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2019 Polls to Cost N242bn, Buhari Tells N’Assembly

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  • 2019 Polls to Cost N242bn, Buhari Tells N’Assembly

President Muhammadu Buhari has presented a supplementary budget to the National Assembly in which he sought the approval of N164bn out of the N242bn budgeted for the 2019 general elections.

Buhari said the Independent National Electoral Commission and security agencies would need N242bn for the elections, asking the legislature to provide N164bn through virement in the 2018 budget or supplementation, while the balance of N78bn would be covered by the 2019 budget.

Buhari, in his letter to the National Assembly, titled, ‘Request for virement and supplementary 2018 budget,’ specifically asked the legislature to re-allocate part of the N578bn voted to the projects inserted into the 2018 Appropriation Act by the lawmakers to fund the elections and critical infrastructure.

The President specifically asked the legislature not to increase the current size of the 2018 Appropriation Act from N9.21tn but to vire N228bn from the N578bn to the elections as well as the critical projects as earlier proposed by the executive in the 2018 Appropriation Bill.

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, read the proposal at the plenary on Tuesday.

INEC to spend N189.2bn; NSAO, N4.2bn; DSS, N12bn; NSDC, N3.5bn; Police, N30.5bn; NIS; 2bn

Giving the breakdown of the running costs for the polls, Buhari said INEC needed N143, 512, 529, 445 for 2018 supplementary and N45, 695, 015,438 in 2019 budget, totalling N189, 207, 544, 893.

He said the Office of the National Security Adviser needed N3,855,500,000 for 2018 supplementary and N426,000,000 in 2019 budget, amounting to N4,281,500,000.

The Department of State Services wants N2,903,638,000 as 2018 supplementary and N9,309,644,455 in 2019 budget, totalling N12,213,282,455.

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps requires N1,845,597,000 as 2018 supplementary and N1,727,997,500 in the 2019 budget, totalling N3,573,534,500.

Also, the Nigeria Police needs N11,457,417,432 as 2018 supplementary and N19,083,900,000 in 2019 budget, to get a total of N30,541,317,432.

The Nigeria Immigration Service also needs N2,628,143,320, out of which N530, 110,078 would come from 2018 supplementary and N2, 098,033,142 from the 2019 budget.

Buhari said, “As you are aware, the 2019 general election is scheduled to be conducted early in 2019. To ensure that adequate arrangements are made for free and fair elections, it has become necessary to appropriate funds to enable the relevant agencies to commence preparations. INEC and the security agencies have accordingly recently submitted their requests. These have been subjected to the usual budget evaluation. The aggregate cost of the election is estimated at N254,445,322, 600.

“However, in line with the prevailing fiscal constraints, I am proposing that the sum of N164, 104, 792, 065 be provided for through virement or supplementation of the 2018 budget. I propose that the balance of N78, 340, 530, 535, mostly related to personnel allowances, fuelling and other costs not required until election proper, be provided in their 2019 budget.”

The President said the critical projects, whose allocations were cut by the lawmakers, required N64bn, asking that the amount should also be taken out of the allocation to the inserted projects.

The lawmakers had introduced 6,403 projects into the budget amounting to N578bn.

Buhari said, “You will also recall that when I signed the 2018 Appropriation Act, I indicated the need for the reinstatement of certain cuts made to certain critical projects provided in the original executive bill. I am therefore submitting for your consideration the reinstatement of the most critical of such cuts totalling N64,749, 216, 150 which are summarised in Page 1.

“The total amount required to be provided for in the 2018 budget for the 2019 general elections and to restore the identified critical projects to the amount earlier proposed is therefore N228, 854, 800, 215. Implementing a budget of N9.12tn for 2018 is extremely challenging and, therefore, I do not consider it expedient to propose a further increase to the size of the 2018 expenditure framework to fund these very important and critical expenditure items.

“Accordingly, I invite the distinguished Senate to consider, in the national interest, relocating some of the funds appropriated for the new projects which were inserted into the 2018 budget proposal totalling N 578, 319, 951, 904 to cover the sum of N228, 854, 800, 205 required as noted above.

“A schedule setting out a comprehensive list of these inserted projects is attached to this letter for ease of your consideration. Further to the above, kindly find attached a supplementary budget and virement proposal for your consideration.”

The two chambers of the National Assembly had passed the 2018 Appropriation Bill on May 16, 2018. The legislature had increased the budget from N8.612tn as proposed by the executive to N9.12tn.

The lawmakers had said the additional N508bn was based on the agreement between the executive and the legislature based on the increase in prices of crude oil, which led to the raising of the oil benchmark from the proposed $45 to $51.

However, the President had, while assenting to the bill on June 20, complained about the adjustments made to the estimates in the budget by the legislature.

President Promises Free, Fair 2019 Elections

Meanwhile, Buhari on Tuesday promised to do everything possible to ensure that the 2019 general elections are free, fair and peaceful.

He said all hands were on deck to forestall the violence that characterised the 2011 elections which necessitated investigations by the International Criminal Court.

Buhari made the promise in his keynote address at the Solemn Hearing to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute of the ICC at The Hague.

Scores of Nigerians were killed in parts of the country in the wake of the violence that broke out after the 2011 elections in Nigeria.

But the President assured the ICC that such would not happen under his watch.

He said, “Let me intimate you that Nigeria is preparing to conduct general elections in 2019.

“Contrary to the tragic incidents that characterised the 2011 general elections in Nigeria which necessitated preliminary investigations by the International Criminal Court, I assure you that all hands are on deck to prevent any recurrence of such tragic incidents.

“We shall do everything possible to ensure that Nigeria witness the conduct of free, fair and peaceful elections in 2019.”

Buhari called on the states parties to support ICC with jurisdiction over serious cases of corruption and illicit financial flows by state actors.

He added, “A strong and effective ICC has the potential to send a powerful message about the international community’s commitment to accountability, a message that will be heard by both victims and perpetrators.

“Equally, a strong and effective ICC demonstrates the international community’s commitment to the rule of law.

‘‘A strong and effective ICC can also act as a catalyst for other justice efforts, expanding the reach of accountability.

“These could include serious cases of corruption by state actors that severely compromise the development efforts of countries and throw citizens into greater poverty.

“These could also include cases of illicit financial flows where countries are complicit and obstruct repatriation of stolen assets. As the African Union Champion on Anti-corruption, these are issues dear to my heart.”

The President thanked the judges of the court for electing a Nigerian, Chile Eboe-Osuji, as President.

While congratulating Eboe-Osuji, on his election, the President said Nigeria was proud of him.

Buhari recalled that the court was established 20 years ago as a global court, inspired by the Nuremberg trials of World War II war criminals, to hold people accountable for crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes of genocide and aggression.

He noted that the ICC had given hope for justice to many by demanding strict adherence to the rules of international humanitarian law.

The President noted that Nigeria had cooperated with, and supported the court at all times.

This, he said, the country had demonstrated by its full and transparent cooperation on matters on which it was being investigated and also in its several country statements at the sessions of the court.

The Nigerian leader is the only President invited to grace the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the ICC Rome Statute.

Over 25 high-level state officials, the President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, O-Gon Kwon; ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda; ICC Registrar, Peter Lewis; UN Legal Counsel, Miguel de Serpa Soares; and other special guests, attended the event.

Coalition urges ICC to tackle Buhari over killings

The Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court, a civil society concerned with the advocacy for the domestication of the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statute, on Tuesday, charged the court’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to engage the visiting President Muhammadu Buhari, on the continued killings in Nigeria.

The coalition also asked the ICC’s prosecutor to engage Buhari on the alleged non-accountability on the part of the country’s security agencies, while also calling on the Nigerian government to join in the fight against impunity and domesticate the Rome Statute.

Buhari had travelled to the ICC in The Hague on Sunday for the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the court through its Rome Statute.

The NCICC, in a statement jointly signed by its Chairman, Mr Chinonye Obiagwu; and its Vice Chairman, Dr Abiola Akiode-Afolabi, congratulated the court, which they said needed to be supported in the face of rising global violations of humanitarian laws and human rights.

The coalition noted that Nigeria had yet to domesticate the Rome Statute, despite being under the ICC’s preliminary examination due to the armed conflict between Boko Haram and Nigerian security agencies and different crimes committed in the Niger Delta region.

While calling on the ICC’s prosecutor to seize the opportunity of Buhari’s attendance at the court’s 20th anniversary to engage the President on the continued killings in the country, the NCICC also asked the Nigerian government to domesticate the Rome Statute and prosecute those involved in “the gross and frequent violations.”

The statement read in part, “The NCICC emphasises that in the rise of global violations of humanitarian laws and human rights, there is no better time to support the International Criminal Court than now.

“To ensure a more just world, it is important for states to foster cooperation with the ICC by domesticating and implementing the Rome Statute’s provisions of complementarity in their national legislation and prosecute international crimes committed within their territory.

“Despite Nigeria being listed as a preliminary examination country due to the armed conflict between Boko Haram and Nigerian security and different crimes committed in the Niger Delta region, the country continues to face more violations of human rights and crimes violating international law.

“It is imperative at this time for the Nigerian government to stand up for justice, domesticate the Rome Statute and prosecute these gross and frequent violations.

“As President Buhari attends the event of the Rome Statute at 20, we urge the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to engage the president on the continued killings in the North-Central and North-East regions and the non-accountability on the part of the state security.”

The coalition noted that the ICC had so far had 26 cases, issued 32 arrest warrants and delivered verdict in six cases, with eight convictions and two acquittals, the most recent being that of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo.

It added that Nigeria, though a state party of the ICC, had since the submission of its instrument of ratification on September 27, 2001, failed to domesticate the Rome Statute into its national legislation in accordance with the provisions of section 12 of the 1999 Constitution.

“The Rome Statute which is the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court vested the court with the power to exercise jurisdiction over international crimes to wit: genocides, crimes against humanity, war crime and crime of aggression,” the coalition’s statement read.

It added, “The NCICC calls on the Nigerian government to join in the fight against impunity and domesticate the Rome Statute and further reiterates the need for the National Assembly to expedite the domestication of the Rome Statute bill which comes up for a public hearing on July 18, 2018.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Economy

Electricity Consumers Get 611,231 Meters Under MAP Scheme

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Electricity Consumers Get 611,231 Meters Under MAP Scheme

A total of 611,231 meters have been deployed as at January 31, 2021 under the Meter Asset Provider initiative since its full operation despite the COVID-19 pandemic and other extraneous factors, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has said.

NERC disclosed this in a consultation paper on the review of the MAP Regulations.

The proposed review of the MAP scheme is coming nearly four months after the Federal Government launched a new initiative called National Mass Metering Programme aimed at distributing six million meters to consumers free of charge.

“The existence of a huge metering gap and the need to ensure successful implementation of the MYTO 2020 Service-Based Tariff resulted in the approval of the NMMP, a policy of the Federal Government anchored on the provision of long-term low interest financing to the Discos,” NERC said.

The commission had in March 2018 approved the MAP Regulations with the aim of fast-tracking the closure of the metering gap in the sector through the engagement of third-party investors (called meter asset providers) for the financing, procurement, supply, installation and maintenance of meters.

It set a target of providing meters to all customers within three years, and directed the Discos and the approved MAPs to commence the rollout of meters not later than May 1, 2019.

But in February 2020, NERC said several constraints, including changes in fiscal policy and the limited availability of long-term funding, had led to limited success in meter rollout.

NERC, in the consultation paper, highlighted three proposed options for metering implementation going forward.

The first option is to allow the implementation of both the NMMP and MAP metering frameworks to run concurrently; the second is to continue with the current MAP framework with meters procured under the NMMP supplied only through MAPs (by being off-takers from the local manufacturers/assemblers).

The third option is to wind down the MAP framework and allow the Discos to procure meters directly from local manufacturers/assemblers (or as procured by the World Bank), and enter into new contracts for the installation and maintenance of such meters.

“Customers who choose not to wait to receive meters based on the deployment schedule of the NMMP shall continue to have the option of making upfront payments for meters which will be installed within a maximum period of 10 working days,” NERC said.

The regulator said such customers would be refunded by the Discos through energy credits, adding that there would be no option for meter acquisition through the payment of a monthly meter service charge.

“Where meters have already been deployed under the meter service charge option, Discos shall make one-off repayment to affected customers and associated MAPs. Such meters shall be recognised in the rate base of the Discos,” it added.

NERC urged stakeholders to provide comments, objections, and representations on the proposed amendments within 21 days of the publication of the consultation paper.

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Nigeria’s Economy Moving in Right Direction but Slow – Amina Mohammed

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Nigeria’s Economy Moving in Right Direction but Slow – Amina Mohammed

Nigeria is moving in the right direction economically but its movement is not fast, the United Nations stated on Thursday.

Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, said this during a meeting at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in Abuja.

She said the challenges in Nigeria were huge, its population large but described the country’s economy as great with lots of opportunities.

The UN scribe stated that after traveling by train and through various roads in the Northern parts of Nigeria, she discovered that the roads were motorable, although there were ongoing repairs on some of them.

Mohammed said, “This is a country that is diverse in nature, ethnicity, religious backgrounds and opportunities. But these are its strengths, not weaknesses.

“And I think the narrative for Nigeria has to change to one that is very much the reality.”

Speaking on her trips across parts of Nigeria, she said, “What I saw along the way is really a country that is growing, that is moving in the right direction economically. Is it fast enough? No. Is it in the right direction? Yes it is.

“And the challenges still remain with security, our social cohesion and social contract between government and the people. But I know that people are working on these issues.”

She said the UN recognised the reforms in Nigeria and other nations, adding that the common global agenda was the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mohammad commended Nigeria’s quick response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as she expressed hope that the arrival of vaccines would be the beginning of the end of COVID-19.

On his part, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, told his guest that the Federal Government was working hard to make Nigeria the entrepreneurial hub of Africa.

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N10.7tn Spent on Fuel Subsidy in 10 Years – MOMAN

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N10.7tn Spent on Fuel Subsidy in 10 Years – MOMAN

Nigeria spent a total of N10.7tn on fuel subsidy in the last 10 years, the Chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr Adetunji Oyebanji, has said.

Oyebanji, who was the guest speaker at the 18th Aret Adams Lecture on Thursday, said N750bn was spent on subsidy in 2019.

He highlighted the need for a transition to a market-driven environment through policy-backed legislative and commercial frameworks, enabling the sustainability of the downstream petroleum sector.

“Total deregulation is more than just the removal of price subsidies; it is aimed at improving business operations, increasing the investments in the oil and gas sector value chain, resulting in the growth in the nation’s downstream petroleum sector as a whole,” he said.

The managing director of 11 Plc (formerly Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc) said steps had been taken, “but larger and faster leaps are now required.”

According to him, deregulation requires the creation of a competitive market environment, and will guarantee the supply of products at commercial and market prices.

“It requires unrestricted and profitable investments in infrastructure, earning reasonable returns to investors. It requires a strong regulator to enable transparency and fair competition among players, and not to regulate prices,” Oyebanji said.

He noted that MOMAN had recently called for a national debate by stakeholders to share pragmatic and realistic initiatives to ease the impact of the subsidy removal on society – especially on the most vulnerable.

He said, “A shift from crude oil production to crude oil full value realisation through deliberate investment in domestic refining and refined products distribution, creates the opportunity to transform the dynamics of the downstream sector from one of ‘net importer’ to one of ‘net exporter’, spurring the growth of the Nigerian economy.

“Effective reforms and regulations are key drivers for the growth within the refining sector. Non-functional refineries cost Nigeria over $13bn in 2019. If the NNPC refineries were operating at optimal capacity, Nigeria would have imported only 40 per cent of what it consumed in 2019.”

Full deregulation of the downstream sector remains the most glaring boost to potential investors in this space, according to Oyebanji.

He said, “As crude oil prices will fluctuate depending on the prevailing exchange rates, it will be astute to trade in naira to avoid inevitable price swings.

“There needs to be a balance between ensuring the sustainable growth of the crude oil value chain (upstream through downstream) and providing value for the Nigerian consumer and the Nigerian economy.”

He said the philosophy should be for the government to put the legislative and commercial framework in place and let the market develop by itself.

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