Buhari Inaugurates Committee To Review National Minimum Wage

President Muhammadu Buhari, on Monday inaugurated the National Minimum Wage Committee.

The committee, which is chaired by Ms. Ama People is saddled with the responsibility of negotiating a new National Minimum Wage for Nigerian workers.

The 30-member committee was inaugurated inside the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Buhari had on Thursday approved the appointment of a 30-member tripartite National Minimum Wage Committee for the negotiation of a new National Minimum Wage.

The committee consists persons from the public sector, (Federal and State Governments) as well as Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA).

Other members include: the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) and Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME).

Hope For Chibok Girls As Buhari Approves Payment Of Tuition

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved payment of N164.8m for the second semester school fees for the freed 106 Chibok girls currently schooling in the American University of Nigeria, AUN, Yola.

This was revealed yesterday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and publicity, Garba Shehu on Sunday.

This is just as he renewed Buhari’s commitment to ensure that all the Chibok girls still held hostage by the Boko Haram terrorists are returned to their parents safely.

“In line with, the President has approved payment of the sum of N164,763,759 (one hundred and sixty four million, seven hundred and sixty-three naira) for the second semester school fees of the 106 Chibok girls at the American University of Nigeria, AUN in Yola,” the statement read.
“Absorption of the 106 girls into the school marked the beginning of their integration into the larger Nigerian society, thus fulfilling President Buhari’s promise of providing the best education for them. Although they have been officially handed over to their parents. The Federal Government will continue to be responsible for the payment of the Chibok girls’ school fees right up to their graduation from the school,” Shehu further noted.

The President also restated his resolve to protect the lives of all Nigerians and end the insurgency in the northeast of the country in fulfillment of the campaign promises.

 

Endorsement By Governors, Top Politicians For Buhari Second Term Are Self Driven – Shehu Sani

By Toba Adedeji
The Senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Shehu Sani has said that the endorsement of President Muhammadu Buhari for second term by some governors and top politicians are borne out of selfishness and not patriotism.
The Senator made this known while speaking at the second annual lecture of Rave FM, a private radio station in Osogbo, Osun State.
He maintained that , “None of the APC governors, top chieftains of the party moved for the endorsement of Buhari when he was on medical vacation abroad.
” Their calls were part of agenda to seek second term in office or seek for premeditated cover after vacating their positions of power.
“The endorsement for President Muhammadu Buhari to vie for second term in office were driven by selfish ambitions and not borne out of genuine love and sincerity.
Sani posited that, “The ruling party must know that what destroyed the Peoples Democratic Party was a force from inside and not from outside. Citing Yugoslavia in the old Soviet Union as a relevant example.
“In the ruling party things are not moving fine. What the elite in the ruling class are saying publicly are different from what they are saying privately. Publicly they take flag of endorsement of president second term. The first term serving governor is endorsing president for his second term ticket while the second term serving governor is for him to be protected after office”
“How do you endorse someone who hasn’t expressed interest. This is what can be condemn in politics of PDP.
He argued that, “Lack of internal democracy, imposition detroyed the PDP. The umbrella of the PDP was torn by the internal injustice. The ruling party should be careful. Many people who helped in bringing this administration on board are not being carried along. Now Atiku has left the APC for the PDP. Those that contributed to this government before getting to power were not accorded courtesy”. It is left for Buhari to decide who loves him and who loves the throne.”
He noted that, “For Buhari to be rescued from the claws of cabal, he needs the concerted efforts from all Nigerian regardless of religion, tribe and political parties.
The Senator, who spoke on the topic “Nigeria’s Fight Against Corruption: The Facts, the Fallacies and the Antidote”, contended that, “This government has moved us away from the culture of corruption that was of the past administration but we are not there yet, where we ought to be.”
Their are two political party in Nigeria, the All Progressives Party and People’s Democratic Party, we don’t have a strong opposition in this country because of the moral burden, they carry don’t have a clean hands”.
Also the former president of Nigeria Bar Association, Wole Olanipekun, SAN in interview with journalists after the occasion suggested that government should build institutions economically, as it is he only way to reduce corruption drastically.
According to him, “Let us build institutions economically. Once institutions are built corruption will substantially exercised. We can’t fight corruption when every thing in this country is so centralized. We can’t fight corruption in a system of autocracy because when we look constitution all powers are built around Federal Government. We can’t fight corruption successful in system whereby we have everything in the exclusive legislative list and not on concurrent.
We can’t fight corruption when Federal government is  over weigh and  not ready to share responsibilities. Let us build institutions.

Senate Rejects Buhari’s Nominee For REC Over Citizenship

The Senate on Thursday rejected one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominees for Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, Ahmad Bello Mahmud based on the recommendation by the Senate Committee on INEC in its report which was adopted.

The Senate, however, approved the nomination of Ambassador Rufus Akeju (Lagos) and Dr. Mahmuda Isah (Kebbi) as Resident Electoral Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

The rejected nominee, Mahmud was alleged not to be an indigene of Zamfara State but Sokoto State.

Buhari Inaugurates Audit Committee For Recovered Loot

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday inaugurated the Audit Committee on recoveries of assets by government agencies.

The committee has three members and is to submit its report in four weeks.

Members include Mr. Olufemi Lijadu, Mrs. Gloria Chinyere Bibigha and Mr. Mohammed Nami.

The committee is to audit all recovered accounts upto April 10, 2017.

Buhari Commends Stakeholders On Successful Anambra Election

President Muhammadu Buhari has commended the people of Anambra State, the governorship candidates, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, election observers as well as security agencies on the peaceful conduct of the November 18 gubernatorial election in the state.

According to the president, “the processes leading to the election and its peaceful conduct and outcome, have shown that our electoral reform is bearing positive fruits. This is very encouraging and I am determined to give Nigeria free and fair elections, no matter which way the results swing.”

He particularly expressed delight at the conduct of the candidates post-election results, describing it as “heart-warming and a renewal of confidence in the sanctity of the ballot which deepens our nation’s democracy.”

Buhari urged INEC to improve on areas of logistics as the nation braces for coming governorship elections and the main general elections in 2019.

The president, while congratulating Governor Willie Obiano on his re-election, urged him to rededicate himself to building on his achievements that endeared him to the electorate and swayed the overwhelming majority of votes in his favour.

Mr. Buhari assured the governor-elect that the Federal Government is ready to work with him for the greater harmony, peace and development of not only Anambra State but the entire country.

He wished the returning governor a successful new term in office.

Wise Men Still Come From The East, By Femi Adesina

…the region must start playing astute politics. It must leave the shadows for light. It must sustain the hand of fellowship it has extended to the rest of the country, as shown in the warm reception for the president in Ebonyi and Anambra states. Wise men abound in that region, I say again.

At his incarnation, wise men gifted in astronomy came from the East, all the way to Bethlehem, in the south of Jerusalem, to worship Jesus Christ. They are today known as the Magi, who gave the newborn gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

There is a lot to say on the significance of each gift item, but that is not the purpose of the writing today. Maybe, another day, as the need arises. What we need from that nativity story is that the wise men came all the way from the East, following a star that led them to Bethlehem. In our country Nigeria, we have the geo-political zone called the South-east, and wise men still come from there. In plenty numbers. This week, it was brought out in bold relief.

President Muhammadu Buhari was in two states of the South-East on Tuesday and Wednesday, and what a delightsome, myth-shattering visit it has become. It is one visit that has torpedoed the negative narrative deliberately conjured by some mischief makers over the years, that President Buhari does not like people from the East, and neither do the people like him.

Now, that assertion is fiction, pure apocryphal, conjured and concocted by some people to serve narrow political ends. In his first shot at the presidency in 2003, who was Buhari’s running mate? Dr. Chuba Okadigbo. Where did he come from? Ogbunike, town of the famous cave, in the South-East. And in 2007, candidate Buhari looked towards the East again. He picked Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, a former speaker of the House of Representatives in the Second Republic, as running mate. And in 2011, I remember very clearly. Buhari was on the march again, and needed a running mate. Socio-political leadership of the South-East forbade any of its sons from being running mate to anyone. Their candidate, they said, was Goodluck Jonathan, who then was completing the term of Umaru Yar’Adua. So, Buhari looked westward, and picked the cleric, Tunde Bakare. But did he demonstrate any animus towards the East? Not at all.

In 2015, the man, easily the most colourful politician, greatest crowd puller of this season in Nigeria, threw his hat into the ring again. The East was still in bed with Jonathan, completely besotted, vowing to swim or sink with their brother, Ebele Azikiwe.

Buhari looked westward again, picked Professor Yemi Osinbajo, as running mate. A large part of the East was dug in, not minding to play what may be called ‘poor politics’ in the process. When the dust of the elections settled, Jonathan was holding the shorter end of the stick. Buhari coasted to the presidency, but the entire East had given him just about 180,000 votes, less than what some local councils gave in other parts of the country. To make matters worse, the East had refused to re-elect its own son, Dr. Chris Ngige, as senator. If Ngige had been given a mandate, he would have effortlessly emerged Senate President, and see what the region would have benefitted. But the large number opted for self-immolation, voted Ngige out, and later began to scream marginalisation. But if you ask me, it was a self-inflicted wound. The result of poor politics.

That was the background that some people twisted, and used to paint the scenario that President Buhari does not like the South-East.

But happily, there were voices of reason from the region, pre-2015 presidential election. The Ralph Obiohas, Chris Ngiges, Festus Odimegwus, Fr. Ejike Mbakas, Orji Uzor Kalus, Osita Okechukwus, J.C Ojukwus, and many others, had warned their people not to put their eggs in one basket. And they have turned out to be wise men, being joined today by thousands of other wise people.

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You know what the mistakes of 2015 did to Ndigbo? It consigned them to perpetual opposition politics, playing in the periphery. For such an illustrious and enterprising people, that was unfortunate, if not tragic. If they continued that way, there was no silver lining in the sky for the future. Nigeria is configured in a way that the person who builds the largest coalition is the one who can emerge president. The Igbo should naturally produce the president one day, that is what fairness demands. But how would that ever happen, if they continue to play poor politics? If you continue to swim in small pools, you stand the risk of being submerged in bigger waters. But now, things are changing. The wise men are making a difference.

Back to Ebonyi, the famed Salt of the Nation, where we arrived last Tuesday. Governor Dave Umahi is of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and he is also Igbo. If he were to play narrow politics, he should have nothing to do with President Buhari. But the Ebonyi State helmsman has proven himself a wise man from the East. He has cultivated a good relationship with the president, and achieved the feat of being the first state in the South-East to host the president on a State Visit. President Buhari consented to the visit, thus showing him to be a pan-Nigerian leader, a true father of the nation. If overriding sentiments had prevailed, then the president would not have chosen a state controlled by the opposition PDP for his visit, and definitely, not a state in a ‘hostile region.’ But not President Buhari, who has always maintained that no part of the country would be treated unfairly under his watch.

Landing at Enugu airport, before proceeding to Abakaliki, capital of Ebonyi State, by chopper, was the first breath of fresh air. The airport was gaily decorated, with banners, billboards and posters of the president and Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, who was also on hand to receive the president. He is also of the PDP, but a wise man from the East. You don’t play the politics that shuts you out of the national grid, lest you get sentenced to perpetual half current, or no current at all. The reception at Enugu airport, and, indeed, in all the places we visited, in Abakaliki and Awka, would make you relish and savour the aroma of brotherhood and national cohesion.

Emeka Ojukwu junior, son of Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, who used the occasion to publicly join the APC, summed it all up, by pointing out that when his father came back from exile in the early 1980s, he did not join a regional party, but opted for a national one. He concluded: “It is time to stop operating in the periphery. It is time to leave the shadows for light.”

Before the visit, there had been attempts by those behind negative narratives, to frighten the president away. They forgot he was a General, and such people don’t scare easily. However, the reception and applause all round gave a true picture of what subsists in the country. This is a president widely and massively loved-in the North, the South, East and West.

Not only is Govenor Dave Umahi a wise man from the East, the royal fathers in his state are of the same mind. They gave President Buhari the traditional title of Enyioma 1 of Ebonyi, meaning Trustworthy Friend of Ebonyis. Commendable.

Also joining the train of wisdom, are the traditional rulers of South-East, as a body. They gave the president the title Ochioha Ndigbo, meaning Leader of Igbo People. I tell you, this is the way to build a cohesive nation, promote brotherliness, and guarantee fairness and equity, rather than the poor politics of the past. More than at any other time, the wise men from the East have given a handshake across the Niger, and only the future will show the positive impact of that initiative.

Former Ebonyi State governor, Sam Egwu, immediate past governor, Martin Elechi, former Senate president, Anyim Pius Anyim, former culture minister, Ambassador Frank Ogbuewu, former senator, Julius Ucha, and many others, were part of the healing process in the East. Ogbuewu said President Buhari, by the visit, had proven that he was not truly for some people, but for all Nigerians. Egwu, on his part, disclosed that Gov. Umahi had charged those of them currently in the National Assembly from Ebonyi, to always give support to policies of the federal government, despite belonging to different political parties. That’s the way to go.

The traditional rulers of the South-East, through their leader, Eze Eberechi Dick, commended the president for fighting insecurity, for fighting corruption, promoting agriculture, and generally bringing hope of a better future.

“You are a great leader. We love you so much. We are solidly behind you,” the monarch said.

Trust the president to throw in a wisecrack. After being decorated with the paraphernalia of chieftaincy, he said:”I will tell my personal photographer to frame the picture, and I will put it in my sitting room in Daura, where I will eventually end up.” That’s a man who knows the transience of power and official positions. East or West, home is the best. Daura would always be home.

When the president entered the township stadium in Abakaliki, the applause was inspiring. One was tempted to ask, is this not in the South-East, where they say they don’t like Buhari? The same thing was to repeat itself in Awka, when the president entered the Alex Ekwueme Square, where the campaign for Anambra governorship, holding this Saturday, was being concluded. It was applause all the way, signposting the fact that the East was ready to jettison poor politics, and return to the mainstream. It was a roll call of who is who in Nigerian politics from the South-East, who have now teamed up with the All Progressives Congress (APC). Emeka Ojukwu junior, son of Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, who used the occasion to publicly join the APC, summed it all up, by pointing out that when his father came back from exile in the early 1980s, he did not join a regional party, but opted for a national one. He concluded: “It is time to stop operating in the periphery. It is time to leave the shadows for light.” Home truth for all Nigerians, and for Ndigbo particularly, if you ask me.

There is no way you can tell the Igbos not to aspire for presidency of Nigeria at a time in future. It will be contrary to fairness and justice. But then, the region must start playing astute politics. It must leave the shadows for light. It must sustain the hand of fellowship it has extended to the rest of the country, as shown in the warm reception for the president in Ebonyi and Anambra states. Wise men abound in that region, I say again.

During the reception in Ebonyi, Govenor Umahi announced a gift of 2,000 bags of rice, 2,000 tubers of yam, and a white horse to the president. I saw the Enyioma 1 of Ebonyi open his mouth in amazement. While thanking his host for the gift, he promised to send the cargo to Daura, his hometown, for the people to share. Trust me, I told Mohammed Sarki Abba, the president’s senior aide, seated beside me: “I’ll ask Mr. President for 50 of those bags of rice, before you send them to Daura. I’ll then distribute them to my own friends in the name of Ochioha Ndigbo.”

And that’s exactly what I’ll do. The Enyioma 1 would surely oblige. Lol.

Femi Adesina is special adviser on media and publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Crude Oil Hits It Highest At $64 Per Barrel Since Mid-2015

The Global oil benchmark, Brent crude, and has hit a 28-month high since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in mid-2015.

Brent, on which Nigeria’s crude oil is priced, rose by $2 to $64.07 per barrel as of 8:03 pm Nigerian time on Monday, more than $19 higher than the country’s oil price benchmark of $44.5 per barrel for this year’s budget.

The Excess Crude Account, into which the country saves the difference between the market price of oil and the budget benchmark to provide a cushion when oil prices fall or extra cash is needed for spending on infrastructure, has suffered declines since oil price slumped in 2014.

The account, which stood at about $4.11bn in October 2014, dropped to about $3.11bn in November and $2.45bn in December that year and declined further into 2015.

The balance in the ECA stood at $2.309bn as of September 27, 2017, according to the Ministry of Finance, while the nation’s external reserves rose to $33.93bn as of November 3, 2017, latest data from the Central Bank of Nigeria showed on Monday.

“The price rise is a reaction to the uncertainty from Saudi Arabia,” the Chief Executive Officer, Sun Global Investments, Mihir Kapadi, told news reporters.

Other factors have edged the oil price upwards. Saudi Arabia, Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan met over the weekend and said they were willing to maintain restrictions on oil production, to address a glut in supply and prop up prices.

The United Arab Emirates and Iraq have also said they would back an extension to production curbs, which were due to end in March 2018.

Meanwhile, Nigeria has expressed support for an extension of a deal between the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other non-members to cut oil supply until the end of 2018, “as long as the right terms are on the table” regarding its own participation.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, said there was growing agreement among other members of OPEC to extend the deal.

“There isn’t any reason to change what is a winning formula,” he told reporters, adding, “There is a consensus to extend. The issue will be the duration.”

Nigeria itself, however, is exempt from the deal.

OPEC, along with Russia and nine other producers agreed to cut oil output by about 1.8 million barrels per day until March 2018 in an attempt to ease a global excess that weighed on prices.

President Buhari’s Strongest Opponent

By Azuka Onwuka

The nightmare of any elected president in a democracy is a vibrant opposition. The job of the opposition is to ensure that the president and his ruling party are never seen in good light. Any positive word or action was taken is X-rayed and punctured as not well thought-out or in the people’s interest.

The only no-go area is when the nation’s security is threatened. All the parties bury their differences and ambitions and come together to fight a common enemy. It is a sign of patriotism that the lives of the people should not be used for politics.

However, in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the opposition was virtually dead two years into his administration. Having ruled Nigeria for 16 unbroken years, the Peoples Democratic Party was destabilized and dazed after losing the 2015 election. It had never been in opposition. Therefore, it found itself in a strange terrain.

The party had acquired a not-too-pleasant image with the people in its 16 years in office. It went into a crisis of leadership having acquired a not-too-pleasant image with the people during these 16 years leading to the eventual loss of the Presidency in 2015. That crisis lasted for two years before it was finally settled by the Supreme Court which declared Senator Ahmed Makarfi as the authentic chairman of the PDP in July 2017. But before that final judgment was given by the apex court, there was no guarantee that the PDP would ever be a strong party again. Many people even believed that it would not come back to life again as the PDP. Many used that as an excuse to leave the party in droves and join the ruling All Progressives Congress.
The PDP also had a moral burden, having ruled the nation for 16 years. It was accused of not performing well in the office and therefore had no moral right to criticise the APC that just came to power.

In addition, some members of the party who held some positions were also being arrested, detained, probed or fingered in cases of corruption. Many saw it as selective justice against the PDP. This also made many PDP members to jump ship with the belief that once in the APC, they would no longer be persecuted. Some people actually had their cases dropped when they joined the APC.

Therefore, the administration of Buhari had no strong opposition in its first two years. However, it is said that natures abhors the vacuum. In the absence of a vibrant opposition, President Buhari created his own opposition. He became his own opposition. Since May 2015 when he was inaugurated, the biggest fires Buhari has had to quench have been those lighted by him. In the absence of a vibrant opposition, anytime the President lights any of such fires, the ordinary Nigerians on the social media as well as the traditional media use such to criticise him.

There are presidents who are unfortunate to face unforeseen circumstances. For example, having a terrorist group like the Boko Haram spring up under one’s regime can be unsettling. Running into a financial meltdown is something no leader prays for.

Surely, Buhari came into office when oil prices were going down. That meant that the earnings of the nation were dropping. Things became worse when Nigeria slid into recession in August 2016. Such a period is not the best time to lead a nation.

The APC and its sympathizers argued that the actions of the PDP were responsible for the recession that befell Nigeria. In response, the PDP and its sympathizers argued that the negative utterances and actions of Buhari, as well as his lack of economic know-how, were responsible for the recession.

But there are other issues that have created unnecessary bad press for the administration of Buhari. Most of them are not external issues, but internal issues that could have been avoided. Sometimes, one wonders if Buhari and those holding political positions under him intentionally choose to work against his administration.

Parodying Anezi Okoro’s novel, One Week, One Trouble, some have described the frequent scandals rocking this government as one week, one trouble or one week, one drama.

One wonders what is difficult about a President promptly visiting a place that has been ravaged by a natural disaster, or what is difficult about telling and showing different parts of Nigeria who complain about one thing or the other that “you belong to all”.

The part that is difficult to understand is what drives Buhari’s leadership strategy. Is he not concerned about keeping those who voted for him and winning over those who did not vote for him? The easiest part is to keep those who voted for him. But interestingly, from the beginning of his administration, Buhari seems to be on a mission to deny the contributions of the key individuals who worked for his victory. Rather, he seemed to be distancing himself away from them, giving the impression that he did not need them anymore because he had no dream of running for a second term.

For example, what would Buhari have lost by having a former Lagos State governor and APC leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, close to him? What would he have lost by having former Vice President Atiku Abubakar close to him? What would he lose by massaging their ego and making them feel important? Nothing. The President of Nigeria is so powerful that nobody can undermine his powers if he chooses to use them.

It was because of Buhari’s determination to sideline his 2015 allies and surround himself with people with no serious electoral value that made his wife, Mrs Aisha, to lament last year. But sadly, rather than seeing what she saw, he made matters worse by dismissing her with the response that she belonged to his “other room”.

The scandals that have rocked Buhari’s Presidency and the casual way he has responded to them has been surprising. For a man who was sold to the nation as a no-nonsense man who would never tolerate any dealing that looked corrupt, crooked or shady, it was difficult for many to comprehend how he could keep quiet or even defend his aides who were accused of corrupt practices. To maintain an unblemished aura, Buhari should have ensured that anybody who was involved in an untidy dealing in his administration was swiftly investigated, suspended or dismissed. Sometimes an aide does not need to be declared corrupt before being dismissed. Once an aide has an image of corruption around him, Buhari does not need to have him work for him again. No individual should be indispensable. An individual can be sacrificed to ensure that the Presidency is not tainted.

It is difficult to feel the pulse of the people by the loyalty or otherwise of political office holders. A leader can only gauge the pulse of his loyalists through the feelings of the common people who don’t hold any political positions. One thing that happened shortly after the 2007 election was that many who opposed the candidacy of Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua changed their views and began to support his presidency because of his utterances and actions. On the contrary, many who stood firmly by Buhari before the 2015 election have started apologizing for campaigning for him because of his actions and utterances on issues of corruption, the safety of lives and property, and fairness to all parts of the nation.

Is it difficult for Buhari to employ the tactics Yar’Adua used to win over his opponents or does Buhari love opposing his own presidency? Only Buhari can say. It is obvious that in spite of his health challenges, he is interested in a second tenure. He still has about one year to stop doing things that work against his own interest. As an incumbent president, he has a huge advantage over any other candidate, but that advantage depends on his actions and utterances in the next one year.

All Change!!! Nigeria Is Not An Oil Economy

By Kemi Adeosun

Descriptions of Nigeria’s economy often include such phrases as ‘Africa’s largest oil producer’ and ‘the oil-rich African nation’ but oil economies are typically characterized by low population densities and abundant oil resources. Saudi Arabia with 10 million barrels of oil per day and 30 million people, Kuwait with 2.7 million barrels of oil per day and four million people and Qatar with 1.5 million barrels of oil per day and 2.5 million people are typical of such.
These economies pursued an economic model that was built around a large government dependent almost entirely on oil revenue for funding. Such economies could afford to have low or in some cases no domestic revenue mobilization, in the form of taxes. Tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratios of less than 10 per cent against the OECD average of 34.6 per cent could be justified especially in the era of high oil prices.

For over three decades, Nigeria pursued this model. But things are changing, with the election of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, who was propelled into office under the mantra of ‘change’. That clamor for change, in the areas of governance, security and economy, coincided with the collapse of global oil prices and a consequent huge deficit in government revenues. These circumstances provided the ingredients for an overhaul of the entire economic model.

The first and rather numbing conclusion of that exercise was that Nigeria is not actually an ‘oil economy’. With just 2 million barrels of oil per day and over 180 million people, simple mathematics tells us that 90 Nigerians share a barrel of oil compared to 3 Saudis, 1.44 Kuwaitis and 1.69 Qataris. With oil at just 10 per cent of GDP, Nigeria simply does not fit into the mold of the traditional oil economies.

Interestingly, even nations who did legitimately fit into this narrow mold of high oil revenues and low populations, are abandoning what is now considered to be a flawed model. Thus, the imperative for Nigeria was even more urgent. Nigeria recalibrated its target peer group from the oil economies to the ‘oil plus’ economies such as Mexico and Egypt. This new peer group has diversified economies and tax to GDP ratios of 20 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively, compared to Nigeria’s 6 per cent. Consequently, the change mantra had to be urgently applied to revenue mobilization.

Analysis of the data suggests that revenue mobilization is potentially the master key to unlocking Nigeria’s huge growth potential by funding its ailing infrastructure including roads, power, and rail. A cursory look at the effective tax rates paid by the huge multinational and local operators, as well as the data on illicit financial flows, indicates a pattern of systematic tax evasion at all levels. Recent statistics released by the Federal Ministry of Finance showed that Nigeria has just 14 million active taxpayers from an economically active base of 70 million. Over 95 per cent of these are salary earners in the formal sector, just 241 persons paid personal income taxes of N20 million (US$65,573.77) in 2016.

Taxing the high net worth and Nigeria’s huge community of entrepreneurs constitutes a critical but yet attainable target. The statistics for corporate tax payment shows the debilitating effects of base erosion and profit shifting as well as abuse of an overly generous tax incentive and duty waiver system. The historical government apathy towards revenue mobilization is one of the effects of the mistaken identity that saw Nigeria perceive itself as an oil economy. This Administration is determined to correct this identity crisis and all its concomitant effects.

In that spirit, we launched an ongoing and well received, tax amnesty, ‘The Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme’ (VAIDS) is affording a nine-month window for Nigerian tax payer’s, both corporate and individual, to regularise their tax status in exchange for a guarantee of no interest, penalties, tax investigation or further audit. This amnesty follows successful initiatives in a number of countries, where tax evasion is a problem, such as Indonesia, Argentina, South Africa and India. It has been programmed to end just as the Automatic Exchange of Information, which will provide Nigerian tax authorities with unprecedented levels of information on offshore assets, becomes effective.

The initial signs suggest that Nigerians are responding positively to the new revenue narrative. Despite the emergence from a recession, tax revenues are showing early signs of growth. VAT shows 18.97 per cent year on year improvement. Over 800,000 companies, including some Government contractors, that have never paid taxes have already been identified and are being audited. This is an unprecedented initiative that entails cooperation between Federal and State Governments. The Federal Ministry of Finance has also commenced a database project that combines data from the various arms of government including bank records, property and company ownership, and customs records to create accurate profiles of those liable to pay taxes. The Ministry has also placed one of the world’s premier private investigation agencies on retainership to trace overseas assets.

Changing the Nigerian economic psyche is not an easy task. By its nature, tax mobilization risks the popularity of any Government, but the present Administration understands that the short-term lure of political expediency must give way to the long-term best interests of Africa’s largest economy. Her energetic, young and growing population are deserving of the chance to experience a truly transformed, sustainable and growing economy.

Soldier Writes Buhari, Says ‘Corruption In Army Real, Troops Suffering’ – [Full letter]

An officer of the Nigerian Army has written a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari to complain about alleged corruption and sorry state of troops.

The officer, also part of the war against Boko Haram, wrote the letter in reaction to the army’s dismissal of the complaints of Abdulrauf Aliyu, a private of the Nigerian army.

Aliyu had complained that he was abandoned after being shot by suspected Boko Haram insurgents.

However, Brig. Gen. Sani Usman, the spokesman of the army, denied the allegation, saying Aliyu was declared a deserter for leaving the hospital he was receiving treatment without being cleared by the authorities.

“This is a clear case of a deserter from the Nigerian army trying to run a campaign of calumny against the Nigerian army on Social Media,” The Cable quoted him as saying.

But the soldier who wrote the letter spoke in defense of Aliyu and also drew attention to the plight of his colleagues.

Full text of the letter below…

“Having read the online correspondence between Dr. Idris Ahmed of CUPS and our Army spokesman, Brigadier General S.K. Usman, I have decided to take a major risk and write to your Excellency directly over this issue.

Sir, I am a course-mate of Pvt. Abdulrauf Aliyu, who Oga S.K. claimed that he has gone AWOL. We trained at the same company, Depot Nigerian Army, Zaria, Kaduna State. We are presently posted to Operation LAFIYA DOLE. On behalf of all the colleagues of Pvt. Abdulrauf Aliyu, I categorically refute the allegation that Pvt. Abdulrauf Aliyu deserted the Army.

The Sections 59 – 63 of the Armed Forces Act, Cap A20, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, as quoted by Oga S.K., has always been mentioned by our superiors, to protect themselves and antagonise us, whenever they have done mischief.

Your Excellency, the case of Pvt. Abdulrauf Aliyu is actually not an isolated one. There are many such cases of soldiers who got wounded on the battlefront. It is true, some are well looked after, as mentioned by Oga S.K. Usman in his press release.

Unfortunately, due to corruption in the system, some unfortunate soldiers, mostly from less privileged backgrounds, are left to fend for themselves. Like myself, Pvt. Abdulrauf Aliyu comes from a humble family. He sustained life-threatening injuries in the abdomen during a routine operation. The initial first aid treatment and medical care that he received was very inadequate.

With full Army permission, Pvt Abdulrauf Aliyu and his family paid for his transfer to University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital. Unfortunately, the care he received in Maiduguri Teaching Hospital too was inadequate. Eventually, his family had to pay for his transfer to a specialist facility in Sokoto.

Your Excellency, corruption in the Army is REAL, and it is killing us. Every man and woman who decided to join the Army knows the risks. While we expect to die in the hands of the enemy, we don’t expect to die in the hands of the Nigerian Army, due to corruption and criminal negligence.

Just the other week, about 14 (I am not sure of the exact numbers) of our colleagues died in the hands of Boko Haram, who attacked the Army camp. The circumstances surrounding their unnecessary death warrants a full investigation by his Excellency. Sir, you will be shocked by the outcome.

The bodies of the slain heroes are still lying here in Damaturu, Yobe State. The story of this incidence has hardly been officially published by the Army or Nigerian media. Attached is the picture of the commander of the camp. He too died in the attack.

Your Excellency, this is the third month in a row that we have been denied of our operations allowance. We have to rely ONLY on our meager salary for everything. From battalion commanders to Company and Sectors leaders, we are all in debt, because our salaries are not enough to sustain us at the battlefront while feeding our families back at home.

It is a big shame that we have joined the Army to defend the civilians, yet we have to go to the civilians in town to borrow money to fend for ourselves at the battlefront. Take for instance the food that we are fed. Most of the times it is not fit for human consumption.

I attach for your perusal, your Excellency, the lunch that was fed to us this afternoon (3/11/2017). As you can clearly see, there is not a single piece of meat or fish in it. The taste of the food is so bad that we have to add surplus salt to be able to eat it. This is also dangerous for our health. A plate of our food per soldier is probably about two hundred Naira (N200).

It is said that the Federal Government spends about fourteen thousand Naira (N14,000) on each prisoner in Nigeria. Here, at the battlefront in Operation LAFIYA DOLE, the Army spends about six hundred Naira (N600) per day per soldier on feeding us, while in reality billions of Naira is appropriated per year for this purpose.

Your Excellency, we are treated like animals. Most of us are afraid to talk because of the dire consequence. As the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, your Excellency, kindly investigate. There is corruption in the Army. Brave soldiers are needlessly dying.”

 

 

Source: Daily Post