FG To Diversify Nigeria’s Revenue Base

Kemi AdeosunFinance Minister, Kemi Adeosun says the main economic strategy of the Buhari administration is to reset the Nigerian economy to have a more diverse revenue base and to cut wastage in government’s spending.

She was the guest of Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Thursday where she provided answers to several question bordering on the management of the country’s economy and plans to solve its current economic challenges.

She reaffirmed an earlier statement by President Muhammadu Buhari that the government inherited an empty treasury, in addition to a high debt profile and these have made things difficult.

She said that the previous administrations in Nigeria failed to build savings while the country enjoyed massive revenue from high price of oil globally and this put the country in a tight condition when the oil price fell.

She noted that Nigeria’s sole dependence on oil made the impact much tougher on the economy and the citizens.

“What we are now trying to do is reset the economy so that we never end up in this situation again; and how do we do that? We have to have a more diversified economy, a more diversified revenue base.

“If you look at oil, its only 13% of our GDP but it represent 70% of government’s revenue which means if anything happens to oil, it affects everybody.

“The question we are trying to now resolve is; the remaining 87% of GDP, why is it contributing so little to government’s revenue? If we are able to have those other revenues which are much more stable, predictable and less volatile, then if the oil price goes down, we’ll be able to maintain some level of stability.”

Another area the government is looking at is to ensure that when monies are spent, they are spent effectively.

“We have looked at what government has been spending money on; only 10% was spent on capital while 90% was spent on recurrent items like salaries, traveling, training and so on and those things don’t grow the economy, capital (expenditure) is what grows your economy.

“This budget that is being finalized has a 30% commitment to capital and we have said we want to maintain that commitment,” she said.

She mentioned power generation, roads, rail, housing as some of the areas where the capital expenditure would cover as these are the core areas that create jobs and empower the citizens to develop the economy.

She also spoke about efforts to encourage governors to replicate these measures in their states.

Fight Against Corruption: Soyinka Warns Government Of Counter-Attacks

Wole-SoyinkaAs the fight to rid Nigeria of corruption intensifies, Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has advised the government to be prepared for counter-attacks from those in the cesspit of corruption.

Professor Soyinka, who spoke in Lagos, pointed out that it was the first time that the fight against corruption had been heightened and should not be treated with kid gloves.

He expressed worries at how the funds meant for the purchase of military equipment to fight Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast was diverted without consideration for the helpless victims and the soldiers at the forefront of the battle.

“It is going to be a hard one. It has already started.

“There is no question whatsoever that we are not where we were before this new administration took over, but we must all have to be very careful.

“Corruption fights back and the hardiest fighters are those already within the cesspit of corruption.

“The fight is on two levels. One is directly against corruption and then you have to prepare for the counter-attack that is where we are at the moment,” Professor Soyinka said.

He pointed out that there had never been such a time that corruption had been exposed on this scale before.

“We haven’t had a situation where it is being alleged and increasingly proved that money supposed to be spent on defending ourselves, our nation and our neighbourhood has been shared.

“I have not heard such exposé within the military before and of cause because of that very reason, corruption has chosen to fight back. When people fight back, I like that, because when they fight back they energise you and you get ready for them,” he stressed.

Akpabio Returns Home

AkpabioThe embattled former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, is off the hook, albeit temporarily, as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) set him free after long interrogation at the Abuja office of the commission.

The former governor, who is also the Senate Minority Leader, is accused of allegedly mismanaging 108.1 billion naira while he was in office.

His invitation by the EFCC followed a petition by an Abuja based lawyer and activist, Leo Ekpeyong.

The lawyer had petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari and the EFCC, calling for Akpabio’s probe, accusing him of looting Akwa Ibom Treasury.

The former governor, now Senator, was elected in 2007 at a time the state enjoyed robust oil revenue.

The former Governor of Akwa Ibom State had visited the office of the EFCC for questioning on Friday, accompanied by his lawyers and a few aides.

Akpabio’s media team on Saturday debunked the reports that he was arrested.

“Senator Akpabio was never arrested. He simply obliged an invitation to come and answer some questions at the EFCC headquarters.

“Senator Akpabio has nothing to hide. That’s why he walked into EFCC himself this evening to answer questions about his tenure in Akwa Ibom.

“Those who are playing politics with the decision of Senator Akpabio to honour the EFCC invitation must be acting a known script.

“Senator Akpabio was called from the EFCC to come for explanations and he drove there himself 50 minutes later. So, why all the news of arrest?” the media team said via Twitter.

Discussants debate report on ease of doing business in Nigeria

Just as the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and World Bank released the 10th edition of Doing Business report series, ranking Nigeria 131 out of 185 countries surveyed, discussants on Channels Television’s weekend programme, Sunrise examined the ease of doing business in the country.
The debate was between Adewole Ojo, a communication consultant and Odilim Enwegbara, a financial analyst.

Mr Enwegbara said the World Bank report which held that it is becoming easy to do business in Nigeria cannot be substantiated.

“Where is the improvement,” he asked.

“If there are improvements, it will translate to jobs; it will translate to GDP growth and it will show that corruption is coming down and other indices. As far as I am concern, I think it is high time we stopped taking all these types of grading seriously,” he said.

On the contrary, Mr Ojo said it would be wrong to completely disregard the World Bank report as Mr Enwegbara suggested.

“What is important for me is to situate Nigeria in the ranking. To look at what countries above Nigeria are doing well and those below Nigeria that is not doing well and avoid those things countries below Nigeria are doing,” he said.

Watch the video below for the full debate on ease of doing business in Nigeria.

Former Afribank director asks court to quash money laundry charges against him

An ex-director with the former Afribank Nigeria Plc (now Mainstreet bank), Chinedu Onyia on Wednesday asked a Federal High Court in Lagos to quash criminal charges preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Mr Onyia, in a motion against the charge, insisted that there is nothing on the face of the charge upon which he could stand trial, adding that the EFCC failed to provide credible material to link him with the commission of the alleged crime.

The former bank director is standing trial alongside former Managing Director of Afribank, Sebastian Adigwe, a stockbroker, Peter Ololo and his company, Falcon Securities Limited, former Chairman of Afribank, Osa Osunde and two other directors of the bank – Henry Arogundade and Isa Zailani.

The accused persons are standing trial over alleged abuse of office, banking malpractices and laundering of N55 billion.

According to the charges, Mr Adigwe was said to have conspired with the bank directors to grant several loan without adequate security.

Some of the companies that allegedly benefited from the “reckless” loan included Larix Company Limited, Suletical Nigeria Limited, Broworks Nigeria Limited, Alsmiths Nigeria Limited, Rehoboth Assets Limited and Falcon Securities Limited.

The accused were said to have failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the books of accounts of Afribank as at May 31, 2009, gave a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the bank as required by Sections 24 (1), 24 (2) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act. Cap. B3, Laws of the Federation by understating the loan portfolio of the bank.

Specifically, Mr Adigwe had allegedly perpetrated shares fraud by creating a misleading appearance of active trading in the shares of Afribank on the Nigeria Stock Exchange.

He was accused of doing that by approving N2 billion credit facilities to Alsmiths Nigeria Limited to purchase large volume of Afribank’s shares, an offence contrary to Section 105 (1) (a) of the Investment and Securities Act, 2007 and punishable under Section 115 (a) of the same Act.

When the matter came up on Wednesday before Justice John Tsoho, Mr Onyia’s lawyer, Kola Obafemi urged the court to quash the charge against his client, and also discountenance the additional proof of evidence filed by the EFCC.

Mr Obafemi said that the EFCC in the charge alleged that Mr Onyia granted reckless credit facilities, but that the proof of evidence attached by the commission to the charge showed clearly that all facilities were duly authorized.

On the additional proof of evidence, Mr Obafemi argued that it was unfair on the part of the EFCC to file additional evidence against his client after he had pleaded to the charge, and urged the court to take a strong stand on it; otherwise, there would be no end to the filing of papers.

Reacting to the submission by the counsel to the former bank director, the EFCC’s lawyer, K.U.K Ekwueme urged the court to dismiss the two applications filed by Mr Onyia, adding that the man had in his statement to the anti-graft agency, admitted signing on to the approval of credit facilities in the case.