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Magodo residents commend Ikeja over improved power supply

Residents of Magodo Estate have applauded Ikeja Electric Plc (IE) for providing stable electricity to customers within the Estate following the signing of the Premium Power Agreement.

The Premium Power initiative is a power purchase agreement under the Willing Buyer, Willing Seller initiative issued by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). It entails a commitment to specific service level standards while the customer agrees to pay a tariff that is above the current MYTO tariff.

Speaking on the improved power supply, a resident of the Estate, Mr. Innocent Nwankwo, expressed satisfaction at the level of supply they are currently getting from Ikeja Electric.

He said: “We currently enjoy 24 hours supply and we believe this initiative is giving us value. We have a mixed development in Magodo estate. There are those who operate business and there are residential. We all need adequate supply. And we were able to agree on this. In my opinion, if other communities shows interest I think Ikeja Electric can replicate this initiative.”

Another resident, Adewale Anthony also pointed out that initiatives such as Premium Power will enhance growth and economic development within the community.

According to him “What we really want is now possible – and that is constant power that enables us to use it when we need it. By giving us the opportunity to enter into this agreement, we were able to make a choice of what we want in terms of supply availability. Since the signing of the contract, we have been enjoying the supply.”

Since the implementation of the Agreement on August 15, 2019, residents of the Estate have been on 24 hour supply and under the agreement, there will also be access to dedicated Customer Care and Technical teams for prompt resolution of queries or technical issues within the Estate.

At the contract signing ceremony, two weeks ago, the Chief Operating Officer of Ikeja Electric, Mrs. Folake Soetan, expressed confidence in the success of the trend-setting agreement which she noted was in line with the Federal Government’s “willing seller, willing buyer” policy.

“We are confident that this agreement will serve as a model for other power agreements in the power sector because, while it is in line with the Federal Government policy, it also reflects our unwavering commitment to our customers. This has also been made possible by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission’s directive to DisCos to provide an enabling environment with exceptional service delivery,” she said.

The Chairman, Board of Trustees, Magodo Residents Association, Chief S.A. Owojori, also commended the technical teams from both sides for a job well done. He described the signing ceremony as a significant achievement in the community’s efforts at enjoying uninterrupted power supply, noting that the agreement, if judiciously implemented, will strengthen the relationship between the community and Ikeja Electric.

Zenith Bank appoints two new directors

Henry Oroh has been named as Executive Director, ED, of Zenith Bank Plc.

The appointment of Dr. Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, FCA, as an Independent Non-Executive Director was also  approved by the Board of Directors of Zenith Bank.

According to a  a statement issued on Friday by the bank, the appointments are consistent with the bank’s tradition and succession strategy of grooming leaders from within.

Both appointments are effective September 1, 2019,  and have been approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN

Henry Oroh holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from the University of Benin, Edo State and an MBA from the Lagos State University as well as an LLB Degree from the University of Lagos.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and an honorary member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIBN), Nigeria.

He has over two decades of banking experience.

“He began his banking career in 1992 at Citibank where he served for seven (7) years in Operations, Treasury and Marketing.

He joined Zenith Bank in February 1999 and has worked in various Groups and Departments within the Zenith Group Office.

His expertise spans Operations, Information Technology, Treasury, Marketing, including the Manufacturing, Food and Beverages, Pharmaceuticals, Oil and Gas, Public Sector, Consumer, as well as Corporate Banking and Business Development.

In April 2012, he was seconded to Zenith Bank Ghana Limited as an Executive Director and became the Managing Director/Chief Executive in February 2016, where he successfully spearheaded the phenomenal growth of the Zenith Brand both within the Ghana market and the West African sub-region.

Henry has attended several Leadership Programmes and Executive Management Courses at the Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School, New York, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, HEC Paris, JP Morgan Chase, UK and the Lagos Business School.

He comes to the Board of Zenith Bank Plc with strong competencies in Credit & Marketing, Operations, Information Technology, Treasury and impressive Leadership skills.

Dr. Al-Mujtaba Abubakar is currently the Managing Director of Apt Pensions Funds Managers Limited.

He is a graduate of the Leeds Polytechnic, UK. He is a renowned Chartered Accountant and a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.

Dr. Abubakar has extensive and tremendous experience in the financial services industry, audit and consulting.

He worked with the firm of Akintola Williams Deloitte between January 2000 and November 2008, and rose to become the Partner and Board Member of West Africa sub-region.

Prior to this, he had served on the Board of several financial institutions in Nigeria.

He has attended several management and leadership training programmes and conferences both within and outside the country.

He brings to the Board of the bank tremendous track record in Risk Management, Credit & Marketing, Auditing and very outstanding leadership skills, the statement said.

NERC: We made consultations before increasing electricity tariff

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) says the decision to increase tariff was taken after consulting Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) and stakeholders in the sector.

James Momoh, chairman of NERC, said this while addressing reporters when Sale Mamman, minister of power, assumed office on Thursday.

In a statement on its website, NERC had announced that from January 1, 2020, it shall make necessary adjustments on the tariffs.

The commission said the step is geared towards addressing the tariff deficits pursuant to the objective of “resolving the impairment of the financial records of DisCos”.

Momoh said the planned increase in tariff was through careful thinking, consultation with the DiScos and other stakeholders

“We have discussed fully what we are about to do and it is the right time to do it because we have metres out there that are going to reduce the estimated bill,” he said.

“So that everybody knows that you can control how much power you use and how much you pay which is part of the order.

“So, I think we are in the right direction. But mind you we also divide the payment into different classes; if you read it carefully and of course enforce it as a rule; if you have any questions send it in writing.”

He said NERC had looked at all the resistance that could come up, adding that it was open to discussion.

”It is not that we are doing it as a law but this is an order and you read it; if you are concerned contact us,” he said.

Momoh said that there would be penalty for not producing quality service.

“If your metre doesn’t read then you won’t be paying. If you have no metres, there is going to be a capping on how much you should pay,” he said.

“So the issue is under consultation and in few days we will conclude the discussion; we spent Tuesday on franchising and having discussion on capping.

“We have collected enough data we have all over the country and we are listening to consumers, manufacturers and whoever wants to talk about pricing issue.

“Based on the input, we sat down and analysed and got a common ground – which project makes sense which we think it is fair to everybody, which you and I can live with.

“At the end of the discussion we will determine the final target for those who don’t have metres. But more importantly I should talk as a regulator, a customer and also as an innovator.

“If you put in a very wrong fluorescent light or different appliances in the room, you are going to lose more energy.’’

EFCC, ICPC to beam searchlight on fraudulent banks —Malami

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), on Thursday, said the anti-corruption agencies would beam their searchlight on banks that had been aiding corrupt practices in the country.

He said the Federal Government, through his ministry, would work closely with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission to ensure that banks involved in corrupt practices are sanctioned.

Speaking during his first full day in office in Abuja after his Wednesday’s re-appointment as the AGF, Malami also promised to pursue judicial reforms, including proposing an amendment to the Constitution, that would provide an innovative way to tackle congestion of cases at the Supreme Court.

On financial institutions’ involvement in corruption, he said, “As bad news to the rogues within our financial system, in the next four years, the Federal Ministry of Justice, in collaboration with anti-corruption agencies, will beam searchlight on the financial institutions and non-designated financial institutions in order to make them pay dearly for the dastardly roles they played and are still playing in encouraging and deepening corruption in Nigeria.

“From arms procurement fraud, INEC bribery case to Diezani case and several others, quantitative data available to the Federal Government abundantly shows that financial institutions are directly involved in most of the major corruption cases investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission from 2015 till date.

 

 

IITA, AfDB salute Makinde’s vision for agribusiness

At a retreat in Cotonou, Republic of Benin to chart a path for transforming agriculture, Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde set a record in governance, by spending more than 72 hours with his state officials designing an implementation plan for Oyo state agribusiness.

The governor also promised officials of the state that the administration will give agriculture the necessary ‘political will’ to play its role and transform the economic fortunes of the state.

“I want to assure all the participants that Oyo State will provide the political will needed to make the state the agribusiness hub of Nigeria,” Makinde said at the retreat that was facilitated by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Cotonou, Republic of Benin, 15-19 August.

Gov Makinde pledged to attract more private investments to agriculture by providing an enabling environment for the private sector to invest in the state. He said the state would ensure agribusiness-friendly policies that would boost investor confidence.

Since assumption of office on 29 May 2019, Gov Makinde has pledged to transform the narrative of agriculture with the view to making it the pillar of the state’s economic development. The retreat provided an opportunity for the Governor to unveil his vision for agriculture in the state.

Dr Kenton Dashiell, IITA Deputy Director-General, Partnerships for Delivery commended the governor for demonstrating an uncommon leadership style by participating in all the sessions of the three-day retreat.

“I have never seen such a commitment from a governor… and I believe the document coming out of this retreat will help the state to achieve the vision of an agribusiness hub for Nigeria,” he added.

Dr. Martin Fregene, Director for Agriculture and Agro-Allied division with the African Development Bank said the commitment of the state to agriculture was a step in the right direction.

“Let me also commend you (the governor of Oyo state) for organizing this very important meeting, and participating fully in it to have a vision and an implementation plan for agribusiness in the state,” he added via skype.

Fregene urged the state government to adopt the agri-business approach to unlock the potential of agriculture in the state.

“For Oyo state to move forward in agriculture, you must treat agriculture as a business,” he explained.

According to the AfDB director, the Bank would be willing to support the state in its quest to transform agriculture.

The retreat had four sessions comprising: Developing a vision for the state in agriculture, identifying the obstacles to the vision, developing strategic actions to deal with the obstacles to the vision, and developing an implementation plan.

Adebowale Akande, Executive Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture gave thumbs up to the retreat, adding that recommendations from the retreat would help the state to achieve its vision of becoming an agribusiness hub.

N537m debt: Court orders takeover of Donald Duke’s Ikoyi property

 

The Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria and United Bank for Africa to take over an Ikoyi, Lagos property of a former governor of Cross River State, Mr Donald Duke, over an alleged debt of N537,334,360.77.

The court made the takeover order in an August 8, 2019 ruling by Justice Chuka Obiozor.

The order was pursuant to an ex parte application, marked, FHC/L/CS/1373/2019, taken before the judge by AMCON and UBA.

Listed as first to third defendants were Stonehedge Investment Limited, Mr Donald Duke and Mrs Owanari Bob-Manuel Duke, respectively.

The applicants had prayed the court for “an order of interim attachment, possession, and custody of the property being No. 3, Temple Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.”

They told the court that the property was mortgaged by Duke “as collateral in securing the 1st respondent’s indebtedness to the applicants.”

They urged the court to grant them possession of the property “pending the institution and disposal of proceedings for recovery of debt against the respondent, pursuant to Section 49 of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria Act 2010 (as amended).”

They also prayed the court for an interim Mareva injunction to take possession of funds in the accounts of Duke and others in any bank “pending the institutional and disposal of proceedings for the recovery of a debt of N537,334,360.77 made up of the principal debt and interest against the respondents pursuant to Section 50 of AMCON Act 2010.”

The judge granted the prayers, in addition to an order restraining the respondents from “transacting, transferring, changing or howsoever dealing in any manner or interfering with the applicants’ possession” of the Ikoyi property.

The judge ordered AMCON and UBA to ensure service of substantive originating processes on the respondents within 20 days of the making of the order.

Customs blame shipping lines, port operators, clearing agents for delay in cargo release

The Nigeria Customs Service has said that it was wrong for stakeholders to blame the Customs officers for every delay encountered in the cargo clearance processes, saying that cargo clearance is a chain process and everybody has a role to play.

Uche Ejesieme, spokesperson of the Tin Can Island Command of customs, said the command had identified certain delays in cargo clearance caused by terminal operators, shipping companies, government agencies and the licensed customs agent.

He said as a way of correcting the lapses, the Customs Area Controllers, Musa Baba Abdullahi, recently called a ‘no holds barred” meeting where the critical stakeholders were represented to discuss on restoring supply chain integrity.

Part of the resolutions at the meeting, according to him, is that Customs officers must henceforth resume work at 8am, while terminal operators must have positioned all containers for examination of cargoes to commence by 10am.

Ejesieme said “Sometimes if the agents don’t mention Customs, they find it difficult even to communicate with their principals, the importers, so we are used to leaking our wounds in Customs,meanwhile we are only limited to just two roles; examination and release of cargo”

“Most importers and agents are not ready to declare what they have, by the time we go for physical examination, you would see contradiction, this is why alerts will continue to come, if you don’t want alerts to come, and then you must be ready to be compliant”

“We are happy that over time, people are beginning to align and comply with fiscal policies of government in terms of trade”

“We have actually tried to bring all the critical stakeholders together on one platform to be in sync with the expectations and directives of Ease of Doing Business”

“We started mobilising the stakeholders because we reviewed and saw that there was need for us to improve on our supply chain integrity and management, we discovered that there were gaps which are not peculiar or synonymous with customs”

“We discovered there were gaps with the shipping companies and terminal operators, gaps with some of our operatives in the field, gaps among other sister security agencies, regulatory agencies, importers and their agents,” he said.

Huawei founder explains ‘battle mode’ plan to beat U.S. crisis

China’s Huawei will spend more on production equipment this year to ensure supply continuity, cut redundant roles and demote inefficient managers as its grapples with a “live-or-die moment” in the wake of U.S. export curbs, founder Ren Zhengfei said.

His remarks come as the United States said this week it will extend by 90 days a reprieve that permits Huawei Technologies to buy components from U.S. companies to supply existing customers, but it also moved to add more than 40 of Huawei’s units to its economic blacklist.

In a memo sent to employees on Monday loaded with military metaphors, 74-year-old Ren asked staff to work aggressively towards sales targets as the firm goes into “battle mode” to survive the crisis.

“The company is facing a live-or-die moment,” Ren, a former Chinese army officer, said in the memo, which was seen by Reuters. Huawei confirmed the contents of the memo.

“If you cannot do the job, then make way for our tank to roll; And if you want to come on the battlefield, you can tie a rope around the ‘tank’ to pull it along, everyone needs this sort of determination!”

Huawei is a key theme in a broader, year-long U.S.-China trade war, with Washington slapping it with the trade ban in May citing national security risks. Huawei, however, posted a 23% revenue jump in the first half, helped by strong smartphone sales in its home market.

Ren said in the memo, “In the first half, our results looked good, it is likely because our Chinese clients were sympathetic and made payments in time, the big volume made cash flow look good, this doesn’t represent the real situation.”

Davido, Coldstone, Obasanjo Farms… FIRS publishes 19,901 accounts owing taxes

Bank accounts belonging to Obasanjo Farms, Iyiola Omisore and Davido are some of the accounts that have been placed under lien for owing taxes.

In a list published on Monday, the Federal Inland Service (FIRS) listed 19,901 accounts that were yet to regularise their tax status.

Some of the accounts published include:

  • Citiroof Aluminium Co. Ltd
  • Coldstone Creamery Limited (Yaba)
  • Davido Music Worldwide Ltd
  • Grand Square Supermarket and Stores Ltd
  • Iyiola Omisore & Par
  • Open Heavens Bliss Enterprises
  • The Assemblies of God Nigeria
  • X3M Music Limited
  • Tiger Foods Limited
  • Slot Enterprises
  • Payporte Technology Limited
  • Visionscape Sanitation Solutions Limited
  • Erisco Foods Limited Milk Cube account
  • God is Good Motors (Vehicle sales account)
  • Hubmart Stores Limited
  • Obasanjo Farms Nig. Ltd (Feedmill)
  • United Capital Plc

29 DAYS COUNTDOWN…

In a newspaper advertorial, the FIRS said it would enforce the payment of whatever outstanding each company had.

“This is to notify all Companies, which had their Bank Accounts placed under Lien by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) pursuant to Section 31 of the FIRSE Act, but are yet to regularise their tax status with the FIRS, that if they fail, refuse or neglect to pay the tax due within 30 days of this Notice, the FIRS shall in accordance with Section 49 (2) (a- d) of the FIRSE Act proceed and enforce the payment of the said tax against all the Directors, Managers, Secretaries and every other person concerned in the management of the Companies and recover the said tax from such persons without further notice,” it said.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the above Section authorises the FIRS to proceed against and punish every officer, Manager, Director, Secretary or any person concerned with the management of the Company in like manner as if he/she had committed the offence.”

Under lien gives the FIRS the power to hold on to the accounts and deduct whatever the customer owes. 

MTN Nigeria overtakes Dangote Cement as NSE’s largest company

MTN Nigeria has become the largest company by market capitalisation on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

At the end of trading on Monday, MTN Nigeria’s shares closed at N138.70 per share bringing the company’s market capitalisation to N2.82 trillion as against Dangote Cement’s N2.81 trillion.

Shares belonging to Dangote Cement closed at N164.5 per share.

In May when MTN Nigeria listed on the NSE, the company’s market capitalisation was N1.3 trillion leaving N782 billion margin between Dangote Cement.

The All-Share Index inched 190.60 points to 27,115.89 compared with 26,925.29 achieved on Friday.

Also, the market capitalisation which opened at N13.121 trillion rose by N93 billion to close at N13.214 trillion.

Courteville Business Solutions recorded the highest price gain of 10%, to close at 22k per share.

UACN came second with a growth of 6.67% to close at N4.80, while FCMB Group appreciated by five per cent to close at N1.68 per share.

AIICO Insurance rose by 4.92 per cent to close at 64k, while Oando appreciated by 4.48% to close at N3.50 per share.

MTN’s listing on the NSE was part of negotiations with Nigerian authorities to reduce a fine of N5.3 trillion by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for misdeeds with sim card registrations by MTN.

It listed a total of 20,354,513,050 ordinary shares of MTN Nigeria at a listing price of N90.00 per share.

MTN Nigeria is the first telecommunications network provider to be listed on the NSE Premium Board.

World Bank blacklists CCECC, five other Chinese firms in Nigeria for fraud

Some Chinese companies in Nigeria have been blacklisted by the World Bank for fraud and corruption.

The companies include China Railway Construction (International) Nigeria Company Limited, China Railway 18th Bureau Nigeria Engineering Company Limited, CCECC Nigeria Lekki (FTA) Company Limited, CCECC Nigeria Railway Company Limited, CRCC Petroleum & Gas Company Limited, and CCECC Nigeria Company Limited.

All the companies are very active in Nigeria, with ongoing or completed contracts for the construction of railways, highways, housing estates, airport terminals, municipal engineering, water resource, and hydro-power engineering projects for federal and state governments.

The World Bank announcement on its website accused the companies and several others around the world of violating the bank’s fraud and corruption policy.

Consequently, the six companies were debarred and declared ineligible to be awarded any World Bank-financed contracts for at least a year, between June 4, 2019 and March 3, 2020.

Fraud & corruption policy

It was not clear what specific infractions the companies committed, as there were no available details. No official of the World Bank in Nigeria Country office responded to calls on Sunday to seek for clarifications.

But, details on the bank’s website said the companies were accused of violating the provisions of the Procurement Guidelines, 1.16(a)(ii) bordering on fraud and corruption.

The policy is spelt out in the Procurement Guidelines and the Consultant Guidelines for projects executed before July 1, 2016; or through the World Bank Procurement Regulations for Investment Project Financing Borrowers for projects after July 1, 2016.

The bank’s policy requires borrowers, including beneficiaries of its loans, to observe the highest standard of ethics during the procurement and execution of bank-financed contracts.

In pursuit of this policy, the bank sees a corrupt practice as the “offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting, directly or indirectly, of anything of value to influence improperly the actions of another party.

Similarly, the bank sees the fraudulent practice as “any act or omission, including a misrepresentation, that knowingly or recklessly misleads, or attempts to mislead, a party to obtain financial or other benefits, or to avoid an obligation.”

More about affected companies

China Railway Construction (International) Nigeria Company Limited has registration No: N1000201600386. Its corporate office address is at No.34, Amazon Street, Maitama, Abuja.

Also, it is the subsidiary of the China Railway Construction Corporation Limited (CRCC) established in November 2007 in Beijing, China.

At the moment, the company is involved in the construction of the 186 kilometres single standard gauge tracks of the Abuja-Kaduna Railway.

The project is part of the $8.3 billion (N2.5 trillion) federal government rail modernisation programme, whose contract was awarded in 2010 to replace the existing narrow gauge system.

Although the contract was awarded initially in 2006, its implementation could not proceed due to funding constraints. In 2010, the contract was reviewed and broken into different standalone segments.

The CRCC also won the $1.53 billion contract for the rehabilitation of the 312 kilometres double-track standard gauge Lagos-Ibadan rail line.

All the contracts were to be funded under a financing deal involving concessionary loans facilitated by the China export-import (EXIM) bank and the Nigerian government.

China Railway 18th Bureau Nigeria Engineering Company Limited, with Registration No: N1000201800131), has its corporate office at Plot 60, Cadastral Zone B09, Kado District, Abuja.

Also, China Railway 18th Bureau Nigeria Company Limited, with Registration No: 2008-001998, is a subsidiary of China Railway 18th Bureau Group Company Limited. It specializes in the provision of heavy construction services. In August 2016, the company, along with China Railway Construction Electrification Bureau Group Company Limited, was awarded the contract for the construction, housing and transportation Ministry of Railways to the Kano City Light Rail (1,2,3,4 line).

The other companies sanctioned by the World Bank include CCECC Nigeria Lekki FTA Company Limited with registration No: 0241 at the Lekki Free Zone, Ibeju Lekki, Lagos. It is involved with the ongoing development of infrastructure at the Lekki FTA in Lagos.

The World Bank also named CCECC Nigeria Railway Company Limited among the affected companies.

The company with Registration No: 679271 has its operation base At Plot 215 Cadastral Zone C00, Institute and Research District, Km10, Airport Road, Abuja.

CRCC Petroleum & Gas Company Limited, with registration No: 1000201300324 and operational office NO.10A, Usuma Crescent, Maitama A5, Abuja is the oil and gas subsidiary of the CRCC.

CCECC Nigeria Company Limited with Registration No: 1000201200017 has its office as Plot 215 Cadastral Zone C00, Institute & Research District, Km10, Airport Road, Abuja.

None of the companies responded to calls to them on Sunday to seek their official reaction to the development.

CCECC railway contracts

In 2018, CCECC was enmeshed in a scholarship award scandal in which senior government officials, including ministers, shared among themselves opportunities offered young Nigerians to study abroad.

On June 7, 2018, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari, wrote to the then Minister of Industry, Trade & Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, about the offer by the Chinese firm to send 40 young Nigerians abroad for training under a “railway engineering scholarships”

Rather than throw open the offer to all qualified Nigerians, the Chinese firm allowed privileged government officials to hijack it for their wards and cronies.

Some of the government officials involved were the then Minister of State for Education, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Jigawa State Governor, Minister of Transportation, and the Deputy Chief of Staff at the Presidential Villa.

In May this year, BudgIT, a civic group focused on issues of government budget, raised issues about the light rail project awarded to CRCC by the Lagos State Government.

According to BudgIT, discrepancies exist between the $182 million contract reported in the 2010 annual report of the company to its shareholders and the $1.2 billion claimed by the Lagos State Government.

 

Premium Times 

Fowler replies Kyari, says recession, oil price affected tax revenue

The recession experienced by the Nigerian economy in 2016 as well as lower oil prices affected the revenue collected by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) between 2015 and 2018, Tunde Fowler, the chairman, has said.

Despite the challenges, Fowler explained, non-oil revenue such as VAT and company income tax — which he said are within the control of FIRS — have been on the increase compared to pre-2015 figures.

But oil-based taxes, such as petroleum profit tax (PPT), are beyond the control of the service.

He was responding to a memo from Abba Kyari, the chief of staff to the president, who said there were significant variances between the budgeted collections and actual collections for the period 2015 to 2018.

Kyari also said the actual collections for 2015 to 2017 were significantly worse than what was collected between 2012 and 2014.

In the letter dated August 8, 2019, Kyari gave Fowler up till August 19 to explain the reasons “for the poor collections”.

‘WE GREW NON-OIL REVENUE’

Fowler, who is rounding off his four-year term as FIRS chairman amid speculations that he will not be re-appointed, explained in his response that non-oil tax revenue has actually been on the rise.

He wrote in his response obtained by TheCable: “I refer to your letter dated 8th August, 2019 on the above subject matter and hereby submit a comprehensive variance analysis between budgeted and actual collections for each main tax item for the period 2012-2018 as requested (see appendix 1).

“Your letter stated that actual collections for a 3-year period were significantly worse than what was collected between 2012 and 2014. Total actual collection for the said period was N14,527.85 trillion, while total actual collection between 2016 to 2018 was N12,656.30 trillion. The highlight of these collection figures was that during the period 2012 to 2014, out of the N14,527.85 trillion, oil revenue accounted for N8,321.64 trillion or 57.28% while non-oil accounted for N6,206.22 trillion or 42.72% and during the later period of 2016 to 2018, out of the N12,656.30 trillion, oil revenue accounted for N5,145.87 trillion or 40.65% and non-oil revenue accounted N7,510.42 trillion or 59.35%. FIRS management has control of non-oil revenue collection figures while oil revenue collection figures are subject to more external forces.”

TheCable can also report that Fowler is upbeat that the initiatives he introduced have improve Nigeria’s tax revenue collections.

He wrote: “The non-oil revenue collection grew by N1,304.20 trillion or 21% within the period 2016 to 2018.

“Kindly note that the total budget collection figure during 2012 to 2014 stood at N12,190.52 trillion compared to N16,771.78 trillion for the period 2016 to 2018, which represent an increase of 37.58%.

“Please note that the variance in the budgeted and actual revenue collection performance of the Service for the period 2016 to 2018 was main attributed to the following reasons:

“1. The low inflow of oil revenues for the period especially Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT) was due to fall in price of crude oil and reduction of crude oil production. Notwithstanding government efforts to diversify the economy, oil revenues remains (remain) an important component of total revenues accruable to the Federation. The price of crude oil fell from an average of $113.72, $110.98 and $100.40 per barrel in 2012, 2013 and 2014 to $ 52.65, $43.80 and $54.08 per barrel in 2015, 2016 and 2017. There was also a reduction in crude oil production from 2.31mbpd, 2.18mbpd and 2.20mbpd in 2012, 2013 and 2014 to 2.12mbpd, 1.81mbpd and 1.88mbpd in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively.

“2. The Nigerian economy also went into recession in the second quarter of 2016 which slowed down general economic activities. Tax revenue collection (CIT and VAT) being a function of economic activities were negatively affected but actual collection of the above two taxes were still higher in 2016 to 2018 than in 2012 to 2014. During the years 2012, 2013 and 2014, GDP grew by 4.3%, 5.4% and 6.3% while in 2015, 2016 and 2017 there was a decline in growth to 2.7%, -1.6% and 1.9% respectively. The tax revenue
grew as the economy recovered in the second quarter of 2017.

“3. It is worthy of note that strategies and initiatives adopted in collection of VAT during the period 2015-2017 led to approximately 40% increase over 2012-2014 collections. In 2014 the VAT collected was N802billion, compared to N1.1 trillion in 2018. This increase is attributable to various initiatives such as ICT innovations, continuous taxpayer education, taxpayer enlightenment, etc embarked upon by the Service.

“4. Furthermore, it is pertinent to note that when this administration came on board in August 2015, the target the target for the two major non-oil taxes were increased by 52% for VAT and 45% for CIT. Notwithstanding the increase, FIRS has in line with the Federal government’s revenue base diversification strategy has grown the non-oil tax collection by over N1.304 trillion (21%) when the total non-oil tax collection for 2016-2018 is compared to that of 2012-2014.

“I am confident that our current strategies and initiatives will improve revenue collection and meet the expectations of government.

“Please accept the assurance of my highest regards.”

PRESIDENCY: FOWLER NOT UNDER INVESTIGATION

Meanwhile, Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, has said Fowler is not under investigation.

In a press statement on Monday afternoon, he said it is necessary “to state categorically that the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Babatunde Fowler, is not under any investigation”.

“The letter from the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, on which the purported rumour of an investigation is based, merely raises concerns over the negative run of the tax revenue collection in recent times,” he said.

“Taking a cue from today’s (Monday) presentation of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Retreat for Ministers-Designate, Federal Permanent Secretaries and Top Government Functionaries , which dwelt on an ‘Overview of the Policies , Programmes and Project Audit Committee,’ a body he chaired, projected revenue of government falls behind recurrent expenditure even without having factored in capital expenditure.

“Consequently, it would appear that the country might be heading for a fiscal crisis if urgent steps are not taken to halt the negative trends in target setting and target realisation in tax revenue.

“Anyone conversant with Federal Executive Council deliberations would have observed that issues bordering on revenue form the number one concern of what Nigeria faces today, and therefore, often take a prime place in discussions of the body.

“It is noteworthy and highly commendable that under this administration, the number of taxable adults has increased from 10 million to 20 million with concerted efforts still on-going to bring a lot more into the tax n

EFCC investigating how P&ID deal was approved

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele says the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is investigating the approval of the Process and Industrial Development gas processing deal.

Emefiele made this known on Monday while fielding questions from journalists on Monday before the commencement of the presidential retreat for ministers-designate at the State House Conference Centre.

“I am not scared at all and I think it is also important that this question has come up,” he responded when asked if he was scared of the impact of the judgement of the nation’s foreign reserves.

A British court had given P&ID the go-ahead to seize Nigerian assets worth $9 billion over the government’s inability to meet its side of an agreement to build a gas processing plant in Calabar, Cross River.

“Since the news about the judgement broke out late on Friday, we have been discussing with our counsels, and they have advised that there are sufficient and strong grounds on the basis of which we could file a stay of execution and also an appeal against that judgement.

“There are certain anomalies in the process leading to the award of that contract which is currently being looked into by the EFCC and I believe that the EFCC themselves have their own investigation reports about that.

“So, we will follow through and aggressively too on ensuring that the execution of that judgement is stayed and that the appeal succeeds at every level both within Nigeria and abroad.”

In a statement released on Saturday, Reno Omokri, an ex-aide to former president Goodluck Jonathan, had alleged that a cabal loyal to now-deceased former president Umar Musa Yar’adua signed the deal in January 2010 while Jonathan became acting president in February of the same year.

Emefiele assured that the CBN will move strongly to defend the country’s reserves as the judgement would have some impact on monetary policy.

“It is important for me to use this opportunity to assure our friends, local and foreign investors who called to expressed solidarity with us, not to express concern but to say that there is no need for anybody to worry. We know that the implication of that judgement has some impact on monetary policy and that is why the CBN is going to step forward and very strongly too to ensure that we defend the country and defend the reserves of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

NNPC contracts Halliburton to further oil search in Bauchi, Gongola Basin

The Frontier Exploration Services (FES) Unit of the NNPC, the Nigerian state hydrocarbon company, has awarded contracts to Halliburton to run drill stem tests (DSTs) and tubing conveyed perforation (TCP) on the Kolmani River-2, in Bauchi State, in the Gongola Basin, in the country’s northeast.

In the industry, the application of DST (a tool for measuring reservoir flow rates), is usually an indication that the results of wireline logging have signaled that the well has encountered some commercial pool of hydrocarbon.

The company has kept a tight lid on information, but Africa Oil+Gas Report learns that several feet of natural gas and oil may have been encountered, although the case for commerciality is up in the air.

“The sand is better developed at this location and when we were to hang the 9 5/8 inch casing at some few feet deeper than 10,000feet (3,048metres), we were hardly able to find a shale level to hang”, one source enthused. “We are drilling with a water based mud, so there are no issues about the stability of the well bore”. The story changed in the 8 ½ inch hole, according to our findings. The rate of penetration of the drill bit was so low from 13,100ft to 13, 250ft, according to field report, indicating tighter formation.

Kolmani-River-2 is being drilled to appraise the 1999 gas discovery made by Shell in Kolmani River-1. The Anglo Dutch major drilled the discovery well to a depth of 3,000metres (9,842feet), and Kolmani River-2 is planned to go close to 5,000feet deeper, to 4,350metres (14,270feet) than that, even though the location of the appraisal well is updip of the discovery well.

Shell didn’t test the discovery well, but went ahead and booked 33Billion standard cubic feet of gas as possible estimated recoverable reserves, based on some petrophysical results. NNPC, however, aims to collect as much geosicentific data as possible. “We are taking lots of sidewall cores, lots of fluid samples for PVT. The results are looking good.” The new well is being drilled by the Drillog operated Rig 101.

A commercial sized pool of hydrocarbon in Northern Nigeria will change the entire dynamics of politics in Africa’s largest economy.

NECA, LCCI, fault Buhari’s directive on food importation

The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association and the Centre for Social Justice say the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Central Bank of Nigeria to withdraw foreign exchange for importation of food is coming at a wrong time.

They made their views known on Wednesday in separate statements made available to our correspondents.

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, on the other hand, called for a clarification on the food items to be restricted from foreign exchange allocation.

The president had on Tuesday told the apex bank not to give a cent to anybody to import food into the country, saying by so doing, there will be steady improvement in agricultural production and attainment of full food security.

The president said some states like Kebbi, Ogun, Lagos, Jigawa, Ebonyi and Kano had already taken advantage of the federal government’s policy on agriculture with huge returns in rice farming.

However, the NECA in its statement said though the initiative was laudable, the country could not afford such policy now as it had yet to attain self-sufficiency in food production.

The Director-General, NECA, Mr Timothy Olawale, who spoke for the association, said that a wholesale immediate withdrawal of forex for food importation without giving a buffer period for businesses to adjust might have serious consequences on the economy.

He said, “We commend the President and indeed Federal Government for its numerous efforts at ensuring food sufficiency in Nigeria and protecting local farmers.

“We note most especially the Agricultural Promotion Policy championed by the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development since 2016.

“Though the recent thrust towards withdrawal of forex for imported foods is laudable and welcome, the timing, however, calls for concern.”

Olawale noted that the argument of conserving foreign exchange through the withdrawal or ban of forex for food importation was not tenable.

He advised that rather than a blanket withdrawal of forex on food and milk importation, a gradual withdrawal with a buffer period of not less than five years should be given.

Similarly, CSJ, in a statement by its Lead Director, Eze Onyekpere, said the presidential directive was illegal.

The group said that the directive was based on a false premise, as there was no evidence to show that the Federal Government’s agricultural programmes had led to self-sufficiency in food production in the country.

Reacting to the directive on Wednesday, the Director General, LCCI, Mr Muda Yusuf, asked for details on what constitute food in the context of the presidential directive.

Yusuf said, “First, there is a need to get more details and clarifications on what exactly constitutes food items in the context of the presidential directive. The harmonised system codes of the items affected need to be indicated.

“It is hoped that these details would be made available in subsequent releases by the CBN. This is essential for proper analysis of the possible impact on investment, welfare of citizens and the economy.

“We need to worry about the implications of policy pronouncements for investors’ confidence and the general sentiments of investors.

“Unemployment level in the country has reached a disturbing level of over 23 per cent, and rising. Youth unemployment is even much more. Yet the panacea for dealing with the scourge of unemployment and poverty is investment.”

He added that if policy and regulatory risks continued to escalate as currently being experienced, the chances of stimulating investment, whether domestic or foreign, would remain dim

FG’ll pay ‘failed investors’ N736bn to repossess Discos

The Federal Government is considering repossession of 10 electricity distribution firms as one of the options to rescue the nation’s beleaguered electricity industry.

This is coming ahead of the scheduled final performance review of the private firms that bought into the distribution companies carved out from the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria.

However, documents available to one of our correspondents show that the Federal Government would require up to $2.4bn (N736bn) to repossess the privatised distribution assets from the core investors if it finally takes the decision.

Giving a clue that it could recover the assets from the core investors, the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing in a document sighted by one of our correspondents has described the co-owners of the distribution companies as ‘failed investors.’

The distribution and generation companies carved out of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria were handed over to private investors on November 1, 2013, following the privatisation of the power sector by the President Goodluck Jonathan administration.

The Transmission Company of Nigeria, which is responsible for electricity transmission, is still fully owned and operated by the government.

The PUNCH had on Friday reported that 17 of the nation’s 27 power stations had been forced to shut down some of their units on the back of low demand by Discos, worsening the blackout being experienced by millions of customers across the country.

Total power generation dropped to 3,264.4 megawatts as of 6am on Monday, August 12 from 3,580.5MW on Sunday. It stood at 2,842.1MW as of 6am last Thursday.

Five and a half years after privatisation, the 11 Discos have been described as ‘technically insolvent.’

The ministry, in its new ‘Power Sector Policy Directives and Timelines,’ said there was an urgent need to recapitalise the Discos.

It described the inability of the Discos to improve customer service and meet operational costs as a direct consequence of their inability to raise capital.

The Bureau of Public Enterprises said in October 2018 that the five-year performance agreement with the core investors in the Discos, with the exception of Kaduna Disco, became effective on January 1, 2015 and the fifth anniversary for final performance review would therefore be December 31, 2019.

The ministry said the Discos’ accumulated debts to the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc and the Market Operator had made them technically insolvent.

On the option of repossessing the distribution assets, it said, “To do so within the provisions of the Share Sale Agreement will require a sum in the region of $2.4bn, some of which will be paid as compensation to the failed investors. This is not a desirable outcome. It is noteworthy that government is yet to pay the investor in Yola Disco for its negotiated return to government.”

On July 2015, the Federal Government took over Yola Electricity Distribution Company following the exit of the core investor after it declared a force majeure, citing insecurity in the North-East geopolitical zone of the country.

While highlighting the reasons for the inability of the Discos to raise the capital required, the ministry said new lenders would require additional equity injection.

“But any new equity investor would require clarity about how the accumulated debts would be treated, and what support, possibly in the form of subsidy, regulatory assets and or higher tariff, would be available to manage new operating shortfalls during a transition period,” it added.

Review power sale but don’t politicise exercise —ECAN

The President, Electricity Consumers Association of Nigeria, Mr Chijioke James, told one of our correspondents in a telephone interview that there was a need to revive the power sector.

He said, “It is a welcome development that by December, there will be a review to know how the core investors who took over the power assets have performed. It is based on that feedback mechanism that the government can make an informed decision, which should not be political because the power sector is a very strategic sector for the economy of our country.

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“Therefore, in taking any decision, they should have the overall national interest at heart, and not make the same mistakes made in the past. We will love to see a situation where things are done based on merit.

“The Discos that are doing well should be supported and encouraged to do more; those who have failed should be shown the way out.”

Cancelling Discos sale’ll come with contigent liability —TCN MD

Although the Managing Director of TCN, Mr Usman Mohammed, had consistently called for recapitalisation of the distribution companies, he said that cancelling the sale of the Discos was not in the best interest of the nation.

Mohammed had stressed the need for the recapitalisation of the Discos, saying the transmission company would support any initiative aimed at expanding the distribution network.

He said in an interview, “If you implemented right things wrongly, you should right the wrong instead of cancelling it. Because when you cancel it, you get it wrong completely. What we need is to correct it, and recapitalisation can correct it.

“If we cancel the privatisation, we are going to have a contingent liability and we will send a signal to the whole world that Nigeria is not private sector-friendly.

“Secondly, does government have sustainable money to invest in the power sector? No. When you cancel, you will return the money of the investors and you are going to pay them 20 per cent for five years.”

Speaking at the opening of the 23rd Nigeria Economic Summit in Abuja on October 10, 2017, the Chairman of Heirs Holding, Mr Tony Elemelu, had asked the government to dilute the shares of the private investors in the power companies.

Elumelu, a major shareholder in Transcorp Power Consortium, advised the government to invest more in the privatised power firms to wrest them from current operators.

Subsequently, he said, the government could give the Discos to investors who have the resource to run the distribution companies.

Although the government acknowledged at a point that it was considering this option, no concrete action had been seen along this line.

In March, the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, called on the Federal Government to revisit the privatisation of the sector.

He accused the People’s Democratic Party administration of sharing out the power assets to friends and cronies without very deep and thoughtful research and evaluation.

Acting on behalf of the Federal Government, the BPE had in its power sector reform programme overseen the sale of 15 power companies — 10 distribution companies and five generation companies — in 2013.

While $1.26bn was realised from the sale of the 10 distribution companies, $1.06bn was realised from the sale of the five generation companies.

The successful opening of financial bids for 15 successor companies towards the end of 2012 opened the gates for the financial inflows into the country in terms of privatisation proceeds.

For Abuja Distribution Company, Kann Consortium emerged as the preferred bidder; for Benin Disco, Vigeo Power Consortium and for Eko Disco, West Power and Gas.

For Enugu Disco, Interstate Electrics Limited emerged while for Ibadan Disco, Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Limited had emerged.

EDC/KEPCO Consortium emerged the preferred bidder for Ikeja Disco; Aura Energy Limited for Jos Disco; Sahelian Power Limited for Kano Disco; 4Power Consortium for Port Harcourt Disco; while Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Limited emerged for Yola Disco.

For the power generation companies, North-South Power Limited emerged for Shiroro Hydro Power Plc; Mainstream Energy Solutions emerged for Kainji Hydro Power Plc.

CMEC/EURAFRIC Energy Limited emerged for Sapele Power Plc; Amperion Power Distribution Limited emerged for Geregu Power Plc; while the Transcorp Consortium emerged for Ughelli Power Plc:

Two consortia also later emerged preferred bidders for the last of the two successor electricity companies from the Power Holding Company of Nigeria — Afam Power Plc and Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company.

With a bid of $260.05m, Taleveras beat TES Power to emerge the preferred bidder for Afam Power Plc, the last of the generating companies carved out from the defunct PHCN.

Similarly, Northwest Power Limited emerged the preferred bidder for Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company, the only remaining of the 11 distribution companies carved out from PHCN.

However, the sale of Afam to Televeras later fell apart.

The government is now in the process of reselling the GENCO alongside Yola Disco whose former core investor declared force majeure leading to repossession by the Federal Government.

Nigeria restates commitment to.oil production quotas

Nigeria has reaffirmed its unwavering commitment to production adjustments agreed upon under the Declaration of Cooperation (DoC) between member countries of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Non-OPEC Countries at the last Ministerial Meeting of what is known as OPEC Plus, held on July 2, 2019, Vienna, Austria.

Nigeria’s Representatives on the OPEC Economic Commission Board and Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari, made this known in a statement issued on Wednesday in Abuja.

According to the statement signed by the OPEC Representative, Nigeria is totally committed to full compliance with the agreement reached by the parties to the DoC.

“Right now we are not only committed to the agreement but we have elevated our attitude towards it to the point of complete devotion to the adjustments and we urge other parties to follow suit,” the OPEC Rep stated.

Kyari expressed strong optimism that the momentary and artificially induced bearish trends would naturally correct itself based on the strong market fundamentals which have remained steadfast despite the price slid.

He pointed out that with a visible steady decline in commercial stock overhang propelled by healthy demand, it is only logical for all advocates of oil price stability like the OPEC Plus allies to comply strictly with the agreed production adjustments.

He concluded that with the increasing volatility of the oil market, it has become commonsensical for Nigeria and all other parties to the agreement to entrench an attitude of unwavering devotion to the deal anchored on full and timely conformity to their obligations.

Shell wins Best Exhibitor Award, others at 2019 SPE conference  

Shell Companies in Nigeria have won the most coveted Best Exhibitor and eight other awards at the 2019 Nigeria annual international conference and exhibition of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) held in Lagos on August 5 -7,.

This comes barely a month after winning the Excellence Award, the highest industry recognition at the Nigeria Oil and Gas annual conference in Abuja on July 5. Shell had also won the Best Exhibitor award in the 2016 and 2018 editions of the SPE conference including other industry individual leadership trophies won by staff of the companies.

Shell exhibition combined illustrative and educative posters with learning sessions for young and student engineers and free medical services for conference participants where hundreds of persons received medical checks and drugs.

The SPE International President, Sami Alnuaim and the outgoing Chairman of the Nigeria Council of SPE, Debo Fagbami who made a joint presentation of the award described Shell as a leading light in the oil and gas industry providing direction and support particularly to indigenous companies in the industry.

Country Chair of SCiN and Managing Director, The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, Osagie Okunbor and the Managing Director, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, Bayo Ojulari received the award on behalf of Shell companies.

Okunbor described the award as a reward for consistent excellence and diligence displayed by the hardworking staff of Shell in Nigeria adding that Shell companies would continue to invest in industry growth, new technologies and professional development and affiliation of its workforce.

“We recognise that being an industry leader puts on us enormous responsibility and we have continued to rethink and reshape our strategies in a manner that brings optimal value to Nigeria, our partners and the local service industry”, he said.

According Okunbor, Shell companies are up-to-date on the conference theme of ‘Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Mobile Technology: Changing the Future of the Energy Industry.

“We are leaders in deploying artificial intelligence and are using it in areas ranging from seismic analysis to drilling and predictive maintenance because we know that digitalisation has a big role in delivering all of Shell’s strategic goals”, he added.

A Shell Nigeria team of engineers led by Ogochukwu Benheogor won the Best Technical Paper award at the conference while Elisha Ezekiel-Hart won the technical award for projects, facilities and construction.

Other winners were Okenufowo Ojonah (Formation Evaluation) and Erasmus John Nnanna (Regional Production and operations). Stella Egwim Ogbodu won the Regional Director’s Recognition Award while Oghogho Effiom received the Award for Regional Service.

Earlier in the year, Shell companies in Nigeria emerged the international oil company with the most impactful local content initiatives in the upstream category at the 2019 edition of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Opportunity Fair organised by the country’s local content regulator, Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board.

The companies were also named the Local Content Operator of the Year at the 2019 Annual Oil Industry Achievement Awards by the Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN).

Moghalu to Buhari: Leave CBN alone

A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Kingsley Moghalu, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to allow the apex bank discharge its mandate independently.

Moghalu, who was the presidential candidate of the Young Progressive Party (YPP) in the last presidential election, said this in a series of tweets on his Twitter handle yesterday.

“@NGRPresident should leave @cenbank alone to discharge its mandate independently within the ambit of the CBN Act, and stop “directing” it. @cenbank should on its part assertive its independence (assuming it actually believes it should be independent, but the Act says so, clearly!”, Moghalu said in one of the tweets.

Buhari to CBN: No more forex for food import

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Daura, Katsina State, disclosed that he had instructed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to henceforth, stop the provision of foreign exchange for food importation.

The president who made the disclosure while hosting the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors to an Eid-el-Kabir lunch at his Daura country home, said the decision was informed by the steady improvement in agricultural production, and eventual attainment of food security.

He said the nation’s foreign reserve would be conserved and strictly utilized for diversification of the economy, and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food import bills.

“Don’t give a cent to anybody to import food into the country,’’ he said.

According to Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement, Buhari noted that states such as Kebbi, Ogun, Lagos, Jigawa, Ebonyi and Kano had already taken advantage of the federal government’s policy on agriculture with huge returns in rice farming, and urged more states to also explore what he viewed as the ongoing revolution to feed the nation.

“We have achieved food security, and for physical security, we are not doing badly,’’ Shehu quoted the president.

The statement also said Buhari expressed happiness over the decision of young Nigerians, including graduates, to explore agric-business and entrepreneurship, with many posting testimonies of good returns on their investments.

It also said the president pledged that the incoming ministers would be “taught’’ and thoroughly guided to ensure they meet the targets of the APC-led federal government for Nigerians by regularly monitoring their performances and scaling up targets by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF).

“The President assured that he will attend the Presidential Policy Retreat organised for the ministers by the OSFG, and insisted on compliance with laid down targets on key sectors of the economy that will directly impact on the livelihood of Nigerians.

“In his remarks, the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr John Kayode Fayemi, said the President’s sense of justice, fairness and forthrightness had turned a major inspiration to governors on the way forward for the country.

“He said the challenges faced by states ‘were enormous,’ but the governors had remained undaunted, assuring the president of strong support and ‘the very best effort’’ to overcome all the obstacles.

“The Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum and Governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, appreciated the President for the unique leadership style of maintaining a healthy relationship with governors on individual and collective basis, pointing out that they had been ‘energised,’ to do more in their states,” the statement added.

Furthermore, Shehu said Bagudu commended the president for making bold and courageous efforts to reposition the economy in the interest of majority of Nigerians through inclusive policies, observing that “the country is more secure than in 2015, and the country is more prosperous than in 2015 because you are working for the majority of the people.”

He also said the governor pointed out that the party had been repositioned, after the 2019 elections, to work for the benefits of the majority of Nigerians, noting that “there will be two elections this year and we need to work towards winning the two states.’’