Subsidy: Katsina To Spend N2.7bn On Fertilisers

A file photo of Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari

 

Katsina state government has approved the purchase of 30,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer for sales to farmers at subsidized rates.

The state’s commissioner of Budget and Economic Planning, Alhaji Faruk Jobe revealed this to reporters on Wednesday during a press briefing held after the state’s weekly executive council meeting presided over by Governor Aminu Masari at the government house, Katsina.

Jobe, who was in the company of the state commissioner of Information, Culture, and Home Affairs, Alhaji Abdulkareem Sirika said the government will be spending 2.7 billion Naira in the procurement of the fertilizers for the current farming season.

He further revealed that the government will bear the cost of transportation of the commodity to the doorsteps of the farmers.

According to Jobe, each bag of fertilizer will be sold at the cost of N4,000 as a subsidy to the farmers.

Sales will soon commence, he said.

Jobe also announced that 22 civil servants, including medical doctors, from various Ministries, Department, and Agencies (MDAs) have been sponsored to obtain higher qualifications both in Nigeria and abroad.

The Budget and Economic Planning commissioner disclosed that the executive council meeting also sent heartfelt condolences to members of the public that have lost loved ones in various acts of banditry and lawlessness across the state.

He however assured that the government would not relent efforts in continuously searching for ways and means to end heinous crimes in the state.

“Governor Aminu Bello Masari was throughout last week in Abuja where he met Mr. President and various security chiefs towards finding solutions to the acts of criminally in the state,” Jobe said.

No Plan To Remove Subsidy, Says Sylva

Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva defends his ministry’s budget before the Joint Committee of the National Assembly in Abuja on October 17, 2019.

 

The Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr Timipre Sylva, says there is no plan for the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to remove subsidy on petroleum products.

Sylva stated this on Thursday when he appeared before the National Assembly Joint Committee on Petroleum to defend the ministry’s budget.

The Minister noted that rather than removing subsidy, the Federal Government will rather focus on fixing the nation’s refineries.

He explained that once the refineries are fixed, it will be easy to make petroleum products available at a cheaper amount that will ease the burden of subsidy payment.

“If I talk about fixing the refineries, that’s also another way of dealing with the same issue. If we fix the refinery and we are able to pump from the refineries, that will also reduce the cost of subsidy on the government,” he said.

“So the government is looking at it more from that angle than from the angle of removing subsidy. So it is not on the card at all.”

READ ALSO: Buhari Orders Forensic Audit Of NDDC From 2001

Contrary to the speculation that the nation consumes about 60 million barrels of petrol per day, the minister refuted the claim.

He regretted that some neighbouring countries were smuggling the petroleum products to the detriment of the Federal Government.

“There is a lot of smuggling and because petroleum products are cheaper in Nigeria, a lot of our neighbours are taking advantage of the cheaper prices in Nigeria.

“So Nigeria is now almost subsidizing half of Africa which is very difficult for us to do. So you can see that the government is doing something about controlling some of these leakages. And once those leakages are checked, we believe that the cost of subsidy can be at least bearable,” he stated.

‘We Are Paying For Inefficiency’: Peter Obi Blasts FG’s Subsidy Policy

Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr Peter Obi, has once again condemned the subsidy policy of the Federal Government.

As far as Mr Obi is concerned, the country will be better off if the government used the funds that go into subsidy in providing better education for citizens.

Mr Obi spoke about the issues during his appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Tuesday.

“I have said it categorically, we are paying for inefficiency,” he said.

In defending his criticism of the subsidy payments, Mr Obi also accused the Muhammadu Buhari administration of coming up with bogus policies on health and education.

He said, “Go and check the just presented 2019 budget. Health is N341bn and education is about N450bn.

“So, if you put health and education which is the most critical component of the development of any economy together it is N800bn when you are paying over a trillion (naira) in subsidy. It is unacceptable.”

Obi

When it was suggested that stopping the subsidy would mean higher fuel prices, he restated his position that the government was ‘paying for inefficiency’.

“If you remove it (subsidy), I can assure you that within a year of efficient management of that process, the price would be what it is today if not less.

“Part of what we are paying today is the demurrage they pay at the ports. If a vessel comes into our ports to discharge it takes weeks.”

Should Mr Obi and Atiku Abubakar succeed in ousting President Buhari, he said the right thing to do is to tackle the inefficiency.

The PDP VP candidate is confident that without subsidy and effective management of the processes, the worst that could happen is that Nigerians would only pay higher for the product temporarily.

He said, “If they have to pay more temporarily, it would come down. When we were talking about the telephone, for example, we know where it started.

“Today, it is almost free. Of course, when you start it, it might be a little more. But if you follow it through and do the proper thing, I can convince you the price will come down. What we are paying today is for inefficiency, period. It is like that in everything.”

To further back his position, Mr Obi said it takes two weeks for trailers that get into the Apapa port.

“So, a trailer that will charge you to bring out your goods from Apapa Port, instead of charging you N200, 000 will charge you almost a million because it takes him two weeks to go in and about a week to come out. For three years, we couldn’t even clear out trailers from Apapa port to Ikorodu. It doesn’t make sense.”

Govt Has To Be Transparent On How Much Subsidy Is Being Paid – Bismarck Rewane

Economist, Mr Bismarck Rewane, has asked the government to come clean on the details of how it has managed the subsidy situation and stop hiding from the truth.

Mr Rewane believes the reality of the situation demands some very creative measures which the subsidy regime might help to resolve, but says the government needs to handle it with transparency.

Read Also: FG Not Increasing Fuel Price From N145 – Kachikwu

“It is quite interesting that after two years of seamless supply, all of a sudden there is a shortage. Some say the shortage is contrived some say it is sabotaged, some say its ineptitude of logistics and planning but what is clear is that the parameters that were used on May 15, 2016 when the price of 145 was arrived at, were that the exchange rate was 285.

“The price of oil at that time was about $42 a barrel and the landing cost was at about the same range about 145, now circumstances have changed.

“The exchange rate has been devalued significantly, the price of oil is at $68 a barrel today and therefore, the landing cost cannot be the same.”

He said this when he appeared as a guest on Channels Television’s political program, Politics Today.

Speaking further, Mr Rewane explained that there won’t be any imminent price hike because it would be suicidal.

He said: “The minimum wage was determined in 2019 at N18,000 which was $200 at that time – it is barely $40 today. If you increase the price of petrol which is a subsidized price today, you will be imposing a lot more hardship on the people.

“It is not politically expedient, it is economically intolerable, So what the government has to do is come out clean and say this is the amount of subsidy we are paying – this is how we have to do it because the people have to be carried along, it is not possible at this point in time to have a subsidy-less petrol price because it is so critical – we have to come out clean,” he added.

Agbakoba Says Nigeria Should Search For Wealth Creators Not Borrow

olisa agbakobaSenior Advocate of Nigeria, (SAN) Olisa Agbakoba has advised the federal government to search for Nigerians who can make money  for the country rather than borrow or loan money from the IMF.

Mr Agbakoba was speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, where the conversation bordered on the economy and how Nigeria can create wealth.

He said “There are lots of people in their states that are richer than the federal government and these are the people the government should look for.

“What the government should do is to bring out the Nigerians that are making money.”

The renowned lawyer said that there were some fundamental factors affecting wealth creation in the country, such as legal framework, bad economic policies, corruption amongst other factors.

Mr Agbakoba noted that the issue of subsidy should also be managed properly because it is part of the issues affecting Nigeria’s economy.

He also commented on the visit by the president of the International Monetary Funds ( IMF) Christiane Lagarde and her view on Nigeria’s economy.

Using the Republican presidential candidate in the United States, Donald Trump as an example of a wealth creator in America, the lawyer advocated the need for President Muhammadu Buhari and the government as a whole to look inwards in order to create wealth rather than borrowing.

Mr. Agbakoba insisted that Nigeria does not need the IMF funds but rather needs to search for wealth creators in the country.

 

Niger Sure-P Office To Empower 3000 Youths

The Niger State office of the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P), has concluded arrangements for a one month skill acquisition programme for 3,000 unemployed youths across the state.

The Director General of the scheme in Niger State, Hassan Nuru, who revealed this to Channels Television in Minna, explained that after the programme, the youths will be given financial support to enable them start their chosen businesses immediately after the training.

He also mentioned that the scheme in the last 6 months has employed over 1,000 youths from the 25 local government areas of the state, as sanitary inspectors and green guards, a situation he noted has helped  to reduce the unemployment rate in the state.

Mister Nuhu also said the SURE-P office in the state has provided 3,000 tricycles on hire basis, as a means to improve the economic conditions of the vast unemployed youths across the state.

SURE-P Is not A Scam, Official Defends Programme

The Chairman of the Edo State Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), Lucky Imaseun has debunked claims that the programme is merely political and has not achieved its aim of poverty alleviation.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Imaseun said the programme is not aimed at a single political party but on all Nigerians.

Last month, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) had accused the Federal Government of using the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), for political purposes in preparation of the 2015 general elections.

The party said the programme which was set up to manage savings from the oil subsidy withdrawal is currently being used to channel funds to members and cronies of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who are heading the state chapters of SURE-P.

In the video below Mr Imaseun explains how the SURE-P fund is disbursed:

SURE-P Document Is ‘Mere Essay’ – Analyst

A lawyer and public affairs analyst, Chima Nnaji on Tuesday described the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) document as an ordinary essay that cannot impact the socioeconomic welfare of Nigerians.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Nnaji said though the programme was intended to use the fund saved from the partial removal of fuel subsidy for the development of Infrastructure and the empowerment of Nigerians, these critical areas are still worse off.

“SURE-P is a beautiful document. But as I’ve always said, just like Nigerian budgets, not necessarily of this government, Nigerian budget has been essay writing,” he said.

The analyst said when it comes to the implementation stage; the officials would often make excuses why certain projects are not feasible.

He said, “The implementers will always tell you that in other climes this is what is done. We are too others directed. We do not have our own strategic thinking. I have always insisted that people in government must be strategic thinkers not just doers.

“This SURE-P from the document perspective is a beautiful write up. It is an essay if you want me to put it that way,” Mr Nnaji said.

Subsidy Scam: We Didn’t Verify Claims; We Trusted Marketers, PPPRA Officials Tells Court

Two officials of the Petroleum Product Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) took the witness stand on Wednesday at the Lagos High Court, Ikeja to testify as prosecution witnesses in one of the ongoing fuel subsidy trials.

In the fuel subsidy case, two accused persons, Rowaye Jubril and his company, Brila Energy, are facing 13 counts of fraudulent collection of about N967 million for the purported supply of 13,155,807 metric tons of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) under the Petroleum Support Scheme. They are also alleged to have forged documents to facilitate the fraud.

The two officials of the PPPRA who testified before Presiding justice Lateefah Okunnu were the Zonal Coordinator, Ibadan office, Tope Ogundola, and the Assistant General Manager, Lagos office, Victor Zamani.

In their testimony, the men gave the indication that the agency relied on trusting the claims made by the oil marketers supplying subsidized petroleum products rather than subjecting such claims and documents to verification processes.

Led in evidence by the counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), S.A Adeh, the first official to testify, Mr Zamani said the PPPRA collected photocopies backing the marketers’ claims on the supply of the products without further verification.

“We don’t take the original copies of the documents. We take photocopy based on trust,” Mr Zamani said.

He added, “We have many governmental agencies who witness the discharge of the products at the tank farm. Our staff are not always there for 24 hours when the oil marketers are discharging the products to retailers. We rely on the reports submitted to our office based on trust.”

According to Mr Zamani, the documents supplied by marketers are usually compared with PPPRA’s checklist comprising 38 items among which were the Bill of Lading, Certificate of Quantity, Certificate of Quality and Cargo Manifest.

During cross-examination by the counsel to the accused, Rapael Oluyede, Mr Zamani dismissed the possibility of oil marketers loading discharged products back to the vessels on the sea and making away with it.

“Each profession has its code of conduct, that will be a professional aberration,” he said.

The second witness, Mr Ogundola, who was then the Coordinator of PPPRA’s Lagos Office, said he was the one who cleared the documents supplied by Mr Jubril after “it is assumed that the product has been discharged to the retailer at the tanker farm”.

Responding to further questions on why he should make assumption on whether the products were actually supplied, Mr Ogundola said, “I was not there with them at the tanker farm”.

He affirmed that all the needed documents were supplied by Mr Jubril and there were never complaints over his supply by his office.

“I must be honest with you, Mr Jubril brought the documents and the checkers checked them with the checklist and I wrote and signed a cover letter attached to the documents and sent it to the Abuja office.

If the cover letter is not signed by me it will be sent back from Abuja.”

The bundle of documents supplied to the PPPRA by Mr Jubril was tendered and admitted as exhibit.

Justice Okunnu adjourned till the 11 and 12 of March to allow the EFCC to call additional witnesses in proof of its case against the oil marketer and his company.

SURE-P Probe: Ministers, Kolade Shun Reps

The absence of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke and the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Tuesday stalled the probe by the House of Representatives into the implementation of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P).

Other Ministers and government officials who were absent include the Minister of Labour and Productivity, the Minister of Transport and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, alongside ministers of health, Onyebuchi Chukwu; transport, Idris Umar; labour, Emeka Worgu, were scheduled to give testimonies at the House of Representatives hearing on the controversies over implementation of SURE-P.

The Accountant General of the federation, Jonah Otunla, was also to appear at the sitting conducted by the House joint committees on downstream petroleum, finance, states and local government.

All the officials, including Christopher Kolade, who heads the federal government SURE-P, boycotted the meeting, forcing the lawmakers to reschedule the hearing.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum Resources (downstream), Peterside Dakuku accused the abstaining ministers and government officials of “deliberate contempt’ for the parliament.

“This intentional act of disrespect will not be condoned,” he said.

President Goodluck Jonathan had established the SURE-P as a palliative after the January 2012 demonstrations which opposed government’s removal of the subsidy. The programme was to convert funds recovered from the subsidy scrapping, into tangible infrastructures and jobs.

Under the scheme, every state of the federation and the federal capital, Abuja, is to provide a minimum of 10,000 jobs, while new rail, and power projects, are to be implemented with the monies saved from the partial removal of fuel subsidy.

The House of Representatives had accused the subsidy committee of duplicating projects with the ministries, and defrauding the nation by making double payments for projects also financed by the ministries.

The lawmakers were told how the Kolade-led committee spent N2.2 billion on “secretariat services” and another N75 million on travels between July and October.

Another N27 billion was also spent on “Public Works for Youths”, and N8.9 billion for the purchase of 800 buses. Details of how the monies were allocated were not provided to the lawmakers.

For 2013, SURE-P is to spend N273.52 billion.

Fuel Subsidy: Okonjo-Iweala Says N94 Billion Will Be Disbursed Soon

The Coordinating Minister for the economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Tuesday refuted media reports which allege that her ministry is blocking subsidy payments to verified marketers.

The Coordinating Minister for the economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala addressing a news conference in Abuja

Addressing a news conference in Abuja, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala said that the ministry of finance made the N161.6 billion supplementary budget for subsidy payments which had been approved by the National Assembly available to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) since 31 December 2012.

“As at 31st of December the Ministry of Finance had approved for this money to be available in the Central Bank accounts, where they can be accessed by the marketers,” she said.

The Minister said the payments are presently going through the CBN processes which include the conversion of the dollar equivalent from the excess crude account and will be concluded soon.

She also confirmed that payments totalling N94 billion have been verified for 23 marketers who will be paid in the next few days.

Compel Jonathan To Remove Fuel Subsidy, Man Asks Court

A former Governorship candidate in the 2007 elections in Anambra State, Stanley Okeke has sued President Goodluck Jonathan before an Abuja Federal High Court asking it to compel the President to remove forthwith the subsidy being paid on fuel in the country.

Protesters displaying placards during the January 2012 subsidy removal protest in Lagos

In the suit filed through his lawyers, M.A Ebute and U.B. Eyo and dated December 21, Mr Okeke is also seeking an order compelling President Jonathan to refund to the Federation Account such sum earlier appropriated and or approved under the sub-head of fuel subsidy funds or money as according to him “cannot be justified in the face of the pervasive corruption, perennial fuel shortage and long queues being witnessed in the country.”

The Minister of Petroleum, Diezeni Alison-Madueke and her counterpart in the Finance ministry, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala were Cited as second and third defendants in the suit.

The plaintiff is also asking the court for an order directing the 3rd defendant (Mrs Okonjo-Iweala) to stop further payment of fuel subsidy money predicated on the corrupt, illegal and unlawful fuel subsidy regime.

Mr Okeke is asking the court to declare that the fuel subsidy currently being funded by the Federal Government is a waste of public funds and therefore unlawful and illegal to sustain.

The plaintiff further asked the court for:

“A declaration that the pervasive corruption inherent in the fuel subsidy scheme has caused untold hardship to the masses of the country and therefore is an abuse of the rights of Nigerians as guaranteed by the provision of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

“A declaration that the fuel subsidy scheme having failed to achieve the purpose for which it was meant should be out rightly abolished as same has violated the Nigerian people’s rights as guaranteed by the provision of the 1999 Constitution.

“A declaration that the failure of the 2nd and 3rd defendants in their Ministerial duties to ensure a corrupt free subsidy regime is a breach of public trust and a violation of their oaths of office as contained in the seventh schedule to the 1999 Constitution.”

Mr Okeke also asked the court to determine:

“Whether in view of the official corruption and abuse of office inherent in the fuel subsidy regime as evidenced by the in-going trial of certain individuals in the Federal High Court Lagos, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is validly competent to order the removal and or abolish the fuel subsidy scheme.

“Whether consequent upon the perennial fuel shortages ad the attendant long queues on our roads, it would be proper and lawful for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to completely remove and abolish the fuel subsidy regime.

“Whether having regards to the near infrastructural collapse in our country, it would be proper to re-channel funds meant fuel subsidy scheme into the building of infrastructural facilities.

“Whether the 2nd and 3rd defendants being appointees of the President by not ensuring a corrupt free subsidy regime have not failed in their principal duty to Nigerians.”

The plaintiff in a 27 paragraphed affidavit he deposed in support of the originating summons averred that Nigeria now under the leadership of President Jonathan now imports fuel from various oil producing nations for local consumption by Nigerians and that said importation is highly subsidized by the Federal Government running into billions of Naira.

He further declared that “recently in December 2012 the President 1st defendant submitted a supplementary budget of over N161,000,000,000 to the National Assembly for the payment of additional fuel subsidy money to the fuel importers and marketers.”

The plaintiff suggested that the only way to stop the high level of abuse of the fuel subsidy scheme is the removal of the policy by the Federal Government.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the case.