8—VANGUARD, THURSDAY, APRIL 12, 2018 :Vanguard News :@vanguardnews :@vanguardnews NEWS HOTLINES: 08052867023, 08052867058 FG plotting to foist one-party system on Nigerians —PDP •Vows to resist continued harassment of its leaders By Dirisu Yakubu ABUJA— PEOPLES Democratic Party, PDP, said, yesterday, that there was a plot by the Federal Government to foist a oneparty system on Nigerians. To achieve this, the party said government had hatched a plot to humiliate and intimidate its members, including the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, and some governors elected on its platform. Addressing a press conference at Wadata Plaza, Abuja, the party's National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said All Progressives Congress, APC-led government was leading the onslaught against some highly-placed PDP members, using state power to achieve its aim. It said: “You are aware of the numerous exposed plots by the APC and its Federal Government to frame up and humiliate the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremmadu, as well as PDP governors, particularly, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and his Ekiti State counterpart, Governor Ayo Fayose. “There is an orchestrated plan by the ruling APC-led Federal Government to use the state apparatus of power to coerce, emasculate and effectively decapitate opposition and other dissenting voices, foist a oneparty state and push a selfsuccession bid for President Muhammadu Buhari, seeing that their chances of winning the presidential election get slimmer by the day.” The party also said it has uncovered plans by the APC to silence its Presidential aspirants ahead of the 2019 polls, even as it alleged that meetings between some judicial officers and “agents” of the ruling party have held to facilitate the conviction of its members currently undergoing trials in courts of the land. It said: “The APC has fully commenced a major onslaught on leaders and key voices in the PDP, particularly our state governors, opposition leaders in the National Assembly as well as our presidential hopefuls. “In the same vein, we are in the know of plots to embarrass credible individuals, particularly in the PDP, known or perceived to be interested in contesting the 2019 presidential election, having realised that their party, the APC, is finally stuck with a very unpopular and rejected presidential candidate, who can no longer command the support of Nigerians. “This is in addition to advanced plots by the Federal Government to clampdown on key leaders of the party and begin to drop in public places alleged confessional statements made under duress in the desperate attempt to achieve a pre-determined end of validating the bandying of corruption allegations against members of the PDP. “The PDP will no longer allow anybody to tarnish any of our elected and appointed officials, particularly our state governors and leaders in the National Assembly and members of our Working Committees at the national, zonal, state and even at the grassroots levels and will do all within our laws to protect them,” the party vowed. Contacted, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adeshina, referred Vanguard to Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. Efforts, however, to reach the minister proved abortive as his mobile numbers were unreachable. MEETING: From left, Registrar, Olubunmi Faluyi; Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administrations), Professor Emilolorun Aiyelari; former Vice Chancellor, Professor Omoniyi Adewole and Vice Chancellor, Professor Idowu Olayinka, all of University of Ibadan, during a stakeholders' meeting by the university to deliberate on the hike in school fees to be paid by students. Photo: Dare Fasube I’ll quit if people in power try to influence me — JAMB Registrar •As PACAC storms JAMB over N37m ‘swallowed by snake’ By Joseph Erunke A BUJA—REGISTRAR of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, has vowed that he would quit his job if people in positions of authority try to influence him to do their bidding in the organisation. This came as Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC, led by the chairman, Prof. Itse Sagay, visited the tertiary institutions’ examination regulatory body in respect of the recent N36 million snake swallowing scandal that rocked JAMB. Oloyede said his fear when he assumed the headship of JAMB, was that politicians would not allow him do his work accordingly, a development, he said, would have made him quietly quit the job. Oloyede, who added that no one had ever approached him to influence anything, said: “Since I come here, nobody has called me to do any wrong thing. I have never seen anybody who will call me and say, somebody has done what is wrong, don’t allow it to go. “People who have authority over me have been the people who are even calling me to strengthen what I am doing. “Whereas my fear when I came here was that I was not going to stay long because what we used to peddle in the university is that these politicians will be interfering in one's activities. So, I had made up my mind that if they call me to do what I am not supposed to do, I will go. “On no occasion has any of my superiors called me for any such thing. Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, is more puritanical than myself in his world view, let alone people higher than him.’’ On his part, Prof. Sagay commended Oloyede for what he described as “geometric increase” in remittance to the Federal Government coffers by the board under his watch. Recall that JAMB had remitted about N7.8 billion in 2017 to the Federal Government. Sagay said the visit of the committee was informed by the need to seek clarification on the alleged N36 million cash of the board, which had been in the media that it was swallowed by snake. He said he was also interested in knowing other challenges being faced by the board that require the committee assistance. Sagay while commending Oloyede for his high level of integrity, said: “We also wish to congratulate you for what I will call the geometric increase in remittance to the Federal Government of Nigeria. “We are not surprised. You have a name that has gone before you and we know that nowhere will you be operating in which there will not be events, which will show that you have maintained your outstanding character and integrity." N1.5bn suspicious contracts awarded before I assumed office— NEMA D-G •As Reps summon suspended NEMA directors By Levinus Nwabughiogu A BUJA—Director- General of National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Mr Mustapha Maihaja, said, yesterday, that N1.5 billion suspicious contracts were awarded in the agency before his assumption of duty. He said he inherited some rots in the agency and was doing his best to correct them. On the N1.6 billion contracts for the supply of materials to flood victims in 16 states in the last one year, Maihaja said the suplies were done in compliance with Public Procurement Act. The House of Representatives has asked the suspended personnel of NEMA as well as current and former procurement officers to appear before its panel investigating the agency today. Speaking while appearing before the Ali Isa-led adhoc investigative panel of the House of Representatives on the activities of NEMA, Maihaja said: “When I came on board in late April, 2017, I met N4.6 million in our coffers and liability of N1.5 billion and our monthly allocation of N500 million cannot go a long way in procuring these materials. “This was also the time when the international agencies announced the scaling down of their funding by 80 per cent. That was the situation on ground when we came on board. “Before I came, contracts were paid for without proper documentation and that is why N1.5 billion is unpaid till date because there was no certificate to prove that. A memo was just submitted that due diligence process be instituted and that is what we are doing." The hearing continues today with the appearance of the suspended personnel. Reps c’ttee postpones Customs’ budget defence over discrepancies By Levinus Nwabughiogu ABUJA— HOUSE of Representatives Committee on Customs, yesterday, deferred the consideration of 2018 budget of Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, to April 17, 2018, following irregularities discovered in the document. Though a timeline had been given to all standing committees to submit all budgetary proposals of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, of government for 2018 next week, in readiness for their final consideration and passage into law by the House later this month, chairman of the House Committee, James Faleke, said that of the Customs may not be feasible. Announcing the postponement at the defence, Faleke attributed conflicting figures of N229 million and N69 million respectively as contributions to the National Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF, and for insurance payments to customs officers under the consolidated personnel cost budget of the service for the deferment. Incidentally, most members of the House committee also queried the discrepancies discovered in the figures, repetition of items contained in the budget under various subheads and directed the Customs management, led by its Comptroller-General, Col. Hameed Ali (retd), to go back with the document. Faleke said: “We have a timeline to submit the 2018 budget by the National Assembly but with what we are seeing here, l don’t think the Customs is ready. “The moment we can’t be on the same page legislatively, we can’t proceed. So this budget defence hearing is stepped down to April 17 to enable the Customs put its house in order.” Earlier at the defence, Col. Ali had informed the committee that the service collected a revenue of N1.037 trillion, made up of N835.53 billion and Value Added Tax of N202.37 billion on imports, thereby surpassing the revenue target of N 772.88billion set for 2017.
VANGUARD, THURSDAY, APRIL 12, 2018—9 :Vanguard News :@vanguardnews :@vanguardnews NEWS HOTLINES: 08052867023, 08052867058 Govt extends VAIDS deadline to June 30 •Says hiding monies overseas, evading taxes must stop By Johnbosco Agbakwuru A B U J A — PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has approved the extension of Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme, VAIDS, to June 30, 2018. The president explained, yesterday that the short extension after the original March 31 deadline was based on appeals by professional bodies and individual tax-payers. In a statement signed by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, President Buhari, however, said no further extension of time would be approved after June 30. He explained that a new date was given, based on the conviction of the Ministry of Finance that the overall objective to increase compliance would be attained, and that additional revenue would accrue. President Buhari further explained that a fresh Executive Order will be made to give legal backing to the new timeline. He said: “For a nation of people who are competitive and driven, it is not a pride that we are the lowest performer in tax to GDP, not just in Africa, but in the world. Hiding monies overseas, evading taxes must stop “Nigeria’s growth needs are such that every Nigerian must do his duty to his nation, to his neighbour, and to himself. “Hiding monies overseas, evading taxes by manipulation, and other unwholesome practices, have never developed a country, and for Nigeria to attain her true potentialities, these must stop.” The President urged Nigerian companies and individuals to join government in the rebuilding mission, “and do the right thing by taking this window of extension to regularise.” He added that the right thing might not be convenient or comfortable “but in the long run, we will all have a nation we can be proud of.” President Buhari further urged tax authorities to use the extension window to perfect plans to prosecute those who failed to regularise their tax status. He said: "VAIDS is one of the key policies being used by the Federal Government to reposition the economy and correct i n h e r i t e d underdevelopment. "The country has one of the lowest tax collection rates in the world at just six per cent of GDP. This was partially a function of the reliance on oil that saw us abandon the historical revenue collection systems and switch to a culture of sharing resources, rather than generating them. "President Buhari had last year launched Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP, and VAIDS tax amnesty is first in the series of reforms that will transform our tax system and provide sustainable, predictable funding for all tiers of government. "Tax revenues will ensure that public infrastructure is provided, and public services are funded to improve the lives of the people. Taxes redistribute wealth from those who have more to those who have less, and VAIDS is one of the windows to achieve such." PRIZE FOR LITERATURE: Professor Emeritus Ayo Banjo, Chairman, Advisory Board of The Nigeria Prize for Literature, handing over 89 entries to the Chairman, Panel of Judges, Professor Matthew Umukoro, for 2018 edition of the prize as Godson Dienye, Acting Manager, Community Relations, Nigeria LNG and other judges, Dr. Ngozi Udengwu and Professor Mohammed Inuwa Umar- Buratai, look on, in Lagos, yesterday. Nigeria’s population now 198m, 7th largest in the world — NPC THE population of Nigeria is pegged at an estimated 198 million, according to National Population Commission, NPC. NPC Chairman, Eze Duruiheoma, disclosed this in New York, while delivering Nigeria’s statement on sustainable cities, human mobility and international migration at the 51st session of Commission on Population and Development. Nigeria currently ranks as the 7th most populous nation in the world. As at 2016, the World Bank said Nigeria had an estimated 186 million people. Duruiheoma said urban population was growing at an average annual rate of about 6.5 per cent, adding that teenagers, women of child-bearing age and the working age population, were more engaged in urbanisation. He said: “Nigeria remains the most populous in Africa, the seventh globally with an estimated population of over 198 million. “The recent World Population Prospects predicts that by 2050, Nigeria will become the third most populated country in the world. “Over the last 50 years, Nigeria’s urban population has grown at an average annual growth rate of more than 6.5 per cent without commensurate increase in social amenities and infrastructure. “It grew substantially from 17.3 in 1967 to 49.4 per cent in 2017. In addition, the 2014 World Urbanisation Prospects report, predicts that by 2050, most of the population – 70 per cent – will be residing in cities. “The 2010 human mobility survey report revealed that 23 per cent of the sampled population were of more females than males.” Duruiheoma said an estimated 1.76m internally displaced persons, IDPs, were from the six states in the north-east. According to him, existing urbanisation trend, coupled with IDPs in cities, pose critical challenges to securing sustainability of the nation’s cities. He said like in other developing countries, Nigerian cities host widespread poverty, underemployment and unemployment at an average of 18.4 percent, citing National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, 2017 report. In an interview last year, Ghaji Bello, Director- General of NPC, said the commission might conduct census in 2018, adding that the proposed census would cost an estimated N272 billion. FG clears air on whereabouts of recovered looted funds By Luminous Jannamike ABUJA — THE Federal Government has made clarification on the confusion trailing the whereabouts of recovered looted funds, insisting that they were being paid into dedicated accounts with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. Vanguard reports that discrepancies in the figures released to the media by Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu, and Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, have raised suspicions over the whereabouts of the recovered funds. Magu had announced N739 billion as the amount recovered in the first two years of his stewardship, while Adeosun said records available to the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, OAGF, had only N91.4 billion as amount recovered since 2015. She, consequently, requested the EFCC to clarify where the cash recoveries were deposited, with documentary evidence. But Special Assistant to the President on Justice Reform, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku, speaking at a press conference in Abuja, said all stolen public funds recovered so far were paid into special asset recovery accounts with the CBN, which in turn transfered such funds into the Federation Account, from where they had been utilised to fund the budget since 2017. Ibekaku-Nwagwu, who is also the coordinator of Nigeria’s Open Government Partnership, OGP, said: “As many of you may be aware, government has made significant efforts in asset recovery. ‘’A recent MoU on the comonitoring of the expenditure of Abacha loot repatriated from Switzerland has been described by stakeholders as model for other countries on how to utilize looted funds when they are returned to their countries of origin. “However, when the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari began the recovery of looted funds, the President personally authorised the issuance of guidelines on the channeling of the looted funds. He specifically directed that all recovered funds be kept in special asset recovery accounts in the CBN. “From there, the funds should be moved to the Federation Account for the purpose of funding the national budget. That was the case last year. We can see that even the 2017 budget was partly funded with the recovered loots." ALLEGED IMPORTATION OF SECURITY GADGETS: Senate gives Customs one week to conclude probe By Henry Umoru ABUJA—THE Senate, yesterday, gave the management of Nigeria Customs Service one week to conclude its investigation on the alleged importation of restricted security gadgets into the country without end user declaration in the Customs papers by Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State. Chairman, Senate adhoc committee investigating increased spate of political violence in Kogi State, Senator James Manager (PDP, Delta South), disclosed this, yesterday, when he met with officials of the Customs. Senator Manager reaffirmed the determination of the committee to unravel the matter, which he believes bothered on national security. Meanwhile, a Customs licensed agent, Ilori Abiodun, yesterday, told the Senate panel all he knew about illegal importation of military wares into Nigeria. The consignment, which was said to be heading to Kogi State, was intercepted by Customs officials at the point of physical examination at the Nnamdi Azikiwke International Airport, Abuja. The discovery had immediately prompted the Senate into action to get to the root of the matter. Under oath, Abiodun, who denied complicity in the matter, said the contract was given to him by the importer who he identified as SEC and Equipment Communications Ltd. He said he was shocked to find that what was on the bill was false. The clearing agent gave the name of the contact as one Mr Elaive, who he said he had never met in person, but had been dealing with through mails and telephone calls.