The Federal Government has announced the approval of $150million stabilisation fund to meet shortfalls in monthly allocations.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, announced this on Monday, in Abuja during a media briefing on the measures to tackle the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the economy.
She explained that owing to the decline in the monthly allocations from N716 billion in January to N645 billion in February and N581 billion in March, the Federal Government has approved a stabilisation fund of $150 million to meet the short fall in monthly allocation.
She added that the amount would be withdrawn from the stabilisation fund component of the Sovereign Wealth Fund.
Ahmed during the briefing also announced the establishment of a N500 billion COVID-19 crisis intervention fund.
Part of the proceeds of the intervention fund will go into a special works program, which targets states and local governments and is expected to create one thousand jobs in each local government areas.
Other measures to be adopted by the Federal Government to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, according to Ahmed, include accessing loans from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the African Development Bank (ADB) and the Islamic Development Bank.
She gave a breakdown of expected loans from International Organisations to include $3.4 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF); $2.5 billion from the World Bank; and $1billion from the African Development Bank (ADB).
As part of measures to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government also plans to restructure the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
This according to the Finance Minister is to allow for flexibility of donations into the Federal Government’s coffers.
In a statement on Monday, the union said it is dismayed about the decision of the Federal Government to invite doctors from China, when the Chinese government is still battling with the pandemic.
According to the statement, Nigeria has a large pool of unemployed general medical and specialist practitioners that the government can engage instead of foreigners who can pose some security concerns at this time.
The NMA advised the government to concentrate on improving the welfare of front-line health workers, provide them with the needed personal protective equipment and other incentives to work.
In its communique, the NMA stated that it would like to review her participation in the fight against COVID-19 considering the serious implications and risks this will bring to their members should the government insist on invitation.
The Federal Government is seeking to establish a N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund to upgrade healthcare facilities and provide intervention to states.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed disclosed this on Saturday at a meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly.
She says the proposed fund to be created will involve mopping up resources from various special accounts from the federation as well as be sourced from grants being expected and loans from multilateral institutions.
The Finance Minister is seeking the approval of the National Assembly for the taking of loans from these special accounts and promised to return to parliament with a proposed bill in that regard which will define what the fund will be used for.
Responding, Senate President Ahmed Lawan says the loan request is critical because the country is in an emergency and time is of the essence.
He is, however, asking the Federal Government to examine another approach in its implementation of the Social Intervention Programme as he says giving out N20,000 to indigent Nigerians might not be the best way to go.
The Federal Government has reopened the Kara Bridge axis of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
The re-opening of the road began at about 9:00 am on Sunday and has brought about an easier flow of traffic on the highway which has otherwise been notorious for serious traffic jams since the commencement of the reconstruction.
It had been partially closed in September when the reconstruction work commenced and traffic was diverted on both sides of the expressway.
A statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, explained that Buhari made this commitment during his meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, on Thursday.
Buhari held a meeting with Mnuchin, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on the margins of the Future Investment Initiative Forum, to discuss investments in Nigeria under the new U.S. financing initiative.
The President and Mnuchin also discussed areas of strengthening Nigeria’s ongoing collaboration with the United States on stopping terrorist financing.
According to the statement, President Buhari vowed that Nigeria will leverage on the U.S facility (USIDFC) to address current challenges confronting the power sector as well as the general upgrade of infrastructure.
United States International Development Finance Corporation (USIDFC), provides $60 billion for investments in developing nations.
The Nigerian leader also requested the continued support of the U.S. to Nigeria, especially in accessing the $60 billion infrastructure fund under the USIDFC.
The Federal Government has said that it would appeal Friday’s ruling of a British ordering that about Nine billion dollars ($9bn) worth of its assets be seized by the Process and Industrial Development Limited following a breach in contract.
According to the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata, the government has instructed its lawyers to appeal against of the court which sat in London.
The ruling on Friday is the latest development in the case which started in 2010, regarding an agreement to build a gas processing plant in Calabar, Cross River State.
The project collapsed between Nigeria and the Irish firm after the former is said to have failed to meet its end of the bargain.
In his statement on Friday, Mr Apata noted that as regards the recent Judgment of the English Court, the Federal Government’s Counsel have been instructed to pursue an appeal, as well as seek for a Stay of Execution of the said judgment.
He added that the Federal Government of Nigeria is making vigorous efforts to defend its interest in this matter and would not relent in exploring every viable option in doing so.
Below is a full statement by the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Dayo Apata.
PROCESS & INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT LIMITED V. FGN
Please recall the dispute that led to Arbitration between Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and Process and Industrial Development Ltd which arose from a 20 year Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (GSPA) entered in 2010 between FGN (through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources) and P & ID in respect of an accelerated gas development project in Nigeria’s OMLs 67 and 123. P&ID never began the construction of the project facility although it alleges it incurred about $40 Million in preliminary expenses.
P & ID’s claim in the arbitration proceedings was mainly for loss of profit for the entire twenty-year term of the GSPA, initially claiming the sum of US$1.9 Billion and later increasing its claim to US$5.9 Billion.
The Arbitral Tribunal on 31st January 2017 rendered its Final Award against the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in the sum of US$6.597 Billion together with pre-award interest at the rate of 7% per annum effective from 20th March 2013 and post award interest at the same rate till date of payment.
In granting the huge arbitration award against Nigeria the tribunal decided the following:
that the project would operate at 93% uptime during the twenty year of the GSPA despite the well-known risks of operating such a project in the Niger-Delta.
that the average price of Natural Gas Liquids (the main revenue earner for P&ID assuming the GSPA had been implemented), should be based on an average oil price in excess of $100 per barrel over the twenty-year life of the project;
to apply a discount rate to P&ID’s supposed lost profits of 2.65 %, the same interest rate paid on United States treasury notes thereby adjudging P&ID, a start-up company that never commenced any physical work on the project but planned to operate in the midst of the Niger-Delta crisis, using a novel and unproven technology, a virtually “risk free” investment.
Upon the Award, P & ID commenced recognition and enforcement proceedings of the arbitration award against FGN in March 2018 in both the United Kingdom (“UK”) and the United States of America (the “United States”).
The FGN is duly represented in the proceedings in the United States by the Law Firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP which also represented it in the UK proceedings of which judgement was given on 16th August, 2019 in favour of the P&ID to commence enforcement proceeding against the FGN assets in the UK.
Recall further that this matter was inherited from the previous Administration by the present one. Upon inheriting this matter, this Government engaged the renowned US Law Firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP to defend the interest of the FGN. The Law Firm has taken step to defend the proceedings in the United Stated by urging the District Court to dismiss the P&ID application for enforcement of the award on the ground that Nigeria as a sovereign state has an absolute right to obtain an authoritative determination of its sovereign immunity. The FGN therefore demanded that the jurisdictional issue must be conclusively resolved before Nigeria may be required to litigate the merits of P&ID’s petition.
P&ID has variously challenged Nigeria’s position urging the District Court to direct Nigeria to file both its jurisdiction and merit defenses as a consolidated defense so that the proceedings may be disposed of by the District Court summarily.
The FGN has however pursued the validity of its jurisdictional defense as a preliminary matter which must be conclusively resolved prior to any consideration of the merit argument up to the Court of Appeal.
In a ruling on 9th October 2018, the District Court granted a stay of proceedings pending a determination of the appeal.
P&ID has also subsequently filed motions to have Nigeria’s appeal certified as frivolous and to have proceedings in the District Court continue pending determination of the appeal at the Court of Appeal.
On 1st November 2018, the US District Court issued a decision in favour of FGN denying P & ID’s further attempt to certify Nigeria’s appeal as frivolous and denied P&ID’s attempt to lift the stay of proceedings.
On 15 February 2019, the Court of Appeal issued a decision in favour of FGN by dismissing P&ID’s motion requesting the court to dismiss Nigeria’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction or to summarily affirm the scheduling order of the District Court.
The proceedings therefore are currently on-going in the United States and the FGN will ensure that its interest and that of the people of Nigeria are vigorously defended.
As regards the recent Judgment of the English Court of 16 August 2019, the Federal Government’s Counsel have been instructed to pursue an appeal on the judgment of the English Court dated 16 August, 2019 and at the same time seek for a Stay of Execution of the said judgment.
In view of the above, please be informed that the Federal Government of Nigeria is making vigorous efforts to defend its interest in this matter and would not relent in exploring every viable option in doing so.
Dayo Apata, Esq.
Solicitor General of the Federation and
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja.
Leader of the proscribed Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky is on his way back to Nigeria, the spokesperson of the group, Ibrahim Musa, has said.
According to him, the decision is due to a lack of a breakthrough in the impasse that ensued with regard to the treatment of the Shiite Leader in India.
Mr. Musa said, “Following lack of a breakthrough in the impasse that ensued in the treatment of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky in New Delhi, it is now confirmed that the Sheikh is on his way back to Abuja, Nigeria. He is scheduled to leave 17hrs Nigerian time.
“In a video message sent by the Sheikh himself, he said that they were given two alternatives; either to commence the treatment on their own terms i.e the government terms or they will be sent back. And that it has been announced to them that they will be sent back and he is praying to Allah that may it be the best option for him and for everybody.
“It is clear to us that the Nigerian government interference and the scuttling of the whole process rather than supervision as ordered by the court are the direct cause of the impasse.
“The government as we know never wanted the medical leave in the first place and as we have seen it did whatever it can to stop it (medical leave) by all means possible and unfortunately it has stopped it.”
Mr. Musa said that it was unfortunate that what the government did on this issue has already been declared in the court that proceedings cannot go on with a patient so the top priority of any accused person is to regain his health.
The IMN spokesman added that to regain failing health was the plan of the Sheikh, stressing that the IMN Leader’s efforts have been scuttled.
He said that members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria await the Sheikhs arrival and will start planning on the next move.
‘Controversy In India’
The Shiite leader and his wife, Zeenat, who has been in detention since 2015, had both left the country for India on August 12, seven days after the Kaduna State High Court granted them permission to travel to India for medical treatment.
On Wednesday, just one day after their arrival at the hospital, the trip turned controversial with El-Zakzaky and the IMN accusing the Nigerian government of denying him access to the doctor with whom they had an arrangement.
The Federal Government, in turn, accused the Shiite leader of becoming unruly at the hospital.
Although the IMN Spokesperson and a hospital representative had both said in separate statements later in the evening that the issues had been resolved and that treatment was expected to proceed, the situation has degenerated with the proscribed group accusing the government of interfering with the process.
Honourable Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) has demanded for thorough investigation into the death of a Nigerian Pastor in China, Joseph Ogenna Nwajueze from the Chinese authorities.
In a statement issued in Abuja by the NIDCOM Head of Media, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, stated that the death of the Nigerian Pastor based in China was condemnable.
She said the killing of the Anambra -born pastor, who was living with his wife, Chinwe and four children in China, by the chinese security operatives must be thoroughly investigated and the culprit punished.
The Federal Government has started consultations with a number of leading traditional rulers in a bid to improve security in local communities while rearranging the security architecture nationwide.
This was disclosed by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who held separate meetings with the Akarigbo of Remoland, Oba Babatunde Ajayi, and the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Professor Osinbajo stated that the FG will collaborate with states to maintain law and order across the country.
“As you know, there are many significant concerns all over the country; and of course there are concerns also in the South West.
“So, I’m here on the instruction of Mr President to consult with the Kayibesi, Governor Dapo Abiodun and other stakeholders on what to do to beef up security, and to generally improve the security architecture.
“One of the things that Mr President has spoken about is the role of traditional rulers in maintaining peace and security in their own locality. As you know, they are the closest to the grassroots, to their communities.”
After meeting the Awujale, the VP said, “of course, you know that the Kabiyesi is not just the traditional ruler, but also a very important part of the government. That’s why we are here to speak with him and to agree on a few modalities for beefing up security, ensuring that we are fully conscious of all that is going on around us, and just to be sure that peace and security reigns here and across the country.
“There are some who might want to cause instability and difficulties, but we are very confident that God helping us, working together as a nation, we will be able to overcome all our problems and set our country on the path of peace and prosperity,” he noted.
He noted that the state governor, Dapo Abiodun was committed “to ensure that there is peace and security, and that everyone who lives in all our neighbourhoods, localities and communities live in peace with each other and that we maintain a high level of security.”
A Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos has ordered the permanent forfeiture to the Federal Government, the sum of $8.4million and another N9.2billion linked to the wife of the former President, Dame Patience Jonathan.
Justice Mojisola Olaterogun held that she failed to show reasonable cause why the funds should not be permanently forfeited.
The court found that the funds as claimed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006.
On April 20, 2018, the EFCC had secured an interim order for forfeiture of the sums following a motion exparte it filed before the court.
It joined as respondents: Patience Jonathan, Globus Integrated Services Ltd, Finchley Top Homes Limited, Am-Pm Global Network Limited, Pagmat Oil and Gas Limited and Magel Resort Limited and Esther Oba.
On October 29, 2018, the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, moved his motion for final forfeiture of the sums, urging that same be finally forfeited to the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, defence counsel, Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), Mike Ozekhome (SAN), and Ige Asemudara, had respectively moved their processes in opposition to the motion for final forfeiture.
On January 15, 2019, the court admitted electronic evidence presented by the defence team which depicted video exhibits showing various business outfits of Finchley Top Homes Ltd. and Magel Resort Limited.
The court had then adjourned for judgment.
In a judgment delivered on February 28, the court held that it found the affidavit evidence conflicting, and same could only be resolved by oral evidence of parties.
The court had then ordered parties to call their witnesses.
At the last adjourned date, an EFCC witness, Orji Chukwuma, had concluded evidence before the court, while the court had adjourned till today for continuation of evidence.
A member of All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Abdulkadir, has reacted to the planned abolition of the Almajiri system of education, calling on the Federal Government to address the unemployment problem.
Appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Tuesday, the former lawmaker said that if the unemployment issue is addressed, the security challenges facing the nation can be reduced.
He also wants education to be a priority for the current administration in order to ensure that the citizens are effectively enlightened.
“Certainly, in any country where education is not gotten right, we are bound to be faced with problems one of which could be insecurity and general social instability.
“And the more we have educated people, the better for us not only in stabilising the security of a country but also in making progress in the lives of the people.
“Education is one of the problems, we have to get it right. We also have to fix the problem of unemployment. Unemployment, proving jobs is not only for the educated people,” he said.
Abdulkadir who is also a former Deputy Majority Leader of the Bauchi State House of Assembly also called for the expansion informal sector of the economy
Specifically, he wants the government to strengthen the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, that will engage many of the nation’s youths.
Similarly, a former Minority Whip in the House of Representatives, Umar Barde, decried the non-execution of budgetary allocation on the part of the executive.
While noting that the National Assembly has played its role of passing the nation’s budget, he believes the slow implementation has led to some economic problems among which is the Almajiri.
“If you look at the insecurity, what the National Assembly has been able to do all this while, we have been trying to provide money in defence, in terms of budgetary allocation.
“Most times, if you go to the Ministries, they will tell you money has not been released. When it comes to execution (of the budget), there is a problem. I have never seen a problem when the National Assembly refuses to allocate money for strategic needs.”
He, however, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to rejig his subordinates for effective delivery to the benefit of Nigerians.
Both comments come a few days after the National Economic Council disclosed that some groups like the Almajiri groups would be proscribed by the Federal Government.