Customs Amendment Bill Scales 2nd Reading
The Nigeria Customs and Excise Management amendment bill has scaled second reading in the House of Representatives.
The bill which sought to overhaul the existing Act was sponsored by Hon. Leke Abejide (ADC-Kogi) at the plenary, yesterday.
Leading the debate on the bill, Abejide said that the need for a holistic overhaul of Customs and Excise legislation cannot be overemphasised in view of its contribution to fiscal and national policy development.
He said that since 1958 which was more than half a century ago, the Nigeria Customs and Excise Act has not undergone reform.
“You will agree with me that in today’s competitive world, the Act, its regulations, and its operational guidelines are archaic, obsolete, and no longer in tandem with modern day challenges, and this has unfortunately reduced measurably the accruing revenue against the volume of trade.
“This exercise is noticeable in the following areas of collation of all Customs and Excise Legislations into a single compendium of Customs and Excise Act to facilitate easy reference and easy knowledge-driven customs and excise policies.
“This Act will position the Nigeria Customs Service to be financially stable in order to recruit the required number of officers they need to man our porous border stations.
“The Nigeria Customs Service recently has 15,349 officers instead of 30,000 officers needed for the service to function optimally,” he said.
He added: “The current seven per cent cost of collection from duties payment is not enough to pay salaries of officers, not to talk of improving the infrastructures.
“For this reason this bill provides for additional funding system based on four per cent in line with international best practice, to address funding problems.
“This will also help to reposition the service for improved efficiency and service delivery.’’
The rep stressed the need for a stiffer penalty for offenders to act as deterrence for serious economic crimes of customs and excise oriented, thereby encouraging more revenue in the area of fine payment.
Abejide said that the amendment bill was targeted at eradicating problems of corruption, fraud and malpractices in the service.
“The injection of provisions driven from stakeholder’s advice and experiences shall bring measures to eradicate fraud and smuggling activities for full collection of revenue due, timely from Customs and Excise duties.
“In accomplishing this task, this bill is in tune with ICT development, thereby giving the service the ICT demand it requires for its operations in line with International best practice.
“This would ensure a model that can think a thousand times faster and more efficiently than humans do, this digitalisation of Nigeria Customs Service with the already embraced innovative solutions to trades across emerging markets.
“As a result of this, Nigeria Customs Service may record higher revenue in 2022,’’ he said.
In his ruling, the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila referred the bill to the House Committee on Customs for further legislative actions.
Wike Urges Traditional Rulers To Engender Peace …As Awuse Heads Chiefs’ Council
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has urged traditional rulers to engender peace in their domain at all times.
He maintained that no government can progress without peace, stressing that it is the responsibility of traditional rulers to always galvanize and support the growth of their various kingdom through the sustenance of peace.
Wike stated this during the presentation of certificate of recognition and staff of office to six newly recognised traditional rulers in the state in the presence of the new Chairman of Rivers State Traditional Rulers Council, His Royal Majesty, Nne-Nwe-Eli Emohua XIII (OLO IV), Ohna Sergeant Chidi Awuse , at Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Wike,who identified peace as necessary ingredient in the process of governance, warned the traditional rulers against using their position to harass companies operating in their domain.
He particularly admonished the Gbenemene Tai Kingdom, His Royal Majesty, King Samuel Lebara Aadum Nnee, who was recognized as first class traditional ruler to use his new position to enthrone peace in Tai Kingdom for the overall interest of the people.
The five other recognised traditional rulers are all in the second class category. They include His Royal Highness, Eze Chukwuemeka Victor Elvis Nmeham Woji Okocha Orlumeni XII, Nye Nwe-Ali Rumuorlumeni; His Royal Highness, Eze (Dr) Wobodo Sunday Jonah, Nye Nwe-Ali Ibaa/Obelle; His Royal Highness, Ohna Christian Okchineke Elechi, Nye Nwe-Eli Odegu; His Royal Highness, Eze Damian Azike Ejiohuo, Nye Nwe-Ali Rundele XII, Nogbo II; and His Royal Highness, Eze Christian Amadi Evekwuru – Eze Chigu Rumuekpe.
I’m Leaving Nigeria Better Than I Met It In 2015, Buhari Boasts …Apologises For Negative Impacts On Nigerians
President Muhammadu Buhari has said he was confident that he would be leaving office with Nigeria better in 2023 than he met it in 2015.
Buhari made this known in his farewell nationwide broadcast yesterday
“I am confident that I am leaving office with Nigeria better in 2023 than in 2015. I thank you all. And may God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Buhari said.
He also appreciated millions of Nigerians who prayed and supported him during his illness in the first term of his office.
The President said he is constantly praying for those who helped him succeed and for Nigeria to thrive in peace.
He said, “I also want to use this opportunity to express my appreciation to a good number of Nigerians who provided their support and encouragement to help me navigate the exciting journey in moving Nigeria forward.
“I cannot and will not forget the millions who prayed for me during my illness in my first term of office. I am constantly praying for you and for Nigeria to thrive in peace.
“As I retire home to Daura, Katsina State, I feel fulfilled that we have started the Nigeria Re-Birth by taking the initial critical steps and I am convinced the in-coming administration will quicken the pace of this walk to see a Nigeria that fulfils its destiny to be a great nation.”
The President also apologised to Nigerians over the negative impact some of his economic policies inflicted on them.
He noted that some of his policies caused “temporary pain and suffering” to Nigerians.
According to him, “some of the decisions were difficult choices, the measures were taken for the overall good of the country”.
Buhari explained that, “In the course of revamping the economy, we made some difficult choices, most of which yielded the desired results.
“Some of the measures led to temporary pain and suffering for which I sincerely apologise to my fellow countrymen, but the measures were taken for the overall good of the country”.
Buhari will hand over power to Bola Tinubu, the president-elect, this morning.
Wike Honours El-Rufai, Fayemi, Fubara, Others
The outgoing governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, has conferred the highest Rivers State honours, the Grand Service Star of Rivers State (GSSRS), on eight personalities in the country.
The recipients include governors of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma; Mallam Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna) and Rivers’ governor-elect, Sir Siminialayi Fubara.
Others were the governors of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu; Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa); former governors of Akwa Ibom, Godswill Akpabio; John Olukayode Fayemi (Ekiti), and Senator Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari (Zamfara).
Governor Wike, while delivering his valedictory speech at a State and honours award night in Port Harcourt on Saturday night, said the second, third, and fourth- categories of honourees cut across a broader spectrum of society.
The governor said the seven governors and former governors honoured by the State belong to the country’s highly intelligent, committed, and hardworking servant-leaders who have distinguished themselves in public service with phenomenal performance records.
“Most of all, they are prominent power brokers among the Governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who signed, undertook, and worked day and night to deliver our collective aspirations for a southern president in the 2023 general elections at significant risks to their political lives.
“Their lives, reputation, exploits, and achievements are like open books, so we all know who and what they are, what they stand for, and which interests they represent and project. They have proven to be leaders made for the times rather than the ones the times and circumstances accidentally produced.
“We honour and celebrate these fellow compatriots’ inspirational achievements, exemplary leadership, profound service, love for the motherland, and contributions to national cohesion, democracy, equity, and justice”, Wike said.
The governor noted that the inception of his administration was rough and turbulent, because the then outgoing governor, Rotimi Amaechi, was very hostile and rancorous.
According to him, he also met an empty State treasury, huge public debts, a hostile political environment, and a hostile Federal Government that turned against his government, courtesy of the former governor.
“He initially struggled to prevent us from being sworn in by going to three different courts for restraining orders. When this failed, he challenged our electoral victory and had it nullified at the tribunal and the Court of Appeal.
“Our mandate was restored by the Supreme Court after nearly one year of legal battles. But, all three senatorial seats, a sizeable number of the House of Representatives, and over half of the State House of Assembly seats were nullified, leaving the State without representation at the National Assembly and a functional State House of Assembly. Our candidates for these offices were later subjected to a series of tempestuous re-runs before some managed to reclaim their mandates”, he recalled.
Wike accused Amaechi of laying social and economic landmines such as the shut down the State House of Assembly complex and courts with the sole intent to cripple his administration.
He alleged that having decimated the State’s governance institutions, Amaechi shifted his targets to the State’s treasury, including the statutory reserved funds, and emptied it with impunity.
According to him, “He (Amaechi) sold our valued assets, realized over $415,000,000.00 (four and fifteen million United States Dollars), and siphoned it entirely out of the State’s treasury in under two weeks. He embarked on some bogus projects he never intended to execute but to serve as conduit pipes to fritter State resources for himself, political cronies, and business partners.
“The less than one-kilometre monorail project, the multi-story Karibi-Whyte Hospital, the new Rivers State University, the Greater Port Harcourt City, and the M10 road projects are some of the elephant projects he purportedly initiated but failed at foundation levels after expending billions of public funds. He piled up debts by stopping to pay contractors and salaries to civil servants and other categories of workers, including pensioners and sportsmen and women.”
Despite initial challenges that beset his administration, the governor said he was able to overcome them to reposition the judiciary, delivered unprecedented 12 flyovers and constructed over 900 kilometres of Trunk-A roads and over 200 kilometres of internal roads across the State.
The governor boasted that Rivers State would remain a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) State for the foreseeable future, saying however, that the interest of Rivers State transcends political party confines and affiliations.
He maintained that it is the right of the people of Rivers State to participate in decision-making at the highest level as well as follow the political path that guarantees a better deal for the State and people.
“Accordingly, we made the right choice when we opted for unity, equity, fairness, and justice in our consideration for a Southern Presidency during the 2023 general elections. I assure you that we are in the right direction. Rivers State is politically connected to the Centre and will be better for it more than ever this time. There is nothing to regret.”
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