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Senate asks DPR to reappear over unremitted N2tn

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The Senate on Friday scolded officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources for remitting only N44.5bn out of the N2.4tn it generated in 2019 into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

The joint Senate committee on Finance and National Planning, displeased by the low remittance, ordered that the agency must reappear before it unfailingly on Tuesday and must be led by its Director, Sarki Auwalu, who was absent during the interactive session organized by the committee.

The Chairman of the joint panel, Senator Solomon Adeola, had demanded records of the agency’s internally generated revenues in 2019 and projections for 2021.

The committee members expressed shock when DPR’s Head of Planning, Mr. Johnson Ajewole, said a total of N2.4tn was generated by the DPR in 2019 but only N44.5bn was remitted into the CRF. They described the submission as unacceptable.

Efforts by the agency’s Head of Finance and Accounts, Mrs. Lilian Ufondu, to explain the wide margin further angered the lawmakers.

She explained that out of the N2.4tn generated in 2019, N88bn was removed as a four percent cost of collection. She also said N5.72bn was remitted while the balance was used for overhead.

Further questions directed at her by the Chairman and members on what happened to the over N2tn balance, were deemed to be unsatisfactory by the lawmakers as she only mentioned overhead and operational costs without specific figures tied to them.

She however said that as of July 2020, DPR had generated N1.13tn while it projected N3.4tn as revenues generation for 2021, noting that N139bn would be deducted as a four percent collection fee.

Adeola said, “For this committee to do a proper and thorough job, comprehensive records of such budget performances must be made available latest by Monday next week, upon which your director and other top management staff will appear before us again on Tuesday next week. Detailed proposals for revenue generation by the agency for 2021-2022 must be included in the expected comprehensive records.”

Meanwhile, the Senate on Friday said revenue-generating agencies in the country would no longer be given yearly targets in order to make them perform optimally.

Adeola, who is also the Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, disclosed at the ongoing stakeholders’ engagement between agencies and the joint committee on the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper that the upper chamber would ensure strict adherence to the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

The Act forbids any agency from spending money without National Assembly’s appropriation, noting that all money generated would henceforth be properly documented by the agencies and paid in full to the CRF.

During the assessment of the budgetary performance of the Nigerian Television Authority in the current fiscal year, Adeola said the senate would only approve the cost of production, adding that revenue-generating agencies would have to adopt the system practiced by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, where agencies generate revenue, deduct the approved cost of production and remit the rest to the CRF in line with the FRA.

“There is no point in giving a target to the agencies. That would stop going forward. They will perform more if they know that the higher revenue they collect, the more money they get as operational cost,” he added.

The committee chairman also expressed shock when he discovered that the multi-billion naira deal between the NTA and StarTimes was not included in the documents submitted to the committee by NTA’s Director-General, Mallam Mohammed Yakubu.

The committee chairman said the joint panel would begin the probe of NTA’s financial transactions on Monday.

He added, “The documents that the NTA presented to us is not the true position of the revenue accruable to it. Any expenditure not contained in the document before us that is only known to NTA is a fraud. We want to know how much you get from production every year; how much you realize from other activities, like documentaries and advertisement.”

He asked the NTA to produce the details of its debtors and the amount owed, adding, “All the documents must be provided by the NTA DG by 11 am on Monday.”

The DG however told the panel he would ask those in charge of the debtor’s details to produce them so as to provide the committee with accurate information.

On the revenue accruable to the NTA from its joint partnership agreement with StarTimes, the DG said, “I will provide details on Monday.”

Meanwhile, ongoing plans by senators from Ogun and Ondo states to ensure that the moribund multibillion-dollar Olokola Deep Seaport and Free Trade Zone project is revived may have suffered a major setback.

Investigations by our correspondent revealed that the Ogun and Ondo state governments had allegedly pulled out of the tripartite deal.

The Olokola Deep Seaport/Free Trade Zone project, meant to be a tripartite venture between the Federal Government and the two states, has been in limbo since its conception by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo administration. The project was designed to be situated at its boundary.

A member of the Senate Committee on Industry, Trade and Investment, Senator Tolu Odebiyi, who represents Ogun West Senatorial District, told our correspondent he was working with his colleagues to make sure the project was revived, lamenting that successive governments after the Obasanjo administration had not exhibited significant commitment to ensure its realization.

But a senator from one of the two states told our correspondent on condition of anonymity on Friday that the governments of the two states were no longer interested in the partnership because they had reached advanced stages in setting up their respective deep seaports.

“I don’t really think we can do anything at this stage to make them revert to the original joint venture agreement. It may not work again,” he said.

But Odebiyi told our correspondent on Saturday that they would not give up on the project. “We will meet and review the situation when we resume plenary next month,” he added.    ,,

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NIGERIA

EDO 2020 UPDATES: Godwin Obaseki wins polling unit

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Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State has won his polling unit in the ongoing governorship election in the state.

Voting at Polling Unit 19, Ward 4, Oredo Local Government Area, Obaseki polled 184 votes while All Progressives Congress governorship candidate, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, got 62 votes.

In Unit 21 of the same ward, the PDP garnered 53 votes while the APC polled 33 votes.

Obaseki’s PDP polled 70 votes ahead of Ize-Iyamu’s APC that garnered 65 votes. In Unit 23, it was PDP 101, APC 32.

In Unit 24 of the same Oredo Ward 4, PDP won with 94 votes, while the APC got 50 votes.

Also in the same ward, Unit 25, the PDP got 33 votes ahead of the APC’s 22 votes.

Casting of ballots ended in most of the areas at 2:30pm

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NIGERIA

School building collapses in Lagos (photos)

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A three-story building belonging to a private school in the Ejigbo area in Lagos state collapsed on Saturday, September 19.

The affected school, Excel College, which is located at 15, Ansarudeen Street, Ile-Epo Bus-Stop, collapsed at about 8.15 am. So far, there are no reports of casualties recorded.

According to eyewitnesses, the privately-owned building belonging to Excel College had previously shown signs of distress and the school was planning to renovate the structure before the collapse.

 

School building collapses in Lagos (photos)School building collapses in Lagos (photos)

by Linda Ike

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NIGERIA

Edo election: I’m disappointed, says Obaseki after voting

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Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has expressed displeasure over the conduct of the ongoing governorship election in the state.

He said the Independent National Electoral Commission should have prepared better for the election.

Obaseki spoke after casting his vote at Polling Unit 19, Ward 4, Oredo Local Government Area.

The governor lamented that he stayed for over one and a half hours in the queue.

The Peoples Democratic Party candidate in the election said he was delayed because the card reader was slow.

He said, “I expected that INEC would have prepared better for this election. I waited for one and a half hours in the queue before exercising my franchise, it’s a bit disappointing.

“Giving that this is a sole day election, I expected better planning for this election. Card readers were very slow and that’s the situation everywhere.”

Earlier, the Special Adviser to Edo State Governor, Crusoe Osagie, alleged that there was manipulation in areas where Obaseki is popular.

He said, “Suddenly card readers are not working in areas where Governor Godwin Obaseki is very popular.

“Voters are being disenfranchised and we are constrained to say that this is sabotage.

“Specifically, in Oredo Ward 1, Unit 20 and other places where the Governor is clearly popular, the card readers are not working.

“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should prove to Edo voters that it can conduct a credible election in Edo State.”

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