Tag Archives: federal government

Buhari’s FG set to return toll gates, as 11 highways are set for concession

The Federal Government will on Friday (today) receive the Outline Business Case Certificate of Compliance for 12 pilot federal highways billed for concession.

The concession of the roads may also signify the return of toll gates as concessionaires will have to recoup their investments.

It was learnt from the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing in Abuja that the 12 roads were under the ministry’s Highway Development Management Initiative.

Our correspondent gathered that the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission would hand over the certificate to the ministry today at the FMWH headquarters in Abuja.

It was further gathered that the 12 highways combined represent about 1,963km and less than 5.6 per cent of Nigeria’s 35,000km federal highway network.

The 12 routes of the pilot phase include Benin-Asaba, Abuja-Lokoja, Kano-Katsina, Onitsha-Owerri, Shagamu-Benin and Abuja-Keffi-Akwanga.

Others include Kano-Shuari and Potiskum-Damaturu, Lokoja-Benin, Enugu-Port Harcourt, Ilorin-Jebba, Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta, and Lagos-Badagry-Seme border.

A document on the objectives of the HDMI stated that the initiative would attract sustainable investment/funding in the development of road infrastructure.

It said the HDMI would maximise the use of assets along the right-of-way and develop other highway furniture.

The HDMI, according to the ministry, targets to develop an ecosystem along the federal highway network by bringing multi-dimensional resources of skills, finance, technology and efficiency into national highway governance.

It stated that the home-grown initiative would become the lasting solution to the development, management and maintenance of Nigeria’s 35,000km federal highways.

PUNCH

Arewa Youths Reply Miyetti Allah: Fulani Own No Land In Nigeria

Following the statement made by the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore that Fulani herdsmen own all the lands in Nigeria, the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, AYCF has reacted.

AYCF National President, Yerima Shettima insisted that nobody owns any land in Nigeria.

Speaking with newsmen, Shettima said the government owns all the lands in the country, contrary to the group’s remark.

Bello Abdullahi Bodejo, the group leader, had made the remark while insisting that no power can remove Fulani herdsmen from any forests in any state.

Bedejo was reacting to the seven-day ultimatum given to Fulani herdsmen in Ondo forests by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu.

Following the ultimatum which expired yesterday, Southwest governors had banned all forms of open grazing in the region.

Reacting, Shettima said: “That is a stupid talk, nobody own lands, the government owns them.

NIN deadline stands, as NCC awaits govt’s advice

The Nigerian Communications Commission on Wednesday said it was awaiting the advice of the Federal Government as regards the deadline for the integration of Subscriber Identification Modules with valid National Identity Numbers.

It also stated that the earlier announced deadlines were still in force despite the clamour for extension or outright suspension of the registration process.

Calls for deadline extension were mainly due to the large crowds that gather daily at the various offices of the National Identity Management Commission.

The Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Ikechukwu Adinde, told our correspondent in Abuja that no deadline extension had been approved.

He said, “Right now, apart from the recent information that we made concerning the extension, no further update yet.

“The information on this matter was the one that talked about when we moved the extension to January 19 for those who have NINs and February 9 for those who do not have.”

When probed further on whether there had been moves to either extend or suspend the exercise, Adinde replied, “No, no, no; if you follow the opinion of the public, it is in favour of extending it.

“And then, of course, recently there have been concerns on the effect of COVID-19 and all that. But I am sure government is listening and once we are advised, we will go to the press and announce the new position.

“However, as it is now, we are waiting to see what happens at the end of the day, as the recent deadline extension still stands.”

The Federal Government had declared on December 15, 2020 that after December 30, 2020, all SIMs that were not registered with valid NINs on the network of telecommunications companies would be blocked.

It later extended the December 30, 2020 deadline following widespread opposition against the earlier announcement and gave three weeks’ extension for subscribers with NIN from December 30, 2020 to January 19, 2021.

It also gave six week-extension for subscribers without NIN from December 30, 2020 to February 9, 2021.

Commenting on the development, the National Coordinator, Alliance for Affordable Internet, Olusola Teniola, said the massive crowds at NIMC offices showed that it would be tough to register and integrate all SIMs with valid NINs.

“It is clear that the dates that we are trying to achieve are not going to be met,” he said.

The President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Ikechukwu Nnamani, said it was obvious that the number of persons without NINs was so large.

Covid-19 2nd Wave: How Nigerians will cause fresh lockdown-FG

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 says the attitude of Nigerians will determine the imposition of a fresh lockdown amid the second wave of the pandemic.

Recall that in March 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari imposed a locked down on the FCT, Lagos, and Ogun States for over five weeks as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic.

But speaking on a television programme on Tuesday, PTF National Coordinator, Sani Aliyu, said Nigerians need to adhere to COVID-19 protocols not to risk another lockdown.

He noted that the task force has not decided on a fresh lockdown but public attitude will determine its next line of action.

Aliyu said, “A lockdown is not going to be decided by the PTF but it is going to be decided by the behaviour of the public when it comes to these rules. We have countries abroad that have very strict non-pharmaceutical intervention measures and everybody follows it. The flights are coming in, schools are open, churches are open and they don’t have Covid problem because everybody observes the rules.

“We definitely don’t want a lockdown and because we don’t want to lockdown, we need to make sure we do everything we can to prevent ourselves from reaching that state where the government will have to take action.”

Schools may not resume January 18 due to Covid-19, says FG

The Federal Government has said that it is currently reviewing the January 18, 2021 resumption date for schools across the country due to the spike in Covid-19 cases.

It said that the date was not sacrosanct, hence the likely announcement of a new date, depending on the country’s Covid-19 indicator.

This disclosure was made by the Minister for Education, Adamu Adamu, at the resumed briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19 in Abuja on Monday, January 11, 2021.

Adamu, in his statement, said, “When we decided on that date, it was just a target toward what we are working on. Of course, we are keeping it in view and looking at what is happening in the society and then it is supposed to be subject to constant review.

“Even today at the PTF meeting, we looked at the rising figures and thought we should probably take another look at it. On the Jan.18, 2021 date for school’s resumption, we are reviewing it,” he said.

The Minister also added that the issue was considered at the PTF meeting held on Monday, and the ministry would take it up on Tuesday.

Recall that the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, in December 2020, directed that schools across the country should remain closed until January 18, 2021, due to the surge in Covid-19 cases.

The Director-General of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, had warned that a significant rise in Covid-19 infections appeared imminent by January 2021 due to continued violations of safety protocols, especially during the Christmas period.

FG’s plans to borrow from dormant accounts, unclaimed dividends is illegal, says SERAP

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him to use his leadership position “to promptly drop the plan by the Federal Government to borrow about N895bn of unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts using the patently unconstitutional and illegal Finance Act, 2020, and to ensure full respect for Nigerians’ right to property.”

The Finance Act, signed into law by Buhari last December, would allow the government to borrow unclaimed dividends and dormant account balances owned by Nigerians in any bank in the country.

But SERAP in a letter dated 9 January 2021 and signed by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare said: “The right to property is a sacred and fundamental right. Borrowing unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts amounts to an illegal expropriation, and would hurt poor and vulnerable Nigerians who continue to suffer under reduced public services, and ultimately lead to unsustainable levels of public debt.”

SERAP said: “The right to property extends to all forms of property, including unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts. Borrowing these dividends and funds without due process of law, and the explicit consent of the owners is arbitrary, and as such, legally and morally unjustifiable.”

According to SERAP, “The borrowing is neither proportionate nor necessary, especially given the unwillingness or inability of the government to stop systemic corruption in ministries, departments and agencies [MDAs], cut waste, and stop all leakages in public expenditures. The borrowing is also clearly not in pursuit of a public or social interest.”

The letter reads in part: “The security of property, next to personal security against the exertions of government, is of the essence of liberty. It is next in degree to the protection of personal liberty and freedom from undue interference or molestation. Our constitutional jurisprudence rests largely upon its sanctity.

“Rather than pushing to borrow unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts, your government ought to move swiftly to cut the cost of governance, ensure review of jumbo salaries and allowances of all high-ranking political office holders, and address the systemic corruption in MDAs, as well as improve transparency and accountability in public spending.”

“The borrowing also seems to be discriminatory, as it excludes government’s owned official bank accounts, and may exclude the bank accounts of high-ranking government officials and politicians, thereby violating constitutional and international prohibition of discrimination against vulnerable groups, to allow everyone to fully enjoy their right to property and associated rights on equal terms.

“SERAP is concerned that the government has also repeatedly failed and/or refused to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of recovered stolen assets, and the loans so far obtained, which according to the Debt Management Office, currently stands at $31.98 billion.

“SERAP notes growing allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the spending of these loans and recovered stolen assets.

“We would be grateful if your government would drop the decision to borrow unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts, and to indicate the measures being taken to send back the Finance Act to the National Assembly to repeal the legislation and remove its unconstitutional and unlawful provisions, including Sections 60 and 77, within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter.

“If we have not heard from you by then as to the steps being taken in this direction, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to implement these recommendations in the public interest, and to promote transparency and accountability in public spending.

“The government cannot lawfully enforce the provisions on Crisis Intervention Fund and Unclaimed Funds Trust Fund under the guise of a trust arrangement, as Section 44(2)[h] of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] is inapplicable, and cannot justify the establishment of these funds.

“SERAP notes that while targeting the accounts of ordinary Nigerians, the Finance Act exempts official bank accounts owned by the federal government, state government or local governments or any of their ministries, departments or agencies.

“Our requests are brought in the public interest, and in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution, the country’s international human rights obligations including under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party, and which has been domesticated as part of the country’s domestic legislation.

“According to our information, your government has reportedly completed plans to borrow an estimated N895bn of unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts using the Finance Act 2020 you recently signed into law.

“Under the law, the government will be able to access and take without consent unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts in any bank, on the basis of the vague and undefined ‘Crisis Intervention Fund,’ and patently unlawful ‘Unclaimed Funds Trust Fund’.”

“The government is justifying the borrowing on the ground that it would improve access of the Federal Government to much needed funds, and remove the burdens of foreign exchange and punitive loan conditions imposed by multilateral lenders.

“According to the Finance Act, the operation of the trust fund is to be supervised by the Debt Management Office (DMO) and governed by a governing council chaired by the finance minister and a co-chairperson from the private sector appointed by you.

“The Nigerian Constitution in Section 44(1) provides that, ‘no moveable property or any interest in an immovable property shall be taken possession of compulsorily and no right over or interest in any such property shall be acquired compulsorily in any part of Nigeria except in the manner and for the purposes prescribed by a law.’

“Similarly, Article 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantee the right to property, and prohibit the arbitrary deprivation of the right. Thus, everyone is entitled to own property alone as well as in association with others.

“Respect for the right to property is important to improve the enjoyment of other basic human rights, and to lift Nigerians out of poverty. The Nigerian Constitution and international human rights law limit the ability of any government to interfere with private property without any legal justifications.”

The letter is copied to Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

The police still ranks number one in corruption in Nigeria – Activist Eholor

Democracy Observer-General and social crusader, Comrade Patrick Eholor has decried the continued rot of corruption eating up the Nigerian Police Force.

Eholor, who made exhaustive but damning reference to a report by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), expressed that it has become expedient that a total reform be carried out in the Police Force, if the government considers its corruption war serious at all.

“As we begin to enter into a New Year, it saddens me that the road to a new Nigeria is still far away, since despite the efforts we made during #EndSARS, no effort has been made to clean up the Police Force.

“What they are doing is window dressing, while the real puke is still right there in the police. Take for instance this report by SERAP. It says that the police is number one in bribery and corruption, out of all the public institutions they surveyed.

“Looking at the survey, it says that “a bribe is paid in 54 per cent of interactions with the police. In fact, there is a 63 per cent probability that an average Nigerian would be asked to pay a bribe each time he or she interacted with the police. That is almost two out of three.”

The survey, which was presented to our reporter by Eholor, quoted the chair of the report launch, Akin Oyebode, as saying: “Nigeria is looked upon as a giant of Africa. Yet Nigeria could not conduct free, fair and credible elections. It is a smear on the image of Nigeria. If we do away with selective enforcement and condonation of corruption, we will build and live in a better society. Corruption is a refined form of stealing. The politicians are stealing our common patrimony. Development of the people is almost inversely proportional to the level of corruption.”

Part of the survey report stated: “Corruption remains a significant impediment to law enforcement, access to justice and basic public services such as affordable healthcare, education, and electricity supply. Several Nigerians have to pay a bribe to access police, judiciary, power, education and health services.

“Corruption is still a key concern in the country with 70% of Nigerians describing the level of corruption as high and in the same measure, stating that corruption levels either increased or remained the same in the last five years.”

“The national survey carried out between September and December 2018, covered the police, judiciary, power, education and health sectors to assess the state of corruption in law enforcement and public service provision.”

“From the analysis of the anti-corruption legal and institutional framework in Nigeria, the following cross-cutting issues emerged: there is lack of political goodwill to consistently enforce the different anti-corruption laws; inadequate funding for the various anti-corruption agencies; weak public support and/or ownership of anti-corruption initiatives; poor clarity of roles between various anti-corruption agencies; and public perceptions of politicisation of corruption arrests and prosecutions.”

“Bribery experiences were interrogated and recorded in the key sectors of education, health, the police, judiciary and power. Data analysis was conducted under five different and interrelated variables. There was a 63 per cent probability that an average Nigerian would be asked to pay a bribe each time he/she interacted with the police. The likelihood of bribery in the power sector stood at 49 per cent. With the chances of encountering bribery at the judiciary, education and health services standing at 27 per cent, 25 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.”

“The police were the most adversely ranked on this indicator. For every 100 police interactions reported by the respondents, there was a bribe paid in 54 interactions. The prevalence levels stood at 37 per cent in the power sector and 18 per cent in education,17.7 per cent in the judiciary and 14 per cent in the health sector.”

“51 per cent of the individuals that paid bribes to the police and 35 per cent to the power sector believed this was the only way to access the services sought from the institutions. The ranking of the education sector and the judiciary was less adverse with 16 per cent perceiving bribery as the main avenue of accessing services in the institutions, and health services recording 13 per cent.”

“The police and judiciary had the largest proportion of total bribes paid at 33 per cent and 31 per cent respectively. Bribes paid for education, power and health services accounted for 19 per cent, 10.9 and 5 per cent respectively of all bribes reported. The average amount of bribe paid by the respondents was highest among those who paid to the judiciary at about Naira 108,000 (US$ 298). All the other institutions ranked lower on this variable with Naira 12,253 and 11,566 reportedly paid to the police and education sectors, and Naira 6,462 and 5,143 paid for health and power services respectively.”

“Perceptions on corruption trends in Nigeria show almost 70 per cent of the respondents perceived the current level of corruption as high compared to 15.5 per cent that felt it was low. 70 per cent of the respondents said corruption levels either increased or remained the same in the last five years. Only a quarter of the respondents felt corruption reduced in this period.”

“About 41 per cent of the respondents projected that corruption will either increase or remain the same in the next year. About a third of the respondents (31.5 per cent) believed the ruling elite are pursuing their selfish interests only, therefore, corruption levels will increase into the future. Additionally, about a quarter of the respondents (24.9 per cent) believed the current anti-corruption efforts are not comprehensive enough. The poor state of the economy was also seen as a driving factor to increased corruption at 17.2 per cent.”

“Respondents identified poor coordination among the different state players as a key obstacle at 18.4 per cent. Lack of political will from the government and weak public support were ranked second at 12 per cent. Civic action against poor governance:

54.8 per cent of the respondents reported that they had not taken any action against poor governance. That more than half of the respondents were unwilling to initiate action is alarming and points to low confidence levels that appropriate measures would be taken even if the respondents took action.”

“This assumption is buttressed by the finding that 82 per cent of the actions taken were either not responded to or deemed sufficiently appropriate. Low civic action may also indicate low levels of public awareness on what redress mechanisms exist or how to access them.”

“The federal government should establish an independent commission of inquiry to conduct a transparent, comprehensive, and impartial investigation into systemic corruption within the Nigeria Police Force, judiciary, and the ministries of power, education and health.”

“The Inspector General of Police should receive and investigate complaints of bribery and corruption against police officers filed by members of the public. The police should liaise with community leaders and civil society organisations in regard to incidents of police bribery and corruption within the community.”

“The Chief Justice of Nigeria and the National Judicial Council should identify and review all outstanding cases of judicial corruption and refer such cases to appropriate anti-corruption agencies. They should apply the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers in a consistent and transparent manner, with full respect for the fundamental guarantees of fair trial and due process.”

“The Chief Justice of Nigeria and the NJC should publish annual reports of all activities involving the judiciary, including expenditure, and provide the public with reliable information about its governance and organisation, including the number of judges found to be corrupt, as well as ensure that the Chief Justice of Nigeria and all other judges make periodic asset disclosures.”

“The National Assembly should move swiftly to amend the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act to ensure public access to asset declarations made by public officials, and urgently pass the Proceeds of Crime Bill, the Whistleblowers Bill, and the Witness Protection Bill among other relevant pieces of legislation.”

“The National Assembly should immediately publish all reports of investigations on corruption and corruption-related matters in the judiciary, education, power and health sectors among others that have been conducted by the National Assembly since the return of democracy in 1999.”

“A positive legacy by the in-coming administration on 29 May 2019 and the recently appointed Inspector General of Police will mean improving accountability of the police, and proactively working to end all forms of corruption within the rank and file of the police. The Inspector General of Police should streamline and prioritise internal control mechanisms by establishing an Ethics and Integrity Unit at each police station. The unit should include a human rights officer, an anti-corruption officer, and an officer responsible for service delivery complaints.”

“The survey targeted a total of 2,655 respondents selected from seven states spread across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria and the capital city of Abuja. The sample was proportionate to population size across these zones. The survey covered the police, judiciary, power, education and health sectors to assess the state of corruption in public law enforcement and service provision.”

“Data for the survey was collected through a survey among ordinary citizens picked through simple random sampling of Nigerians above 18 years; in-depth interviews with key governance experts including representatives of national anti-corruption bodies, trade unions, the business community, media, lawyers, academia, people living with disability and university student leaders; and a review of the legal and institutional frameworks guiding anti-corruption efforts in Nigeria to assess their effectiveness.”

BREAKING: ASUU finally calls-off strike

The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, on Wednesday called off its industrial action.

ASUU Chairman, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi disclosed this during a press briefing on Wednesday, after the union’s ongoing negotiation with the Federal Government.

Recall that ASUU had been on strike for about nine months.

The prolonged strike was due to government’s alleged delay in meeting the agreements reached with the union.

ASUU had commenced the current strike in March, 2019.

“We are going back to strive for our students to excel. We are returning to classes and appeal to parents to work with us for the revitalization of universities,” the ASUU Chairman said.

ASUU STRIKE: FG Mortgaging Future of Nigerian Students: CoalCity Youth Council

A youth organization known as CoalCity Youth Council (C.Y.C) has has said that Nigerian Government together with ASUU are frustrating the future of Nigerian Students following the nine months industrial action.

The Council through her National President, Comrade Ifebuchi Chime made this known in Enugu while arguing that, the educational system in Nigeria today is in bad shape unlike what was obtainable in early 70s, 80s, down to 90s.

He reiterated this while examining the efforts made by both Federal Government of Nigeria and Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, as they failed to reach an agreement towards calling off the ever prolonged industrial action in Nigeria which has hampered academic activities in all our Federal Institutions in the past nine months. As he described the failed process a waste of time and resources.

Chime, while issuing an appraisal on this fruitless efforts so far, opined it is quite unfortunate and disheartening to see this unbalancing gimmick games been played on the future of Nigerian students after the Minister of Labour and Employment Dr Chris Ngige announced 9th of December 2020 as the end point to the lingered strike without reaching a concrete agreement with the body of ASUU.

“Let this be sent to both bodies, especially Federal Government of Nigeria. CYC cannot afford to fold their arms as a Government and watch the future of our youths and their academic life run into ruinous. Something meaningful should be done to enable our future leaders return back to classrooms. Nigeria students are bearing the pains while two big elephants are fighting”, he noted.

The National President of the Council also emphasised that, it is the duty and responsibility of our Government to provide quality and good educational system as he charged FG to look into the recent agreement reached with the University teachers, such as full payment of six to nine months withheld salaries and check-off dues of ASUU members. Also, the N40 billion earned academic allowance and N30 billion funding for revitalisation which was supposed to be remitted since 11th day of December, 2020 based on the agreement reached with representatives of both parties.

ASUU To Call Off Strike As FG Exempts Union From IPPIS, Offers N65bn To Varsities

The Federal Government on Friday agreed to exempt the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System pending when the university lecturers will complete the development of its own payment platform- the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).

The government also agreed to ASUU’s demand to pay their members’ salary arrears from February to June through the old salary payment platform – the Government Integrated Financial and Management Information System.

After weeks of negotiations and foot – dragging, the government offered to raise the Earned Academic Allowances to university staff from N30bn to N35bn and the revitalisation fund from N20bn to N25bn.

Cumulatively, the government, through the Accountant – General of the Federation, offered the lectures N65 billion to call off their eight – month old strike.

The government also shifted grounds on a number of issues, including the insistence that all the academic staff of the federal universities must be paid through the IPPIS platform.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who read out the communique at the end of a seven-hour negotiation with ASUU members in Abuja, the funds will be shared by all the registered Trade Unions in the universities after providing necessary evidence of having earned the allowance.

“Responding to the demand for immediate payment of 50% of the initial amount allotted for the purpose (revitalisation) which translates to N110 billion, the FG stated that this is not possible because of paucity of funds.

“The government however, offered to pay N25 billion based on the Memorandum of Action (MoA) of 7th February, 2019 signed with ASUU or in the alternative, urged ASUU to accept N30 billion with the reduction in the earlier Earned Allowances.

Between the revitalisation and earned allowances, the FG has offered a cumulative sum of N65 billion.

“The Accountant – General of the Federation offered to immediately release N40 billion or in the alternative N35 billion to be shared by all the registered Trade Unions in the universities after providing the necessary evidence of having earned the allowance.

“The FG reiterated that her offer of N40 billion or 35 billion whichever is accepted by ASUU was for all the universities unions: ASUU had proposed that N40 billion be paid immediately for all unions ,” the communique said.

The breakthrough in negotiations is expected to end the eight-month strike embarked on by the university lecturers.

Before the new offer by government, ASUU had demanded N110 billion for revitalisation which should be paid in tranches.
The union also told the government that the N30 billion EAA was for only ASUU members, a position the government rejected, citing lack of funds to meet ASUU’s financial demands.

On his part, ASUU president, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi said that the union has received the new proposals by the federal government and that it will go and consult with it’s organs before taking a position.

“I don’t really have much to say as the minister had said it all. Government has given us offers and we have promised to go back to our organs to brief them and then come back to government. We acknowledge that progress has been made,” he said.
Ogunyemi said that ASUU will need till Friday next week to meet with its organs before reverting to government.

The meeting was therefore adjourned till next Friday.

The Nation