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January 14, 2021

Patronise goods produced by inmates, Prisons Service urges Nigerians

 

BY LINUS CHIBUIKE

THE Controller General of the Nigeria Correctional Service, Ja’afaru Ahmed, on Wednesday, urged Nigerians to patronise goods produced by inmates in order to support local content.

He said patronising the inmates after their acquisition of skills in shoe and garment making, would create a sense of self worth for them and enhance their employability when discharged.

Ahmed spoke during the signing of a Public Private Partnership Memorandum of Understanding between the NCoS and a private entrepreneur.

A statement by the Public Relations Department of the NCoS, signed by CSC James O. Okoh, said the Service was set to expand the frontiers of vocational skills acquisition for inmates in shoes, garments and leather works.

“The first phase of this engagement is the Shoe and Garment factory in Aba Custodial Centre and the Leather Factory in Janguza Custodial Centre, Kano State,” the NCoS said.

He said the project would also increase the internally generated revenue of the Service and enhance self-sustainability in the provision of staff uniforms and foot wears as well as inmates’ uniforms and beddings.

“This laudable initiative was borne out of the need to generate employment for Nigerians, conserve foreign exchange, utilise local raw materials and generate other value added services in the chain of production,” the statement said.

 

 

Retired soldiers protest non-payment of pension arrears in Abuja

 

BY LINUS CHIBUIKE

RETIRED soldiers, on Wednesday, stormed the Ministry of Finance, Abuja, to protest non-payment of their pension arrears.

According to a report by Channels TV, the retired soldiers also demanded the inclusion of officers who fought in the civil war in the military pension scheme.

They also asked the Federal Government to stop all deductions from the pensions of all retired medical officers.

The ex-servicemen further called for the approval of the payment of minimum wage arrears accruing to them since 2019.

Anthony Agbas, who delivered a letter to officials at the Ministry of Finance on behalf of the retired soldiers, told Channels TV that they fought for the country and deserved their pensions.

He added that they were hopeful that their demands would be met without further delay, following the peaceful protest.

 

 

BREAKING! UNILAG begins online classes Jan. 25

 

BY FOLASHADE KEHINDE

THE University of Lagos has announced January 25, 2021 as resumption date for online classes.

The date was released in the University’s revised academic calendar for the first semester of the 2019/2020 academic session.

The semester, according to the calendar, will end on April 1, 2021, barring unforseen events.

Students in Nigeria’s public universities have been away from school for almost 10 months, owing to the protracted strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities in March 2020.

The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has however led to another controversy over whether the January 18, 2021 resumption date announced by the Federal Government is safe, in view of rising cases.

ASUU called off its strike on December 24, 2020, but academic activities have yet to resume.

 

 

British COVID-19 variant now in 50 countries, says WHO

 

THE coronavirus mutation first found in Britain has now spread to 50 territories, according to the World Health Organization, while a similar South African-identified strain has now been found in 20.

The UN body also noted a third new coronavirus “variant of concern” found in Japan may impact upon immune response and needs further investigation.

“The more the SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads, the more opportunities it has to change. High levels of transmission mean that we should expect more variants to emerge,” said the WHO.

SARS-CoV-2 is the virus which causes Covid-19 disease.

Since first being reported to the WHO on December 14, the British-identified variant VOC 202012/01 has been found in 50 countries, territories and areas, the agency said.

Test results showed the age and sex distribution was similar to that of other circulating variants, while contact tracing data revealed “higher transmissibility (secondary attack rates) where the index case has the variant strain”.

The South African-identified variant 501Y.V2, first reported on December 18, has now been detected in 20 countries, territories and areas.

“From preliminary and ongoing investigations in South Africa, it is possible that the 501Y.V2 variant is more transmissible than variants circulating in South Africa previously,” the WHO weekly report said.

“Moreover, while this new variant does not appear to cause more severe illness, the observed rapid increases in case numbers have placed health systems under pressure.”

The geographical spread of both variants is likely underestimated, said the WHO, given a bias towards detection in countries with virus sequencing capacity.

– Japan/Brazil newcomer –

Meanwhile, the agency said it had been notified by Japan on January 9 of a new variant detected in four travellers arriving from Brazil. The variant was found in two adults and two children.

“This variant has 12 mutations to the spike protein, including three mutations of concern in common with VOC 202012/01 and 501Y.V2,” it said, “which may impact transmissibility and host immune response”.

The WHO said researchers in Brazil had additionally reported the emergence of a similar variant, which had likely evolved independently of the variant detected in Japan.

“The extent and public health significance of these new variants require further investigation,” the report said.

The WHO held a meeting of 1,750 international scientists on Tuesday to discuss critical knowledge gaps and research priorities for emerging variants.

“Our collective goal is to get ahead of the game and have a global mechanism to quickly identify and study variants of concern and understand their implications for disease control efforts,” said Ana Maria Henao Restrepo, the WHO’s research and development chief.

The WHO said the new variants showed the importance of increasing diagnostic capacity and systematic sequencing of the virus.

“Research is ongoing to determine the impact of new variants on transmission, disease severity as well as any potential impacts on vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics,” the organisation said.

– AFP

 

 

January 13, 2021

Patronise goods produced by inmates, Prisons Service urges Nigerians

 

BY LINUS CHIBUIKE

THE Controller General of the Nigeria Correctional Service, Ja’afaru Ahmed, on Wednesday, urged Nigerians to patronise goods produced by inmates in order to support local content.

He said patronising the inmates after their acquisition of skills in shoe and garment making, would create a sense of self worth for them and enhance their employability when discharged.

Ahmed spoke during the signing of a Public Private Partnership Memorandum of Understanding between the NCoS and a private entrepreneur.

A statement by the Public Relations Department of the NCoS, signed by CSC James O. Okoh, said the Service was set to expand the frontiers of vocational skills acquisition for inmates in shoes, garments and leather works.

“The first phase of this engagement is the Shoe and Garment factory in Aba Custodial Centre and the Leather Factory in Janguza Custodial Centre, Kano State,” the NCoS said.

He said the project would also increase the internally generated revenue of the Service and enhance self-sustainability in the provision of staff uniforms and foot wears as well as inmates’ uniforms and beddings.

“This laudable initiative was borne out of the need to generate employment for Nigerians, conserve foreign exchange, utilise local raw materials and generate other value added services in the chain of production,” the statement said.

-ThePoint

 

 

January 12, 2021

Visitation panels: Lawmaker kicks against alleged omission of Ebonyi professors on FG’s list

 

BY AGNES NWORIE, ABAKALIKI

MEMBER representing Ezza South/Ikwo Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, Chinedu Ogah, has called on the Federal Ministry of Education to correct the imbalance on the list of the visitation panels to Federal Universities and Inter University centres across the country, released by the Federal Ministry of Education.

Ogah, while addressing newsmen, lamented the alleged shortchanging of Professors from Ebonyi State with regard to the said list, noting that the state had produced professors of international repute to merit the list.

He also alleged that professors Ikenna Onyindo and Kelvin N. Nwogu, who were penciled under Ebonyi State on the list were from Anambra and Imo states respectively.

Ogah called on the Minister of Education to urgently correct the anomaly and include genuine Ebonyi people to guarantee equity, fair play and justice.

He expressed dissatisfaction with the Committee that compiled the list, noting that no matter the criteria used in the selection process, glorifying two non-Ebonyians to represent Ebonyi State in the list was not only criminal but an affront to the sensibility of every right thinking Nigerian.

He said, “The list released by the Federal Ministry of Education as panels to visit all the Federal Universities across the country, shortchanging two Ebonyi people, depicts a calculated attempt to trample down the equity and fairness President Buhari’s administration was built on.

“I challenge the purported Ebonyians in the list to tender their Local Government Identification letter before the public to vindicate themselves.”

 

 

Nigeria spent N1.8trn on capital projects In 2020 – Finance Minister

 

BY VICTORIA ONU, ABUJA

THE Federal Government spent a total of N1.8trn on the execution of capital projects in the 2020 fiscal period.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, gave the figure on Monday during a public presentation of the 2021 approved budget.

Ahmed, during the virtual presentation, said the N1.8trn spent on capital projects for the 2020 fiscal period represented about 89 per cent of the provision made for capital projects.

The minister explained that out of the N1.8trn spent on capital projects, the sum of N118.37bn was released for COVID-19 related capital expenditure.

She added that while the Federal Government had projected the sum of N9.97trn expenditure for 2020, it actually spent about N10.08trn, representing 101 per cent performance.

She put the amount spent on debt servicing at N3.27trn, while the sum of N3.19trn was released for payment of salaries and pensions.

She also said the Federal Government generated the sum of N3.94trn in the 2020 fiscal year.

She said the N3.94trn generated during the period represented about 73 per cent of the target for the 2020 fiscal period.

This means that out of the projected revenue target of N5.39trn for 2020, the government could only achieve the sum of N3.94trn.

The minister said while oil revenue outperformed its target, the non-oil revenue performance was not too impressive.

Giving a breakdown of the revenue performance, the Finance Minister said that the Federal Government earned N1.52trn from oil revenue, representing an over performance of 157 per cent, while non oil tax revenue was N1.28trn, about 79 per cent of target.

She said Companies Income Tax and Value Added Tax collections were N673.22bn and N192.66bn, representing 82 per cent and 68 per cent, respectively, of the pro-rata revised targets for the period.

Ahmed put the Customs revenue at N410.21bn, about 79 per cent of revenue performance, adding that other revenues also contributed N993.73bn to revenue generation.

The minister blamed the revenue underperformance on the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic, adding that Customs revenue was affected by trade slow down caused by COVID-19.

 

 

Oil price: We’re not bringing back fuel subsidy, FG insists

 

BY VICTORIA ONU, ABUJA

The Federal Government, on Monday, ruled out the possibility of reintroducing fuel subsidy payment, about a year after the policy was stopped.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, made this position known, during a public presentation of the 2021 approved budget.

There had been speculations that the Federal Government might be considering bringing back fuel subsidy to cushion the impact of high oil price.

But when asked if the Federal Government was considering the introduction of fuel subsidy to cushion the negative impact of fuel price increase, the Finance Minister said there was currently no plan for such.

She said that there was no provision for fuel subsidy by the government in the 2021 budget.

“We are not bringing back fuel subsidy. There is no provision for fuel subsidy in the 2021 budget. The recent adjustment by the government in the oil industry does not in any way suggest that fuel subsidy is going to be reintroduced,” the minister said.

She said this just as she disclosed that the Federal Government spent a total of N1.8trn on the execution of capital projects in the 2020 fiscal period.

Ahmed said the N1.8trn spent on capital projects for the 2020 fiscal period represented about 89 per cent of the provision made for such projects.

The minister explained that out of the N1.8trn spent on capital projects, the sum of N118.37bn was released for COVID-19 related capital expenditure.

She added that while the Federal Government had projected the sum of N9.97trn expenditure for 2020, it actually spent about N10.08trn, representing 101 per cent performance.

She put the amount spent on debt servicing at N3.27trn, while the sum of N3.19trn was released for payment of salaries and pensions.

She also said the Federal Government generated the sum of N3.94trn in the 2020 fiscal year.

She said the N3.94trn generated during the period represented about 73 per cent of the target for the 2020 fiscal period.

This means that out of the projected revenue target of N5.39trn for 2020, the government could only achieve the sum of N3.94trn.

 

Tax compliance: FIRS creates 35 additional tax audit units

 

BY VICTORIA ONU , ABUJA

THE Federal Inland Revenue Service has created 35 additional Tax Audit Units in the last one year and deployed experienced staff to take charge of the offices.

The Service said this was aimed at improving the level of tax compliance and stem illicit financial flow out of Nigeria.

The Executive Chairman, FIRS, Muhammad Nami, disclosed this in Abuja at a workshop on effective audit of multinational corporations for domestic revenue mobilisation in Nigeria.

He said, “At the FIRS, we are paying greater attention to tax audit in general and Transfer Pricing audit in particular in order to improve the level of tax compliance in the country.

“As a result, in the last one year, we have created more than 35 additional Tax Audit Units and deployed experienced and capable staff to take charge of these offices.”

Nami also revealed that Nigeria lost about N5.4trn through tax evasion by multinational companies operating in Nigeria.

He said the revenue was lost within a 10-year period, covering 2007 and 2017.

He cited a 2014 report by the High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, which stated that “Nigeria accounted for 30.5% of money lost by the continent through illicit financial flows.”

Although Nami observed that some multinational corporations were leading in tax compliance in various sectors, he expressed worries that “many rich Multinational Corporations do not pay the right taxes due from them, let alone pay their taxes voluntarily.”

He charged participants at the event to come up with a methodology that would be used to uncover illicit financial flows and provide an overview of related policy options for enhancing tax revenue collection in general.

He further stated that with the signing of the 2021 budget of N13.58trn on 31st December, 2020 by President Muhammadu Buhari, and given the recent decline of oil resources, which had been the major revenue earner for the country, taxation was expected to continue to shoulder the Government’s Budget performance the way it did in 2020.

He added, “This underscores the importance of this workshop, as tax audit of Multinational Corporations is very crucial in Nigeria’s domestic revenue mobilisation.

“For me, this workshop is an important step towards boosting compliance level; and I have strong hopes that its outcome will further increase our efforts at driving tax compliance among Multinational Corporations in Nigeria.”