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De-register more political parties – APC tells INEC

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De-register more political parties – APC tells INE

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to de-register more political parties to sanitise Nigeria’s electoral system.

Mr Nwachukwu Eze, the Chairman of Ebonyi Chapter of APC made the call in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abakaliki.

Eze said that the de-registration process should continue until the country has a maximum of six political parties to ensure that the electoral space was not ‘unnecessarily congested’.

“We applaud INEC for doing the needful as such de-registration had been overdue.

“We had a situation where few individuals or family members put-up papers and register with INEC but do not exist in states or anywhere in the country.

“They do not have offices, membership bases, structures and one person in most cases, is the chairman, secretary and other members of the executive.

“INEC has presently decided to sanitise the system and this can be likened to the deleting of unwanted files in a computer for it to have enough storage space,” he said.

The chairman said that such de-registration would sanitise the electoral process, especially by eliminating complexities recorded during voting.

“This decision will make logos of political parties appear bold on ballot papers and make voters have enough space to thumb-print.

“When we have over 90 political parties on a ballot paper, the illiterate voters would be confused on how to thumbprint,” he said.

He urged INEC not to be distracted by complaints over the de-registration, advising it to ‘shut its ears’.

“There is no case of victimisation in the decision as the affected parties know they are not in existence.

“A situation where some parties will poll over 10 million votes in a general election, while others will not have up to 1, 000 votes in a country of over 120 million people is appalling.

“INEC has an assemblage of the best lawyers in the country either as staff or consultants and its reputation will make it shun acts that will be subjudice before the court.

“There is no order restraining INEC from implementing the decision and it is only when such is obtained that the issue of subjudice will arise,” he said.

NAN reports that the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had on Thursday announced de-registration of 74 political parties for failing to meet Constitutional requirements for them to exist as political parties in the country.

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Why Nigerians should embrace the increased fuel, electricity price – Lai Mohammed

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… Nigerians pay lowest for fuel, electricity in W/Africa – Minister

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed on Saturday said the recent agitation from Nigerians over the hike in fuel prices and electricity tarriffs is unnecessary at this period.

He said ot is better if the citizens embrace the new prices and hope for a better future where they can pay lesser as the increase will benefit the ordinary Nigerian in the long run

The minister made these remarks while meeting with online publishers in Lagos.

He also appealed to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) not to go ahead with its proposed industrial action scheduled for Monday.

The planned action, which is being organised as a protest against the increases, can only bring more hardship to ordinary Nigerians, Mr Mohammed argued.

“Ordinary citizens are not the beneficiaries of the subsidy on petroleum products that has lasted for years,” the Minister said, adding that the government can no longer afford the cost of the subsidy.

The Minister also argued that despite the increase, Nigerians still pay less for fuel, compared to neighbouring countries.

On electricity, Mr Mohammed said the hike will lead to increased quality in the supply of power, noting that the government cannot sustain its subsidy to the sector.

Again, he stressed that Nigerians still pay less for electricity, compared to people in neighbouring countries.

“We thank Nigerians for their understanding, and wish to appeal to
them to please bear with the government,” he said.

READ FULL TEXT OF THE MINISTER’S SATURDAY BRIEFING

TEXT OF THE BRIEFING BY THE HON. MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, DURING MEETING WITH ONLINE PUBLISHERS IN LAGOS ON SATURDAY, 26 SEPT 2020 ON THE RECENT INCREASES IN PETROL AND ELECTRICITY PRICES.

Good morning gentlemen, and thank you most sincerely for honouring our
invitation to this briefing.

2. As you are aware, the hike in the cost of fuel as a consequence of deregulation and the higher prices occasioned by service-based electricity tariff adjustment have led to various reactions, especially from organized labour which has threatened a nationwide strike. It has also led to accusation of insensitivity on the part of government.

3. I want to assure Nigerians, through you – gentlemen of the press – that the government is not insensitive to their plight. As a matter of fact, the full deregulation of the petroleum sector and the service-based electricity tariff adjustment will in the long run benefit the ordinary people

4. Let’s start with deregulation. Ordinary citizens are not the beneficiaries of the subsidy on petroleum products that has lasted for years. Between 2006 and 2019, a total of 10.4 trillion Naira was spent on fuel subsidy, most of which went to fat cats who either collected subsidy for products they didn’t import or diverted the products to neighbouring countries, where prices are much higher. Instead of subsidy, ordinary Nigerians were subjected to scarcity of petroleum products. They endured incessant long queues and paid higher to get the products, thus making the subsidy ineffectual.

5. Apart from that, the truth is that the government can no longer afford the cost of subsidy, especially under the prevailing economic conditions. Revenues and foreign exchange earnings by the government have fallen by almost 60%, due to the downturn in the fortunes of the oil sector. And there is no provision for subsidy in the revised 2020 budget. So where will the subsidy money come from? Remember that despite the massive fall in revenues, the government still has to sustain expenditures, especially on salaries and capital projects.

6. Still on subsidy, as I said, from 2006 to 2019, fuel subsidy gulped 10.4 trillion Naira. That is an average of 743.8 billion Naira per annum. According to figures provided by the NNPC, the breakdown of the 14-year subsidy is as follows:

– – In 2006 Subsidy was 257bn
– In 2007 Subsidy was 272bn
– In 2008 Subsidy was 631bn
– In 2009 469bn
– In 2010 667bn
– In 2011 2.105tn
– In 2012 1.355tn
– In 2013 1.316tn
– In 2014 1.217tn
– In 2015 654bn
– In 2016 Figure Not Available
– In 2017 Subsidy was 144.3bn
– In 2018 730.86bn
– And in 2019 Subsidy was 595bn

7. The drastic fall in the revenues of the government explains why the government had to take certain tough decisions, even as it is acting to mitigate the effect of the economic slowdown by adopting an Economic Sustainability Plan. One of such difficult decisions, which we took at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in March – when oil prices collapsed at the height of the global lockdown – was the deregulation of the prices of PMS.

8. Recall that the benefit of lower prices at that time was passed to consumers. Everyone welcomed the lower fuel price then. Again, the effect of deregulation is that PMS prices will change with changes in global oil prices. This means quite regrettably that as oil prices recover, there will be some increases in PMS prices. This is what has happened now. I am sure Nigerians will prefer to pay slightly higher for PMS than to queue for hours just to get the products at higher prices.

9. I also want to say that the effect of the changes in the international prices of crude oil on local fuel prices will not last forever. Modular refineries are beginning to come on stream in the country, and this will help lower the cost of petroleum products. Next month, the Waltersmith Modular Refinery in Ibigwe, Imo State, will be commissioned, starting with refining 5,000 barrels of crude per day and increasing rapidly to 50,000 barrels of crude. Many more modular refineries are also in different stages of completion across the
country, in addition to the 650,000 barrels per day Dangote Refinery. The deregulation will bring more investments into the sector, to the benefit of Nigerians,

10. Gentlemen, even with the increase in the price of fuel due to deregulation, PMS is still cheaper in Nigeria than in the neighbouring countries, and indeed in the entire West/Central African sub-regions. Here is a comparative analysis of petrol prices in the sub-regions (Naira equivalent per litre):
– Nigeria – 162 Naira per litre
– Ghana – 332 Naira per litre
– Benin – 359 Naira per litre
– Togo – 300 Naira per litre
– Niger – 346 Naira per litre
– Chad – 366 Naira per litre
– Cameroon – 449 Naira per litre
– Burkina Faso – 433 Naira per Litre
– Mali – 476 Naira per litre
– Liberia – 257 Naira per litre
– Sierra Leone – 281 Naira per litre
– Guinea – 363 Naira per litre
– Senegal – 549 Naira per litre

11. Outside the sub-region, petrol sells for 211 Naira per litre in Egypt and 168 Naira per litre in Saudi Arabia. You can now see that even with the removal of subsidy, fuel price in Nigeria remains among the cheapest in Africa. In the long run, deregulation will pay off and Nigerians will pay less.

ELECTRICITY TARIFF

12. Another issue we want to address here today is the recent service-based electricity tariff adjustment by the Distribution Companies, or DISCOS. The truth of the matter is that due to the problems with the largely-privatized electricity industry, the government has been supporting the industry. To keep the industry going, the government has so far spent almost 1.7 trillion Naira, especially by way of supplementing tariff shortfalls. The government does not have the resources to continue along this path. To borrow just to subsidize generation and distribution, which are both privatized, will be grossly irresponsible.

13. But in order to protect the large majority of Nigerians who cannot afford to pay cost-reflective tariffs from increases, the industry regulator, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), has approved that tariff adjustments had to be made but only on the basis of guaranteed improvement in service. Under this new arrangement, only customers with guaranteed minimum of 12 hours of electricity can have their tariffs adjusted. Those who get less than 12 hours supply will experience no increase. This is the largest group of customers.

14. Government has also noted the complaints about arbitrary estimated billing. Accordingly, a mass metering programme is being undertaken to provide meters for over 5 million Nigerians, largely driven by preferred procurement from local manufacturers, and creating thousands of jobs in the process. NERC will also strictly enforce the capping regulation to ensure that unmetered customers are not charged beyond the metered customers in their neighbourhood. In other words, there will be no more estimated billings.

15. The government is also taking steps to connect those Nigerians who
are not even connected to electricity at all. As you are aware, under its Economic Sustainability Plan, the government is providing solar power to 5 million Nigerian households in the next 12 months. This alone will produce 250,000 jobs and impact up to 25 million beneficiaries through the installation, thus ensuring that more Nigerians will have access to electricity via a reliable and sustainable solar system.

16. Again, like PMS, despite the recent service-based tariff review, the cost of electricity in Nigeria is still cheaper or compares favourably with that of many countries in Africa.

HERE ARE COST IN NAIRA PER KWH IN SOME AFRICAN COUNTRIES.
– Nigeria 49.75
– Senegal 71.17
– Guinea 41.36
– Sierra Leone 106.02
– Liberia 206.01
– Niger 59.28
– Mali 88.23
– Burkina Faso 85.09
– Togo 79.88

TIMING OF THE PRICE INCREASES

17. Gentlemen, the timing of these two necessary adjustments, in the petroleum and power sectors, has raised some concerns among Nigerians and reinforced the false narrative that the government is insensitive
to the plight of the citizens. This is a mere coincidence. First, the deregulation of PMS prices was announced on 18 March 2020, and the price modulation that took place at the beginning of this month was just part of the on-going monthly adjustments to global crude oil prices.

18. Also, the review of service-based electricity tariffs was scheduled to start at the beginning of July 2020 but was put on hold so that further studies and proper arrangements can be made. Like Mr. President said at the opening of the last Ministerial Retreat, this government is not insensitive to the current economic difficulties our people are going through and the very tough economic situation we face as a nation. We certainly will not inflict hardship on our people. But we are convinced that if we stay focused on our plans, brighter and more prosperous days will come soon.

19. We thank Nigerians for their understanding, and wish to appeal to them to please bear with the government. The deregulation of the petroleum sector will save the country trillions of Naira, which can then be used to provide modern infrastructures for the benefit of the people. It will also spur investments in the petroleum industry, especially in the building of local refineries which will result in lower fuel prices.

20. Also, the service-based electricity tariff adjustment and the ongoing work by German company Siemens to boost power supply in Nigeria will help end the perennial power problem in the country. Let me remind you that under the three-phase Siemens deal, Nigerians will enjoy 7,000 megawatts of reliable power supply by the end of 2021 (phase 1), 11,000 megawatts by the end of 2023 (phase 2) and 25,000 megawatts in the third phase.

21. Finally, we wish to appeal to organize labour to shelve its planned strike, which can only bring more hardship to ordinary Nigerians.

22 I thank you for your kind attention

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Makinde is fulfilling campaign promises, reviving Oyo’s economy-Media aide

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…says Adelabu is blinded by ambition, lost touch with reality

The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, has said that the governor has been fulfilling his electoral promises and building a new Oyo State.

The governor’s aide stated that contrary to criticisms by the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress(APC) in the 2019 election, Mr Adebayo Adelabu that none of the promises Makinde made to the electorate has been fulfilled, the governor has in the last one year and four months, placed the state on a sound footing for economic expansion and put in place policies and programmes that are lifting the people from poverty to prosperity.

A statement by the governor’s Media Aide indicated that Adelabu’s comments are clear indications that he has lost touch with the current reality in Oyo State, having been blinded by unbridled ambition to govern the state.

He said: “Governor Makinde, as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), made promises on the campaign train which were later crystalised into the four-point service agenda of his administration including Security, Health, Education and expanded Economy (using the agricultural value chain.)

“14 months into the tenure, notwithstanding the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, which rattled the world and slowed down the pace of developmental works, the administration of Engineer Makinde has been busy recording one great landmark achievement after the other. 

“Even the blind can see the improvements made to the Health sector; everyone can see that the free and qualitative education is yielding fruits; that the security has been taken a top notch; and that the economy is expanding fast with improved infrastructure and revival of moribund companies that harbour huge revenue potentials,” the statement read in part.

The statement further maintained that thanks to the prudence and ingenuity of the Makinde administration, which recently introduced the Alternative Projects Funding Approach (APFA), the government is presently working on the all-important 67 km Moniya-Iseyin road, to open up the food basket of the state; the 21km Ajia-Airport road; remodeling the Adamasingba Stadium, as well as fixing the abandoned Agbowo shopping complex, Ibadan.

The statement indicated that Makinde’s achievements in 14 months have already outclassed the returns of the eight year tenure of the immediate past APC administration in the state.

According to the  statement, the achievements of the administration in the health sector include the equipment of the Infectious Disease Centre, Olodo, Ibadan; the setting up of Saki Specialist Hospital, Saki and the determination to remodel and equip Grade III Primary Health Centres across each of the electoral wards, which is well on course, saying these are landmarks the APC chieftain won’t acknowledge.

The statement added: “The Oranyan Maternity Centre, Eyin Grammar Comprehensive Health Centre in Ibadan, and Aafin Oyo and Aawe PHCs in Oyo zone are great testaments to Makinde’s revitalization of the Health sector.

 “Governor Makinde has also completed the Phase One of the Light-Up Oyo State Project and commenced the second phase. It is to be noted that the Light-Up Project is a multi-purpose project which addresses the security challenges, enhances night life and expands the economy as we drive the state towards a 24-hour economy status.”

The statement added that the Makinde government has embarked on a steady rebuilding of the state’s infrastructure, adding that the administration has also been guiding the state towards a solid economic revival through different policies and initiatives.

According to the statement, the claims by Adelabu that he would remove Makinde from office in 2023 amounted to a wild dream of a man blinded by ambition.

It added that Adelabu lacked the understanding of what the state needed to move forward, since he does not have any form of blueprint to develop the state.

The statement read: “Let it be on record that the people of Oyo State are happy with the deliverables by the administration of Governor Makinde, since he has practically turned the state to a huge construction site. “Everyone is happy that the governor is delivering on his promises.

“But one is in no doubt to state that Adelabu has never read a line of the Roadmap to Accelerated Development of Oyo State 2019-2023, which is the book of government for every step Governor Makinde has taken since May 2019. One is also not in doubt to state that Adelabu does not know that rather than tax the hapless students of Oyo State, Governor Makinde has been paying In excess of N526 million per term to primary and secondary schools in the state to cater for the needs of.their pupils and students as part of his free education policy.”

The statement particularly frowned on the misguided view of the APC candidate on payment of salaries in the state and what he described as populist programmes, saying that Adelabu’s statement showed clearly that he was happy with the previous administration’s shabby treatment of workers, teachers and pensioners.

“We must equally put on record that the people of Oyo State are not looking for a governor that will refuse to pay their salaries and gratuities; return the pensioners to deadwood,  who will only be paid in percentages and owe teachers for years, as his mentor, former Governor Abiola Ajimobi did.

“Adelabu has never missed an opportunity to criticise the effort of the Makinde government to ensure prompt payment of salaries and pensions on or before 25th of every month. “Unfortunately for him, he does not know that by constantly pushing money in excess of N11 billion into the state’s economy every 30 days, Makinde is deliberately reflating Oyo State’s economy and stabilizing the buying power of the people.

“It is to be placed on record as well that since May 29, 2019, Governor Makinde has never missed the payment of salaries/pensions on the 25th. In many instances, the payments have come earlier. In fact, workers received their September salaries on the 24th. 

“But that is what Adelabu chose to criticise. The lesson from this is that Adelabu, like his mentor, detests the workforce and pensioners of the state and thinks that they do not deserve to be paid as and when due. The former CBN Deputy Governor criticising Makinde for paying salaries, showed that if ever he gets to govern the state, the welfare of workers and pensioners will not be his priority. Of course, no one would expect anything different,” the statement said.

“Anyway, the statement credited to Adelabu did not throw up a surprise. It is expected that the man, who has been on vacation from politics since he lost the last election, will look for a way to come back to limelight now that the dynamics of politics in his party shows that no one will impose him on the party any longer.

“What is surprising, however, is the fact that Adelabu has allowed his unbridled capitalistic tendencies to blind his eyes to developments in Oyo State, which he sought to govern, to the extent that he could not separate politics from development.

“For one, coming out to say that the administration of Governor Makinde has not done any of the things he promised showed that Adelabu has lost touch with reality; his only reality appears to be how to corner landed properties and build ventures for personal gains. If that is not the situation, one wonders how anyone reasonable would close his eyes to the massive infrastructure development going on in the state.

“Indeed, one would have loved to continue reeling out the achievements of the incumbent government in the state, but it will be needless, knowing that nothing can make Adelabu buy into a reasonable argument.

“We will like to state, however, that Adelabu should not take his arrogance to the point of playing god by claiming to have power to remove Makinde in 2023. No matter what he does, Makinde will not be distracted. The governor has not said anything about 2023, because he is busy delivering on the mandate given to him. When the time comes to talk about 2023, however, it is clear as crystal that the people will not allow charlatans and wicked politicians to take advantage of them. They already know those who are only interested in building capitalistic ventures and milking the people to their bone marrows.”

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Makinde urges FG to site gemstone market in Oyo

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…calls for economic diversification through mining

….As Mines and Steel Devt minister visits

Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has called on the Federal Government to site the hub of the nation’s gemstone market in the state in order to boost the mining industry in Nigeria.

The governor, who stated this while receiving the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arch. Olamilekan Adegbite, at the Government House, Agodi Ibadan, also sought for the support of the Federal Government to curb the activities of illegal miners.

He maintained that the state has already been putting some structures in place to enhance the development of its solid mineral development sector and position the state to benefit maximally from the immense opportunities available in the sector.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that the governor added that in line with his promise to build infrastructure that targets the economic expansion agenda of the administration, a number of projects are being put up to support the mining industry.

He said: “We do have some aspirations, which I think we can collaborate on, especially the gemstone market. It is informal right now but we want to formalise it. I know you are from Ogun State but Abeokuta should not even be in competition with us and I will tell you why. Here, we are putting up a number of projects that we think would support the mining industry, especially in the aspect of the expansion of Ibadan Airport.

“So, quite frankly, if we have the gemstone market, we will basically just take off from there to anywhere in the world and that is what we want to do.

“Ibadan used to be a regional capital and we have a fairly developed infrastructure. So, I think you should just give the gemstone market to us and let us sign it up this evening.

“Also, on the mineral surveillance programme, we were looking at doing that on our own, but we think that if we can collaborate with the Federal Government, that will allow us, from the outset, to key into that programme. One of the things that we always say here is that we are so much in a hurry to get things done and if the bureaucracy at the Federal Level will not allow things to happen as fast as we will love to see, then we can go ahead. But we can have the arrangement for the agreement that when you are indeed ready, we will just match that together. 

“We have seen cobalt here and we have also seen ledium here and when I looked at the quality, I think they told me it was about 70 per cent purity, when the entire world is looking for something around 40 per cent. So, for me, even though you classified it as something for the future, I think it is happening right now. Those are opportunities that we really want to wrap our fingers around in Oyo state. I also believe we do have challenges with the illegal miners. Not just here, I believe it is all over the country, but I believe it has to be sorted.”

Governor Makinde admonished the Federal Government to diversify the economy of the country by tapping into the economic benefits available in the mining industry.

“The fact that we have oil and gas reserves in abundance still should not preclude seriousness on our part to develop the solid mineral sector. If you have a little bit of unclarity with what people should do, how people should operate, that clarity has to be around the programme and so the local people can invest massively.”

The governor maintained as part of moves that can demonstrate the seriousness of the Federal Government in exploring the opportunities in the mining sector, the minister should encourage it to become active as part of the board of the Nigerian Marble Mining Company, Igbeti, which the state recently constituted in line with its commitment to expand its economy using mineral development as one of the core areas of focus.

“In Oyo State, we have the Igbeti Marble Mining Company and the Federal Government owns 20 per cent of that. We have seen people but when we came in, we did not meet anybody there. The Board was not in place for so long but when we came in, we started putting things together. We inaugurated the Board a few weeks back but we want the representative of the FG on that Board to be active. We also want the FG, through your ministry, to be active. We want to achieve and align on certain things.”

Earlier, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Adegbite, said the essence of the visit was to spread the gospel of mining to Oyo State and all over Nigeria.

He said: “We are in Oyo State essentially to spread the gospel of mining all over Nigeria. President Buhari, since assumption of office, has tried so much to diversify the economy, especially through the mining sector and agriculture. We have relied so much on oil and gas and whenever the vagaries of the oil prices happen in the international market, Nigeria catches the cold; our economy is in tatters. But to avoid that, there is massive injection of efforts and campaigns into agriculture, which has started yielding results.

“If not for the effort of the past four years, I think this pandemic would have caught us in more situations. But because we achieved some certain level of adequacy like feeding ourselves, that is why the strength of the pandemic was not so bad on our people. It could have been worse.

“We are in Oyo State to bring awareness and to let people know more about what we are doing in the sector. At the same time, we have been doing a lot of international road shows. We go there and publicise mining in Nigeria. Nigeria is known for oil and gas and it is very difficult to convince people otherwise that mining can thrive in Nigeria. But we are getting some tractions because of the investment that has been put into the exploration of minerals in that sector.”

The minister, who stated that his Ministry has had good cooperation with the present administration in Oyo State, said he has been convinced on why the gems market should be in Ibadan, where he said seems to be the centre for the products, though informal.

“We have had a good cooperation with the Oyo State government, particularly this current government. I have had delegation from my office. They talk about mining in Oyo State, especially the gems market. Oyo State, particularly Ibadan here, seems to be the centre for the gems market, though the market is a bit informal because a lot of them don’t know the value of what they mine. 

“The focus primarily is on the minerals but not the gemstones. But now, we are beginning to organise that sector as well to make sure that we regulate the gemstones market. Ibadan and Abeokuta were in competition for that but I have been convinced to bring the market to Ibadan. The market exists already but all we need is to develop a fund and organise the market so that people can derive value for what they have laboured for. 

“Government can realise revenue from this market in terms of royalty and everybody will be happy about it. This is part of what we are doing and proclaiming all over the country,” Adegbite said.

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