NEITI:Nigeria Loses N16.25trn To Crude Oil Theft

Mohammed Shosanya

The Executive Secretary of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Mr Ogbonnaya Orji, has said that the sum of N16.25 trillion was lost to unabated crude oil theft in the country.

This was based on data collated and signed off by the operators and other stakeholders in the industry,he also said.

He disclosed this on Tuesday while presenting the report of the $74.386bn spent on fuel subsidy by successive governments since 2011to the Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Bamidele Salam during an interactive session in Abuja on Tuesday evening.

He also said the agency unmasked over $8.3 billion unremitted revenue by some privately owned oil companies and Federal Government owned agencies which was not paid into the Federation Account contrary to extant financial regulations.

He added that the agency is working collaboratively with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and related offenses Commission as well as Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit to retrieve the funds into the federation account.

He said: “I have here, for instance, revenues we have earned from oil and gas since 1999. We also have here all the subsidy payments made. Since 2005 when it became a scandal, we began to collect the data. We began to ask questions on subsidy and as of 2021, the country had paid $74.386 billion in subsidy.

“And we have a breakdown of what was paid each year. We have also got a conversion of what that can possibly translate to”.

Speaking on what the nation lost due to crude oil theft,the NEITI boss said, “In the course of this job, we have incentivized a lot of recoveries for the government because between what is paid and what was recovered, a lot of money in foreign exchange developed wings. Company A will say we paid $1 million and you go to the account of the receiving agency and you find out that either half of that money was not received or more is received more than what was paid because of poor record keeping and carelessness.”

Reading out NEITI’s report released on the 25th of September, 2023, he announced the agency’s readiness to cooperate and work hand-in-hand with the Public Accounts Committee.

“In that report alone, over $8.3 billion were unremitted funds on the part of some government agencies and companies. Our concern is that, this is at a time when the government is going borrowing. So, we bring this information with incisive and empirical information and data with evidence and table it.

“We have also released the same report on the solid mineral sector and all the information and data are provided. On the 9th of November, we are releasing the last report for the year which is on fiscal allocation and statutory disbursements.

“In every year, under the NEITI framework, we ask the question: how much money do the companies pay to the government? How much of that money does the government receive? Where is the money? What did we use the money for? And in the wisdom of the National Assembly in formulating the law, we said we shouldn’t just say no to the only money the government received or how much the companies paid but we should ask if they pay what they should pay and if the government received what they should receive.

“The revenue that was made, who got what and how? Were the sharing formula followed? What of the 13 per cent derivation fund? What of those statutory receivers like the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Petroleum Technology Development Fund and all those that receive the extractive sector directly from the revenue account.

“Where did they trace the money for the account, where did it go? Sometimes, we take all of these for granted but it’s not always like that. If you go through this report and follow up you will be shocked that it’s not just sharing and allocation. Getting to the people, the government and the right sources has also been a huge challenge and that is what we’re been battling with,” Orji said.

FG To Feed Over 10m School Children

Mohammed Shosanya

The Federal Government,says the soon-to-be resuscitated National Home Grown School Feeding Programme will cater for over 10 million pupils across the country.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on School Feeding, Dr. Yetunde Adeniji,said this during a visit to an IDP camp at the Transitional Learning Center, Wassa, Abuja.

She was at Wassa to inspect the school feeding program sponsored by a NGO, Maple Leaf Early Years Foundation, in collaboration with the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Internally Displaced Persons, according to a statement signed by Mr. Oyewumi Oyedokun,Office of the SSA to the President on School Feeding

She added that the school feeding programme, would ensure that no child in each public school is left behind.

She commended the program at Wassa for its demonstrable success in bolstering school enrollment and attendance rates.

She said it is an instrumental force in the advancement of education, the alleviation of hunger, and the dismantling of the cycle of poverty.

She also said the school feeding initiative under the President’s renewed hope agenda is targeting pupils from primary one to three across Nigeria.

According to her, the initiative resonates with the sentiment that every child deserves the opportunity to flourish and contribute to the nation’s development.

She commended the efforts of the organization, saying it underscores the paramount importance of education and nutrition in the comprehensive development of every child, irrespective of their circumstances.

She affirmed that initiatives of this nature hold the power to effect substantial positive change in the lives of the most vulnerable citizens.

“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s unwavering commitment to the welfare of the nation is exemplified by the Renewed Hope agenda. Within this framework, a vision is cast for a Nigeria wherein every child enjoys access to quality education and nutritious sustenance, regardless of their background or geographical location. Dr. Adeniji articulated that by investing in the youth today, a brighter and more prosperous future is being forged for the nation”, she said.

Adeniji added that smallholder farmers will be engaged to supply foodstuff for the school feeding programme, as soon as it commences.

Reiterating the objectives of the school feeding programme model, the SSA said the programme is aimed to increase resilience, promote equity, stimulate growth and poverty reduction.

“The school feeding program stands as a transformative force in realizing the Renewed Hope vision. Beyond its immediate impact on addressing childhood nutrition, it serves as an incentive for families to prioritize education”, Dr. Adeniji said.

She lauded the NGO for doing all the needful to ensure school children are fed.

Adeniji also said the Federal Government has committed huge sum to the school feeding programme, which will be complemented by state governments.

Advocating increased collaborations with relevant agencies, Dr. Adeniji extended profound gratitude to NGOs like Plane, UNESCO and various stakeholders who have contributed to the noble endeavor.

ICPC Files Charges Against UNICAL Professor Over Sexual Assault

Mohammed Shosanya

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has filed a criminal charge against Professor Cyril Ndifon, the suspended Dean of Faculty of Law, University of Calabar (UNICAL).

The action follows the Commission’s conclusion of investigation into his alleged gross misconducts against some of his students.

In the charge sheet number: FHC/ABJ/CR/511/2023, ICPC is arraigning the Senior Lecturer on a four (4) count charge bordering on sexual harassment, official corruption and abuse of office contrary to sections 8, 18 and 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

One of the counts, according to a statement signed by Mrs. Azuka Ogugua, Spokesperson, ICPC read, “That you, Professor CYRIL OSIM NDIFON (m) between June-September, 2023 at Calabar, within the jurisdiction of this honourable Court, and while being a public officer charged with responsibility for the certification of students as fit in learning and character as a prerequisite for the award of Bachelor’s degree in law and admission into the Nigeria Law School, used your office and position as the Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Calabar to gratify yourself by soliciting for nude photographs and videos from one Ms. ABC (not real name), a year 2 diploma student of the University of Calabar, through WhatsApp chats on your telephone number 0803***** and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under S. 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.”

According to the statement,Professor Ndifon would be arraigned in court on a date to be given by the court.

The ICPC, in collaboration with the Department of State Services (DSS) had on 4th of October, 2023 arrested Professor Ndifon in Calabar, Cross River State after shunning several invitations extended to him.

Cash Transfer:Reps Summon Humanitarian Affairs Minister Over Disbursement Modalities

Mohammed Shosanya

The House of Representatives,Tuesday summoned the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Betta Edu over modalities to be used in the distribution of N25,000 per month to 15 million households over a period of three months.

The resolution of the House follows an urgent motion moved by Morufu Adebayo (Osun, PDP) at plenary.

President Bola Tinubu had flag off the Renewed Hope conditional cash transfer programme for 15 million households targeted at uplifting poor and vulnerable Nigerians as an immediate intervention to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal and other economic shocks.

The conditional cash transfer which will gulp about N1.1trn is one of 15 items in the Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Government and the Organised Labour on October 2, 2023.

In his debate, Hon. Adebayo regretted that there had been a lot of unsatisfactory feedback from the ways and manners palliative to vulnerable Nigerians have been handled by some, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

Reminding the House about the ugly scenario witnessed during the COVID19 palliative distribution few years ago, where items from international donor meant to cushion the effect of the pandemic were mismanaged, he said the distribution process has not in any way reduce hardship in the land.

He said: “Cognizant that the removal of fuel subsidy necessitated the introduction of various programmes, policies and intervention to alleviate and boost the economics of families and small businesses.

“Also cognizant that the National Assembly members. being closer to the people of Nigeria are meant to represent the interest and concerns of their constituents at the National level, therefore deserved to be fully briefed and carried along in the implementation process.

“Worried that there is growing suspicion of ways and manners this programme will be implemented.

“Also worried that the lack of transparent handling of the previous conditional cash transfer programmes has led to corruption and fraud, where funds intended for vulnerable people were misappropriated by individuals.

After deliberation, the House mandated
the committee on constituency outreach and committee on poverty Alleviation to invite the minister to give detailed policy documents adopted in allocation and distribution of funds for the conditional cash transfer in order to ensure transparency and accountability.

Egbin Power Assesses Impacts Of Privatization On Operations

Mohammed Shosanya

Egbin Power Plc has described the 10years privatization of power as a decade of trajectory progress of the power plant, resulting in greater contribution to the nation’s socio-economic growth.

Commemorating the occasion, the company attributed the achievement over the decade to the unwavering commitment of the board, management, and staff as well as massive support from partners in the power sector value chain. while emphasizing its renewed commitment to continue to contribute to the sustainable development of the sector.

Speaking,the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Egbin Power Plc, Mokhtar Bounour, highlighted that the transformation was driven by high aspirations and a clear vision of Sahara Group to contribute positively to the nation’s power sector.

“Following the takeover in 2013, the turnaround of Egbin power plant was decisive and strategic, in line with the vision of the management to provide reliable and accessible power supply to Nigerians.

“The clear focus and commitment of the company stirred them to prioritize and inject substantial investment in crucial areas including overhaul, human capital development, safety of employees, upgrade of equipment and infusion of state-of-the-art technology, among several other capital projects. These initiatives ushered in a significant increase in the generation capacity that grew from below 400 MW to over 1000 MW,” Bounour said.

According to him,the company will continuously give stability to the grid through sustainable power generation. “Our product is electricity. We are empowering schools, hospitals, and strategic institutions. We are participating positively in the economic growth of the country. Egbin is very important to the grid. So, this puts the responsibility on the management to maintain stability on the grid and participate positively in all areas, leading to an improvement of the entire sector”.

“We are focusing on continuous improvement, how we can improve the plant efficiency and availability, how we can our impact on the host communities and environment while ensuring that everyone is safe,” Bounour noted.

As part of programmes planned to commemorate the milestone, GenCo said it has outlined several CSR activities covering health, education, and empowerment initiatives that would be carried out in the host communities – Egbin, Ijede, and Ipakan – in line with its commitment to give back to the society.

According to Egbin Power, it has implemented several decarbonizing projects for the ultimate benefit of the environment, the communities, and employees. It has also achieved 670,000kg of CO2 emission eliminated by reducing fossil energy consumption, a 14.1 percent reduction in energy intensity of electrical energy, and over 3,000 trees planted to safeguard the environment.

Egbin Power reassured that it would continue to break new grounds and forge ahead in bringing energy to life responsibly, as the Board and Management are determined to drive consistent growth through technological innovations, continuous investments in human capital development, thinking globally and acting locally, and deploying best practices in its operations.

The company urged for alignment and collaboration among players and stakeholders in the value chain, noting that this would further drive improvement in the sector and deliver reliable electricity to Nigerians.

Tizeti Secures Debt Financing To Boost Internet Access In Nigeria

Mohammed Shosanya

Chapel Hill Denham’s Nigeria Infrastructure Debt Fund has agreed to provide long-term financing to Tizeti Network Limited,West Africa’s pioneer solar-based internet service provider.

The senior debt facility will be used to finance the rollout of Tizeti’s state-of-the art broadband network across 15 states in Nigeria,a statement said.

Anshul Rai, the Chief Executive Officer of NIDF, said, “Chapel Hill Denham is excited to partner Tizeti in the expansion of fast, reliable broadband network across Nigeria. Digital economy is a key strategic pillar for Nigeria to accelerate its economic and social development, and providing access to affordable internet services is crucial to achieve the true potential of digitisation. We continue to work with all stakeholders to support accelerated development of digital infrastructure in Nigeria by providing access to long-term, Naira-denominated financing for such projects – thus realising the government’s vision of reaching 70% broadband penetration by 2025.”

Tizeti’s founder and Chief Executive Officer, Kendall Ananyi, said:“We are excited to announce the closing of this new debt facility with Nigeria’s largest infrastructure debt fund. We see tremendous opportunity for domestic capital in addressing digital exclusion barriers in Nigeria and this partnership will hopefully be one of many. We will use this to build last-mile digital infrastructure that will move internet capacity to other Nigerian states and catalyze sustained development, value creation, improved connectivity, and a deeper and wider digital inclusion net. This will also increase our coverage from 5 states and make us the largest internet service provider in Nigeria by coverage”.

Tizeti currently serves over 3 million subscribers in Nigeria (residential facilities, businesses and hotspot users), via its wide network of solar-powered base stations in five states.

The company will deploy the debt funding to build new internet infrastructure and purchase additional equipment to expand its services to Delta, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Abia, Anambra, Imo, Enugu, Abuja, Kano, and Kaduna.

Tizeti currently charges its customers a monthly fee starting from N12,500 which is the most competitive price in Nigeria and provides unlimited data usage and streaming.

LIRS Shuts 34 Firms Over N356.12m Tax Liabilities

Mohammed Shosanya
The Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) has shut 34 corporate organizations for failing to remit Personal Income Taxes of their employees in the state.

The agency also took the action against the companies for non-remittance of consumption taxes by operators in the hospitality sector to the state government.

A statement issued by Monsurat Amasa-Oyelude, LIRS Head of Corporate Communications on Tuesday said the affected companies include NTS Nigeria Ltd., Med-In Hospital & Pharma Services Ltd., Danvic Petroleum Int’l Ltd., Business Intelligence Technology, Avaya Nigeria Ltd., Gladstone Tech Ltd., Courier Plus Services Ltd., Kurioucity Ltd., Medilag Ventures Ltd., Future Oilfields, and Seven Six & Ten Limited.

The statement quoted that during the operation, 23 hotels, restaurants, and event facilities were also sealed for failure to deduct and remit consumption taxes.

These businesses include Blitz Suites & Hotel, Offshoroomz Hotel, God’s Grace Hotel, De Orange Place Ltd., De Santos Hotel, Kentade Hotel Limited, Chamcee, Chelsea Suites, Falode Hotels, High Climax Hotel, Chez Moi Apartment, Excellence Hotel, Bereans Venture (Tantalizer Ebute Metta), La Avril Hotel & Suites, De Orange Place Ltd., Milaco Guest House, New World Inn, Model Motels Ltd, Rely Maritime Ltd, 4 Seasons Hotel, Dream Land Hotel, 343 North Restaurant and Lounge, and Jade Palace Chinese Restaurant.

Mr. Seyi Alade, the Director of Legal Services LIRS, made this announcement while addressing a state-wide tax law enforcement exercise conducted by the Service in Lagos on Monday.

He disclosed that the tax liabilities of these companies and hotels amounted to more than N356.12 million,adding that their actions had caused the state government loss of revenue.

He explained that the agency had previously reduced its enforcement activities to promote voluntary compliance by taxpayers, but that certain companies and hotels chose to engage in tax evasion.

He emphasized that the primary goal is to secure compliance with the remittance of Consumption and Personal Income taxes, enabling the Lagos State Government to carry out projects intended for the well-being of the vast populace resident in the state.

Mr. Alade further reiterated that “these companies deduct Personal Income taxes from their employees’ salaries at the end of each month, and charge consumption taxes on goods and services purchased by customers.

“Unfortunately, some unpatriotic firms choose to withhold these payments, illegally converting the funds for their own use.”

He warned that failing to file tax returns or engaging in tax evasion are considered criminal offences that may result in financial penalties and, in some cases, custodial sentences upon conviction.

The agency said it was prosecuting some high-net-worth individuals and companies who failed to file their returns.

It said courts had issued bench warrants for some taxpayers in this category and three arrests had been made pursuant to the warrants, and “they are Platinum Apartments & Suites, The Moonlight Place Enterprises and Jezreel Nursery and Primary School”.

Isaac Oyedepo: I’ve No Rift With My Father,Winners Chapel

The son of Bishop David Oyedepo, the founder of the Living Faith Church Worldwide, Isaac Oyedepo, has cleared air on recent speculations regarding his status within the church and his relationship with his father.

The younger Oyedepo clarified that there are no complications in his relationship with his family, particularly his father, and he remains a steadfast member of the Living Faith Church, also known as Winners Chapel International.

In a statement shared on his X account on Tuesday,he expressed his commitment to the church and requested that the public exercise caution when considering information that has not been communicated through his official social media platforms.

He warned against the dissemination of unverified information regarding any separation from the Living Faith Church, as such actions could be viewed as a breach of his privacy.

He said in part, ““I must state that there is no complication in my relationship with my beloved family and my beloved dad ( Bishop David Oyedepo) who has stood by me and supported me over the years nor are there any in my commitment to my church-turned-home, Living Faith Church, also known as Winners Chapel International.

“I remain a steadfast member of the Living Faith Church dedicated to the service of the body of Christ.

“I urge the general public to treat information not communicated by me or any of my social media platforms with extreme caution. There should be no further publications on any severance of my relationships with the Living Faith Church without my express authorisation, as it may be considered a breach of my privacy. Thank you so much for your understanding”

Rivers Crisis: PDP Governors Support  Tinubu’s Intervention

Mohammed Shosanya

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors have welcomed President Bola Tinubu’s intervention on the crisis between Rivers state Governor, Siminalayi Fubara and his predecessor, Nyesom Wike.

The governors, under the platform of PDP Governors’ Forum, expressed concern over the crisis, adding that they have offered their platform for the resolution of the crisis.

Speaking after their meeting that lasted for more than two hours in Oyo state governor’s lodge, the governors said that the recent judgement of the Supreme Court on the 2023 Presidential Election, which gave victory to President Tinubu, has brought to an end litigation on the presidential election.

The Governors, in their communique read by the Chairman PDP Governors’ Forum and Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, urgently requested the patriotic intervention of the Federal Government to stabilize the Naira, control inflation, stem the unemployment crises and bring more succour to Nigerians.

The communique reads: “The meeting noted the recent judgement of the Supreme Court on the 2023 Presidential Election and believes that this brings an end to the Presidential election cycle as there must be an end to litigation.

“As a Forum, we believe and re-state our faith and confidence in the judiciary to do justice in political and other cases before the Courts.

“We are concerned that while the Supreme Court has laid down precedents on pre-election issues, PDP candidates in Plateau State are being disqualified on the same grounds.

“We urge the judiciary at the apex level to ensure that our jurisprudence is not distorted. We remain vigilant in the struggle for democracy and good governance in the country.

“The meeting vowed to reposition and strengthen PDP as a viable opposition political party ready and willing to play its role as the vanguard of the Nigerian people for democracy, good governance and accountability.

“The PDP Governors were alarmed at the recent developments in Rivers State and welcomes the intervention of Mr. President to bring the crises to an end.

“The meeting urged all parties to the Rivers State crises to sheath their sword and resort to peaceful means of resolution. The Forum further offers its platform for a quick and just containment of the issues involved.

“On the national economy, the meeting urgently requested the patriotic intervention of the Federal Government to stabilize the Naira, control inflation, stem the unemployment crises, and bring more succour to Nigerians.

“The PDP Governors congratulated the host, His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde, for his hospitality in hosting of the meeting.”

Envoys Bicker Foreign Affairs Minister Over Recall

Mohammed Shosanya
The Dean of Non Career Ambassadors of Nigeria has accused the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yusufu Tuggar of deliberately lying against them and misleading the public about facts relating to their recent recall.

They accused the Minister of deliberately feigning ignorance of the letter the Ambassadors wrote to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu seeking for extension of terminal date to December 31, 2023 as against October 31, 2023, in order to enable their children conclude their examinations.

The diplomats faulted the Minister’s insinuations that the Ambassadors, whose recall was announced on September 2, were lobbying prominent Nigerians to extend their stay, and that the Minister placed embargo on expenditures by the outgoing ambassadors to curtail alleged moves by some of them to mop up funds in their embassies.

In a statement signed by Mr. Chris Mayor, Special Assistant to the Dean, None-Career Ambassadors of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mr. Nwanne Omeinyi, and made available to journalists in Enugu on Tuesday, the envoys regretted what they referred to as “the Minister’s resort to blackmail and utter misrepresentation”.

The Ambassadors insisted that the said letter to the president requesting for extension of time was by the consent of the Minister whom they channeled the request to at first as is the practice before presenting it to the President.

“The envoys view his folte-face as treachery and backstabbing.”

The statement reads, “The attention of the Dean of Non Career Ambassadors of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has been drawn to the publication credited to one Mr. Alkasim Abdulkadir Special assistant to the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Tuggar, on Media and Communication published in the Newspaper on 26th October 2023.

“In the said publication, the author alleged that Non-Career Ambassadors are lobbying prominent personalities to extend their stay.

“Ordinarily we would have ignored the publication but for the obligation we owe Nigerians and our friends and partners at the international community to be properly informed and the fact that dignity and integrity, intelligence and accuracy, and sensibility in speech is required from occupants of the exalted office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

“Regrettably, these attributes are conspicuously absent in the publication above. Firstly, the starvation which the Missions and Embassies are going through for the Ministry’s failure in remittance of their overhead allocation for five months running now is in public domain.

“So where are the funds which a source according to the author learnt that the alleged move to mop up funds in their embassies by the Ambassadors, when it is as well in the public domain that the Ambassadors have resorted to using their savings to run the missions and embassies and service providers are threatening court actions against Missions?”.

The statement emphasized that the present class of Ambassadors both Career and Non-Career have distinguished themselves as men and women of high integrity, as eloquently expressed by the erstwhile Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Geoffrey Onyeama, whom together they made some modest achievements.

The envoys stated that contrary to the claim of Mr. Alkasim that the Ministry has completed as at 24th October 2023 sending the money for Ambassadors passages to return home, that the information was misleading as none of the Envoys has received such money as at today 30th October 2023 and that the information filtering from headquarters was that a circular was to be sent to missions to source (borrow) money to pay for the envoys passages.

“I urge the Special Assistant to the Honourable Minister to please find out from his boss and report to the public: (1) whether or not he was consulted before the Ambassadors wrote him for the extension of date to 31st December 2023; (2) Whether or not he was in receipt of the letter to that effect dated September 8, 2023; (3) Whether or not he assured his erstwhile colleagues that he was going to present their request to Mr. President and; (4) whether he did present the request to His Excellency Mr President.”

The statement noted that the Envoys would not sit down and watch their hard earned reputation dragged in the mud.

“The envoys will in due course and not long, address the public as it is important to discharge this obligations for the overall well-being of the 4Ds foreign policy directions of the Renewed Hope mantra of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s government,” he noted.