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State Of Economy: House Drills Okonjo-Iweala On Import Duty Waivers, Recurrent Expenditure, Others

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NOI-house-of-Reps-480x300The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been directed by the House of Representatives to produce a detailed report on the exact amount of money Nigeria lost to import duty waivers between 2011 and 2013.

The minister was also directed to furnish the House with the full names of the beneficiaries; what the waivers were used to import; and the justification for granting such duty exemptions.

The directive was contained in the 50 questions on the ‘state of the economy’ which the House Committee on Finance handed to Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala during a stormy session with the committee in Abuja last Thursday, shortly after she had laid down the 2014 budget in both chambers of the National Assembly.

Due to the minister’s claim that she was not feeling well and the subsequent exchange of words with the committee Chairman, Abdulmumin Jibrin, the session was brought to an abrupt end.

The details of the questions showed that the committee was concerned about the federal government’s commitment towards the anti-corruption war and the dwindling non-oil revenues as a result of the duty waivers approved by the minister.

The question on waivers was number 15 on the list where the committee asked: “How much exactly has been the amount of money lost in government revenue as a result of import duty waivers in 2011, 2012 and 2013?

“In your opinion as the Minister of Finance, who oversees the economy, what are the implications to the country’s economy? What efforts have you made to stop this waiver policy, which is distorting the economy?

“Our non-oil income has dropped in 2013, a case where increased tariffs on various items effectively reduced importation to zero in some sectors.

“However, those items now find their way into Nigeria through our borders.

“Does it make any sense to increase these tariffs when we have such porous borders? As an example, officially, Togo imported more rice this year than Nigeria”.

In the next question, number 16, the committee asked the minister to explain why the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) was planning to engage foreign consultants to collect tax for the agency, beginning from 2014.

Okonjo-Iweala was, therefore, asked thus, “Could the minister clarify this position and what Nigeria stands to gain? Has the FIRS not been working effectively?”

Question number 30 dealt with corruption, with the committee expressing doubts over the federal government’s commitment to fight corruption and queried why the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should be starved of funds.

The committee asked, “Do you believe in the fight against corruption? If you do, why has EFCC not been properly funded? Without properly funding the commission, how should it be expected to carry out its duties effectively?”

The committee also queried the choice of Chevrolet cars as taxis in the SURE-P as against Asian and European brands.

It noted that the vehicles did not have fuel-economy and not durable on Nigerian roads.
The document read, “Who is in charge of the management of Subsidy Reinvestment Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) and who takes responsibility for its success or failure?”

She was also asked to explain why recurrent expenditure had always taken the largest chunk of successive national budgets in the country.

The committee recalled that Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala had boasted to reduce recurrent spending, but failed to keep the promise. For example, the 2014 budget of N4.6 trillion has a recurrent lion’s share of 72 per cent.

The committee observed: “Since your arrival as Minister of Finance in 2011, you have publicly announced the need to reduce the recurrent expenditure so that more money will be made available to capital spending, which is critical to growing and diversifying the country’s economy.

“How far has government succeeded in making these necessary cuts; and where exactly have these cuts been made in the effort to reduce recurrent expenditure?”

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NDDC Is A Cash Cow For Politicians – Nyesom Wike

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NDDC Is A Cash Cow For Politicians - Nyesom Wike

Governor Wike

Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike has expressed that he has never seen a more corrupt institution than the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

He made this remark while speaking as a guest on Channels TV Sunrise Daily on Thursday morning.

Also Read: Cult Violence: Wike Imposes Two-Week Curfew Around Okoro-Nu-Odu

Governor Wike went on to describe the Commission as a cash cow for politicians, stating that this has been the practice for a very long time.

The Governor also stated during the interview that South-South Governors have challenged NDDC against carrying out projects without consulting the state government.

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BREAKING: Senator Abbo Dumps PDP; Joins APC

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BREAKING: Senator Abbo Dumps PDP; Joins APC

Elisha Abbo

Senator Elisha Abbo has defected from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Nigeria’s ruling party.

Senator Abbo, who represents Adamawa North in the Nigerian Senate announced his defection from the PDP to the APC in a letter addressed to the Senate.

Senator Ahmad Lawan, the President of the Nigerian Senate, read the letter during Wednesday’s plenary session.

Also Read: 2023 Presidency: Bode George Cautions Buhari About Tinubu

In his letter, Senator Abbo explained that his decision to defect to the APC is because of the mismanagement of the PDP in Adamawa state by Governor Umaru Fintiri.

Senator Abbo who is a first-term lawmaker was elected in 2019 to the Senate on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Meanwhile, the name Senator Elisha Abbo became popular amongst Nigerians last year after he made headlines for slapping an attendant in a sex toy shop for ‘disrespecting’ him.

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2023 Presidency: Bode George Cautions Buhari About Tinubu

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2023 Presidency: Bode George Cautions Buhari About Tinubu

Bode George, Tinubu

Chief Bode George, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party has warned President Muhammadu Buhari against supporting Bola Tinubu, National Leader of the All Progressives Congress for the 2023 Presidency.

Bode George made this remark in a statement titled, “The jamboree visit to the Villa: My Birthday Offering.”

The former National Port Authority boss warned Buhari against falling to the antics of those who would ignore the issues of Lagos State to engage in a needless scheming in partisan engagement.

Bode-George also condemned the recent visit of some APC chieftains, Chief Bisi Akande, Prince Tajudeen Olusi, Dr Yomi Finnih, and Chief Segun Osoba to the State House, Abuja.

Also Read: Fashola: If We Keep Our Promises, APC Will Retain Power In 2023

The PDP chieftain said: “The visit of Chief Bisi Akande, Prince Tajudeen Olusi, Dr Yomi Finnih, and Chief Segun Osoba to the seat of power in Abuja is needless, unnecessary, veiled in some poorly hidden agenda that is woven in apparently self-serving ulterior personalised desperation.

“It is easy to discern that the visit is stripped of any patriotic progression, lacking in balanced national leadership, voided of a spirit of sacrifice and developmental vision. The very absence of Bola Tinubu from the jamboree screams to high heavens that the meeting itself is a covert placatory softening of the ground for Tinubu himself. I am pretty certain that in his very absence, Tinubu occupies the centrality of the discussion.

“I will advise Baba Akande who governed Osun State with principled, incorruptible leadership to kindly help us drop off Bola Tinubu at Iragbiji as he makes his way back to Ila-Orangun, rather than engaging in fruitless pleading sessions for a man who is fixated on a warped pipe-dream about governing Nigeria. He should pay restitution for the egregious stripping of the Lagosian coffers.”

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