Without Adequate Weapons, We Remain At The Mercy Of Terrorists – Lai Mohammed

Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Lai Mohammed addressing journalists during his visit to Makurdi, Benue State capital on Monday, November 30, 2020

 

The Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Lai Mohammed on Monday reacted to issues of insecurity and the latest killing of farmers in Borno State by calling for more global support and adequate weapons.

He said terrorism is a global issue and the Federal Government needs global support to combat it. He added that the nation has been denied this support and without adequate weapons, the nation will remain at the mercy of terrorists.

“Terrorism is a global issue and there is no part of the world that is not experiencing these pockets of terrorism. I am glad that you heard from the governor himself that the Federal Government has assisted a lot in curbing the insecurity in Benue State.

“We also need more support from global partners. For instance, Nigeria has made attempt to acquire better and more effective platforms to deal with terrorists. But for one reason or the other, we have been denied these weapons. And without adequate platforms and weapons we remain at the mercy of terrorists,” the Minister said.

READ ALSO: Insurgents Attack On Borno Rice Farmers Wicked, Unwarranted – NGF

Lai Mohammed made this reaction while speaking with journalists in Makurdi, the Benue State capital after a meeting with the State Governor Samuel Ortom for a scheduled event of the official handing over of the Nigerian Institute of Hospitality and Tourism.

He lamented that the insurgent attack in Zabarmari, Jere Local Government Area of Borno State which led to the death of 43 farmers is unfortunate and the Federal Government is doing all possible to eliminate the insurgents.

“What happened in Borno State was quite unfortunate but we must also be able to look at the strategy of the terrorists. Terrorists use media and publicity as oxygen.

“When they go on the mindless killing of innocent people, it is like a dying terrorist group which suddenly spring back to life. This doesn’t mean that the Federal Government is not doing well enough,” Mohammed added.

43 farmers were killed on Saturday morning around Marrabati and Hammayya villages, near Zabarmari in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State by Boko Haram terrorists.

The farmers were waylaid on their way to their rice farms which they were harvesting before the surprise attack happened.

Some other farmers were also taken away by the insurgents.

Lekki Shooting: We Stand By Our Investigation, CNN Tells Lai Mohammed

A combination of photos of CNN logo and Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.

 

Cable News Network (CNN) has reacted to comments by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on its investigation into the shooting at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos.

It insisted that it did not rush to publish the report as it ensured due processes were followed, which included thorough research.

“Our reporting was carefully and meticulously researched, and we stand by it,” a spokesperson for the American-based news agency was quoted as saying in an email on Thursday.

Reacting to the minister’s comments in a post published on its website, CNN stated that the report, titled ‘How A Bloody Night Of Bullets And Brutality Quashed A Young Protest Movement’, was based on testimony from dozens of witnesses, as well as photos and video obtained and geolocated by the news agency.

While the Nigerian Army confirmed that soldiers were deployed at the venue where peaceful #EndSARS protesters had gathered on October 21, it insisted that nobody was killed.

The army has continued to insist that no live ammunition was fired at the protest ground, stressing that only blank bullets were used to disperse the demonstrators.

Amid various reports and reactions sparked by the shooting, Mr Mohammed said CNN should be sanctioned for publishing the report.

A Second Round Of Shooting?

The minister, who addressed reporters in Abuja a day after the report was published, stated that it was one-dimensional and lacked balance.

 

But the CNN, in its reaction, stressed that its report painted a picture of how soldiers shot at the crowd of harmless protesters, killing at least one person and wounding dozens more.

It explained that photos and videos acquired from multiple eyewitnesses and protesters were verified using timestamps and other data from the video files.

According to the news outfit, video footage shows soldiers who appear to be shooting in the direction of demonstrators, and accounts from eyewitnesses established that after the army withdrew, a second round of shooting happened later in the evening.

It added that prior to publishing the report, multiple efforts were made to get the reactions of army and police authorities.

“A Lagos State police spokesman declined to comment because of an ongoing investigation. A statement from the Lagos State government said that there would be no comment while a judicial tribunal was underway,” CNN said.

#EndSARS: DJ Switch Will Be Exposed In Due Course, Says Lai Mohammed

Obianuju Catherine Udeh, professionally known as DJ Switch, is a Nigerian DJ, songwriter and musician.
Obianuju Catherine Udeh, professionally known as DJ Switch, is a Nigerian DJ, songwriter, and musician.

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed on Thursday said the celebrity who live-streamed, on Instagram, the Lekki shootings of October 20 will soon be exposed for spreading falsehood.

Obianuju Catherine Udeh, popularly known as DJ Switch, has left the country over what she has described as threats to her life.

However, Mr. Mohammed at a press briefing on Thursday denied her life was in danger and said the police and military never declared her wanted.

He also suggested that she may be acting out a script written by other people and vowed that she would be exposed in due course.

DJ Switch has said the Nigerian military shot at unarmed #EndSARS protesters in Lekki on October 20, but the government denies the narrative.

In her live stream at the scene of the incident which immediately went viral at the time, many injured persons could be seen, as some protesters tried to extract bullets from bleeding people after the men in military uniform had opened fire.

Some were also seen administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to revive other injured victims.

It was also widely reported by some eyewitnesses that several had been killed and the security officers were clearing up the bodies – claims which the military immediately dismissed as fake news.

The incident came hours after the Lagos State Government declared a 24-hour curfew as part of efforts to stop the violence which had broken out in some parts of the state by criminal elements who have been hijacking the peaceful protests.

 

#EndSARS: Lekki Incident A ‘Massacre Without Bodies’, Says Lai Mohammed

The Lagos State #EndSARS Judicial Panel viewed the footage of the Lekki shootings on November 6, 2020.
The Lagos State #EndSARS Judicial Panel viewed the footage of the Lekki shootings on November 6, 2020.

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed on Thursday said the October 20 Lekki shootings were a “massacre without bodies”, reiterating the federal government’s position that military men did not shoot at protesters, despite damning evidence to the contrary.

The Minister made the remark at a press conference in Abuja.

His comments come a day after US-based media, CNN, published a report which, using cellphone videos obtained from witnesses, showed Nigerian soldiers shooting at unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll-gate.

Mr. Mohammed tagged the CNN report as promoting a baseless and preconceived narrative.

He said that the mainstream media should confirm the veracity of footage used before airing.

He also added that the government will work with stakeholders to curb fake news on social media.

Lai Mohammed Refuses To Comment About Freezing Of #EndSARS Protesters Accounts

A file photo of Information Minister, Lai Mohammed.
A file photo of Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed on Wednesday said he cannot answer any question on why the accounts of key #EndSARS promoters and protesters were frozen.

Mohammed was accosted by journalists on Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting held at the Council Chambers of the presidential villa, Abuja.

He was asked the rationale behind blocking the bank accounts of some key #EndSARS protesters and what the government seeks to gain from the peace meetings.

The Minister said he does not need to comment about the issue because the Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up to investigate police brutality and extra-judicial killings have started their work across the country.

Lai Mohammed said any response from him will preempt the findings from the panels of inquiry across the country.

The Minister’s reaction comes few days after the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami kept mum after he was questioned by journalists on the legality of freezing bank accounts owned by #EndSARS protesters and promoters.

AGF when questioned by journalists on Monday kept mum, smile, and walked away.

Channels Television has earlier reported that the CBN received an order granted by Justice Ahmed Mohammed to freeze the account of 20 individuals and an organisation linked to #EndSARS campaign.

Some of the affected individuals include Bolatito Racheal Oduala, Chima David Ibebunjoh, Mary Doose Kpengwa, Saadat Temitope Bibi, Bassey Victor Israel, Wisdom Busaosowo Obi, Nicholas Ikhalea Osazele, Ebere Idibie, Akintomide Lanre Yusuf, Uhuo Ezenwanyi Promise, and Mosopefoluwa Odeseye.

Others are: Adegoke Pamilerin Yusif. Umoh Grace Ekanem, Babatunde Victor Segun, Mulu Louis Teghenan, Mary Oshifowora, Winifred Akpevweoghene Jacob, Victor Solomon, Idunu A. Williams, and Gatefield Nigeria Limited.

FG Addressing Concerns Of Youths On Job Creation, Poverty Alleviation – Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed speaks in Ilorin, Kwara State on November 6, 2020.

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has said the Federal Government is addressing the concerns of the Nigerian youths on job creation, poverty alleviation among others.

He disclosed this on Friday in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, adding that the government’s commitment necessitated the creation of the National Youth Fund.

“Before the EndSARS protest, the Federal Government on its own has been addressing the concerns of youths, especially in the areas of job creation and poverty alleviation,” he said.

“This is why the Federal Government set up the National Youth Fund. The National Youth Fund is a N75billion fund which is meant to give opportunities to our younger elements to actualise their aspirations.

“This N75billion fund is part of the N2.3trillion Economic Sustainability Plan to cushion the effect of COVID-19.”

Speaking further, the Minister also listed other interventions of the Federal Government in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

One of these, he stated, is the setting up of the Micro Medium and Small Enterprises Survival Fund on owners of small businesses.

 

Senate Queries Lai Mohammed Over N250m Project, N19m Travel Expenses

 

The Senate Committee on Information has questioned the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, over the nature of a project listed as “Completion of NTA Gashua Sub-Station Ongoing”.

According to the lawmakers, the sum of N250 million allocated for the said project has been released to the ministry.

This occurred on Tuesday when Mohammed led some top officials of the ministry to defend their 2021 budget estimates before the lawmakers at the National Assembly in Abuja.

At the defence session, members of the committee queried the minister why the project has not been executed to a reasonable level, despite the 100 per cent fund released for its execution in the 2020 fiscal year.

Mohammed, in his response, claimed that the project was sponsored by a lawmaker as constituency project and inserted into the 2020 budget.

He, however, stated that the fund for the project was released on September 24, 2020, making it difficult to execute it to a considerable level.

A file photo of Information Minister, Lai Mohammed.
A file photo of Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.

 

In their reaction, the committee members disagreed with the minister for tagging the project as a constituency one.

They argued that if it was indeed a constituency project as claimed, it would not have been included in the projects for budget defence.

But the minister promised to furnish the committee with details of the sponsor of the project, as well as the constituency.

The lawmakers also demanded an explanation from Mohammed over the N19 million expended on international travels, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

He had informed the committee that N19 million out N43 million was spent on travels.

The minister, in his response, explained that all the expenditures for international travels were for the period of January to March before the COVID-19 lockdown was imposed.

He added that before the lockdown, representatives of the ministry had travelled to attend several international summits.

According to Mohammed, they include the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) conferences, which held in Spain and the United Kingdom, among other trips.

Electricity, Fuel Price Hike Will Benefit Nigerians In The Long Run – Lai Mohammed

 

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed on Saturday said the recent increase in electricity and fuel prices will benefit ordinary Nigerians in the long-run.

Mr Mohammed made the remarks while meeting with online publishers in Lagos.

He also appealed to the Nigeria Labour Congress to shelve its industrial action planned for Monday.

READ ALSO: NLC Insists On Monday Protest Despite Court Order

The planned action, which is being organised as a protest against the increases, can only bring more hardship to ordinary Nigerians, Mr Mohammed argued.

“Ordinary citizens are not the beneficiaries of the subsidy on petroleum products that has lasted for years,” the Minister said, adding that the government can no longer afford the cost of the subsidy.

The Minister also argued that despite the increase, Nigerians still pay less for fuel, compared to neighbouring countries.

On electricity, Mr Mohammed said the hike will lead to increased quality in the supply of power, noting that the government cannot sustain its subsidy to the sector.

Again, he stressed that Nigerians still pay less for electricity, compared to people in neighbouring countries.

“We thank Nigerians for their understanding, and wish to appeal to
them to please bear with the government,” he said.

 

READ FULL TEXT OF THE MINISTER’S SATURDAY BRIEFING

TEXT OF THE BRIEFING BY THE HON. MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, DURING MEETING WITH ONLINE PUBLISHERS IN LAGOS ON SATURDAY, 26 SEPT 2020 ON THE RECENT INCREASES IN PETROL AND ELECTRICITY PRICES.

Good morning gentlemen, and thank you most sincerely for honouring our
invitation to this briefing.

2. As you are aware, the hike in the cost of fuel as a consequence of deregulation and the higher prices occasioned by service-based electricity tariff adjustment have led to various reactions, especially from organized labour which has threatened a nationwide strike. It has also led to accusation of insensitivity on the part of government.

3. I want to assure Nigerians, through you – gentlemen of the press – that the government is not insensitive to their plight. As a matter of fact, the full deregulation of the petroleum sector and the service-based electricity tariff adjustment will in the long run benefit the ordinary people

4. Let’s start with deregulation. Ordinary citizens are not the beneficiaries of the subsidy on petroleum products that has lasted for years. Between 2006 and 2019, a total of 10.4 trillion Naira was spent on fuel subsidy, most of which went to fat cats who either collected subsidy for products they didn’t import or diverted the products to neighbouring countries, where prices are much higher. Instead of subsidy, ordinary Nigerians were subjected to scarcity of petroleum products. They endured incessant long queues and paid higher to get the products, thus making the subsidy ineffectual.

5. Apart from that, the truth is that the government can no longer afford the cost of subsidy, especially under the prevailing economic conditions. Revenues and foreign exchange earnings by the government have fallen by almost 60%, due to the downturn in the fortunes of the oil sector. And there is no provision for subsidy in the revised 2020 budget. So where will the subsidy money come from? Remember that despite the massive fall in revenues, the government still has to sustain expenditures, especially on salaries and capital projects.

6. Still on subsidy, as I said, from 2006 to 2019, fuel subsidy gulped 10.4 trillion Naira. That is an average of 743.8 billion Naira per annum. According to figures provided by the NNPC, the breakdown of the 14-year subsidy is as follows:

– – In 2006 Subsidy was 257bn
– In 2007 Subsidy was 272bn
– In 2008 Subsidy was 631bn
– In 2009 469bn
– In 2010 667bn
– In 2011 2.105tn
– In 2012 1.355tn
– In 2013 1.316tn
– In 2014 1.217tn
– In 2015 654bn
– In 2016 Figure Not Available
– In 2017 Subsidy was 144.3bn
– In 2018 730.86bn
– And in 2019 Subsidy was 595bn

7. The drastic fall in the revenues of the government explains why the government had to take certain tough decisions, even as it is acting to mitigate the effect of the economic slowdown by adopting an Economic Sustainability Plan. One of such difficult decisions, which we took at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in March – when oil prices collapsed at the height of the global lockdown – was the deregulation of the prices of PMS.

8. Recall that the benefit of lower prices at that time was passed to consumers. Everyone welcomed the lower fuel price then. Again, the effect of deregulation is that PMS prices will change with changes in global oil prices. This means quite regrettably that as oil prices recover, there will be some increases in PMS prices. This is what has happened now. I am sure Nigerians will prefer to pay slightly higher for PMS than to queue for hours just to get the products at higher prices.

9. I also want to say that the effect of the changes in the international prices of crude oil on local fuel prices will not last forever. Modular refineries are beginning to come on stream in the country, and this will help lower the cost of petroleum products. Next month, the Waltersmith Modular Refinery in Ibigwe, Imo State, will be commissioned, starting with refining 5,000 barrels of crude per day and increasing rapidly to 50,000 barrels of crude. Many more modular refineries are also in different stages of completion across the
country, in addition to the 650,000 barrels per day Dangote Refinery. The deregulation will bring more investments into the sector, to the benefit of Nigerians,

10. Gentlemen, even with the increase in the price of fuel due to deregulation, PMS is still cheaper in Nigeria than in the neighbouring countries, and indeed in the entire West/Central African sub-regions. Here is a comparative analysis of petrol prices in the sub-regions (Naira equivalent per litre):
– Nigeria – 162 Naira per litre
– Ghana – 332 Naira per litre
– Benin – 359 Naira per litre
– Togo – 300 Naira per litre
– Niger – 346 Naira per litre
– Chad – 366 Naira per litre
– Cameroon – 449 Naira per litre
– Burkina Faso – 433 Naira per Litre
– Mali – 476 Naira per litre
– Liberia – 257 Naira per litre
– Sierra Leone – 281 Naira per litre
– Guinea – 363 Naira per litre
– Senegal – 549 Naira per litre

11. Outside the sub-region, petrol sells for 211 Naira per litre in Egypt and 168 Naira per litre in Saudi Arabia. You can now see that even with the removal of subsidy, fuel price in Nigeria remains among the cheapest in Africa. In the long run, deregulation will pay off and Nigerians will pay less.

ELECTRICITY TARIFF

12. Another issue we want to address here today is the recent service-based electricity tariff adjustment by the Distribution Companies, or DISCOS. The truth of the matter is that due to the problems with the largely-privatized electricity industry, the government has been supporting the industry. To keep the industry going, the government has so far spent almost 1.7 trillion Naira, especially by way of supplementing tariff shortfalls. The government does not have the resources to continue along this path. To borrow just to subsidize generation and distribution, which are both privatized, will be grossly irresponsible.

13. But in order to protect the large majority of Nigerians who cannot afford to pay cost-reflective tariffs from increases, the industry regulator, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), has approved that tariff adjustments had to be made but only on the basis of guaranteed improvement in service. Under this new arrangement, only customers with guaranteed minimum of 12 hours of electricity can have their tariffs adjusted. Those who get less than 12 hours supply will experience no increase. This is the largest group of customers.

14. Government has also noted the complaints about arbitrary estimated billing. Accordingly, a mass metering programme is being undertaken to provide meters for over 5 million Nigerians, largely driven by preferred procurement from local manufacturers, and creating thousands of jobs in the process. NERC will also strictly enforce the capping regulation to ensure that unmetered customers are not charged beyond the metered customers in their neighbourhood. In other words, there will be no more estimated billings.

15. The government is also taking steps to connect those Nigerians who
are not even connected to electricity at all. As you are aware, under its Economic Sustainability Plan, the government is providing solar power to 5 million Nigerian households in the next 12 months. This alone will produce 250,000 jobs and impact up to 25 million beneficiaries through the installation, thus ensuring that more Nigerians will have access to electricity via a reliable and sustainable solar system.

16. Again, like PMS, despite the recent service-based tariff review, the cost of electricity in Nigeria is still cheaper or compares favourably with that of many countries in Africa.

HERE ARE COST IN NAIRA PER KWH IN SOME AFRICAN COUNTRIES.
– Nigeria 49.75
– Senegal 71.17
– Guinea 41.36
– Sierra Leone 106.02
– Liberia 206.01
– Niger 59.28
– Mali 88.23
– Burkina Faso 85.09
– Togo 79.88

TIMING OF THE PRICE INCREASES

17. Gentlemen, the timing of these two necessary adjustments, in the petroleum and power sectors, has raised some concerns among Nigerians and reinforced the false narrative that the government is insensitive
to the plight of the citizens. This is a mere coincidence. First, the deregulation of PMS prices was announced on 18 March 2020, and the price modulation that took place at the beginning of this month was just part of the on-going monthly adjustments to global crude oil prices.

18. Also, the review of service-based electricity tariffs was scheduled to start at the beginning of July 2020 but was put on hold so that further studies and proper arrangements can be made. Like Mr. President said at the opening of the last Ministerial Retreat, this government is not insensitive to the current economic difficulties our people are going through and the very tough economic situation we face as a nation. We certainly will not inflict hardship on our people. But we are convinced that if we stay focused on our plans, brighter and more prosperous days will come soon.

19. We thank Nigerians for their understanding, and wish to appeal to them to please bear with the government. The deregulation of the petroleum sector will save the country trillions of Naira, which can then be used to provide modern infrastructures for the benefit of the people. It will also spur investments in the petroleum industry, especially in the building of local refineries which will result in lower fuel prices.

20. Also, the service-based electricity tariff adjustment and the ongoing work by German company Siemens to boost power supply in Nigeria will help end the perennial power problem in the country. Let me remind you that under the three-phase Siemens deal, Nigerians will enjoy 7,000 megawatts of reliable power supply by the end of 2021 (phase 1), 11,000 megawatts by the end of 2023 (phase 2) and 25,000 megawatts in the third phase.

21. Finally, we wish to appeal to organize labour to shelve its planned strike, which can only bring more hardship to ordinary Nigerians.

22 I thank you for your kind attention

Nigeria’s Increased Petrol Price Cheapest In West Africa, Angry Reactions Unnecessary – Lai Mohammed

A file photo of Information Minister, Lai Mohammed.
A file photo of the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has defended the decision of the government to increase the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol.

He attributed the increased amount to the global price of crude oil, saying the “angry reactions” that have greeted the latest petrol price were “unnecessary and totally mischievous”.

Mohammed made the remarks on Monday at a press conference in Abuja on the recent increases in petrol price and electricity tariff.

He explained that with the price of crude creeping up, petrol price was equally bound to increase, hence the latest price of N162 per litre.

The minister, however, believes if the price of crude drops again, the price of petrol will also drop and the benefits will also be passed on to the consumers.

He stressed that despite the recent increase in the price of petrol, that of Nigeria has remained the lowest in the West and Central African sub-regions.

According to Mohammed, petrol is being sold for N211 per litre and N168 per litre in Egypt and Saudi Arabia respectively.

On the hike in electricity tariff, he described the increase as a service-based adjustment by the Distribution Companies (DISCOS).

The minister stated that due to the problems with the largely-privatised electricity industry, the Federal Government has been supporting the sector.

He said while the government has so far spent almost N1.7 trillion, especially by way of supplementing tariffs shortfalls and does not have the resources to continue, borrowing to subsidise generation and distribution which have been privatised would be grossly irresponsible.

A fuel station in Lagos sells petrol at N162 per litre.

 

Read the minister’s full remarks at the press briefing below:

TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE HON MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, IN ABUJA ON MONDAY, 7 SEPT. 2020 ON THE RECENT INCREASES IN PETROL AND ELECTRICITY PRICES

PROTOCOL

Gentlemen of the press, good afternoon, and thank you for honouring our invitation to this press conference, which we have called to address the recent issues surrounding the price of fuel and electricity tariff.

FUEL PRICES

  1. As you are aware, the long-drawn fuel subsidy regime ended in March 2020, when the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) announced that it had begun fuel price modulation, in accordance with prevailing market dynamics, and would respond appropriately to any further oil market development.
  2. Recall that the price of fuel then dropped from 145 to 125 Naira per litre, and then to between 121.50 and 123.50 Naira per litre in May. With the low price of crude oil then, the cost of petrol, which is a derivative of crude oil, fell, and the lower pump price was passed on to the consumers to enjoy.

With the price of crude inching up, the price of petrol locally is also bound to increase, hence the latest price of 162 Naira per litre. If perchance, the price of crude drops again, the price of petrol will also drop, and the benefits will also be passed on to the consumers.

The angry reactions that have greeted the latest prices of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) are therefore unnecessary and totally mischievous.

  1. Gentlemen, the truth of the matter is that subsidizing fuel is no longer feasible, especially under the prevailing economic conditions in the country.

The government can no longer afford fuel subsidy, as revenues and foreign exchange earnings have fallen by almost 60%, due to the downturn in the fortunes of the oil sector. Yet, the government has had to sustain expenditures, especially on salaries and capital projects.

Even though we have acted to mitigate the effect of the economic slowdown by adopting an Economic Sustainability Plan, we have also had to take some difficult decisions to stop unsustainable practices that were weighing the economy down.

  1. One of such difficult decisions, which we took at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in March – when oil prices collapsed at the height of the global lockdown – was the deregulation of the prices of PMS.

As I said earlier, the benefit of lower prices at that time was passed to consumers. Everyone welcomed the lower fuel price then. Again, the effect of deregulation is that PMS prices will change with changes in global oil prices.

This means quite regrettably that as oil prices recover, there will be some increases in PMS prices. This is what has happened now.

  1. Government can no longer afford to subsidize petrol prices, because of its many negative consequences. These include a return to the costly subsidy regime. With 60% less revenues today, we cannot afford the cost. The second danger is the potential return of fuel queues – which has, thankfully, become a thing of the past under this Administration.

The days in which Nigerians queue for hours and days just to buy petrol, often at very high prices, are gone for good. Of course, there is also no provision for fuel subsidy in the revised 2020 budget, because we just cannot afford it.

  1. Gentlemen, the cost of fuel subsidy is too high and unsustainable. From 2006 to 2019, fuel subsidy gulped 10.413 Trillion Naira. That is an average of 743.8 billion Naira per annum.

According to figures provided by the NNPC, the breakdown of the 14-year subsidy is as follows:

– In 2006       Subsidy was 257bn

– In 2007       Subsidy was 272bn

– In 2008       Subsidy was 631bn

– In 2009       469bn

– In 2010       667bn

– In 2011       2.105tn

– In 2012      1.355tn

– In 2013      1.316tn

– In 2014      1.217tn

– In 2015       654bn

– In 2016       Figure Not Available

– In 2017      Subsidy was 144.3bn

– In 2018      730.86bn

– And in 2019   Subsidy was 595bn

  1. The Federal Government is not unmindful of the pains associated with higher fuel prices at this time. That is why we will continue to seek ways to cushion the pains, especially for the most vulnerable Nigerians.

The government is providing cheaper and more efficient fuel in form of autogas. Also, Government, through the PPPRA, will ensure that marketers do not exploit citizens through arbitrarily hike in pump prices.

And that is why the PPPRA announced the range of prices that must not be exceeded by marketers.

9   In spite of the recent increase in the price of fuel to 162 Naira per litre, petrol prices in Nigeria remain the lowest in the West/Central African sub-regions.

Below is a comparative analysis of petrol prices in the sub-regions (Naira equivalent per litre);

– Nigeria              – 162 Naira per litre

–  Ghana               –  332 Naira per litre

–  Benin                 – 359 Naira per litre

–  Togo                   – 300 Naira per litre

–  Niger                   – 346 Naira per litre

–  Chad                   – 366 Naira per litre

–  Cameroon           – 449 Naira per litre

–  Burkina Faso      –  433 Naira per Litre

–  Mali                     – 476 Naira per litre

– Liberia                 – 257 Naira per litre

– Sierra Leone        – 281 Naira per litre

– Guinea                 – 363 Naira per litre

– Senegal               – 549 Naira per litre

  1. Outside the sub-region, petrol sells for 211 Naira per litre in Egypt and 168 Naira per litre in Saudi Arabia.

You can now see that even with the removal of subsidy, fuel price in Nigeria remains among the cheapest in Africa.

ELECTRICITY TARIFF

  1. Another issue we want to address here today is the recent service-based electricity tariff adjustment by the Distribution Companies or DISCOS.

The truth of the matter is that due to the problems with the largely-privatised electricity industry, the government has been supporting the industry.

To keep the industry going, the government has so far spent almost 1.7 trillion Naira, especially by way of supplementing tariffs shortfalls. The government does not have the resources to continue along this path.

To borrow just to subsidise generation and distribution, which are both privatized, will be grossly irresponsible.

  1. But in order to protect the large majority of Nigerians who cannot afford to pay cost-reflective tariffs from increases, the industry regulator, NERC, has approved that tariff adjustments had to be made but only on the basis of guaranteed improvement in service.

Under this new arrangement, only customers with guaranteed minimum of 12 hours of electricity can have their tariffs adjusted. Those who get less than 12 hours supply will experience no increase.

This is the largest group of customers.

  1. Government has also noted the complaints about arbitrary estimated billing. Accordingly, a mass metering programme is being undertaken to provide meters for over 5 million Nigerians, largely driven by preferred procurement from local manufacturers, and creating thousands of jobs in the process.

NERC will also strictly enforce the capping regulation to ensure that unmetered customers are not charged beyond the metered customers in their neighbourhood. In other words, there will be no more estimated billings.

  1. The government is also taking steps to connect those Nigerians who are not even connected to electricity at all. As you are aware, under its Economic Sustainability Plan, the government is providing solar power to 5 million Nigerian households in the next 12 months.

This alone will produce 250,000 jobs and impact up to 25 million beneficiaries through the installation, thus ensuring that more Nigerians will have access to electricity via a reliable and sustainable solar system.

  1. Gentlemen, please note that despite the recent service-based tariff review, the cost of electricity in Nigeria is still cheaper or compares favourably with that of many countries in Africa.

COST IN NAIRA PER KWH IN SOME AFRICAN COUNTRIES.

– Nigeria            49.75

– Senegal          71.17

– Guinea            41.36

– Sierra Leone   106.02

– Liberia              206.01

– Niger                59.28

– Mali                  88.23

– Burkina Faso    85.09

– Togo                  79.88

CONCLUSION

  1. Gentlemen, the timing of these two necessary adjustments, in the petroleum and power sectors, has raised some concerns among Nigerians. This is a mere coincidence.

First, the deregulation of PMS prices was announced on 18 March 2020, and the price modulation that took place at the beginning of this month was just part of the on-going monthly adjustments to global crude oil prices.

  1. Also, the review of service-based electricity tariffs was scheduled to start at the beginning of July 2020 but was put on hold so that further studies and proper arrangements can be made.

Like Mr President said today, at the opening of the Ministerial Retreat, this government is not insensitive to the current economic difficulties our people are going through and the very tough economic situation we face as a nation. We certainly will not inflict hardship on our people.

But we are convinced that if we stay focused on our plans, brighter and more prosperous days will come soon.

  1. The opportunistic opposition and their allies are playing dirty politics with the issue of petrol pricing and electricity tariff.

Please note that these naysayers did not complain when the price adjustment led to lower petrol prices on at least two occasions since March.

Nigerians must therefore renounce those who have latched onto the issue of petrol pricing and electricity tariff review to throw the country into chaos.

19. I thank you all for your kind attention

Nigeria Will No Longer Tolerate Harassment Of Citizens In Ghana – FG

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

 

The Federal Government on Friday reacted to the harassment of Nigerians residing and doing businesses in Ghana.

In a statement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, the Federal Government said it is deeply concerned by the incessant harassment and the progressive acts of hostility towards the country by Ghanaian authorities and will no longer tolerate it.

As part of measures to contain the situation, the government is urgently considering a number of options, Mohammed said.

READ ALSO: ‘I Disappointed Myself’: Fani-Kayode Apologises For Harassing Journalist In Calabar

The Minister revealed that the government “has been documenting the acts of hostility towards Nigeria and Nigerians by the Ghanaian authorities.”

 

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

PRESS RELEASE

Nigeria Will No Longer Tolerate Harassment of Its Citizens in Ghana – FG

The Nigerian Government is deeply concerned by the incessant harassment of its citizens in Ghana and the progressive acts of hostility towards the country by Ghanaian authorities and will no longer tolerate such.

In this regard, the Federal Government is urgently considering a number of options aimed at ameliorating the situation.

The Federal Government has been documenting the acts of hostility towards Nigeria and Nigerians by the Ghanaian authorities. These include:

– Seizure of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 10, Barnes Road, Accra, which the Nigerian Government has used as diplomatic premises for almost 50 years. This action is a serious breach of the Vienna Convention.

– Demolition of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 19/21 Julius Nyerere Street, East Ridge, Accra, another serious breach of the Vienna Convention.

– Aggressive and incessant deportation of Nigerians from Ghana. Between Jan. 2018 and Feb. 2019, 825 Nigerians were deported from Ghana.

– Closure of shops belonging to Nigerians. Over 300 Nigerians shops were locked for four months in Kumasi in 2018; over 600 Nigerian shops were locked in 2019 and, currently, over 250 Nigerians shops have been locked.

– Residency Permit requirements, for which the Ghana Immigration Service has placed huge fees, far higher than the fees charged by the Nigerian Immigration Service. These include the compulsory Non-citizen ID card (US$120, and US$60 for yearly renewal); Medical examinations, including for Covid-19 which is newly-introduced (about US$120), and payment for residency permit (US$400 compared to the N7,000 being paid by Ghanaians for residency card in Nigeria)

– Outrageous stipulations in the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act. When the Act was initially promulgated in 1994, a foreigner is required to invest at least US$300,000 by way of equity capital and also employ 10 Ghanaians. This Act has now been amended twice, with the 2018 GIPC Act raising the minimum capital base for foreign-owned businesses to US$1m. Though targeted at foreigners, it seems GIPC’s definition of foreigners is Nigerians. The GIPC Act also negates the ECOWAS Protocol.

– Media war against Nigerians in Ghana. The negative reportage of issues concerning Nigerians resident in Ghana by the Ghanaian media is fuelling an emerging xenophobic attitude towards Nigerian traders and Nigerians in general. The immediate fallout is the incessant harassment and arrest of Nigerian traders and closure of their shops.

– Harsh and openly biased judicial trial and pronouncement of indiscriminately long jail terms for convicted Nigerians. There are currently over 200 Nigerians in the Nsawam Maximum prison in Ghana alone.

The Federal Government would like to put on record the fact that even though over 1 million Ghanaians are resident in Nigeria, they are not being subjected to the kind of hostility being meted out to Nigerians in Ghana.

Also, even though the main reason given for the seizure of Federal Government property at No. 10, Barnes Road in Accra is the non-renewal of lease after expiration, the Ghanaian authorities did not give Nigeria the right of first refusal or the notice to renew the lease.

By contrast, the lease on some of the properties occupied by the Ghanaian Mission in Nigeria has long expired, yet such properties have not been seized.

Nigeria has time after time demonstrated its fidelity to the long cordial relations with Ghana. But indications, especially in recent times, are that Nigeria’s stance is now being taken for granted and its citizens being made targets of harassment and objects of ridicule.

This will no longer be tolerated under any guise.

In the meantime, the Federal Government wishes to appeal to its citizens resident in Ghana to remain law abiding and avoid engaging in self-help, despite their ordeal.

 

Alhaji Lai Mohammed

Honourable Minister of Information and Culture

Abuja

28 Aug. 2020

 

Nothing Bad In Borrowing For Infrastructure – Lai Mohammed

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, spoke to reporters on August 15, 2020, during an inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, spoke to reporters on August 15, 2020, during an inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project.

 

Minister of Information and Culture on Saturday said there is nothing bad in borrowing for infrastructure.

Mohammed made the remarks during an inspection tour of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project.

“We didn’t borrow money for services,” he said. “We didn’t borrow money for overhead expenditure. We borrowed money for capital projects – rail, road, bridges, power, general infrastructure.

READ ALSO: Allow Us Complete $5.3bn Loan From China: Amaechi Appeals To NASS

“There is nothing bad in borrowing, provided that borrowing is invested in infrastructure, especially when it will create jobs, create an enabling environment for the economy.”

The Minister added that he was impressed with the Lagos-Ibadan rail project.

“I am very excited,” he said. “When I got into the train this morning, it was as clean and modern as any coach anywhere in the world.

“I was also quite impressed with the passion of the Honourable Minister (of Transportation). You can see that every point in time, he is pushing the contractors, saying ‘look, I can’t wait till October, I will come back in four weeks’ time,’ because we want to be able to deliver this kind of infrastructure to Nigerians.”

Insecurity: We Need Weapons And Platforms To Fight Terrorists – Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed says the nation needs more weapons and platforms to win the insurgency war.

He disclosed this in Abuja, the nation’s capital during a New Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum on Thursday.

“To fight terrorists we need platforms and weapons,” he said.

Mohammed also asked the international community to support the Federal Government to tackle the numerous security challenges facing the country.

While noting that foreign countries can do better in assisting Nigeria, the Minister pleaded with western powers not to deny the current administration support due to what he describes as unsubstantiated arguments.

“I want to use this opportunity to say that the international community can help us better than they are doing right now.

“When the international community is weighed by unsubstantiated arguments to deny the country of vital platforms and weapons to fight insecurity, you cannot turn round to accuse the country of not fighting terrorism,” he said.

READ ALSO: Space Cooperation: Nigeria Signs MoU With India

The Minister stood his ground by claiming that “certain world powers have refused to even sell to us certain vital weapons.”

He regretted that the Federal Government is yet to receive some weapons despite paying for them for more than two years.

According to the Minister, “they have not released to us and they even refused to give us spare parts.”

Although he did not name any country, the minister, however, appealed to some advanced nations saying, “They should please help Nigeria to provide us with these sensitive platforms so that we can fight insecurity more effectively.”

“They should not forget that we are fighting a non-conventional war and at the same time, these people have contacts everywhere,” he said.

Mohammed said besides kinetic deployment, the government is equally using a non-kinetic approach to tackle insecurity like the economic and social intervention programmes meant to empower and engage the youths.