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Auto dealers ask Buhari to call Customs boss to order

STATEMENT BY THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF AUTOMOBILE MARKETERS (NAAM)

On Saturday the 28th day of September, 2019, men of the Nigeria Customs Service carried out a wholesale clamp down on automobile dealerships nationwide with the sealing of all our members’ Premises.
It is very important to note that before the said sealing, no Court Order was obtained, neither was any Notice issued to us nor did we receive any communication or correspondence from the said Customs Service informing us of the reasons behind the said sealing of our members premises.

When some of our members engaged the Customs Services, they were informed that the exercise was carried out with a view to ascertain if smuggled vehicles were in the respective premises and that within a few days, the issue would be resolved after the verification of the importation documents of the automobiles in the sealed premises.
As we speak, the siege has entered its fourth week, thereby occasioning untold financial losses and severe hardship for not just us, the auto dealers but for the thousands of Nigerians employed in our businesses.

We have noted over time that the Comptroller-General of Customs appears to be zealously committed to improving the revenue generating capacity of the service.
We, however, have grave reservations as to the legality of this present action. While we have in the last three weeks been engaged in dialogue with the Customs service authorities, we have noted that our reputation as responsible corporate citizens of this country is being impugned and scandalised, no thanks to the prolonged closure of our business premises.
Thus, the public is left with the impression that we are all economic saboteurs and smugglers.

We are, therefore, constrained to make our position known to the public and emphatically state as follows: -.

1. None of our members is involved in the act of smuggling nor do we stock in our premises any smuggled vehicles whatsoever.

2. The sealing up of our premises was not sanctioned or backed by an order of Court.

3. The Customs and Excise Management Act does not empower the Customs Service to seal a business premises without first identifying contraband goods within the premises.

4. We as bona fide businessmen and corporate citizens lawfully engaged in the business of importation, sales and service of automobiles do not have the licence and or authority to personally clear automobiles directly from the ports as that duty statutorily belongs to Customs Licensed Clearing Agents. Therefore, any discrepancy in the documentation of any automobile imported through a Nigerian Sea Port should be placed at the doorsteps of the Customs Licensed Clearing Agents and the Customs Service.

Consequently, we are at a loss as to why we should bear the brunt of this draconian, ill-conceived and drastic blanket action. Even though we have been groaning under a cocktail of duties, multiple levies, taxes and terminal charges that have made the landing cost of automobiles into Nigeria the most expensive in the world.
We are particularly burdened by the 35% automotive industry levy payable after the stipulated 35% import duty. A fact not lost on the Comptroller General of Customs who has had cause to complain about it recently.

As patriotic Nigerians, we stand with Nigerian Customs Service in their drive for increased revenue and their determination to curb smuggling. Even as we commend the determination of Col. Hammed Ali (rtd), the Comptroller General of Customs to introduce international best practices in the process of clearing goods at our ports in the face of the chaotic state of affairs, we believe that due process should be followed without jeopardising the businesses of thousands of law abiding automobile dealers by this brazen and blanket clampdown.

To be sure, the effect of this unfortunate action on the part of the Customs Service has far reaching negative consequences on the reputation of Nigeria as a safe haven for investors and corresponding effect on Foreign Direct Investments. It stifles economic growth and negates this administration’s stated resolve to create employment because at the moment this unlawful action is threatening the job security of hundreds of thousands of Nigerians employed by us.

By this statement, we are making an urgent appeal to the President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on the Nigerian Customs Service to rescind and desist from carrying out such unlawful and draconian actions in the future.

We are also conscious and well aware of our rights at law and should our premises continue to remain shut, we shall be constrained to enforce our rights and seek legal redress by commencing legal proceedings against the Nigeria Customs Services which would naturally come with damages for the huge amount of losses we have suffered.

In conclusion, we make a clarion call on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the distinguished President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to prevail on the Nigeria Customs Service to cause an immediate unsealing of the premises of all the automobile dealers without any further delay.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria

JOSEPH IRIAH Esq.
(Secretary)

Falana writes Lawan: No need for loans if we recover $103bn oil sale loss

Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has asked the National Assembly to work with anti-graft agencies for the recovery of “$103.7 billion lost on oil sale”.

In a letter to Senate President Ahmad Lawan, the senior lawyer said if Nigeria can recover the money lost to oil sale, there would be no need to seek foreign loans.

Nigeria is currently planning to secure the first tranche of a $3 billion loan from World Bank in April. According to Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, who disclosed this, the facility is meant to improve the power sector.

But Falana said Nigeria lost a larger part of the proceeds from oil as a result of the non-implementation of the deep offshore and inland basin production contracts act.

In the letter dated October 18, Falana said in 2015, he had raised the alarm that both government and international oil companies in the country failed to stick to the agreement for an upward review of loyalties whenever crude oil was sold beyond $20 per barrel in the international market.

“In his reaction to our allegation of economic sabotage by the public officers who deliberately refused to implement the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act the immediate past Minister of State in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachukwu admitted that the non implementation of the law by some unnamed public officers had led to a loss of oil revenue of over $60 billion,” he wrote.

“But due to the reluctance of the federal government to enforce the law the governments of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers States instituted an action at the Supreme Court in 2016 to compel the Federal government to recover the accrued royalties.

“In the judgment delivered in the case on October 18, 2018 the Supreme Court directed the Federal government to recover the royalties that had not been collected from the International Oil Companies for the past 18 years. Based on the judgment of the apex court the Federal government has demanded for the immediate payment of the sum of the sum of $62 billion by the defaulting oil companies.

“But the affected oil companies have filed fresh suits in the federal high court challenging the claim of the federal government. It is hoped that the federal high court will speed up the hearing of the new cases in view of the categorical pronouncement of the Supreme Court on the right of the federal government to recover the outstanding royalties.

“The National Extractive Industry and Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has disclosed that sum of $22 billion and N481 billion has been withheld from the Federation Account by the NNPC and some oil companies. Without any justification whatsoever the federal government has ignored the findings of the NEITI.

“If the National Assembly, under your able leadership, is prepared to resist pressures from vested interests and muster the political will to recover the said fund Nigeria will have no business begging for foreign loans from China, African Development Bank and the World Bank. Therefore, the National Assembly may wish to collaborate with the anti graft agencies in the recovery of the said sum of $103.7 billion without any delay.”

Falana alleged that in the course of their work on leakages in the national economy, they also discovered that sometime in 2006, the management of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) illegally withdrew $7 billion from the nation’s foreign reserves and fixed same in 14 commercial banks.

He said Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor, had also ignored their demand for the recovery of $7 billion and the accrued interests from the 14 commercial banks.

Apart from the expected revenue of $1.5 billion from the implementation of the amended deep offshore and inland basin production contracts act, Falana said the outstanding royalties, fixed deposit and other funds withheld or diverted from the federation account are not less than $103.7 billion.

Buhari to meet Putin in Russia

President Muhammadu Buhari will meet with Valdimir Putin, his Russian counterpart, within the week.

Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday.

Shehu said the Nigerian leader will leave Abuja on Monday to attend a three-day Russia-Africa summit in Sochi, Russia.

“The event, which will be held between October 23rd to 25th, will focus on exploring and expanding opportunities in security, trade and investment, science and technology, and gas production, Shehu said in a statement.

“The summit, which will be attended by African Heads of State, will bring fresh perspectives on some global issues and challenges like nuclear technology, energy development, digital transformation, environment, technical security, mining and steel, education, agriculture, infrastructure and development strategies.

“The summit, which will be attended by African Heads of State, will bring fresh perspectives on some global issues and challenges like nuclear technology, energy development, digital transformation, environment, technical security, mining and steel, education, agriculture, infrastructure and development strategies.”

Shehu said the meeting with the Russian president will “further strengthen relations in security, trade and investment, and building partnership that will enhance Nigeria’s huge gas potential, following Russia’s remarkable success in gas exportation.”

The governors in Buhari’s delegation are Muhammad Yahaya (Gombe), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara) and Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti).

The ministers are Geoffrey Onyeama (foreign affairs), Adeniyi Adebayo (trade and investment), Olamilekan Adegbite (mines and steel development), and Timipre Sylva, minister of state for petroleum.

IMF supports Nigeria’s border closure —Minister

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, says the International Monetary Fund supports Nigeria’s closure of its land borders because it understands that the action is not punitive.

Addressing newsmen in Washington on Sunday, Ahmed explained that the measure was intended to restore Nigeria’s relationship with its neighbours, based on commitments made.

She said that President Muhammadu Buhari did not want to approve the closure because he was mindful of the adverse effect it would have on the economies of neighbours.

According to her, there were several engagements between Nigeria and the neighbouring countries toward securing compliance to the rules, “but things got worse”.

“Of course, there will be economic impact on the side of our neighbours due to the border closure, that is a consequence of it.

“In a manner of speaking, IMF supports the border closure that we have done because they understand that the closure was not meant to be punitive.

“It was meant for us to restore our relationship with our neighbours back to the commitments that we made.

“The commitment that we have among these countries is that goods can come through their ports to Nigeria.

“They are supposed to come in sealed containers escorted to Nigeria for the Nigeria Customs Service to inspect the goods and charge them.

“But that is not what is happening. They allow containers to be opened, and also allow goods to be smuggled beyond the formal borders through several illegal routes,’’ she fumed.

The minister reiterated that Nigeria would ensure that rules were obeyed now that it had committed itself to the African Continental Free Trade Area,“ otherwise local industries will suffer.”

She said that a lot of discussions were ongoing between Nigeria and the affected countries toward securing their re-commitment to the rules governing cross-border trade.

(NAN)

FIRS establishes tax office for non-resident taxpayers

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has established a tax office, dedicated solely to the administration of taxes for Non-Resident Persons.

This is contained in a Public Notice signed by the Executive Chairman, FIRS,
Tunde Fowler.

Designated Non-Resident Persons Tax Office (NRPTO), the notice clarified that a non-resident person refers to a foreign company as defined in the Companies Income Tax Act (Cap C2, LFN 2004 as amended) or an individual (who is resident outside Nigeria and derives income or profit from Nigeria) as defined in the
Personal Income Tax Act (Cap P8, LFN 2004as amended).

The notice said that FIRS has identified Non-resident taxpayers as very important segment of the tax-paying public for the purposes of devoting to them specialised
attention.

“The devotion of attention to this segment of taxpayers, Fowler said “is to
enhance tax certainty, promote voluntary compliance, reduce tax disputes and
avoid incidence of double taxation.

“In view of the foregoing, the FIRS hereby notify all non-resident persons
operating in Nigeria and the general public that: Non-Resident Persons’ Tax
Office (NRPTO) which will handle all tax affairs of non-resident persons
(individuals or corporate) has been established; The NRPTO is located within
the International Tax Department at 3rd Floor, FIRS Building, 17B Awolowo Road,
Ikoyi, Lagos.

“As from 1st January 2020, all non-resident persons liable to tax in Nigeria shall submit every return, correspondence or enquiry relating to all the taxes
administered by the Service to the Non-Resident Persons’ Tax Office; and Tax
files of non-resident persons shall thenceforth be domiciled at the NRPTO”, the notice said.

Fowler further enquiries should be directed to: The Executive
Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, or Revenue House, 20 Sokode
Crescent, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja or email enquiries@firs.gov.ng .

Such non-resident taxpayers are also free to contact the Director,
International Tax Department, 3rd Floor, FIRS Building, 17B, Awolowo Road,
Ikoyi – Lagos, or email nrptax.itd@firs.gov.ng

NRPTO will be devoted solely to international taxation to serve non-resident persons, including all tax treaty operational issues, cross-border transactions,

inter-company transactions and income derived by non-resident individuals.in
Nigeria.

Fowler noted that the “devotion of attention to this segment of taxpayers is to enhance tax certainty, promote voluntary compliance, reduce tax disputes and
avoid incidence of double taxation”

Achuba insists he remains Kogi dep gov, seeks Buhari’s intervention

The impeached Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Mr Simon Achuba, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the political crisis currently rocking the state to prevent breakdown of law and order.

Achuba made the call at a press conference in Lokoja on Sunday, shortly after packing out of his official residence.

He said that the president’s elderly intervention would save the state and the All Progressives Congress (APC) from an impending danger.

Achuba described his impeachment by the House of Assembly as act of extreme lawlessness, saying that he had instructed his lawyers to commence a judicial process to reclaim his seat.

He accused the executive and the legislative arms of government of treating him like a common criminal by calling policemen to barricade the entrance to his house.

The impeached deputy governor said that electricity supply to his official residence was also disconnected and power generator disabled to force him out few hours after his purported impeachment.

He insisted that swearing in anyone else as deputy governor amounted to illegality and a breach of the constitution.

“My purported impeachment last Friday by the state House of Assembly was unconstitutional and an illegality that will not stand the test of judiciary,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Assembly has accused members of the panel that investigated the allegations levelled against the former deputy governor of compromising the assignment given to them.

The Assembly’s Majority Leader, Hassan Abdulahi, made the accusation in a statement he issued on Sunday in Lokoja.

Based on the rules of procedure given to members of the panel, Bello said that their assignment was a fact-finding one, which did not require them to give any resolution.

“The panel submitted its report to us, and based on the report, we gave our verdict.

“The rule of procedure says that the panel was a fact finding one and as such, they were not to give judgement. This was in the rule of procedure which they accepted.

“They are not supposed to give any verdict in this circumstance. The decision of whether the deputy governor is guilty or not guilty is that of the House.

“If you look at Section 188(11), it says that the House of Assembly is the only authority which determines what gross misconduct is. It is not for the panel to determine,” the lawmaker explained.

He also expressed displeasure with the reports of the panel being put in public domain.

“How come that few minutes later, the whole reports were on social media, even before the deliberation of the House on the same report? Again, I should let you know that even the report that is in the public domain was not signed.

“In the rule of procedure, it was written boldly that the panel shall not give the report of its investigation to anybody except to the Assembly.

“We question the rationale behind the statement credited to the panel Chairman, Mr John Baiyeshea, on the issue and wonder what his interest is.

“So, if the panel has gone ahead to release the report to anybody, that means it has compromised.

“It is a known fact that the impeached deputy governor was on some national television stations, discussing issues that should be classified information about the state government, thus acting against the oath of secrecy he swore to uphold.

“Does that not amount to a gross misconduct?” he queried.

The majority leader claimed that Achuba confirmed before the panel that he did appear on those stations.

“Aside that, he (Achuba) also affirmed through an affidavit that he did commit the offence as alleged, and besides, the reports he submitted came in three parts. Then, how come the version on the social media is only parts I and II?

“In a nutshell, his actions already have negated the oath of secrecy. Is that not gross misconduct? Achuba also lied that he was not paid his salary when the schedules of payment showed clearly that he was paid.

“These and many more showed that he has negated his functions as deputy governor,” Bello said.

Police confirm abduction of Area Commander in Kaduna

The Kaduna State Police Command, has confirmed the abduction of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Musa Rambo, the Police Area Commander in Suleja.

Confirming the incident, the spokesman of the command, DSP Yakubu Sabo, said the ACP was abducted on Saturday at about 3.30pm.

Sabo said on Sunday in Kaduna that the police officer’s car with registration number KRD 753 BT and his ID card were found abandoned along the road by a team of Operation Safe Heaven.
Sabo added that the vehicle was abandoned near Kanock Bridge, a border area between Kaduna and Nasarawa States.

He also said that contact had been established with the kidnappers who requested for ransom, but did state how much is being demanded by the abductors.

Sabo however said efforts are in top gear to rescue the ACP and arrest the culprits.
The State Commissioner of Police, Ali Janga assures the public of the command’s resolve to secure the release of the victim.

“He enjoin the people of the state to continue to support the Police with relevant information that could help the command to overcome the recent security problems.”

CBN opposes MTN’s planned charges for USSD transactions

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has opposed plans by MTN to charge their subscribers for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) access to banking services from October 21.

The Governor of CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, gave the bank’s position at a news briefing by the Nigerian delegation to the just-concluded World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings, in Washington on Sunday.

MTN, in an SMS message to its subscribers, had said the decision was on the request of the banks and would take effect from October 21.

“Yello, as requested by your bank, from October 21, we will start charging you directly for USSD access to banking services. Please contact your bank for more info(rmation),’’ the message said.
Responding to a question seeking his reaction to the announcement, the CBN governor said the bank would not allow that to happen.

“About five, four months ago, I held a meeting with some telecom companies as well as the leading banks in Nigeria at Central Bank, Lagos.

“At that time, we came to a conclusion that the use of USSD is a sunk cost. What we mean by a sunk cost is that it is not an additional cost on the infrastructure of the telecom company.

“But the telecom companies disagreed with us, they said it is an additional investment on infrastructure and for that reason, they needed to impose it.
“I have told the banks that we will not allow this to happen. The banks are the people who give this business to the telecom companies and I leave the banks and the telecom companies to engage.

“I have told the banks that they have to move their business, move their traffic to a telecom company that is ready to provide it at the lowest possible, if not zero cost.

“And that is where we stand, and we must achieve it,’’ he said.
The transactions to be affected by the charges include intra- and inter-bank money transfers, through USSD, among others.

FG sets aside $1.61bn for 24-hour power supply

The Managing Director, Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Alhaji Usman Gur, says the Federal Government, in collaboration with international donor agencies, has set aside over $1.61 billion to ensure constant power supply in the country.

Gur, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of the TCN revealed this on Sunday in Kano while briefing newsmen at the Kumbotso power sub-station.

According to him, the project will be carried out under the Transmission Rehabilitation Expansion Programme.
“We are rehabilitating and expanding to degree 20, 000 Mega Watts by 2022 across the country,” he said.

He noted that, the federal government has already earmarked about N32 billion to compensate Nigerians whose lands, houses and farms could be affected by the Righ-Of-Way to create Power Lines for the execution of the project.

“The total amount that we are going to pay for compensation across the country is about N32 billion. And the total project cost is 1.61 billion dollars. The project will be supported by various international donors.

“The compensation for right-of-way from Kumbotso sub-station to Rimi Zagara will cost about N3 billion. We have not completely validated it. The total cost for compensation across the country being provided by the Federal Government, ” he said.

Gur who is also the chairman of the West African Power Pool (WAPP) Committee Executive Board stated that he led the TCN team to Kano to validate and look at the route that ran from the Kumbotso Transmission sub-station to Rimi Zakara.

“You know we are going to connect Rimi Zakara to this sub-station (Kumbotso). Rimi Zakara is the place we are putting another 330 KV Sub-station, just like this one in Kumbotso.”

“The mistake that happened in the past is that we normally award contract for line without doing the study. You know the study will establish who are the people under the right-of-way; and who are those people that are going to be affected by the lines.

“So, we are supposed to have come up with those people and pay them their compensation.

“Unfortunately, this contract was awarded many years, even before I came. It is not only this one, many of them are like that. They awarded the contracts without the payment of compensation.

“That is why now, we are trying to pay the compensation, we are validating it, but we also need to tell people that this takes time, because right now, we have over 1000 people who need to be compensated within Kano alone.

“That is why I am here, I will go through the routes and see exactly what are in the right-of-way. We are actually collaborating with Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje because some people who have land on the right-of-way are seeking for relocation.

“We are going to request to the governor to relocate them and give them land in some other places so that we can build the line,” he said.

According to him, “what we are doing for Kano state, actually is that we are trying to change the game. It is what you call game changer. Right now, the only line that supplies Kano is the 330 Single-Sighted Line that run from Kaduna to Kano.

“We are bringing a Code Line from Kaduna to Kano. Now, you know we need to get a source of supply to transport the line from Kaduna to Kano. When I came newly in February, 2017, the line between Jos and Kaduna was funded only 10 per cent, but today the line is 98 per cent completed.

“That means we have bulk power at the double-sighted line apart from the Single-sighted line from Jos to Kaduna. Then from Shiroro to Kaduna, we have two Single-sighted lines; none of them can carry more than 300 Mega Watts.

“We are taking one of them and we are going to construct it into a Code Line, ” he said.

He further explained that those projects, particularly, the one from Shiroro to Kaduna, the procurement of that line is about 80 Per Cent completed and it is funded by French Development Agency.

Gur added that from Kaduna to Kano, TCN is building a Code Line, adding that the public information, this is the first time in the history of Nigeria that TCN is doing 330 Code Line.

He said this mean it is going to carry, four Conductors per pair, which is expected to bring 2,400 Mega Watts of power.

“Now, I will also want to tell you that we want to change the game here completely. So, there is a line we are building from Kainji to Birnin Kebbi, Benin Kebbi to Sokoto; and also from Katsina to Daura, Daura to Gwiwa and from Gwiwa to Jogana. That line is also funded by AFD that is French Development Agency.

“In fact, the line from Katsina to Daura, Daura to Gwiwa, Gwiwa to Jogana is going to evacuate the Solar IPP in Gwiwa which is going to be the like of the Marrakech Solar IPP in Morocco”, Gur assured.

According to him, on that line, the European Union gave the TCN a grant, which is free money for the Nigerian government, worth about 25 million Euros.

“Now we are working to close the link between Sokoto to Kaura Namoda, and Kaura Namoda to Katsina. Now, if you complete this line from Kumbotso Sub-station to Rimi Zakara, that line also went to Katsina; which means from Kainji, you can feed Kano through Sokoto, Katsina, Daura and Gwiwa.

“We also have another line that is coming from Kaduna to Kano. I also want to tell you that we sent a proposal to the West African Power Pool, and it was approved by the Committee of Heads of State and Government on Dec. 22, 2018 where President Muhammadu Buhari chaired that meeting.

“We have approved another line that will come from Calabar. It will come from Ikon to Ogoja to Kasimbula, to Mambilla,bto Jalingo, down to Yola, and move to Hong, to Biu, to Damaturu, Potiskum, Azare, to Dutse, and then to Jogana in Kano.

“This is another 330 Double-sighted line. This very line is under what we call multi-national project. This project is under the ECOWAS project.

He explained that government is working towards launching the study.
“This is what I have pre-planned before I left Abuja to Kumbotso sub-station here in Kano.

“This means we are going to have another Double-sighted line that will come to Kano, which means Kano will be supplied from three sources: through Sokoto, through Kaduna, and then through Calabar.

“When this is done, it then means that we have solved the problem of bulk electricity supply to Kano, and this is what we are doing. And that will place Kano on a status we call MNS2, meaning if 2, 330KV Double-sighted line goes out, Kano will still receive supply of electricity,” he said.

He added:“however, I will require the support of the people of Kano because all these things we are doing need some level of sacrifices from the good people of Kano state, because definitely, those lines will pass through people’s houses, lands, and farms.

“Therefore, people have to make sacrifice. When you don’t make sacrifice, there is no way we can solve the problem of electricity.

“I can tell you that the difference between development and lack of development or the difference between poverty and prosperity in any part of the world is actually electricity; and that is why we are doing all these so that we can solve the problem of electricity in Kano,” he said.

Rapist begs for forgiveness, says ‘action not concluded before my arrest’

30-year-old water vendor caught defiling a nine-year-old girl in Adamawa State has pleaded for leniency on the grounds that he had not “concluded” his act before he was apprehended.

The suspect, Mohammed Babangida, who was paraded by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) on Friday, told newsmen that he was a first offender, and that he regretted his act.

“This is my first time of doing this thing and I didn’t even ‘conclude it’ when my door was knocked, forcing me to stop.

“I want to beg for forgiveness as a married man with children, based in Bauchi; I don’t want this shameful thing to wreck my family.

“The whole thing started some days ago when the girl begged me for N50 to buy cake, claiming she was hungry, which I gave her.

“Another day, she also begged for money and I gave her N20, she again came to my house and I gave her N50 and we entered the room,” Babangida narrated.

Speaking earlier on the arrest of the suspect, the State Commandant of NSCDC in Adamawa, Alhaji Nuraddeen Abdullahi, said Babangida was apprehended in Damare Ward of Yola town, following a report from residents of the ward.

He said that the victim had been taken to the Yola Sexual Assault Referral Centre for treatment and compilation of needed evidence to prosecute the suspect.

“The suspect will be charged to court for prosecution after the intervention and advice of the Director Public Prosecution,” Abdullahi said.

The commandant, who expressed concern over incidents of rape of minors, urged the public to do away with the culture of silence by reporting such incidents for necessary action.

“Our command has a Humanitarian and Gender-Based Violence Unit, which statutory duty is to handle this type of cases.

“We are always ready to handle this type of case and, therefore, urge the public to always speak out on rape and other gender-based violence,” Abdullahi pleaded.

Journalists don’t like having sex, lawyers hardest to please in bedroom, research finds

Latest research findings have shown that of all the professionals, journalists have been found to be less sexually active, as the majority of them don’t have time for sexual activities, while lawyers are said to be the hardest to be pleased by their spouses in the bedroom when making love.

Hence, if your sex life leaves much to desired, your job may be to blame, the new survey says.

According to the survey by Lelo UK, it said 2,000 men and women were asked about their sex lives, as well as their occupation.

At the other end of the scale, journalists, it was said, appear to have the least sex, with one-fifth of respondents claiming they only have sex once a month.

Likewise, the survey also revealed that lawyers are the hardest to please in the bedroom, with 27 per cent admitting to faking an orgasm every time they have sex.

An expert at LeloUK, the organisation that conducted the research, Kate Moyle, said: “Even within groups such as professions where there is a lot of similarities, we have to consider that there is a huge amount of individual differences impacting people’s sexuality and sex lives.

An expert at Lelo UK, the organisation that conducted the research, Kate Moyle, said: “Even within groups such as professions where there is a lot of similarities, we have to consider that there is a huge amount of individual differences impacting people’s sexuality and sex lives.

“However, what we may expect are some trends, for example, the level of physical activity in a career such as a farmer, rather than someone in an office setting may impact levels of fitness and energy.

“The lifestyle factors of our jobs such as flexibility of working hours and the environment are also likely to have an impact on all our lives not just our sex lives

But on the final analysis, the results revealed that farmers have the most sex, with over 33 per cent claiming to have sex at least once a day.

Farmers were closely followed by architects, with 21per cent of the architects spoken to said they have sex once a day, followed by hairdressers, 17 per cent of whom said they have sex once a day.

Another fuel tanker catches fire in Onitsha

 

Just a day after a fire ignited by a crashed tanker killed at least three persons in Onitsha, another fuel tanker Friday morning also crashed and caught fire in the commercial city of Anambra State.

The incident occurred on the Enugu-Onitsha expressway around 3 a.m.

However, no lives were lost in the incident.

A witness, Chiedu Beluchi, said the vehicle fell and spilt its contents believed to be petrol into the drainage which quickly spread to the surrounding area.

“Around 3 a.m we heard shouts of ‘fire,’ ‘fire’. I thought it was our building. When we rushed out it was at Enugu-Onitsha express. A tanker laden with fuel fell on the express exactly in front of a filling station,” Beluchi said.

Unlike Wednesday’s incident where the Anambra State Fire Service failed to show up with their fire fighting equipment, Beluchi said the firefighters quickly put out the fire.

“This time, Anambra State Fire Service came swiftly and before 4:30 a.m the fire had been put out and stopped from causing havoc in the residential area.”

Another resident, Ada Igwe, however said the fire destroyed some cars parked on the street around the area.

“The fuel tanker fell this on the Onitsha Enugu expressway opposite Bessoy filling station and burst into flames which entered Omagba Phase 2 and burnt some cars parked along the drainage line,” she said.

“This time around, the fire service responded well after they were contacted by my men,” the police chief said.

Wednesday’s fire incident continued to elicit reactions from across the state.

The senator representing Anambra North District, Stella Oduah, in a statement, said she will donate three fire trucks to help in fire fighting in the state.

“Sequel to my statement yesterday where I promised to look into ways of ameliorating the plight of victims in yesterday’s fuel tanker inferno, I have decided on the following steps:

“Wounded victims are encouraged to go to the Saint Charles Borromeo Hospital & Holy Rosary Hospital, Waterside where arrangements have been put in place to receive and treat them for free”.

“I shall be making a donation of three fire trucks to the Federal Fire Service in Onitsha to ensure they are better equipped to avert future occurrences like this”, Mrs Oduah said.

The lawmaker also said she would work with SMEDAN to develop access to soft loans and grants for the affected youth to help get them back on their feet.

“I shall be working with my colleagues to explore the legislative option on the need to regulate the movement of heavy-duty trucks on our Trunk A roads to prevent such calamities from ever happening again,” she said.

Also, the senator representing Anambra Central District, Uche Ekwunife, commiserated with the victims of the fire disaster.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Kingsley Ubani, the lawmaker described the incident as sad and unfortunate.

“What is most saddening is that the incident which took lives and destroyed goods worth millions of Naira came at a time when most citizens are struggling to earn a living”, she said.

Ms Ekwunife said Ochanja market, which was most hit by the incident, is a major source of revenue for the state.

She urged the state government to take proactive steps to curb the incessant fire outbreaks in the state.

She called for public places such as markets and malls to be provided functional fire stations to ensure swift reaction to fire outbreaks.

Buhari: Nigeria will prosper if we get infrastructure right

President Muhammadu Buhari says Nigeria will get better if needed infrastructure is put in place.

In a series of tweets on Friday, the president said good infrastructure will lead the country towards prosperity.

He reiterated his commitment to providing infrastructure, saying it will be a priority of his administration.

“I firmly believe that if we get infrastructure right in Nigeria, our roads, rail, ports; Nigerians will mind their businesses, many people will not even care who is in government. A country like ours, full of entrepreneurial energy and potential, will prosper,” he tweeted.

“This is why Infrastructure will continue to be one of our primary focus areas. We must & will rewrite the story, for this dear country of ours. I wish we had even more resources,and we are working on this, but we are doing our best within the resources currently available to us.”

Muhammadu Buhari

@MBuhari

I firmly believe that if we get infrastructure right in Nigeria, our roads, rail, ports; Nigerians will mind their businesses, many people will not even care who is in government. A country like ours, full of entrepreneurial energy and potential, will prosper.

Muhammadu Buhari

@MBuhari

This is why Infrastructure will continue to be one of our primary focus areas. We must & will rewrite the story, for this dear country of ours. I wish we had even more resources,and we are working on this, but we are doing our best within the resources currently available to us.

729 people are talking about this

On Thursday, Buhari approved the sum of N10 billion as intervention fund or the rehabilitation of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu state said his administration will continue to prioritise infrastructural development in the country despite limited funds available.

Don’t associate Christ with criminality, CAN warns MURIC

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has asked the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) to desist from associating criminality with Christ.

While condemning the abduction of nine children in Kano state, Ishaq Akintola, director of MURIC, had said: “kidnapping for Christ is disgusting, nauseating, wicked and reprehensible. Kidnappers have taken over the house of God. The phenomenon of kidnapping for Christ has now rented the air. We are shocked to our marrows.”

Reacting in a statement in Kaduna, Joseph Hayab, chairman of CAN in the northern region, said there is nothing like kidnapping for Christ.

He described the statement of the MURIC director as “irresponsible, derogatory and provocative.”

“Criminals abound in everywhere and in every religion, for MURIC to say a crime was perpetrated for Christ, is sheer mischief aimed at provoking Christians,” he said.

“How could rational, sane and educated person, associate the action of criminals to a religion? There are many instances where Christian girls were abducted, forcefully converted to Islam and married off by criminals in Northern Nigeria. In some of these cases, the police either refused to act, or turned blind eyes.

“Will it be right to accused all Muslims for the action of such criminals? The answer is no.

“A particular group which belongs to a particular religious group has always been alleged to be responsible for the rampant kidnappings and banditry across the country, especially in the north, will it be right to say that they are committing the crime to promote their tribe or religion?

“We also have the case of Leah Sharibu who is still being held by Boko Haram insurgents for refusing to denounce her Christian faith and convert to Islam. No Christian has associated Muslims with such criminal acts.”

Hayab said CAN is willing to work with the people of Kano to ensure that the kidnappers are brought to justice.

“If we have any witness against the culprits behind the abduction, we will join hands with the people of Kano to testify against him or them in court,” he said.

“There is nothing like kidnapping for Christ. This evil kidnapper or child trafficker, knowing that he did not carry away the children for religion gave them new tribal names, MURIC should note.

“CAN northern states, therefore, condemned anybody carrying peoples children away and supports security agencies to investigate the matter and prosecute the culprits. Abduction of children is a criminal offence. MURIC can call whoever is found doing that whatever name they like, but don’t associate criminality with Christ.”

 

Gunshots as police, IMN members clash again in Abuja

The police have dispersed a demonstration of the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).

The IMN members came out in their numbers on Friday to protest the continued incarceration of Ibraheem el-Zakzaky, leader of the movement.

They held black and red flags while chanting songs.

But some police officers fired tear gas canisters and gunshots in the air to disperse the procession.

The incident took place along Sultan Abubakar road in Wuse zone 2, Abuja.

El-Zakzaky has been in detention since December 2015. He was arrested after IMN members clashed with soldiers in Zaria, Kaduna state.

Despite different court rulings ordering his release, the IMN leader and Zeenat, his wife, have remained in the custody of the government.

The IMN members are planning to hold their annual Arbaeen trek on Saturday.

The Arbaeen trek is held in commemoration of the murder of Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

 

 

Onitsha fire: Igbo group urges Obiano to resign, demands arrest of Anambra Commissioners

A socio-political organization, Igbo National Council (INC), has called on Anambra state Governor, Willie Obiano to immediately resign from office over his alleged arbitrary negligence and gross ineptitude that has caused the Igbo race a monumental, colossal and irreparable human, political and economic damage.

This followed the fuel tanker explosion that occurred at Upper Iweka, Onitsha in Anambra state on Wednesday, which led many injured and killed.

The Igbo group made this known in a press statement issued on Friday by its President, Chilos Godsent and the Publicity Secretary, Victor Bienie Emenike.

According to the Council, “Investigation revealed that the inferno was, as a result of bad spots at upper-Iweka along Onitsha – Owerri road which caused a petrol tanker carrying fuel (PMS) to fall, resulting to outburst of fire that destroyed the entire livelihood of over two hundred thousand Nigerians.

“We note that the said bad spots at upper – Iweka along Onitsha – Owerri road cannot cause Anambra State Government more than two million (N2,000,000.00) to repair.

“We call on the Anambra State House of Assembly to commence an impeachment process against Gov. Willie Obiano if he fails to voluntarily resign before October 23rd, 2019.

“The INC also call on the Commissioner of Police Anambra State Command to immediately arrest and prosecute the Anambra State Commissioner for Works – Engr. Marcel Ejiofor and Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment – Mr. Don Adinuba respectively for willful violation of their oath of office, lies, negligence and ineptitude in the discharge of their duties as Commissioners.

“The Igbo National Council (INC) join all well-meaning Nigerians to commiserate the victims of the Ochanja – Onitsha fire outbreak that resulted to the loss of over five lives including a woman and her child, destruction of over forty residential houses and over five thousand (5,000) shops worth over two hundred billion Naira in less than four hours”.

FRSC announces closure of another section of Lagos-Ibadan expressway

The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has announced a partial closure of another section of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

Clement Oladele, Ogun sector commander of FRSC, disclosed this in a statement on Friday.

He said the measure is necessary to enable Julius Berger Nigeria PLC begin rehabilitation work on the 1.3 kilometers stretch of the expressway from Magboro to PUNCH.

He said the section of the road will be partially shut to traffic from October 21, 2019, to January 31, 2020.

On September 2, there was a partial closure of the Lagos end of the expressway for the ongoing reconstruction work on the 600-meters stretch between Ojodu Berger and the beginning of Kara bridge.

This has worsened the traffic situation on the road known to be one of the busiest in the country.

Some residents of Ogun working in Lagos have lamented over how a journey which should not take more than 30 minutes end up taking hours while some religious organisations have temporarily relocated as a result of the partial closure of the road which is supposed to end on November 1.

In his statement, Oladele said the forthcoming rehabilitation will cause a temporary diversion of the Lagos bound traffic to the Sagamu carriageway.

“This temporary diversion of traffic will transfer the Lagos inbound traffic to the same carriageway conveying traffic outward Lagos,” he said.

“Thereby making both the traffic inward and outward Lagos accommodated on the same section of the expressway within the 1.3 kilometers stretch of the road from Magboro to Punch in Ogun state.”

The sector commander advised motorists to take note of the development and plan their trips by allotting more time to their trips in view of the construction work.

He also warned those who do not have regards for the law, saying: “Motorists are also enjoined to observe lane discipline and avoid driving against traffic, as violators risk impoundment of their vehicles and liable to payment of N50,000 naira traffic fine.”

Mexican security forced to release El Chapo’s son as gunmen overwhelm troops

Mexican security forces were on Thursday forced to release one son of jailed drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman arrested earlier in an operation that triggered intense fighting.

Heavy gunfire rocked Culiacan, a city of 750,000 people, in sustained clashes that left blazing vehicles strewn across the street and sent terrified residents running for cover.

Security Minister Alfonso Durazo confirmed the arrest of a man identifying himself as Ovidio Guzman, one of the sons who assumed partial control of the notorious cartel run by their father until he was extradited to the United States in 2017.

Images carried on Mexican television showed army and police personnel under assault by men armed with heavy weapons.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said his security cabinet was holding a meeting and would soon give further details on the situation.

He later on announced that Guzman had been released as criminal gunmen outnumbered soldiers that had arrested him.

The situation became very difficult and many citizens were at risk,’’ Lopez Obrador said at a news conference in Oaxaca in the south of the country.

“The capture of a criminal cannot be worth more than people’s lives,’’ he added.

Sources in the Sinaloa state government speaking on condition of anonymity said police officers had been wounded.

They also said an unknown number of inmates had escaped from the Aguaruto prison in Culiacan amid the chaos.

The battle broke out in the afternoon near the state prosecutor’s office, when masked gunmen blocked Mexican security forces after the arrest.

The state government said it was “working to restore calm and order in the face of the high-impact incidents that have occurred in recent hours in various points around Culiacan.”

It called on residents to “remain calm, stay off the streets and be very attentive to official advisories on the evolving situation.”

Gunmen blocked roads and highways around the city into the evening, bringing the capital to a standstill.

“El Chapo,” 62, was sentenced to life in prison in July for trafficking hundreds of tons of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana into the United States over the course of a quarter-century.

However, his Sinaloa cartel remains one of the most powerful in Mexico.

Guzman’s extradition unleashed an initial period of instability in the group, as Ovidio and his brother Alfredo waged war with cartel co-founder, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, for control, leaving a trail of bodies in their wake.

But the situation has since stabilized into a reluctant truce.

Guzman, whose nickname means “Shorty,” was rearrested in 2016 after a brazen prison escape — the second of his career.

He is considered the most powerful drug lord since Colombia’s Pablo Escobar, who was killed in a police shootout in 1993.

After being convicted in a New York court, he is now serving his sentence in the notorious ADX federal maximum security prison in Colorado, nicknamed the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.”

JUST IN: Kogi Assembly impeaches Deputy Gov

The Kogi state House of assembly has impeached the embattled Deputy Governor, Elder Simon Achuba.

His impeachment followed the submission earlier in the day the report of the committee set up by the state chief judge, Justice Nadir Ajana to investigate an allegation of gross misconduct against the former deputy Governor.

The leader of the house,Hassan Bello Abdulahi representing Ajaokuta state constituency who announced the decision of the house said that Achuba stands impeached after careful consideration of the reported of the John Bayasea committee submitted earlier on Friday.

He said that the report was received ,studied and deliberated upon upon and a unanimous decision was arrived at to impeach him and “he therefore stands impeached”

The seven man committee headed by John Bayeshea submitted the report to the Speaker, Kogi state House of Assembly, Mathew Kolawole on Friday in a brief ceremony after which the house went into a closed door session where the report was considered and deliberated upon

The committee was set up in August following allegations of gross misconduct levied against the Deputy Governor when he accused the state Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello of withholding his salaries and imprests since 2017,an allegation denied by the government during hearing by the committee.

The Director General, Media and Publicity to the Kogi state Governor, Kingsley Fanwo also accused the embattled Deputy Governor, of attempting to set the state on fire.

He said that the Deputy Governors interview on a national television saying that the Governor was orchestrating violence was an incitement against the Governor and the Government of Kogi State.”

We have difficulty servicing debts, says FG

Barely 24 hours after the International Monetary Fund advised Nigeria to increase tax to raise more revenue, the Federal Government on Thursday said its low revenue was affecting its ability to service debts and fund day-to-day recurrent expenditure.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, during an interview with journalists on the sidelines of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund meetings in Washington DC, United States, noted that although Nigeria did not have a debt problem, she said, “underperformance of our revenue is causing a significant strain in our ability to service debt.”

She also justified the $3bn loan the country was seeking from the World Bank, saying the money would be used to finance the power sector.

A quarter (N2.5trn)of N10.3trn budget President Muhammadu Buhari presented to the National Assembly on October 8 would be spent on debt servicing.

While the Federal Government voted N4.88trn for non-debt recurrent expenditure, only N2.14trn was allocated to capital projects in spite of the huge infrastructural deficit in the country.

The finance minister, Ahmed, however, said the fresh $3bn loan Nigeria was seeking from the World Bank would be spent on reforms in the power sector.

The Debt Management Office had said that the nation’s total public debt rose by N3.32tn in one year to N25.7tn as of the end of June 2019.

The Federal Government owed N20.42tn as of June 30, 2019 while the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory had a total debt portfolio of N5.28tn.

In 2017, the revenue target was N5.08tn out of which N2.7tn was realised. The Federal Government’s revenue projection for 2018 was N7.16tn out of which only N3.96tn was achieved. In 2019, the Federal Government’s projected revenue was put at N6.98tn. As of June this year, about N2.04tn had been realised.

The Deputy Chief , Monetary and Capital Markets Department, Evan Papageorgiou, had at a press conference during the meeting in the United States on Wednesday said, “While Nigeria has a large exposure to domestic debt, it is important to effectively manage those risks associated with debts incurred in local currency.

He said, “Local currency borrowing could be preferred in some cases but it is not a panacea. The guiding principle is prudent debt management. Local currency flows have been more volatile ad Nigeria was not an exception to that. Nigeria has a large exposure to domestic debt particularly from Central Bank bills.

“And then as we understand the Central Bank bills, there are a lot of higher redemption and more roll-overs going forward. So managing those risks, particularly with respect to local currency debt managing debts and behaviour of non-resident debt is very important.”

Also at the press conference, the Assistant Director, Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF, Mrs Cathy Pattillo, had said Nigeria needed a comprehensive reform to increase non-oil tax so as to get funds to build infrastructure and human development.

Justifying the $3bn loan from the World Bank, Ahmed who is leading the Federal Government’s delegation to the meeting, said she would be holding further discussions with the management of the bank to present how the fund would be disbursed for the power project.

The World Bank had in September disclosed that the Federal Government of Nigeria was seeking a loan in the region of $2.5bn.

The Vice President for Africa, Hafez Ghanem, disclosed this in an interview with Bloomberg in Abuja. He added that in the past year, Nigeria received $2.4 bn.

On Thursday, the minister said based on the plan of the Federal Government for the power sector, the loan would be used for the development of transmission and distribution networks to enhance delivery of electricity.

Ahmed also said the loan would be used in addressing some of the challenges that the country was facing in the power sector.

She said, “There is a proposed $2.5bn to $3bn facility for the power sector development programme in Nigeria and this will include development of the transmission networks and the distribution networks as well as removing the challenges that we currently have in the electricity sector.

“We are going to have a full meeting to discuss the power sector recovery programme and back home we have been working a great deal with the World Bank to design how this programme will be implemented.

“So we have an opportunity now to have a direct meeting with the leadership of the bank and to tell them the plan we have and how much we need from one to five years.”

The finance minister explained that the government would be pushing that the $3bn facility be disbursed in two tranches of $1.5bn each.

When asked to comment on concerns being raised by the IMF about Nigeria’s debt which stands at N25.7tn, the finance minister insisted that Nigeria did not have a debt problem.

She said what the government needed to do was to increase its revenue generating capacity in order to boost the revenue to about 50 per cent of Gross Domestic Product.

She said with Nigeria’s current revenue to the GDP ratio standing at just 19 per cent, its underperformance is significantly straining government’s ability to service its debt obligation.

The minister said, “Nigeria does not have a debt problem. What we have is a revenue problem. Our revenue to the GDP is still one of the lowest among countries that are comparable to us. It is about 19 per cent of the GDP and what the World Bank and the IMF recommend is about 50 per cent of GDP for countries that are our size. We are not there yet. What we have is a revenue problem.

“The underperformance of our revenue is causing a significant strain in our ability to service debt and to service government day-to-day recurrent expenditure and that is why all the work we are doing at the ministry of finance is concentrating on driving the increase in revenue.”

When asked why the Federal Government decided to increase the revenue projection in the 2020 budget to N8.9tn at a time when government revenue performance was less than 60 per cent, she said a lot of measures were being put in place to correct the problem.

For instance, in expanding the revenue base, Ahmed said VAT increase had been proposed, adding that other streams of revenue such as excise duties on carbonated drinks were being introduced.

The minister said, “The fact that our revenue is underperforming is not an excuse to bring down our revenue that is required to fund the national budget.

“In 2018, our revenue performed at the level of 58 per cent. Half year 2019, our performance moved up slightly to 58 per cent. But that is not an excuse to reduce the revenue. Because it means we are all sanctioning underperformance.

“So we have to push the agencies. We have to push ourselves to meet those targets. Those targets are not designed by the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, the agencies proposed those targets.

“But we sit down with them and interrogate them. For example, the NNPC has a production capacity of 2.5 million barrels per day.

“In 2019, they wanted a target of 2.5 million barrels per day but we insisted to be prudent and scaled it down to 2.3 million. And the performance is 1.98 million effectively including 100,000 per day that is used to settle cash call earnings but the capacity is there.

She added, “So why should we not be looking at what do we have to do to make sure the capacity utilisation is attained.

“Why do we want to reduce it because we are underperforming? We are lucky that crude oil in 2018, out-performed the budget because we budgeted $60 per barrel and we ended up with an average of $67 per barrel.

“Otherwise, if we had lower prices, the 55 per cent performance wouldn’t have been achieved.”

She said going forward, what the government would do was to make sure the agencies that have responsibility to generate revenue actually generated the revenues.

On the issue of border closure, she said the action was taken because the Federal Government was not getting the right cooperation with neigbouring countries.

She said going by the fact the Nigeria had signed onto the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, there was the need for government to ensure that those bilateral agreements with other countries were respected.

She added, “We have over the years committed to some alliances and bilateral agreements but our neigbours are not respecting those bilateral agreements and at this time when the President has signed Nigeria up to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

“It becomes more importantly for us to make sure everybody complies with the commitments that are made.”

She said over the years, the practice where goods were smuggled into Nigeria from neigbouring countries had done lots of damage to the Nigerian economy.

Also in Washington, the minister said the Federal Government would be implementing what she described as a “bold and audacious” reform to increase revenue to finance developmental programmes.

Ahmed, who spoke on the topic “Strengthening domestic revenue mobilization,” explained that with numerous complex issues at hand, Nigeria must do things differently “which requires robust, tough, well-coordinated and multi-faceted reforms.”

She said Nigeria when compared with its peers was lagging behind on most revenue streams including VAT and excise revenues.

The minister said the country did not only have one of the lowest VAT rates in the world but weak collection method.

She added that there were a lot of incentives and deductions that further constrained the fiscal space and reduced the hope of stimulating growth of industries.

She said, “The key question is why do we keep performing poorly? And what can we do differently this time to effectively turn around without any relapse even in successive governments?

“Simply put, we have very low effective tax rates, archaic tax laws that are not evolving at commensurate pace with businesses, leakages in our revenue collection systems, low tax compliance rates and poor tax morale to mention a few.

“With numerous complex issues at hand, Nigeria must do things differently which requires robust, tough, well-coordinated and multi-faceted reforms.”

Speaking on some of the reforms that would be implemented to grow revenue, she said the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative which was launched last year would be reviewed

On what would be different this time with the SRGI, she said, “This time round, there are performance targets with consequences for non-performance including the members of the cabinet.

“For example, I have signed to deliver the 15 per cent revenue to the GDP in a performance contract and this will be cascaded down to heads of revenue generating entities to align them with our mission of turning around revenues. We are in the process of developing a second version of the SRGI.”

“The SRGI 2.0 will be informed by data so we are able to better allocate resources and focus on the high impact initiatives as revealed by analysis.

“In tune with the fourth industrial revolution, we want a technological led reform. For example, in a bid to leverage available big data in our public sector domain, Project Light House is driven centrally at the Ministry of Finance to provide intelligence to the FIRS, state tax authorities and other revenue collecting agencies.”

“On the customs front, we are in the process of developing our national single window.” On tax laws, she said the Federal Government had submitted a finance bill alongside the 2020 budget proposal to the National Assembly for consideration and passage into law.

The finance bill, according to her, will promote fiscal equity by mitigating instances of regressive taxation; reform domestic tax laws to align with global best practices; and introduce tax incentives for investments in infrastructure and capital markets.

She added, “The draft Finance Bill proposes an increase of the VAT rate from five per cent to 7.5 per cent. As such, the 2020 Appropriation Bill is based on this new VAT rate. The additional revenues will be used to fund health, education and infrastructure programmes.

“As the states and local governments are allocated 85 per cent of all VAT revenues, we expect to see greater quality and efficiency in their spending in these areas as well.

“Additionally, our proposals also raise the threshold for VAT registration to N25m in turnover per annum, such that the revenue authorities can focus their compliance efforts on larger businesses thereby bringing relief for our Micro, Small and Medium-sized businesses.

“The VAT reform is meant to improve Nigeria’s VAT as a share of the GDP in Nigeria which has declined from one per cent in 2010-2013 to 0.8 per cent in the last four years (2015 – 2018).”

She put the country’s efficiency of VAT collection, at 0.2 per cent adding that this was well below the African regional average of 0.33 per cent.

The inefficiency in VAT collection, the finance minister stated was partly due to challenges in tax administration system.

She also said this reflected the high level of items currently exempted from VAT, including the consumption of basic food, pharmaceuticals and educational items.

She also said, “Our objective is to be able to harness the existing revenue streams that we have by ensuring that enforcement is effective to expand the tax base and also to identify new revenue streams that we can add to expand the revenue base,” she said.

“So in expanding the revenue base, we have proposed the increase of VAT but there are also other revenue streams that we are looking at and some of them include the introduction of excise duties on carbonated drinks but there is a process to doing these things.”