The Federal Executive Council (FEC) commenced deliberations on two bills; the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Bill 2014 and the Nigerian Postal Commission Bill 2014 aimed at enhancing competitiveness and breaking government monopoly in the various sectors of the Nigerian economy.
The Federal Government has reiterated its commitment towards timely completion of the 338 kilometers East-West road that has experienced delay in completion due to challenges of funding.
Supervising Minister, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs Darius Dickson at a media briefing on the activities of the ministry in Abuja on Monday, March 24, disclosed that the ministry is exploring other windows of funding to bridge the funding gaps, with the prevailing peaceful atmosphere in the region as well as a clement weather condition, the road would be completed and delivered to the people of the Niger Delta region by the first quarter of 2015.
He said $150 million of the $300 million loan from the African Development Bank (ADB) had been accessed and channeled into the project, leaving another $150 million, which is expected to be accessed soon.
The project has already gulped about N250 billion out of the total cost of N350 billion, leaving about N100 billion to ensure completion.
Acknowledging the contributions of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) that so has far injected N93.4 billion into the road between 2012 and 2013, the Supervising minister noted that besides the ADB, the ministry was looking towards the direction of the Infrastructure Development Bank, adding that with a pool of resources, including the 2014 SURE-P support, the project would be delivered in the first quarter of 2015.
He stated further that the ministry had moved the project from the 10 per cent level at which it was handed over to it by the Ministry of Works in 2009 to about 70 per cent currently.
Speaking on other projects embarked upon by the ministry, he said the 40 housing units in each of the nine states of the Niger Delta region were at various stages of completion, adding that the project is at 78.8% in Abia, 60.9% in Akwa Ibom, 66.5% in Bayelsa, 67.5 % in Cross River, 84% in Delta, 83.5% in Edo, 86.8 % in Imo, 65 % in Ondo, and 43.8% in Rivers.
He also spoke on the skills acquisition centres in the nine states some of which are at the verge of completion and would be inaugurated soon, with those in Abia, 55.2%, Akwa Ibom, 62.3%, Bayelsa, 81.7%, Cross River 60.2% and Delta 63.7 % completion respectively.
He explained that efforts are on to re-award the contract for the centre in Edo that was revoked, adding that Imo, Ondo and Rivers are currently at 53.5%, 43.3% and 45% respectively.
He expressed the resolve of his ministry to ensure the empowerment of the region and appealed for peace and support even as disclosed that a data bank would be set up to ensure that projects are not duplicated in the region declaring that the measure is aimed at eliminating wastage and to channel resources into other useful projects that would impact positively on the people of the region.
The National Conference resumed sitting on Monday 24th March 2014 to deliberate on issues of the secretariat proposal on nomination of the proposed 20 committee chairmen and deputies, 75 per cent or three quarters support to pass a motion, 1/3 delegate membership should form quorum for deliberation, process for the replacement of conference official and rules of proceedings.
The proposal to give the National Conference leaders the prerogative to nominate chairmen and deputies of the proposed 20 committees submitted for adoption was rejected in favour of then proposal for members of the committees to decide their leadership.
The 20 committees proposed for adoption include,
(1)Committee on the Devolution of Power; to consider fiscal federalism, under which revenue sharing, resource control and sharing formula would be discussed.
(2) Committee on policing, council administration and the role of traditional rulers and institutions in governance.
(3) Committee on Political Restructuring and Forms of Government, under which federalism, regionalism, state creation, geo-political zones, forms and content of government (Presidential or Parliamentary) and Legislature (Bicameral, Unicameral) or part time/full time.
(4) Committee on National Security is proposed to discuss the Armed Forces, bothering on civilian oversight of the security sector and review of the Armed Forces Act. They will also look at reforms in the Nigerian Customs Service, Road Safety Corps, terrorism/counter-terrorism, armed robbery, kidnapping, small arms proliferation, communal violence, election violence, oil theft and smuggling, sea piracy, organised/trans-national crime like money laundering, human/drug trafficking and terrorism financing.
(5) Committee on Environment, Politics/Governance,
(6) Committee on Law, Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Reforms.
(7) Committee on Social Welfare,
(8) Committee Agriculture,
(9) Committee Public Service,
(10) Committee Electoral Matters,
(11) Committee Energy,
(12) Committee Religion,
(13) Committee Immigration
(14) Committee Transportation
(15) Committee for Science, Technology and Development,
(16) Committee on Civil Society, Labour and Sports,
(17) Committee for Foreign Policy and Diaspora Matters,
(18) Committee on Land Tenure Matters and National Boundary,
(19) Committee on Trade and Investment
(20) Committee on Public Finance and Revenue Generation.
The proposal for 75% majority for approval of a motion was debated with a view that securing that proportion would be problematic, the majority of the delegates expressed preference for simple majority or two-third noting that insistence on three quarters was likely to produce a tyrannical minority.
The observation by the Chairman that the conference was not competent to change three quarters vote to decide an issue, referring to their letter of appointment which stipulated that determination of an issue where consensus failed shall be three quarters of the delegates was rejected by delegates who insisted that that section be revisited. The issue was not resolved till the session adjourned.
On quorum, the delegates decided that 1/3 delegate membership should form quorum for deliberation.
On replacement of conference official, some delegates wanted a time frame of 48 hours to be given to Mr. President to replace any conference official who resigned or became indisposed while others are of the opinion that Mr. President should not be compelled to announce the replacement of an official.
On the timing for sitting, the current rule being debated stipulates that plenary begins at 10 am and lasts till 2 pm to give way for a lunch break that lasts till 4 pm when plenary resumes to close at 6 pm. Some of the delegates canvassed for the plenary to hold between 9 am and 4 pm without break while others suggested the reduction of the break time to one hour, to enable them to close at 5 pm. The chairman ruled for the retention of the current provision.
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan said Sunday at The Hague that the Federal Government has earmarked one billion U.S Dollars for the implementation of a comprehensive programme to check crude oil theft, the vandalism of oil and gas infrastructure, and the apprehension and prosecution of crude oil thieves.
Speaking at separate meetings with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mr. Mark Rutte and the Chief Executive Officer of Shell International, Mr. Ben van Beurden, President Jonathan said that a technical committee has already been set up to look into all aspects of the implementation of the programme.
This, the President said, will include further action to enhance the security of pipelines and other oil industry infrastructure, resolve community-related issues, boost youth empowerment in oil-producing areas and enhance the commitment of oil companies to the discharge of their corporate social responsibilities.
President Jonathan said that the fresh onslaught against oil theft planned by his administration will require the maximum co-operation of the international community, especially countries like the Netherlands which are major stakeholders in the global oil industry.
“Oil theft is an aspect of global terrorism, which has become a big industry on its own. It has become a major threat to the Nigerian economy and we need to work with all stakeholders to curb it. The thieves must be traced, apprehended and prosecuted”, the President who is in the Netherlands for the 2014 global Nuclear Security Summit said.
The Dutch Prime Minister assured the President of the commitment of the Netherlands to concerted action against crude oil theft and global terrorism.
Mr. Rutte who remarked that President Jonathan’s visit affirmed the strong ties between Nigeria and the Netherlands, also assured the President of the willingness of The Netherlands to collaborate more with Nigeria on environmental and security issues, particularly in the Niger Delta.
He praised Nigeria’s leadership role in promoting regional security in West Africa, and welcomed the signing of an agreement on immigration between both countries as well as the strong trade relations between Nigeria and The Netherlands.
“The President's visit is an open testimony of the strong ties between Nigeria and Netherlands. Nigeria is Netherlands’ main trading partner in Africa and the Netherlands is the second biggest European investor in Nigeria,” the Dutch Prime Minister said.
Special Adviser to the President
(Media & Publicity)
March 23, 2014
The Joint Transaction Board comprising the Boards of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) and the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), has approved the preferred and reserved bidders of seven out of the ten NIPP power plants, owned by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company, a deal in which Nigeria is expected to rake in US$4,253,291,777.
The National Conference at its maiden sitting resolved to adopt the second stanza of the National Anthem as official prayer and after almost two hours of deliberations on rules to guide the conduct of the business of the conference, adjourned till next Monday, March, 24, 2014.
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan inaugurates Nigeria’s National Conference signaling it’s take off at the National Judicial Institute, Abuja on Monday, March 17, 2014.
Chaired by retired Justice Idris Kutigi, the National Conference made up of 492 delegates representing ethnic nationalities, professional groups, political parties, civil society and other diverse strata of the Nigerian society, is to deliberate on all matters except issues bothering on the indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a nation.
The conference that is to last for three months is expected to form a consensus and advise the Federal Government on the legal framework procedures, options for integrating the decisions and outcome of the conference into the nation’s constitution.
We have noted with disappointment, the unrelenting attempt by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to falsely portray his recent suspension from office as an attempt by the Presidency to bury his allegation that huge sums of money due to the Federation Account are unaccounted for by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The Presidency wishes to reaffirm that Mallam Sanusi’s suspension has absolutely nothing to do with his unproven and inconsistent claim that $49.8 Billion, $12 Billion or $20 Billion is missing from the national treasury.
As was clearly stated in the letter suspending him from office and confirmed by President Goodluck Jonathan in his last Presidential Media Chat, Mallam Sanusi’s suspension was wholly based on the need for him to step aside while the weighty charges of financial recklessness, gross misconduct and persistent disregard for laid down rules and regulations in the management of the Central Bank made against him by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria and others are properly investigated.
It is most unfortunate that instead of trying to provide some reasonable response to the clear and unambiguous query of his official conduct as Governor of the Central Bank, Mallam Sanusi has cynically chosen to whip up public sympathy for himself and anger against the Federal Government by deliberately misleading unwary Nigerians and the international community into believing the falsehood that he is being punished for exposing corruption.
In recent days, the suspended CBN Governor has, following in the footsteps of others who have an axe to grind with the government, taken to spreading his false claims and allegations through gullible foreign media correspondents, telling them among other things that his threat to force commercial banks to open up their books to unravel the whereabouts of the “missing” funds whether $49.8 Billion, $12 Billion or $20 Billion, ultimately led to his suspension.
He also continues to make the mischievous claim that the government is somehow involved in a scam to divert huge sums of money from the Federation Account through the misappropriation of kerosene subsidy funds.
Mallam Sanusi’s allegations are patently untrue. But Government is making no effort to bury them as he falsely claims. Relevant committees of the National Assembly are still investigating the claims and the suspended CBN Governor remains free to give evidence before them in support of his allegations.
Furthermore, in keeping with its avowed commitment to full transparency, openness and accountability in governmental affairs, the Federal Government has authorized the engagement of reputable international firms for the recommended forensic audit of NNPC accounts.
The Presidency condemns Mallam Sanusi’s resort to playing politics with serious national issues. His suggestion that the phantom missing funds may have been diverted to fund campaigns for next year’s general elections is mischievous, irresponsible and designed to incite other political parties and members of the public against the Federal Government.
The claim which amounts to cheap blackmail against the government and was clearly made in furtherance of a selfish personal agenda is most unbecoming of someone who still holds the High Office of Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The Presidency would not ordinarily have wished to join issues with Mallam Sanusi who as CBN Governor remains an appointee of the President, but the very unacceptable manner in which Sanusi has been misinforming the public made it imperative that this statement be issued.
Special Adviser to the President
(Media and Publicity)
March 12, 2014
The report by an online medium earlier today that the Minister of Defense, Lt.-Gen Aliyu Gusau (rtd.) has resigned is untrue.
General Gusau remains in Office as Minister of Defence.
His absence from today’s meeting of the Federal Executive Council which was cited in support of the false report of his resignation was with the permission of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Special Adviser to the President
(Media & Publicity)
March 12, 2014
The Federal Government has stated that the impact of its healthcare policies and programmes have greatly manifested in the improvement on some of our vital health indices, particularly the infant and maternal mortality.
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who was represented by Vice President, Arc. Mohammed Namadi Sambo stated this during the Nigeria Centenary Charity Ball, at the Eko Convention Centre, Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos on Tuesday February 25.
‘‘Good Health for all, remains a fundamental objective of the Transformation Agenda of this administration and in this regard, sound and robust health-care policies and programmes of reform have been developed, aimed at providing qualitative and affordable healthcare services for our people nationwide,” he stated.
“With these strategic initiatives and upgrades by government, challenges of scope and availability, affordability and effective accessibility, and of sustainability in all strata, by government yet exists in our national progress towards the ideal in healthcare,” he noted.
“To this end, the Board of the Nigeria Centenary Charities Trust was mandated to oversee the management of the Nigeria Centenary Charity Ball, a private sector initiative charged to raise funds through donations and sponsorship from the public to compliment government’s efforts in the provision of tertiary health care in Nigeria. Continuing, President Jonathan said that, ‘it is our expectation that this Charity Ball will act as a catalyst for the realization of our healthcare agenda, with the private sector playing a crucial role,” he added.
He stated that the significance of the event is etched in the nation’s journey so far as a Nation, from the amalgamation, through the colonial days and eventually, independence adding that today, it is a source of pride that the nation has prevailed, as one people, in a united, strong and purposeful Nigeria.
He further pointed out that the Charity Ball should not just be seen as a fundraising event, but also as a humanitarian commitment, a sustainable legacy that will stand the test of time to give succour to our less privileged, and considerably reduce our current high medical capital flight which depletes our country's economy, and highlights an existing gap in the industry.
The President made it known that, ‘government alone cannot deliver on the needs of this vital sector thus the necessity to solicit the partnership of the Private Sector, international donor partners and public spirited individuals in this patriotic project’.
He expressed his confidence on the calibre of people on the Board of Trustees of the Centenary Charities Trust, and promised the best application and judicious use of contributions, for the benefit of our people.
Earlier the Chairman Board of Trustees of the Centenary Charity Ball and former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon pointed out that our nation’s one hundred years provides a good opportunity to celebrate our unity and hopefully plan our future as a people and nation. He said that the event designed to raise funds for Public Health Care is also expected to be a useful centenary legacy project. The funds raised from the event he pledged will be channelled towards the building of National Referral Centres for various illnesses in existing tertiary hospitals in the federation, with the aim of reducing medical tourism and improving healthcare.
The Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Emeka Anyaoku thanked the President and his Vice for the foresight to conceive this commendable project. He extended his gratitude to all invited guests who heeded the call to come and donate generously to a worthy cause.
The Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, Minister of Culture and Tourism, Edem Duke, Wife of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Unoma Godswill Akpabio were amongst the dignitaries present at the event.
FG seeks efficiency of Nigerian ports as shippers council set to assume the role as interim ports regulator
The Federal Government has expressed its desire for a regulator that will ensure the effective running of all activities in the Nigerian Ports. Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo stated this at a meeting convened with a view to devising the means of instituting an effective regulatory regime of the Nigerian Ports Authority to enhance efficiency, which held at the State House, Abuja on Thursday, February 20.
“Based on an earlier meeting following the directives of President Goodluck Jonathan on the issue of funding and instituting an effective regulatory regime at the Nigerian Ports, a lack of a regulator was identified as one of the major problems in the port,” He stated.
“It was agreed that the Nigerian Shippers Council should temporarily assist in the control and regulation of activities by the various stakeholders in the port pending the time where a formal regulator would be put under a law,” he stated further.
The Vice President directed the Minister of Transport, Idris Umar to take up the responsibility of ensuring the implementation; the Nigerian Shippers Council will henceforth act as a Port Regulator.
Warning that henceforth the Nigerian Shippers Council will be held responsible for all problems arising in the ports, the Vice President charged the Council to rise up to its mandate and demanded for monthly report to his office to facilitate update of the President accordingly adding that he will visit the port in the next three months to ascertain the extent of compliance with the directives.
Speaking earlier the Minister of Transport acknowledged the directives given by the Vice President on the submission of the monthly progress reports, monitoring of the progress at the ports and the need for the relevant government agencies to meet and work out modalities of compliance.
Present at the meeting were the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport, Nebolisa Emodi, Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello, a representative of the Comptroller General of Customs, Acting Director General, Bureau for Public Enterprise, Yusuf Adamu and others.