Buhari Cancels FEC Meeting, Meets Members Of NIPSS Course 40

In the absence of holding the Federal Executive Council Meeting (FEC), President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday met with the Senior Executive Course 40 of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Plateau State.

The meeting was held behind closed doors at the presidential villa in Abuja.

The Acting Director-General of NIPSS, Jonathan Juma, who led other members to the meeting submitted the report on an internal security framework as concerns community policing to the President.

READ ALSO: Despite Criticism, Postponement Of 2015 Elections ‘Served Us Well’ – Jonathan

President Buhari after receiving the report ordered security agencies to implement its recommendations.

The Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo and other members of the Federal Executive Council were also in attendance during the meeting with the NIPSS Executives.

No official reason was however given for the cancellation of the FEC meeting.

Osinbajo, Ministers, Others At FEC Meeting Presided Over By Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday presided over the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting held at the Council Chambers in Abuja.

The meeting had in attendance Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Secretary General of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha.

Federal Ministers including Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Minister of State Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Heineken Lokpobiri and Minister of Budget and Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma were in attendance.

Minister of Mines and Steel Dr Kayode Fayemi, Minister of State Petroleum Resources Dr Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu and Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, among others were also at the meeting.

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NEC Endorses Alternative Funding For Oil & Gas

NEC, Alternative funding, Oil and gasThe National Economic Council (NEC), presided over by Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has endorsed a new funding regime for the oil and gas industry.

This will in turn, eliminate the often arduous and onerous cash call regime which has stalled  growth in the industry.

The alternative funding stream had been approved earlier this week at the Federal Executive Council meeting and then presented to NEC, as the body mandated to come up with “measures necessary for the coordination of the economic planning efforts of the various governments of the federation”.

Minister of state for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, who briefed State House
Correspondents after the meeting, said:

“the current upstream joint venture arrangement in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, is unincorporated, meaning that NNPC and the International Oil Companies (IOC’s) partner in each joint venture as unique and separate.”

NEC, Alternative funding, Oil and gasAccording to the minister, from January to November 2016, under-funding of the NNPC cash calls is estimated at USD $2.3 billion.

This is in addition to the inherited arrears estimated at USD $6.8 billion for 2015 year ending.

Other highlights of the meeting included how to energize the MSME’s as a major economic growth driver in the country.

On the other hand, council observed that there are over 37 million MSME’s in Nigeria, contributing over 84% of the job opportunities in the country, with Lagos as the highest contributor.

The Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, then told council that the CBN has a fund in excess of 200 billion Naira to provide affordable loans to MSME’s in the country.

Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun however reported to council that as at November 2016, the balance of excess crude proceeds stands at $2, 455,790,144- which is about $2.4 bln

Ministers Visit Late James Ocholi’s Residence

OcholiMinisters of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Wednesday paid a condolence visit to the family of their late colleague, Mr James Ocholi, at his Abuja residence, after the Federal Executive Council meeting.

The delegation, led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, assured the children that the Presidency would support the family of the late Mr Ocholi.

Also at the residence to sympathise with the family was a notable politician in Kogi State, James Faleke, who said that the late minister’s death was a great loss to Nigeria, especially to Kogi State.

Friends of the deceased described him as an upright and brave man who made a great impact within a short period of time.

The visit came after the Federal Government announced automatic employment at the Federal Ministry of Justice for Aaron, the eldest son of the late Minister.

The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, revealed this to the Ocholi family when he paid them a visit to convey his and President Muhammadu Buhari’s condolence message.

He also told the family that Aaron’s other siblings would enjoy scholarships for their educational pursuits, courtesy of the Federal Government which had pledged to cushion the effect of the loss of their parents.

Buhari Swears-In Oyo-Ita As New Head Of Service

Oyo-ItaPresident Muhammadu Buhari has sworn in Mrs Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita as the substantive Head of Civil Service of the Federation.

The inauguration took place on Wednesday at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

The 51-year old Oyo-Ita is a chartered accountant from ‎Odukpani in Cross River State and was appointed as acting Head of Service by President Buhari on October 21, 2015.

Before then, she had been a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Speaking after the event, Mrs Oyo-Ita said that her priority would be to “hasten some reforms that will have far-reaching impact on service delivery and the Nigerian economy”.

The event, which had the Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and most Ministers in attendance, came up before the Federal Executive Council meeting.

FEC Approves Policy To Control Organic Pollution

UniversitiesThe Federal Executive Council in Nigeria on Wednesday approved a national policy framework on ‘Nigeria Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) Management Project’ to monitor, manage and control the persistent organic pollutants and protect human health and the environment.  

The approval was given during a meeting of the council in Abuja and presided over by the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

It is in line with efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate the use and sources of PCBs contamination from the environment, which the World Bank had set aside $6.3 million (about 1.2 billion Naira) for in December last year.

PCBs are man-made organic chemicals known as chlorinated hydrocarbons.

They were domestically manufactured from 1929 until their manufacture was banned in 1979 in the United States. They can be found in transformers and capacitors, other electrical equipment including voltage regulators, switches, bushings, and electromagnets, oil used in motors and hydraulic systems among others.

At an awareness campaign in December 2014, Nigeria’s Minister of Environment Mrs Laurentia Mallam, said PCBs had been identified by United Nations Environment Programme as highly toxic.

She noted that Nigeria was never known to produce PCBs but imported a good deal of it through shipment of transformers, capacitors, ballasts, paint and hydraulic fluid additives in the late 1940s and early 1980s.

“The consequence of this action has left our country with a considerable quantity of PCBs that must be managed,” she said.

The minister said Nigeria was part of the Stockholm Convention which requires all parties to eliminate the use of PCB containing equipment by 2025 and to make liquid PCBs and equipment contaminated with PCBs subject to environmentally sound waste management not later than 2028.

The ‘Nigeria PCBs Management Project’ is being implemented by the Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with Global Environment Facility (GEF) and World Bank to comply with national obligations and protect Nigerians from adverse effects of PCBs.

Auto-testing Laboratories

Also approved at the meeting was the contract for the procurement of auto testing laboratories equipment and tools to be installed in designated auto-testing laboratories in Lagos, Enugu and Zaria.

The National Automotive Council (NAC) is to handle the procurement.

Another contract that was also approved was that of the office building for the Investments and Securities Tribunal.

The building, which will be located in Abuja, will cost 226 million Naira.

The tribunal is said to have, over the years, been grappling with the challenges of rent for its office accommodation and threats of eviction.

FEC Approves 2015 Budget’s Medium Term Fiscal Framework

FECThe Federal Executive Council has started preparations for the 2015 budget, as it devoted this week’s council meeting to the deliberation and approval of the draft Medium Term Fiscal Framework (MTEF) as presented by the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Briefing reporters at the end of the weekly meeting on Wednesday, the Director General of the budget office, Mr Bright Akogun, said that his office had had a deep consultation with the National Assembly to avoid all the hiccups in the early passage of next year’s budget.

Mr Akogun was joined by the Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, Minister of Works, Mike Onolemeimen and the Minister of  Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu among others in the briefing.

After deliberations on the  council approved the MTEF for the 2015, 2016, and 2017 national budgets.

The DG budget office, further explained that the nation’s expanding non-oil sector which was highlighted by the rebasing , was taken into consideration as it is expected to make huge contributions to the country’s revenue generation.

He said that the presentation of the MTEF, led by Dr Okonjo-Iweala, was the outcome of some earlier efforts already made in consulting both the National Assembly and some of the other stakeholders associated with the budget process.

He also said the emphasis of the three year fiscal framework would be on the completion of ongoing projects.

“The theme for the 2015-2017 fiscal framework continues to be “Job Creation, Inclusive Growth”. The Jonathan led administration is equally looking at how the growth could be extended to as many Nigerians as possible.

“Looking at our revenue profile, the non-oil revenue is a major contributor to government coffers and that is because a lot of effort by the administration over the last few years in engaging the various entities that are associated with collecting revenue have began to have very good results.

“The emphasis will be on completion of ongoing projects. MDAs that have projects that are ongoing a lot of emphasis will be put on their completing those projects.

“The other things I wish to mention is that in crafting a medium term fiscal framework and the budget, what we are emphasizing is those sectors that are best suited to generate growth and employment” he said.

Explaining further on the budget, The Minister of Information, said the three year budget would focus on job creation and inclusive economic growth .

Mr Maku noted that the Council had reached its decision, after assessing past national budgets and saw the need to improve on the administration’s transformation agenda, as advised by the Economic Management Team.

He further said the government intended to ensure that the budget for the next three years would take full advantage of the recent rebasing of the economy and expanded Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to ensure that there that more jobs were and that there was visible inclusive growth for its citizens.

The council also awarded contracts worth over 154 billion naira for road constructions.

Th approved road contracts are the outstanding section of the Benin-Ore road from Ajibandele to Shagamu, a distance of 99 kilometres at a cost of 71.6 billion Naira, the outstanding sections of the Lokoja- Okene –Benin express-way at the sum of 18.9 billion Naira, the Okene –Auchi road will take 10.2 billion Naira, the Auchi-Ihor at the cost of 23.2 billion Naira and the Ihor-Benin road for 23.5 billion Naira.

Briefing reporters, the Minister of Works Mr Mike Onolemeimen said that all the projects would be completed in 36 months.

The meeting was presided over by president Goodluck Jonathan.

FEC Holds Special Session In Honour Of Late Dora Akunyili 

dora akinyiliNigeria’s Federal Executive Council on Wednesday held a special session in honour of the late former Minister of Information, Professor Dora Akunyili, who died on Saturday in India.

Professor Akunyili died in a Specialist Cancer Hospital in India after a two-year battle with cancer.

The council meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan had the Vice President, Namadi Sambo and several ministers in attendance.

They took turns to eulogise late Professor Akunyili, describing her as an honest woman whose life impacted positively on  Nigerians.

President Jonathan described her as a role model for modern day women and prayed that God would grant her soul eternal rest.

President Goodluck Jonathan said the first impression he had of the late former boss of the National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration (NAFDAC), Professor Akunyili, was the way she dressed as a typical Nigerian.

‘A Woman Of Strength’

“I first met her when I was Deputy Governor in Bayelsa State. A very upright woman. When she was Information Minister, she was a very courageous person. A role model per excellence that I believe so many young ladies would emulate. Her impact in NAFDAC was much more than as the Minister of Information. But her passion was unique. A virtuous woman. This is how God wants it. God saved her life from the deadly bullets of evil men. He could still have saved her life from cancer if He had so willed,” President Jonathan said.

Vice President Namadi Sambo, in his tribute, said Akunyili’s death was a great loss to Nigeria, as “she was a patriotic and dedicated Nigerian. NAFDAC is a sanitised institution, because of her”. He added that she developed a system through which the country would be re-branded.

In her tribute, the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said:  “It is a sad time for us as we remember her. A woman of strength and conviction who fought hard to ensure drug counterfeiting becomes a thing of the past. NAFDAC was consistently voted as the best agency of government during her time. A committed mother and devoted wife. An excellent Nigerian woman whom many looked up to”.

The Minister of Solid Mineral Development, Musa Sada, in his tribute described late Professor Akunyili as “a patriot from whom one always wants to learn”.

“Even at the expense of her life, she didn’t look back at what she believed in. She lived for Nigerians. She was an extremely intelligent person,” he said.

The Minister of Power, Prof Chinedu Nebo, said: “I met her before I became Vice Chancellors of UNN and she became a professor during my Vice Chancellorship. She was a woman of courage. She was courageous enough to speak up at a trying moment of our national history. A religious and prayerful woman. The cold hands of death has taken away a woman very hopeful in all situations. Very conversational. As a country we have lost a gem and we pray that God give us such a woman of honour and respect”.

The Labour Minister, Emeka Nwogu, said her death came as a rude shock.

Other ministers also had several things to say about her.

In his tribute, the Information Minister, Labaran Maku, who worked with her as Minister of State for Information and Communications, described her as an outstanding public servant.

“She put her life on the line. She took the world to Anambra to battle producers and importers of fake drugs because she wanted the best for her nation. She took me as a junior brother and we worked together. She showed me great work. She permitted me to jointly address the press after FEC,” Mr Maku said.

The Rebrand Nigeria Project was introduced by late Professor Akunyili’s and Mr Maku pointed out that the project would still continue even after her death.

Maku further moved a motion for special and deep condolences to Mr President, the Women of Nigeria and the Nigerian fashion industry, who through her promoted a national dress code, to Nigerians for the loss of a mother in public service, to the Igbo nation and to her family.

Nigeria’s Planed Tobacco Control Act To Carry Strict Measures

fec_channelsThe Nigerian government is planning to enact a Tobacco Control Act that will carry strict measures for offenders.

The proposed Act, which carries a fine of 50,000 (about 769 dollars) or an unspecified jail term, was discussed at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday.

Briefing reporters at the end of the meeting, the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, said tobacco alone was the cause of many diseases that had led to untimely death in Nigeria.

“The government can no longer stand and watch while its citizens perish from tobacco smoking,” he said.

Another resolution reached at the FEC meeting is the setting up of a special committee to look at how to ensure that Nigerians benefit significantly from the revised GDP data recently released by the government, emphasising the need to face the challenges exposed by the new figures.

The council believes that the challenges brought about by the rebased GDP data include the need to work a bit more in the distribution of the GDP to the different sectors so that the growth will make an all-inclusive impact on the lives of citizens.

Another committee that will work on the report of the Presidential Committee on Restructuring and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatls, Commission and Agencies was also set up.

The council is to come up with modalities on how to carry out the mergers, where necessary, to avoid wastages in government.

It is not the first time the Federal Government is placing control on the use of tobacco products, but the proposed Act for sure carries stricter measures.

The council members said that the provisions had been weak and needed reinforcement to protect Nigerians from the harmful effect of tobacco.

‘No Smoking in Public Places Act’

Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial city, in February, passed a bill into law prohibiting smoking in public places.

Signing the ‘No Smoking in Public Places Act, Governor, Babatunde Fashola, expressed optimism that the law would further strengthen the State Government’s commitment towards protecting lives of the citizens.

According to the law, people who smoke in public places will risk a three year jail term.

The Act prohibits smoking in areas designated as non-smoking areas, including museums, public toilets, library, nurseries, day care centers and any facility used for the care of infants.

The law also mandates owners of public places to place signs with the inscription; ‘No Smoking’ or symbols as part of enlightenment for smokers and would-be violators of the law.

It also mandates them to create areas far from the vicinity where people could smoke. Non-compliance by owners of public places, according to the law, shall attract a fine of 100, 000 Naira or 6 months imprisonment, or other non-custodial punishment that the judge may deem fit, a measure stricter than that of the Federal Government.

In the case of a corporate organisation’s refusal to place a ‘No Smoking’ sign or symbol within its premises, any personnel in the management of the corporate body would be liable to a fine in the sum of 250, 000 Naira upon conviction. This may be a director or manager in the organisation.

According to the Act, anyone who repeatedly violates the provisions of the law, on conviction shall be liable to a fine of 50, 000 Naira or 6 months imprisonment or both. While anyone who smokes in the presence of a child shall be liable on conviction to a fine of 15, 000 Naira or 1 month imprisonment.

Nigeria Ready To Rebase GDP To Boost Economic Growth

FEC Meeting in NigeriaNigeria is looking to rebase its Growth Domestic Product (GDP) to identify sectors that have been left out in the nation’s GDP for 15 years.

Briefing reporters after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, said the Minister of Finance briefed the meeting about the planned GDP rebase.

He told the reporters that the Ministries of Finance and National Planning, the Chief Statistician to the Federation and international agencies like IMF, AFDB, IDB had understudied the sectors of the Nigerian economy for more than one year.

The event, which will take place on Sunday at the NICON Hilton Hotel in Abuja, will formally enable Nigeria to know a few of the sectors that recorded the most progress and which ones are lagging behind.

“We are supposed to do this every five years. Every country re-calibrates its own GPD statistics and date to show the progress made or challenges faced by the economy. The council was briefed  that Nigeria will formally release the new GDP figures for the country on Sunday.

“The importance of this is that, for the first time in 15 years, we will know, scientifically, what the GDP figure is and what the contributions of every sector to the economy are. We will also be able to know the sectors that have made the most progress and which ones are lagging behind,” Mr Maku said.

The meeting, which was chaired by the Vice President, Mr Namadi Sambo, also discussed the speculations of Ebola diseases outbreak in Nigeria and the Minister of Information reassured Nigerians that there were no cases of Ebola fever in Nigeria.

He said that the Minister of State for Health, Dr Khaliru Alhassan, had told the council that his ministry, during the week, took time out to verify the speculations and that his findings indicated that Ebola fever was not in Nigeria.

At a news conference in Abuja on Monday, Dr Alhassan, dismissed media report that there was an outbreak of the disease, saying that laboratory investigations revealed that it is not Ebola but dengue fever.

He said: “Most Nigerians mistake Dengue fever, which is also transmitted by mosquitoes in urban and semi urban areas, for Ebola disease.

“Dengue Fever is caused by a virus usually transmitted through a particular type of mosquito, not the normal anopheles mosquito that we know in Nigeria that transmits malaria.

“Its symptoms are very similar to that of malaria, with fever, headache, body pains and associated vomiting. It can easily be mistaken for malaria where there is no high index of suspicion in the first instance,” Dr Alhassan said.

He stressed that the government had taken a proactive measure by putting all port and border posts on high alert to screen travellers from countries with confirmed Ebola cases.

 

FEC Considers Bills To Check Private Sector Sharp practices

FEC-meeting-1The Federal Executive Council in Nigeria on Wednesday deliberated  on two bills that will check sharp practices by the private sector and improve services in the postal sector in line with the reforms taking place in the economy.

In a meeting that appeared to be the shortest, lasting for about 30 minutes, the council considered the Federal Competition and Protection Bill and the Nigerian Postal Commission Bills.

The two bills were sponsored by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, the Minister of Information Mr Labaran Maku, said a committee, headed by the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, has been set up to finalise issues on the two bills before their transmission to the National Assembly.

“It has become very clear that unless we undertake serious policy legal framework to ensure competition in the economy, what will happen is that the previous monopoly exercised by government companies in key sectors of the economy will be simply repeated by private sector monopoly as people who buy thees companies may block further development of the sector unless you have in place a legal framework that regulate competition in the economy.

“In the Nigerian economy so far, we do not have any specific agency that deals with issues of abuse of trade practices, the issue of anti-trust and monopolies, which in every open economies must exist if competition within the economy is to guaranty further development. An absence of such agencies will undermine the intention of deregulation that will open the sectors to competition,” he said.

The Council believes that a legal framework to back-up the reforms in different sectors of the economy should be put in place to reduce the risk of hijacking the privatisation process by a few people in the private sector to the detriment of the Nigerian consumers.

According to the Information Minister, while the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Bill will check anti trade practices, the Nigerian Postal Commission Bill will open up the postal sector for greater competition and faster delivery of parcels anywhere in the country.

The committee headed by the Vice President is expected to fine tune the two bills in two weeks’ time before sending same to the National Assembly for consideration and passage into law.

ASUU Strike Reinforced Sack Of Education Minister- Analyst

A public affair analyst and professor at the Pan African University, Austin Nweze, while examining the recent cabinet reshuffle by the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, adjudged that the ongoing ASUU strike contributed to the eventual sack of former Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayat Rufai.

Speaking on Sunrise Daily, he explained that the cabinet reshuffle, which led to the sack of 9 ministers, “is a normal thing” adding that as 2015 elections draw near, President Jonathan wants to choose those who would help him achieve his second term ambition which he is yet to admit officially.

The ministries that were affected had ‘question marks” in terms of performance, he said.

He stressed that the ASUU strike, which has entered its 74th day, also contributed to the sack of former education minister as the President’s decision for Governor Suswam to head a committee to resolve the crisis was a warning signal that all was not well.

That showed failure of leadership, he said, adding that, there has been nothing spectacular about the ministry of education.

He further stated that it is expected for every minister to generate ideas in line with the President’s agenda but “it is not clear what the President wants to achieve in education sector”. He added that the former minister was guilty of the same situation.

Recalling the public outcry which trailed the release of the Unity Schools cut off marks which seemed to favour students from Northern Nigeria, Mr Nweze said that such policies did not go down well with the vision of the President.

The announcement of the termination of the ministers appointments raised uproar in the public domain and has been described by some as a political move, which the Presidency denied.

“This has absolutely nothing to do with any other factor than that having come two years into his own administration, in the last lap, what I see the president doing is to re-focus his government, to inject in fresh blood, to achieve greater service delivery to the people of Nigeria” the Minister of Information and supervising Minister of Defence, Labaran Maku said while addressing the Federal Executive Council Meeting which signaled the end of the sacked ministers service in government.