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Unexpected revenue losses threaten N17.126trillion 2022 budget implementation



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****Customs, Immigration raises alarm over possible incapacitation

….NAFDAC  Warehouses three year capital votes

Funding for the N17.126trillion 2022 budget may not be realizable as some of the revenue generating agencies are complaining of different forms of hiccups.
This was happening as the Director General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control ( NAFDAC), Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, lamented that the 2018, 2019 and 2020 budget of the agency were not passed by the National Assembly leading to warehousing of revenues generated by it for capital expenditure.
Complaints on meeting revenue targets by  affected revenue generating agencies came to the fore during the one day interactive session the Senate leadership and its Finance Committee had with them .
The Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service ( NIS), Col Hameed Ali ( Rtd), said some provisions of the 2022 Finance Act, have robbed Customs of its operational mandate on some revenue collections.

He specifically cited section 22 and 61(a) of the Act , incapacitating Customs from collecting some taxes like import duties.
“Mr President of the Senate , Distinguished Senators , I thank you for organising this interactive session on the need for improvement by all revenue generating agencies as far as internally generated revenues are concerned and funding of the 2022 budget are concerned .

“However let me bring to the notice of this gathering that some provisions of he Finance Act 2022, are incapacitating Customs from such revenue drive .
“Section 22 of the Finance Act 2022 seeks to amend the Federal Inland Revenue Service law Section 68 (1), (2), (3), (4) and (6) by allowing the Act to takes precedent over any other laws with regards to the administration of taxes, assessment, accounting, collection and enforcement of taxes and levies due to the Federal Government and the federation of Nigeria.

“When the law was signed, it did not state clearly, the extent and scope of the taxes and levies in question. We are aware that the taxes and levies under the responsibilities of the FIRS are income tax, personal income tax, capital gain tax, VAT and so on.
“However, the amendment is so wide and open that we in the Nigerian Customs Service took it that it had hindered our ability to collect levies and  other collections.
“Our understanding of the provisions is that all other laws which mandated us to collect are inconsistent with the new Act, then they are voided. This means that the law that mandates us to collect as revenue generating agencies, are voided completely. This means that we do not have the responsibilities to collect levies. If we don’t have the responsibilities to collect, what are we going to discuss here.
“We have consulted with lawyers and the conclusion is that the Act is confusing and if other revenue generating agencies decided to act on the provisions, they may decide not to collect  duties and levies”.
Making similar lamentation, the Director of Finance, Nigeria Immigration Service ( NIS), Professor Aba Georg, said the  N400billion the agency supposed to be generating as revenue on yearly basis is being cornered by UK based  firm, handing most of its outsourced services and operations .

According to him, contract on the outsourced services and operations given to the UK based firm on behalf of Nigeria Immigration Service in  2003 , gives  government 33% of proceeds , Immigration 7% while  the remaining 60% is cornered by the firm .

” This is our 7th time of tabling this complaint before the Senate or the House of Representatives . Please rescue us from the hook of this firm.

“The contract was entered into without the knowledge of Immigration since 2003 and those behind it , keep on renewing it and denying us about N400billion revenue on yearly basis .
“It is a rip-off and purely one sided contract bleeding Immigration and Nigeria financially on yearly basis “, he lamented .

Apparently piaued by the submission , the President of the Senate , Ahmad Lawan , directed the Committee Chairman, Senator Olamilekan Adeola ( APC Lagos West), to summon the Ministry of Interior for all the contract documents.

“This is unacceptable . We cannot continue like this. We must see the end of this contract in the National Interest “, he said.

On complaints made by the Customs boss, Lawan said, “I wonder why the Ministry of Finance is not here because we need their intervention now. Their presence here would have provided some clarifications. We took it for granted that since it was an executive bill, that there were some engagements among the agencies of the Federal Government.

“We also called for public hearing so that we could exrayed it. You are saying that you don’t have the legal mandate to collect taxes and it is a scary revelation.

“The Senate Committee on Finance and the Ministry of Finance and other agencies would look at the Act. If it is established beyond reasonable doubts that we need to amend it, we will do so without delay.

‘It will be the fastest amendment because we need you to collect more monies for the  Federal Government”

But Senator Adeola in his own response said the section cited by the Customs boss , was not targeted at the agency .

“What necessitated that singular act was as a result of the issue between the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission and the FIRS. There were clashes between them from time to time. Some activities of RMFAC were not in tandem with the Act that established it. We discovered that the only way that we can make their roles explicit is through the Finance Act concerning the assessment and accounting of taxes.
“We discovered that RMFAC are going to agencies to audit their tax accounts which is not part of their responsibilities based on the law that established RMFAC.
“The only agencies saddled with that responsibility is the FIRS. That was what that law tends to address. We are ready to look into it again if other revenue generating agencies believe that it has hindered them from performing their responsibilities and we would amend it accordingly”, he said

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Kogi Assembly, CSO partner on HIV/AIDS anti-stigma legislation




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By Friday Idachaba, Lokoja

Kogi State House of Assembly has assured that the bill for a Law to provide for the prevention of HIV and AIDS Based Discrimination and stigmatization will be accorded smooth and accelerated passage for full implementation in the state.

Deputy Speaker of the Assembly Rt Hon. Comfort Nwuchiola Egwaba, disclosed this at a One-day Capacity Building And Media Round Table on the Proposed Anti-stigma Bill For HIV With Kogi State Assembly members.

She said that the partnership between the House and Initiative for Grassroots Advancement in Nigeria (INGRA), a Civil Society Organization (CSO,) had yielded fruits with the resounding support of members for the bill.

The meeting aimed at building capacity of Kogi State Assembly members and Media personalities on the issue of HIV stigma and discrimination among others, was organized by INGRA with support from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) in Lokoja.

The Deputy Speaker said that the private member Bill before the House had had its first and second readings and was being primed for Public Hearing and Third Reading by the House Committees on Health and Judiciary.

Nwuchiola-Egwaba said, “We have done more than justice to the Bill. This bill will scale through and will see the light of day. We are not living any stone unturned. We are doing this for our people.”

Also speaking, sponsor of the Bill, Hon. Bin Ebaiya Shehu-Tijjani (APC-Lokoja I) thanked his colleagues for the fervour with which they rallied support round him for the Bill to scale through the legislative mills and urged them to sustain the tempo until it is finally assented to by the governor.

Chairman of the House Committee on Health, Ochidi Usman (APC-Idah) decried the spate of discrimination and stigmatization against people living with the virus saying that they did not bargain for it.

He described them as victims of circumstances as he thanked the sponsor of the Bill and pledged to stand by him to provide support for the Bill to have accelerated passage.

Speaking earlier, Mr Hamza Aliyu Executive Director of INGRA who described the bill as a “Policy Bill” said it was not just for HIV/AIDS alone but against every form of discrimination and stigmatization against affected persons in the state.

He hinted that available statistics showed that over 28,000 persons are living with the virus in the state adding that they could be more as many are not aware of their status and are quite unwilling to get tested for fear of discrimination and stigmatization.

Aliyu said the Bill had been passed in 16 states of the Federation and would only be fair for the Act to be domesticated in Kogi through the legislation to ensure that affected persons are not unnecessarily discriminated against.

Executive Secretary, Kogi State Agency for Control of AIDS (KOSACA), Dr Sheidu Yunusa, who explained some of the provisions of the law, the offences and punishment said stigmatization and discrimination had the potency to destroy all the efforts being made to end the HIV scourge.

Dr Yunusa gave examples of stigmatization and discrimination against Persons Living with HIV (PL-HIV) to include health care professionals refusing to provide care or services to an affected person, Refusing casual contact with someone living with HIV.

It also include among others, socially isolating a member of a community on account of HIV positive status, referring to people as HiVers or Positives, Unlawful disclosure of an affected person’s status.

Amb. Idris Ozovehe Muraina, Chairman, Kogi NGOs Network (KONGONET) said, “we should not see this law as draconian but an attempt to squelch discrimination against out affected brothers and sisters.”

Comrade Jimoh Audu, Kogi State Coordinator of Persons Living With HIV AIDS (PLWHA) commended INGRA and the House of Assembly for their determination to get the Bill passed.

“We appreciate the meeting of our leaders, we believe in you. All we are asking it to reduce to the barest minimum the issue of discrimination against us. The medical practitioners should be more professional in their conduct”, he said.

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Senate moves to probe 11, 856 abandoned projects across Nigeria




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***sets up ad-hoc panel

The Senate has pun in place an ad-panel to investigate the number of viable projects abandoned across Nigeria in all sectors.

The committee is also to recommend appropriate actions to be taken to reduce project abandonment in Nigeria and how most of the projects can be recovered.

The member Ad-hoc committee comprised Senators Lola Shiru (chairman), Jimoh Ibrahim, Mpigi Barinada, Abdullahi Yahaya, Victor Umeh and Isah Jibrin, members.

This came following the adoption of a motion on “Urgent need to look into the 11, 856 mega projects abandoned by the Federal Government” sponsored by Senator Jimoh Ibrahim (Ondo South).

The Senate noted that in 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan set up a Presidential committee on federal government- abandoned projects in Nigeria and the committee visited the 36 states in Nigeria and identified 11,866 projects abandoned by the Federal Government since Nigeria’s independence in 1960.
According to Senator Ibrahim, reports have it that about 63% of the entire projects since independence were abandoned, adding that the 63% of projects abandoned in Nigeria is worse than any country under comparison”.

“The abandonment of the project is of significant concern because of project costs which constitute a significant part of the GDP. While spending on a public project in the UK is now about one trillion British pounds Nigeria has no idea of the total amount spent on public projects either successful or unsuccessful since independence,

He observed, for instance that in the investigation carried out at the University of Cambridge doctorate in management science between 2018 and 2022, the value of the 38 projects investigated cost Nigeria over $40 billion”.

“What is now key to this investigation is the need to look inward at our infrastructural development as Foreign Direct investment declined from$8.8b in 2011 to $3.3 billion in 2019, and the current account balances in that year from $10.6 billion to 5-17 billion, while the population was growing around 5% about 86% of the citizen, were living under $2 between 2011 and 2019. Public debt increased from 17% of the GDP in 2011 to 29% in 2019.

According to him, government has the responsibility to set up a professional system that will deliver the critical value from major infrastructure development for its citizens, adding that for 66% of projects to be abandoned since 1960 is “nothing less than a calamity that reduces our pride as a ‘Giant of Africa’ if we are still one”.

He said three abandoned projects out of the 11,886 projects such as Ajaokuta Steel Company, where billion of dollars was spent without any production, Second Niger Bridge, etc are over 30% of the national debt.

In his contribution, Senator Orji Kalu (Abia North) said Nigeria cannot industrialize without steel production.

The former Abia governor said “we should face steel production. If we don’t face it, we are wasting our time. If you check our debt repayment, it is coming on this project.

“Why would Nigeria be suffering on what ought to have been done? We supposed to convert that our money and build these industries for debt repayment on them and save the interest we pay?

“We should appeal to President Bola Tinubu, may be 2026, 2027 budget we dedicate all these industries. They are our own. If we do not do it we will not move forward”, he said.

Senator Isah Jibrin said the abandoned projects should be properly profiled and the viable ones be sold to bring return on investment.

In his remarks, the Senate President Godswill Akpabio said Nigeria cannot be using over 90% of its resources to pay interest on loans.

The committee was given one month to report back to the Senate.

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Convert Oloibiri Shell Airstrip to Airforce Base, Senate tells Aviation Ministry, Airforce




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Senate has urged Ministry of Aviation, Nigeria Airforce to take possession and convert the abandoned Shell Airstrip at Oloibiri oil well in Bayelsa state to modern Airforce base.

This followed adoption of a motion on urgent need for transformation of the abandoned Shell Airstrip at Oloibiri Oil Well 1 in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State to an Air Force Base.
The senator representing Bayelsa East SundayAgadaga (PDP) who sponsored the motion said Shell airstrip was constructed in 1958 following the first discovery of crude oil in 1956 at Oloibiri Oil well one.
According to him the airstrip, sitting on over 25 hecters of land has long been abandoned.
Agadaga said that the airstrip, while in effective operation, was a very valuable asset in the company’s oil exploration and exploitation activities in airlifting of personnel and equipment.
He said during the years of its functionality, heavy duty equipment, company workers, captains of Industry, top government functionaries and diplomats resorted to the route for easy access to the Niger Delta region.

He expressed regret that since the gradual decline of Shell’s operations in the area and final departure from Oloibiri oil field, the airstrip and the land where it operated has been abandoned and left desolate.

“The land itself appears to have been sentenced to perpetual condemnation as no agricultural activity which is the economic mainstay of the local dwellers can be carried out anymore due to the concretized topography of the soil.”

According to him, the abandoned airstrip poses environmental challenges and serious ecological complications to the Host Community as Shell has left the people in deprivation, squalor and lamentation after decades of operation.

He observed that upgrading the abandoned airstrip to an airforce base would bring renewed hope to the people, restore life to the area and attract the following benefits to the country:

“It will strengthen the security architecture of Nigeria as the creeks of Bayelsa up to Brass Island and the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in the gulf of guinea where the oil export terminal is located will be easily monitored and protected.”
said its evental upgrade would reduce the rate of oil theft and pipeline vandalism.

This, he said would enhance surveillance activities in the numerous oil producing communities that constitute hub of oil industry activities in Nigeria.

He said the airstrip ,if converted to an airforce base would attract more business opportunities in the area thereby creating additional jobs to boost economic growth of Nigeriaa and ease the cost of living of the people.

Senator representing Kogi East Isah Jibrin (APC) said he was neither in support or against the motion pointing out that the cost implications of converting the airstrip to an airforce base would be huge, adding that government may not be dispose to consider the cost involved.

He said government may decide to confine the project on a long term basis, saying that he do not see the urgency in converting the airstrip to an airforce base at this period.

Sen. Adams Oshiomole (APC-Edo) said the conversion of the airstrip to an airforce base holds great benefits for Nigerians and people of the region especially on quick intervention on insecurity issues.

Sen. Maidoki Garuba (PDP-Kebbi) said the conversion would help strengthen security of the nation, check crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism.

Sen.Victor Umeh (LP-Anambra) said there was need to preserve certain historical monuments like Oloibiri, adding that the conversion of the airstrip to an airforce base would make Oloibiri a national monument, given its contribution as the first oil well in Nigeria.

He said the conversion would also ensure further economic prosperity for the nation.

President of Senate, Godswill Akpabio said efforts should be made to preserve historical monuments, like the Oloibiri Shell airstrip via its conversion to an airforce base.

He also said the conversion to an airforce base would also ensure improved security in terms of emergency, given its closeness to the golf of guinea.

Akpabio expressed hope that the government would see the need for the reconstruction of the airstrip to an airforce base to forestall challenges in the event of any mishaps.

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