The Federal Ministry of Finace has released a guideline for the payment of oil marketers in the country, a statement by the Special Adviser ot the Finance Minister on Media, Paul Nwabiukwu said on Wednesday.
The statement, which noted that the ministry has “received several enquiries regarding the status of payments to oil marketers for fuel imports”, urged marketers to “note the following”
“Only marketers whose claims have been cleared after they have gone through the verification processes are paid. This is to ensure that the unpleasant experiences of the recent past with regard to wrong and irregular payments are not repeated.
“The process for the latest batch of payments totalling N45 billion is currently on and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) has confirmed that some marketers who have submitted letters of indemnity to the OAGF have already been paid. Other claims are being attended to.
“The letters of indemnity are an additional requirement for payment because banks which financed imports by some marketers had written to the OAGF through their lawyers to complain that their clients (the marketers) are making interest payments through other banks contrary to the terms of agreements reached. The banks in question are insisting that the interest payments be made through them since they granted the facilities that attracted the interest.
“To ensure that the Federal Government is not held liable in the event of any litigation between these banks and their marketer-customers, the OAGF has instituted the new procedure.
“It is important to note that subsidy payments are made retroactively because claims must go through all the necessary processes before they are approved and paid”, it said.
The statement further added that “government will continue to discharge its obligations to marketers whose claims are approved”.
The Osun State Government is appealing to all its pensioners to exercise patience that the arrears owed will be paid.
It attributed the delay in payment to the shortfall of its allocation from the federal account.
Addressing newsmen in Osogbo, the state capital, the Commissioner for Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Dr. Wale Bolorunduro, said that the escalating revenue crisis in the country was seriously affecting the working machineries of state governments and that the impact on Osun was severe.
According to him, Osun revenue had been suffering serious decline since June 2013, a situation not peculiar to Osun State alone, causing the State Government to augment its monthly salary payment from its savings by about 1billion Naira.
Dr. Bolorunduro stated that the debt inherited as pension arrears from the past administration was 250million, but it was, however, jacked to 650million due to mass retirement of public servants who opted out of contributory pension scheme in 2013.
He, however, gave assurance that the State Government would keep deploying strategic measures to cope with the cash crunch and ensure that all the arrears were cleared.
The Commissioner was also quick to debunk all insinuations that Government intends to cut down on salaries of the work force or retrench, in order to be able to meet up its statutory role in social and developmental efforts.
A member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue, Tony Uranta has asked Nigerians to give the upcoming National Conference a chance to start before criticizing its chances of serving the purpose for which it was convened.
He was speaking on Channels Television weekend programme, Sunrise, where he stated that the composition of the delegates to the conference had only 72 nominated by the Federal Government, which is less than 15% of the total number of the delegates and nullifies the chances of manipulation by the Government.
The programme focussed on the activities preceding the conference and the issue of older people making up majority of the delegates came to the fore, as many Nigerians have pointed out. A member of the Editorial Board of National Newspaper, Sanya Oni, agreed with the sentiments but believed that the issue showed the level of capacity of the Nigerian youth.
He added that the youths were doing well in business and in the corporate world on their own “so why is it in politics that they want to be helped?” He said that he didn’t believe things like leadership would fall on the laps of the youths as it was their responsibility to seize the initiative.
Uranta added that the Nigerian youth today was more knowledgeable especially in the digital age, and they have the responsibility to make themselves relevant in the politics of Nigeria.
Legal Practitioner, Malachy Ugwummadu also said that the youths lacked the kinds of robust activities that would position them for leadership. He refused to accept the claim that the present political configuration of the country shuts out the youth.
He cited the National Association of Nigerian Students as an example. He spoke about times in the country when serious national issues were mainly driven by the Students’ body; a situation which he said had degenerated into quest for self-gratification from the current young people.
Northern Elders’ Declaration
The Northern elders have expressed negatives views on the conference, claiming that the delegates were not representing the North, and Sanya feels that this was an unfortunate situation.
He preached that Nigerians really need to understand that there was dire need for the country to talk. He berated what he termed the off-the-curve discussions, the manner in which they dismissed the National Conference, and the provocative statements made during the Northern Elders’ Forum.
He singled out the claims of ownership of the Nigerian oil by the North as highly provocative.
Mr. Uranta, shared the view that the declaration of the Northern Elders’ Forum was a reaction to being left out of the main activities of the National Conference. He argued that they are just a faction of elders as the main elders of the North had warmly embraced the idea and also have delegates attending.
Mr. Ugwummad, however, believed that the Northern Elders’ reservations should not be totally condemned as many Nigerians including himself were also hard critics of the whole idea.
He asserted that the issues have moved on from agreeing with the idea into the issues of implementation of the resolutions, the large budgets being earmarked for the talks, and the controversies surrounding the subjection of the issues being discussed at the conference to the National Assembly.
Mr Sanya also added that there were too many problems in the country and accepting that reality was the best way forward for Nigerians. He asserted that the need to decentralise power and empower traditional authority were among the issues that needed to be addressed.
Finance And National Security
While explaining the importance restructuring the leadership of the country, Mr. Uranta said “You cannot but have federalism such that the different federating units will have coordinate powers.”
He added as an example that primary education should not be part of the job of a Federal Government as the primary education structures in Nigeria are different in different regions.
He said that the claims by some Nigerians that the groundnut pyramids in the North funded Nigeria would be among matters to sort out, as he argued that in the early 1960s and according to the constitution, each region in the country funded itself and had its own economy, its own flag, anthem, and ran its own affairs.
He stated that discussing such structural issues would determine how well the other matters like fiscal federalism and national security would be treated. He added, “Let that be decided by the people.”
Why Should Anybody Get Paid?
Sanya had to contend with the question asked via social media by a Channels Television viewer. Although he admitted that there was need to cater to the needs of the delegates as they were not expected to be exposed to risks in Abuja, but added that the figures being mentioned as the delegates’ allowances and the total budget of the project were indeed outrageous.
Mr. Uranta, however, shared the view that the budget could be justifiable.
He explained “You don’t expect a Chief Olu Falae to come to Abuja and stay in a Motel or a drive by hotel”
He said “I stay in the Hilton and a room can go for like 58,000 Naira” and Nigerians have to think of all these things as many of the delegates are also retired and old; while some of them would have to come with their wives for the 3 months exercise. He added, “We cannot deny them their conjugal rights”
Mr Ugwummadu added that he hoped that the conference would not ending looking like nothing had been done.
A nagropreneur and founder of Abria Agribusiness Support Initiative, Mosunmola Umoru, has highlighted major reasons why the agricultural sector of the nation cannot boast of many youths engaging in it.
Top on the list, according to her, is lack of access to land and funds.
Umoru agreed that “the barrier to entry can be high. In some instances, access to land, access to finance, lack of collateral actually inhibits a lot of young people from getting engaged in the sector.”
Speaking on Channels Television’s business programme, Business Morning, on Monday, she stated that Nigerian youths “aren’t even seeing the potentials within the sector” which laid the foundation for her initiative.
Also, the mind set of agriculture from the “primary production aspect” where they have to use basic tools to farm is one of the major deterrents for the younger generation.
This is a source of concern for the federal government, which has embarked on a mission to diversify the nation’s economy and put an end to the great dependence on crude oil. President Goodluck Jonathan also lunched the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme at the recently concluded 19th Economic Summit, which held in Abuja.
“There’s a huge burden to actually see more young people come into the sector” which is dominated by citizens in the 50 to 65 age bracket, Umoru said, adding that “a lot of the limitations that young people would usually encounter if they want to venture in agro business is going to be tackled”.
The Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme will create low cost funding for young people in agriculture. The programme will also incubate agro-business clubs in institutions of agriculture, as a means to encourage students to venture into the sector.
She further commended the Federal Government for the Agricultural Transformation Agenda which she described as a timely move in the right direction.
“It’s important for the federal government to be actively involved in charting the course to diversify the economy” as no nation can survive based on the importation on food.
Although the agriculture sector guarantees increase in economy and has huge potentials to create jobs for the unemployed youths, issues such as underutilised land, irrigation, water management have to be tackled so the sector can guarantee food security for the nation.
President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria while addressing the 19th Nigerian Economic Summit, on Tuesday, encouraged youths of the nation to participate in the agricultural sector which can help them become private jet owners.
The President commended the youth who are now shifting away from the mindset that agriculture is a “simple poverty-alleviation programme” and encouraged them “to begin to think that agriculture can make you have your own private jet.”
The economic summit, which provides an opportunity to discuss issues with a view to providing practical solutions, is organised by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, National Planning Commission and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The summit is also the “foremost platform for dialogue between the public and private sectors,” for which the President thanked the organisers, for ensuring consistency for the annual event.
In his address, the President stated that the summit is coming at a critical time in the nation’s political history, following the launch of his administration’s mid-term report on the transformation agenda, on May 29th.
He stressed the government’s determination to “lay a solid foundation for the transformation of the country’s agricultural sector for enhanced growth and development”.
“The country is more determined than ever to unlock the great potentials of agriculture in order to ensure food security, create jobs and generate wealth,” he said, adding that it is “part of our continued effort to demonstrate our drive and commitment to work with the private sector to make agriculture once again, the main stay of our economy”.
This year’s summit focuses on the agricultural sector, which the President said he is not totally in agreement with because “you cannot discuss agriculture without discussing land. You cannot discuss agriculture without talking about farm managers, agronomists, agric engineers and agric economists, and that is education.”
He highlighted other sectors of the economy such as transportation, trade, finance and petroleum.
He also expressed satisfaction in the participation of middle class citizens adding that the involvement of the middle class signals the “beginning of a proper revolution”.
The 19th Nigerian Economic Summit currently on-going, is the third in the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
The event which is broadcast by Channels Television in Abuja has members of the National Assembly, Federal Executive Council, Members of the Economic Summit Group, Captains of industries and other guests in attendance.
The Governor of Bayelsa State, Hon Seriake Dickson has sworn in the candidates who emerged victorious in the recently conducted local Government elections in the State as council chairmen.
At the inauguration ceremony held inside the Banquet Hall of Government House, Yenagoa, the Governor said his administration will not tolerate any act of indiscipline.
“As we are (the state government), we are neither deducting nor authorizing any form of deductions from your council funds, we will also ensure that you the chairmen, particularly do not use council funds as your own personal pocket money. The present administration in Bayelsa State will not allow council chairmen to treat the resources coming to the councils to service godfathers, godmothers and god Sisters. The resources that are coming into this state as you have clearly seen at the state level are being deployed fully to the development of our state”.
The newly sworn-in local government chairmen have also been warned against turning the monthly allocation and other funds accruing to the Council to ‘pocket money’.
He stressed the need for the council chairmen to be disciplined financially.
The Governor further added that his administration has put in place a machinery to monitor and give monthly reports on their activities to ensure that funds accruing to the third tier of government are utilized solely for development.
In fulfillment of the 35 percent affirmative action, Governor Dickson disclosed that over 60 percent of women are holding elective positions at the local government level, stressing that PDP has set the pace in women empowerment in the country beginning with Bayelsa.
The Local Government Chairmen are Andy Obed for Brass, Tobiyei Billy (Ekeremor) Gbaranbiri Eselemo (Kolokuma/Opokuma) and Eminah Bioghoemi Benneth (Nembe). Others are Mr. Enaye Richard Abah (Ogbia), Willy Oyadougha Jerry (Sagbama), Chief Remember Ogbe (Southern Ijaw) and Hon. Chubby Ben Walson (Yenagoa).
Licenses for 47 finance houses were revoked by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on Monday, the organisation confirmed, adding that it also accredited 55 others.
The bank released the information on its website today, in a list that showed the status of financed companies.
According to reports, Central Bank said it shut down the 47 finance houses due to the fact that they had either closed up shop and had ceased to operate. It also added that the newly accredited companies were reputable finance institutions, active in business.
The reports add that four more companies were undergoing restructuring and would join the number of accredited finance houses, bringing them to 59.
CBN is warning members of the public against doing any business with the 47 closed finance companies.