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FG Projects N1tn Petrol Subsidy Savings, Targets Economic, Infrastructure Devt

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The federal government yesterday estimated that it would save over N1 trillion yearly from the removal of fuel subsidy following the deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.

The extra cash, Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Timipre Sylva, told journalists yesterday in Abuja, would be used to fund infrastructure development and to grow the nation’s economy.

He urged Nigerians not to allow themselves to be fooled by critics of deregulation to create anarchy and chaos.

The subsidy removal policy got the support of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) yesterday even as it lamented that its members spent N67.38 billion, which is 38 per cent of their operating costs, to self-generate electricity in 2019, while the unsold inventory of manufactured goods stood at N402. 4billion.

Sylva said with subsidy removal, Nigeria would recover the losses incurred in selling products below the market price and the losses incurred in providing dollars at special rates to fund importation.

The minister stated that successive administrations had attempted to deregulate but lacked the political will or the time was not good for the implementation of the policy.

Sylva noted that deregulation is a policy direction that is good for the common Nigerian because it is going to create many opportunities they could tap into to improve their socioeconomic conditions.

According to him, the refining sector is not developed because no refinery can operate commercially in Nigeria with a subsidy in place.

He said: “I believe that this discussion around subsidy has been a vexed issue that has captured the imagination of this country for a long time now. Successive administrations have attempted to deregulate. But sometimes, some administrations lacked the political will and at other times, the time was not good for it. And why did I say the time was not good for it? Does that imply the time is good for it now?

“The problem around deregulation is that people must understand first, that the product we are talking about is a derivative of crude oil. It is refined from crude oil.

“Therefore, it has a direct relationship with the price of crude oil. If the price of crude oil goes up, then you expect that it would reflect in the price of the derivative.

“So, the best time to achieve this we looked at was the time when crude oil prices are low so that Nigerians will get the benefit of those low prices.”

Sylva said when the federal government announced the deregulation of the downstream sector in March and the pump price of petrol was reduced, the advantage was transferred to the consumers.

The minister, however, added that when the price of petrol was reduced in March, nobody reacted in the market place and nobody reduced the prices of goods and services to reflect the reduction in the price of petrol, as even transportation fares remained the same.

“In March, when we announced the deregulation, the prices were low and that advantage was transferred to the consumer.

“So, we brought down the price of petrol. The unfortunate thing is that when we brought down the price of petrol, nobody reacted in the market place. The prices were the same. Nobody reduced their prices because the price of petrol had reduced.

“Even bus fares, taxi fares were the same. It did not go down when we reduced the pump price of petrol. We thought that those people in the market; transport drivers and transport owners would reduce their price. But nobody reduced their prices. But anytime there is even a kobo increase in the pump price of the product, you see that people will increase their prices triple fold and four-fold.

“At this moment, let Nigerians not be fooled; there are people who are ready to take advantage of every situation to create anarchy and chaos. And it is these people that are at work now. Is anybody saying that this policy direction is a wrong policy direction?

“That is the discussion we should be having. If it is a wrong policy direction, why has every successive government attempted to do the same thing? It is because it is something that is unsustainable. The subsidy is unsustainable. Let us look at it: Subsidy means that you buy the product at a certain price and then you reduce the price and sell it at a loss to the people.”

MAN: Removal of Subsidies Good for Economy

Meanwhile, manufacturers have backed the government’s removal of petrol and electricity subsidies but lamented that they spent N67.38 billion, which is 38 per cent of their operating costs, to self-generate electricity in 2019, while the unsold inventory of manufactured goods stood at N402. 4 billion.

The President of the MAN, Mr. Mansur Ahmed, at a press conference at the end of the association’s 48th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Lagos yesterday, also bemoaned that more than 40 per cent of foreign exchange needs of manufacturers are not met.
“Moreover, genuine exporters are still being owed huge sums of money as a backlog of unpaid outstanding from the Export Expansion Grant Scheme,” he stated.

Ahmed noted that the government’s continued payment of subsidy to the electricity sector at the tune of N500 billion as recorded in 2019 has become unsustainable and no longer in the long-term interest of the economy. “This cannot continue,” he said, “because the government will not have money to invest in other areas like infrastructure. So, what we have discussed with the government is that it should find ways to help the manufacturing sector by ensuring that we will see significant improvement in the availability of electricity.

“The problem for the manufacturers is not just the tariff but availability. We can afford to pay the higher tariff if the power supply will be steady and we are paying only for what we have consumed.”

Ahmed said that it should be recalled that the “MAN has always agreed that fuel subsidy is not good for our economy. We have seen that diesel became easily available when it was deregulated and that its price also remained largely stable. This is what we believe should happen to all petroleum products if the sector is deregulated.

“Let it be deregulated so that we will have consistent supply and encourage more people to invest in the sector because we cannot continue to depend on the import of petroleum product while the government is unable to maintain its refineries. We want a situation where private investors will be encouraged to invest in the refining and distribution of petroleum products.

“Ultimately the supply will stabilise and we are sure that when that happens the price will come down.”
He added that inasmuch as the MAN understood why the federal government was constrained to close the country’s borders in 2019, it has become noteworthy to state that it has now outlived its usefulness.

“This border closure cannot be a sustainable arrangement. It has been closed long enough for the government to introduce measures that will control smuggling, dumping and importation of faked products. We, therefore, believed that the borders should now be opened.

“We have made this very clear to the government that the border closure cannot persist. It should be opened because we will soon start the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement,” he said, adding that Nigerian exporters are losing their export markets in West Africa and some parts of Africa as a result of the closure of the border.

The manufacturers also appealed to the government to reverse the Value Added Tax rate back to the pre 2020 Finance Act rate and reduce the Personal Income Tax to a flat rate of 10 per cent for one-year effective from April 2020 in order to “improve the disposable income of Nigerian workers, stimulate consumption, promote an upsurge in demand and increase production output.”

 

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Obadiah Mailafia, former CBN Deputy Gov is deadObadiah Mailafia, former CBN Deputy Gov is dead

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Obadiah Mailafia, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria is dead.

Mailafia, the 64-year-old reportedly passed away on Sunday morning at the National Hospital Abuja.

Recall that Obadiah Mailafia stirred controversy after he granted an interview accusing most top government officials of sponsoring terrorism in Nigeria.

Confirming his death, Fani-Kayode on his Twitter page wrote: “I am saddened by the passing of my dear friend & brother Mr. Obadiah Mailafiya who was one of the most powerful and progressive voices in our country. I was informed that he passed on this morning. He was a great nationalist, a believer in Nigeria, a kind and gentle soul.”

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APGA disowns Jude Njoku as Party National Chairman, insists on Oye

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The All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), has refuted viral claims of a court pronouncement affirming Chief Edozie Njoku as the party’s national chairman.

The All Progressive Grand Alliance is currently battling a leadership crisis that has led to the emergence of several factions, coupled with court litigations among each of the factions claiming to be the authentic elected national working committee (NWC) of the party.

A party chieftain, Edozie Njoku had approached the federal high court and sought among other reliefs, a declaration of the court in his favour as the National Chairman of APGA.

He also prayed the court to mandate Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise him as the National Chairman of APGA and to stop recognizing Victor Ike Oye as the National Chairman of the party.

However, APGA, in a statement by its Chairman in Imo State, John Iwuala, while clarifying the outcome of court proceedings in the matter between Oye and Njoku held Friday, said Njoku breached part rules by appearing in court with a new lawyer.

“Trouble started in the court when he, (Edozie Njoku) in his usual way brought a lawyer for APGA as against the National legal adviser of the party, Sly Ezenwoke Esq. The question now is: who is to represent APGA as lawyer among the duo? he asked.

“After series of deliberations, the court later asked both lawyers to file briefs and decided to pronounce the authentic lawyer at the end of the matter on judgement. This decision did not go down well with Dr Oye and APGA, hence they approached the court of Appeal.

“On Friday, 17 Sept. 202, the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division directed that the matter be sent back to the Federal High Court for continuation. There is nothing beyond this.

“The court of Appeal has every right to invoke the authorities of Order 47 of the court of Appeal Act to assume jurisdiction as the court of first instance but didn’t want to do so as the substance of the case has already been dealt with by three appeal court judgements via Kano, Awka and Enugu respectively.

“It baffled the leadership of APGA Imo State Chapter how these fake news peddlers behave in a myopic way of feeding the public with fake news. This calls for a cry of reasoning and ecology of reasonableness.

“It must be recalled that this matter emanated from Bauchi State, where the plaintiff and his co-travellers went for “forum shopping’ to deceive the judge who on sighting danger that both plaintiff and defendant are same persons, sponsored by the same person, just trying to mislead the court, washed his hands off from it, the case was transferred to Abuja and Dr Victor Ike Oye was notified of the ongoing matter. What they specialize in is to sue, bring their lawyer and bring a lawyer for the defendant without the knowledge of the defendant until judgement is secured. That was what they did in Jigawa. Though the court of Appeal Kano division has set it aside and declared *Dr Oye as the duly elected and authentic National Chairman of APGA in a well organized and INEC monitored National Convention held on 31st May 2019.

“With the return of this matter to the High Court yesterday (Friday) from the court of Appeal Abuja, the matter is as good as dead as the High court lacks jurisdiction to hear any matter of which substance has already been heard and finally determined by the Court of Appeal. This one, three appeal court judgements in favour of Dr Oye including the award of N10m against Edozie Njoku for disturbing APGA and the courts of the land.

“I am seeing another N10m award against him soon. I wish with this, the reading public, especially our Anambra indigenes resident here in Imo State can remain calm and unperturbed over the fake news.

“We all know the pains you pass through when this fake, fabricated and malicious news came up as it has to do with the emergence of Prof Chukwuma Soludo as the next Governor of Anambra State, come November 2021”.

APGA accused political jobbers of peddling the fake viral news to mislead the reading public as part of their failed strategies to truncate the party’s chances for the November 6 gubernatorial election in Anambra state.

 

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Nigerian health workers issue fresh strike notice, lists demands

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The Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) have issued a fresh notice of industrial action.

The notice confirms negotiations with the government is still ongoing as the recent strike notice expired the night of September 17.

JOHESU Acting General Secretary, Matthew Ajorutu, said an Expanded National Executive Council (NEC) emergency meeting of the unions was held on Friday.

In attendance were the Presidents and General Secretaries of affiliate unions and professional associations, NEC members of affiliate unions and JOHESU Chairmen and Secretaries at the state and branch levels.

The session appraised the reports of JOHESU negotiation and conciliation meetings with the federal government since the declaration of the trade dispute through the 15 days strike notice issued on September 2.

Ajorutu noted that NEC discussed the appeal by President Muhammadu Buhari on the need to show understanding with his administration and the pledge to pay any debt owed to health workers.

The scribe disclosed NEC received and examined reports of congresses held at various health facilities across the country on the mobilisation for the fresh strike notice starting September 18.

Ajorutu asked the Federal Ministry of Health to ensure speedy circularisation of all establishment and welfare matters as agreed during negotiation meetings.

The unions urged that the computation of the adjusted Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) for JOHESU members be completed and submitted to FG’s High-Level Body (HLB) not later than September 22, as agreed.

”NEC-in-session urges the Federal Government to ensure that the High-Level Body (HLB) completes and submits the computation of the adjusted CONHESS for inclusion in the 2022 budget within the Sept. 30th, submission window.

”NEC urges the Federal Government to reciprocate the patriotic humanitarian gesture of JOHESU in the interest of the larger Nigerian masses to expeditiously resolve all the demands within the fifteen days window”, the joint statement added.

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