…I Stand By My Submission- Ndume
… Prove Your Allegations Or Keep Quiet-Presidency
Following a reply by a presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, to Senator Ali Ndume (Borno South),
the war of words between the Presidency the former Leader of the Senate may not end soon.
Ndume, had at a press briefing in Borno State, called for the immediate sack of COVID-19 Palliatives Measures Committee headed by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadia Umar Farouq.
The APC Senator representing Borno South picked holes in the way and manner distribution of palliatives to Nigerians at this critical time of COVID-19 lockdown is being handled by the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry.
Ndume who kicked against the approach adopted by the Ministry in a chat with journalists said the emergency national assignment should be taken away from the Ministry and given to a fresh committee that will use governors of the 36 States as links of distribution across the federation.
His words, “My concern is the manner and the way the COVID-19 palliative measures provided by the president is being handled or executed. We have received numerous complaints and it is actually very unfortunate.
“In fact, left to me, I am strongly calling for the humanitarian committee headed by the minister of Humanitarian Affairs to be dissolved with immediate effect and the president should as a matter of urgency, form a taskforce that would deal with the issue of palliatives, headed by the military, police, civil defence, voluntary organisations, and the NYSC among others.
“It should be formed as taskforce committee headed by governor of each state, and those materials or cash be allocated and distributed house to house, instead of the fake or dubious way they have been handling the matter by just going to Television House or Government House to demonstrate.
“If you see a Minister or big person anywhere going personally to do something, then know that there is something wrong. If not, what has the Minister got to do with going from state to distribute palliative? They should be in the ministry monitoring the activities.
“While the pitiable situation of the poor is visible to everyone, few individuals are rushing to squander the money meant for the poor.
“We have reliable information that the names they generated are fake and that they connived with some of the banks to defraud the poor. It is better to stop the exercise because it is full of lies and if the president don’t do something to stop it now, we will end up investigating and later on going back and forward to the court.”
However, in his reply to Ndume’s claims, Shehu urged the Borno South senator to prove his claims instead of accusing unnamed faces in his latest attack.
In a statement issued on Friday in Abuja, the Presidency accused Ndume of politicising a national emergency and challenged him to name the alleged kleptocrats in Buhari’s government.
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The SUN reports that Shehu in the statement, urged Ndume to keep quiet as according to him, no serious government changes a winning team in times of war.
The statement titled: ‘Senator Ali Ndume should figure out his mentioned kleptocrats around the President or be quiet’, reads in part, “Claiming that the COVID-19 Palliative Measures Committee is not functioning as it should be not the same as presenting proof for such a claim.
“No one replaces an institutional government body in the midst of the global pandemic without clear and irrefutable evidence that it needs replacing.
“A press briefing from a discontented politician is rarely the source of such evidence.
“At this difficult time of the battle by Nigeria against Coronavirus, everyone should help the fight and not seek to make political capital out of it, whatever his or her grievances.”
But in his reaction to the statement, Ndume said he stands by his observations and recommendations as far as distribution of palliatives arising from COVID-19 is concerned.
Ndume, who reacted through a telephone conversation, however, said he was not ready to join issues with anybody having made his observations known.
“I’m not ready to join issues with anybody on palliatives distribution, having made my observations known based on information I got from the grassroots as a grassroots person. I’ve made my position known on the programme and I stand by it,” 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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