Protesting contingents of the aborted 2020 National Sports Festival otherwise known as Edo 2020, Thursday, March 19, blocked the popular Ekewan road, Benin City.
Ekewan road is the major road that links Ekewan barracks, Ekewan, Evboutubu, Ugbiyouko, Asoro, Agho and other areas of Benin metropolis.
The protest, though peaceful, led to the blocking of Joromi to Agho junctions portion of the road, as vehicular movement were restricted, exposing commuters who are going back to their homes after the day’s job to untold hardship.
Speaking to Info Daily in an exclusive chat, one of the contingents who does not want his name mentioned, said they decided to show their grievances over negligence on the side of the authorities concerned.
The contingent who claimed majority of the persons who were peaceful protesting are staff of the Edo State Sports Council, revealed that they ( the contingents) have been camped for the past two weeks without allowance, good care.
“You see, majority of the persons you’re seeing here are members of the Edo State Sports Council. The National Sports Festival has been postponed, good and fine but what about our allowances. We have been camped for the past two weeks in preparation for the sports festival but let me tell you that we have not been paid a single day allowance; we are not taken good care of.
“Take for insurance, since morning, we have not been given food; no money. Since they camped us here, they don’t care if we exist”, he said.
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He therefore called on the authorities concern to pay their allowances and other fringes they are entitled to.
“We cannot be here for the past two weeks without anything. Is it because the sports festival has been suspended we will not be paid for the weeks we have been here? They should pay us our two weeks allowance. Most of us have family, so we can’t leave our homes for good two weeks without anything.
Speaking to Info Daily on phone on the protest, Edo State
commissioner for Sports and Youth, Damian Lawani, said he is not aware of such protest, adding that he needed to contact the state Deputy Governor whom according to him is in charge of the sports festival.
“Well, I am not aware of such protest to the extent of blocking major road. I will actually need to contact the Deputy Governor to know the real story. He is in charge so I need to hear from him to confirm”, he said.
NBA Drags FG, Lagos To Court Over New Proof Of Car Ownership Levy
Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law, NBA-SPIDEL, has dragged the Federal and Lagos State governments before a Federal High Court in Lagos over the imposition of a Proof of Ownership levy on all vehicle owners.
The NBA-SPIDEL is, among other demands, asking the court to declare the new yearly vehicle documentation, which came with a N1,000 price tag, as multiple taxation and unlawful.
The plaintiffs in the suit, which is yet to be assigned to a judge, are NBA-SPIDEL; the Chairman of the section, John Akpokpo-Martins; the Secretary, Funmi Adeogun, and a member of the Governing Council of NBA-SPIDEL, Francis Ogunbowale.
The defendants in the case are the Federal Government, the Joint Tax Board, and the Governor of Lagos State.
The plaintiffs are asking the court for a declaration that “by Section 86 (1) of the Personal Income Tax Act 2004 that sets up the Joint Tax Board (JTB), the power it purportedly exercised to impose yearly fees for annual renewal of Proof of Ownership (POC) Certificates on vehicle owners, is ultra vires, unlawful and unconstitutional.”
They are also urging the court for a declaration that the imposition of annual renewal of Proof of Ownership certificates on vehicle owners amounts to multiple taxation and, therefore, illegal because tax agencies and other agencies of Governments usually issue certificates of proof of ownership to vehicle owners at the point of registration of vehicles.
The plaintiffs are further seeking “an order striking down the provisions of sections 73(1), (2) & (3) of the National Road Traffic Regulation No. 101, Vol. 99 of 25th of December 2012, on the grounds of being in violent breach of Item 63 of Part I of the 2nd Schedule to the 1999 Constitution and section 1(1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and therefore unconstitutional.”
Nigeria’s Forex Market Needs Restructuring—Tinubu’s Aide
The Special Adviser to the President on Economic Affairs, Dr Tope Fasua, has called for a structural reform of Nigeria’s foreign exchange market.
Fasua made the call at a roundtable organised by the National Policy Advocacy Centre (NPAC) of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) on Tuesday in Abuja.
The theme of the event was “Unification of Foreign Exchange and the Effect of Fuel Subsidy Removal on the Business Community’’.
“I believe we should reform the Bureau De Change (BDC) sector and make it stronger. You cannot manage over 5,000 BDCs selling money on the streets.
“If we can do the structural reforms in the BDCs sector and the banks and supervise them well, the CBN with our reserves can incentivize that sector, allowing people to get money much quicker.
“And you have to define the illegal market and by then we will be able to find stability,” he said.
Fasua said that Nigeria spends over $45 billion annually importing refined petroleum products, milk, chemicals and fish, among others.
He said: “I hear things like scarcity of forex. What is scarcity of forex, as if the world owes us any forex.
“The world does not owe us any forex. The forex you get is depending on the trade that you do.
“If you look at Nigeria’s import and export profile, over 20 items that we import in Nigeria are in the billions of dollar range.
“Our biggest import, fuel and diesel take about $25 billion to $30 billion every year.
“We have things like cars, which is about four billion every year; sugar, fish, milk one billion each; wheat four billion; chemicals, three billion dollars; pharmaceuticals two billion dollars.”
Fasua listed crude oil and fertiliser as two things that Nigeria exports in the billion dollar range.
“The first is petroleum and gas, you will see a figure like $57 billion, but out of that only 30 per cent is ours, according to Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
“The international oil companies that have the technology that do production own most of that money,’’ he said.
The Director, Policy Advocacy Centre, ACCI, Mr Chidiebere Onwumere, said that foreign exchange unification held promises of increased transparency, improved access to forex and reduced market distortions.
He, however, said that it raises questions about exchange rate stability, inflationary pressures and the cost of imports.
“We must carefully consider how these factors will affect the competitiveness of our industries and the purchasing power of our citizens.
“Fuel subsidy removal, on the other hand, is expected to free up fiscal resources, reduce government spending, and potentially lead to increased investment in critical sectors.
“Yet, it also raises concerns about the immediate impact on transportation costs, inflation, and the welfare of our citizens, especially those in vulnerable communities,’’ he said.
Mr Oscar Onyema, Managing Director, Nigerian Exchange Group (NEG) PLC, said collaborative dialogue was essential in formulating policies that balance short-term challenges with long-term benefits.
Highlighting the effects of both policies on the economy, Onyema said that immediate transition could disrupt businesses and the economy in several ways.
Represented by Mrs Cordelia Ihedioha, Onyema said that businesses that were heavily reliant on imports may face short-term disruptions due to the sudden shift in exchange rates.
According to him, this could result in increased costs for imported raw materials, leading to potential price adjustments for end consumers.
“To mitigate these disruptions, businesses may need to explore alternative sourcing strategies and adjust their pricing models,” Onyema said
Mr Dele Alimi, Director General, Institute of Directors of Nigeria appealed to the Federal Government to take total control of the mineral sector.
He said: “The mineral sector over the years has been poorly handled by previous governments as host communities have been left impoverished by illegal mining activities.”
Alimi described the subsidy removal and unification of the foreign exchange as bold steps by the Federal Government, saying that it was a necessity for economic revival.
He urged more emphasis should be placed on efficiency of governance than cost of governance.
Dr Chijiokr Ekechukwu, Vice President of ACCI, urged the Federal Government to fix the refineries and dvocated alternative sources of energy for cars to cushion the effect of the petrol subsidy removal.
According to him, 60 per cent of cars in the United States run on electricity, adding, “that is where we should be headed for.”
He expressed concern that while the unification of foreign exchange rate brought checks and balances and better accountability, saying, “the high exchange has affected prices of goods and services.
“The inflation rate continues to coast upwards and there is a high cost of production, criminality, low standard of living and unemployment has risen above 33 per cent to 35 per cent.’’
Mr Asishana Okauru, the Director General of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, represented by Olarenwaju Ajibasile said the cost of governance needed to be channelled to the local sector.
“Pattronising locally made products will bost the local economy,’’ he said.
Olasupo Agbaje, General Manager Economic Regulations, Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) said that efficiency in the downstream operations was key in sustaining the petrol subsidy removal.
“What we hope for and where we want to be is not just the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) being the sole supplier.
“We want other operators, the private sector coming in and this is one of the objectives of the Petroleum Industry Act,” Agbaje said.
Tinubu’s Ministers Resign
The Minister of Interior, Tunji Olubunmi-Ojo, and the Minister of State for Education, Tanko Sununu, have officially resigned from the House of Representatives.
Their letters of resignation were read on the floor of the House on Tuesday by Speaker Tajudeen Abbas.
Messrs Olubunmi-Ojo and Sununu were appointed by President Bola Tinubu and cleared by the Senate in August, however, the House had been on recess since July.
While Mr Olubunmi-Ojo represented the Akoko North-east/Akoko North-west federal constituency of Ondo State, Mr Sununu was the representative of the Yauri/Shanga/Ngaski federal constituency of Kebbi State in the lower chamber.
Section 68 of the 1999 Constitution provides that a member shall cease to be a member if appointed as minister.
“(1) A member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives shall vacate his seat in the House of which he is a member if -he becomes President, Vice-President, Governor, Deputy Governor or a Minister of the Government of the Federation or a Commissioner of the Government of a State or a Special Adviser,” the section reads.
New member sworn-in
Meanwhile, Salisu Majigiri (PDP, Katsina) was sworn in as a member of the House at the resumption of plenary.
Mr Majigiri was declared the winner of the 25 February election for Mashi/Dutsi federal constituency of Katsina State after polling 27,387 votes to defeat his closest rival, Mansir Ali of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who polled 20,596 votes.
However, his candidacy was challenged by Nazifi Yusuf at the Supreme Court, which In April, affirmed the candidacy of Mr Majigiri.
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