The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has expressed displeasure over what it describes as a slow pace in the implementation of the Memorandum of Agreement it reached with the Federal Government last year.
ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke expressed the union’s displeasure on Thursday during a meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, in Abuja where he also raised concern over poor funding of the education sector in the country.
He also urged the National Assembly to initiate a law that makes it compulsory for public office holders to send their wards to public schools in the country, saying such a step would let the officials know the decay in public universities.
The Federal Government on Wednesday announced plans to finance the proposed 2022 budget deficit pegged at N6.258 trillion through fresh borrowings.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this during a press conference after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja, adding that this will aid the funding of the Federal Government’s infrastructure projects.
“Government has been borrowing before this administration and continues to borrow and it is important that we borrow to provide developmental projects in the form of roads, rails, bridges, power and water for sustainable development in this country,” she said.
“If we just depend on the revenues that we get, even though our revenues have increased, the operational expenditure of government, including salaries and other overheads, is barely covered or swallowed up by the revenue.”
While defending the government’s borrowings, she said the move is necessary to be able to build projects and to ensure they are developed on a sustainable basis.
In spite of persistent agitations in some quarters against the frequent borrowing by the current administration, the Finance Minister insists that the total size of the borrowing is still within healthy and sustainable limits.
She added, “Nigeria’s borrowing, has been of great concern and has elicited a lot of discussions. But if you look at the total size of the borrowing, it is still within healthy and sustainable limits.
“As of July 2021, the total borrowing is 23% of GDP. When you compare our borrowing to other countries, we’re the lowest within the region, lowest compared to Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, the very lowest, and Angola.
“We do have a problem with revenue. Our revenues have been increasing. We just reported to Council that our revenues from non-oil have performed, as of July, at the rate of 111%, which means outperforming the prorated budget.”
This is coming as the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the 2022 Appropriation Bill for an aggregate expenditure of N16.39 trillion.
The Federal Government will soon release $120 million to Imo State to support the state government’s livestock programme.
Governor Hope Uzodinma disclosed this on Friday during a broadcast to mark the nation’s 61st Independence Anniversary in Owerri.
He noted that the state has also been earmarked to receive $850 million to be distributed among seven states.
“Another benefit from the visit (President Muhammadu Buhari) is that the Federal Government has graciously included Imo State as a beneficiary of its special Agric Processing Zone Project for Livestock farming,” he said.
“Out of the seven states in the country that will benefit from a Federal Government $850 million for the programme, Imo State is number two! Consequently, a whopping $120 million will soon be released to our state for the livestock programme.”
The governor explained that the Federal Government has also listed Imo as one of the states to benefit from a $1.4 billion facility secured from the World Bank for urban and rural water development.
Speaking on security, Uzodinma said relative peace has been recorded in the South-Eastern state under his administration.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari and security agencies for their “invaluable support to the state government in tackling the worst form of banditry and criminality ever witnessed in the state.”
According to the Imo governor, everyone in the state is a witness to the “savagery and cannibalistic brutality that defined the regime of violence and criminality that enveloped the state for some months in the recent past.”
Uzodinma warned that his administration will not tolerate anybody that attempts to foment trouble in the state, vowing to crush criminal elements.
He called on people of the state to support the security agencies and government by providing useful information to flush out criminals from their hideouts.
“Anybody who attempts to disrupt the peace of the state again may not live to tell the story. That is why it is important for parents and guardians to rein in their children and wards as the security agencies have our directive to deal decisively with those who may be tempted to foment trouble again.
“I have just inaugurated a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the security breaches in the state and come out with recommendations on what government should do to ensure that there is no recurrence of such.
“I believe that both the perpetrators and their sponsors would be unmasked for Imo people to know their enemies. But all of us have a collective duty to protect our state against renegades,” he added.
The Federal Government has declared Friday as a public holiday to mark Nigeria’s independence anniversary celebration.
Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, made the declaration on behalf of the government.
In a statement on Wednesday by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr Shuaib Belgore, Aregbesola congratulated all Nigerians on the celebration of the nation’s 61st independence and assured them of the government’s commitment to tackling and eradicating all forms of challenges facing the country.
According to him, the warmth, welcoming spirit, and love, as well as the abundant wealth inherent in human capital and the richness of Nigeria make it the leading black nation in the world.
To achieve this, the minister stressed the need for the people to rally themselves together to harness the nation’s potentials.
“Nigerians are sparkling like diamonds in the pack, whether in academia, business, innovation, music, movie, entertainment, fashion, and culture, we are indeed the leading black nation in the entire world, and no doubt Africa’s pride and beacon of hope,” he was quoted as saying in the statement.
Aregbesola stated that while celebrating Nigeria’s 61st independence anniversary was necessary, the safety of the citizenry was a huge concern to the President, especially with the third wave of the COVID-19 still in place.
As a result, he explained that this year’s celebration would be held without the usual pomp and pageantry.
The minister wished Nigerians a fruitful independence celebration, saying the nation’s founding fathers, in spite of the differences in faith, tribe, and tongue came together for Nigeria’s independence.
He, therefore, called on the people to join hands together with the present administration in its quest to ensure a better Nigeria for all citizens.
“We must together make Nigeria great”, Aregbesola said.
Seventy-seven oil companies owe the Federal Government N2.6 trillion debt, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has said.
The debt arises from the failure to remit petroleum profit tax, company income tax, value-added tax, royalty, and concession on rentals.
NEITI Executive Secretary, Dr. Ogbonnaya Orji disclosed this on Tuesday while presenting the agency’s scorecard in the last seven months during a press briefing in Abuja.
“The NEITI reports based on findings in its 2019 audit of the oil and gas sector show that oil and gas companies in Nigeria owe government about $6.48bn, which equals N2.66tn at today’s exchange rate of N410.35,” he said.
“A breakdown of the figures shows that a total of $143.99m is owed as petroleum profit taxes, $1.089bn as company income taxes, and $201.69m as education tax.
“Others include $18.46m and £972,000 as Value Added Tax, $23.91m and £997,000 as withholding tax, $4.357bn as royalty oil, $292.44m as royalty gas, while $270.187m and $41.86m were unremitted gas flare penalties and concession rentals respectively.”
While underscoring the importance of the funds to the economy, he said that the agency is set to take measures to recover the money.
According to the NEITI boss, the disclosure was important in view of the government’s current search for revenue to address the demand for steady power, good roads, quality education, fight against insurgency, and job creation.
Orji explained that NEITI decided to provide relevant information and data to support the government’s efforts at recovering this money.
He also cautioned oil firms that NEITI would no longer watch while these debts continued to remain in its reports unaddressed.
As Nigeria clocks 61 years on Friday, October 1, Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has raised an alarm over alleged plans to rig the 2023 general elections.
He made the allegation on Sunday during an interdenominational church service in commemoration of the nation’s Independence Anniversary at the Saint Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Diobu, Port Harcourt.
“Other countries are talking about how their elections will be transparent, we are talking about how we will plot to rig an election in 2023,” the Governor said.
He also raised concerns over why Nigeria is yet to adopt the electronic mode of transmission of election results.
He believes Nigerians should have had a good reason to celebrate the country at 61 if the electoral system is made a little stronger by introducing electronic transmission of results.
“Transmit a result electronically to show the transparency, to show that really the person you are declaring won the election is the problem,” he said.
“I thought by now, we should be talking about how this country will be competing with other developed nations.”
The governor also lamented the societal ills in the country, blaming poor leadership for Nigeria’s challenges.
Wike, therefore, charged Nigerians to take personal responsibility to ensure that the values that will entrench better society are strengthened as the country marks 61 years of independence amid the socio-cultural problems and ethnoreligious intolerance.
According to him, it feels disappointing that Nigeria at 61 years is yet to have truly independent legislative and judicial arms that can check the excesses of the executive, especially in the management of finances.
Speaking further, he lamented that the legislature is not playing its role of holding the executive to account.
He took a swipe at the National Assembly for not checking the excesses of the Federal Government, especially with respect to excessive borrowings.
Wike added, “what are we celebrating about 61 years old? We have a congress (where) anything goes. Where is the legislature? A legislature that cannot speak, a legislature where anything they bring is right?
“A legislature that cannot say that Nigeria has gotten to the age of conducting a free and fair election, a legislature that will close your eye anytime they bring money, borrow you borrow.
“Where are the courts? The courts have been intimidated; the judges have abandoned their responsibilities out of fear of what will happen,” Wike said.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved ₦836 million for the establishment of oxygen production plants for COVID-19 pandemic intervention across the country.
Briefing State House reporters after the weekly FEC meeting on Wednesday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the approval of the upward review followed a memo presented by the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire to the council.
“The Minister of Health also presented a memo seeking for an upward review for the emergency supply, installation and maintenance of the 38 oxygen plants all over the country,” Mohammed said.
“You will remember in June, the Federal Executive Council, actually approved the sum of ₦5.615 billion to four major contractors for the emergency supply, installation and maintenance of 38 oxygen plants in various parts of the country.
“Regrettably, the four companies also came back recently with the same complaints ranging from fluctuation in the foreign exchange and the scarcity of this plant over the world as a result of material all as a result of COVID-19.
“So, he presented a memo for augmentation in the sum of ₦836 million and this was also approved today.”
The minister disclosed that the council also approved the revised estimate of costs and extension of the contract for the consultants supervising the Bagwai Water Dam Irrigation project from an initial sum of ₦98 million to ₦302.8 million.
He added, “The Bagwai Water Dam Irrigation project in Bagwai Local Government Area of Kano State was commenced; the initial contract was awarded in 2005.
“And due to several logistics problems, the project is still on and just recently, the FEC actually approved an augmentation of the entire contract and that means also that the mandate of the consultant supervising the construction would also have to be reviewed. So, now the total cost for the consultancy is ₦302.9 million.”
The House of Representatives on Wednesday indicated its willingness to investigate the probable exclusion of Rivers State from the list of states to benefit from the Federal Government’s borrowings.
The lower chamber is to probe the possible omission of the oil-rich state as a beneficiary of states earmarked for projects.
This is sequel to a motion of urgent public importance by Representative Solomon Bob alleging that Rivers is the only state out of the 36 states to be left out.
The lawmaker further alleged discrimination against Rivers State which contributes enormously to the federation account.
The House has mandated its Committee on Aids and Loans to liaise with the presidency to include Rivers State in the loans if it is found to be the only state that has been excluded.
The Reps’ move is coming two days after Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike described as an act of discrimination, the alleged refusal of the Federal Government to include Rivers as one of the states that would benefit from projects, for which it was seeking fresh foreign loans to execute.
“Look at the money that Federal Government has gone to borrow from the World Bank, of all the projects in all the states, the Federal Government did not include Rivers State,” the governor said.
He explained that beyond the provision of infrastructure, his administration was seeking a law that would provide comfortable accommodation for judicial officers on retirement.
The reason, he said, was to ensure that while in service, the judicial officers can concentrate on their jobs without cutting corners and avoid corrupt practices.
He observed that there are attempts to frustrate federating states like Rivers, to actualise the constitutional provisions that empower them to harness their resources and revenues, particularly VAT.
According to Governor Wike, what the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) was doing was illegal and could be likened to robbing from the states.
An Oyo State High court has ordered the Federal Government to pay Yoruba nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, a.k.a. Sunday Igboho, the sum of N20 billion.
Justice Ladiran Akintola awarded the sum on Friday while delivering judgement in a N500 billion suit, filed against the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami and the Department of State Services (DSS) for what was described as exemplary and aggravated damage done against the activist.
Igboho through his lawyer, Yomi Alliyu, had filed the suit challenging the invasion of his house in Ibadan on July 1, damage of his property as a violation of his fundamental right to peacefully own property and wealth by operatives of the DSS.
Justice Akintola also awarded N2 million as the cost to the applicant.
The Federal Government has approved the National Policy on the fifth-generation (5G) network in Nigeria.
This is according to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, who addressed journalists in Abuja after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday.
He explained that the benefits that accrue from using the 5G network include larger capacity, higher data rates, among others.
“Mine is a memo which I presented before the Federal Executive Council, which has also been approved after deliberation. That is the National Policy on Fifth Generation Networks for Nigeria’s digital economy, the national policy on 5G,” he said.
“That policy has been approved by the Federal Executive Council today. Furthermore, the policy discusses the benefits to be attained through the deployment of 5G in Nigeria and in any part of the world which includes lower latency, larger capacity, and higher data rate.
“These are the three major benefits of the fifth-generation (network). In a simple language, we can say it will open many opportunities economically, academically, educationally and even in the health sector. It will also support our security institutions, particularly in areas where they need high-quality services.”
According to the Minister, the radiation from the 5G has proven to be lower than the 4G, televisions or microwaves, contrary to stories peddled on social media.
There have been concerns about the deployment of the 5G communications network, especially over its purported linkage with the COVID-19 outbreak. The claims have been repeatedly denied by authorities.
On May 19, the Senate asked the Federal Government to suspend plans to deploy the 5G network pending a six-month investigation into possible health risks associated with the technology.
In telecommunications, 5G is the fifth generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks, which cellular phone companies began deploying worldwide in 2019, and is the planned successor to the 4G networks which provide connectivity to most current cellphones.
Away from the 5G network, the Minister also reacted to the security situation in the North-West.
He clarified that telecommunications shut down in Zamfara State did emanate from him but was at the request of security institutions to enhance strategies.
According to Pantami, the government is willing to take any action including compromising economic benefits to render full support towards the security of the country.
Although he declined to disclose if the same measure would extend to other states affected by banditry, he pleaded for greater support towards the security agencies to allow them to deliver on their mandate.
Mobile telephone networks were shut down in Zamfara State on Monday after authorities ordered a telecoms blackout to aid the armed forces in tackling banditry in the area.
Members of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) have asked the Federal Government to address the issues raised by the union.
At a meeting with the government on Tuesday, JOHESU President, Biobelemonye Josiah, lamented that despite the patience of the health workers, not one of their demands has been met by the government.
“We listed them (the issues) and on several occasions, we presented these items over and over,” he said on Tuesday in Abuja at an emergency meeting of the government and JOHESU.
“Our last strike was on September 13, 2020. Six days from now, it will be one year and that shows that we are patient and we thought that within this period, at least the five issues, even, if not all the 16 (issues raised), would have been dealt with.
“But as we speak, not even one has been dealt with.”
According to Josiah, many of the concerns raised by the health workers are issues that have been discussed over and over.
He described JOHESU as “the patient dog of the health system” and that the body believes that going on strike is a painful way to resolve industrial disputes, considering its effect on the greater population of Nigerians.
The union leader regretted that while they try as much as they can to avoid going on strike, they have been unlucky to be positively attended to by the government.
“Many of the issues have lingered, some from 2014. Then the most vexing ones; we have 16 issues that we entered into an agreement (about with the government) on September 30, 2017.
Josiah explained that, as a listening body, in reaction to interventions including by the National Assembly, JOHESU provided a minimum of five issues that should be tackled.
“We hope that we will be able to conclude the major issues before the ultimatum we have given,” he said, adding, “We are also pleading with the government to have that sensitivity that we should not be led into temptation.”
‘We Not Owing’
Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, presided over the meeting convened to avert another strike in the nation’s health sector.
In his remarks, he urged the union to continue to show understanding with the government and gave an assurance that the five critical issues raised would be looked into.
According to the minister, the claim of the non-payment of salaries by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) is false.
He also demanded that those responsible for the illegal recruitment of doctors into the government workforce be made to face the consequence of their actions.
“Nobody is owed monthly salaries; the doctors say that their members are owed monthly salaries.
“Those owed monthly salaries among the doctors are those who are illegally recruited. Those people who even did illegal recruitment should be punished severely,” he said.
The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) on Monday asked the Federal Government to stop state governors from enacting the anti-open grazing law.
MACBAN Secretary-General, Saleh Alhassan made the comment during a press conference in Abuja.
He said the law would undermine the relative peace and stability currently enjoyed in the local communities, threaten the social order and exacerbate cattle rustling.
“The National Assembly and Mr President should intervene and stop the current attempts by some state governments to criminalise our means of livelihood of cattle-rearing through enacting of satanic and obnoxious laws they call Anti-Grazing Law,” he noted.
“The Federal Government should create a ministry for livestock and fisheries as obtainable in many African countries. Nigerians should adopt strategies in responding to changes of climate change as it affects livestock production not negative laws.”
Alhassan noted that anti-open grazing laws would destroy livestock production and send millions who depend on the livestock value chain into poverty.
The Miyetti Allah leader also called on the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to take an inventory of grazing reserves in the country and fully develop at least one grazing reserve in each senatorial zone.
He appealed to the National Assembly to rescue the pastoralists by resuscitating and passing the Grazing Reserves Commission Bill and other livestock management bills initiated by the previous assembly.
While referencing the African Union and ECOWAS Protocols/regulation of pastoralists and trans humans, the MACBAN spokesman asked the Nigerian government to domesticate the law in the country.
According to him, if the protocols are properly documented and implemented, it will effectively tackle the scourge of illegal migration in Nigeria.
Alhassan’s remarks come four months after the Southern Governors Forum announced a ban on open grazing of cattle across states in the region.
The governors after meeting in Asaba, the Delta State capital, asked President Buhari to address Nigerians on the state of the nation.
It also met months later and instructed states in the region to enact anti-open grazing laws in their domain to curb incessant clashes between herders and farmers.