South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday said Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene had resigned over discrepancies in his accounts of meetings with the business family at the heart of a corruption scandal.
Nene was seen as one of Ramaphosa closest allies and a leading figure in the government’s efforts to tackle graft that allegedly flourished under former president Jacob Zuma, who was ousted in February.
But Nene revealed to a judicial inquiry last week that he had met with the Gupta business family at their home and offices six times — contradicting earlier statements that he had only met them in passing at social occasions.
“I have decided to accept his resignation,” Ramaphosa told a televised press briefing in Cape Town.
He added that Nene feared his testimony “detracted from the important task of serving the people of South Africa as we work to reestablish public trust in government.”
Nene, who was widely respected by investors, served as finance minister from 2014 to 2015 until he was sacked by Jacob Zuma and was re-appointed by Ramaphosa earlier this year.
He apologized after giving testimony to the inquiry, which is probing allegations of systematic corruption under Zuma’s government involving the three Gupta brothers.
“I was wrong in meeting the Guptas at their residence and not in my office or at least a public place,” his apology letter read.
“These visits do cast a shadow on my conduct as a public office bearer. I deeply regret these lapses and beg your forgiveness.”
Former central bank governor Tito Mboweni was named as Nene’s successor.
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun has given the importance of the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) by the Federal Government saying most Nigerians who pay their tax are low-income earners.
The Finance Minister said those who pay tax in Nigeria are low-income earners and salary earners whose taxes are deducted at source.
Speaking on the issue of tax payment during her appearance on a special Channels Television programme, The Core, on Wednesday, Adeosun said VAIS is justified as it pursues Nigerians who earn and have acquired more assets and income.
“Most of the taxpayers we have in Nigeria today are salary earners. They are about 94% of our taxpayers. I think we have about 14million taxpayers and 13.5million are pay as you earn. So, those are people whose income tax is being deducted at source. These are largely low-income earner.
“So would it be fair for those who made the most and have the most to be forgiven? Because if we do that, then we should also refund those who have actually paid their taxes. In the spirit of fairness, we think it is right the way we designed it,” she said.
VAIDS is a Federal Government initiative for assets declaration and in exchange for fully and honestly declaring previously undisclosed assets and income, taxpayers benefit from forgiveness of overdue interest and penalties.
The Minister said VAIDS is user-friendly as those coming to declare assets enjoy agreement to make payment in installment.
She said the scheme is to hunt those making money and not paying tax.
“In our experience, we find out that those who have really stolen money do not come out to declare for tax. They hide under the radar.
“What we found out largely is that because our economy is so informal, there were just a large number of people making money and not paying anything over a long period of time,” she said.
VAIDS according to the Minister is a tax amnesty. She explained it basically require people who have complaint issue to declare fully and honestly. In exchange, they are not be prosecuted or audited or charged penalties. “It is a focus on tax and revenue generation,” Adeosun added.
Debunking allegations that the scheme is a tool by the Federal Government to witch-hunt political opponents, Adeosun said the VAIDS is not a political agenda but solely aimed at raising funds for the nation’s development.
“We are not following the money, we are not asking how much did you earn? We are saying, this asset, whether it’s in Nigeria or overseas, how did you fund it?.
“When it comes to tax, there is no Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or All Progressives Congress (APC). It is an equal opportunity, an amnesty. It is not a political tool, we want money to develop our country.”
The Minister of Finance has earlier revealed plans to aggressively go after tax evaders to prosecute them and publicly reveal their identities. She said on Thursday, March 1 during the VAIDS Stakeholders symposium at the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre, Murtala Square, in Kaduna State that tax evaders will be prosecuted, named and shamed.
Nigeria has unveiled plans to refinance trillions of naira-denominated treasury bills into new three-year tenured three billion dollar notes.
The plan according to the Federal Government, is part of steps to restructure the country’s domestic debt portfolio into longer term instruments and at much lower borrowing costs of around seven per cent.
Nigeria currently pays nearly 18 per cent on short-dated Naira treasuries issued each week by the Central Bank.
According to Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, the debt repackaging plan was approved last June by the cabinet, looking to stimulate economic growth and ease Nigeria’s cost of domestic debt servicing.
The Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) has a new board led by a former Newspaper Editor and former Presidential Spokesman, Mr Duro Onabule.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday approved the new board which consists of six other Executive Directors.
They are: Dr. Steve Egbo, Administration and Training; Abdul Hamid Salihu Dembos, Marketing; Mohammed Labbo, News; Fatima M. Barda, Finance; Stephen Okoanachi, Engineering; and Wole Coker, Programmes.
Some other appointments were also announced in a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina.
“At the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Aliyu Hayatu is new chairman, while Buhari Auwalu and Yinka Amosun, are Zonal Directors, Kaduna and Lagos, respectively.
“Under the Ministry of Information and Culture, the following agencies have new appointees: Nigerian Film Corporation, Dr. Chika Maduekwe, General Manager; National Theatre and National Troupe of Nigeria, Comrade Tar Ukoh, Artistic Director; National Council for Arts and Culture, Mr Olusegun Runsewe, Director-General; National Film and Video Censors Board, Folorunsho Coker, Director-General,” the statement read.
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, will also serve as the Chairman of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), while Mr Mustapha Maihaja is to serve as the agency’s Director-General.
According to the statement, other members of the NEMA Board are: “The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr David Babachir Lawal; Captain Talba Alkali, representing Ministry of Transport and Aviation; Ambassador Rabiu Dagari, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Dr. Ngozi Azadoh, Ministry of Health; Mr Muhammadu Maccido, Ministry of Interior; Mr Ajisegiri Benson Akinloye; Ministry of Water Resources, Air Vice Marshal Emmanuel Anebi, Nigerian Armed Forces; and AIG Salisu Fagge Abdullahi, Nigerian Police Force”.
The President’s spokesman said the appointments are to take immediate effect.
Ministers across West Africa are scheduled to provide perspectives to critical energy, finance and infrastructure issues at the Regional Energy Cooperation Summit 2017, holding in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, later in January.
In continuation of the Africa Energy Forum held in London in May 2016, West Africa’s head of utilities, regulators and industry operators from Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Liberia and Mali, will showcase investment opportunities and project pipelines in the coming event.
The Abidjan summit will afford all parties in the public and private sector, the opportunity to explore ownership for network assets, and hear directly from governments on the scale of the opportunities within the region’s integration strategy.
Although energy cooperation in West Africa is in progress, not so much has been achieved with the West Africa power poll, with its headquarters in Ghana.
A Federal High Court in Lagos has adjourned hearing on the trial of the Managing Director of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and six other persons till May 12.
Mr Ibrahim Abdulsalam and the other accused persons appeared before Justice Babs Kuewumi on Wednesday over an alleged fraud of 6850 billion Naira.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned Abdulsalam alongside Adegorite Olumuyiwa, and his wife who is the Managing Director of Multeng Travels and Tours Limited, Joy Ayodele Adegorite on a 24-count charge bordering on alleged fraud.
Other accused persons are Agbolade Segun, Clara Aliche, and two limited liability companies, Multeng Travels and Tours Limited, as well as Randville Investment Limited.
At the resumed trial of the accused persons, their lawyers led by Mr Wale Akoni, urged the court to grant a very short adjournment to enable them study the ‘bulky’ proof of evidence served on them by the prosecution.
Lawyers to the other accused persons, Dunkwa A, Lanre Olayinka, and Abiodun Julius, informed the court that it had been extremely difficult to gain access to their clients at the prisons’ facilities where they were being remanded.
According to them, the situation has made it impossible for them to perfect the bail terms.
The lawyers lamented that their clients’ detention had also compounded their inability to understand the proof of evidence, urging the court to grant their application for adjournment.
In a swift reaction, the EFCC prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, vehemently opposed the application for adjournment while urging the court to dismiss same.
“We are opposing the application for adjournment. We found out that the applications lack merit and should be dismissed,” Oyedepo said.
The EFCC prosecutor further informed the court that the ground on which the applications for adjournment was made was overstretched.
He urged the court to dismiss the application for adjournment, and allow the trial to commence.
In his ruling, Justice Kuewumi conceded to the accused persons’ application for adjournment and deferred the trial till May 12.
The accused persons were also alleged to have converted various sums of money amounting to 4,003 billion Naira belonging to NAMA to their personal use.
The Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), four other officials of the agency and an official’s wife are facing trial for allegedly stealing 6.9 billion Naira.
They are facing a 21-count charge of conspiracy, forgery and money laundering brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before Justice Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
The accused persons are the Managing Director of the agency, Ibrahim Abdulsalam, a former Managing Director, who is said to be at large, Nnamdi Udoh, the General Manager, Procurement, Adegorite Olumuyiwa, the General Manager, Finance, Agbolade Segun, a Director of Finance, Clara Aliche and the wife of the General Manager for Procurement, Joy Ayodele Adegorite.
They were arraigned on Thursday alongside two companies Randville Investment Limited and Multeng Travels and Tours Limited.
The companies were allegedly used as conduit pipes to defraud the Agency, the anti-graft agency claimed.
According to the anti-graft agency, the accused persons allegedly conspired to steal the 6,922,676,815 Naira from NAMA.
When the charge was read to the accused persons, they all pleaded not guilty.
Prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, then asked the court to remand the accused persons in prison and grant a short trial date.
The lawyers for the accused persons pleaded with the court to remand their client in the EFCC custody pending the hearing of their bail applications but Justice Kuewunmi upheld the objection of the prosecution and ordered that the accused persons be remanded in prison.
He adjourned to April 12 for hearing of the bail applications.
Lawyers to the accused persons did not comment on the matter but counsel to the EFCC, who spoke to Channels Television’s correspondent, Shola Soyele, said the commission filed charges against the accused persons after investigating petitions written against them.
The Kaduna State Government has announced the retirement of 20 Permanent Secretaries from the State Civil Service, in line with plans to cut the cost of running government.
A statement by a spokesman for the Governor, Samuel Aruwan, said the retirement of the Permanent Secretaries was due to a decision to cut down ministries in the state from 19 to 13.
Mr Aruwan said the development was part of efforts by the current administration to save funds for the development of schools, hospitals, roads and other basic amenities.
According to the statement, some of the standing ministries are; the Ministries of Justice, Agriculture and Forestry Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.
Others are Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Women Affairs and Social Development, Water Resources, Health and Human Services, Education, Science and Technology, Budget and Planning, Finance, Works, Housing and Transport.
The statement added that the State government also announced the creation of five departments which would be headed by Permanent Secretaries. They are; the Public Service Office; the Bureau of Establishments; Political and Economic Affairs; Cabinet and Security Services and General Services. This will bring the total number of Permanent Secretaries in the state civil service to 18.
Meanwhile, the State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has appointed Mr Ezekiel Baba Karik as the Executive Secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency.
The appointment of Mr Ezekiel Baba Karik, as Executive Secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), has also been announced.
He was a former vice-chairman of Kaduna South Local Government and an organising secretary in the campaign organisation of All Progressives Congress’ governorship aspirant, Honourable Isah Ashiru, prior to serving as special assistant to Mr Barnabas Yusuf Bala after his emergence as the running mate to El-Rufai. Mr Karik holds Postgraduate Diplomas in Management Studies and Business Administration.
Madagascar President, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, on Sunday announced the replacement of eight ministers, including a new finance minister, after dissolving the government earlier this month amid mounting public frustration over power and other issues.
Air force commander and businessman, Jean Ravelonarivo, was sworn in as the new premier.
There were innovations in the Ministries of health, culture, trade among others. While 22 other ministers maintained their jobs.
Maurice Gervais Rakotoarimanana, an accountant who has worked with the World Bank, would be the next Minister of Finance and budget.
The president said in a press conference that special attention would be given to building the energy sector saying, “This government is ready to fight. Ready to fight against poverty, ready to fight for the development of infrastructure, for education, for health”.
The mineral-rich island nation has been struggling to rebuild its economy which was crippled after a coup in 2009 that drove away donors and investors.
A peaceful election in 2013 has redeemed the nation a bit, but it is still struggling to impose stable government and economic. Challenges remain such as weaning the nation off fuel and electricity subsidies.
According to analysis by the International Monetary Fund released last week, Madagascar’s economy boosted about 3 percent in 2014, and could also increase by 5 percent this year if it can increase tax revenue and improve the business climate.
Madagascar is one of the world’s poorest countries, despite its reserves of nickel, cobalt, gold, uranium and other minerals.
The Federal Government on Thursday launched the first mortgage scheme for 10,000 beneficiaries aimed at redressing the constraints posed by poor access to finance in the development of affordable housing in the country.
The federal government’s 10,000 mortgage scheme was inspired by President Goodluck Jonathan’s pledge to help tackle the country’s 17 million housing deficit.
On January 16, 2014, the President launched the Nigerian Mortgage Refinancing Company with a view to making mortgage accessible to Nigerians to enable them purchase and own their own homes.
To qualify as a beneficiary of a mortgage under the scheme, the prospective home owner must be pre-qualified to look for a home to buy, within the limits of the mortgage provided. Interested mortgage applicants are required to access a dedicated online portal for the scheme – www.housingfinance.gov.ng to go through a checklist of eligibility requirements to verify his or her status as a tax-paying Nigerian, who is a first time home buyer with a regular income.
Once eligibility of the applicant has been established, he would be directed to complete and submit a form requesting his personal and employer’s details, state of origin and residence as well as salary range.
On this segment of Sunrise, a member of the Ministerial Committee on the project, Architect Ezekiel Nya-Etok, and the Chairman, Public Private Partnership, Real estate developers association of Nigeria, Sola Enitan, discussed the impact the project would have in spite of the 17 million housing deficit.
Ajegunle.org, an initiative of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), which connects young people with ICT enabled opportunities to help access better livelihoods, has just completed a Google Web Training for community youths.
The training held from 9 to 27 June 2014.
The Google Web Training will give the trained youths a competitive advantage in the job market as the Google Web Academy offers skills and certification that are market driven. 16 out of the 36 registered participants qualified for the training, and were trained on products like Google search, YouTube, Google Plus, Google e-mail, Google Docs, spreadsheet, presentation, form, chrome, internet safety, Google Maps and Earth and Map making. The ICT classes focused on Microsoft Office packages, design tools & the Internet.
By the end of the first week of training, many of the students were already using computers proficiently.
“Before I came in for Ajegunle.org’s capacity building program, I had big dreams but I was not inspired on my own,” says John-Beloved Agwanzenini, when expressing his experience at the Ajegunle Innovation Centre. “People around considered me a failure because I had been at home for over four years after high school, literally wasting, but in just eight weeks, I am certain that I have made up for those wasted years.”
The entrepreneurship stream was facilitated by industry experts including Ademola Adeoye, Managing Director of World Class Impact, Ronald Nzimora, Managing Director of Profit Marketing Systems Limited, David Ekugum of SESEWA Support Services and Bola Akeju of Wecyclers. The life skill sessions were taken by Mrs. Oluwaseyifunmi Walter and Rev. Yomi Olufiade.
The students were trained on marketing, finance, managing risks, staffing, social impact, customer relations and writing business plans.
At the end of the training, participants had two weeks of practice and mapping of specific locations using Google Map maker.