Governors of the 36 states of the federation under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) yesterday told Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Mele Kyari, to ensure the continued implementation of earlier agreements reached with President Muhammadu Buhari on transparent remittances to the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC).
The governors, at a meeting in Abuja with Kyari, said the maintenance of the agreements was imperative for transparency, accountability and to serve as buffers from fiscal shocks for states.
Over the years, the governors have had a running battle with successive leadership of the NNPC over alleged under-remittances to FAAC, leading to the storms at FAAC meetings where statutory revenues from the Federation Account are shared among the three tiers of government, federal, states and local governments.
On some occasions, the president had to intervene to calm frayed nerves. Such interventions have led to agreements between the parties on how remittances should be made to the Federation Account by NNPC, which collects revenues from oil sales and oil royalties on behalf of the federation.
Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who doubles as the NGF chairman, also pushed for some accountability measures during the meeting just as he called for a review of the current fuel subsidy regime.
He said: “Working with Mr. President, we had resolved that the collection and remittance of oil royalties should be returned to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) as stipulated under the Petroleum Industry Law. Similarly, the collection and remittance of the Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT) should be returned to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in line with extant laws.
“It was in this vein that Mr. President directed that a revised revenue remittance template should be developed jointly by NNPC, the Ministry of Finance, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.
“Going forward, a major direction for the forum is to identify options that will help stabilise revenues from oil. We need to consider options to determine a ‘revenue trend’ that corresponds to the long-term trend of exports and that will be enough to stabilise government budgets.”
He said in 2017, the then minister of finance had estimated that a minimum amount of N700 billion must be generated and shared by FAAC monthly to the three tiers of government to enable them to meet up with their obligations of salary payment, statutory transfers and debt servicing.
“We would like our team to work with the corporation to develop a realistic revenue forecasting model for oil revenues. This will help state governments plan appropriately to mitigate, to a large extent, the recurring fiscal shocks we experience.
“It is also important to highlight that subsidy remains a major drawback on government revenues. We may need to consider a new deal on how governments will absorb the cost of subsidy. This has become necessary given the new reality of low oil revenues and rising government commitments.
“We believe that at the current course, subsidy costs will continue to offset any recovery in the oil market. The country recorded one of its lowest cost of subsidy in 2016 when oil traded at an average of $48.11 per barrel. Total subsidy that year was around N28.6 billion; but the amount rose to N219 billion in 2017 and N345.5 billion by mid-2018, as the price of oil and domestic petrol consumption rebounded,” the governor added.
According to Fayemi, these are important considerations for the governors as they have direct implications on energy security and economic stability in the country.
He said NGF partnership with NNPC remained critical to it because it was integral to the fiscal stability of both the federal and sub-national governments, given the central role oil revenues play in funding budgets.
“The growth and stability of the oil industry has a significant bearing on our plans – we have recorded a period where monthly allocation from the FAAC reached as high as N1.1 trillion (June 2014), and in another month in May 2016, the three tiers of government shared just over N289 billion.
“Besides the fall in oil price and production, some of the challenges that have compounded instability in the market include the impact of cash call obligations and the accumulation of liabilities; crude oil theft/losses with about 200,000 barrels of crude oil per day lost to oil theft, while about 500,000 barrels per day is deferred in production shut-ins; and the existing regulation for Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs), which grossly limits government royalties and tax revenues. These are ongoing issues we must work to resolve,” the NGF chairman stated.
In his response, Kyari pledged a continued cooperation with the governors as well as increased revenue for the country.
IPPIS: FG stops salaries of ASUU members, strike looms
Following the refusal of the staff of the federal tertiary institutions in Nigeria to be enrolled on the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, IPPIS, the Federal Government has ordered that the salaries of the concerned staff be stopped immediately
The affected federal government staff, who will not be paid salaries from January, are members of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP and Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, COEASU.
According to a letter from the office of the Accountant General of the federation, signed by the Director of IPPIS, Olufehinti, O. J, dated January 21, 2020, and directed to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, the minister was ordered not to release funds for the payment of January salaries of the tertiary institutions.
The letter captioned, “Request for stoppage of release of funds for January Salaries to federal universities, Polytechnics and colleges of education”, was silent on whether the non-payment of salaries will affect the non-teaching staff, who have enrolled under the scheme.
The letter reads, “I am directed to inform you that the preparation of January 2020 salary payroll and warrant of the federal tertiary institutions are on-gong and will be ready for submission on or before 29th of January, 2020.
“This is to give effect to the directive of the federal government that all Ministries, Departments and Agencies drawing personnel cost from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, CRF, should be enrolled on the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, IPPIS.
“In order to actualise this directive, you are please requested not to release the funds for payment of salaries to the tertiary institutions as their salaries will henceforth be paid on the IPPIS platform with effect from January 2020.”
Coronavirus: Wash your hands, cover nose and mouth when sneezing, FG warns
The federal government of Nigeria through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has warned Nigerians to protect themselves against the new deadly virus, Coronavirus.
The NCDC in a statement said to reduce the risk of spread of the virus, members of the public should wash their hands regularly with soap under running water and to cover their mouth and nose properly with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing.
At least 17 people have reportedly died from the virus in China following an outbreak in the central city of Wuhan, and more than 550 cases have been reported globally.
According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
The NCDC stated, “There is no specific treatment for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus yet. However, many of the symptoms can be treated. Therefore, treatment is based on the patient’s clinical condition. In addition, supportive care for infected persons can be highly effective.
The “NCDC is currently coordinating a multisectoral technical group that is assessing and managing the risk of importation to Nigeria. It is in close communication with the WHO which is monitoring the situation globally. WHO is in direct communication with the government of China and other affected countries, and has released technical and travel guidance.”
NCDC called on travellers from Nigeria to Wuhan, China, to avoid contact with sick people, animals (alive or dead), and animal markets.
It added, “Travellers from Wuhan to Nigeria may be asked questions upon arrival by the Port Health Services unit at points of entry about symptoms of illness and travel history, and are advised to report immediately to the NCDC if they feel ill after a trip to Wuhan.”
Presidency reacts to alleged U.S. visa restrictions against Nigeria
The presidency has described as mere speculations the reported planned imposition of visa restrictions on some African and Asian countries including Nigeria by America’s government led by President Donald Trump.
Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, stated this in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday.
Some local traditional media organisations including online publications quoted foreign media outfits on Tuesday that the Donald Trump administration had concluded plans to add seven countries across the world, including Nigeria, to the country’s travel ban list.
The affected countries included Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania and Eritrea from Africa while Kyrgyzstan and Belarus from Eastern Europe and Myanmar from Asia.
The presidential aide, however, said: ”Yes, we have read the news that the Trump administration is planning to add a host of African, Asian and Eastern European countries to its travel restrictions list as reported by the U.S. media.
”We are not going to react to speculations. We urge you to wait for us to see what unfolds under the new policy, its scope, its reach, the implications, and its consequences before we react.”