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Nigerian newspapers headlines Monday morning

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APC caretaker panel meets today, to set up convention committees [Punch]

  • Apologise to Nigerians for holding NEC meeting in Federal Exco Council chamber
  • You can’t dictate to Buhari where to hold meetings, Presidency replies PDP, others

The All Progressives Congress Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee will be holding its inaugural meeting today (Monday).

The PUNCH on Sunday gathered that the caretaker committee would at the meeting, which would be held at the APC national secretariat, Abuja, set up sub-committees as part of preparations for the party’s congresses and the national convention.

Among the sub-committees expected to be set up are finance and publicity sub-committees.

The APC’s  National Executive Committee, during its meeting at the Presidential Villa on Thursday,  dissolved the party’s  National Working Committee and set up the caretaker committee headed by the Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni.

The caretaker committee was given the mandate to organise the party’s ward, local government and state congresses as well as the national convention in the next six months.

 

INEC lists tough conditions for campaign rallies in Edo, Ondo [Punch]

The Independent National Electoral Commission, amid rising COVID-19 cases in the country, on Sunday set criteria that must be met by political parties before holding public rallies for the Edo and Ondo state governorship polls.

The commission’s National Commissioner and Chairman (Information and Voter Education Committee), Festus Okoye, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, said before holding any rally, political parties must give INEC a seven-day notice.

The criteria, it was gathered, were aimed preventing the spread of COVID-19 at the rallies.

While condemning a concert held by a hip-hop artiste, Azeez Fashola, alias Naira Marle at the Jabi Lake Mall, Abuja on June 13,  the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on June 15 warned Nigerians to avoid rallies of any category.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control  Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said such gatherings could lead to a further spike in COVID-19 cases.

Okoye told The PUNCH that INEC had informed political parties that their guidelines for campaigns must conform with the NCDC protocols, including social distancing and use of face masks.

Warning against crowded rallies, the INEC commissioner said, “Political parties are encouraged to develop appropriate guidelines for the conduct of rallies and campaigns taking into consideration all the guidelines and protocols developed by health authorities at the national and state levels.

“Where there are conflicts between political parties’ guidelines on the conduct of rallies and campaigns and those issued by the commission, the commission shall draw the attention of the political parties to the discrepancies.”

 

Ajimobi’s wife berates Makinde, ex-Oyo gov buried [Punch]

Chief Florence Ajimobi, wife of the late former Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, has expressed her displeasure at the attitude of the Governor Seyi Makinde-led administration to her family since the passage of her husband, saying the body language of the government was uncomplimentary.

She spoke during the visit of the Oyo State Deputy Governor, Rauf Olaniyan; Kano State Governor, Umar Ganduje; and his Ekiti State counterpart, Kayode Fayemi, to the Oluyole Estate residence of the Ajimobis.

Florence noted that since her husband’s death was announced last week, she had not received any call or message from the state government to commiserate with the family.

She said, “Governor (Seyi) Makinde never called me; I don’t know I have to send an official letter to the government to announce that my husband was ill. I never sent to Governor (Kayode) Fayemi, Governor (Umar) Ganduje or others.

“Even you, the Deputy Governor, sir; I am sorry to say this. My husband has died; what anybody can do, as a God-fearing person, is to, at least, send me words of encouragement. Even after he died, not even you, Mr Deputy Governor, could call me.

“You could have sent me a text message. I don’t have your number. I cannot just pick calls. I am a wife of a politician; I don’t pick calls that I do not know. You can send a message sir.

“Everybody is going to die; my husband is dead. He served this state for eight years; eight good years.”

 

APC NEC: Stop denying your wrong, PDP tells Presidency [Sun]

  • Meeting virtual not physical, Presidency replies

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, berated  the Presidency for denying that the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was held  inside the chambers of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

President Muhammadu Buhari had, last Thursday, presided over NEC meeting of the APC in the council chambers, which had in  attendance nine governors, National Assembly leaders as well as some party members.

The PDP, in a statement said it was unfortunate that the Presidency would post a denial even when the media is awash with photographs and videos of the APC NEC meeting inside the FEC chambers, where President Muhammadu Buhari presided.

“It is a fact before Nigerians that the meeting was physical and only virtual to the extent that some members of the APC NEC members were linked via conference call…What Nigerians  expected of the Buhari Presidency and the APC, was to tender an unreserved apology to the nation and desist from further desecration of our national values and official conduct requirements,” the opposition party.

The president had also been accused of taking advantage of his position in the State House to deploy national facilities for party affairs.

 

Extremely poor Nigerians to hit 95.7m in 2022, says W’Bank [Sun]

After a thorough assessment of the impact of rampaging COVID-19 pandemic on the economies of developing countries at the weekend, the World Bank has predicted that an estimated 95.7 million Nigerians would be joining the “extremely poor club” across the globe by 2022.

The report, released recently, indicated that without the COVID-19 outbreak, 90 million Nigerians were already predicted to live in extreme poverty of less than a dollar per day but that the dreaded disease has pushed  additional six million people into the number.

The bank said: “With real per capita GDP growth forecast to be negative in all sectors in 2020, poverty will deepen for the current poor, while those households that were just above the poverty line prior to the COVID-19 crisis will fall into poverty.

“Were the crisis not to have hit (the counterfactual scenario), the poverty headcount rate would be forecast to remain virtually unchanged, with the number of poor people set to rise from 82.9 million today to 85.2 million in 2020 and 90.0 million in 2022 due to natural population growth.

“Given the effects of the crisis, however, the national poverty headcount rate is instead forecast to jump from 40.1 percent today to 42.5 percent in 2020 and 42.9 percent in 2022, implying that the number of poor people will be 90.2 million in 2020 and 95.7 million in 2022.

‘Thus, taking the difference between these two scenarios, the crisis alone is forecast to drive an additional 4.9 million people into poverty this year, with an additional 5.7 million people living in poverty by 2022.”

The report explained that a disproportionate share of those pushed into poverty by the COVID-19 crisis would likely be those living in urban areas and earning income from services.

The bank further predicted that: “More than one-third of the additional people forecast to be pushed into poverty by the COVID-19 crisis are expected to be in urban areas, while just 15.9 percent of the current poor are urban dwellers.

“Only 13.1 percent of the additional poor people in 2022 are predicted to be in households where the head works primarily in agriculture, while, today, 56.0 percent of poor Nigerians live in agricultural households.

‘Many Nigerians who are not poor today are vulnerable to falling below the poverty line due to the COVID-19 crisis. People living only just above the poverty line are more susceptible to becoming poor when shocks occur. Those with consumption levels between the poverty line and 1.5 times the poverty line may be defined as ‘vulnerable’”.

It added that 40.1 percent of Nigerians (82.9 million people) live below the poverty line, while another 25.4 percent (52.6 million people) are vulnerable.

It pointed out that in rural areas, more than three-quarters of the population were either poor or vulnerable, yet even in urban areas— where the poverty headcount rate was far lower at 18.0 percent—around a quarter of the population would be vulnerable to shocks. The report noted that most Nigerian workers, especially those in poor households e employed in agriculture or non-farm enterprises, which might be more susceptible to the COVID-19 crisis.

The global financial institution stated that just 16.8 percent of working Nigerians (12.9 million workers) were employed primarily in wage jobs, according to the 2018/19 Nigeria Living Standard Survey (NLSS) while around 42.7 percent work primarily in agriculture (32.7 million workers), and 40.6 percent work primarily in non-farm enterprises (31.1 million workers).

The report observed that social distancing measures posed a serious threat to non-farm enterprises that relied on face-to-face interactions with customers, as well as those agricultural workers that needed to buy inputs and sell produce.

 

Kogi CJ, Enugu judge die of COVID-19 [Sun]

Chief Judge of Kogi State, Nasir Ajanah and a judge of the Enugu State High Court, Justice Fidelis Ngwu, have died

While, Ajanah died from suspected COVID-19 complications, while Ngwu reportedly died after suffering from an undisclosed ailment.

Before his death, Kogi CJ had been in isolation at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada for a week.

Ajanah, 64, was first appointed a High Court Judge by the Kwara State Government in 1990 and later transferred to Kogi state when the state was created in 1991.

As a High Court Judge he had served in several jurisdictions across the state, such as Ankpa between 1991 and 1993; Isanlu between 1994 and 1996; Okene between 1996 and 1999 and Lokoja from 1999 to date.

He was buried yesterday in Abuja according to Islamic rites.

The death of Justice Ngwu came as prominent personalities in the state continued to raise COVID-19 fears among residents.

The judge was said to have been rushed to a private hospital in Enugu after suddenly falling ill on Friday died on Saturday.

The state Assembly was recently shutdown following the sudden death of a member representing Isi-Uzo constituency, Mr Chijioke Ugwueze.

In an official statement, Chairman, House Committee on Information and Communication, Chief Jeff Mbah had announced that the shutdown  was in order not to err on the side of caution while the remote and immediate cause of his death is being ascertained.

He said the Speaker of the State Assembly, Chief Edward Ubosi, had ordered closure of complex for decontamination, as well as the suspension of all activities in the complex till further notice.

Meanwhile, Enugu State recorded its highest number of COVID-19 cases in a single day with 56 new cases discovered in the state on Saturday.

Information obtained from Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) website indicated that with the new figure, the total number of cases in the state now stands at 258 with 208 active cases, 44 discharged and six deaths.

Power consumers, MAN kick over 100% tariff hike [Nation]

New electricity price regime takes effect from Wednesday

A WAVE of opposition at the weekend greeted the 100 per cent electricity tariff increase, which takes effect from Wednesday.

Minister of Power Sale Mamman on June 15 said Nigerians would pay higher electricity tariff from July 1.

He told the Senate power panel: “It is really our only choice to once and for all resolve the long standing issue of the power sector.”

The increase in tariff will not bring about more efficient power supply, the Electricity Distributions Companies (DisCos) warned last night.

The DisCos, through their umbrella body, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), said implementing the new price regime would be no magic wand.

ANED Executive Director (Research and Advocacy), Sunday Oduntan, who spoke with The Nation on telephone said: “There will be change compared to five years ago. But don’t expect 24 hours of electricity. “

Asked what would be the implication of the new tariff, he said: “There is no increase in generation. Have you heard of an increase in transmission? These are the issues. There is a need for realignment.

“As long as we have people who are not metered, as long as we have staff who are cheating, as long as we have Nigerians who are not willing to pay for energy, then we will continue to have problems.”

The ANED official added in a statement that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) cannot be left out in tariff increase communication.

He said: “DisCos have decried the recent attempt by their regulatory body, NERC, to distance itself from the July 1 commencement of a new service-based electricity tariff regime.

“We are in a regulated sector. We cannot make a decision about a very critical aspect of the sector like tariff without a nod from the regulator (NERC).

“However, what has happened in recent days is that our regulator is warning us not to mention their name or the Federal Government in any of our communication about the tariff increase with our customers. This is certainly very unfair.

“Many stakeholders have expressed their concern at the unusual silence of our regulator, NERC on the upcoming increase and it looks like a unilateral decision by the DisCos.

“We’ll like to inform Nigerians that tariff review (upward or downwards) is the primary responsibility of NERC as our regulator. We are required to submit our proposals and they have the final say.

“Hence we were surprised to receive a letter from NERC to all the DisCos warning them not to mention their name or that of the Federal government in any public communications on tariffs.

“While it is our obligation to communicate the increase, it is also important for customers to know that it is following standard processes of tariff adjustments in the sector with approvals from NERC and the Federal Government.”

NERC Chairman, Prof. James Momoh, asked our reporter to wait for the commission’s official reaction on the hike.

“Wait we will come out with our statement in the next few days. Just wait,” he said.

Ahead of the commencement of the new rate, private operators under the Organised Private Sector in Nigeria (OPSN), said any tariff hike in the face of inadequate electricity supply will worsen the cost of production and result in job losses.

The OPSN said at the moment, electricity outages average about 10 hours per day; with the cost of self-generated electricity averaging N119 billion in 2019.

OPSN comprises the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) and the Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI).

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Director-General, Dr Muda Yusuf, said the power sector reform has not delivered the desired outcomes.

He said there was a need for a holistic approach to the issue of power.

According to him, greater emphasis should be on off-grid solutions to ensure the decentralisation of the power sector.

He said: “Power sector is critical to the development of the country. Most often, there is often a conflict between development objectives and commercial objectives.

“I believe the government still needs to provide some resource support and generous fiscal incentives for investors in the sector because of the economic development and social impact of an improved power sector performance.”

Nigeria Consumer Protection Network President, Kunle Olubiyo, said electricity consumers will like to know how the proposed tariff increase will benefit them.

“Will it put an end to electricity consumers having to invest in the purchase of distribution transformer and line materials?” he asked.

“We need every detail of how the service –reflective tariff will translate to increase in hours of electricity availability, operational and collections efficiency, billing efficiency and revenue efficiency. We want DISCOs to explain how the new rates will reduce leakages,” Olubiyo said.

The minister, in his presentation at an investigative public hearing on: “Power Sector Recovery Plan and the Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic” organised by the Senate Committee on Power, in Abuja, noted that the increase would have taken effect in April.

He said it was postponed till July due to the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread “apathy” towards the increase by Nigerians.

Mamman said: “Initially, the Regulator, following the completion of public consultation on tariff review, planned on conducting a tariff review in April 2020.

“However, due to COVID-19 and customer apathy, the proposed tariff review was delayed by three months.

“The impact of this means the subsidy being incurred in maintaining the current tariff level had to be maintained until July when the proposed tariff review will be implemented.”

He noted that the challenge the nation’s power sector is currently facing in the development and expansion of the nation’s transmission line is to “budget and release Federal Government’s commitment of an estimated sum of N32billion, primarily for Right of Way acquisition and environmental impact mitigation.

“The fund should be provided for in 2020, 2021, and 2022 Appropriation of the Ministry of Power.

“Note that the teething issues, as well as the legacy issues affecting the power sector, is primarily an issue of infrastructural deficit and lack of coordination in the sector.

“It is thus fortuitous that President Muhammadu Buhari has championed the Siemens Electrification Plan under the Presidential Power Initiative, as the central theme of the Government’s strategy in the Sector.

“I believe that all efforts rendered by the many relevant stakeholders within the stakeholders should be aligned with the PPI for maximum effectiveness in implementation.

The Enugu Electricity Distribution PLC (EEDC) indicated plans to commence implementation of the new tariff from Wednesday.

A statement by the company’s head of communications, Emeka Ezeh: “The new tariff, which is service reflective, is designed to ensure that the company delivers improved services to customers; while ensuring that they are billed based on service quality.

“It is expected that the implementation of the new tariff will enable EEDC to execute most of the capital-intensive projects already outlined, geared towards strengthening and expanding its network and delivering the expected quality service to her customers.

“The new regime has given rise to changes in customer class categorisation, as they are now represented in clusters, namely: NonMD, MD1 and MD2.”

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had last month said Nigerians were willing to pay for electricity if the services were constant and better.

Speaking during a webinar on Economic Sustainability Beyond COVID-19 organised by Emmanuel Chapel, he said: “Most people are used to poor service so they just see every tariff increase as injustice because they are getting poor service but are asked to pay more.

“But where service is guaranteed people have been prepared to pay.’’

Petrol price fully deregulated [Nation]

  • PPPRA ‘will no longer fix prices’

THE price of petrol is now fully deregulated, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) will no longer fix prices, the agency said at the weekend.

PPRA Executive Secretary Saidu Abdulkadir said the agency would every month, develop a guiding price for the commodity, with which it would advise marketers.

He noted that the deregulation of the downstream sector was dependent on the enforcement of appropriate laws by strong regulatory agencies, hence its continued intervention.

“For the purpose of emphasis, let me reiterate that different sectors of the polity operate under the guidance of national regulators.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) regulates the banks and the financial sector; Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) regulates telecommunications; National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) regulates the insurance sector and the same exists for operators in Nigeria’s downstream petroleum sector.

“To this end, it is not out of place for the Agency to provide a guiding price band with the aim to protect consumers against price gouging.

“It is important to also state that there is nowhere in the world that deregulation means total lack of control, supervision or oversight.

“While the Market-Based Pricing Regime is a policy introduced to free the market of all encumbrances to investment and growth, it should not be misconstrued to mean a total abdication of government’s responsibility to the sector and citizenry,” he said.

According to Abdulkadir, the PPPRA is providing the guiding price band by monitoring petroleum products prices daily.

He explained that the average price of the previous month is used to determine prices for the following month, for appropriate cost-reflective pricing that ensures reasonable returns to Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs).

“This methodology is in line with international best practices which range from bi-monthly to monthly price reviews.

“Nigeria adopted the monthly review model considering the average duration for the importation of petroleum products into Nigeria from the closest spot market; North West Europe (NWE) to West Africa (WAF) is about 30 days.

“This period encompasses the Import Financing Process to delivery at retail outlets,” he added

He added that the new pricing regime would encourage oil marketers to resume supply of PMS, leading to further value creation in the downstream; foster job creation and ensure reasonable returns for investors.

According to him, it will create healthy competition among marketers, enhance value for consumers and make funding available for other important infrastructure.

He said that the PPPRA would continue to regulate the downstream petroleum industry, irrespective of the deregulation of the sector.

Abdulkadir said this would also prevent petroleum products marketers from exploiting consumers and help to enforce the appropriate laws guiding the industry.

On code of conduct for oil marketers, he said although crude oil price and petroleum products prices were positively correlated, the prices of petroleum products do not increase or reduce correspondingly with changes in crude oil price.

He noted that the pump price will be a reflection of the international market prices of petroleum products that were also rising.

Abdulkadir added that in line with its laws, the PPPRA developed Guidelines for Petroleum Products Commercial Framework and was drawing up Code of Conducts for Operators in the new pricing regime.

He explained that the PPPRA was finalising the review of cost elements and profit margins on the pricing template for marketers, to reflect the current market-driven pricing regime which was last reviewed in 2016.

 

Governors, others at Ajimobi’s funeral [Nation]

KANO State Governor Abdulahi Ganduje; his Ekiti State counterpart Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Oyo State Deputy Governor Rauf Olaniyan; his Lagos State counterpart Obafemi Hamzat and Speaker Lagos State House of Assembly Mudashiru Obasa were among the dignitaries who came to pay last respect to the late Abiola Ajimobi in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, on Sunday.

Ajimobi, former Oyo State governor, died of COVID-19 complications at a private hospital in Lagos last Thursday. He was buried privately on Sunday morning in his Oluyole, Ibadan home amid sobs by children and relations.  His remains were interred at about 10am after the Chief Imam of Ibadan land, Sheik Ajigbotomokekere, led prayers for the repose of the deceased’s soul.

A public prayer session was later held at the Abiola Ajimobi Mosque, Oke-Ado where a renowned Islamic preacher, Alhaji Muyideen Bello, led other priests to give a brief sermon.

He extolled the virtues of the late ex-governor, stressing that despite the demands of his governorship position, he served God and supported Islam.

Bello said: “Ajimobi lived well. He promoted Islam. In fact, I pray God to help the living to also live well like him. When he became the governor, we argued over the mosque located behind his office. We told him that government does not usually fulfil its promises on mosques.  Then he said he wished to build a mosque. Thank God we are in that mosque, which he built today.”  He said Ajimobi’s exploits and his death had already presented a lengthy sermon for the living.

The cleric recalled one of his last interactions with Ajimobi when he invited him to chair an Islamic lecture in his capacity as Abiola Ajimobi, not as a politician or former governor.

“When I asked him to address the audience that day, what he said was instructive. He said he desired long life because his father died shortly before age 70. He added that although long life was desirable, once one was blessed with the ability to achieve one’s dreams in life, it was a thing of joy. He expressed his desire to live till age 90.

“This death that every human runs away from, a day is coming when we shall all encounter it where we cannot escape. What are we going to be remembered for?”

At the prayer session were Ganduje, Olaniyan, Hamzat, Obasa, Ajimobi’s deputy Chief Moses Adeyemo, Chief Bayo Adelabu and Sen. Teslim Folarin. They were joined by Ajimobi’s son and relations.

Other clerics included Deputy Chief Imam of Ibadan Alh. Fatai Alaga; Khalifa Muideen Ayede; Chairman, Oyo State branch of NASFAT Alh. Adekilekun; Alh. Akewugbagold and the head of Oyo State Muslim Community Alh. Kunle Sanni.

Obasa told reporters that Ajimobi’s ties with Lagos political community were strong, having proved to be a loyal party man.

He said: “He was a loyalist who never forgot his benefactor. This is why Lagos political family will continue to identify with his family and his legacies. The kind of development he introduced in Oyo State fetched him the sobriquet ‘Koseleri.’ He served the party wholeheartedly. That was why he was nominated and supported as the Deputy National Chairman (South) and Acting National Chairman of our party.”

 

Access Bank To Refund 3 Months Stamp Duty Deductions To Customers [Leadership]

Following a weekend of trending on Twitter for deducting Stamp Duty from its customers’ accounts, Access Bank Plc yesterday said it will be paying stamp duty fees on behalf of its customers for the period of February to April 2020.

Access Bank had last week notified its customers that it would be deducting the Stamp Duty charge which had accumulated between February and April this year in line with the Finance Act 2020 but the deductions had not gone down well with the customers of the bank.

Customers had taken to social media to vent accusing the bank of illegally making deductions from their account making the bank the top trending topic on Twitter from Friday till Sunday. In response to the multiple complaints, Access Bank had offered to pay the Stamp Duty charge for its customers.

In a statement which it issued on its twitter handle, Access Bank said “Earlier this week, we informed all our customers that we had inadvertently not charged stamp duty on some accounts from February to April 2020 as mandated by the Federal Government.

“Stamp Duty Charge collection is in compliance with the mandate of the ‘Finance Act. 2019 (Stamp Duty Act. Cap 58). We are required by law to apply this charge as applicable and remit all funds collected to the Federal Government.

“However we have heard our customers‘ feedback that this charge is unwelcome, especially at this time against a challenging economic backdrop. We have considered your feedback and have decided to pay the Stamp Duty on our customers‘ behalf for the affected period only; This means all individual and SMEs who were debited for the accumulated Stamp Duty charge for February to April 2020 will be refunded.

“While we still have to remit these funds via the CBN to the federal government we realise that we got it wrong by debiting our customers late, and we are refunding the affected stamp duty charge today to all affected customers.

“We hope this gesture goes some way to make thls better and we would like to thank all our customers who reached out to us to share their views.”

An official of the bank told LEADERSHIP that the bank unlike its peers had held off the deduction of stamp duty and had wanted to make it easier for the customers by doing s one off deduction. “It is not an illegal charge. The only thing on our part is that we did not do it like other banks, because ordinarily when you do a transaction we just charge you immediately but in our own case we push it till the end of the month.”

The official noted that henceforth, the bank would deduct charges for Stamp Duty alongside transactions.

 

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