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Letter to the Editor, Premium Times, by Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Sept 4, 2018)

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RE: OSINBAJO GOT IT WRONG ON RESTRUCTURING — ATIKU
Dear Editor,
Kindly permit me a response to a piece in your publication, titled “Osinbajo got it wrong on Restructuring,” written, we are told, by my illustrious predecessor in office, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
First, let me say that I really would have expected Alhaji Abubakar to at least get the full text of my comments before his public refutal of my views. But I understand; we are in that season where everything is seen as fair game! He quoted me as saying that “the problem with our country is not a matter of restructuring… and we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into the argument that our problems stem from some geographic re-structuring”.
Yes, I said so.
As the quote shows, I rejected the notion that geographical restructuring was a solution to our national problems. Geographical restructuring is either taking us back to regional governments or increasing the number of States that make up the Nigerian federation.
As we all may recall, the 2014 National Conference actually recommended the creation of 18 more States. And I argued that, with several States struggling or unable to pay salaries, any further tinkering with our geographical structure would not benefit us.
We should rather ask ourselves why the States are underperforming, revenue and development wise. I gave the example of the Western Region (comprising even more than what is now known as the South West Zone), where, without oil money, and using capitation tax and revenues from agriculture and mining, the government funded free education for over 800,000 pupils in 1955, built several roads, farm settlements, industrial estates, the first TV station in Africa, and the tallest building in Nigeria, while still giving up fifty percent of its earnings from mining and minerals for allocation to the Federal Government and other regions.
I then argued that what we required now was not geographical restructuring but good governance, honest management of public resources, deeper fiscal Federalism, and a clear vision for development.
On the issue of deeper fiscal Federalism or restructuring, I explained how the then Lagos State Government, led by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, decided to fight for greater autonomy of States.
As Attorney-General at the time, it was my duty and privilege to lead the legal team against the then Federal government, in our arguments at the Supreme Court. I am sure that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar would remember these cases on greater autonomy for States that I cite below, as he was Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the time.
At the Supreme Court, we won several landmark decisions on restructuring Nigeria through deeper fiscal federalism, some of which our late converts to the concept, now wish to score political points on.
It was our counter-claims alongside those of other littoral States, that first addressed so comprehensively the issue of resource control. We agreed with the oil producing States that they had a right to control their resources. We argued, though unsuccessfully, that the Ports of Lagos were also a resource, which should enable Lagos State, in the worst case, to be paid the derivation percentage for proceeds of its natural resources. Years later, we also filed an action at the Supreme Court arguing that the Value Added Tax, being a consumption tax, should exclusively belong to the States.
On the issue of who, between the Federal and State governments, should have authority to grant building permits and other development control permits, the Supreme Court, by a slim majority, ruled in our favour. It held that, even with respect to federal land, States had exclusive authority to grant building or other developments control permits.
In 2004, we created 37 new local governments in Lagos State. We believed that we had a Constitutional right to do so and that in any event, a State should have a right to create its own administrative units. Several other States joined us and created theirs.
The Federal government’s response was to seize the funds meant for our local governments, thus strangulating States like Lagos, which had created new local governments. We challenged this at the Supreme Court. The court held that the President had no right under the Constitution to withhold or seize funds meant for the States. The allocations were not a gift of the Federal Government to the States. They were the Constitutional right of the States and local governments.
The court also agreed that States had a Constitutional right to create local governments, pursuant to section 8 of the Constitution, but that the creation remained inchoate until the National Assembly, by resolution, amended the existing list of local governments to capture the newly created LGs.
In response, we created by State Law, Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), to accommodate the newly created Local Government Councils until such a time as the National Assembly would complete the process. But the Lagos State Government took up the challenge to re-engineer its revenue service, making it autonomous. With innovative management, tax collection in Lagos became more efficient, and tax revenues continued to grow geometrically. Today, the State earns more IGR than 30 States of Nigeria put together!
Further, we contested the attempts of the then Federal Government to create supervisory authority over the Finances of Local Governments by the signing into law of the Monitoring of Revenue Allocation to Local Governments Act, 2005. The Supreme Court also ruled in our favour, striking down many provisions of the law that sought to give the Federal government control over local government funding.
I have been an advocate, both in court and outside, of fiscal Federalism and stronger State Governments. I have argued in favour of State Police, for the simple reason that policing is a local function. You simply cannot effectively police Nigeria from Abuja. Only recently, in my speech at the Anniversary of the Lagos State House of Assembly, I made the point that stronger, more autonomous States would more efficiently eradicate poverty. So I do not believe that geographical restructuring is an answer to Nigeria’s socio economic circumstances. That would only result in greater administrative costs. But there can be no doubt that we need deeper fiscal Federalism and good governance.
Alhaji Atiku’s concept of restructuring is understandably vague, because he seeks to cover every aspect of human existence in that definition. He says it means a “cultural revolution”. Of course, he does not bother to unravel this concept. He says we need a structure that gives everyone an opportunity to work, a private sector driven economy. Yes, I agree. These are critical pillars of our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), including our Ease of Doing Business Programme.
If, however, this is what he describes as restructuring, then it is clear that he has mixed up all the issues of good governance and diversification of the economy with the argument on restructuring.
Good governance involves, inter alia, transparency and prudence in public finance. It involves social justice, investing in the poor, and jobs for young people; which explains our School Feeding Programme, providing a meal a day to over 9 million public school children in 25 States as of today. Our NPower is now employing 500,000 graduates; our TraderMoni that will be giving microcredit to 2 million petty traders; our Conditional Cash Transfers giving monthly grants to over 400,000 of the poorest in Nigeria. The plan is to cover a million households.
Surprisingly, Alhaji Atiku leaves out the elephant in the room — corruption. And how grand corruption, fueled by a rentier economic structure that benefits those who can use political positions or access to either loot the treasury or get favorable concessions to enrich themselves. This was a main part of my presentations the Minnesota Town Hall meeting.
In arguing for good governance, I made the point that our greatest problem was corruption. I pointed out that grand corruption, namely the unbelievable looting of the treasury by simply making huge cash withdrawals in local and foreign currency, was the first travesty that President Buhari stopped.
I showed the OPEC figures from oil revenues since 1990. In four years from 2010 to 2014 the PDP government earned the highest oil revenues in Nigeria’s history, USD381.9billion. By contrast the Buhari Administration has earned USD121 billion from May 2015 to June 2018, less than 1/3 of what Jonathan Administration earned at the same period in that administration’s life. Despite earning so much less, we are still able to invest more in infrastructure than any government in Nigeria’s history. The difference is good governance, and fiscal prudence.
In the final analysis, restructuring in whatever shape or form, will not mean much if our political leaders see public resources as an extension of their bank accounts.
This, I believe, is the real issue.

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No Diaspora/Out-of-Country Voting in 2019 General Elections.

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The attention of INEC has been drawn to a report by a section of the media which gave false impression that the Commission has “made special provisions for IDPs outside Nigeria to vote in the 2019 Elections.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) wishes to inform the general public that “there will be no Diaspora or Out-of-Countyr voting for any Nigerian”, and that “only duly registered Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) within Nigeria will be allowed to vote.”
Read the full Press Release here:

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GOVERNOR WILLIE OBIANO INAUGURATES ANAMBRA STATE LAW REVISION COMMITTEE

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By Harrison Madubueze
Gov Willie Obiano inaugurates the Anambra State Law Revision Committee. The committee is charged with the responsibility of reviewing the laws of Anambra State.


The laws of the state was last revised in 1991 making it 27 years since the laws guiding the state was reviewed. This is against best known practices where laws should be reviewed at least every 10 years.
It is worthy of note that laws have been enacted by the state since then but there has been no effort at harmonizing these laws to put them together in one document.
It also important to revise these laws to conform to modern trends and also align with internationally recognised best legal practices.
This is a timely initiative of Gov. Willie Obiano to bring Anambra state up to speed with current legal trends round the world.
The Committee Members are:
~ Hon. Justice Ijem Onwuamaegbu (Chairman)
~ Hon. Justice Aniukwu Fidelis (Member)
~ Mr. Theo Osanakpo SAN (Member)
~ Barr. Dr. Mrs. Uju Nwogu (Attorney General of Anambra State).
~ Barr. Mrs. Pat Igwebuike (Special Adviser, Legal Matters) (Secretary).
~ Barr. Ifeanyi Obiakor (Member)
~ Prof. S.A.M Ekwenze (Member)
~ Barr. Tina Emekwekwue (Member)
~ Barr. Uju Metuh (Member)
~ Barr. Mrs. Theo Okwy Igwegbe (Member)
~ Barr. Mrs. Lynda Chinwuba (Member).
Light of the nation!
#WillieisWorking
Awka, Anambra State.

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News Pictures Of The Day : Moments at 60th Anniversary of Francis Cardinal Arinze

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‘PROViDENCE iS THE WORD: Lord We Thank Thee!’ The 60th Anniversary of Priestly Ordination of His Eminence, Francis Cardinal Arinze held on Thursday 13th December 2018 at Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, Onitsha as captured by Emeka Ozumba
Photos…


Pix 1: Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency Chief Willie Obiano (Akpokuedike) and Wife, Dr. Ebelechukwu carrying the Oblate to the Alter at the Holy Mass.
Pix 1b: Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency Chief Willie Obiano (Akpokuedike) and Wife, Dr. Ebelechukwu at the Holy Mass.
Pix 2: Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency Chief Willie Obiano (Akpokuedike) and Wife, Dr. Ebelechukwu receiving the blessing from His Eminence, Francis Cardinal Arinze at the Mass.
Pix 3 & 4: Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency Chief Willie Obiano (Akpokuedike) and his predecessor, His Excellency, Chief Peter Obi exchanging pleasantry after the Mass.

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FG Assures ECOWAS, UN of Credible 2019 Elections

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The Federal Government has assured the economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the UN election monitoring team of credible elections in 2019.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama said this at the 41st Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council in Abuja on Thursday.
Onyeama, who is also the Chairman of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers, commended several member states in the region on efforts made in the various political, constitutional and security sector reforms to improve democracy.
“We welcome the positive developments in several West African countries including steps being taken to promote human rights and encourage national stakeholders to continue to engage in dialogue in the spirit of tolerance and inclusivity.
“To this end, President Muhammadu Buhari has assured the ECOWAS/UN team on the election monitoring in Nigeria that his government will organise a credible election in 2019.”
The minister noted that security challenges were a source of “grave” concern despite successes recorded.
Onyeama added that security and sustainability could only be achieved through the promotion of good governance and the adoption of liberal policies that would enhance greater economic cooperation in the region.
He further assured of continued efforts by ECOWAS to sustain peace in the region.
“On the political front, we will continue to accompany Guinea Bissau to ensure the conformity and the full implementation of the Conakry Accord as well as a support for the successful conduct of parliamentary presidential election in 2019.
“Furthermore, positive strides have been attained towards the resolution of the political crisis in Togo. ECOWAS will continue to support the government of The Gambia for successful transition programme,” he said.
The ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council meeting will end on Dec. 15.

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FRSC Approves Establishment of 30 Road Camps

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The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has approved the establishment of 30 road camps across the country along critical designated corridors.
The Corps Marshal, Mr Boboye Oyeyemi, disclosed this at the Fourth Quarter 2018 Strategy Session with 12 Zonal Commanding Officers and 37 Sector Commanders in Abuja on Tuesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the session was the last in the year.
Oyeyemi said that the session would enable the corps strategise toward ensuring a successful Operation Zero Tolerance (End of Special Patrol Sessions).
He noted that FRSC had also activated all Road Side Clinics and the Emergency Rescue Ambulance Scheme.
Oyeyemi said that the Emergency First Respondents Scheme members across the country had also been mobilised.
He said that all commands were to work in close concert with the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and States Traffic Management Agencies, among others.
“Already, a total of 201 Mobile Courts have been put on notice to sit throughout the operation period, which is Dec. 15, to Jan. 15, 2019.
“In addition, motorists who commit life threatening offences will be referred for emotional and psychological evaluation test,” he said.
He further said that within the quarter, the corps commissioned three permanent Sector Command offices in Oyo, Ekiti and Kano, bringing the total to four out of eight newly constructed ones.
“Three others are on the last stage of procurement process and will be commissioned in early 2019,” he said.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari had accented to the UN Convention on Road Traffic Signs and Signal of 1968, adding that the instrument of accession was deposited at the UN Treaty Office in October.
He urged members of the corps to ensure that the core values of the convention were brought to bear on the country.
Oyeyemi said that the corps had received FRSC Traffic Radio licence from the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), saying that the radio station would be on air in the first quarter of 2019.
He further said that the FRSC Establishment Act was currently with the National Assembly undergoing the process of repeal and re-enactment.
The corps marshal explained that the purpose was to align the corps appropriately with best global practices such that can fulfill its responsibilities better for the benefit of humanity.
He urged Commanding Officers to take inventory of all corps logistics and communication facilities so as to ascertain their working order.
Oyeyemi, however, called on all road users to consider compliance to road traffic regulations sacrosanct, particularly as over 75 per cent of crashes resulted from human errors.
“The FRSC will not hesitate to invoke its powers to bring to book road users who will not willingly comport themselves in traffic.
“Compliance with road traffic regulations remains a compulsory civic obligation for which defiance will not be tolerated,” he said.

(NAN)

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Nigeria’s cabinet approves N7.13bn for maritime security

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Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council has approved N7.13bn (about $22.995million) for security in Nigeria’s coastal waterway.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, stated this on Wednesday while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Amaechi said the contract was approved for six companies to protect six sections of the coastal waterway.
He said that the contract was approved to enhance security in the maritime sector.

Steady recovery from recession
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, said that he presented a report to the cabinet meeting that indicated that the economy, when measured by real GDP, grew at 1.81% in the 3rd quarter 2018 compared to 1.5% in the 2nd quarter of 2018.
He stated that the Federal Executive Council noted that economic growth continued to be driven by the non oil sector which grew by 3.32% in the 3rd quarter.
“This has been the strongest growth in non-oil GDP in twelve consecutive quarters since the fourth quarter of 2015,” he said.
Udoma said the non oil growth was driven by transportation, electricity, telecommunication, metal oils, quarry among others.
“In addition, agriculture and manufacturing sectors also grew, agriculture by 1.91% manufacturing by 1.92%.
“These are stronger growth than in the 2nd quarter, so overall, council most encouraged by these results shows improvement in the economy.
“It also shows that our plans are working it equally shows that we need to intensify our economy and keep fit with our reforms through continuous implementation of the ERGP in order to continue to attract investments and set the economy on a more sustainable inclusive growth trajectory.”
Udoma said the cabinet was encouraged by this and believed that the economy would do even better in the 4th quarter.

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Senate passes Bill establishing South-East Development Commission

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Nigerian senate has passed a bill to establish the south east development commission (SEDC).
The Bill was passed on Wednesday after consideration of the report of the Committee on establishment and public service led by the chairman, Senator Emmanuel Paulker.
Speaking shortly after the Lawmakers passed the Bill, Leader of the south eastern senator’s caucus, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe expressed appreciation with the senate for passing the bill and urged President Buhari to graciously give his assent to the Bill.
According to Senator Abaribe, the passage of the bill, and expected establishment of the commission, will put to rest the long agitation of the people of the south Eastern part of the country on issues relating to civil war among others.
Flanked by other Senators from the south east region, with majority wearing their traditional Igbo red cap, Senator Abaribe expressed hope that the House of Representatives will concur with the senate decision and pass the Bill.

Deposit Insurance
Also on Wednesday, the Senate in plenary confirmed the appointment of the Chairman, and six other Board members of the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).
Wednesday’s confirmation of the nominees was sequel to Senate consideration of the report of its committee on Banking, Insurance, and other financial institutions, which screened and recommended the nominees for confirmation.
Chairman of the NDIC Board according to the Senate’s confirmation, is Mrs. Ronke Sokefun from Ogun state. Alhaji Garba Buba is from Bauchi state, and representing the North East region, Alhaji Garba Bello hails from Sokoto state, and representing North West region, while the South East region is represented by Brigadier General Josef Okoloagu, who hails from Enugu state.
Other members are, Mr. Adewale Adeleke from Ondo state, representing the South West region, Mustapha Mudashiru who hails from Kwara state is representing the North Central region, while Mr. Festus Keyamo is representing South South region, and he hails from Delta state.

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In Pictures : Zik Mausoleum Buhari built, that PDP failed to do in 16 years

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President Muhammadu Buhari has completed the mausoleum in honour of Nigeria’s first president, Nnamdi Azikiwe, what the Peoples Democratic Party failed to do during all its 16 years in power.
Azikiwe, a foremost Nigerian nationalist died on 11 May 1996, during the Abacha administration. He was 92 years old.
A Mausoleum was to be erected in his honour. A contract was awarded and work started 21 years ago.

Inside the Mausoelum

In 16 years of the PDP in control of Nigerian affairs, Zik was totally forgotten, his memory consigned to the dustbin of history, by the rapacious regime, even as members helped themselves to the commonwealth and looted the treasury. The mausoleum was abandoned and it became the playground of all kinds of reptiles.
It took the Buhari administration just in three years, to face the project squarely, despite dwindling finances of the country and deliver the mausoleum.

On Monday, 10 December, Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola was at the mausoleum site in Zik’s famous town of Onitsha, Anambra State to declare the project completed, 21 years after.
Fashola, who came in company of Dr. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Productivity described the completion of the project as `promise kept’.
“During the build up to 2015 general elections, President Muhammadu Buhari made commitment that he would complete Azikiwe’s mausoleum. Today Mr President has kept his words and we are happy,” he said.
Fashola said though furnishing of the monument was yet to be accomplished, the federal government would before long do it. It is a promise and the administration will surely fulfil it.
The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Ngige who also spoke, described the completion of the Mausoleum as sign of `Mr President’s open and fair leadership style’.
“As a South East son, I am happy that this project for the memory of our late father and son was finally completed, it is a big honour done to our people by Mr President,” he said.

 

 

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Atiku Signs Peace Accord

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The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party and former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on Wednesday appeared before the National Peace Committee convened by Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (RTD) and Catholic Bishop of Sokoto diocese, REV. Fr. Mathew Hassan Kukah, where he signed the peace accord for the 2019 general elections.

 

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Minister Of State For Environment Resigns

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Nigeria’s minister of state for environment Ibrahim Jibrin has resigned his appointment as a member of the Federal Executive Council.

Jibrin tendered his resignation on Wednesday at the end of the weekly federal executive council meeting presided over by president Muhammadu Buhari.
The former minister is stepping down to take up a role in the traditional institution as the new emir of Nasarawa.

Speaking at a valedictory session in his honour shortly after Wednesday’s council meeting at the state house, Abuja, Ibrahim Jibrin thanked president muhammadu buhari for considering him worthy to serve the country, saying the position offered him the opportunity of contributing his quota in tackling the many environmental challenges confronting various parts of the country.
Jubril’s resignation comes exactly two years after Amina Mohammed resigned her position as the substantive minister of environment to take up a higher responsibility as United Nations deputy secretary general.
Meanwhile, council at its meeting on Wednesday welcomed the latest report by the national bureau of statistics which showed that Nigeria recorded a GDP growth of 1.8% in the third quarter of 20i8.
Minister of budget and national planning Udoma Udo Udoma says government would continue to push its economic reforms to hit its target of 3% GDP growth in 2019.

Council also approved over billion naira for the Nigerian Maritime Administration And Safety Agency, NIMASA, to improve maritime security in the country.

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