between the federal authorities, state governors as well as the local government councils across the country.

As it were, a truce over the non-release of the excess crude cash was later reached between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the state governors, following the intervention of the National Council of States which spelt out the sharing formula for the excess oil money.

Sadly, the crisis reared its ugly heads again during the last lap of the Obasanjo administration, as the excess oil cash accruable from the high price of crude oil at the international market, was held in the nation’s foreign and domestic reserves by the past regime, in spite of the cries of the state governors and local government councils.

Explaining government’s position on the touchy national issue, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, the immediate past Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said the over N1 trillion excess crude money was being saved in a base account for the states, and that the balance would be shared to the three tiers of government after reconciling debts owed by some states and the federal government. However, part of the excess oil money was released, but the issue was not resolved.

One can recall vividly that in a bid to demonstrate their sadness over the issue, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, at a meeting with President Umaru Yar’Adua (on assumption of office) kicked against the stance of CBN that there would be a possible inflation in the country should the excess oil fund be released into circulation.

Happily, President Yar’Adua, apparently moved by the cries of the state governors and local government councils, has been disbursing (though in batches) the excess revenue from the sale of crude oil to the three tiers of government.

To this end, a fortnight ago, the CBN remitted $2 billion from the excess crude account into the various accounts of the three tiers of government. This follows the recommendation of the National Economic Council (NEC) to share $2 billion from the Foreign Excess Crude Proceeds Account.

The Minister of State for Finance, Mr. Remi Babalola, who dropped the news, explained that the federal government got the lion’s share of $841,911 million; the 36 states, $799,648 million, while the 774 local governments received $358,440 million.

Besides the $2 billion, the three tiers of government, also got N350,721 billion from the Federation Account. Statutory revenue accounted for N235,121 billion of the shared revenue from the Federation Account, while Value Added Tax and Budget Augmentation accounted for $36,529 billion and 51,192 billion, respectively.

Certainly, with the sharing of the $2 billion excess crude oil to the three tiers of government, there should be more cash in the system to enhance spending and rejuvenate the nation’s economy. It also means that funds are now available for on-going capital projects at the federal, state and local government levels.

It is imperative, therefore, to advise the Federal Government to prevail on the various tiers of government to formulate programmes that would spur socio-economic development, and tie the excess oil money to specific projects.

That is the only sure way for the masses (electorate) of this country to benefit from the disbursement of the excess crude cash to the three tiers.

Afterall, a large chunk of such fund earlier shared had always ended up in the private pockets of the privileged ones in government.

It is common knowledge that scores of the nation’s political office holders have the penchant for looting excess crude cash and statutory allocations from the Federation Account, disbursed to the various tiers of government.

Again, it is absolutely necessary to suggest to the beneficiaries of the current excess oil money at the various tiers to begin to prepare how best to spend the long awaited excess crude cash so that life would be made better for the citizenry.

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FG Hails Rivers Top Spot In Literacy Education Dev

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The Federal Government has commended the Rivers State Government over its concerted efforts in the development of basic education that has guaranteed the state the highest ranking in literacy education in the country.
The state scored 70per cent ahead other states of the federation in a recent national ranking.
The Coordinator in charge of Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA), Federal Ministry of Education, MrsAminaHaruna made the commendation, while speaking at a one-day state Technical Workshop on improving BESDA implementation at Bougainvillea Hotels in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Haruna said it was of good note that Rivers State has shifted to where it was before and attained a commendable height in the development of literacy education, adding that such feat was worth celebrating.
The BESDA coordinator, disclosed that Rivers State has also taken the lead to replicate the just concluded performance review meeting held in Abuja, recently, adding that the technical meeting was essentially designed to bring all stakeholders in the BESDA together to brainstorm on way forward.
She said that the Federal Government was committed to ensuring that the menace of out-of-school children in the country was resolved, adding that it was what informed the Federal Government decision to borrow $11million to tackle the menace headlong.
She called on parents to ensure that they give their children the right to education, adding that the importance of education in the society cannot be over-emphasised.
“Rivers State has done well in literacy education, and they are ahead of other states. So, whoever that has done well; praise him or her”, she stated.
Also speaking, the state Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kaniye Ebeku said one of the cardinal policy trusts of the present administration led by Governor Nyesom Wike was to provide access to quality and qualitative education for children in the state, saying that BESDA programme was one of the links to actualise it.
Ebeku thanked the Federal Government and the World Bank for initiating the BESDA programme, adding that it has given hope to many out-of-school children to have access to education literacy, saying that the cult clashes that ravaged some communities was responsible for the over-crowded nature of schools in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor local government areas of the state.
He expressed satisfaction with the performance of both teachers and pupils in the BESDA schools in the state, adding that children in the conventional schools were not doing better than the ones in the BESDA schools.
He, therefore, solicited for cooperation among all stakeholders in driving the programme, and assured that the state Ministry of Education would drive the supervision and monitoring to ensure it achieves set objectives.
In his speech, the Executive Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Ven. Fyneface Akah said the workshop was organised to replicate the Federal Government’s model on peer review performance by getting all stakeholders involved in achieving gaining more grounds in the BESDA programme in the state.
Akah said the board under his leadership was determined to ensure both children of fishermen and those who are out-of-school have access to quality education, which he said, was essential.
“It is not about the reward but the effort and impact. We are organising literacy content to ensure that those children in the programme read, write and understand numerical skills, and whoever that acquires literary skills has acquired the knowledge for further education”, he stated.
In her remarks, the RSUBEB Director in charge of Physical Planning, Mrs Joy Ojirika, who doubles as the state BESDA focal person, gave a scorecard on the progress of the programme in the state.

By: Akujobi Amadi

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Wike, Okonjo-Iweala, Others For 4th DAAR Awards, Dec 6

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; and Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa; are among those to be honoured at the fourth edition of the DAAR Awards.
The DAAR Awards, scheduled to take place on December 6, 2021 in Lagos, is organised by DAAR Communication Plc, which owns RayPower broadcasting station and African Independent Television.
At the ceremony, Wike would be honoured with the DAAR’s Man of the Year Award, while Okonjo-Iweala would be honoured with DAAR’s Woman of the Year Award, just as Okowa would receive award for outstanding leadership in public service.
In a letter to the recipients by the Group Managing Director of DAAR Communications Plc, Tony Akiotu, said the awardees were selected for their exemplary qualities and immeasurable contributions to the sustainable development and progress of humanity in various sectors.
On the criteria for selecting Rivers State governor,Akiotu said, “The Editorial Board and DAAR Communications panel of assessors for the 4th DAAR Awards had unanimously voted to confer the award of Man of the Year 2021 on Wike for his giant strides in infrastructural development of Rivers State and deepening of Nigeria’s democracy”.
Akiotu said that Deputy Senate President, OvieOmo-Agege would also receive award for Outstanding Leadership in Public Service along with Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum; Oyo State Governor, Engr. OluseyiMakinde; and Osun State Governor, Prof. Adegboyega Oyetola.
Also to be honoured are the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, who would receive award for Outstanding Performance in the Academia, and Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, who would receive Outstanding Performance on COVID-19 Pandemicaward.
According to DAAR CommunicationsPlc, it would honour Ogundipe for extensive work on molecular systematics, plant anatomy, food security, natural resource management and biodiversity conservation.

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Senate Blasts Saipem Over Breach Of Local Content Act On NLNG Train-7

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The Senate Committee on Local Content has expressed displeasure at Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited, a company handling the Train-7 gas project, for what it termed “deliberate breach” of Nigeria’s Local Content Act.
The company’s management has been evading appearances before the committee until last Wednesday after the panel threatened to compel their appearance with sanction.
However, the panel, chaired by Senator Teslim Folarin, after inference from evidence made available to the panel, demanded an explanation from Saipem Contracting Company why the gas project company awards contracts to foreign companies for supply of steel, rods, among other materials for execution of the project contrary to local firms in clear breach of LCA.
According to the committee, they have been flooded with petitions from the public over the sharp practices of the company in connivance with some Nigerians.
The committee said it was based on that the Train -7 gas project was invited while pointing out the breach of the local content act on the award of contract for the purchase of items for the gas project.
The committee, however, regretted the non-appearance of Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Saipem and Daewoo, which they said their appearances would have deepened investigation on why foreign firms habitually shortchange the nation.
It rescheduled the meeting and asked the committee clerk to issue fresh letter of invitation to the absentee organisations.
Senators Folarin and Sabi Abdullahi in reference to a petition pointed out that Saipem management is aware of contracts to foreign firms than Nigerian companies for supply of materials running into millions of euros in breach of the provision of the local content act.
Teslim said: “Can you explain, how you came about awarding the contract for the supply of steel for €4million, to TK Corporation, a Korean company, and €4.27million, contract to another Korean company for pipes, €3.86million to an Italian company and another €5.5million.
“All these are not Nigerian companies.”
He said the local content act provided for 50percent Nigerian content in the execution of the project.
In his response, the Managing Director of Saipem, Mr Walter Peviani said execution of the project by the company was based on a contractual agreement, and documents presented to the company by the NLNG and the NCDMB.
“Within the contractual documents, which we received, entailed, a project Nigerian content plan and entry procedures for Nigerian companies compliance certificate,” he said.
Unfortunately, the Executive Secretary of the National Content Development Management Board was absent despite invitations, a development, the committee said was deliberate and suspicious.

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