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Audit Query: Reps Cttee Grills Minister, officials over excessive Loss of revenue

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***Also for Non Redition of Audited Account, expenditure of Service Wide Vote

***As minister claims ignorance, begs for more time

The Public Account Committee (PAC), of the House of Representatives on Monday grilled the Minister of
of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo along with Heads of Parastatals and top officials of the Ministry on several queries from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation.
The queries were on issues ranging from issuance of capital allowances to several companies without proper documentation to back them up, non return of audited accounts to expenditure from Service Vide Vote from 2013 to date.

In his opening remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Hon Oluwole Oke ( PDP-Osun) explained to the Minister that before the coming of the Finance Act, only Permanent Secretaries were being invited to answer such queries, adding that with the coming into effect of the 2020 Finance Act, invitations are now being extended to Ministers.

He explained that the mission of the Committee was to bring Head of agencies under the Ministry that have refused over time to respond to invitation to come and answer to queries from the Auditor General, but rather consistently give one excuse or the other for their failure honour such invitations

According to him, “These people are appointees of the President through your office. By the provisions of the constitution, the President has often come to the National Assembly and yet, his appointees refused to come.
“If they cannot do the job they are asked to do, they should resign because there are those ready to do the job.

“We did not want to get to the level of issuing warrant of arrest for the Heads of agencies. We felt that if we invite you and ask you to come with them, they will respect you and come. We were right, today, they are here with you.

“We want them to come and explain to the Nigerian people how they spent public resources in their disposal. Is that too much to ask?
“If the President will come to the parliament, why wont his appointees? It is for accountability and transparency, the Parliament is not after anyone, even as you are here today physically, the Director General of the Standard Organization of Nigeria, (SON), is still not here, he has been avoiding the Committee, he has always been seeking for an extension of time for our invitations”

The Minister however appealed to the Committee to give him and his team more time to fine tune their documents and come back to them for proper defence of the audit queries.

He stated that the issues raised in the queries were just being brought to his notice at the hearing, stressing that he would need time to sit with his offficials and the Permanent Secretary to prepare a more comprehensive answer to the queries.

The Minister assured that he would personally come back to the Committee with the Permanent secretary for the presentation which the Committee obliged him in the spirit of fair heating

In the documents presented before the Committee, it revealed that the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment had issued about 4,672 certificate of capital allowance worth about N7,865,186,245,398.81 to 2, 203 companies between January 2017 and December 2021.

The documents also revealed that within the same period the Ministry recorded what they described as disallowance (finding after an audit that a business or individual taxpayer was not entitled to a deduction or other tax benefit claimed on a tax return) of N101.553 billion.

Capital Allowance is the practice of allowing a tax payer to get tax relief on capital expenditure by allowing it to be deducted against their annual taxable income.

It is akin to a tax deductible expenses and are available in respect of qualifying capital expenditure incurred on the provision of certain assets in use for the purposes of a trade or rental services and effectively allow a tax payer to write off the cost of an asset over a period of time.

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Legislature

NASS Clerk wades into DSS, Staff face-off, tells security operatives to be civil

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***Reads riot act

Apparently piqued by the commotion caused by the alleged brutality of some top staff of the National Assembly on Friday by the personnel of the Department of State Services (DSS), the Clerk to the National Assembly(CNA), Alhaji Sani Magaji Tambawal has read the riot act to all security operatives in the complex.
He charged them to be civil in carrying out their duties at all times.
A statement signed by Birma Shuaibu Maina, Secretary, Human Resources and Staff Development on behalf of the CNA pointed out that the top management of the National Assembly was aware of the unfortunate incident that happened on Friday, 17th May, 2024.
It further said the CNA and top management team visited Comrade Odo at the National Assembly Clinic and immediately called for an emergency meeting between the Management, Security Personnel and Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) officials during which the “unfortunate incident” was deliberated upon and unanimously resolved as follows:
“That DSS and other Security operatives should work in harmony with the Sergeant-At-Arms.
“All security operatives within the National Assembly Complex should be civil in the discharge of their duties.
“All members of Staff should always display their I. D. cards for easy identification”.
Finally, the CNA and the top management appealed to the staff to be “calm, peaceful and law abiding as the situation is under control”.
It will be recalled that a face-off between the DSS and some staff of the National Assembly Friday, led to the brutalization of two senior staff of NASS leading to demonium at the complex

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Natasha makes case for local industries development

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***Pays courtesy call on SMEDAN DG

The Chairman Senate Committee on Local Content, Senator Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, on Thursday, made a strong case for the development of Local industries through creation of a market for local manufacturers rather than just training them in their existing skills.


She spoke when she met with the Director General, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Charles Odii, to make case for the growth of local factories and the manufacturing of made-in-Nigeria products.

The meeting, also attended by Senator Ede Dafinone, Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Content, focused on developing local content, investing in local manufacturers, and strengthening homemade products to boost the economy and create jobs for youth.


Senator Akpoti-Uduaghan emphasised the need to support local manufacturers and promote made-in-Nigeria products, highlighting the potential of local products like handwoven fabrics (popularly known as Kitipa in Ebira parlance), which can be used to produce shoes for military, paramilitary, and Corps members. This, she noted, would reduce importation and boost the economy.

“You cannot teach a local person how to make shea butter or black soap. They already know it. But what they need is market and access to finance.
“Local manufacturers need training on how to access markets and brand their products for international export. They already possess the skills, but need guidance on branding and marketing,” she stated.

Senator Akpoti-Uduaghan cited examples of successful international partnerships, such as the French cosmetics company L’occitane and Burkina Faso’s Shea butter industry, and Zara and Ethiopia’s cotton industry. She suggested that Nigeria could similarly partner with international brands like Prada or Louis Vuitton to boost its leather industry, creating revenue and downstream sectors.

The lawmaker criticised the government’s ‘50,000-era enterprise’ initiative, stating that it does not effectively support local industries.

She also emphasised the need for agencies like SON and NAFDAC to be more accessible and responsive to small-scale businesses.

By harnessing the local content of every part of the country, growing and strengthening it to produce in commercial quantity for local consumption and export, Senator Akpoti-Uduaghan believes that Nigeria can create more jobs, reduce importation, and boost the economy.

In his remarks, the SMEDAN boss promised to create a viable market for local content industry by working closely with the National Assembly to encourage local manufacturers to boost the local products that are needed in the country and valued outside the shores of Nigeria.

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Senate okays establishment of North West Development Commission

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The Senate has approved the North West Development Commission (NWDC) bill to address the challenges facing the seven states in the geopolitical zone.

The approval came after the consideration and adoption of the report of the Committee on Special Duties on the NWDC (Establishment).

The bill to establish the commission was sponsored by t

The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Barau Jibrin and 20 other senators from the seven states in the North West geopolitical zone sponsored the bill to establish the commission
Chairman of the committee, Sen. Shehu Lawan Kaka (APC, Borno Central) moved the motion for the presentation and consideration of the report, while Sen. Ireti Kingibe (LP, FCT) seconded it.
Presenting the committee’s report, Senator Kaka pointed out that the intent and purpose of the bill are well structured and strategically streamlined for the socio-economic development of the North West geopolitical zone of the country.

He added that the commission’s establishment would bring the federal government closer to the North Western states and meet the yearnings and aspirations of the people.
He, therefore, urged the Senate to pass the bill.

When the bill was put to vote by the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Barau I Jibrin, who presided over the plenary, the senators unanimously supported it.

In his remarks, Senator Barau commended his colleagues for supporting the bill’s passage.

When established, he said the commission would address the challenges facing the geopolitical zone and, by extension, the country.

Describing the North West as the food basket of the country, he said the commission, when established, will work towards the restoration of infrastructure destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents and bandits in the region.

” So if we are serious about ensuring we have food and for food security to be attained in this country, we must provide the necessary infrastructure for all our key sectors to thrive well.

“This commission is needed. I commend you all for supporting this; no one said no. Everybody supported this idea. So, now we are pushing the Bill to the House of Representatives for their approval and then to Mr President for assent,” he said.

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