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Fuel Subsidy: States Kick As NNPC Continues Deductions, FAAC To Meet On Wednesday

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As the Federation Account Allocation Committee meets for the first time in 2022 on Wednesday, there are significant indicators that state and federal governments are once again at odds.

Officials from the state, speaking to our correspondents on Sunday, criticized the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s continuous diversions from FAAC monies to support fuel subsidies, stating that the issue would be discussed at the meeting on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the NNPC was set to remove N270.83 billion from the January FAAC allocations, which would be divided by state, federal, and local governments.

Asuquo Ekpenyong, Junior, the Cross River State Commissioner for Finance, verified to one of our correspondents that the FAAC meeting will take place between Wednesday and Thursday.

In its December 2021 report to the FAAC, the NNPC announced that it will deduct some monies as a value shortfall sustained by the oil company in January 2022.

During the FAAC meeting in January, the company said it would subtract N270.83 billion from the amount to be split by the three tiers of government.

It said, “The estimated value shortfall of N270,831,143,856.56 is to be recovered from December 2021 proceed due for sharing at the January 2022 FAAC meeting.

“This value shortfall consists of N220,110,853,427.56 for November and N50,720,290,429.00 deferred for recovery in December 2021 FAAC report.”

Deductions unjustifiable – Delta

Speaking ahead of the FAAC meeting, the Delta State Commissioner for Finance,  Mr. Fidelis Tilije, in an interview, said that the Finance Commissioners’ Forum had made a series of conclusive resolutions on the deductions by the NNPC to finance fuel subsidy.

According to him, state governments will continue to oppose the deductions, which he described as non-transparent.

Tilije, who chaired the finance commissioners forum’s committee on the Petroleum Industry Act, said, “The issue of removal of fuel subsidy is the Federal Government’s responsibility and not FAAC responsibility.

“Ours is to look at sources of funding and expenditure. We have made a series of conclusive resolutions on the need for subsidy to be removed on one angle and secondly to also check the NNPC because we don’t know who is checking on what kind of subsidy they are paying.

“Because they are the one collecting the subsidy and they are the one spending it.  Those issues have been queried, of course, the Federal Government is in charge of the NNPC and the NNPC also behaves like a law. Until the Federal Government can take a decision on the issue of subsidy and there is nothing anybody can do.

“But unfortunately the Federal Government is also saying that it will need the state governors to guarantee the wellbeing of the people and ensure that there is no labor strike in their various states before they can remove subsidy. Who does that?”

When asked about the stand of states ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, he stated, “We have always been kicking against it (deductions for subsidy) and we will continue to kick against it, what we are saying is that the subsidy they are paying cannot be justified.

“We don’t know the exact figure we are consuming on a daily basis but their own argument is that now the price of crude oil has gone up and if you sell the crude oil at a high price and import petrol, you will have to be buying the petrol at a high price but for me, it is not true.”

It’s injustice against Ekiti – Commissioner

On his part, the Ekiti State Commissioner for Finance, Akin Oyebode,  expressed the opposition of the state government to the deduction of money for fuel subsidy from the Federation Account without the consent of states.

Oyebode, who said he could only speak for his state, said such deductions, which exemplified the country’s flawed fiscal federalism, amounted to injustice to some states including Ekiti.

The commissioner said, “I have been on record at the various Federation Accounts Allocation Committee meetings to state my vehement opposition to the continued deduction of subsidy without subjecting it to the consent of the states”.

He suggested two options for the Federal Government to resolve the issue going forward.

Oyebode said, “The issue is very clear, if the Federal Government decides in its wisdom to operate the subsidy on petroleum products without getting the consent of states, then it should bear the cost of the subsidy 100 percent and that cost should be taken from the Federal Government’s share of the Federation Account, not deducted at source from the Federation Account.

“And in the event that we, as a country, agree to continue with the subsidy regime, then the deduction should be made in line with the consumption of petroleum products in each state.

“A situation where Ekiti, for example, that consumes less than one percent of petroleum products gets a deduction of N3bn a month, is a significant loss to Ekiti. We could have used that money to meet all sorts of different demands from our people.

“We believe that this is again another example of the flawed fiscal federalism structure that we operate. Of course, this subsidy request has been tabled at FAAC, all we get at the meetings are reports of deductions taken at the source which I very strongly believe are even unconstitutional because these are not subject to appropriation.

“The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, in its wisdom, just comes and reports that this is how much was taken and they call it some funny names, but we know what it is – deductions for subsidy.”

Oyebode said that a curious aspect of the whole thing was that “there is even no basis for interrogating if in truth the volume of products on which subsidy had been charged had actually even got to the consumers.”

We are not in charge of Subsidy – NNPC

But when contacted, the spokesperson of the NNPC, Garba-Deen Mohammad, told our correspondent that the issue of petrol subsidy was beyond the control of the oil firm.

He stated that with the advent of the Petroleum Industry Act, the matter of subsidy was outside the control of the NNPC but was a matter being handled by the Federal Government.

Garba-Deen said, “Subsidy is not under the control of the NNPC. The subsidy is now a PIA issue and it will be determined by the principles of the Petroleum Industry Act. Not by the NNPC.

“The NNPC is an operator now in the market, just like Shell or Chevron or like any other oil company. So I don’t know anything you are talking about.”

When probed further on whether petrol subsidy would be stopped, replied, “We are speaking the same thing, I say I don’t know. I have no idea, I am just an employee of the NNPC.”

BIG STORY

JUST IN: Amaechi Resigns As Minister Of Transportation

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Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, a presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, on Monday, officially resigned his position in the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari as the Minister of Transportation.

In a press statement issued by the Amaechi Presidential Media Committee (APMC) signed by Kingsley Wali, in Abuja, Amaechi in his resignation letter expressed profound gratitude to the President for considering him fit to serve in his administration.

He equally thanked Buhari for the enormous support given him, which he said, was responsible for the tremendous record of achievements he made in the Ministry of Transportation over the last seven years.

The statement quoted Amaechi as saying in his resignation letter: “It is with mixed feelings that I tender my resignation as the Minister of Transportation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to contest for the Presidential ticket of our great party, the All Progressives Congress.

“Your Excellency, it has been a great honor and privilege serving as a member of your cabinet following your historic victory at the polls in 2015. Under your administration, the Ministry of Transportation has recorded significant achievements, made possible by your visionary support and commitment to ensuring that we deliver on our mandate.

“As I embark on the next phase of our mission to work towards a better Nigeria for ALL NIGERIANS, I humbly seek Your Excellency’s prayers, and blessings, and look towards your continuous support and guidance.

“Your Excellency, whilst humbly seeking your kind consideration of my request please accept the assurances of my highest esteem.”

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BREAKING: EFCC Arrests Accountant-General Of The Federation, Ahmed Idris, Over Diversion Of N80bn

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Nigeria’s Accountant-General, Ahmed Idris, has been arrested over alleged money laundering and diversion of public funds.

Those familiar with the development said Mr. Idris was intercepted in Kano by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday evening and is being flown to Abuja, the nation’s capital, for interrogation.

Report has it that the EFCC has for some time been investigating a case of diversion of at least N80 billion in public funds which were allegedly laundered through some bogus contracts.

The companies used in laundering the funds have allegedly been linked to family members and associates of the accountant-general, investigators said.

Our sources further said after progress was made in the investigation, Mr. Idris was summoned repeatedly for interrogation but he failed to honor the invitations.

“We kept inviting him but he kept dodging us,” one of our sources said. “We were left with no choice but to keep him under watch and arrest him.”

The spokesperson for the EFCC could not be reached to comment on his story. One of his subordinates said he is traveling in the United Kingdom at this time.

However, a top EFCC official confirmed the development but asked not to be named because he had no permission to discuss the matter with the media.

President Muhammed Buhari appointed Mr. Idris’s accountant-general on June 25, 2015.

The position became vacant at the time after the former Accountant General, Jonah Otunla, left office on June 12, 2015.

President Buhari reappointed Mr. Idris for a second four-year term in June 2019, amid criticisms from labor groups who said the accountant-general should retire after turning 60.

Mr. Idris, a native of Kano State, North-west Nigeria, was born on November 25, 1960, and was until his appointment in 2015 the Director of Finance and Accounts, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.

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BIG STORY

BREAKING: Embattled Ex-EFCC Chair, Ibrahim Magu, Promoted To AIG

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The Police Service Commission has promoted Ibrahim Magu, suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to the rank of an Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), along with five others.

AIG Magu Ibrahim who is proceeding on retirement is the most senior in the CP cadre and missed the last two promotions after returning to the Police from the EFCC.

It was gathered that the decision to promote Magu follows the recommendation of the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba. The PSC had last July declined to promote Magu during the promotion of 24 CPs and other officers.

This is just as the PSC confirmed the promotion of Mr. John Ogbonnaya Amadi as a Deputy Inspector General of Police, to take over from late DIG Joseph Egbunike who represented South East in the Police Management team. Also promoted DIG is Zana Bala Senchi.

The other Commissioners of Police promoted to AIG are CP Abraham Egong Ayim; Okunlola Kola Kamaldeen; Andrew Amieengheme; Akeera Mohammed Younous; Celestine Amechi Elumelu; Ngozi Vivian Onadeko and Danladi Bitrus Lalas (Airwing).

A statement by Ikechukwu Ani, Head of Press and Public Relations said 23 Deputy Commissioners of Police were promoted to Commissioners of Police

The new 23 Commissioners of Police are; Taiwo Olusola Jesubiyi, former DC, Admin and Finance, Akwa Ibom State Command; Kolawole Olajide former DC, Force CID Annex, Alagbon, Lagos; Julius Alawari Okoro, former DC, Maritime, Lagos; Adelesi Ebunoluwa Oluwarotimi, former DC DFA, Kwara State Command; George Chijioke Chuku, former DC Ops Ebonyi State Command; Paul Alifa Omata, former DC Ops, Kwara State Command; and Effiong Dominic Edem, former DC Ops, Zone 2 Lagos. Others are Yusuf Adesina Akeem, presently at the National Defence College; Mary Gbemudu George, former DC, Anti Human Trafficking Abuja; Etim Aqua Efiom, former DC Ops FHQ, Abuja; Mohammed Yakubu, former DC SCID Anambra Command; Ganiyu Alhaji Salami, former DC ZCID Zone11 Osogbo; Magaji Kontagora Ahmed, former, DC Ops, Lagos State Command; and Kolo Yusufu, presently O/c IGP Special Tactical Squad & TIU.

Also promoted CPs are Bzigu Yakaba Kwazhi Dali, presently on secondment to ECOWAS Commission, Guinea, Bissau; Ahmed Ammani, presently at the National Defence College; Afolabi Babatola Adeniyi, former DC, Ops Yobe State Command; Njoku Henry Eronini, former DC, JTF, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State; Abiodun Oladimeji Asabi; Dankwara Adamu Mohammed, former DC, SPU FHQ, Abuja; Mohammed Usaini Gumel, former DC TIU FHQ, Abuja; Ogundele Ayodeji, former DC Central Intelligence, Force CID Annex, Lagos and Idris Nagoya, former 2i/c Force Animal branch.

The Commission also approved the promotion of 23 Deputy Commissioners to the next rank of Commissioners of Police; 31 Assistant Commissioners to Deputy Commissioners of Police.

Magu’s ordeal began in July 2020 when he was suspended from office as acting EFCC chairman by President Muhammadu Buhari, over Malami’s allegations against him and he consequently appeared before a presidential panel headed by retired Justice Ayo Salami set up to probe him for alleged graft and insubordination.

More to come…

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