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Posts tagged ‘Premium Time’

Nigerian Police Look Away As PDP Flouts Directive Banning Gatherings At Airports – PREMIUM TIMES.


 

By Nnenna Ibeh

Three months after the Nigeria police banned ‘political, socio-cultural, or religious gatherings’ within and around all Nigerian airports, the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, violated the directive, while the police looked away.

The ruling party flouted the directive on February 1 when hundreds of its members gathered to welcome its new National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu, on his first official return to Bauchi State after he emerged the party’s chairman.

Mr. Mu’azu, a two-term governor of Bauchi, was appointed PDP chairman on January 20.

The airport carnival

When the party chairman decided to visit his state, he was accompanied by another PDP leader and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed. Mr. Mohammed, a former senator, is a governorship aspirant in Bauchi.

The leader of the delegation that received the two PDP heavyweights at the Bauchi Airport was Governor Isa Yuguda, also a member of the PDP.

It was a carnival-like atmosphere at the airport as Mr. Yuguda, different dance troops, mascots, praise singers and people dressed in colourful uniforms – “aso-ebi” – could barely wait for the plane to land. There was also a massive banner bearing the pictures of President Goodluck Jonathan and Messrs Mu’azu and Yuguda. The airport was beautifully decorated with fabrics made in PDP colours (red, white and green).

Mr. Yuguda, leading hundreds of people who waved their party flags and posters of the politicians, danced towards the plane as Mr. Mu’azu joyfully strolled down the airplane waving both hands to the party faithfuls.

As shown on national TV networks, and in an exclusive video sourced by PREMIUM TIMES, the crowd surrounded the plane as they welcomed their illustrious son, who had just emerged the leader of Nigeria’s ruling party; a party that describes itself as Africa’s largest.

Mr. Mu’azu and his entourage left the airport and went to the palace of the Emir of Bauchi, Rilwanu Adamu, to seek blessings for what he expected to be a result-oriented reign as PDP chairman.

“Without the blessings of the royal father, I may not make much impact. I need your prayers and blessings to succeed in this very tasking national assignment. Bauchi is my home, and you are our farther, as such, I am in dire need of your support to succeed,” Mr. Mu’azu said.

Mr. Yuguda, who accompanied the PDP chairman to the Emir’s palace, pledged his support to the latter saying Mr. Mu’azu’s success is the success of Bauchi State and the entire North-East zone.

A Bauchi-based journalist, who accompanied Mr. Yuguda’s convoy to receive the guests at the airport, narrated the events to PREMIUM TIMES.

“We left for the airport at 11.30 a.m in the convoy of the governor, Isa Yuguda. When we got to there, the place was actually jam-packed. There were lots of dancers and praise singers, praising all (the politicians). The security there was also tight; a lot of police officers. Many youths were also there, dancing with posters of politicians that they think want to contest for governorship, like Abdul Ningi, the FCT minister, posters of Jonathan, Isa Yuguda and Mu’azu.” The journalist sought anonymity for fear of being victimized by his employers.

The Police directive

On November 6, 2013, the Nigeria Police announced the ban of all political, socio-cultural, or religious gatherings within and around the premises of all Nigerian airports.

In a statement, the spokesperson of the Nigeria Police, Frank Mba, said the ban was part of efforts towards averting any security breach and the need to protect critical infrastructure, travelers, aircrew, airport staff and personnel at the nation’s local and international airports.

“As part of deliberate efforts towards averting any security breach and the need to protect critical infrastructures, travelers, aircrew, airport staff and personnel at the nation’s local and international airports, the Nigeria Police High Command has placed a total ban on political, socio-cultural or religious gatherings within and around airport premises, including tarmacs, lounges and other sensitive security points,” Mr. Mba announced.

Mr. Mba said the decision was taken by a strategic security meeting at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, on November 5, 2013. The police also vowed that legal actions would be taken against anyone who failed to comply with the directive.

The decision by the police to ban receptions and carnivals fell on the same day security personnel at the Port Harcourt International Airport clashed with supporters of Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi.

There was confusion when security personnel barred the governor’s supporters, who besieged the airport to welcome the leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC. The APC delegation had come to invite Mr. Amaechi to join the opposition party.

Mr. Amaechi has since joined the APC and is the party’s leader in Rivers.

See no evil, hear no evil

After failing to sanction the PDP for violating its directive, the Nigerian police lied to this newspaper that the Bauchi event did not happen.

When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Mr. Mba over the matter, the police spokesperson said he was not aware of it and asked for time to enable him make enquiries.
He later told PREMIUM TIMES that the Bauchi Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Ladan, said no celebration was held at the airport.

“I just spoke with the Commissioner of Police in charge of Bauchi. The information at my disposal is that the reception that took place at the airport was within the bounds of the law,” Mr. Mba said. “What simply happened at the airport was that the governor and other politicians just came and received him and they joined the vehicle and drove off.”

The police spokesperson said he was told by the Bauchi police that no dancing and drumming took place at the airport, and that the ceremony was held at the Government House in Bauchi where Mr. Mu’azu was treated to a state reception.
This video sourced by PREMIUM TIMES has since exposed the police’s claim to be false.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

A Nation Without Empathy By Femi Fani-Kayode.


By Femi Fani-Kayode

A few days ago (12th February 2014) in Borno state Boko Haram killed 60 innocent Nigerians and carted off 24 young girls without any trace. On January 27th 2014 no less than 70 innocent Nigerians were murdered in cold blood by Boko Haram in a series of attacks in Borno and Adamawa states.

On January 14th 2014 at least 50 innocent Nigerians were blown to pieces by a Boko Haram suicide bomber in  the heart of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state. Not too long before then they attacked an army barracks in Borno, killed 200 soldiers, carted off the wives and children of our military personnel and burnt the barracks to the ground.

A few weeks prior to that, numerous schools were attacked and hundreds of our children were either shot to death, hacked to pieces or had their throats cut and blood drained. Consequently many schools have been closed down in Borno and Yobe states respectively.

A few weeks back no less than 160 of our soldiers were killed by Boko Haram in one skirmish simply because they ran out of bullets. Worst still it has been generally acknowleged that the Boko Haram fighters are better equipped and better supplied than our soldiers. Goodness me….what a mess.

Finally no less than 130 churches were burnt down in Borno state in 2013 alone and the Catholic Church alone lost 53 churches out of that figure. All in all Nigeria has lost almost 8000 innocent civilians to Boko Haram in the last three years and that includes women and children. It does not however include the vast number of women that have been captured and kidnapped by them and that are now being used as sex-slaves.

All this and yet some complain about the fact that I recently wrote that we have a   ”President without balls” who is simply incapable of facing the challenge of Boko Haram. Given his accursed weakness in the face of what is undoubtedly the greatest insurgency and rebellion of our time since the civil war and given his inability to behave like a real Commander-in-Chief and to properly engage and crush the enemy, I do not regret my choice of words (or title) for that celebrated essay. As a matter of fact I ought to have gone much further because our President deserves far worse.

As I wrote in another contribution almost one month ago, ”the problem that we have is the President himself- a President who prides himself on his own weakness and incompetence and whose love of false prophets and strange women knows no bounds and has no end. A President who is as confused and as clueless as the comic character called Chancey Gardner in the celebrated 1970’s Peter Seller’s Hollywood blockbuster titled ”Being There”. A President who does not understand the meaning of the word ”class” or ”honesty” and who breaks his own word consistently. A President who has abdicated his responsibilities, destroyed his own political party, divided his own country, alienated his own friends, humiliated his own mentor, abandoned his own people, brought ridicule to his own faith, cowers before his own officials, betrays his own governors, scorns the international community and BREAKS HIS SOLEMN OATH TO PROTECT AND DEFEND THE NIGERIAN PEOPLE. A President who does not even have the nerve or the guts to call to order any of the numerous Jezebels that control him. He is the problem we have in our country today and until he resigns, is impeached or is voted out of power nothing will change and Nigeria will continue to go from bad to worse. That is what you get when you vote for a man who never wore shoes to school’- (‘JONATHAN, TUKUR AND A GOVERNMENT OF JEZEBELS’, Premium Times, 19th January, 2014).

It is no wonder that President Goodluck Jonathan has been endorsed for a second term by a motely and hitherto unknown group known as the ”Witches and Wizards Association of Nigeria”. As my good friend and brother and the Kakaki Nupe, Mr. Sam Nda Isaiah, recently wrote in response to this rather strange ”endorsement” from an equally strange group- ”the devil is a liar”.

Each time a precious soul is snuffed out and a life is cut short by Boko Haram, whether that person be a christian or a muslim, or a northerner or a southerner, it takes something away from our collective humanity and it wounds our nation’s soul. Worse still it diminishes us before the entire world and confirms the fact that our country has been turned into a human abbatoir and slaughterhouse where, no matter how many innocents are butchered, no-one really cares anymore.

Such matters no longer even make it to the front pages of our newspapers anymore and neither do our politicians or newspaper columnists even talk or write about it anymore. All that stopped long ago and now we see such atrocities as a norm that we must just accept and live with. We have accepted it as our ”lot in life” and, as our President said last year, we regard it simply as ”Nigeria’s contribution to the war against terror”. Early in 2013 our President also said that he regarded Boko Haram as his ”siblings” whom he ”could not move against” whilst Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, the erstwhile National Chairman of his political party the PDP, described them as ”freedom fighters”.  Can you imagine that? These are commendations from Mr. President and the then serving National Chairman of the PDP for Boko Haram barely one year ago. Jumping Jehoshaphat. It is only in Nigeria that a terrorist organisation can kill thousands of it’s citizens in the most brutal, violent and horrendous manner and yet the President and the National Chairman of the ruling party still feel comfortable and safe with calling them their ”siblings” and ”freedom fighters”. What a terrible insult this is on the Nigerian people and what a bitter pill to swallow for the family members of all those that have been killed in the last three years by these terrorists. I really do wonder whose ”freedom” Boko Haram is fighting for, whose interest they seek to further and protect and what blood ties exist between them and our President. What a shameful and insensitive set of leaders we have and what an indolent and insensitive followership who are not prepared to call them to order and keep them on their toes when they make such outrageous comments and who have absolutely no empathy with or sympathy for the many victims of Boko Haram.

The truth is that we as a people have lost all sense of compassion and decency when it comes to such matters and our feelings and conciences have become seared. To the majority of Nigerians those precious souls and compatriots that have been killed by Boko Haram over the last three years are just a number- they are nothing but distant names, from a distant place, belonging to distant figures.

There is simply no sense of national outrage from our people about this insidious rebellion and about these brutal killings and vicious attacks and neither is their any sense of urgency on the part of our government to bring it to an end. Given the way we conduct ourselves one would not have thought that Nigeria is currently enmeshed in the most brutal war against terror in it’s entire history.

Yet as we go on with our day to day business and act as if all is well thousands are being killed in the north-eastern part of our country by Boko Haram. There can be no greater evidence of man’s inhumanity to man when one considers our attitude. Such inhumanity and insensitivity to the plight of others has taken firm root in the Nigeria of today. What a monuemental tragedy this is. When did we, as a people, degenerate to this abysmal level of lack of empathy and when did we stop becoming our brother’s keeper?

As millions of Nigerians join the world to celebrate Valentines day today and indeed throughout this weekend, please let us spare a thought and say a little prayer for those whose loved ones will not be with them on this day, or indeed on any other day, simply because they have been murdered or kidnapped by Boko Haram.

May God heal their wounds and have mercy on them even as we grieve with them. And may God forgive our President and the majority of the Nigerian people for simply ”not giving a damn” about their sad and unfortunate plight.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

How Ministers, Presidential Panel Pressured Jonathan To Sack Indicted Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah – PREMIUM TIMES.


 

Disgraced former Nigerian Minister of Aviation, Stella oduah
By Ogala Emmanuel

President Goodluck Jonathan fired Nigeria’s former aviation minister, Stella Oduah, indicted in multiple corruption cases, in response to an overwhelming local and international pressure, spiced by an unprecedented campaign by fellow cabinet members, PREMIUM TIMES has reliably learnt.

The former minister was sacked Wednesday alongside her counterparts in the ministry of police affairs, Caleb Olubolade, and Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe in a surprise cabinet shake-up. The minister of state for finance, Yerima Ngama, was also fired.

Multiple government officials and security sources said the decision to fire the aviation minister, Mrs. Oduah, whose tenure turned out the most controversial with serious cases of corruption and breach of public trust, was taken by Mr. Jonathan weekend, after reviewing extensive local and foreign concerns on the implication of retaining her.

Officials said the minister was considered so much of a liability on the administration that beyond external pressure, colleague ministers and members of a presidential panel that investigated her for corruption led the effort to convince Mr. Jonathan to fire her.

The cabinet members argued that Mrs. Oduah’s continued stay in office, despite a ground swell of evidence of corruption against her, was inflicting further damage on an administration widely accused of undermining Nigeria’s relative gains in the war against corruption.

At the forefront of that effort, our sources said were ministers, led by one from the South-East and another from the South-West, who considered Mrs. Oduah’s continuous presence in cabinet as a slight on their integrity and international profiles.

The ministers led an internal pressure group which persistently pressured Mr. Jonathan to demand Mrs. Oduah’s resignation.

Members of the presidential panel that indicted her formed the second pressure group that called for her removal. Members of the committee include former head of service of the federation, Sali Bello, National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and Air Vice-Marshal Dick Iruenabhere.

The final influence, our source said, came mainly from local and international media that consistently projected Mrs. Oduah as the face of corruption in the Jonathan administration.

“The pressure was too much on Oga,” a close aide of President Jonathan told PREMIUM TIMES. “He had thought about ignoring the pressure and possibly keep her till December but the pressure group kept pushing. Some ministers even started signalling that they would quit the administration if Stella was allowed to remain. The president had no choice than to act. He didn’t want any more embarrassment.”

Our sources said the President had planned to fire the controversial minister in January but later developed cold feet, triggering a new wave of pressure from officials who wanted her removed.

Mrs. Oduah’s troubled tenure hit notoriety last year after it became public she compelled a government agency under her watch to purchase two armoured cars for her use at an inflated cost of N255 million. The contract was neither budgeted for by government nor advertised publicly as required by the public procurement law.

Mrs. Oduah has consistently denied any wrongdoing, claiming the identified infringements were committed by her subordinates at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, whom she directed to “do the needful”- a phrase she implied as a directive that officials should follow the law in any transaction.

An investigation by the House of Representatives found the former minister culpable in the car deal and urged Mr. Jonathan to remove her from office.

The president refused to act, as he did on similar recommendations concerning other ministers considered corrupt, including the petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The presidential panel Mr. Jonathan tasked to conduct a separate investigation into the car purchase also indicted Ms. Oduah, accusing her of approving a contract that exceeded the threshold of her authority as a minister.

“The panel laid the fact before the president, it was his call to take action,” a source familiar with the work of the presidential panel told PREMIUM TIMES. “The panel members kept pushing that action should be taken even though they did not explicitly recommend Oduah’s sack in their report.”

While he confirmed receipt of the report of the presidential panel, Mr. Jonathan failed to make the document public amid intense widespread call for the removal of the minister, his close political ally.

Our sources said the administration came under even more intense pressure after separate investigations by PREMIUM TIMES, and news website, Saharareporters, established that Mrs Oduah falsified her qualifications.

A PREMIUM TIMES investigation found her to have lied about her qualifications in the resume she presented to the Nigerian senate for her confirmation hearing. She claimed a non-existent university awarded her an honorary doctorate.

The government did not comment or act on the finding.

But as the burden of retaining her in government grew, colleague ministers and members of the panel pushed hard to have Mrs. Oduah sacked, intensifying their lobby mid-January, our sources said.

The effort was however countered by another lobby group which succeeded in buying more time for the embattled minister.

The group reportedly advised the president that should he decide to drop her, she should be fired with the minimum humiliation possible.

It is based on that counsel that she was asked to resign alongside three other colleagues, our sources said.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

House Committee Rejects Okonjo-Iweala’s Answers To 50 Questions, Asks Her To Reanswer-PREMIUM TIMES.


 

Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
By Idris Akinbajo

The Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, failed to answer many of the questions sent to her by members of the House of Representatives Committee on Finance on the ‘true state’ of Nigeria’s economy, the lawmakers have said. In a review of Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala’s response to the 50 questions issued to her by the committee, the lawmakers said some of the questions were “either not answered, partially answered, outrightly ignored or completely misunderstood.”
The lawmakers’ response is contained in a letter addressed to the minister, dated January 31, and signed by the Chairman of the Committee, Abdulmumin Jibrin.

The committee also said it observed several lacuna in the minister’s response.

“The Committee further noted glaring missing gaps in the responses, absence of supporting proofs to assertions and lack of relevant documents to back up the presentation as is the practice in any legislative oversight or investigation.

“Many data and statistics provided were inconsistent with subsequent information provided while answering other questions,” the committee said.
The 50 questions
The 50 questions were issued to the finance minister on December 19, 2013 by the committee. The questions bordered on the state of Nigeria’s economy.
Though the committee gave her two weeks to respond, the minister sent her response and made it public on January 16. The presentation of the questions to the minister had sparked controversy between her and the House committee on December 19, 2013, when she appeared before the lawmakers.

A disagreement occurred during the minister’s appearance as a video sourced by PREMIUM TIMES showed the minister initially making jest of the lawmakers after they informed her of their decision to hand her the 50-question homework.

The video indicates that the controversial meeting started on a warm note with exchanges of pleasantries between the executive team, led by Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala (and including the Director General of the Budget Office, Bright Okogwu) and the lawmakers led by the committee chairman, Mr. Jibrin.

Despite starting on a good note, the meeting degenerated when the lawmakers told the finance minister not to respond to their questions on that day after she said she was ‘feeling ill’.

Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said she came to the meeting ‘out of respect’ to the lawmakers as she was not healthy enough to attend.

After the presentation of the questions, however, the minister insisted she would answer the questions on that day, a request refused by the lawmakers who said they wanted her to come back when she was ‘strong and energetic.’ After studying the minister’s response for two weeks, the lawmakers have now said the response falls short of their expectations.

Committee expresses dissatisfaction
The House committee stated its disapproval at the minister referring it to other government agencies for details of the responses to some of its questions.
“…if all the questions raised are beyond the competence of the Minister of Finance, it is certainly not beyond the competence of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy to the extent of information you must have in your possession unless you say otherwise,” the lawmakers said.

The committee, not satisfied with her responses, then resent what it described as “additional observations and requests” on about 40 of the 50 questions it earlier sent the minister. It said those should be provided on or before February 20.

“The observations and requests are made on questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 30, 31, 32, 33, , 35, 36, 37, 39, 41, , 43, 44, 45, 47, and 48 while further details on the following questions will be taken at the hearing: Questions 7, 18, 19, 21, 2, 8, 29, 34, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 49 and 50.

“Your responses this time and submission of the supporting document are expected to put issues in clearer perspective to enable the Committee conclude preparation for the hearing.

“The Committee has scheduled an investigative hearing to give you the opportunity to explain and defend your submission before the Committee and enable Nigerians to participate and make their contributions to this issue,” it said.

See text of house committee response below: 
31st January, 2014
The Hon Minister of Finance &
Coordinating Minister for the Economy
Ministry of Finance
Abuja.

Re: State Of The Economy: Observations, Request For Additional Information And Invitation To Investigative Hearing

Your response to the 50 questions we raised to ascertain the true state of our economy dated January 15th, 2014 was received and carefully analyzed by the Committee.

Having gone through your responses, the Committee noted that some questions were either not answered, partially answered, outrightly ignored or completely misunderstood. The Committee further noted glaring missing gaps in the responses, absence of supporting proofs to assertions and lack of relevant documents to back up the presentation as is the practice in any legislative oversight or investigation.

Many data and statistics provided were inconsistent with subsequent information provided while answering other questions. Also noted were the wide ranging comparison you made with other advanced and developing countries while responding to some questions but failed to apply the same in some cases that obviously require such approach. In some instances, you abruptly referred the Committee to relevant agencies for clarification. The Committee is surprised at that because of its conviction that if all the questions raised are beyond the competence of the Minister of Finance, it is certainly not beyond the competence of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy to the extent of information you must have in your possession unless you say otherwise.

In view of the above and ahead of the investigative hearing on the State of the economy, the Committee is obliged to forward to you additional observations and requests to be submitted to the Committee not later than 20th February, 2014.
The observations and requests are made on questions
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13,  14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27,  30, 31, 32, 33, , 35, 36, 37,  39, 41, , 43, 44, 45, 47, and 48 while further details on the following questions will be taken at the hearing: Questions 7, 18, 19, 21, 2, 8, 29, 34, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 49 and 50.
Your responses this time and submission of the supporting document are expected to put issues in clearer perspective to enable the Committee conclude preparation for the hearing.

The Committee has scheduled an investigative hearing to give you the opportunity to explain and defend your submission before the Committee and enable Nigerians to participate and make their contributions to this issue.

This is therefore inviting you to the hearing scheduled as follows:
Date: Monday 3rd – 6th March, 2014
Time: 10:00am daily
Venue: 028 Conference Hall, New building

The Hon Minister may wish to recall that recently, we went the extra length to defend you in public where we believed you were of no direct fault. Now that we have turned to places where you have questions to answer, the least we expect from you is maximum cooperation as we enter the critical legislative process of asking questions to know the true state of our economy.

The Committee will not be frustrated or distracted from doing its work. We shall remain focused on the issues. It is a sacred service to our father land.

 

While looking forward to meeting you at the hearing, please accept the assurances of the Committee’s highest regard.

 

Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin PhD
Chairman House Committee on Finance

 

AN APPRAISAL OF THE HONORABLE MINISTER OF FINANCE’S RESPONSE TO THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON FINANCE 50 QUESTIONS ON NIGERIA’S ECONOMY.

PREAMBLE
Sequel to the House Committee of Finance’ receipt and preliminary consideration of the Honorable Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy’s responses to the 50 questions posed to her Office on the State of the Nigerian Economy, the following observations, additional information and demands on each of the questions are deemed necessary at this time:

QUESTION 1
What should you consider as the major economic achievements of this government in the 2013 fiscal year and why? In your explanation, we will need facts and figures in demonstrating such achievements.

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
The Honorable Minister’s response in support of government’s celebrated achievements and growth of the Nigerian economy did not include supporting documentary evidence of requisite facts and figures of government’s claims as expected. This will be required of the Minister, along with other additional information thus:

•    Regarding the job creation data of 1.6 million jobs in 2013 the Honorable Minister is asked to kindly provide and submit the following documentary evidences to the Committee:

–    A comprehensive list of the recipients of the inputs, nature of inputs and the quantity, disaggregated by State, LGA and gender, provided to the “over 250,000 farmers and youths” across the 10 Northern States said to be profitably engaged  during the dry season in 2013.

–    Documentary evidence of the categories of  30,000 jobs and the employing firms in the Manufacturing sector where the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone was mentioned and as well as the 120,000 job opportunities in SURE-P Community Services Scheme said to be created across the country, in 2013.

–    Additionally, under the Capital Supplementation of the Appropriation Amendment Act 2013, there was a provision of N15 billion for job creation. The Minister should similarly submit documentary evidence of how this money was utilized and how many jobs and where these were created, specifically from the application of this fund.

–    Concerning government’s achievements in the area of water resources, the Minister’s response was too generalized. She is to provide the number of Nigerians, having access to potable water before 2013 and the number provided with access to potable water in 2013, (by State and LGA) as is the norm in other countries.

–    In the Oil and Gas sector transparency in governance was not seen in the Minister’s response as is the case in several other oil producing nations. So the Committee would appreciate the Minister submitting the details of Crude Oil Lifting in 2013, indicating dates of lifting, Volume of lifting, Selling Price and Marketing Cost, and the monetary value in US$ as well as Naira value.

–    In the Health sector, the Minister should submit documentary evidences to support the recruitment of “11,300 frontline health workers” and the communities to which they were deployed. The Honorable Minister is also to provide evidence supporting the 10,000 women and children beneficiaries of the conditional transfer programmes across the 8 states listed in her response, indicating how much each woman/child received.
–    Concerning the Project Advancing Creativity and Technology (PACT) in Nollywood referred to in the Minister’s response, with a grant of N3billion from the

FGN in 2013, the Minister is requested to submit documentary evidence of the disbursement of these funds with details of recipient actors/acting firms.

QUESTION 2
You have been credited with many announcements regarding Nigeria’s economy as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. If the economy is one of the fast growing economies, what is exactly growing the economy? What role does government play in the said economic growth, especially given that as high as 80 percent of the country’s total annual budget

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    With reference to the sources of Nigeria’s economic growth and the growth drivers mentioned, the Honorable Minister should provide documentary evidence to support claims on the role of the Manufacturing, and the Real Estate and Housing. For example, the Minister is to submit a list of new or resuscitated Manufacturing companies in 2013, including the number of employments in each of these companies and the quantity of goods produced etc. The specific activities in the real estate and housing sectors driving the economies should also be submitted as documentary evidence.

QUESTION 3
Since your arrival as minister of finance in 2011, you have publicly announced the need to reduce the recurrent expenditure so that more money would be made available to capital spending which is critical to growing and diversifying the country’s economy. How far has government succeeded in making these necessary cuts; and where exactly have these cuts been made in this effort to reduce recurrent expenditure? In other words, based on real amount spent on capital expenditure, how much reduction was made in 2011 against 2010, in 2012 against 2011 and in 2013 against 2012?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    The Minister did not answer the question on where exactly expenditure cuts were made in order to reduce recurrent expenditure for the years in question. This should be provided with supporting documents, not merely stated.

•    On the Orosanye Report, can the Honorable Minister confirm if the Executive has sent in any bill to the legislature on the streamlining and merging of agencies with duplicative functions, or any other activity in respect of implementing the Report?

QUESTION 4
You are known to be celebrating a single-digit GDP growth. But speaking recently at a breakfast dialogue with some members of the organized private sector in Lagos, organized by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), you were quoted as saying: “We are growing, but not creating enough jobs. That is a very big challenge…We need to grow faster.  I think it needs to grow at least 9 to 10 percent to drive job growth the way we want.” Don’t you agree that a good finance minister managing an economy like ours should be celebrating a GDP growth as high as 20 percent   annually? Why is it that our economy cannot grow beyond a single digit? How many jobs are being created as a result of these said growths? In which sectors of the economy are these jobs created? If in private sector, what contributions is government making to further assist these private sector firms?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS

•    The Honorable Minister apparently misunderstood the intent of this question based on her response. What in specific terms the Committee desires to know among others, is for the Minister to inform Nigeria why the economy is growing but not creating enough jobs as she was rightly quoted. She would be expected to provide documentary evidence of the growth of the economy on a sector-by-sector basis and the corresponding inhibiting factors of job creation in each of these sectors.

•    Also based on her robust reference to global economic history and the GDP in her response, the Minister should provide evidential scenarios from other countries of economic growth that did not result into reasonable job creation, especially in the 13 countries pointed out by the Growth Commission she referred to. Which of these 13 countries with a similar growth rate as Nigeria has the kind of persistently low human development indices as Nigeria, with specific reference to life expectancy rate, maternal and child mortality rates etc?

QUESTION 5
In the presence of Nigeria’s huge infrastructure deficit, why is it that the country’s debt-to-GDP at about 19 percent in 2012 remains one of the lowest in the world when compared to nations already with world-class infrastructure and industrial economies such as America’s 105 percent, Brazil’s 65.49 percent, India’s 67.60 percent and South Africa’s 40.9 percent?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS

•    The Minister need not be surprised at this question has she stated. What the Committee wanted presented was a comparative and alternate scenario of what the possible outcomes for the country might be of a higher debt-GDP ratio assuming a diligent focus on infrastructural development financing, using the borrowed funds. The Minister is requested to oblige Nigerians this alternate scenario.

•    Also, the Honorable Minister  is to submit a comprehensive list of on-going  infrastructural projects under the Private –Public Partnership (PPPs) indicating the partnering firm(s), the year of contract, the duration, the location  and the FGN share in dollars or Naira of each contract.

•    The Honorable Minister is requested to furnish the Committee with the detailed disbursements of the N20billion appropriated for refund to State governments for Federal road projects, embarked upon by the States in the 2013 appropriation Amendment Act.

QUESTION 6
Since facts don’t lie, have you any disagreements with the September 4, 2013 Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum for 2013-2014, which ranked Nigeria 120th out of 148 countries ranked in the Global Competitiveness Index, including being ranked far behind some African countries such as Mauritius 45th, South Africa 53rd, and Kenya 96th?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS

•    On the issue of the Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum for 2013-2014, which ranked Nigeria 120th out of 148 countries, for which the Minister agreed, the Committee would appreciate that the Honorable Minister, provides the probable consequences of this ranking for the country’s economy, especially as she states that “the Doing Business rankings look at speed of getting licenses, port infrastructure, investor protection and contract enforceability among other criteria”.

•    The Minister also needs to provide supporting evidence for how the e-wallet system mentioned in her response to this question “reduced leakages and created savings of up to $175m in subsidy to farmers.”

•    The Minister should submit detailed documentary evidence supporting the 11% to about 94% increase in the proportion of farmers she stated received subsidized input.

QUESTION 7
”For the first time in Nigeria’s 53rd year history, we have successfully privatized the electric power industry,’’ so said the President at a recent meeting in London with some foreign investors. As minister of finance should you agree that the recent privatization of the country’s power infrastructure is worth celebrating as a major economic achievement in 2013, when in reality there is little or nothing to show as an improvement in the country power supply? Also why our rush to wholesale privatization of the power sector when countries like South Africa, generating as high as 42,000MW still have their power sector mostly in public hands?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

QUESTION 8
What was your reaction to the November 12, 2013 statement credited to the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Marie-Francoise Marie-Nelly, who said that over 100 million Nigerians are today living in absolute destitution, representing an unheard-of 8.33 percent of the world’s total number of people living in destitution?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    In addition to this question, assuming you disagree with the figure given on the number of Nigerians in abject poverty as credited to the World Bank Country Director, as the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the economy, what is the official figure of Nigerians in abject poverty (Living below $1.25 per day)?

QUESTION 9
Nigerians are increasingly perplexed that these days nothing happens without government borrowing. And for most Nigerians, it     is frightening how those managing the economy are just dragging us into excessively unproductive debts. More worrisome is the fact that every effort is being made to hide the details of the country’s debt stock from Nigerians. Where are the facts that the country’s current high rate of borrowing is productive, let alone have the ability to be repaid without having to resort to more borrowings?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    In addition to the answers provided by the Honorable Minister, the Committee would appreciate the provision of the repayment dates of each of the loans, the dates of completion or duration of the projects, and their locations. Also to be provided are supporting documents for the disbursement schedule for these funds and implementation levels of these projects. The private companies in the Public Private Partnership Program- First Phase for which 73,700,000 (XDR) was borrowed in 2011, should also be listed. What is the total value of external borrowings in 2013 in Naira? How can the productivity of each of these loans be measured?

For domestic borrowings, why are they not tied to any project?

QUESTION 10
Is prudence in our borrowing simply reduction in borrowing or simply constructive borrowing with government putting necessary measures in place to ensure that domestic debt profile is properly supervised and utilized by curbing corruption?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    The Honorable Mister should kindly submit the borrowing guidelines that the borrowed funds were based upon. Also does borrowing to pay public sector salaries amount to using borrowed funds productively and what is the repayment schedule for domestic debts? What is the percentage of the 2013 appropriation that went into “Administrative Capital” projects i.e purchase of Photocopiers, Computer/ Laptops and their accessories, Non tangible Assets as purchase of security equipment etc across the MDAs?

Question 11
From Debt Management Office (DMO) 2012 Annual Report, the total public debt outstanding between 2008 and 2012 for external stock rose from $3.72bn to $6.53bn, while domestic stock rose from $17.68bn to $41.97bn. The total debt service the same period saw the percentage of external debt service drastically reduced from 11.46 per cent to 5.96 per cent while the percentage of domestic debt servicing grew from 88.54 per cent in 2008 to 94.04 per cent in 2012, drastically increasing the cost of the total debt service since the cost of domestic borrowing is atrociously higher than the cost of external borrowing. How could your debt sustainability analysis rationalize this without seeing some narrow interests being the overriding reason? Could this be the explanation why commercial banks in the country are declaring unheard-of three digit profits and the high Foreign Portfolio Investment and low Foreign Direct Investment?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS

•    As follow up to the question above, assuming the Honorable Minister was to be the CEO of a Commercial bank in Nigeria, which will she prefer:  patronizing the Bond Market or providing facilities to SMEs and farmers? Why?

•    In the last two years what percentage of loanable fund went to the Agricultural sector, the Manufacturing sector and the Capital Market?

•    Kindly provide the profile of both external and domestic debt as well as the volume of Foreign Portfolio Investment and Foreign Direct Investments in Nigeria, as at 2013.

•    The Honorable Minister is to kindly provide all the responses to the questions above with relevant supporting documents.

QUESTION 12
It is an established fact that the willingness and ability to borrow do not automatically translate into economic growth. If you agree with this fact, how productive are the country’s recent borrowings?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS

•    The Honorable Minister is required to submit the detailed performance report, including disbursement schedule and levels of implementation, for each of the projects for which external borrowings were made, since 2011.

•    In addition, what are the specific components of the capital and recurrent expenditure that have been funded with borrowed funds in 2013 and that will be funded similarly in 2014, as contained in the budgets for these years?

 

Question 13
Why should our internal debts continue to represent more than two-thirds of Nigeria’s external debt profile, when the cost of servicing domestic debts is ridiculously far more expensive than servicing external debts? Why should government continue to borrow internally when in so doing results in insufficient funds, skyrockets the cost of borrowing and above all, crowds out the real sector from the money market? Shouldn’t the high cost of domestic borrowing override whatever are the assumed benefits? Since both London Interbank Offer Rates (LIBOR) and the US Treasury Bonds rates offer far better interest rates for sovereign borrowings, why have we continued not to take advantage of cheaper interest rates?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    One expectation of the Committee, among others from the Honorable Minister on this question, is for Nigerians to know what the specific economic disadvantages of a much higher external debt vis-à-vis a much lower domestic debt that discourages the government from taking this option now.

•    The Minister is requested therefore to present a scenario of the likely disadvantages to the economy to inform why such an option is not advisable now.

QUESTION 14
Your references to the country’s economic growth profile have always been based on Fitch, Standard and Poor’s, and Moody’s ratings. Are you aware that these same rating agencies are being sued in New York (with case # 652410/2013) by two Bear Stearns hedge funds for fraudulently assigning inflated ratings to securities in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis? If you do, why do you insist on accepting the rating as reliable.

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS

•    The Coordinating Minister is requested to provide corresponding human development indices (such the UNDP’s HDIs) for Nigeria and compare same with these economic growth ratings, as those of Fitch, Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s and inform the committee of her conclusions based on these comparisons.

•    The Minister is requested to kindly provide the exact information given to the rating agencies upon which Nigeria was assessed and rated.

QUESTION 15
How much exactly has been the amount of money lost in government revenue as a result of import duty waivers in 2011, 2012 and 2013? Provide the names and beneficiaries and justification for same. In your opinion as the minister of finance who oversees the economy, what are the implications to the country’s economy? What efforts have you have made to stop this waiver policy, which is distorting the economy? Our non-oil income has dropped in 2013. A case where increased tariffs on various items effectively reduced importation to zero in some sectors. However, those items now find their way into Nigeria through our borders. Does it make any sense to increase these tariffs when we have such porous borders? As an example, officially, Togo imported more rice this year than Nigeria.

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS

•    The Honorable Minister only partially answered this question as asked. The committee required the names of persons/companies who benefited from these exemptions and waivers, within each of the sectors. The information is to include the specific goods imported, the amount or value of waivers /exemption granted each recipient on each round of import and the benefit(s) to the Nigerian Economy in each case. All corroborative supporting documents are to be submitted as well.

•    What is the existing arrangement or schedule for monitoring the compliance and non-abuse of waivers/exemptions granted by government?

QUESTION 16
It was reported that the FIRS is to engage foreign consultants for tax collection in 2014. Could the Minister clarify this position and what Nigeria stands to gain? Have the FIRS not been working effectively?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    In responding to Question 16, the Honorable Minister is in practical terms being asked to specifically provide answers to the following: Does Nigeria needs the services of a foreign company to analyze and improve its Tax System? Are there no competent Nigerian firms of accountants and tax experts that could carry out this exercise? Does this recruitment of a foreign company to conduct a tax diagnostic analysis of Nigeria not have any security implication? What is the financial implication of this to the country?

QUESTION 17
Do you really believe that Nigeria needs a ‘Sovereign Wealth Fund’ at this critical juncture of budgetary deficits, and having to be borrowing extensively in an effort to address government revenue gaps? Shouldn’t the presence of Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) simply mean spreading government’s scarce resources thinly? Why will you insist that no matter what we still need to operate a sovereign wealth fund? Sincerely speaking, how sustainable are the objectives of Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, particularly in the long-term?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    What is the present cumulative value of Nigeria’s Pension Fund, which is similar to Norway’s Government Pension Fund, their equivalent of our own SWF as indicated in the Minister’s response? The Honorable Minister is to provide with supporting documents the performance Reports of the SWF and the Pension Fund, since inception.

QUESTION 18
You should agree that a lot of Nigerians are interested in the link between NSIA and the government. Since there is no doubt that Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority is an agent of government — or is it not? The question is: How should we think about the management structure in so far as major decisions are concerned? Where is the line between NSIA, as a commercially minded entity, and the government, especially given government’s policy of having no business doing business? If, for example, government does not get involved in specific investments, then, who appoints the external managers involved in managing some parts of the NSIA funds?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

QUESTION 19
Who determines the investment objective and who establishes the risk parameter for the NSIA’s portfolio? In providing answer to this question, it is also important to understand and explain why NSIA recently hired a Swiss national as its chief portfolio investor? Answering this question is important since it should help us to know who determines the maximum draw- down that the government would be comfortable with in extremely negative market environments.

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

QUESTION 20
What should be your explanations for awarding MasterCard a multimillion dollar National Identity Smart Cards, when there are indigenous ICT companies that not only have what it takes but would have done it cheaper and create local jobs at the same time?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS

•    The Honorable Minister’s response as related to MasterCard’s involvement in the Identity Card project as seen in bullet (i) and (iii) of her appearance, appears contradictory and therefore requires clarification.

•    In your opinion do you consider appropriate, the multiplicity of public funds being sunk into the establishment of different Identification Systems by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), the National Population Commission (NPC), the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigerian Police Force, the Nigerian Road Safety Corps, etc. ?

QUESTION 21
Have you taken into considerations how foreign company could use such information available to it to invade the privacy of Nigerians?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

QUESTION 22
What are reasons for SURE-P to give preference to Chevrolet cars for SURE-P taxis, when it is known that not only are such cars very expensive to maintain compared with Asian and European cars, but also are also not fuel efficient and not durable on our roads?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    In addition, please state what is the Honorable Minister’s assessment of the conditions of Mass Transit Buses/ taxi cabs provided since 2012, as Subsidy removal palliatives as at today? How many of these Buses/taxi cabs were purchased through the Infrastructure Bank (TIB) intervention loans to transport operators in each state and the FCT? How many of these are functional today in each of these states and FCT?

QUESTION 23
Honorable Minister of Finance, you will agree that SURE-P is very important to the people of this country, taking into cognizance that it is the only thing they stand to gain from the increase on petroleum product pump prices almost 2 years ago. Who is in charge of the management of SURE-P and who takes responsibility for its successes and failures?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    According to the SURE-P website, in 2012 the first year of the SURE-P, only N62.75 billion of the approved budget of N180 billion was spent, with the balance of N117.25 billion expectedly rolled over to 2013. The sum of N273 billion was provided for the Subsidy Reinvestment (SURE-P) in the 2013 Appropriation, of which about N83 billion was unspent, going by the N268.3 billion proposed in 2014. This persistent reduction in the funding of the SURE-P is thought by some Nigerians to be deliberate on the part of government. What is the government’s reason for this persistent poor implementation of the SURE-P and what is the implication on the masses of Nigerians?

•    The Minister is requested to submit detailed Performance Report of the SURE-P since 2012 with accompanying supporting documents.

QUESTION 24
You will agree that inasmuch as the interest rate regime is critical to the real sector borrowing decisions, most principal factor in making borrowing decisions is the business’s expected rate of return on investing borrowed money? The question, without efforts to protect local businesses from their foreign counterparts, the high cost of doing business in Nigeria, puts them at such a disadvantaged position that it makes no economic sense borrowing to invest in their local businesses, why should we expect private sector firms to be investing in the economy?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS

•    The Honorable Minister made generalized statements on the government working to protect local industries/SMEs from their foreign counterparts and domestic operational hazards. The Committee requires specific efforts supported by documentary evidence of what the government is doing or has done in this regard.

•    The Honorable Minister should provide documentary evidence of the disbursements of the FGN’s N200 billion intervention fund to the SMEs she referred to, with the Central Bank.

QUESTION 25
You are quoted as saying, ” Very soon, the US would become a net exporter of oil…So, it would be disingenuous for anyone to say that just because the price of oil has hovered at around $100 per barrel, it cannot crash…Lest we forget, as recently as 2008, oil prices crashed from a peak of $147 per barrel to $35 per barrel in a space of months triggered by the global financial crisis. Is the minority leader saying he has forgotten that?” This forces one to wonder from which source should the US become that net exporter of oil, given that the US daily oil consumption was 18.7 million barrels with (10.6 million of which was imported daily) in 2012? Or, should it be from the shale oil which the International Energy Agency (IEA) demonstrates to be at two million barrels daily? In other words, given the IEA global oil price trajectory, can’t we agree that “There are many constraints on supply keeping pace with demand’’ which means that within this decade, oil prices should always hover around $125 per barrel? Answering this question will help us understand why you insist on benchmarking the oil price for the 2014 appropriation at below $79 per barrel? In answering this question, would you also agree that as the global economy shifts from   West   to   Asia,   so   will   the   appetite   for   global   oil consumption shift from the West to Asia? As crude oil continues to sell at $100-$110, how low will production have to fall for us to record a net loss or at what production level can we break even at a 2013 benchmark of $79.

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    The Honorable Minister only answered this question by half. She did not at all describe the scenario (in figures) as expected in the concluding part of the question: “As crude oil continues to sell at $100-$110, how low will production have to fall for us to record a net loss or at what production level can we break even at a 2013 benchmark of $79”. The Honorable Minister is requested to respond to this question.

•    Given the average price of crude oil at over $100 in the last three years, how much has Nigeria made in excess of the average Benchmark price for these years (2011-2013)?

Question 26
Do you agree that the Excess Crude Account as being operated by government is illegal and unconstitutional, especially given how it has been managed?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    The Honorable Minister again only partially answered this question as she was not specific on the management issues surrounding the ECA, but rather quoting from the FRA 2007, described how the FGN is empowered to prudently manage the nation’s resources and ensure long-term macro-economic stability.  The Minister is requested to provide specific information regarding the management of this Account, with supporting documents.

QUESTION 27
Can you explain with clarity how the ECA is being operated? Also provide a statement of account of the ECA from 2011 to 2013? Also how much have we made in excess of the benchmark price from January 2013 till date.

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS

•    The clarity of how the ECA is being operated and the provision of  a statement of account of the ECA from 2011 to 2013 and  how much Nigeria made in excess of the benchmark price from January 2013 till date,  was absent in the Honorable Minister of Finance’s response, as requested.

•    The Honorable Minister is to provide a statement of account, from January 2011 – 2013, indicating monthly inflows and draw downs and the end year balance for each of the three years. She is also to provide documentary evidence of the actual sharing of each draw-down among the three-tiers of government with dates.

•    As addendum to this question, the Minister is to inform the Committee how a loss to crude oil theft/vandalism of about 100,000-400,000 barrels per day (less than 20 percent of the total crude production of 2.53 million barrel per day) in 2013 and an approved benchmark oil price of $79 per barrel, while the actual oil price hovered between $100 and $110 dollars per barrel (about 30 percent difference) lead to so much deficit that requires financing from borrowing.

•    So, if Nigeria lost about 20% in volume but gained about 30% in price, how does the country record the kind of huge deficit being reported? Also why does the country in the last few years specifically, borrow to finance deficit in budget estimates arising from a deliberate undercutting of the actual oil price and yet deplete rather quickly, the accruable excess over the fixed lower benchmark price?

•     How does surplus in the trade of a single commodity in the same year also result in deficit on an account of the same commodity trading in the same period?

•    The Apex bank the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) is known to have about $43 billion as special reserve as at December 2013 ending. What does the CBN normally do with this fund? As the Minister of Finance, how best should this reserve be applied? What are the specific sources of these fund accumulated by the CBN?

QUESTION 28
If there is nothing like Excess Crude Account, would you have been demanding lower oil price benchmark for the budget, especially when the executive arm of government around world is known  for  demanding more money from lawmakers in order to be able to meet government spending obligations, particularly capital spending. Why is the reverse the case in Nigeria only, notably since 2011?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

QUESTION 29
With respect to the Excess crude account and our Sovereign wealth fund again, there have been allegations and counter allegations on its legality. Assuming, for the sake of the committee’s enlightenment, the FGN alone saved its own excess in its ECA/SWF (which is about 52% of the Federation account) and the states and LGs get their funds in full compliance with the constitution, what would be the effect on the economy?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

QUESTION 30
Do you believe in the fight against corruption? If you do why has EFCC not been properly funded? Without properly funding the commission, how should it be expected to carry out its duties effectively?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    The Committee, in addition to the few general statements made in response to this question, by the Minister, requires her to justify government’s seriousness to fighting corruption by the allocation of N10.22 billion to the EFCC in 2013 and N10.24 billion proposed in 2014 for the same agency, while it proposes in the 2014 budget the sum of N4billion (40 percent of EFCC’s annual budget) for a 3-day meeting of the World Economic Forum on Africa in Nigeria.

•    What is expected to be the share of the contribution of the other two stakeholders (the Nigerian Private Sector and the World Economic Forum) of the total budget for this proposed 3-day WEF meeting in Abuja as explained in page 82 of her response?

QUESTION 31
Can you confirm with figures if we have met our cumulative revenue projections for 2011, 2012, 2013, and if we have, how and if we have not, why? Also provide backup performance information under the various revenue generating agencies—NNPC (Oil and Gas), DPR, FIRS, Customs, Independent Revenue and other anticipated and unanticipated revenues e.g. privatization and sales of government properties etc.

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    The Minister is requested to answer this question in explicit details.

•    Also, the table provided in the Honorable Minister’s response, does not include the revenue figures from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR),

Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) from all the relevant agencies, and the proceeds from the privatization and sales of government properties, as required. The Honorable Minister is requested to provide same, with supporting documents.

•    Again reference is made here on increased crude oil theft, and pipeline vandalism has been a key factor responsible for government’s shortfall in revenue.

As the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, what do you think is behind the Federal Government’s failure to drastically reduce, if not out rightly put an end to these crude oil losses through theft and vandalism, such that the country is unable to stop providing, volume of stolen/lost crude oil in its budget process every year?

•    The Honorable Minister is requested to justify with documents the expenditure of the sum of N66.78 billion Under the Service –Wide Votes, in the 2013 Appropriation Act (Amended), allocated to the Presidential Amnesty Programme and the continued loss of hundreds of millions of barrels of crude oil to theft, militancy and vandalism in the Oil producing areas.

QUESTION 32
As Minister of Finance, are you familiar and comfortable with all the present business arrangements of the NNPC? Why were these business arrangements excluded from the MTEF which used    to be the practice? Provide all the present business arrangements, the parties involved, the share of each party, and justifications for such.

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    The Honorable Minister merely discussed briefly, only four out of the existing business arrangements within the NNPC. Yet, she did not inform the Committee of the parties/companies in these arrangements neither did she mention the share of each party/company and justifications for such, as requested.

The Minister is kindly requested to provide this information supported with documentary evidences.

•    The Committee wishes to draw the attention of the Honorable Minister to the most recent financial audit report of the Oil and Gas Industry (2009-2011) by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) on sundry findings and recommendations on the NNPC, NNLG and the Oil and Gas Industry as a whole. The Minister is to respond to these issues with supporting documents:

⎫    On page 93 of the NEITI Report, it has this to say on the domestic crude oil utilization by the NNPC, we quote:
–    “Domestic Crude Oil Utilization by NNPC

♣    About twenty percent (20%) of the domestic crude oil allocation was delivered to local refineries; the balance was either exported for NNPC accounts or utilized for offshore processing, crude oil exchange and product exchange. This shows that the Federation depends mainly on exported refined products for local consumption resulting in avoidable high payment of fuel subsidies. This also reduces the revenue accruable to the Federation from crude oil sales on pricing, volume utilization and exchange rate differentials.

–    The Federal Government should consider a review of the daily allocation of 445,000bpd to the level of available local refining capacity to obviate the gaps in the process.

♣    The derived average conversion rate by NNPC differs from the annual average CBN rate and therefore results to apparent losses of N98.3 billion during the years under review.

–    Domestic crude oil sales proceeds should be paid into CBN in the currency of sales, where it should be converted at the appropriate rate by CBN and swept to the Federation Account. This will forestall the exchange rate shortfalls.

–    Analysis of NNPC Debt to the Federation

♣    The analysis shows that NNPC owes N1.305 trillion to the Federation as at 31st December, 2011. The receivables account of NNPC purchases from the Federation was analyzed and validated.

–    NNPC should promptly pay its debt to the Federation.
–    Subsidy Claims

♣    A total sum of N1.40 trillion was deducted directly from domestic crude oil proceeds as subsidy claims by NNPC before remitting the balance to the Federation account.

–    The Federal Government should review the deduction of subsidy claims from the proceeds of domestic crude by NNPC to align them with due process like other marketers who draw their subsidy claims from the Petroleum Support Fund”.

QUESTION 33
Provide details of government stake in NLNG. All categories of revenue under the NLNG and total amount generated so far and evidence of remittances.

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS

•    Does the Minister’s response mean that her Ministry does not have the records of the revenue accruable from the 49% stake of the FGN held by NNPC on its behalf?

•    Notwithstanding the tax holiday enjoyed by the NNLG, what is the value of the tax exemption till date expected to have been ploughed back into the company to increase its capital base and profitability and hence increased share of profit for government on its 49% stake?

•    No evidence of remittance was provided as requested. The Honorable Minister is requested to submit this.

•    The Committee wishes to refer the Honorable Minister to the following excerpts from the 2009-2011 audit of the Oil and Gas Industry by NEITTI  on page the same 93 of the Report, earlier referenced:

–    “Dividends and Loan Payments made by NLNG

♣    Financial flows from NLNG include dividends and repayment of loans of which an amount of $4.84 billion was received by NNPC. This is in addition to the $3.996 billion reported to be received in the previous audit reports. We have confirmed that these amounts have not been remitted to the Federation Account.

♣    The dividends and loan repayments made by NLNG and confirmed to be in receipt by NNPC could not be confirmed to the CBN JP Morgan/Federation account. We observed that this has been a recurring issue.

♣    There is a need to confirm the ownership of the 49% investments in NLNG – Is it for the benefit of the Federation, or the Federal Government, or NNPC itself? This is an area for further enquiry”.

•    The Honorable Minister is to kindly submit a fitting response with supporting documents of governments position on these NEITI findings.

QUESTION 34
Why do you always prefer a lower benchmark which leaves government with wider deficits and your attitude of no qualms with domestic borrowings at excessively high interest rates to balance deficit as against our position of increasing benchmark to reduce deficit which consequently reduces domestic borrowing, that frees up funds for the real sector of the economy, thereby bringing down the interest rate, increased private sector investments and creating jobs.

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

QUESTION 35
What is the total amount expended by certain statutory agencies of government without appropriation for 2011, 2012, and 2013? Also provide aggregate appropriated expenditure for the same period. As the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, do you feel comfortable with allegations that almost equal amount of our yearly aggregate expenditure is being spent without appropriation, yet we are crying that the country is running short of revenue?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    The Honorable Minister is required to substantiate with supporting documents the fact, as shown in her response that about N4.9 billion and N5.2 billion was spent by just 24 agencies in 2011 and 2012 respectively, as these is almost the entire budget of the FGN for each of these years.
•    Why does the data provided include just those of 24 revenue generating agencies?
•    Why has the actual expenditure made since 2011 and 2012 remained unaudited as indicated in the table provided by the Minister on these 24 generating agencies?
•    The Agencies are:

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Nigeria Deposit insurance Corporation, Bureau of Public Enterprise, National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund, Corporate Affairs Commission, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Nigerian Shippers Council, National Maritime Authority, Raw Material Research and Development Council, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, National Sugar Development Council, Nigerian Postal Service, Nigerian Ports Authority, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigerian Telecommunication, National Automotive Council, Nigerian Tourism Development, National Communication Commission, National Agency for Food & Drug Administration & Control, Nigerian Customs Service, Federal Inland Revenue Service & Central Bank of Nigeria.

QUESTION 36
Between May 7 and 9, 2014, it is expected that Nigeria will be hosting World Economic Forum on Africa. Who will finance this event and why? In concrete terms, what are the expected tangible benefits to the country in return to justify hosting such expensive event that will require lots of money for logistics, accommodations, security, especially given that South Africa that recently hosted the event has nothing to show for it.

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    As earlier stated, what justifies the budget allocation of N4billion to a 3-day meeting when the EFCC’s total budgetary allocation, (including personnel costs, overheads and Capital expenditure) moved from a paltry N3.71 billion in 2008 to N10.22 billion in 2013?

•    Since the Minister stated that the conference will be financed from three sources – the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Nigerian private sector and the World Economic Forum, why do we still require that staggering sum? What will then be the contributions from the other two stakeholders mentioned by the Minister?

QUESTION 37
If you should for any reason say it will attract foreign investors, the question, then becomes, what kind of foreign investors are we talking about here because as we all know, no serious foreign investor needs to attend such a forum in Nigeria in order to recognize that our country should have been one of the world’s favored investment destinations had our perennial infrastructure deficit been addressed head-on?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS

•    It is surprising that a major way Nigeria’s Minister of Finance suggests that the country compete for the limited available global investment funds is through road shows and investor conferences and so warrants the spending of N4billon for a 3-day meeting.

–    Can a country said to have as much as 10.5million out-of -school children truly afford to spend N4billion on a meeting of three days and believe it is in position to compete in a technological-driven world with other nations with high literacy levels?

•    Also, if in spite of its low Global Business Competitiveness ranking, Nigeria still “attracted the largest FDI on the African continent in the last three years, over 20 US billion dollars, 10 percent of the volume”, there appears to be no need for this aggressive search for more investors, as they are already trooping in without this expenditure of N4billion on this meeting.

QUESTION 38
Most of the developing economies like China, India, and Brazil that the world is today celebrating as economic success wouldn’t have become this successful without adopting multi-year development plans. Why after knowing that their successes are as a result of carefully designed multi-year economic planning, we are yet to adopt such a multi-year development model? In other words, why wouldn’t you agree that Nigeria too needs that in order to move faster and more sustainably in its quest for industrialization and economic diversification and job creation for millions of the country’s unemployed young men and women?

QUESTION 39
As the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, can you precisely clarify how much is AMCON’s Debt exposure and what will its defaulting mean to the country’s economy?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    The Minister did not provide the details of the N4.67 trillion of AMCON’s total debt exposure. She is required to do so with all requisite supporting documents.

•    The Minister is required to also submit a Performance Report for AMCON from January 2011 to December 2013.

•    Just in case, things do not go as planned, on whose balance sheet will AMCON’s toxic liabilities be reflected?

QUESTION 40
Why are we using the 10 to 15 years moving average to arrive at your 2014 proposed benchmark as against the traditional 5 to 10 years moving average we have always used? Is it because using the 5 -10 year average will not give you the benchmark price you desire?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

QUESTION 41
This time last year you informed this committee that our external reserve position was about $48 billion and the balance on our excess crude account was about $9 billion. You also said that the plan was to grow these balances to about $50 billion and$10 billion respectively. However we are hearing that the balances have dropped to $43 billion and $3 billion respectively. And you are saying all is well?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    On the issue of oil theft and pipelines vandalism, resulting in the loss of about 300,000-400,000 barrels per day, in 2013 alone, we have noticed how the figures keep changing and moving higher by the day in spite of ex-militants being paid by government to secure these Oil installations and Amnesty Programme for ex-militants. With the above in mind can you justify the huge investment and appropriate use of these funds for the intended objective?

•    By stating in her response, in explaining the reasons for the ECA and external reserve depletion, that “some funds were also used to augment FAAC allocations in 2013 while the CBN sold more foreign exchange in order to defend the Naira. Specifically, the total amount of foreign exchange that the CBN sold increased from $4.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012 to $10.80 billion in the third quarter of 2013”, the Committee requests to know from which of the specific reserves does the CBN draws from, to strengthen the Naira. Why does the ECA keep dwindling month after month while the CBN reserve remained relatively stable at about an average of $35 billion in 2013?

Question 42
Crude oil projections for 2013 were 2.53 million barrels per day while actual figures as supplied by the NNPC/DPR/MTEF have averaged about 2.3 million barrels per day giving a shortfall of about 9%. Could this alone have caused such a drastic reduction in our reserves and savings positions?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

Question 43
Is any money missing from our anticipated revenue from the NNPC in particular and oil industry in general. If there is, how much? If not, how come such issues emanate from high offices in the executive arm of Government?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS

•    The Question was answered only partially. The Honorable Minister appeared to tie her answer to the question of money missing in the NNPC and oil industry in general, to just the one in the leaked letter from the Central Bank’s Governor. That however was not the tone of the question. The use of the word any refers to all funds unaccounted for before and after the one in the CBN Governor’s leaked letter. The Minister is requested to respond accordingly, with supporting documents, and to cover other agencies in the oil industry.

•    The NEITI Audit report concerning the NNPC and the NNLG earlier referred to may be instructive in this regard. See Committee’s observation of the Minister’s response to Question 32 and 33.

•    As the Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, with long-standing experience in the topmost global financial institutions, are you concerned about the well-acknowledged lack of transparency in corporate governance in the foremost revenue earning agency of the economy which you coordinate? Why is transparent corporate governance difficult to achieve in the NNPC?

Question 44
Referring to the pre-shipment inspection of exports act of 1996 and the Federal Ministry of Finance export guidelines. If any good (oil, gas or non-oil) is exported from Nigeria the exporter is compelled to repatriate these proceeds through the domiciliary account of a Nigerian bank. What has been the effectiveness of these laws? Is there full compliance?

Question 45
If there has not been compliance, would it not make it difficult for us to build up our foreign reserves? Could we not say that the main thrust of the CBN letter was that our foreign reserves are not growing even though there has been a consistent high selling price of crude due to the fact that huge funds are not being repatriated at all or are repatriated through the black market?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    As reiterated earlier, the Honorable Minister is requested to provide details of the in-flows and draw-downs of the three components of our foreign reserves, namely: CBN’s Reserve, FGN’s Reserve and the ECA.

QUESTION 46
Could we say that the issue is not so much that money is missing (which is yet to be determined) but that proceeds that should have found their way back to the Nigerian economy have grown wings or they fly in through the black market, allowing oil industry players have a field day making spreads of up to N7 per dollar in some cases.

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

QUESTION 47
What is the Minister’s take on the apparent stagnation of the economy as there seems to be very little job creation and growth in small businesses. Even though the Minister has read out growth figures before it is not telling on the average man on the street.

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    The Minister is requested to clarify with supporting documents the composition of the figures of over “8 million metric tons of additional food” said to be produced in the past year.  What types of food was produced and where?

QUESTION 48
Would the Minister say that the various Government initiatives at job creation have not lived up to expectation as they affect only a very small part of the population?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    Committee’s Observations/ Requests on question 1 also refer.
•    Going by the data below from the respective budgets of the years in question for a few of the government agencies saddled with the responsibility for labour/job creating initiatives in Nigeria, is the sum appropriated and expended as depicted below justified?
AGENCY
2011 BUDGET
2012 BUDGET
2013 BUDGET
TOTAL
NAPEP
9,693,628,061
14,829,678,720
10,801,423,476
35,324,730,256
MINISTRY OF LABOUR/NDE
10,040,296,428
11,132,641,147
12,502,931,181
33,675,868,757
SMEDAN
1,645,370,801
2,476,821,124
6,282,664,092
10,404,856,017
NITDA
1,046,106,737
2,968,733,492
2,140,142,847
6,154,983,076
ITF
1,206,179,200
2,120,006,002
2,139,594,706
5,465,779,908
TOTAL
23,631,581,227
33,527,880,485
33,866,756,302
91,026,218,014

QUESTION 49
Wouldn’t the Minister think that the private sector should be the main driver of job and wealth creation through natural growth of business and startups being financed by the banking industry?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS

•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

QUESTION 50
If so, what does the Minister think it would do for the local banking industry if this same pre-shipment inspection law and your own export guidelines are enforced to the letter. The oil industry in Nigeria is worth about $50 billion per annum. If even $10 billion of this passes through our local banks wouldn’t that give the economy a boost with banks now able to fund longer term and bigger projects?

OBSERVATIONS/ REQUESTS
•    Committee will take a detailed response from the Honorable Minister at the hearing.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Nigerian President Explores Amnesty for Christian Persecutor Boko Haram.


Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan
Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan during the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Australia. (Commonwealth Secretariat / Creative Commons)

A month ago, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said he would not negotiate with the militant Islamic sect Boko Haram because they were “ghosts,” faceless adversaries who would not step forward.

That was then. On Wednesday the president is scheduled to formally inaugurate a committee to explore amnesty for Boko Haram in return for the end of a four-year uprising that has killed thousands of Nigerians.

Suggested by the spiritual leader of Nigeria’s Muslims, studied by a national security panel, and encouraged by the leaders of Nigeria’s ravaged Northern states crucial to the President’s political future, amnesty is now a real prospect for an armed group that has declared its desire to replace the Nigerian state, about to celebrate its 100th anniversary, with one built upon Islamic law.

Reaction to Jonathan’s April 17 decision to put the question into the hands of a Presidential committee has been loud and contentious. Most Christian leaders have denounced the idea as a gross injustice, though some have given a qualified endorsement. Muslim reaction is less than unanimous. Boko Haram itself has rejected the idea. Reaction by government officials is split, and at least two committee appointees have refused to serve. And it has intensified tensions between Christian and Muslim youth who are threatening a new wave of sectarian violence.

The Current Situation
Jonathan’s April 17 announcement made headlines across Nigeria. Leadership Nigeria newspapers, quoting Presidential spokesman Reuben Abati, spelled out the basic details of the committee’s charge:

  • “Constructively engage key members of Boko Haram and define a comprehensive and workable framework for resolving the crisis of insecurity in the country,” including disarmament within 60 days;
  • Establish a “comprehensive victims’ support program;”
  • Explore “mechanisms to address the underlying causes of insurgencies.”

The 26-member committee is made up of government officials, police and military officials, politicians and human-rights activists, according to the Associated Press. Abati said Jonathan would formally inaugurate the committee April 24 at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, according to Leadership Nigeria. It will have 60 days to complete its work.

The AP dryly noted the “ambitious goal” of trying to disarm Boko Haram: “The command-and-control structure of the main extremist network Boko Haram remains unclear. It also has sparked several splinter groups, including those wanting to increasingly target Western interests and who have connections to other al-Qaida-linked groups.”

What is clear is that the violence continues. A firefight erupted Friday between Nigerian soldiers and local militants in the northeastern town of Baga, in the heart of the region where Boko Haram was born. By Sunday, nearly half the town had burned to the ground. The UK’s Telegraph reported that locals claimed 185 people had been killed, though the Army disputed that number and the Red Cross had not yet arrived to confirm the number of fatalities, and by Tuesday the Associated Press had reported that the figure was not being disputed by military officials. There was no public accounting of how many of the dead were civilians, soldiers or rebels.

Background
Nigeria has considered amnesty for insurgent groups before. In 2009, militants in the Nigeria’s southern Delta, upset at the exploitation of the region by oil companies, laid down arms in return for a greater share of the wealth being extracted from the oilfields.

The idea of amnesty for Boko Haram gained traction in March, when the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, proposed it at a meeting of Ja’matu Nasril Islam, or JNI, the main Nigerian Muslim umbrella group. Sokoto, in Nigeria’s northwest, is a seat of Islamic learning and the Sultan is the country’s Muslim spiritual leader. “If amnesty is declared, it will give so many of those young men who have been running and hiding to embrace that amnesty,” he was quoted by Vanguard Media as saying on March 16.

Jonathan was quick to refuse, during a March visit to Yobe state in northeast Nigeria. “You cannot declare amnesty for ghosts,” he was quoted by Premium Times and other news agencies. “Boko Haram still operates like ghosts. So you can’t talk about amnesty for Boko Haram now until you see the people you are discussing with.”

Calls for him to reconsider came from within his own People’s Democratic Party. “Our people are being killed every day, our economy is crippled. We want the President to make a U-turn, grant them amnesty, protect our lives and address the security challenges in the region,” Deputy Senate Leader Abdul Ningi said on behalf of PDP National Assembly members from the northeast, Premium Times reported.

Northern governors and traditional leaders pressed the same message during an April 3 meeting with Jonathan, according to Sahara Reporters, a New York-based news service devoted to exposing what it calls “rampant kleptocracy on the continent of Africa.” Citing “sources at the Presidential Villa,” Sahara Reporters noted that Nigerian military commanders arrived the next day, spending five hours trying to convince the President that amnesty is a bad idea.

The officers were barely out of the palace before the government “set up a technical committee to advise President Goodluck Jonathan on whether to grant amnesty to Boko Haram,” the Catholic News Service reported.

Sahara Reporters struck a sardonic tone: “Although today he seem[s] highly disposed to the amnesty idea, he is known to change his mind fairly easily.”

As the Amnesty Security Committee began its work, lobbying intensified and the amnesty question began to take on a life of its own. The Northern Traditional Rulers Council, led by the Sultan of Sokoto, presented its position paper and met with Jonathan. Military leaders convened again, this time indicating to the committee they would support amnesty only if soldiers remained deployed in dangerous areas. Meanwhile, Leadership Nigeria newspapers reported that governors of four northern states—Bauchi, Yobe, Borno and Gombe—had, on their own, “initiate[d] talks with members of the Boko Haram sect to embrace the amnesty offered them by the federal government,” even though an amnesty plan has not yet been defined, let alone offered.

Christian Reaction
Christian organizations and leaders have responded almost universally negatively to the idea of amnesty for Boko Haram, whose bloody campaign across the Northern states has killed and injured hundreds of Christians and destroyed numerous Christian churches, schools, homes, businesses and farms. Vanguard Media published a roundup of reaction from the leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria, or CAN , including:

  • Rev. Joshua Ray Mains, Bauchi State Secretary: “Why should they be given amnesty? Are we congratulating them for the people they have sent to their early graves or are we encouraging them to continue with their acts so that other groups can take advantage of the amnesty and continue to disrupt the peace of the country?”
  • Rev. Abare Kallah, Gombe state chairman: “It’s not about favoring one side. We are also wounded. If they are thinking that amnesty is going to be given to Boko Haram, I am sure that there is going to be another faction or group that the federal government cannot contend with.”

Earlier, Vanguard Media quoted CAN General Secretary Rev. Musa Asake: “By canvassing for amnesty to blood-thirsty, Islamic fundamentalists who have killed without provocation, the JNI is promoting the culture of crass impunity that desecrates the sanctity of human life.” AndChristianity Today reports that CAN President Ayo Oritsejafor considers Boko Haram “terrorists that should be crushed by Nigeria’s military.”

The association’s youth wing issued a statement declaring amnesty would amount to “a clarion call to all terrorism in Nigeria” that would “fuel the anger of the Christian youth.”

“Mr. President should remember that the amnesty being advocated is for Muslim youths who are the Boko Haram members and who have killed, maimed our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and children and also bombed and burnt our churches without provocation,” youth president Simon Dolly is quoted as saying.

Nigeria’s Catholic leaders are largely skeptical of amnesty for Boko Haram, though some say they would welcome dialog as a way to stop the violence. Catholic News Service published a roundup of clerical views, in which:

  • Archbishop Felix Alaba Job of Ibadan, in Nigeria’s south, “questioned why the government should ‘grant amnesty to vandals of human souls and bodies.’ “
  • Retired Bishop Julius Babatunde Adelakun of Oyo, also in the south, “said granting amnesty to Boko Haram was ‘like granting amnesty to terrorists, it is unthinkable.’ “
  • Bishop Felix Femi Ajakaye of nearby Ekiti said “‘if the government grants amnesty to Boko Haram, other groups would ask for amnesty, too. And when you go on granting amnesty to this sect, what about the victims of the Boko Haram’s insurgency?’ “

At the same time, Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja said “we have to at least consider the possibility of another way of doing things,” according to the independent, lay-operated Catholic World News.

“The amnesty for Boko Haram must be considered as an option to stop the violence,” Onaiyekan told CWN. “In any war at some point you have to start talking among the contenders and I think that now is the moment. It is better to talk than shoot.” However, Onaiyekan also is quoted as saying any amnesty deal must include reparations for victims and repentance. “Without these two conditions, amnesty cannot be offered,” he said.

The emeritus archbishop of the Lagos archdiocese, Anthony Okogie, offered a similar view. “I am not against considering amnesty if the situation warrants it,” he told Premium Times. But “granting amnesty to a faceless group that consistently fails to dialogue with you is a mockery. How do we compensate all those who have lost their loved ones in the over two years of carnage? These are issues we need to address.”

Even from afar, the prospect of amnesty for Boko Haram is running into strenuous Christian opposition. The New York-based Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans issued a statement April 5, well before Jonathan formed the Amnesty Security Committee, calling the idea” treachery against the wives, children and relatives of the victims of Boko Haram terrorists.”

Muslim Reaction
Despite the fact that the Sultan of Sokoto placed the prospect of amnesty on the table, Nigeria’s Muslim leaders are not uniformly behind the idea. Sahara Reporters captured several responses:

  • “Nigeria is catalytically deteriorating. Today the national discourse is on corruption and amnesty for terrorism,” Sheikh Ahmad Gumi said during a March 26 sermon. Gumi said the cure for Boko Haram’s insurgency ought to involve a Muslim military commander of “special strike squads” that would, with the help of civilian cooperation, extract the militants from Nigerian society “like removing a tumor from the brain.”
  • A Nigerian group calling itself Muslims Against Terror called the President’s exploration of amnesty “a disastrous precedence, where people believe they simply need to kill innocent people to get cash from the government.” Instead, the group said, “the government should consider a social welfare scheme for the people of the north because the entire area would hardly recover from the terrorist experience.”
  • In Lagos, the director of Muslim Rights Concern, Ishaq Akintola, praised Jonathan’s initiative. “The Nigerian president is now thinking like the President of the whole country. Only by granting amnesty to the Boko Haram group can the President reposition the country for peaceful coexistence,” Akintola said.

Military Reaction
As the AP has noted, “human rights groups and local citizens blame both Boko Haram and security forces for committing violent atrocities against the local civilian population, fueling rage in the region.” Nigeria’s military is walking a fine line. Little has been heard about the commanders’ attitudes toward Jonathan’s amnesty initiative since their early April meeting at which they lobbied him to drop it.

Among the scraps of evidence to emerge is an April 12 report from Leadership Nigeria that the top brass is expected to endorse amnesty, under the condition that soldiers remain deployed to Nigeria’s trouble spots. Citing unnamed sources, Leadership Nigeria said the commanders’ position was that “as long as the factor that brought the soldiers onto the streets persists, our soldiers remain on the streets.”

Boko Haram Reaction
And what of Boko Haram itself?

“Surprisingly, the Nigerian government is talking about granting us amnesty. What wrong have we done? On the contrary, it is we that should grant you [a] pardon,” said Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, according to the BBC, citing an Agence France-Presse transcription of an audio statement issued by the sect’s leader. Shekau issued his refusal days before Goodluck Jonathan’s April 17 announcement of the creation of the Presidential committee.

Vanguard Media reported that “another factional leader of the sect, Abu Dardam, had spurned the offer by the government, describing it as an insult. He claimed that the group rejected the offer because it did not recognize democracy as a form of government and the Nigerian Constitution.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

WORLD WATCH MONITOR

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