Okupe Defends Jonathan’s Process of Ministerial Appointments

Special Adviser to the President on Public Affairs, Mr Doyin Okupe, today defended the nomination and sack of ministers by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Mr Okupe, speaking from Channels Television’s Abuja studios, insisted that before the President makes his appointments, he certifies “that this person (nominee) is of a good quality, a good calibre and must possess a reasonable intellect, loyalty and patriotism to serve his country.”

Okupe explained that in a parliamentary system of government, members of parliament are mandated to supervise different ministries “that has nothing to do with their profession.” He added that “a man that is qualified, a graduate with good experience; that has distinguished himself in the society and has some sense of loyalty can run any ministry.”

Mr Okupe also vehemently stated that “anybody running a ministry, is not running it by himself, he is running it for and on behalf of the President who has appointed him…he carries on the programme of Mr President.” He emphasized that “each minister is a representative of the President in his ministry”.

Meanwhile, a legal practitioner, Mr Tokunbo Odutola, speaking from the Lagos studios of the multiple-award winning television station, agreed with Mr Okupe on the selection process but was quick to add that the appointment process was “a three pronged process”.

These processes according to Mr Odutola, are the taken from the “legal, political and moral” perspectives. He explained that the legal aspect, as enshrined in the constitution, is for the President to make sure he appoints ministers with each state represented amongst the nominees.

The political provision, he added, allows the President to assign whomever he so wishes to a ministry “because it is his team” and such “reflects on whom our President is”. On the moral aspect, he said that this has to do with the person being nominated, who must be screened to ensure that he or she had not been involved in any criminal activity.

On the newly nominated ministers, he expressed the view that 2015 being just around the corner, “the President would not want to pick anybody who cannot make sure that, if he intends contesting in 2015, he can help him or his party.”

Earlier in the week, one of the ministerial nominees, Mr. Oyewale Adesiyan, from Osun State, told the Senate that he had been wrongfully accused of having a hand in the murder of a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige, who was assassinated in his Bodija home, in Ibadan, Oyo State on December 23, 2001, a case for which he was in jail for three and half years.

Although, Adesiyan claimed that his implication in the death was a ‘political blackmail’ by enemies, Mr Odutola said that “morally, the candidate should be dropped”.

Responding to questions from Channels Television viewers via Twitter on whether the President was making the decision to sack some ministers at the right time, Mr Okupe noted that this was “a preposterous question”. He wondered why “Nigerians would vote for a man, if he does not have the capacity to decide what he wants to do, and when he wants to do it.”

He further noted that “the President is the captain of the boat, he knows where he is leading the boat to, and he knows the kind of staff that he needs to assist him to get there.” He insisted that those ministers who were dropped were still useful and they have done nothing wrong.

Jonathan Sacks Stella Oduah, Three Other Ministers

Four Nigerian ministers, including the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, have been sacked by the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan.

Other ministers are Minister of the Niger Delta, Godsday Orubebe, Minister of Police Affairs, Caleb Olubolade and Minister of State For Finance, Yerima Ngama.

FG, States And LGs Share N581.4b Despite Shortfall In Revenue

Following disruptions in crude oil production and lifting operations, Nigeria’s monthly gross oil revenue dropped by N117. 802 billion to N479.950 billion in December compared to N597.752 billion for November.

The Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama

Nevertheless, total distributable revenue including Value Added Tax (VAT) amounting to N581.498 billion was shared among the three tiers of government for December.

December revenue collection from VAT also fell to 64.725 billion naira compared to 91.730 billion naira in November.

Addressing journalists after the monthly Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting in Abuja, the Minister of state for Finance, Dr Yerima Ngama, said that mineral revenue of N379.122 billion was received for the month and it fell short of the budgeted amount of N465.057 billion while the non-mineral revenue of N100.828 billion also fell short of the budgeted figure of N158.711 billion.

A breakdown of the statutory revenue distribution showed that the federal government got N221.161 billion while the states shared N112.176 billion and the local government areas got 86.483 billion.

The oil states shared N48.461 billion as derivation fund.

FEC Approves 300 Million Dollars Credit Facility For Housing

The Nigerian government has approved a 300-million-dollar credit facility to tackle housing deficit.

The loan from the International Development Association, which was approved at the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, will increase access to housing finance by deepening the primary and secondary mortgage markets.

The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will manage the loan on behalf of the Federal Government while the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Muhammed Adoke, will issue the legal opinion required to render the project effective.

The Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama told reporters that the loan was interest-free and would be repaid over 40 years.

According to Nigeria’s Housing Authority, the housing deficit in Nigeria is estimated at 17 million.

A breakdown of how the loan will be expended shows that 250 million dollars will be used to establish a Mortgage Refinance Company and another 25 million dollars for the establishment of the Mortgage Guarantee Product.

The remaining 25 million dollars will be given as loan to Housing Micro Finance banks to enable them provide finance for housing.

The project is also expected to create investment opportunities in the sector and create jobs.



FG Lost N365 Billion To Oil Theft In July- Ngama

The Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama

The federal government has lost a total of N365 billion to oil theft in the month of July.

The minister, who reeled out by the Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama at the end of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting in Abuja, attributed other decline to the gross revenue from the oil sector to leakages of pipeline and repair works at major oil facilities in the country.

Dr. Ngama however said that a total of N715 billion is to be distributed to the federal, state and local governments for the month of July.

The gross revenue dropped 42% month-on-month to N497.98 billion ($3.1 billion) in July, because of disruption to oil production caused by thieves hacking into pipelines, the Finance Ministry said Friday.

“The gross revenue of N497.98 billion received for the month was lower than the Naira 863.02 billion received in the previous month,” the ministry said in a statement.

“This was due to continuous theft of crude oil, leakages, pipeline breaks at various terminals, high-pressure compressor failures and repair work.”

Jonathan Sends Food To States Under Emergency Rule

President Goodluck Jonathan has directed that Over 25,000 metric tons of assorted food be released from the strategic grains reserves of the FG to the three states affected by the state of Emergency.

This was disclosed by the Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama to newsmen in Damaturu.

According to Mr Ngama, the directive follows the appeal by him and the Minister of State for Agriculture, Tijani Bukar to the president over the suffering of the people of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa owing to the state of emergency imposed on the states.

Mr Ngama explained that the insecurity has caused untold hardship on the people with the restriction of movement which has reduced farming activities in the states hence the intervention of the federal government.

He disclosed that 25,000 metric tons of food translates to 930 trailer loads of food stuff  which is over half a million bags of maize, millet and guinea corn.

The minister further explained that because of the large quantity of food required, it will be released in batches.

In the first batch, a total of 399 bags of 665 trailer loads will be released to the three states.

Borno state which is the largest and worse hit in the insurgency will take 324 trailers, while Yobe will get 195 trailers and Adamawa 170 trailer loads.

Mr Ngama also announced that the President had given another approval for the sum of N250 million for the purchase of rice, cooking oil and other accessories to be distributed in the states.

In Yobe state for instance, Mr Ngama explained that all the 178 wards will be given a trailer load of food while the remaining will be shared to civil servants, police, army and other organizations in the state.

He advised the people not to politicize the gesture of the president but see it as an act of God

“We are giving this food not because we are PDP but because of God. I am calling on all the people of my state to come and collect the food. It does not matter whether you are PDP or any other political party. Nobody will discriminate in the sharing of the food”, the minister announced.

He noted that all security agencies with Aid groups will be involved to ensure a hitch free distribution of the food, and thanked the president for the gesture.

“This is an unprecedented initiative by the president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. I have not heard in history where this amount of food was released to any part of Nigeria in the past.

“The people of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa will remain grateful to Mr. President for his kindness and gesture to ameliorate  their sufferings”, he said.


FG Discovers 45, 000 Ghost Workers In MDAs

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday said it has discovered 45, 000 ghost workers from 251 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government under the Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System, (IPPIS).

The Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama said this while briefing State House correspondents after the FEC meeting where the ministry of finance and foreign affairs briefed the council on the achievements of their ministries in 2012.

According to him, the Integrated Personnel Payment System (IPPS) in 215 Ministries, Departments and Agencies MDAs has ensured that government expenditure could be traced.

“We have registered over 153,000 federal government workers. But compared to the total number of staff that used to get salaries in these MDAs, we have seen a gap of 45,000 people missing. So, we have already declared that they are ghost workers.

“We have about 320 MDAs that we have not covered and when we cover this, we may actually discover more and reduce the total payroll cost to the country” he said.

Mr Ngama said the exercise will be expedited in order to ensure that appreciable progress was made by the end of 2013.

He said  a centralized bio-data of staff have been established and is domiciled in the office of the Accountant General of the Federation AGF.

“Whether you are working in a University in Uyo, or any federal establishment in Nigeria, by the press of a button, your salary will go to your account,” Mr Yerima noted.

The minister also said that the ministry has done well to stabilize the financial system through the stabilization of the Macro Economy.

On the consolidation of the budget, Mr Ngama said the ministry was able to bring the budget deficit from 6.8 percent in 2010 to 2.3 percent in 2011 budget.

He said the ministry also focused on reducing the recurrent expenditure quotient so that more funds would be available for the development in the real sector.

The minister said the target of the ministry is to achieve a 60 percent capital expenditure budget while 40 percent is budgeted for recurrent expenditure.

He blamed the increase in salary by 53 percent in 2010 for the dysfunction in the country’s budgetary process, noting that with the increase in salary, government has to rely on bonds to pay salaries thereby pushing up domestic debt to N6.634 Trillion.

The Council also constituted a special committee to verify Nigeria’s assets all over the world, valued at billions of naira

The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku said that the inter- ministerial committee will go round the world and verify Nigerian assets abroad including those of the foreign affairs ministry, assets of the Nigeria Ports Authority and the Nigerian navy.


Economic Reforms Will Ensure Attainment of W/African Regional Currency by 2015-Kitcher

The Acting Director General of the West African Monetary Institute, Mister John Kitcher has called for major economic reforms amongst countries of the West African Monetary Union for the attainment of a single currency by the year 2015.

Addressing a technical committee meeting of the union in Abuja, Mister Kitcher said that the performance of the six member states on its macro-economic convergence list was not attained especially in the first half of 2012.

He said that inflation and its fiscal deficit criteria were the most challenging for its member countries which includes Nigeria, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Liberia.

While highlighting the success made so far by member countries in tackling the effects of the global economic recession and the Eurozone debt crisis, Kitcher listed major economic indicators that are likely to serve as a setback to the realisation of this goal.

However, the Minister of State for Finance, Mister Yerima Ngama and the deputy governor in charge of Economic Policy at the Central Bank, Missus Sarah Alade expressed optimism for member countries.

Both believe there is hope of achieving the goal of a uniform currency for the region, if the revenue mobilisation is strengthened and rationalisation of expenditure is achieved.

Islamic banking will improve Nigeria’s economic development-Minister

The Minister of state for Finance, Dr Yerima Ngama, is asking for increased awareness on Islamic banking to prevent economic crisis and boost the nation’s economic development.

The Minister was speaking at a forum sponsored by Mutual Benefits Assurance PLC in Abuja on Wednesday.

Dr Ngama listed various challenges obstructing the growth of Islamic banking in Nigeria, noting that the banking system will help position Nigeria as the financial hub of Africa.

Islamic Banking: Minister calls for increased awareness

The Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama on Tuesday called for increase awareness on Islamic banking to prevent economic crisis and boost the nation’s economic development.

The minister made the call at a forum organised by ARIT consult and sponsored by Mutual Benefits Assurance Plc with the theme: developing Islamic financial institutions in Nigeria in Abuja.

Mr Ngama listed various challenges obstructing the growth of Islamic banking in Nigeria, noting that the banking system will position the country as the financial hub of Africa.

“It is on record that while most of the major financial institutions in Europe and America have been crashing, Islamic development banks has been given an AAA rating worldwide,” the minister said.

According to the Central Bank of Nigeria, Islamic banking has undergone steady progress in the last four decades globally.

The bank however said that progress can be recorded in Nigeria with the co-operation of more stakeholders in the industry.

To buttress this, the managing director of Jaiz Bank Plc, Nigeria’s first licenced Islamic bank, Mohammed Bintube said it has recorded tremendous success since it began operations in the country.

“Standards and Paul estimated that over the next four years the total assets that will be managed under Islamic Banking would grow as much as $4 trillion,” he said.

Organisers of the event however emphasize that Islamic banking is not established for Muslims alone but beneficial to all Nigerians.

The Managing Consultant of Arit consult, Mohammed Kari said the Islamic Bank has already confirmed that the majority of their subscribers and customers that open account with them are not Muslims.

“These are people who have understood the implications and the benefits. The benefits in comparison to the conventional system are huge,” he said.

The Group Managing Director of Mutual Benefits Assurance, Akin Ogunbiyi said the regulators should provide the enabling environment for Islamic banking to thrive in Nigeria.

According to stakeholders, the growth of Islamic banking as an alternative source of financing in Nigeria can boost the country’s chances of becoming the largest economy in Africa by 2013.

FG blames indicted oil marketers of orchestrating planned strike

The Federal Government has alleged that oil marketers planning to embark on a nationwide strike action are those who have been indicted by the Aig-Imoukhuede’s report on fuel subsidy payments.

Long queues have emerged at petrol stations in the FCT.

The allegation was made in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Paul C. Nwabiukwu, on Wednesday, which claimed the federal government has stopped paying the indicted oil marketers.

The statement said “it is clear that the strike was instigated mainly by marketers who were indicted by the Aig-Imoukhuede Committee which investigated fuel subsidy payments.”

The statement further said that the federal government has stopped payments of oil marketers that were penciled down for investigation “However, the claims by marketers who have been recommended for further investigation by the Aig-Imoukhuede Presidential Committee have not been paid”.

The statement also called on Nigerians not to be deceived “by their antics”.

It also highlighted the federal government’s zero tolerance to corrupt persons and organisations.

“The Federal Government is determined to ensure that persons and organisations which did the wrong things do not get away with wrong actions and wrong behavior”.

Corroborating the claim, Minister of state for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama said that a total of N42 billion has been paid to 31 one oil marketers as subsidy payments.

“In all, between April and August this year, in respect of 2012 PMS claims, Sovereign Debt Notes amounting to N42.666 billion have been issued to 31 oil marketers”.

The minister was speaking after the monthly Federations Account Allocation Committee meeting in Abuja.

Dr. Ngama said that the intention of the indicted oil marketers is to blackmail government and avoid sanctions on crimes committed.

He further stated that the sum of N522 billion is to be distributed to the Federal, State and Local government areas for the month of July.


Nigeria: third fastest growing economy in the world

Nigeria’s economy has recorded an unprecedented growth last year as it has been named the third fastest growing economy in the word behind Mongolia and China.

Briefing State House correspondents after yesterday’s Federal Executive Council Meeting, Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, who was joined by the Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama, said the growth in the economy was a clear indication that “there is a lot of confidence in the Nigerian economy.”

Ngama, who presented a report on the country’s presentation during the recently concluded Islamic Development Bank Congress in Khartoum, Sudan noted that the growth noticed in the non-oil sector was particularly impressive, adding that government would continue to work on improving the economy.

He stated: “Today in council, I presented a report on the presentation made at the 37th Annual General Meeting of the Islamic Development Bank, IDB. The bank has 56 member countries and at annual general meeting, each country is expected to present a report on the economic development in the country. The aim is to educate ourselves about what is happening in our countries.

In the case of Nigeria, our report was actually the best. For the year, for the quarter which ended on 31st December, 2011, only about 46 countries have actually submitted their data and Nigeria was third in terms of GDP growth. We recorded a GDP growth of 7.68 per cent in real terms and this is largely due to growth in the non-oil sector.

“The previous year, 2010, the GDP growth was 8.4 per cent but last year, it dropped to 7.68 per cent because we had a negative growth in the oil sector. So, it means that the non-oil sector is actually resilient and strong enough to carry the economy forward with or without the oil sector.

“This actually placed us as the third fastest growing economy in the world, the first being Mongolia with 14. 9 per cent real growth rate, then China with 8.4 per cent real GDP growth rate followed by Nigeria with 7.68 per cent.

“But the more important story out of it is that as a nation, we have our Vision 202020, we have the objective of having one of the world strongest economies by year 2020.

All the other countries, apart from China, that are ahead of Nigeria are growing at a slower rate than Nigeria. When those ahead of you are growing slower, it means that in the next eight years, we will achieve our objective of being one of the strongest economies in the world. As at last December, our total GDP was more that N10 trillion and that is a growth that is unprecedented despite our challenges.”

Explaining how this growth has impacted on the lives of the ordinary Nigerian people, the minister said the “standard of living has improved in Nigeria as a result of this growth. As at December, 2011, our income per capita grew from $1200 to $1400 and this actually moved us from low income countries to middle lower income countries per World Bank classification.”