The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has advised the National Assembly to hold a public hearing on the hate speech bill before it to ensure that views of Nigerians were captured in the passage of the bill.
Aminu Tambuwal gave the advice while fielding questions from newsmen at the end of the forum meeting held on Wednesday night in Abuja.
He advised the federal lawmakers to respect the views of Nigerians on the bill.
“I am not sure I have heard any governor come out to say he is in support of the death penalty for hate speech.
“I believe the National Assembly should hold a public hearing on that bill so that due process of lawmaking is followed so that the views of Nigerians not just the governors will be well captured on that bill.
“They should respect the views of Nigerians in whatever may be the direction of debate and the eventual passage or otherwise of that bill,” Tambuwal said.
Asked of the governors’ position on the Finance Bill submitted to the NASS by President Muhammadu Buhari to increase Value Added Tax (VAT) from five to 7.5. percent, Tambuwal appealed to Nigerians to show more understanding with the Federal Government.
He said that the governors were in support of what would improve the revenue generation drive of both the federal and state governments.
“We are appealing to those who probably have no proper understanding of the contexts of those bills to kindly have a rethink of them and reflect on the quantum of work ahead of us.
“There is an urgent need for more revenue in Nigeria. So, I appeal that we should show more understanding with the Federal Government in that regard,” he said.
On the December deadline for the implementation of minimum wage issued by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to state governors, Tambuwal said the various states were engaging labor unions on the issue.
“I am sure it is a work in progress. Before December all the states must have finished working out the details on the issue of minimum wage across the federation.
“We are very much committed to the welfare and wellbeing of our workforce and therefore we shall continue to ensure we do our best on what needs to be done.”
Tambuwal said the forum received an update on the outcome of its meeting in the US with Aliko Dangote Foundation, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Human Capital Development with a focus on Primary Health Care (PHC).
He said that at the meeting, the governors and the two Foundations expressed commitment to the Seattle Declaration aimed at promoting collaboration to transform PHC at the subnational level in Nigeria
This according to him includes full implementation of PHC Under One Roof and meeting the requirements of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund.
“To improve efficiency gains across governments and economic activities at the household level, the NGF committed to initiatives to advance value-added activities in agriculture, access to finance and women economic empowerment.”
Tambuwal disclosed that the governors also received an update on the World Bank State Fiscal Transparency
Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) program and discussed modalities to ensure its smooth and accelerated implementation.
“Following a presentation from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation on the SFTAS Annual Performance Appraisal (APA) mission to States, members committed to working with the Independent Verification Agent (IVA) to ensure that the APA process does not experience delays.
“The forum also held a preliminary consultative session with the World Bank Country Director, Shubham Chaudhuri and his team on the new Country Partnership Framework (CPF) for Nigeria for the period of 2020 to 2024.
“This also includes a planned Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment Program.
“Governors promised to hold a dedicated session to reach a consensus on what matters most for States and a common agenda to improve the wellbeing of all Nigerians.”
Tambuwal said that in commemorating the anniversary of the Rights of Children, Peter Hawkins, the Country Representative of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) made a presentation to the forum where education of Nigeria’s children was unequivocally emphasized.
Asked if the forum was looking at ensuring each member state domesticate the Child Right Act, Tambuwal said many states had already passed the law.
“I believe some of the states that have challenges that have to do with religion, culture or others are dealing with them at the local level and addressing them.
“The peculiarity depends on the situation of an individual state.”
The seventh meeting was attended by governors of Sokoto, Yobe, Zamfara, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Niger, Imo, Adamawa, and Kwara.
Other states such as Gombe, Enugu, Edo, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Oyo, and Ebonyi were represented by their deputy governors.
Edited by Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)
Address host communities’ issues in new PIB – Expert
Henshaw made this known at a Virtual Masters class on Precept 5 of the Nigerian Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) in Abuja on Sunday.
He said it was unfortunate that over the years, various forms of benefits transfer to oil-producing communities, put in place by the Federal Government had failed to address the exploitation, degradation and deprivation suffered by the communities.
He named the benefits transfer to oil-producing communities to include the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Ministry of Niger Delta, the 13 per cent Derivation Fund and Ecological Fund.
Henshaw said that passage of a decent PIB bill that addressed the concerns of citizens must ensure benefit sharing mechanisms that translated to tangible benefits for people in the region.
According to him, it has to ensure Implementation of the National Petroleum Policy and end to all environmentally dangerous practices in the sector.
“Amendment of NOSDRA Act to increase its capacity to carry out its activities without relying on oil companies.
“Engendering trust by ensuring meaningful participation in extractive resource projects,’’ he said.
On the 13 per cent derivative paid to oil producing states, he said that it had not impacted the communities as the accounts were domiciled with the state governments.
This, he said, has made it difficult to monitor its use for the development of the region.
He said that some states like Edo, Delta and Imo had created some special commission for implementation of projects which nerve worked but rather promoted corruption in the system.
“The continuous failure of government to ensure local impact to ensure benefits are properly transferred, will not bring any change,” he said.
He said that the recent Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) introduced in the system should be explored effectively to help benefit transfer mechanism.
He called for the overhaul of benefit transfer mechanisms, like the Niger Delta Development Commission and 13 per cent derivation fund, adding that strengthening issues in the GMOUs and ensuring that they were put into law should be key.
“A decent PIB can tackle all these for the effective growth and development needed in the country,’’ he added.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)
China Loan: Amaechi says Nigeria will pay back in 20years
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi says Nigerian government has the capability to pay back loans collected for the construction of rail projects within the stipulated period of 20 years.
Amaechi, in a statement on Saturday, said China was the only country giving out loans with a low interest rate of 2.8 per cent.
He said no country in the world would give out a loan without a guarantee to pay back such loans.
“The trade agreement between Nigeria and China, the ministry of transportation does not take loan, everything about loan is directed to the Ministry of Finance, so, I couldn’t have signed any loan because I don’t take loan.
“What I signed is what is called commercial contract, which is contract between the Federal Government and CCECC as a contractor, the contract between Nigeria and China is usually signed by the ministry of finance.
“Whether is the ministry of finance that signed it or the ministry of transportation, the issue is that nobody will give you loan free of charge.
“There must be an agreement and such agreement must contain some terms, that doesn’t mean that you are signing away the sovereignty of the country, no country will sign out its sovereignty.
“What clause 8 says is, I expect you to pay according to those terms we have agreed, if you don’t pay, don’t throw your immunity on me when I come to collect back the guarantee that was put forward, that is all.
“We are paying the loans. In the same National Assembly sitting, they were told that of the 500million dollars loan, we have paid 96 million dollars already, Nigeria is already paying.
“And the 500 million dollars was not taken by us, it was taken by President Goodluck Jonathan in his term and that clause was there.
“Nigeria has the capacity to pay back for the period of 20 years at 2.8 per cent, which country will give you that loan? Secondly, these loans are not given to us, they are paid directly to the contractors.
“Once they sign that the job has been done, they pay the contractors and that has never happened before and this project are in place. Are they trying to rubbish the fact that there is a railway from Abuja-Kaduna?
“There is no loan in Nigeria, either internal or external that is not approved by the National Assembly, none.
The minister further said the government needed the loans to boost infrastructure in the country.
According to him, the sovereign guarantee and sovereign immunity clause raised by the NASS is a term used to ensure that loans collected are paid back.
The minister said in the case of a default, only the assets constructed with such a loan would be taken back.
He said: “What you do is you give a sovereign guarantee and that guarantee is the immunity clause they are talking about.
“When we say, I give you a sovereign guarantee and we get immunity clause, the immunity clause is that, if tomorrow I am not able to pay and you come to collect the items we have agreed upon, that these are the items that am putting down as guarantee, I can waive my immunity and say no you can’t touch it am sovereign country.
“So, they are saying, if you are not able to pay, don’t stop us from taking back those items that will make us recover our funds. So, is China our father that will give us money for free?
“It is a standard clause in every agreement whether is America we signed it with, whether is Britain, any country would want to know that they can recover their money.
“Anybody that is saying he doesn’t know what a sovereign guarantee or immunity is, too bad for the person, because it simply means in trade that I am not giving you this loan free of charge.
“Just like you go to the bank to collect a loan, the moment you don’t pay they go after your assets you put down, that is all about the clause, the Chinese can never come and take over Aso rock and become President or Minister.
” And if the assets you put down become depreciated then you negotiate which assets they can go after. Chinese will never take over what was not constructed with the loan.”
Amaechi noted that it would be unconstitutional to take a loan not approved by the NASS, but for confidentiality in government he would have published the clauses generating the dusts.
The minister while asking the reason for the investigation by the NASS added that they were aware of all the loans.
He said:” The Chinese is just asking us to show them the evidence that we will pay back, which is the immunity clause. If we don’t pay, they can take back their assets.”
On the Zambia experience, where the country could not meet up with its loan agreement, the minister said that the Chinese government will never take over infrastructure that was not constructed from the money taken.
He also acknowledged that the finance ministry in a payment plan had started paying back some of the loans collected.
He said the payment plan was the responsibility of the ministry of finance, and the Ministry of transportation was supposed to implement the contract.
“They are meeting the requirements, at any point in time that we need to pay, we’ll pay. 1.6 billion dollars was taken to fix Lagos to Ibadan, we are asking for 5.3 billion dollars to fix from Ibadan to Kano.
“3.2 billion dollars to fix Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, then Lagos to Calabar which is about 11.1billion dollars, if those things were done when we had money, the infrastructure will be here today? The answer is no,” Amaechi added.
The minister, however, called on the National Assembly and Nigerians to appreciate government effort in providing infrastructure in the country.
Amaechi noted that the Itakpe /Warri rail project in the South South, which was abandoned for thirty four years by successive governments was fully rehabilitated by the present administration without seeking for loan.
Edited By: Yakubu Uba/Felix Ajide (NAN)
NASS investigation may frustrate Chinese loan for rail projects -Amaechi
The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, says the ongoing National Assembly investigation may frustrate the loan agreement between Nigeria and China to finance the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri rail project.
Amaechi, who stated this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, said the Chinese government had said if there are issues the negotiations will not be concluded.
“The investigation being carried out by National Assembly may frustrate the loan agreement between us and China on the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri rail project.
“So, if tomorrow we are unable to construct Port Harcourt to Maiduguri railway because we didn’t get the loan, it is because of the investigation by NASS.
“I told the National Assembly that they can investigate but they should allow us get the loan first.
“If they stop the work from Ibadan to Kano, it is because of the investigations, same with Lagos to Calabar railway.
“If you think there is corruption, investigate corruption. What we are saying is that we should conclude negotiation first because there is pressure affecting the Chinese government in which they are talking to us directly.
“So, for me, what is primary here should be national interest.
“We have the approval to construct the Lagos-Ibadan, Lagos-Kano and Lagos-Calabar rail lines; we are also at the point of negotiating for the loans.
“Summoning us to the National Assembly to come and address the loans would look like the government is no longer interested in the loan,’’ he said.
On plans to repay the loans, the minister said that profit generated from the train service would be used through a special account to be opened for that purpose.
Amaechi, however, debunked insinuations that the Chinese loan was being paid directly to the Nigerian government to execute the rail projects.
“One good thing about the loan we are collecting is that they are not paid to us, they are paid directly to the contractors who execute those projects,’’ he explained.
On insecurity on Nigerian waterways, Amaechi said that it was time for the federal government to address the issues of companies making money from insecurity in the country.
He, however, said that the ministry was set to address the issue by executing the 195 million dollars contract meant to address the problem of insecurity on the waterways.
Edited By: Johnson Eyiangho/Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)
Delay in passage of PIB affects exploration, investments- NAPE
Mr Alex Tarka, President, Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE) says the delay in the passage of Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) has negatively impacted exploration in the oil and gas sector.
Tarka made this known at Virtual workshop on Leveraging fiscal regulations to attract Investments in the Petroleum sector, on Thursday.
He said that there was the need for policy that would help drive the expected investments and stimulus in the upstream oil and gas sector for employment generation and economic growth.
He said there was need for aggressive exploration in the country noting that new fiscal policy of the PIB must reduce government participation to enable investors to participate.
He said that currently only the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had been involved in exploration in the country.
This, he said, was not good for the sector with the role oil and gas sector played in the economic development of the country.
“The industry especially the upstream needs a lot of palliatives, waivers and stimulus to operate to enable it sustain employment .
“We need policies in place to get thing done properly,’’ he noted.
Tarka further noted that delay in passing PIB had driven away many investors to the sector adding that the quick passage of the bill would show the seriousness of Nigerian government in developing the sector.
“Exploration is expensive, especially here, so as an investor, if I don’t see any seriousness by government to show how safe my investment will be, I will keep it elsewhere.
“Until PIB is passed, investors will continue to look elsewhere to invest, so, there is no better time than now to rob minds on this issue and get the bill passed,’’ he added.
Edited By: Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)