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Fuel subsidy: Confusion over $800m World Bank loan to Nigeria
Nigeria’s economy has been laced with confusion and anxiety over the World Bank’s $800 million loan to the country as a palliative to cushion the effect of the proposed fuel subsidy removal by June.
Muhammadu Buhari’s government has repeatedly disclosed its intention to halt fuel subsidies before the inauguration of the incoming administration on 29th May, 2023.
As the clock ticks, debates on the implications of subsidy removal have intensified.
Labour, Trade unions and some oil and gas industry experts have not hidden their disapproval of the fuel subsidy removal because it would hurt Nigerians by shooting up inflation.
Indeed, for the incoming government, fuel subsidies sustenance or removal is a hard nut to crack.
But, after last week’s Federal Executive Council meeting, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said that Nigeria secured $800 million from the Washington-based World Bank to serve post-subsidy removal palliatives for the Nigerians.
The Minister said the post-subsidy palliative plans would be distributed to 50 million Nigerians representing 10 million households.
But Nigerians have raised doubts over the obscurity surrounding the said sum from the World Bank, wondering if the efforts will not be another white-goose-chase.
A report in September 2022 from Nigeria Extractive Industries Initiative, NEITI, showed that the country had spent N13.7 trillion ($74.386 billion) on fuel subsidies in fifteen years (2005-2022).
Similarly, the Federal government had included N3.36 trillion announced as payment for the first 6-months (January to June) subsidies in the 2023 budget. Nigeria’s fuel subsidies would have gulped an average of N17.6 trillion from 2005 to mid-year 2023.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s total debt stock has continued to increase; the recent figure is N44.06 trillion in the face of unequal revenue generation capacity.
In 2022, Nigeria’s revenue collection stood at N10 trillion, according to Federal Inland Revenue data.
Here, the fears of the country getting another $800 million loan from the World Bank sends waves of worries in the minds of stakeholders.
Director of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, Muda Yusuf told DAILY POST in an interview on Monday, that borrowing to fund post-fuel subsidy removal palliatives is strange.
He explained that in the past, fuel subsidies do not involve borrowing, saying the practice had been that palliatives were funded from the savings from the subsidy removal.
However, Yusuf insisted that the fuel subsidy removal and palliatives should be left for the incoming administration to handle.
“First, any conversation on subsidy removal and palliatives should be left for the incoming administration.
“We have had subsidy-related palliatives, and none involved borrowing.
“The practice had been that palliatives were funded from the savings from subsidy removal, which makes the current proposition rather strange.
“Besides there are policy dimensions to the delivery of palliatives. The government needs to explore fiscal and monetary policy options to incentivize investment in sectors that could mitigate the pains of subsidy removal.
“These include investors in refineries, pipelines, petrochemicals, marketing, fertiliser plants, among others. There should also be incentives to facilitate investment in the power sector, use of autogas”.
Also, the CEO of SD & D Capital Management, Mr Idakolo Gbolade said with the state of the country’s economy, fuel subsidy removal is non-negotiable.
He explained that the funds that would be realised from subsidy removal would reduce the federal government’s debt burden.
He worried that if the said $800 loan from the World Bank is not properly channelled, fuel subsidy removal would cause more pain to already stressed Nigerians.
“Removing subsidy is non-negotiable if the incoming government wants to restructure the economy, eradicate waste and free up funds for infrastructural development.
“However, it will add more pressure on the already stressed populace, hence the need for impactful palliatives that are properly channelled.
“The $800 million from the World Bank, if properly utilised, can reduce the pains of subsidy removal.
“It is noted that this could increase the debt burden, but on the flip side, funds realised from subsidy removal could help the government reduce its debt outlines for financing the 2023 budget.
“The incoming government must immediately start looking at ways of restructuring the revenue profile of the government with a view of increasing it and making the country attractive for more foreign investment in key areas of our economy”, he stated.
Whichever side one stands in the debate, the federal government must come clean on the fuel-subsidy removal plan so that the country will not embark on another wasteful voyage that may leave it more strapped in debts.
Election: FG challenges Obi to provide clarification on leaked audio conversation with Oyedepo
The Federal Government of Nigeria has challenged the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, to clarify his position on a leaked audio of the conversation he purportedly had with Bishop David Oyedepo, the founder of Living Faith Church Worldwide.
The audio, as released by an online newspaper, was an alleged conversation between Obi and Oyedepo.
Addressing the media on Monday in London, Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, called on Obi to clarify what he meant by saying the leaked conversation was “a fake doctored audio call.”
Mohammed said: “If it’s fake, it means it never took place. But if it’s doctored, it means there was that conversation, but it was manipulated.
“[Peter] Obi needs to come out and make the clarification on whether the conversation didn’t take place or it took place, but it was doctored.
“If it was doctored, which part of it was doctored?
“Is it the beginning, the middle or the end or is it the ‘Yes Daddy’ part of it, or where he said it was a religious war?”
APC tells tribunal that Peter Obi not qualified to contest presidential poll
The All Progressives Congress (APC), on Monday, prayed the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in Abuja to dismiss the petition filed by the Labour Party (LP) and its Presidential Candidate, Mr Peter Obi, against the emergence of Sen. Bola Tinubu as president-elect in the February 25 election.
The APC, the 4th respondent, urged the PEPC to reject the petition in its notice of preliminary objection marked: CA/PEPC/03/2023 and filed at PEPC’s Secretariat on Monday night by Thomas Ojo, a member of the party’s legal team led by Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, in Abuja.
The party asked the tribunal to dismiss the petition with substantial cost on the grounds that it lacked merit and was frivolous.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Obi, the 1st petitioner, and LP, the 2nd petitioner, had sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Tinubu, Sen. Kashim Shettima and APC as 1st to 4th respondents, respectively.
The petitioners are seeking the nullification of the election victory of Tinubu and Shettima in the Feb. 25 presidential poll.
While former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came second with 6,984,520 votes in the election, Obi came third with 6,101,533 votes.
Abubakar and PDP are also challenging the outcome of the poll.
However, in the petition marked: CA/PEPC/03/2023 filed by Obi and LP’s lead counsel, Livy Ozoukwu, they contended that Tinubu “was not duly elected by a majority of the lawful votes cast at the time of the election.”
The petitioners claimed there was rigging in 11 states, adding that they would demonstrate this in the declaration of results based on the uploaded results.
Obi and LP said INEC violated its own regulations when it announced the result despite the fact that at the time of the announcement, the totality of the polling unit results had yet to be fully scanned, uploaded and transmitted electronically as required by the Electoral Act.
Among other prayers, the petitioners urged the tribunal to “determine that, at the time of the presidential election held on February 25, 2023, the 2nd and 3rd respondents (Tinubu and Shettima) were not qualified to contest the election.
“That it be determined that all the votes recorded for the 2nd respondent in the election are wasted votes, owing to the non-qualification of the 2nd and 3rd respondents.
“That it is determined that on the basis of the remaining votes (after discountenancing the votes credited to the 2nd respondent), the 1st petitioner (Obi) scored a majority of the lawful votes cast at the election and had not less than 25 per cent of the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of the states of the federation and the FCT and satisfied the constitutional requirements to be declared the winner of the February 25 presidential election.
“That it be determined that the 2nd respondent (Tinubu), having failed to score one-quarter of the votes cast at the presidential election in the FCT, was not entitled to be declared and returned as the winner of the presidential election held on February 25.”
Responding, the APC prayed the court to dismiss the suit on the ground that Obi, the 1st petitioner, lacked requisite locus standi to institute the petition because he was not a member of LP at least 30 days before the party’s presidential primary to be validly sponsored by the party.
It said: “The 1st petitioner (Obi) was a member of PDP until May 24, 2022.
“1st petitioner was screened as a presidential aspirant of the PDP in Apni 2022.
“1st petitioner participated and was cleared to contest the presidential election while being a member of the PDP.
“1st petitioner purportedly resigned his membership of PDP on May 24, 2022, to purportedly join the 2nd petitioner (Labour Party) on May 27, 2022.
“2nd petitioner conducted its presidential primary on May 30, 2022, which purportedly produced 1st petitioner as its candidate, which time contravened Section 77(3) of the Electoral Act for him to contest the primary election as a member of the 2nd petitioner.”
The party argued that Obi was not a member of LP at the time of his alleged sponsorship.
The APC argued that “by the mandatory provisions of Section 77 (1) (2) and (3) of the Electoral Act 2022, a political party shall maintain a register and shall make the such register available to INEC not later than 30 days before the date fixed for the party primaries, congresses and convention.”
It stated further that all the PDP’s presidential candidates were screened on April 29, 2022, an exercise in which Obi participated and was cleared to contest while being a member of the party.
It argued that the petition was incompetent since Obi’s name could not have been in LP’s register made available to INEC at the time he joined the party.
The APC equally argued that the petition was improperly constituted, having failed to join Atiku Abubakar and PDP, which were necessary parties to be affected by the reliefs sought.
“By Paragraph 17 of the petition, the petitioners, on their own, stated that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar came second in the presidential election with 6,984,520 votes as against the petitioners who came third with 6,101,533 votes;
“At Paragraph 102 (ii) of the petition, the petitioners urged the tribunal to determine that the 1st petitioner scored the majority of lawful votes without joining Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in the petition.
“For the tribunal to grant prayer (iii) of the petitioners, the tribunal must have set aside the scores and election of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
“Alhaji Atiku Abubakar must be heard before his votes can be discountenanced by the tribunal,” it said.
The party, therefore, argued that the tribunal lacked the requisite jurisdiction to entertain pre-election complaints embedded in the petition as presently constituted, among other arguments.
The APC urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition with substantial cost as the same was devoid of any merit and founded on frivolity.
Gunmen kidnap businessman, kill one, injure another in Kano
Alhaji Nasiru Na’ayya, a prominent businessman in Gangarbi village, Rogo Local Government Area of Kano State, was kidnapped by unknown gunmen in the early hours of Monday, according to a source.
The source stated that the abductors stormed the businessman’s residence around midnight and fired shots to intimidate the residents. When the villagers tried to prevent the gunmen from taking Alhaji Nasiru Na’ayya, they shot two people. Sadly, one person died instantly, while another sustained injuries and is currently receiving medical treatment.
SP Abdullahi Haruna, the spokesperson for the Kano State Police Command, confirmed the incident and mentioned that he was awaiting detailed information from the Divisional Police Officer in the area.
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