Nigeria Is Facing Serious Revenue Challenges, Says Zainab Ahmed

Minister of State Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed

 

The supervising Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, has said that Nigeria is facing serious revenue challenges and assured that the ministry will do everything possible to shore up the revenue base of the country.

The minister stated this on Monday when she assumed duties at the Ministry of Finance.

She said, “We have very serious revenue challenges and it is up to us to make sure we shore up the revenue base of the country.

“The President has a lot of confidence that we can do this if we work together. You are working for the President and at the end of the day, you’re working for the benefit of the citizens”.

She promised to work diligently to ensure that the country attains greater economic stability.

She charged the management staff of the Ministry to do all within their power to justify the confidence of the President in their ability to achieve a much needed economic turnaround in the country.

In a statement by the Director Information, Hassan Dodo, Ahmed expressed her readiness to ensure that there is “harmonious working relationship with the Permanent Secretary and management of the Ministry, whom she said are highly skilled”.

Speaking earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Dr Mahmoud Isa-Dutse assured that the management and staff of the Ministry will give her all the needed support in her duties.

Until her New role as the Supervising Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed is the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning.

She was directed to oversee the Ministry of Finance by President Muhammadu Buhari , after the resignation of former Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun on Friday, September 14, 2018.

She is a Fellow of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), a member of the Nigerian Institute of Taxation and the Nigerian Institute of Management. (NIM)

Nigeria Commits To Unveiling Owners Of Extractive Companies By 2020

Nigeria, Extractive Companies, NEITI, EITINigeria has set January 2017 timeline for the development of an actionable roadmap to unveil the real owners of extractive companies in the country by 2020.

The plan is in line with a mandate of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

The Minister for Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, says anonymous companies have been used to fuel and mask corruption in Nigeria.

He also raised concern over the illicit wealth often lodged in foreign countries while Nigerians were denied the benefits of the natural resources.

The minister recommended a public registry of beneficial owners of these companies developed in conjunction with global bodies and other countries, as a way out of the challenge.

He expressed confidence that it would help Nigeria check abuses, grafts and money laundering which have ploughed down the economy and given the country a negative image in the comity of nations.

Dr. Fayemi spoke on Monday at a forum with representatives from nine other African countries and all EITI-implementing countries held in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

The Deputy Head of EITI, Mr Eddie Rich, told reporters that the meeting was convened to create a roadmap for beneficial ownership disclosure by 2020; that is to unmask the real people behind companies in the extractive sector.

The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr Waziri Adio, also stressed the need for Nigeria to surmount some challenges, saying it gave room for the regional consultative workshop.

Allegation Of Unremitted Dividends

NEITI, in some of its past audit reports, had alleged several irregularities in the extractive industries including unremitted dividends and abuse of the petroleum subsidy regime.

The four year audit reports between 2009 and 2012 contained an alleged unremitted $11.6 billion to the Federation Account.

NEITI Chairman, Mr Mitee Ledum, decried the non-implementation of the audit reports and recommendations to reform the extractive industries.

During a visit to Nigeria some months ago, EITI Chairperson, Mrs Clare Short, urged the Nigerian Government to implement its past reports in its quest to reform the mineral extractive sector of the economy.

Mrs Short was in Nigeria to meet with the government and lend a voice to the proposed reforms in the extractive sector of the economy.

She expressed the view that the Federal Government had a ready-made tool in the reports of NEITI which could be relied upon to reform the sector.

Corruption: FG Develops National Policy On Prosecution

national policy, corruptionAs part of efforts to stem the tide of corruption through speedy trial of suspects, the federal government has developed a national policy on prosecution.

The Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, announced the new policy at a meeting of attorney generals in Abuja where they converged from the 36 states of the federation to discuss how to improve the justice sector.

Mr Malami said that the adoption and implementation of the policy by state authorities will fast-track the prosecution of corruption and criminal cases.

The Minister appealed to states to accept the federal government’s vision of tackling corruption by establishing special anti-corruption units.

He advocated the restoration of public confidence in the justice sector through the speedy prosecution of cases.

The Country Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Cristina Albertin, also outlined the role of prosecutors in the fight against corruption.

At a separate meeting on the London summit on Anti-Corruption, the Minister of Justice pledged government’s commitment to accountability and transparency as a means of stemming corruption.

The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, confirmed government’s resolve to run an open government just as the Deputy British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Simon Shercliff, advised political leaders to lead by example.

Senate Screens More Ministerial Nominees

senateSix ministerial nominees have appeared before the Senate as part of the ongoing confirmation hearings being conducted by the Senate.

The six nominees spent an average of an hour each before the lawmakers as different questions were put to them on different issues.

The questions bordered on corruption, education, politics and the economy.

The first nominee to appear was Prof Adewole Folorunso. He spent over an hour before the lawmakers and answered questions on the education and health.

Eventually, he was told to bow and go.

The next nominee that generated such interest was Zainab Ahmed and she was taken up on her knowledge of the Nigerian oil sector and the issue of leakages in the system.

The other nominees who also took their turns at the chamber are Bawa Bwari, Geoffrey Onyeama, Mohammed Dan Ali and Usani Uguru.

The atmosphere in the chamber, however, changed dramatically when the last nominee, Usani Uguru, was on the stand.

It was clear there was trouble when the Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, rose, demanding an apology from the nominee.

The apology did not help as PDP senators kept interrupting his remarks with points of order that the Senate President ruled out of order.

The nominee eventually completed his turn and was allowed to leave.

The Senate is to continue with the confirmation hearing on Wednesday when the remaining five nominees are expected to appear.

 

Senate Continues Ministerial Nominees’ Screening

ministerial nominees screening begins on tuesdayThe screening of Nigerian ministerial nominees has  resumed on Tuesday at the Senate Chambers after the lawmakers adjourned sitting last Thursday.

Six nominees, who were scheduled to face the lawmakers’ scrutiny are: Professor Adewale Folorunso, Bawa Bwari, Geoffrey Onyeama, Zainab Ahmed, Mohammed Dan Ali and Usani Uguru

Professor Adewale Folorunsho, Honourable Bawa Bwari and Mr Geoffrey Onyeama have appeared before the Senate and taken their leave.

The fourth nominee, Zainab Ahmed also appeared before the Senate while Mansur Dan Ali and Usani Uguru were awaiting their turn.

President Muhammadu Buhari had sent 36 names to the upper chamber of the Senate to be screened as members of his cabinet.

The exercise had gone in phases with the first batch of the nominees already confirmed by the Senate.

After Tuesday’s nominees are screened, about four more may be left, which means before the end of the week, the senate might be able to confirm the nominees

Extractive Industry Reforms: NEITI Urges Government To Implement Its Report

International Extractive Body Urges Government To Implement NEITI ReportThe International Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (IEITI) has called on the Nigerian Government to implement its past reports in its quest to reform the mineral extractive sector of the economy.

The IEITI Chairperson, Mrs Clare Short, made the call on Tuesday during a visit to Nigeria, to meet with the government and lend a voice to the proposed reforms in the extractive sector of the economy.

She expressed the view that the Nigerian Government had a ready-made tool in the reports of NEITI which could be relied upon to reform the sector.

NEITI, in some of its past audit reports had alleged several irregularities in the extractive industries including unremitted dividends and abuse of the petroleum subsidy regime.

The four year audit reports between 2009 and 2012 contained an alleged unremitted $11.6 billion to the Federation Account.

NEITI Chairman, Mr Mitee Ledum, decried the non-implementation of the audit reports and recommendations to reform the extractive industries.

The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Zainab Ahmed, also explained why NEITI has not been able to prosecute defaulters in the past.

She expressed optimism that this visit by the international body would boost the clamour for the implementation of the reports.

Group Blames Judiciary For Indulging Corrupt Public Officers

JUDICIAL COURT STRIKEThe Technical Unit on Government and Anti-Corruption Reforms (TUGAR) has identified corruption and weak judicial system as the reason why mismanagement of public finances continue to thrive in Nigeria.

TUGAR made this declaration in Abuja during the public presentation of a report on GAP analysis of anti-corruption initiatives in public finance management system in Nigeria.

The survey, which was the third phase of similar exercise by the agency, covers ten Nigerian states, including Cross River, Jigawa, Nasarawa and Katsina.

The report says that fiscal indiscipline was prevalent in the states and attributes the mismanagement in the states to weak judicial system.

A Professor of Criminology and Sociology of Law, Etannibi Alemika, while reviewing the report, noted that legal regulations practice and implementation of anti-corruption measures in public finance management were weak in most states of the federation.

Past and present administrations in states and federal levels have set up various anti-corruption initiatives to fight corruption and public finance mismanagement. However, these efforts were deemed not to have yielded much result.

The Executive Secretary of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Zainab Ahmed, advised that citizens must take advantage of such initiatives and reports like TUGAR’s to put more pressure on government for a change.

As a way of finding solution to financial corruption in public offices, the report recommends among others, that anti-corruption agencies should use audit reports regarding affairs of government at all levels to prosecute infringements on due processes.

Nigeria Earned N30 Trillion From Oil And Non Oil Revenues Between 2007 And 2011 – NEITI

ledum_miteeThe Chairman of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Mr Ledum Metee on Wednesday said Nigeria from 2007 to 2001 has realised N30.09 trillion as revenue from oil and non-oil sectors between 2007 and 2011.

Mr Metee announced the figure at the public presentation of fiscal allocation and statutory disbursement and solid minerals audit reports in Abuja.

According to Mr Mittee, N23.7 trillion was realised from the mineral sector while N4.014 trillion was generated from non-mineral revenues

Mr Metee also used the occasion to clarify reports of under-remittance of funds to the federal account in 2011.

Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed expressed disappointment over lack of synergy between government agencies and the Central Bank of Nigeria, which has led to disagreements over what is actually earned and remitted by some agencies.

She said a review of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Nigeria Customs Service records on exported mineral showed that there were discrepancies in the value of exported minerals and the associated companies.

She said, “From the report, total revenue received by the Federal Government increased significantly in 2011 as compared to previous years.

“This was attributed to the awareness created from the last audit cycle by NEITI and increasing attention paid by government to solid minerals industry.”

According to her, the report recommends urgent need to check the incessant smuggling of solid minerals products out of the country.

She decried the deliberate creation of border markets at strategic border points across the country for the smuggling of solid minerals.

Ahmed said that the report also called for the establishment of International Standards Organisation certification in each of the six geo-political zones of the country for the purpose of analysing minerals extracted or discovered.

She said that the report was to establish and make public the revenue flows through investment among the major players in the solid mineral sector.

The organisation urged government to create markets at strategic boarders across the country,  in order to check smuggling of solid minerals out of the country.

NEITI Asks For Active Collaboration To Tackle Corruption In Oil And Gas Sector

Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Zainab Ahmed has called for a more active collaboration with civil society organisations to help correct the lingering issues of accountability in the oil and gas industry.

Constituting a 15-man committee in Abuja, Ahmed said that the activists would advance the reforms in the sector, as well as disseminate more channels across board to monitor and enthrone greater transparency in the system.

Ahmed said: “the trends and the patterns are the same, and the civil society as they get more informed and we engage them more and they understand the issues, they will be able to intervene at the best of times”, insisting that “things are not going on well at the oil and gas sector”.

“Revenues that are due to the federation are not all going to the federation as they are supposed to. There is a need for us to bring out these issues, to discuss them and to cause whoever is responsible for them to begin to make corrections. We require accountability in the oil and gas and the mining sectors of this country.”

Against the backdrop of the recent $49.8billion controversy between the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), and the Central Bank, she noted that the saga is only a confirmation of several reports released by NEITI, pointing cases of unremitted funds to the federation account, insisting that there is the need to urgently fish out those behind these fraudulent acts in the oil and gas sector.

FG to retrieve N1.3 trillion from NNPC, multi-national companies

The National Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has revealed the plan to recover the sum of N1.3 trillion from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other multi-national companies.

Chairman of NEITI Board, Ledum Mitee.

The Federal Government’s bid to recover its debt owed by the NNPC was contained in a statement issued at the end of the NEITI retreat in Abuja.

The statement quoted the President as pledging that an inter-ministerial task team would be charged with the responsibility of ensuring the full implementation of NEITI audit report findings.

President Jonathan stated that the task team would comprise high-ranking government officials as well as government agencies that are saddled with either the responsibility of collecting or managing Nigeria’s oil and gas revenue.

Jonathan described NEITI as an important anti-corruption agency in the oil and gas sector whose report, findings and recommendations should be implemented to set the tone for the oil and gas sector.

The President again re-assured the nation that his administration has no intention to “cover up any ascertained misdeeds revealed by various fact-finding panels and probes in the extractive industry.”

President Jonathan also disclosed that he had given necessary directives to all Ministries, Agencies and Departments of government and all companies covered by NEITI activities that NEITI should be given “open and unrestricted support” to carry out its statutory functions in view of the strategic importance of the role of NEITI to the transformation agenda.”

Also speaking at the workshop, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed disclosed that NEITI’s latest industry audit reports in the oil and gas sector that covered the period 2009 to 2011 and the first NEITI audit report in the solid minerals, which covered 2007 to 2010 would be released to the public simultaneously before the end of the year.

Chairman of NEITI Board, Ledum Mitee, said NEITI would henceforth fully exercise its power under Section 3(f) of the NEITI Act that requires it to monitor and ensure that all payments due to the Federal Government from all extractive industry companies, including taxes, royalties, dividends, bonuses, penalties, levies and such like, are duly made.

He added: “For example, previous NEITI audit reports have identified potential revenue loss due to under-assessments/underpayments by covered entities amounting to over $9.8 billion or N1.3 trillion by the existing exchange rate.

“NEITI can no longer sit down and watch and allow these recoverable funds in the hands of the companies at a time the Federal Government is searching for funds to finance the deficits in the annual budgets.”

He read the riot act to defaulters, saying no entity would be spared the full weight of the law in case of defaults.

He said that the body would  “invoke relevant sanctions under Section 16 of the NEITI against any company found to have rendered false information or failed to provide statements of accounts as at and when due to NEITI Industry Auditors especially in the reported cases where this resulted in under-payments and under-assessments and huge revenue loss to the Federation Account.”

Mitee stated that the relevant statutory sanctions should be invoked against relevant government agencies identified to have willingly frustrated the implementation of remedial issues in NEITI audit reports over the years.

Mitee sought the collaboration of anti-corruption agencies in the renewed bid at ensuring complying with the provisions of the law and enthronement of accountability and transparency in the nation’s oil and gas sector.