The 36 state governors, yesterday, rejected the proposed plan by the Federal Government to extend the repayment period of its budget support loan to state governments from 22 years to 30 years.
Based on the extension, state governments’ monthly repayment would reduce from N252million monthly to N162million monthly.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, briefed State House correspondents at the end of the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.
She was with Anambra State Governor, Chief Willy Obiano, Ogun State Governor, Engineer Dapo Abiodun, Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, and Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire.
According to her, the Federal Government has made the first and second months’ N252million monthly deductions in September and October, based on the 22 years repayment plan.
Following the outcry of the state governors, another repayment schedule plan extending the year to 30 years and a monthly repayment of N162million was presented to NEC, yesterday.
But she said that the state governors were still not satisfied with the repayment extension to 30 years.
She said, “The budget support facility was initially for 22 years repayment period. And when we made the first deduction in September, the states had complained that the amount deducted, which was N252million, was too harsh.
“So, since then, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), who is the lender, has revised the condition to make the repayment period longer. And so the new repayment period is 30years. And this means that the states will be paying monthly N162million. But again today, the states still were not satisfied with the condition.
“So, we are expecting that the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, CBN and the states will engage again with the view of having the CBN further revise the condition to reduce the monthly repayment burden”, she stated
Meanwhile, the 36 governors, yesterday, met with state commissioners of finance and heads of authorities in Abuja to discuss how to jerk up tax collection in states.
The meeting came a day after the governors signed a memorandum of understanding with the Joint Tax Board.
The Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Ekiti Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who spoke at the opening of the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) peer learning meeting said, the platform was to share reform experiences and consolidate actions.
“As commissioners of finance and heads of tax authorities, you are responsible for both tax policy and administration in your states.”
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has sent a letter to the Senate, requesting the screening and subsequent confirmation of a former deputy governor of Edo State, Dr. Pius Odubu, as chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Board.
In a letter read on at yesterday’s plenary by the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmed Lawan, Buhari has also requested the confirmation of 15 other members of the board.
Other members of the board are – Bernard Okumagba (Delta), who will serve as managing director and Otobong Ndem (Akwa Ibom), who was appointed the executive director, Projects.
Also listed are – Maxwell Okoh (Bayelsa), Jones Erue (Delta), Victor Ekhatar (Edo), Joy Nunieh (Rivers), Nwogu Nwogu (Abia), Theodore Allison (Bayelsa), Victor Antai (Akwa Ibom), Maurice Effiwatt (Cross River), Olugbenga Elema (Ondo), Uchegbu Kyrian (Imo) and Aisha Muhammed (Kano), who is representing North-West on the board, while Ardo Zubairu (Adamawa) represents North-East on the NDDC board.
Lawan later referred the names to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Peter Nwaoboshi, to conduct the screening and report back to the Senate in one week.
Similarly, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, forwarded the name of Justice John Tsoho to the Senate for confirmation as the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court (FHC).
The President also forwarded the name of Justice Benedict Bakwaph Kanyip as the President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN).
The Senate also received three nominees as Resident Electoral Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The nominees include Umar Mukhtar Gajiram (Borno), Dr. Alalibo Sinikiem Johnson (Bayelsa) and Raheem Muideen Olalekan (Osun).
In his letter nominating the three state Resident Electoral Commissioners, Buhari said, “Pursuant to Paragraph 14(3) of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) I hereby write to request for confirmation by the Senate, the appointment of the following three nominees as Resident Electoral Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC): Umar Mukhtar Gajiram (Borno), commissioner; Dr. Alalibo Sinikiem Johnson (Bayelsa), commissioner; and Raheem Muideen Olalekan (Osun), commissioner.”
On the appointment of the Judge of the Federal High Court, Buhari said: “Pursuant to Section 250(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), I hereby write to request for confirmation by the Senate, the appointment of Honourable Justice J.T. Tsoho as the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria.
“While I trust that the Senate will consider this request in the usual expeditious manner, Please, accept, Distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”
On the President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Buhari said, “Pursuant to Section 250(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), I hereby write to request for confirmation by the Senate, the appointment of Honourable Justice Benedict Bakwaph Kanyip as the President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
“While trusting that the Senate will consider this request in the usual expeditious manner, Please accept, Distinguished Senate President the assurances of my highest consideration”, the president wrote.
No Party Can Win Election Fighting Itself, Wike Warns …Inaugurates Government VIP Lounge For FAAN
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has described as inconsequential confession of support by some politicians for Atiku Abubakar, if they are not working to mobilise grassroots voters to secure electoral victory for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Wike said it was the quantum of individual votes from units, local governments and states that would determine victory for the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubukar, in 2023 and not rumour peddlers.
He spoke, yesterday, at the inauguration of the new Government VIP Lounge at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area, built by the Rivers State Government.
Wike said it was unfortunate that some politicians now based in Abuja, derive pleasure insinuating something against him to curry favour from the PDP presidential candidate.
“We are busy campaigning with our projects on how our party will win election in the state. Other people are busy in Abuja carrying rumours and gossips. We are busy here (Rivers) from Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We’ll start Monday again, flagging off projects, commissioning projects that will sell our party.
“Every day in the newspapers, Wike did this, Wike did that, then, they will call the candidate, you see what I said about Wike today. Rent seekers. No job. Instead of you to do something that will make your party to win 2023 elections, you’re only busy, everyday Wike said this. When you heard from Wike I do not know. Maybe in your dream.
“You want to support the candidate, you’re not at home, and you’re in Abuja. Come home and campaign and work for the party. Stop this Abuja politics of carrying rumours to the candidate.”
Wike, who asserted that he was a practical and practicing politician, admonished that any party that wants to win election cannot be fighting itself.
“I think a party that wants to win election cannot, on their own, be causing problem for themselves.”
Wike pointed to how his administration has continued to flag-off and inaugurate projects that serve as evidence of fulfilled electoral promises, which have sustained the trust that the people have for the PDP in the state.
The governor expressed the belief that it is the services and projects that his administration has done that would sell the PDP to the electorate.
“We have said that whatever promise we have made, we are going to fulfil them before we leave office on May 29, 2023.
“And let me say; only one person can be a minister from the state. I would not be a minister. I am not a liability. Rivers State is an asset. If you don’t want to win election it is your business.
“I am not running for election. He who wears the shoe knows where it pinches. So, allow Rivers State to continue to do what they are doing by using our projects to campaign to our people.”
Wike explained that though the Port Harcourt International Airport is owned by the Federal Government, his administration decided to build the VIP lounge in order to offer Rivers people the best.
He assured that the Rivers State government would cater to the maintenance of the building so that it can serve the people for a long time.
Wike also commended the indigenous contractor that handled the project for the tasteful structural work that was accomplished.
“And let me commend the contractor. Of course, he is an indigenous contractor from Rivers State and of Port Harcourt Local Government Area. This is a good job well done. See the quality of what has been done. You can see that the difference is clear.
“We are willing to support our own. But you must also give us that assurance that when the job is given to you, you will complete it without any problem.”
Wike directed the Commissioner for Works to ensure the immediate arrest of a contractor handling a road project for the Rivers State Government in Trans Amadi Industrial Layout in Port Harcourt.
The governor accused the contractor of having collected 100percent of the project sum, but has failed to deliver the job.
In a brief, Rivers State Commissioner for Special Projects, Deinma Iyalla, said the edifice depicts the detribalised nature of Wike, and also serves to market the state positively.
According to him, the entire project comprises of a one storey building that has main lounge, bar, kitchen and administrative section on the ground floor.
He added, on the storey floor, there are Presidential Lounge, Governor’s Lounge and Executive Lounge.
Iyalla further added that there was a screening building that has installed screening and scanning machines with office space for FAAN, and a security house that would serve as waiting place for drivers.
Buhari Signs Bills On Electoral Act, Money Laundering, Terrorism, Others
President Muhammadu Buhari has given assent to some major bills. The bills include: Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2022; Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2022, repealing the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended; Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2022, which repeals the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 as amended in 2013.
Others are, Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act, 1993 (Amendment) Act, 2019, for increased revenue; Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) Amendment Acts of 2019 and 2021; Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Bill, 2022, which approves the seizure, confiscation and forfeiture of properties derived from unlawful activity.
The rest include, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) Bill, the first legislation focused on curbing anti-competition practices, establishing the FCCPC; Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Establishment Act, 2018; The Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Act 2021; Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill, 2019.
The bill facilitates the identification, tracing, freezing, restraining, recovery, forfeiture and confiscation of proceeds, property, and other instrumentalities of crime as well as the prosecution of offenders in criminal cases regardless of where in the world they might be;
The president also signed an Act establishing the Police Trust Fund, which will improve funding for the Nigeria Police Force (2019). “ Nigeria Police Act, 2020 – the first comprehensive reform of Police legislation since the Police Act of 1943.
He also signed the Repeal and Re-Enactment of the Companies & Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2020, the first comprehensive reform since 1990; Not Too Young to Run Bill (2018), a Constitution Amendment Bill to reduce the age of eligibility for running for elective office in Nigeria; Nigerian Correctional Services Bill, 2019, the first comprehensive reform of prison legislation in close to five decades; Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Bill, 2019 – the first anti-piracy legislation in West Africa.
TCN Begs Electricity Workers To Suspend Planned Strike
The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has appealed to the electricity workers to suspend their proposed strike billed to begin, today.
The Managing Director, TCN, Dr Sule Abdulaziz, made the appeal in a letter to the workers, yesterday, following their threat to embark on strike to drive home their demands.
The workers under the aegis of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) had on August 15 directed its members to picket TCN offices nationwide on August 16, after which they would embark on strike on August 17.
The General Secretary, NUEE, Comrade Joe Ajaero, had in a statement, said the picketing was to protest the directive by the TCN board that all principal managers in acting capacity going to acting general manager must appear for a promotion interview.
Ajaero said the directive was in contravention of the workers’ conditions of service and career progression paths and alleged that it was unilaterally done without the relevant stakeholders.
Other issues raised include stigmatisation of staff from the office of the Head of Service of the Federation from working in other areas in the power sector and non-payment of the December 2019 entitlement of ex-PHCN staff.
Abdulaziz said: “We are pleased to inform you that management has suspended the said proposed interview for those on acting appointment of assistant general managers and general managers while we conclude discussion with the board.
“On the other two issues: circular from the office of Head of Service on the stigmatisation of the defunct PHCN staff; payment of entitlement of ex-PHCN staff by market operator, the management has contacted the Honourable Minister of Power for his further action.
“In view of this development, we appeal to your union to stay in action; please accept the assurances of our highest regards.”
Also, the Federal Minister of State for Power, Mr Goddy Jedy-Agba, in a letter dated August 15, 2022, to the union, said that the ministry was committed to proffering solutions that would be acceptable to all parties concerned.
“May we appeal to your great union to allow us two weeks from the date of this letter to address the issues and come up with proposals toward acceptable resolution of all issues,” he said.
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