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10/05/12

*Mubi Massacre, 52nd Independence Anniversary and the Problem with Nigeria

By Rev. Dr. C. Kingston Ekeke

From 2009 till date, celebrations to mark Nigeria’s Independence and most national and public holidays have been marred by bomb explosions and killings of innocent citizens. On December 25, 2009, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian man then, educated in Mechanical Engineering at a prestigious University College, London launched Nigeria into international spotlight as a terrorist state, when he failed to detonate a bomb to blow-up a US Northwest Flight 253 with hundreds of passengers on board traveling from Amsterdam-Schipol airport to Detroit, Michigan, USA. Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, we later learned is the sixteenth and youngest son of a wealthy Nigerian in the name of Alhaji (Dr.) Umaru Mutallab, a staunch member of the Northern Oligarch and one of the huge beneficiaries of Nigeria’s oil wealth. Today, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab is spending time in the U.S. prison instead of working to give back to the nation that spent millions of tax payers’ money and oil wealth educating him in British universities. ( Continues below….. )

An assault rifle
Photo Above: An assault rifle. *One of the tools of evil in Nigeria and around the world.

Since then especially during most national holidays, Nigerians wake every morning worried and afraid where the next bomb explosion will go off. These bombings and irrational killings have been going on since Dr. Jonathan Ebele Goodluck, a southerner and Christian replaced late president, Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua in May, 2010 and subsequently elected president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in April, 2011. In that same year, October 1, a bomb explosion almost derailed the 51st Independence Anniversary and two months later, on December 25, 2011, Boko haram sect unleashed the most deadliest, dastardly and despicable terrorist assault on innocent Nigerian Christians at the Saint Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger state and other coordinated bombings of churches in Jos, Plateau State and Damaturu, Yobe State, that killed many parishioners and injured hundreds beyond recognition. One horrifying photo showed the brains of a young baby totally blown out. Boko-Haram chose the most Holy Day of Christianity to inflict the worst evil, vile, barbaric, and satanic massacre of innocent church worshippers. It was not just an attack on Nigerian Christians but an assault on Christianity in general. It caused an outrage and provocation on the part of the Christian community, until today, many bombs explosions and killings have occurred and yet no meaningful arrest or dialogue has been made. ( Continues below….. )

People watch damaged cars
Photo Above: People watch damaged cars in front of St. Theresa Catholic Church. The church buildings were also damaged by the 2011 Xmas bomb blasts by Boko Haram.
- CLICK FOR ENLARGED PHOTO.

( Continues below….. )
A car burns outside St. Theresa Catholic Church
Photo Above: A car burns outside St. Theresa Catholic Church as people gather to survey the damage following the blasts.
- CLICK FOR ENLARGED PHOTO.

And so this year, even though the 52nd Independence Anniversary was celebrated with low profile in the confines of Aso Rock, which is unusual, yet the jihadist sect went on rampage in at-least three northern States including the massacre at the Federal University of Mubi, Adamawa State, where 46 students were shot dead and several stabbed to death - all linked to the dreaded Nigeria's Islamic Jihadist sect known as "Boko-haram," which means "Western Education is Evil." The group is agitating for an Islamic-Sharia for the 19 States in the north.

The Christmas massacre and the U.N. bombing were deadly, but I think the Mubi massacre is probably the vilest and deadliest. It is sad that these kinds of internal terrorism currently assaulting northern Nigeria are sponsored mostly by outsiders. From al Shabaab- a radical group out of Somalia that is linked with al-Qaeda to Mali and Libya in the North - these countries are now besieged by al-Qaeda militants killing innocent people at random and the nations' security forces are unable to tame them. ( Continues below….. )

Nigeria Ex-President Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo

Photo Above: Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo

This brings me to make this point that the real cause or root of Nigeria’s problem is religion. Many Nigerian writers, commentators, pundits and leaders of thought have proffered reasons for Nigeria’s problem and underdevelopment, such as poor leadership, corruption, amalgamation, ethnicity, tribalism, lack of patriotism, intolerance, ignorance, and others. I agree with all that and I have written extensively on those topics. But the more I read and study Islam, its core theology and beliefs, which are entrenched in Islamic political and economic life, and Muslim fanatics, the more I’m cautious to say that the real cause of Nigeria’s problem is deeply rooted in religion, religious ignorance, and religious intolerance.

Religion is the root cause of Nigeria’s failure as a nation. However, it does not undermine the other reasons that have been advanced for Nigeria‘s woes. I think those reasons are just the offshoot of the root problem. Currently, I’m working on a book entitled: “The Problem with Nigeria,” will seek to expand the discussion and include thorny subjects such as the origins of the inhabitants of Nigeria, ethnicity, tribe, culture, values, social norms and off-course religion and faith as some of the reasons behind Nigeria’s social, economic, political problems. But for the purpose of this piece, I’ll limit to the issue of religion and faith.

Religious belief has everything to do with a nation’s social, cultural, political, and economic development. It also impacts a nation’s core value system and patriotism. Religious intolerance and religious conflict is a big threat to the security, unity and prosperity of any country. Religious ignorance and intolerance breed violence. Religious ignorance, intolerance and violence are a big problem in Africa. In the continent of Africa, religious violence and ethnic cleansing are enormous. Religious violence has decimated more lives in Africa in the last 50 years than hunger, disease, accidents and even wars combined together. Africa and Middle East have been properly called a "Bloody Continent." They are a battleground between Islam, Christianity and traditional religions. Muslims and Christians kill each other in Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia, Senegal, Rwanda, Kenya, Mali, Burundi and other places in Africa and the world.

In addition to the bloody violence and conflict between these widely known religions, we have the pagans and African traditional religions with thousands of fetish shrines all around the country. These Fetish priests use hypnotism and witchcraft to deceive ignorant, debased and hopeless people looking for quick and magical ways to achieve success or solve their problems. Some of these fetish priests kill and slaughter new born babies for rituals. This same religious ignorance and intolerance is also rampant among Christians.

I’m truly convinced that the root cause of Nigeria’s crisis is religion, religious intolerance, religious ignorance and lack of national identity. Nigeria has no national patriotic values. Nigeria is simply a bunch of empires and kingdoms lumped to live together without any parameters to define what the new nation is or will be. In a nutshell, Christianity and Islam cannot cohabit – not in Nigeria’s case. There is no nation like Nigeria in the world with regards to practice of faith. Nigeria is apparently described a secular, multi-cultural and multi-religious pluralistic society in words but not in action. Sadly, the north sees and wants Nigeria to be an Islamic State. ( Continues below...... )

Boko Haram Orders Christians Out Of Northern Nigeria

Interesting, around the world, most Muslim countries that have oil resources with deep and respected religious beliefs and practice are advancing and prospering beyond measure – for instance nations like Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Qatar and others are developing using 21st century technology, modern economic theories, first class management and leadership techniques, sound work ethic, and interestingly Western education to advance their nations. Why is Nigeria’s case different? Why is the so-called giant of Africa risking disintegration and on the brink of collapse? Why are we killing in the name of Allah? Why are Muslims and Christians killing each other in northern Nigeria? Can Nigeria survive as a united nation? Is Nigeria cursed because of oil and religion? Are these ominous signs of an end of Nigeria as a united nation?

I have written several essays and articles and presented several papers to explain the biblical root cause of this hostility between Christianity and Islam in Nigeria and especially in Africa. I’ll reproduce portions of it to remind us again, that the problem of Nigeria – in fact, the root cause of the Nigeria’s woes is simply religion, intolerance, and ignorance. Nigeria’s problem is not about poor political leadership per say or corruption or even ethnic hatred, but purely religious ignorance and intolerance.

Here is a portion of an essay published in May 2010. Read on!

Before Mohammad died in 632; he managed to unify Islam and the Arab empire into a powerful religious and political force. So for Muslims, there is no separation between religion and politics. One cannot function without the other. The introduction of Sharia in the North is a powerful and perfect example. Sadly enough, it is Christians that continue to separate religion from politics. Woe to you for your biblical and theological ignorance.

The irrational killings of Christians in Northern Nigeria is filled with deep-seated animosity and hatred because of the fundamental and distinctive religious, doctrinal and theological beliefs that separate the two biggest world faiths. For the purpose of this article/paper, I will deal with the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism, which calls for the sixth pillar of Islam faith – Jihad.

Please let’s understand that no world religions today – Animism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Marxism, New Age Movement, Secularism, Shinto, and Taoism, etc are in such horrifying conflict except unfortunately Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Christianity is an offshoot of Judaism just like Islam is. In fact Christianity and Islam are brothers. Christians claimed to have descended from Abraham through the line of Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus. Muslims, in fact, its founder Mohammad claimed his descendant from Abraham through Ishmael. Isaac and Ishmael were two sons of Abraham, Isaac being the son of promise and Ishmael, the son of Haggai, the Egyptian slave who served in the household of Abraham, Sarah’s maiden. Realistically, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are family members. Christianity is the spiritual son of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Muslims are also the spiritual sons of Abraham and Ishmael. ( Continues below….. )

Holy Bible

Photo Above: Holy Bible

But the question is why they are in such hostility today. Why are there deep-seated rivalries, animosity and hatred between Muslims and Christians? There are biblical, historical, theological and religious reasons for this hostility. But for the purpose of this article, Let us review the sixth pillar of Islam faith to find out the reason for this ferocious orgy to kill Christians.

In Islam faith, there are 6 pillars of namely:

1. Shahadah – the creed of witness
2. Salat – the creed of rigid and ritual prayer life
3. Zakat –the creed of almsgiving
4. Saum – the creed of fasting
5. Hajj – pilgrimage to Mecca, and
6. Jihad – Holy War to kill infidels

Jihad or Holy War is the sixth and most important religious duty for any serious Muslim. The Kharjites, a powerful sect of Islam raised Jihad to a sixth pillar of Islam in the early days of Islam. Muhammad himself declared it is the duty of every Muslim to subjugate the whole world to Allah, if need be by holy war. When the situation warrants, men are required to go to war in order to spread Islam or defend it against infidels. One who dies in a Jihad is guaranteed eternal life in Paradise. All male, free and adult Muslims must become involved in Jihad if they want to go to heaven. Jihad is a holy war against those who are non-Muslims, those who do not believe that Allah is the only God and who do not believe that Mohammad is a true prophet of God. Jihad is regarded as a divine institution, and it is used to advance Islam and repel evil from Muslims. Muslims who die fighting in a holy war are assured of a place in paradise and special privileges there.

The Islamic faith is deeply rooted in violence and Jihad in the name of Allah. The call for Jihad has always been used to conquer people, land, territories and nations. The radical Muslims who perpetrate terror, behead, kill, participate in suicide bombing, or kidnappings etc always justify their actions from Koran, the holy book of Islam. Mohammad, the founder of Islam claimed he received “revelation” from Angel Gabriel, while meditating in a cave in Medina. Many Islamic and Arabic Christian scholars question the validity of his revelations and off-course his writings. There seems to be many fables and borrowings from biblical texts of Jewish and Christian faiths.

Let me stay on the Jihad because how Islam began, its founder, its spread and conquest by sword, conquest of Africa, its doctrines, beliefs and its holy book, Koran are not the purpose of this piece.

Why do Muslims hate and kill their Christian brothers? Why do they also kill their own Muslims brothers when they renounce Islam?

The answers to these questions are found in the pages of Koran. Dr. Anis A. Shorrosh, a Palestine Arab Christian scholar and eminent professor Emeritus of world religions at my alma mater, in his masterpiece book, “Islam Revealed” brilliantly and eloquently explained the driving force behind the root causes of Islamic fundamentalism and fanaticism. He argued that one couldn’t understand the tensions, attacks, and violence and continuing explosion of Islamic fundamentalism until one understands the contradictions and intricacies that form the basis for Muslims' beliefs. In fact the Koran itself gives many passages that advocate, promote and justify violence and killing of infidels – anyone who is non-Muslim, who does not believe that Allah is one true god and who does not recognize Mohammad as prophet. Examples of such are found all over Koran. In Koran, 9:5 teaches, “Kill those who join other gods with Allah wherever you shall find them; seize them, besiege them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush: but if they shall convert, and observe prayer, and pay the obligatory alms, then let them go their way.” Other passages that call for killing infidels are: 2:92; 2:245; 2:276; 3:27; 4:102; 4:143; 5:56; 8:40; 9:29; 9:74; 9:111; 9:123; 22:39. ( Continues below….. )

Copy of The Koran

Photo Above: Copy of The Koran (Qur'an)

The Koran also teaches, “And if you shall be slain or die on the path of Allah, then pardon from Allah and mercy is better than all your amassing; for if you die or be slain, verily unto Allah shall you be gathered. “And they also who have fled their country and quitted their homes and suffered in my cause, and have fought and fallen, I will blot out their sins from them, and I will bring them into garden beneath which the streams do flow ((3:151-52; 3:194). Koran further states, “Fight the infidel and you will go to heaven. Turn way, and you will go to hell. In all of Islamic theology, this is the only way a person can know for sure that heaven is his destiny: wage a holy war and give up your own life.”(8:12-18)

I have read and heard some modern, moderate and conservative Muslims teach that Islam is a peaceful religion and that Koran is opposed to violence. I know there are many sects much like Christianity, but Christians are not going around, at least not today killing other people who disagree with them. It is true that students of history especially biblical historians cannot forget the Crusades – Roman Catholicism bloody warfare against Islam or Islam against Hinduism, the Catholics against Protestant, Lutherans, the Irish Catholics, or even the Holocaust, etc, which were all religious and political motivated warfare. The truth of the matter is that human history has been dominated with wars - religious, political, economic, social, ideology, race, classicism, sexism, etc. All kinds of warfare have been waged throughout human history. But none of these had been divisive and destructive than religious wars. Fortunately, today, humanity has made progress and such wars have been minimized and replaced with tolerance, freedom, peace, progress, scientific and technological advancement, etc except only Islam that continues to wage blatant warfare against Christianity.

Today, Islam is the main persecutor of Christians all over the world. Thousand of Christians are dying under Islamic persecution, especially in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In the continent of Africa, religious violence and ethnic cleansing are enormous. Africa and Middle East have been called a "Bloody Continent." Africa is a battleground between Islam, Christianity and traditional religions. Muslims and Christians kill each other in Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda and Burundi. Religious and ethnic killings have decimated nations like Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Somali, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Liberia, etc. Muslims with the help of repressive government have decimated their Christian population in Senegal, Rwanda, Sudan and Algeria in order to make their nation a 100% Islamic state. Islamic fundamentalists kill and execute hundreds of women every year for unveiling their face or any sensitive body publicly. Women who commit adultery are stoned to death while Muslim men marry as many wives as they want or can afford. This is purely insanity.

For fanatical Muslims, it is pure joy to kill and be killed for Allah. Radical Muslims believe that they have a mandate from Allah to wage jihad against Israel, America and anyone who oppose Muslims. They believe what they are doing is for a righteous cause. Moreover, if they believe that by doing this evil they are serving Allah, nothing will dissuade them from doing it.

Today, Muslim fanatical sects are recruiting and training young people in Africa, including camps in Nigeria to carry out Jihad on the West. Currently, there are Muslim sects like Maitatsine, Boko-Haram, Kala-Kato sects, and now Hausa/Fulani herdsmen located in Jos, Kano, Maiduguri, Kaduna, Sokoto, Bauchi and other major Northern regions training and educating the young people to hate America, Israel and kill anyone who is non-Muslim, who oppose Islam, Muhammad and Allah. Last Christmas, Nigerians were shocked to read that one of her citizens, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab attempted to detonate some explosive powder in a way of terrorist attacks on US Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam-Schipol airport heading to Detroit, Michigan.

Religious conflict is a huge leadership challenge and a major threat to the security, unity and national progress of Nigeria. Religious ignorance and intolerance breed violence. Religious violence and war have decimated more lives in Nigeria in the last 40 years than hunger, disease, and accidents combined together. Northern Nigeria especially has been a battleground between Islam and Christianity. Since 1960, Nigeria has had some many incidents of religious extremism and Islamic fundamentalism in its attempt to Islamize the nation.

Islamic fundamentalism, fanaticism, terrorism and jihads are a big threat and enormous challenge for our nations’ leaders. I call upon Nigerian government, political leaders, religious and civil leaders, Imams, clerics, Islamic scholars, moderate, modern and conservatives Muslims and business leaders, to work together in resolving the imminent threat to Nigeria’s unity. Nigerian religious leaders must work together to ensure that Christians, Moslems and paganisms become partners in this 21st century rather than enemies in solving the social, economic and political obstacles facing our nation. They must work together to hold our politicians and government leaders accountable to the promises and principles of fairness, justice and equity. ( Continues below..... )

Map of Nigeria

Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing some major cities including Enugu State, and Federal capital (Abuja or FCT)

They must be involved in shaping public policies, laws and decisions that hinder Nigerian people from fulfilling their God-given purposes on planet earth. Our religious leaders must work together to educate their followers about tolerance and peaceful cohabitation? As human beings we cannot accomplish much in isolation rather we develop, mature as people and achieve greatness in the context of love, relationship and fellowship. And until we learn the cardinal principle of Islam and Christianity, which is forgivingness and reconciliation, we will never live in peace. Without genuine forgiveness and reconciliation, there cannot be unity and peace. Without love, another cardinal truth of Christianity and Islam, we cannot have genuine relationship. Relationship is the most vital aspect of life. Genuine relationship and love are the greatest human assets and the essence of every major faith in the world. Christians and Muslims must understand that they are brothers from the same great grand father – Abraham.

Let’s surrender to the true heir and heritage of Abraham – if not let us divide peacefully and go our separate ways. This co-habitation, amalgamation or unity of Nigeria does not make sense anymore. It’s time to have serious dialogue and path forward for Nigeria and Nigerians. Enough is enough!

Rev. Dr. C. Kingston Ekeke is a public theologian, author, and leadership scholar. He is the president of Leadership Wisdom Institute.

Note: The second portion of this article was taken from my new book in the making entitled: “The Problem with Nigeria.”

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10/04/12

*Nigeria: Obi Wins Legend of True Leadership Award

-Masterweb Reports

Masterweb Reports - Wednesday, October 3, 2012: Gov. Obi was today bestowed with the Legend of True Leadership Award by the National Association of Nigerian Student Nurses and Midwives.

Speaking during the ceremony that took place at Our Lady of Lourdes School of Nursing and Midwifery yesterday, the National President of the association, Comrade Dauda Ahmed said the award was in recognition of his unmatchable efforts and contributions towards the provision of infrastructure in schools of Nursing and Midwifery in the State, both Government and missionary owned.

He said that apart from support to rebuilding of hospitals and the building of a brand new Teaching Hospital for the State, that the Governor had built or was building over 25 buildings in different schools of Nursing and Midwifery in the State. He named some of them as : School of Nursing and Midwifery, Nkpor; school of Nursing and Midwifery, St Joseph Hospital, Adazi- Nnukwu; Nursing and Midwifery, Iyienu; Nursing and Midwifery, Waterside, Onitsha; Nursing and Midwifery at our Lady of Lourdes, Ihiala, among others. "as a result of all these assistance, these schools that all lost accreditation have all regained that", he said. ( Continues below….. )

Peter Obi receiving the Legend of True Leadership Award

Photo Above: Gov. Peter Obi (right), receiving the Legend of True Leadership Award from the National President of National Association of Nigerian Student Nurses and Midwives.

In his remarks, the Catholic Bishop of Nnewi, Most Rev. Hilary Okeke said he was overwhelmed by Obi's exemplary approach to leadership and called on others in positions of leadership to emulate him. "In him I have seen one Nigerian leader that is not interested in himself. He thinks daily about the good of the people and that is demonstrated in what he does", the Bishop said.

Continuing, the Bishop said that Anambra State was experiencing gigantic development under Gov. Obi in all sectors, private and public. "Even beyond Nigeria, he thinks about humanity. Soon after the earthquake at Haiti in 2010, he travelled to the country, came back, rallied his friends and raised $200,000 dollars, which he sent to them recently. His live is an inspiring example of how to live the Gospel in public service".

In her own speech, the Principal of the School, Rev Sr. Dr. Lauretta Nkem Madu said the Governor richly deserved the award for introducing credibility and character in governance. He described the Governor as a model that champion every right course towards restoring sanity to Nigerian politics.

Describing him as "The gift of our time", he prayed to God to give Nigeria leaders as humane and compassionate as the Governor. He revealed that he had committed over two hundred and fifty million Naira to their school as he has done for other schools.

Responding, the Governor said that he saw the award as a challenge to do better.

Highlights of the event was the receipt of the award, the presentation of the cheque of additional N20 Million Naira to the school for ongoing projects and the laying of the foundation for the building for the School of Medical Laboratory.

Article Source: Masterweb Reports

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10/03/12

*Taxation As Citizens Obligation In Nigeria

By Mark Hirnyam

For patriots like me, paying taxes gives a feeling of responsibility, of being part of the fabric of our country, of contributing to the common good. -Joyce Marcel, 2006

Many times we hear people say things like, “it is our money or tax payer’s money”. Yes public fund is our money, only because we are citizens of Nigeria and Nigeria is blessed with oil through which the revenue is generated. But like Joyce Marcel, how have we made efforts to contribute to the common good of our society?

Citizens and government have basic obligations towards the society for development and stability. While it is the duty of the government to provide infrastructures, security, shelter and other basic amenities for sustainable development, the citizens have the obligation to support government in many ways, one of which is the payment of taxes. Therefore, one of the ways of contributing to the common good of the society is for citizens to exercise their obligation as tax payers. Taxes are used to pool resources for public health and safety, infrastructure, research, schools, transportation, courts, funding the police and providing parks and safe drinking water, amongst others. ( Continues below….. )

Map of Nigeria

Photo Above: Nigerian Naira Notes

Tax as defined by Wikipedia is a pecuniary burden laid upon individuals or property owners to support the government, a payment exacted by legislative authority. A tax is not a voluntary payment or donation, but an enforced contribution, exacted pursuant to legislative authority and comprises any contribution imposed by government whether under the name of toll, tribute, duty, custom, excise, subsidy, aid, supply, or by any other name. It is the duty of an individual or entity to pay tax as an enforced contribution to government. Thus, tax obligation simply shows how much tax is owed; by the amount of tax that a person, business, or organization owes.

Taxes are obviously regarded as a germane source of revenue in many countries, although a tax may be levied other than reasons of revenue generation depending on the motive of government regarding the economy. Governments use different kinds of taxes and vary the tax rates in order to distribute the tax burden among individuals or entities. A country's tax system is supposedly a reflection of its communal values and/or the values of those in power. Therefore to create a tax system, a country must identify a proper distribution of the tax burden i.e. who will pay taxes, how much they will pay and how the taxes collected will be spent. In democratic nations where those in charge of establishing the tax system are elected by the public, these choices reflect the type of community that the public and/or government wish to create. In countries where the public does not have a significant amount of influence over the system of taxation, that system may be more of a reflection on the values of those in power.

In Nigeria, the tax system dates back to 1904 when the personal income tax was introduced in northern Nigeria. Since then, different governments have continued to modify the tax system to make it effective in Nigeria. The tax law in Nigeria is purely statutory. The system offers a wide range of statutes, some of which include, Personal Income Tax Act, Companies Income Tax Act, Education Tax Act, Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) Act, Mineral & Mining Act, Petroleum Profits Tax Act, Value Added Tax Act, Sales Tax Laws, Customs and Excise Management Act, Stamp Duties Act as well as the Land Use Act. Generally, the tax system in Nigeria features a combination of direct and indirect taxes and all individuals and entities that earn income, profits or gains have the obligation to pay tax. ( Continues below..... )

Map of Nigeria

Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing some major cities, including the Federal capital (Abuja or FCT)

The tax system as provided in Decree No. 21, of 1998 (now an Act of the National Assembly) comprises of at least 39 taxes, levies and fees, including 8 Federal, 11 State and 20 Local Government taxes and levies as specified in the Taxes and Levies. The institutions responsible for tax administration in Nigeria include the Federal Inland Revenue Service, State Inland Revenue Service and the Local Government Revenue Committee respectively for the three tiers of government in Nigeria.

Given the above statues and having developed a tax system in Nigeria, we are all obliged to fulfil our tax responsibility. It is only natural to hope that contribution of tax to revenue in Nigeria is meaningful. Tax obligation includes all activities necessary to be carried out by the tax-paying public in order to meet the statutory requirements of tax law. There are four (4) broad categories of obligations likely to exist for all tax payers irrespective of their jurisdiction. These are:

• registration in the system

• timely filling or lodgement of requisite taxation information

• reporting of complete and accurate information (incorporating good record keeping); and

• payment of taxation obligations on time

In many societies, citizens do not need to be reminded to pay tax as the tax system is such that it forms basic part of citizen’s responsibilities on weekly or monthly basis as the case is in the United Kingdom, United States and Germany for example. In such societies tax payment is performed voluntarily. This is what Rasaq K. O. calls Voluntary Tax Compliance which is a tax system based on taxpayers complying with tax laws without being compelled by the tax authority to do so. Under this system taxpayers are expected to report their income, calculate their tax liability and file a tax return. In Nigeria such a concept may be seen to be alien to the people because of the manner of tax awareness and its effectiveness. Besides, the ambiguity of tax officials also affects adversely the value of tax and its contribution as well as the reason for taxation.

Infact, Nigeria is a complex case. Apart from the fact that tax awareness is low and perhaps limited to people who have need for tax clearance certificates, the basic challenge is the fact that Nigeria has not developed a functional and effective system where citizens could see taxation as part of their monthly obligations to government which if not fulfilled will make it impossible to seek attention from government. In developing and developed societies where the tax system is effective, citizens know that to pay tax is important and forms part of their obligations and through which they can challenge government on its performance on development. In our case here in Nigeria, tax is a source of enrichment to tax officials who exploit the citizens in various capacities and still pose as people helping government to succeed. This writer has on some occasions visited the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) branches in Abuja. On those occasions taxes were negotiated in such a manner that the taxpayer is allowed to pay a certain amount of money to government as basic assessment of his income or business whereas a certain amount is paid to the assessor (tax official). If for example the tax payer is to pay N200, 000, the tax official will request N80, 000 for himself/herself and remit N70, 000 to government. In that case, the taxpayer should have saved N50, 000 out of the money he/she ought to pay. Many Nigerians happily do this, just as the tax officials see nothing wrong with such acts. Yet the FIRS will come up with various slogans such as “PIN Number” etc to give the impression that the institution is working hard. One begins to wonder how many people – institutions and prominent citizens have been prosecuted for evading tax or for manipulating the system. How many staff of the FIRS have been prosecuted or sacked for manipulating the tax system.

The question one cannot fail to ask is, why is it difficult for the FIRS to come up with a tax system where there will be a common formula worked out in such a manner that citizens at all levels and categories of businesses know how much they are to pay to government monthly or annually as the case may be. For example, if motorists, plumbers or electricians are categorized as artisans and have a certain rate as tax per annum on their income published in FIRS newsletters/bulletins or on the internet, such a plumber, motorist, electrician or artisan knows what and how much he is to remit as tax per annum. Why should a citizen be the one to go to FIRS to discuss how much he earns before he is assessed to know how much he will pay as tax? This system shows a tax institution or government that is short of its responsibilities. It is because many Nigerians know that their taxes go to private pockets that make many people not to show interest in tax payment. Government has so much work to do to strengthen the tax system in Nigeria.

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) had announced a drop of N124 billion in its tax revenue collection in the first quarter of 2009 - from N477 billion to N353 billion. Having in mind that Nigeria’s budget for 2009 was N3.049tr, if we take N353b as tax revenue for one quarter and we multiply it by four quarters in a year, we imagine tax revenue of approximately N1.4tr in a year. That is close to half of the year’s budget. We can only envisage what it would be if the system was better. The pertinent questions that arise at this point include, where and what is this tax revenue used for? Why do we keep experiencing budget deficits and evolving supplementary budgets year in year out? Is the Nigerian quest for diversifying sources of revenue for funding the budget undermining the tax sector? This and many more will continue to nudge but elude our minds. Comparatively, countries like the United Kingdom who do no not have natural resources as well as sources of revenue, rely heavily on revenue from tax to provide services to the people. We will all agree that in this country, goods and services are effectively provided. In fact one of the easiest ways to go to jail in developed nations is to evade tax.

Recently, Lagos state took a cue from the United Kingdom as the state government considering the nature and values of its people has fared better in generating internal revenue for the state. Many Lagosians today voluntarily go to pay their taxes because they have seen that government has a system where the taxes get to government and the government uses the money to provide services. In order to check the exigencies that accompany the tax system in Nigeria, the Lagos state government first of all developed an electronic tax payment and collection (lodgement) scheme suitable for an effective tax system. It is an information network system that links Tax Stations & other Revenue Agencies to lodgement banks. The advantages include increasing the internally generated revenue base of Lagos State, providing easy administration, monitoring and co-ordination of all revenue activities in the state as well as assisting to identify fraudulent debit, diversion of funds and excess charges on the state accounts. ( Continues below….. )

Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, Nigeria

Photo Above: Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, Nigeria

Having noticed the popular informal sector of the society, government in this state took the advantage of proper awareness, carrying along representatives of business organizations who take time to pass on tax education to their members. Members of the association are now paying a small amount of tax to the government on a monthly basis. Although it is not much, often just N2, 500 (approximately $16), for many it is the first time in their lives that they have paid any formal tax. Since then, Lagos state has recorded a substantial increase in tax revenue. According to the Governor of the state, Babatunde Fashola, the state's internal generated revenue grew from N600 million monthly to N14 billion monthly since 1999. That is more than double what the state typically receives from the Federation Accounts and is gained from the formal sector.

It is pertinent to note at this point that tax revenue in Nigeria can only be substantial if the tax system promotes an atmosphere of trust, sustained public education, transparency and accountability in governance, enforcement of rules and regulations among the tax officials at all levels, and the provision of dividends of democracy to the people. As citizens of Nigeria it behoves on us to ensure participation in government by paying our taxes and filing our tax returns periodically. This will help reduce the current voter apathy evident in the country, since a contribution to public revenue would induce individuals to pry into the workings of government and allow them to be conscious of those who are going to be elected and made responsible for expending tax contributed revenue.

Consequent upon the above, the National Assembly has the task to evolve and sustain a tax policy and system that guarantee a transparent and effective tax process. The relevant Legislative Committee responsible for oversight on tax authorities must ensure through proper oversight that government is not robbed of its revenue through corrupt tax officials. The Lagos state tax system may serve as a point of reference in eliminating bottlenecks in the tax process through an e-system. Above all, the passage into law of the Freedom of Information bill has now come as a boost in ensuring a transparent and vibrant tax system. It is only when we pay our taxes that we position ourselves better to hold government accountable. But the system of tax payment must be streamlined, strengthened and guarded with strong legislation and regulations to reduce the level of corrupt officials in tax offices nationwide in order to engender confidence of the Nigerian people in the payment of tax. People especially those in business who collaborate with tax officials to manipulate their taxes should be publicly prosecuted to serve as deterrent to others. With a population of over 150 million people, Nigeria can survive with revenue from taxes even without oil revenue. All we need is strong legislation and enforcement.

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Permalink 12:49:00 am, by admin Email , 337 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News, Nigerian News, South East News, African Issue, Tellers and Global Viewers

*Nigerian Man Arrested For Having Sex With Donkey

-Masterweb Reports

Masterweb Reports - Tuesday, October 2, 2012: Luck ran out for a middle-aged Nigerian man who committed bestial act as the owner of the animal allegedly observed him having sex with the animal. It all happened in Umuhu, Eha-Amufu in Isi-Uzo Local Government Area of Enugu State asAnayochukwu Okarih who hails from Umujovu, Eha-Amufu walked a donkeybelonging to Mrs Nnedi Moses to a vacant slaughter house in Umuhu. Unknown to him, Moses trailed him and raised alarm when she observed him fondling his manhood and raping the donkey. Okarih left the scene naked as the owner raised alarm, but was picked up by a mob who handed him over to the Ikem Divisional Police Station where he was detained and interrogated. ( Continues below….. )

A donkey

Photo Above: A donkey

Ebere Amarizu, Police Public Relations Officer said Okarih confessed to the crime and asked for forgiveness for reason of poor mental health. Moses said she suspected Okarih contracted HIV and was trying to spread it to anything on his path.

Bestiality is commonly misspelled as "beastiality". It is animal-like behavior or sexual act between man and animal. Examples of bestiality is a person running wild and screaming like an animal and a person engaging in sexual act with an animal. Some see sexual intercourse with animals as rape. Stephanie LaFarge, an assistant professor of psychiatry at New Jersey Medical School, and Director of Counseling at American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), wrote distinguishing two groups: bestialists, who rape or abuse animals, and zoophiles, who form emotional and sexual attachment to animals. ( Continues below..... )

Map of Nigeria

Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing some major cities including Enugu State, and Federal capital (Abuja or FCT)

Sex with animals is not outlawed in some countries, but it is however not explicitly condoned by the general public. In most countries, bestiality is illegal under animal abuse and/or crimes against nature laws.

Article Source: Masterweb Reports

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10/02/12

*On Rabiu Kwankwaso's Rant And Ethnic Chauvinism

By Chuks Ibegbu

It is always good for the wind to blow so as to know the mindset of people. The governor of Kano State, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso has shown the kind of bigoted mindset characteristic of most sectional Nigerian politicians like him. He has shown that the illusion of 'BORN TO RULE' is still beclouding him and his types.

His uncharitable attack against Senator Ike Ekweremadu and the South East has revealed how deeply unjust and bigoted some elements in the corridors of power can create perpetual rumpus in the polity. I believe that Kwankwaso spoke the mind of a group hiding under him.

Now let us dissect the import of his outburst. Firstly, he claimed that Kano State deserves three more states and is more populated than any other state in Nigeria. Secondly, he asserted that South East does not deserve the extra state the National Confab of 2005 granted her before the third term saga enervated it . He also claimed, as if an expert in demographic issues, that South East does not have the population to make such clamour. Finally, he adumbrated that his state and the North have such expanse of land that they deserve even more states than they presently have. I will take each claim one by one. ( Continues below..... )

Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State

Photo Above: Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State

The claim that Kano State deserves three more states and is more populated than other states in Nigeria is laughable. There is yet to be any credible population census in Nigeria to justify that claim. But for the unjust exercise in state and local government creation by past military juntas that principally came from his side of the country, most enclaves that call themselves states and local governments in the North would not have qualified to be created in the first place.. Until there is a credible census in Nigeria, Kwankwaso's bogus claim that Kano State is more populated than other states in Nigeria and his risible demand for more states from Kano, will remain an exercise in mere conjecture.

In fact Kwankwaso should rather shut up and continue enjoying for now the product of the structural injustice and falsification and impunity by past military juntas. He is a beneficiary of high level impunity and social injustice and instead of keeping quiet and continuing enjoying such undeserved privilege, at least for now, Kwankwaso is provocatively annoying the victims of the long years of injustice by elements from his area.

He also asserted that South East has no population to justify the demand for an extra state. I sympathize with Kwankwaso on his myopic view. In fact I do not blame him for this disjointed view. Is Kwankwaso so insular as to know that people in arid areas are less populated than people from rain forest belt. Is he not aware from his social study and geography books that South East has the highest population density in Africa. Landmass is not the criteria for population density, else Sudan, Mali, Niger, Chad, Zaire, etc. would have been the most populated countries in the world. Is he not aware that in all states in Nigeria, Igbos form the single largest ethnic group after the indigenes of the state. It is now known why people like Kwankwaso have been stridently against the inclusion of ethnicity and religion in past census data in the country. They keep on basking on bogus and false population figures and use such in making false claims to our national patrimony which they largely contribute nothing to. ( Continues below..... )

Map of Nigeria

Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing its 36 states (all created by military juntas) and Federal capital (Abuja or FCT)-also created by a military junta.

For long they have used this deceit to cheat other parts of the country and because the senate and National Assembly now want to address this issue, people like Kwankwaso ae crying blue murder. Does he know the untold suffering of the people of South East because of structural marginalization since the end of the civil war? Has he ever stepped into any Igbo town to know the depth of population density there-in? Does he not know that even more than half of the population he claims come from Kano State are actually foreigners. By the way why is it that each time national issues that will make this country just and equitable are raised, irredentists like Kwankwaso will begin to shudder and play ethnic cards. What do people like him benefit from social injustice.

Why do people like Kwankwaso claim to be champions of the North when the same people he claims to be protecting are being wiped off in Jos, Benue, Taraba and other middle belt states. Who is fooling who? Is Kwankwaso truly speaking for the Gwari and Southern Kaduna people who are at the receiving end of the terrorism unleashed regularly by people that largely come from Kwankwaso's area. Let him know that the era of a Monolithic North for which people like him used to hoodwink innocent Middle Beltans is gone for good and forever. Middle Beltans are wiser today.

Rather than Kwankwaso spending all his energy to pillory a just move by progressive Nigerians to correct the injustices of the past, he should spend his time proffering solution to the Boko Haram tragedy that have held his Kano State and other parts of the North and Nigeria in quandary for the past few years. Nigerians have already agreed that South East needs at least one more state to put it at par with other zones. That it has not even been implemented till now is a greater injustice to them. Senator Ike Ekweremadu and the National Assembly should go on and do the right thing notwithstanding the antics of people like Rabiu Kwankwaso.

Chuks Ibegbu
A social analyst and writer on national and international issues. He wrote from Enugu.
08035410176

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10/01/12

*At 52 Nigeria Celebrates, Wobbles & Fumbles With Huge Debts, Corruption, Etc.

By Intersociety

Ref: Intersociety/NG/002/01/10/012/FMF/ABJ/FGN

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Finance Minister & Coordinating Minister of Economy
Federal Republic of Nigeria
Federal Ministry of Finance, the Federal Secretariat Complex
Abuja, Nigeria

Dear Coordinating Minister of Economy,

Nigeria Desperately Needs Another Iweala Magic As She Celebrates Huge Public Debts Of Approximately $100Billion (N15trillion), Outrageous Recurrent Expenditures, Corruption And Under-development At 52: A Document For Records & Socio-economic Revolution

Above subject matter refers.

(Onitsha-Nigeria, 1st October 2012)-On 3rd of September 2012, the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, Onitsha, Nigeria, released the first part of this topic; titled: How Nigeria’s Trillions & $44Billion Public Debts Are Pocketed By Her 17,500 Top Public Officers And Criminals (ref: intersociety-ng.org).

Main Summary:
The summary of this topic, which is a follow up to the first topic is that Nigeria, again, is a leading global indebted country and has gone back to the highly indebted poor country status (HIPC) which she exited via “Iweala Magic” in 2006; that the country’s current total public debts are approximated at $100billion or N15.5trillion; that by the end of the 2013 fiscal year, the country’s federal civilian governments would have made total budgets of N37.665trillion or $240billion from 1999, a period of fourteen years, out of which N21.7trillion would have gone for recurrent, N4.5trillion or $28billion for domestic and foreign debts servicing (excluding $12billion paid to liquidate $18billion foreign debts in 2006) and N11.3trillion for capital development; that Nigeria runs one of the most expensive public governances in the world far beyond her financial limits; that Nigeria borrows hugely and fraudulently too, to offset her huge overhead costs and service the country’s 17,500 top public officers and their approximately 24,165 inferior subordinates, thereby starving and impoverishing her approximately 160million citizens; that cabalistic criminals still dominate Nigeria’s public affairs; that corruption and social deprivations are entrenched and customized in the country’s polity; that Nigeria’s public wealth is controlled by less than one percent of the population; that approximately 60 million employable Nigerians including over 25 million higher education graduates are unemployed; that the state of public infrastructures including critical infrastructures in Nigeria is shockingly horrible; over 90% of the huge public spendings on personnel costs goes into the payment of allowances; that public governance in Nigeria has become a private enterprise with profit maximization as the end-product; that Nigeria has disastrously maintained a steady culture of budget deficit in place of balanced or surplus budget since 1999; that the last time Nigeria recorded a budget surplus was in 1997 under Abacha’s maximum rulership when N37billion was returned as surplus; and that Nigeria spends an average of 11.5% of her total federal revenues annually in domestic and foreign debts servicing, with the said debts remaining alarmingly high at all times.

Full Details:
Debts:
In the first part of this topic, the $44billion debts figure quoted was solely obtained from the official website of the Nigeria’s Debt Management Office. But our further investigations have revealed that the totality of public debts in Nigeria is much higher than the figures given by the DMO. Besides, the DMO has updated its records on public debts in Nigeria as at end of June 2012, from end of March 2012. Also, the DMO’s public debts records grossly omitted other versions of public debts in Nigeria. For example, its records did not include the domestic debts profiles of the 36 States, the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja and the 774 LGAs (local government areas), which can “borrow and lend” for public interests under the law. The records also did not include court judgment debts owed by the Federal and State governments and their MDAs, arrears owed contractors at Federal and States’ levels on jobs certified “done and completed”. The arrears owed serving and retired public workforce by Nigeria’s three tiers of government was not included in the DMO’s calculations. Contestably, informed independent sources strongly believe that the local and foreign debts figures disclosed by the DMO as Nigeria’s total public debts are grossly under-quoted. In other words, the actual figures are higher than the quoted.

For instance, the CIA World Fact Book 2012, one of the world’s most credible sources of information believes that Nigeria’s total foreign debts, as at December 31st 2011 was $12.06billion. This excludes the foreign borrowings of 2012. It also states that Nigeria generated $24.54billion (N3.63 trillion) in 2011 and spent $32.65billion (N4.9trillion), leaving a whopping deficit of $8.1billion (N1.24trillion). The Newswatch Magazine of June 15, 2012 similarly quoted informed independent sources as insisting that the Nigeria’s total domestic debts stock should be in the region of N9.1trillion if the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON’s bond of N3trillion and the DMO’S bonds issued in the months of April and May 2012 were included. The Federal Government of Nigeria, according to the respected Magazine, has also concluded arrangements to borrow in the next three years a total of $7.9billion (N1.2trillion). The loan, said to attract 2.5% interest, will be borrowed from World Bank, African Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, Agence Franciase de Development and Exim Bank of China. Out of this huge sum, $3billion (N465billion) is be borrowed from China. Already, $1.1billion (N170billion) has been secured from the Exim Bank of China. Another whopping sum of about $1billion loan has been secured from external sources including the Eurobond of $500million and another $370million reportedly secured from the Islamic Development Bank, with an outstanding balance of $600million to be taken from the same bank before the end of this fiscal year (Newswatch June 2012).

Further, according to the Debt Management Office, Nigeria’s total domestic debts as at 30th day of June 2012 stood at N6.15trillion, from N5.96trillion ($38.3billion) in March 2012, while the country’s total foreign debts within the period stood at $6.035billion from $5.9billion in March 2012. In other words, Nigeria’s domestic debts increased to N190billion while foreign debts recorded an increase of $135million within three months (April to June 2012). But the foregoing may most likely not be the true picture of Nigeria’s domestic and foreign debts profile even as at June 2012. Apart from domestic and foreign borrowings that took place between July and September 2012 and those to be borrowed before the end of the current fiscal year, informed independent sources including the CIA World Fact Book 2012 strongly believe that Nigeria’s domestic and foreign debts are much higher than figures given by the DMO. For instance, in 2005, Nigeria’s foreign debts were $36billion, out of which $30billion was liquidated leaving the balance of $6billion. Between 2007 and 2011, Nigeria has borrowed externally over $6billion, bringing the total to over $12billion. And between December 2011 and September 2012, Nigeria borrowed extra $3billion, thereby bringing the current total foreign debts of Nigeria to over $15billion (N2.3trillion).

Nigeria’s total domestic public debts are also wrongly calculated. For instance, apart from N9.1trillion believed by informed independent sources to be the actual total figure of domestic debts in Nigeria, other legitimate versions of domestic public debts are utterly excluded in the calculations. At the Federal level alone, approximately N1trillion is owed by the Federal Government and its MDAs to contractors, suppliers, consultants, etc on jobs certified done and completed. For instance, N88.38billion is owed as “judgment debts” by the Federal Government and its MDAs (Daily Trust Newspaper September 12, 2012). The Power Holding Company of Nigeria owes its contractors, suppliers and consultants a whopping sum of N400billion (Punch June 1, 2012). The Nigeria Police Force owed its contractors N7.4billion since 2008 and 2009. The contractors in the public construction sector are owed over N100billion by the Federal Government for jobs done and completed (This Day August 18, 2012), out of which the Federal Ministry of Works owes N60billion. Over N1trillion is still owed the serving and retired federal civil servants in Nigeria.

At the level of the 36 States of Nigeria, which substantially control the 774 LGAs in the country, over N3trillion debts may have arisen from reckless domestic borrowings, judgment debts and arrears owed contractors, suppliers, consultants, and serving and retired workforce. It is widely believed that an average of N50billion is domestically owed by every State in Nigeria including the FCT, Abuja. For instance, between 2011 and 2012, between N20billion and N50billion bond had been floated by many States in the local capital markets. Rivers and Delta States reportedly floated N100 billion each from local capital markets. Also Cross Rivers State maintains a domestic debt of N80billion; Akwa Ibom State obtained a bond of N50billion excluding other inherited domestic debts. Rivers State confirmed it only borrowed N30billion in October 2010 and another N20billion in July 2011. Ekiti and Osun States borrowed N20billion each within the said period (Punch August 9, 2012). Imo State owed over N100billion locally as at May 2011(Okorocha 2011). Also, Abia State owes approximately N100billion, out of which N29billion was inherited from the former regime of Orji Uzor Kalu(T.A. Orji 2010); and Bayelsa State owes locally a whopping sum of N207billion (Punch, August 9, 2012).

While Anambra State’s current foreign debt is $25.3million (N3.8billion), its domestic debts profile including arrears owed serving and retired workforce of some State parastatals such as Anambra State Broadcasting Service, Anambra State Water Corporation, Anambra State Newspaper Company, publishers of the National Light Newspaper, etc run into billions of naira as at September 2012. Though the State is one of the least locally and externally indebted States in Nigeria, its current local loan profile is largely shrouded in secrecy. Before the 2006 external debt forgiveness ably spearheaded by you, Madam Coordinating Minister of Economy, Anambra’s domestic and foreign debts stocks were over N40billion. These included $120milliom foreign debt and over N25billion local debt; out of which over N8billion was owed pensioners and serving workforce. Also part of the two sets of loan was the 2001 N2.9billion local bond for “Sir Louis Ojukwu Industrial Estate Project” (abandoned), a $10million loan for “Oba International Market Project” (abandoned) and an N650million loan for “Awka Stadium Project” (abandoned). While the $120million external loan has been brought down to $25million, thanks to the said 2006 external debt forgiveness, the present government of Anambra State has also liquidated some of the arrears so owed. It has commendably maintained a low loan policy and brought down budget deficits since 2008 except unpaid arrears above mentioned, which include unpaid local debts inherited from former regimes and the benevolent loans called “credit facilities with little or zero interest rates”, which it indisputably secures for strategic health, agricultural and educational projects. The present Government of Anambra State also does well in meeting its obligations to contractors, suppliers and consultants, with perhaps, the exception of judgment debts. In 2008, a whopping sum of N12.6billion was approved for local borrowing, but in 2009, it returned a surplus of N10billion to the State coffers without borrowing a dime. The State is an exception when it comes to reckless and fraudulent borrowings, but we wish to see it as a total debt-free State in Nigeria.

As you may have known Madam Minister, out of an estimated $15billion (N2.3trillon) owed externally by Nigeria as of date, the 36 States and the Federal Capital territory of Abuja owe a total of $2.214billion (N343billion). Geopolitically, Southwest zone owes the lion’s share of $840.9million (N131.8billion); followed by Northwest $473.3million (N77.5billion); South-south $289.9million (N45billion); Southeast $197.7million (N30.06billion), North-central $189.1million (N29.3billion); and Northeast $186.3million (N28.8billion). At the level of States, Lagos State owes the lion’s share of $517.6million (N80.15billion); followed by Kaduna $197.1million, Cross River $109.3million; Ogun $96.2million; and Oyo $78.8million. Borno is the least externally indebted State with 12.7million (N1.9billion); followed by Delta $15.7million; Plateau $20.1million; Taraba $20.6million; and Anambra $25.3million (DMO June 2012). The official exchange rate of N155.00 per USD is used by Intersociety in all its calculations in this topic.

Therefore Madam Coordinating Minister of Economy, it may be an indisputable fact to say that Nigeria’s current total domestic and external public debts are in the neighborhood of $100billion or N15.5trillion comprising the external loans of $15billion (N2.3trillion), judgment debts and Federal Government’s contractors’ debts of over N1trillion and local capital markets’ debts of N9.1trillion as well as its staffers’ arrears of over N1trillion. It also includes the States and the FCT’s local capital markets’ debts, contractors’ debts and workforce (serving and retired) arrears of over N3trillion, all amounting to over $100billion or N15.5trillion. As a result, Nigeria has again fallen back to the disastrous category of the “highly indebted poor country” status as well as one of the poorest countries in the world despite the abundance of human and highly profitable natural resources.

As you may have known Madam Coordinating Minister of Economy, Nigeria’s disastrous journey into hellish indebtedness started in 1965. By 1970, the country’s foreign debts substantially owed to the IMF stood at $970million, from which it rose to a whopping sum of $32.5billion in 2000. Through debt forgiveness of 2006, it was brought down to $6billion in December 2006, from its all time high of $36billion. But between June 2007 and September 2012, during Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan’s eras, it increased to about $15billion and by the end of the 2013 and 2014 fiscal years; it would be over $20billion or N3.1trillion. For domestic debts, their increase is alarming and shocking too. As at December 2006, the Federal Government’s domestic borrowings stood at N1.8trillion (about $13billion), from N28.44billion in 1986 (Igamu Joseph Augustus (Yusuf) (2012). But between June 2007 and September 2012 they increased to N9.1trillion, an increased of 500%, thereby making the President Jonathan’s regime, under whom you are the Coordinating Minister of Economy, the most indebted regime in the history of Nigeria because under him the increase was and still is astronomical.

Also, the productivity of these borrowings is totally questionable. Apart from their provocative use for servicing the country’s 17,500 top public officers and their 24,165 inferior aides and associated profligacy, the amount being spent annually in servicing them and the high interests at which they are borrowed, in addition to their non- judicious utilization, are alarming and deafening. For instance, Nigeria borrowed from the Paris Club of Creditors as at December 2001 a total of $13.5billion and spent a total of $41.2billion within the same period on its servicing. Yet as at December 2001, Nigeria owed the same Paris Club a total of $22.092billion. Between 2007 and 2012, a period of six years, Nigeria had spent a total of $19.52billion (N3.05trillion) on domestic and foreign debts servicing, yet the borrowings have alarmingly continued with associated steady increases in interests and penalties. The branch of the public debts that attracted this huge spending is the local capital market borrowings of N9.1trillion, which belongs to the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and the external capital market borrowings of $15billion shared by the FGN, States and the FCT. Despite the whopping sum of N560billion or $3.7billion provided for debts servicing in the 2012 budget, official increases of N190billion and $135million have been recorded in three months (April to June 2012) for local and foreign debts respectively. In 2011, N445billion or $2.9billion was spent on both domestic and foreign debts servicing; in 2010, N517billion or $3.35billion was spent; in 2009, N357billion or $2.34billion was spent; in 2008, N620billion or $4.05billion was spent; and in 2007, N492 or $3.18billion was spent (Appropriation Acts of the affected fiscal years).

Further, when a loan is borrowed, it carries three modes of repayment; that is to say principal, interests and penalties. According to the Newswatch Magazine of June 15, 2012, Nigeria’s local borrowings are obtained at an average interest rate of 10.5% with long unhealthy years of repayment. In 2010 for instance, Nigeria borrowed locally three major loans with twenty, five and three years’ repayment periods. Under the 20 years bond, Nigeria borrowed N412.30 with 20years interests of N1.18trillion. In other words, the country will repay a total of N1.59trillion in twenty years time in a loan of N412.30billion. For the $1.1billion (N165billion) recently obtained from the Exim Bank of China at the official interest of 2.5% with 30 years repayment period, it will cost Nigeria a whopping sum of $810million to service it excluding principal and penalties.

Nigeria’s Budgets Of The Few By The Few And For The Few:
Budget is realistic when it touches positively the lives of the generality of the people, tangibly and intangibly. Sadly, Nigeria’s budgets over the years (since 1999) have been oligarchic and anti-people’s driven. They are also loan-driven, corruption-ridden and anti-development. The greatest threat to Nigeria’s socio-economic and technological advancement is no longer her long years of military dictatorships but her years of “public machinery” budgets, which concentrate heavily on personnel and overhead spendings at the gross expense of capital developments. These reckless and outrageous spendings are also clothed in the layers of official criminality whereby substantial part of such spending is done outside the living law. Another major impediment to Nigeria’s growth and development is huge and reckless spending on allowances and overheads as well as profligacy.

Budget, as you know Madam Coordinating Minister of Economy is traditionally divided into capital and recurrent expenditures and recurrent is sub-divided into personnel and overheads. While overheads take care of maintenance of government machinery, personnel take care of the salaries and allowances of government appointees, electees and those hired to make government machinery work. Capital budget is the most productive component part of any budget and a country without dominant capital budget is doomed. Disastrously speaking, Nigeria’s capital budgets have been relegated to the third fiddle since 1999, steadily surpassed by personnel and overhead spendings.

Other organized and focused countries rarely borrow and even if they do, they borrow to enhance development and good living standards of their countries and nationals, but Nigeria borrows to pay salaries and allowances as well as to offset her huge overheads costs. Also budget has three performance indexes; that is to say: surplus, balanced and deficit. A budget surplus means excellent performance; balanced budget means good performance; and budget deficit means failure performance. Sadly, other than in 1997 when the Abacha’s maximum rulership returned a budget surplus of N37billion without borrowing a dime and after faithful implementation of the year’s budget, the successive civilian governments since 1999 have consistently run huge budget deficits. What they called “statutory transfers” at the beginning of every fiscal year are usually the remainders from non-capital releases and unspent loans, particularly the portion allocated to capital sub-sector. Sadly, recurrent expenditures usually attract over 100% implementation while capital expenditures with minute allocations attract less than 70% at the end of each fiscal year. This is despite the fact that allocations to capital development are less than 30% of the total budget. For example, as at July 2012, only N404billion (27%) had been released for capital expenditures, whereas the recurrent expenditures attracted over 70% releases.

By the end of the 2013 fiscal year, the Federal civilian Governments of Nigeria would have recorded a total budget of N37, 665trillion($240billion), that is to say from June 1999 to December 2013. Out of this huge figure, only N11.3trillion (30%) would have been spent on capital development; N21.7trillion ($145billion) representing 58.5% would have been spent on recurrent expenditures; while N4.5trillion ($28billion) representing an average of 11.5% (for each of the budgets) would have gone for domestic and external debts servicing. If the $12billion paid in 2006 for debt forgiveness is added, then Nigeria’s federal civilian governments would have spent a whopping sum of $40billion (N3.6trillion) in servicing and repaying her domestic and external debts since 1999, a period of 14 years. Yet Nigeria’s total public debts as of September 2012 including sundry arrears have remained at an alarming estimated rate of $100billion or N15.5trillion.

Also, in the six years of the military regime in Nigeria, 1994 to May 1999, a total budget of N1.305trillion was spent, whereas in the six years of the civilian rule, 2000 to 2005, a total budget of N7.22trillion including the 1999 supplementary budget of N165billion was spent. The frugal military budgets of N1.305trillion were far more public oriented than the bloated civilian budgets of N7.22trillion especially considering the fact that most of the public corporations privatized today were under the payroll of the military regime. The following breakdown of the military budgets shows that in 1994, N110billion was spent; it was N155billion in 1995; N174billion in 1996; N247billion in 1997; N200billion in 1998; and N419.5billion in 1999. In the area of the civilian regime’s budgets, 2000 to 2005, N165billion was spent in 1999 as supplementary budget; N667billion was spent in 2000; N894billion in 2001; N1.064trillion in 2002; N1.446trillion in 2003; N1.189trillion in 2004; and N1.8trillion in 2005. Also, in 2006, N1.9trillion was spent; N2.3trillion in 2007; N3.58trillion in 2008; N3.76trillion in 2009; N4.61trillion in 2010; N4.484trillion in 2011; N4.877trillion in 2012; and N4.929trillion has been proposed for 2013, totaling N37.665trillion in fourteen fiscal years, June 1999 to December 2013.

Bloated Allowances & Overhead Costs:
In 2002, the Nigeria’s Salaries & Allowances for Top Public Office Holders’ Act was enacted. The Act contained about 17,500 top appointive and elective public offices in Nigeria with majority of them located in the country’s 774 LGAs. About 13,500 of the offices are elective and 4000 others are appointive. The 17,500 top public offices include 12,788 LGAs top offices comprises 8,692 councilors and 3,096 executives; 1,152 State lawmakers and 2,664 State executives; 469 federal lawmakers and 472 federal executives, and 142 federal and 792 State judges bringing the total to approximately 17,500 top public officers in Nigeria. Their total annual salaries and allowances as at 2002 was N755billion. The passage of the said Act was done in a “commando style”. As if that was not enough, the Act was unilaterally reviewed upwards by 50% in 2008 and their total annual pay became N1.13trillion. In clear violation of the Act and the Constitution, these 17,500 top public officers also recruited approximately 24,165 inferior aides who are annually serviced with a whopping sum of approximately N20billion. The Act in line with the amended Constitution of Nigeria 1999 only recognizes special advisers and above for first class top public officers like the president and governors. The Act fragrantly allows the inclusion of personal assistance allowance clause into the motley of allowances paid to the said 17,500 top public officers.

While payment of salaries constitutes only 10% of the total annual pay for these 17,500 top public officers, payment of allowances alarmingly takes 90%. The N20billion spent annually on the 24,165 inferior aides is illegitimately sourced from both the Act and the allowances provided illegitimately in the Appropriation Acts called “quarterly allowances”. For instance, out of N592.8billion spent annually on 12,788 LGAs top officers in Nigeria, allowances account for N550.9billion while salaries account for only N41.8billion; out of N300.5billion spent on 2.664 State executives, allowances account for N272.1billion while salaries account for only N28.3billion. Out of N40.9billion spent on 1,152 State lawmakers N35.8billion is spent on allowances and salaries account for N5.09billion. Out of N98.3billion spent on 472 federal executives, N89.7billion is spent on allowances and salaries account for N8.6billion. Also, out of N60.4billion spent on 469 federal lawmakers, N54.2billion is spent on allowances and salaries account for only N6.1billion. Out of N18.5billion on 792 State judges, N15.4billion is spent on allowances and salaries account for only N3.1billion; and out of N14.8billion spent on 142 federal judges annually, N13.1billion is spent on allowances and salaries account for only N1.7billion.

In an investigation carried out by the Punch Newspaper of September 20, 2012, a Nigerian Senator earns an annual basic salary of N2.484million and enjoys fifteen categories of allowances, which are as follows: 1. Hardship allowance at 5% of his or her annual basic salary or N1.24million; 2. Furniture allowance at 300% BS (basic salary) or N7.452million; 3. Constituency allowance at 200% of BS or N4.96 million; 4. Newspaper allowance at 50% of BS or N1.242million; 5. Wardrope allowance at 25% of BS or N0.621million; 6. Recess allowance at 10% of BS or N0.248million; 7. Accommodation allowance at 200% of BS or N4.968million; 8. Utilities allowance at 30% of BS or N0.828million; 9. Domestic staff allowance at 35% of BS or N0.868million.

Others are: 10. Entertainment allowance at 30% of BS or N0.828million; 11. Personal assistance allowance at 25% of BS or N0.621million; 12. Vehicle maintenance allowance at 75% of BS or N1.863million, 13. Leave allowance at 10% of BS or N0.248million; 14. Severance allowance at 300% of BS or N7.452million; and 15. Motor vehicle allowance at 400% of BS or N9.936million, totaling N45.5million, out of which N18.1million is collected monthly, which translates to about N216million yearly. In other words, a Nigerian Senator collects a total of N498.7million in four years as salaries and allowances in accordance with the 2008 amended Salaries and Allowances Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, comprising monthly allowances of N216million per annum for four years, annual basic salaries of N9.93million for four years and N24.8million once in four years for motor vehicle, severance, furniture and accommodation allowances. In similar premise, each House of Reps Member in Nigeria goes home statutorily at the end of every four years with about N400million.

There are also illegitimate huge collections and allowances being pocketed by federal lawmakers and executives called “duty tour, estacodes, travel and quarterly allowances”. For instance, the Punch Newspaper of September 20, 2012 reported that each Senator is paid a whopping sum of N38million quarterly and N152million annually in the form of “quarterly allowance”. Each House of Reps Member is paid N27million quarterly and N108million annually. The Senate President is paid N250million quarterly and N1billion yearly. The Deputy Senate President is paid N150million quarterly and N600million yearly.

Using this benchmark, it may be correct to say that the Speaker of the House of Reps and the Deputy Speaker are paid N1.4billion yearly as “quarterly allowance”. The various standing committees and other principal leaderships in the Senate and the House of Reps may be collecting approximately N12billion per annum as quarterly allowance on average of N200million each per quarter. There may be over 60 standing committees and leaderships in the two houses. In all, there may be extra N60billion spent annually on the 469 federal lawmakers and their leaderships in the form of “quarterly allowances”. This huge sum is totally unknown to the Salaries & Allowances amended Act of 2008. Further breakdown shows that the 360 members of the House of Reps are paid extra N38.88billion annually (N27million each). The 109 Senators are paid N16.7billion (N38million each). The sum of about N3billion goes to the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps, while N12billion goes to their standing committees and others.

As if these were not enough, it was also reported in the said Punch Newspaper edition that the House members were agitating for further increase of N7million in the so-called “quarterly allowance” of N27million per member. The federal executive arm is also not left out in this official thievery legitimatised through criminal appropriations. It may be correct to say that the origin of the so-called “constituency projects” of N100billion in the federal budget initiated by the federal lawmakers is traced to the so-called “presidential safety net” of N100billion reportedly initiated by the federal executives, which has remained fiscally inexplicable to Nigerians for years. The conspiracy of the highest order between the federal lawmakers and the executives in this respect abounds. It may most likely be correct to say that two sets of salaries and allowances codes clearly exist in Nigeria today; the ones contained in the 2008 amended Salaries & Allowances Act and ones smuggled into the Appropriation Acts. It is no longer news that a Nigerian Federal lawmaker earns much more than each of the leaders of US, UK, Japan, France, South Africa, Germany, Belgium, South Korea, Russia, Portugal, the Council of Europe, Austria, Denmark and Mexico. In spite of these outrageous earnings and official thievery, Nigeria’s federal lawmakers’ legislative performance index is one of the lowest in the world. Their oversight duties, which are lowest in the standard legislative duties’ calendar globally, have taken over their core legislative duties because of their reported juicy nature. They no longer legislate for social change and welfare of the society but for their private pockets.

Observations & Demands:
Judging from the foregoing therefore, Nigeria has continued to wobble and fumble at 52 in spite of abundance of human and material resources. When a country is not envisioned in leadership, criminality and other social vices become the norm. Sadly, positive and democratic forces in the country such as the Nigerian Labour Congress/Trade Union Congress, Academic Staff Union of Universities, National Association of Nigerian Students, media, civil society organizations (rights & pro-good governance groups) and other socio-cultural groups have derailed from their social responsibilities of social re-engineering, constructive and developmental advocacy.

Nigeria features prominently and ceaselessly in all known negative social indexes globally and parades very corrupt, unpatriotic, criminal and visionless political leadership and very lazy, corrupt and unproductive public workforce. The country parades at least 25,000 modern medical specialists in USA alone yet her public health system remains killer-delivery. In the infant mortality, life expectancy, religional and global higher education performance, poverty reduction, security and crime, trade and investment, indebtedness and debt management, human rights records, sporting and youth development, global brain drain, foreign exchange reserves, job productivity and satisfaction, industrialization and economic development, employment and social benefits, corruption and abuse of office indexes, Nigeria has dangerously and perpetually remained in the red or danger list.

In the 1960s, China was busy destroying its cultural heritage (Cultural Revolution); today China has come from cave to become the world second largest economy with $3trillion in its foreign exchange reserves in 2012, from $700billion in 2006 and $2.3trillion in 2010. It still exports 40% of the world coal production. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan paid back their last foreign debts between 1972 and 1992, today, apart from having intimidating foreign exchange reserves, there are over 2,300 universities in China, 980 in Japan, 432 in South Korea and 172 in Taiwan including nine security and intelligence universities. In Nigeria, with the UN estimated population of 158million (2011), only 124 universities exist and none of them is research-based. Japan still sources 40% of its electricity from coal, while Nigerians spend N95.16trillion annually on powering their generating sets. Companies spend N93.6trillion; while individuals who own 60million generating sets in their homes spend N1.56trillion annually (CBN via Nigerian Compass Newspaper, August 20, 2010).

While India has 816million workforce as at 2010, Nigeria still maintains 57million workforce out of her 160million population. Most of the workers in Nigeria’s private sector are under-employed. The country still imports 98% of her human basic needs from overseas and an average Nigerian rich businessperson still engages in importation with at least N200million capital; a sum capable of building a medium scale industry with direct and indirect employment opportunities for hundreds of Nigerians. The $6.5billion (N1.04trillion) reportedly spent on 130 private jets mostly by criminally rich Nigerians has the capacity of building at least 105 large scale industries at N1billion each with direct and indirect employment capacity of 110.000 on average of 1000 jobs each. There are also over 25million unemployed higher education graduates in Nigeria. In 2000, the Federal Office of Statistics gave the total number of unemployed graduates in Nigeria as at then as 5.6million. Less than 5% of graduates from Nigeria’s 194 universities and university colleges secure employment annually. Organized crime (advance fee fraud and kidnapping), victimless crime (prostitution) and marriage are three leading alternatives to the country’s teeming unemployed graduates.

Our writing you, Madam Coordinating Minister of Economy at this year’s 52nd independence statehood of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is expressly predicated on the foregoing. It is time to think home and domesticate Nigeria. At 52, despite the privatization of the leading and critical public corporations in the country, things have gone to worst. There is no national carrier in Nigeria; jets land in Nigeria and refuel in Ghana; the country’s 445,000 barrels of crude oil meant for local consumption cannot be refined locally; FGN’s 30,000 kilometers of trunk A roads country-wide is only better than Somalian roads; insecurity and flood disaster have become an avenue for federal legislators and executives to enrich their pockets through bloated budget and call for supplementary budget instead of an avenue for remorseful national concern and proactive action. Defence budget for 2012 is N921billion; more than monies allocated to education, health and agriculture put together.

Illicit arms are available in Nigeria from left, right and center. 371,000 persons presently people the Nigeria Police Force and plans are underway to recruit additional 280,000 persons, yet the country’s security, particularly the security of lives and property of Nigerians remains porous. When other countries are busy embracing proactive, preventive and intelligence policing, Nigeria is busy staking her neck on reactive, manual and militarized policing. Our writing you is also to remind you of your 2006 magic in the area of economy and zero debt management, which saw Nigeria bouncing back economically and exiting the club of impoverish nations within one fiscal year including raising and payment in six months of a whopping sum of $12billion to the Paris Club of Creditors. Overseeing an economy of estimated $100billion debts; a declined foreign exchange reserves of $39billion and zero rainy day savings, is a big minus to your revered international reputation.

Therefore, we prayerfully urge you to recommend and push for the following: Amendment of all existing Acts of the Federation as they concern allowances paid to 17,500 top Nigeria’s public officers and other senior public /civil servants from level 13 and above, with a view to cutting down their allowances by 60% for 17,500 top public officers and 40% for other senior public/civil servants. One of those Acts to be amended is the Salaries & Allowances for Top Public Office Holders Act of 2002 as amended (2008). For instance, our express calculation is that if the N550billion spent annually on 12,788 LGAs top officers’ allowances is cut by 60%, then N330billion will be saved and channeled into capital development. Also all duplicated allowances like “furniture allowance” and “accommodation allowance” contained in the federal lawmakers’ allowances should be identified and deleted alongside those considered irrelevant and utterly wasteful.

   1. Abolition of quarterly allowances to the federal and State lawmakers and their executive counterparts (if any), under whatever names called and reduction of those allowances spent quarterly on the offices of the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps and their standing committees, etc by 60%. This should also be extended to State Assemblies and members of the Federal and State Executive Councils including president, vice president, governors and deputy governors.

   2. Strict adherence to the provisions of the Salaries & Allowances for Top Public Office Holders Act 2008 (amended) and abolition of dual allowances provided under whatever names called in the appropriation Acts, etc.

   3. Discontinuation of indiscriminate and outrageous hikes in the appropriation bills of the Federation especially by the National Assembly and MDAs and strict scrutiny of budget proposals of the National Assembly, especially its recurrent and overhead costs.

   4. Reversion of the Federal Appropriation Bills to 60% for capital development, 40% for recurrent expenditures including 5% for debt servicing.

   5. Under recurrent expenditures: reduction of all overheads by 40% including the security votes and other relevant overheads of the presidency, the governors and leaderships of the federal and State legislative chambers.

   6. Cutting down the overhead and personnel spending on defence and increasing its capital spending for renovation of barracks, construction of new ones, procurement of security vehicles and modern policing tools and building of security intelligence universities. Also, the planned recruitment of 280,000 more persons into the NPF should be put on hold and serving ones re-trained on modern and scientific policing. A situation where the huge sum of N921billion (2012 defence budget) is spent to track down young physicists from some northern universities and polytechnics who make and use local explosive devices made and corked in used “coca cola and fanta” cans, with Libyan and Somalia-bound AK-47s, speaks volume of political leaders in Nigeria replicating “blood diamond” saga in Sierra Leone and Liberia, akin to merchants of death.

   7. Placing a national moratorium on local and foreign borrowings and proactive management (repayment and reduction) by federal and State governments of the existing debts.

   8. Merging federal ministries, parastatals and departments and cutting down the number of ministers and special advisers as well as reducing the present number of inferior public aides (approximately 24,165) in Nigeria by 60%. Huge expenditures associated with official foreign travels by the executives and the legislators in the country should be drastically cut down.

   9. Exposing Nigeria’s enormous investment potentials to the outside world, not by globetrotting, but by addressing frontally problems of insecurity, awkward trade policy/legislation, and corruption and epileptic power failure.

   10. Abolishing from the Appropriation Acts the so-called constituency projects that engulf N100billion annually and removing the so-called “presidential safety Net” if still found that also consumes N100billion annually.

   11. Ensuring that the DMO keeps to its recent public promise of releasing the domestic debts profiles of the 36 States and the FCT by the end of October 2012, which have for years been shrouded in uttermost secrecy.

   12. Amending the EFCC and the ICPC acts of the Federation to provide for stiffer sanctions especially to provide for longer years of jail sentence. A situation whereby an embezzler of N50billion is sentenced for six months imprisonment whereas a stealer of bush meat is sent to five years jail term is socially abominable and globally abhorrent.

   13. Making the Chapter Two of the Constitution legally actionable or as “Fundamental Human Rights”.

   14. Passing the Social Security Bill into law and ensuring that it is fully implemented.

   15. Granting full autonomy to the Nigerian Local Government System and abolishing the so-called “States and Local Government Joint Accounts”.

For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, Nigeria
Email: info@intersociety-ng.org
Website: intersociety-ng.org

Emeka Umeagbalasi
Chairman, Board of Trustees
+234(0) 8033601078, +234(0) 8180103912

Comrade Justus Ijeoma
Head, Publicity Desk

CC:
Senator Pius Anyim
Secretary to the Government of the Federation

Emeka Umeagbalasi

Photo Above: Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Intersociety, 41, Miss Elems Street, Fegge, Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria.
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Nigeria Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Photo Above: Nigeria Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

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09/30/12

Permalink 10:22:00 am, by admin Email , 426 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News, Nigerian News, South East News, African Issue, Tellers and Global Viewers

*Nigeria: Double Award for Gov. Obi on Prudence & Good Governance

-Masterweb Reports

Gov. Peter Obi of Anambra State has received multiple awards for his exemplary conduct in Government. The Golden Award on Prudence was awarded to him by the Methodist Church of Nigeria as the most financially prudent governor in Nigeria. The award was presented to him at the Congress Hall of Transcorps Hilton Hotel in the night of Thursday by the Primate of the Methodist Church, Most Rev. Ola Makinde.

The award, according to Methodist Church, was more of a way of encouraging him to do more for the State and the Country. The Church said it was a thing of celebration that In spite of many achievements in Anambra State by Governor Obi, that he had never borrowed a kobo nor raised a bond as is fashionable these days. ( Continues below….. )

Anambra State Peter Obi receiving the Golden Prudence Award

Photo Above: Gov. Peter Obi (left), receiving the Golden Prudence Award from the Primate of Methodist Church, His Eminence, most Rev. Ola Makinde at Transcorps Hilton Hotel on Thursday.

One of the Bishops of Methodist Church said the choice of Obi was after a thorough distillation process.

In another development, The Ezeife Leadership Foundation also bestowed Gov. Obi with Leadership and Good Governance Award, for restoring peace and harmony to Anambra State, thus removing her from a pariah State to a State that Anambra people and Nigerians are proud of.

In his reaction, Obi said that he had the policy of not accepting awards, because of his belief that those in Government should ideally be honoured after leaving office when their actions and omissions should be dispassionately assessed. However, he said that he was compelled to accept some awards because of the credibility and pedigree of those behind it. "In the case Methodist award, who am I to reject it based not just on persons there, but on the institution involved. ( Continues below….. )

Anambra State Governor Peter Obi

Photo Above: Governor Peter Obi

He thanked the Methodist Church for their service to God through serving humanity. He assured that his Government would continue to work harmoniously with the Church and pointed out the return of schools with the grant of 6 Billion Naira and the support to Church health institutions to the tune of 3 Billion as examples.

Gov Obi assured Anambra people and Nigerians in general that he would not for a second relent in his fidelity to the common good build on his ever present desire to contribute to the advancement of civilization.

Article Source: Masterweb Reports

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09/28/12

*Nigeria: NEITI Releases Audit Reports in the Oil and Gas Sector

-Masterweb Reports

Masterweb Reports - Tuesday, September 25, 2012: The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has recently carried out physical and process audits of Nigeria’s petroleum industry from 1999-2008. NEITI is the national version of the global multi- stakeholders’ initiative to promote transparency and accountability in the management of extractive resources with the view to aiding sustainable development with specific target on poverty reduction, elimination of social conflicts and creation of peaceful business environment.

The Audit reports showed that the federal government earned a total sum of 269 billion USD from the oil sector between 1999-2008. Within this period also, 92billion USD was received from oil specific taxes, the sum of 5 billion USD from non-oil specific taxes from oil companies while 172billion USD was received from the sales of government equity crude. ( Continues below….. )

Workers at work in a Nigerian oil rig

Photo Above: Workers at work in a Nigerian oil rig

However, while this height was achieved, losses were also witnessed. The audit showed that Nigeria lost 2.6billion USD due to leakages in the system. Also, a whooping sum of 9.890billion USD which came from the failure of some companies to cooperate with the audit reports was lost.

NEITI Chairman, Ledum Mitee said that the significance of this loss which is equivalent to N1.373trillon was capable of wiping out the current fiscal deficit in the 2012 Federal Government budget financing. ( Continues below..... )

Nigerians queue up to buy fuel at a filling station

Photo Above: Nigerians queue up to buy fuel at a filling station.

Speaking on, he stated that the potential revenue loss due from under assessment/under payments has remained outstanding not just out of the refusal of the companies and covered entities to pay but also, the insufficient efforts of the concerned government agencies to recover the funds which the country desperately needs especially at this time.

He therefore pleaded with companies and stakeholders in the extractive industries including other relevant agencies of government to always cooperate with NEITI in order to ensure that transparency and accountability which it aims at is achieved.

Victor Igiri ( igiriadirahu@ymail.com )

Article Source: Masterweb Reports

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09/26/12

*Igbo World Assembly (IWA) Holds 4th Convention In Asaba, Delta State

[ News Roundup ]

Igbo World Assembly (IWA) in collaboration with the apex Igbo socio-cultural body, Ohaneze Ndigbo reserved the 26-27 day of September for the IWA Convention as part of the Igbo Remembrance Day program of Ohaneze Ndigbo, 26-30 September.

This has been a yearly activity by Igbo World Assembly, an umbrella organization for all the Major Igbo Diaspora organizations.

IWA believes in the principle of focusing on development in the entire Igboland.

The theme for this year is "Actualisation of Igbo Agenda & Youths Empowerment. All roads lead to Nelrose Hotel Complex, Government House road, Asaba, Delta State where the event is now taking place. The choice of Asaba for this Year's Igbo Remembrance Day tells a lot about Igbo unity. Many people have the erroneous believe that Igbo has disintegrated as planned by our detractors, but what many do not know is that the plan to disintegrate Ndigbo will only work for a given time, because Igboness is a factor embedded in every igbo child, and it will always rear up its head no matter how down it is down pressed. This is why our elders say "Agwö apughi imu ihe di ogologo"

Ndigbo, Anioma Nine, Anyi Ekeneeo!

Masterweb salutes IWA and Ohaneze
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*Whither Nigeria?

By Valentine Obienyem

The wise one says that education comes one-forth from others, one-forth from experience, one-forth from travel and one-forth from the classrooms. Should we agree with him, it means that any time we travel is an opportunity to broaden our knowledge about the world and its peoples. If we are critical, it also offers us the opportunity to compare our country with others in terms of progress and development. This experience is many times magnified when we venture into alien states/countries that do not share the same culture with us.

I have had the opportunity to travel to over 20 countries. I must confess that apart from Haiti, I have always felt dejected and a certain sense of regret on coming back to Nigeria from any of these trips. I cannot here talk about Arab countries. The last Arab country I visited was Bahrain and the common observation is that these people are busy deploying their oil money in building their countries. Even Bangladesh, with poverty written all over her, is much more organized than we are. Though lacking in natural resources, countries like Ethiopia and Kenya are busy building and perfecting those little things that generate income for them. All over Kenya, one sees flowers that are exported to Europe. These countries National Carriers: Kenyan and Ethiopian Airlines are study in patriotism even when we could not sustain ours. But whatever one observes about Nigeria is a call for all of us to sit up and contribute our quotas to make it work in a positive, healthy manner for it remains our country. A certain Moroccan traveler, on returning from a visit to Europe, exclaimed: “What a comfort to be getting back to civilisation.” The man, like us, had no other country and is affected by provincialism. ( Continues below..... )

 Police officer extorting N50.00 from a motorist

Photo Above: Police officer extorting N50.00 from a motorist, November 30, 2011
CLICK FOR ENLARGED PHOTO.

If we want to be truthful to ourselves, many things are wrong in Nigeria. I am one of those who regret the timing of our independence. Events of today have shown that we were not psychologically prepared for that momentous event in history. Many of our nationalists evidently did not even understand what independence means. What was supposed to be an epochal liberation of Nigerians from shackles of slavery ended up enslaving us all the more! Let us face it, what have we achieved since independence? Colonialists, without oil money, succeeded in providing some basics things of life for our people in the spirit of the times. Look at the railway, for example, rather than build on their legacy, we succeeded in killing that institution. One can go on and on.

When one travels out, the inadequacies of our country stares one on the face. The moment we arrived Atlanta Hartsfield Airport for immigration formalities, I said to my colleague, that if any of our airports were to handle 1% of the traffic this airport handled, that it would be catastrophic for the country. One noticed over 50 immigration clearance cubicles that are professionally handled. On the contrary, on entering the Murtala Mohammed airport, one is confronted by faulty mechanized staircases, acute shortage of spaces, air conditioners that are not working and annoying cathartic reaction to situations. One notices about three or at most four cubicles handling immigration matters amidst a host of immigration officers busy prancing all over the place looking for those they will support to breach the rules for pittances. In other climes, on arrival at baggage claiming points, the luggage are already at those points, but in our own case, one is compelled to wait for hours! ( Continues below..... )

James Ibori

Photo Above: Disgraced and Jailed Delta State Governor, James Ibori

I have even forgotten to start from check-in formalities at the point of travel. I have not witnessed any country where today, one sees combined forces of Immigration, Customs, NDLEA and many other unidentifiable bodies, gloves in hands, searching one’s luggage menacingly. Does it mean our screening machines do not work like those of other countries?

We must at this juncture commend the present Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Odua. In her one could see the efforts of one who was equally disenchanted with the State of our airports. If other past Ministers individually or collectively did 20% of what she is doing now, that sector would have not been a problem today.

We also commend the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Muhammed Abubakar for showing signs of preparedness to reform one of the most problematic institutions in Nigeria, the Police Force. The abolishing of road blocks is one necessary step he has taken that he will for a long time be remembered for. It signaled to observers, the first step towards the return of professionalism to the Police, which Nigerians perennially yearn for. Nigerians do not know that all those AK 47 that Nigerian Police carry are meant for war. In many countries of the world, the presence of such weapon on the street will only signify a state of war. The IG should strengthen the intelligence arm of the force since crime is better fought through intelligence than display of raw force. If not for intelligence deployed in the arrest of Ofe Akwu, at whose compound military ammunition were found, that contingent of Police that arrested him would have been over powered by the array of ammunition in Ofe Akwu’s superior amoury . ( Continues below..... )

Tafa Balogun, Nigeria's former Inspector-General of  Police in cuffs being taken to court  April 4, 2005,  after arrest for corruption.

Photo Above: Tafa Balogun, Nigeria's former Inspector-General of Police in cuffs being taken to court by EFCC April 4, 2005, after arrest for corruption.

One of the problems of fighting crime in our country is that our security personnel talk too much. The Americans prepared for the storming of Bin Laden’s abode for almost a year and yet nobody heard of it. What are the gains of telling us that the confession of Ofe Akwu led to the arrest of another armed robber at Ihiala? If there are other armed robbers connected to him and they hear this, would they not run for dear life always believing that he may have also confessed about them as well? The police would achieve more results if they even told us that the man became deaf and dumb the moment he was arrested, while secretly making use of information they got from him.

As I fiddled with my computer, light did not go off and all amenities seem to work. But vis-à-vis our country, one is bound to be angry with the system. The energy we should by now be deploying in other areas is now deployed to those things that we ought to have taken for granted. What is painful is that when quantified, you will see that Nigeria had actually sunk in more money into those areas than the countries where they are working ever did. Our critics, rather than consistently point this out, forget criticisms once a carrot is dangled before them.

One of our greatest problems is lack of genuine critics in the country. In Anambra for example, we have many armchair critics some of who have not visited the State in 6 years and analyses events only by synthesis. The more the State has a Governor ready to do the right things the more the criticisms are mounting. Those people do not devote a moment’s reflection on the future of the State. They are ready to bring down the roof on everybody once they are not benefiting, directly or indirectly. Today, rather than point out the infrastructural deficit to those that govern states, we have some who want us to believe they are critics labouring in vain and amusingly to stop the President from visiting Anambra State to lend support to obvious efforts to emancipate the State. I think that all in all, they do not actually know what they are doing and deserve our sympathy. ( Continues below..... )

Map and Flag of Nigeria

Photo Above: Map and Flag of Nigeria

From a State where bedlam, rape and rapine reigned, Obi has returned it to civilization through tortuous efforts that almost consumed him as he had to fight against Principalities and Powers. Today, rather than a subject for dinner jollity, Anambra has become a changed state used as an example when one intends to discuss good and focused leadership, but the opposition he gets is from the home front. This is tragic!

Today, we also have a President who is truthful to the country and to himself. You can only appreciate him if you have followed his policies. Sometimes he treads carefully because the monster that has been created in Nigeria needs a Hercules to deal with it. Take the issue of petroleum subsidy and you will shudder at how a clique steal our common patrimony and are infinitely ready to deploy it to fight any person that challenges them. So far, the President is doing well, we only ask that he does not relent nor give in to the pressure from these buccaneers.

I laugh when some people associate timidity or naivety with our President. I was in France when he met with the President of that country. I remember that answering one question posed to him, he spoke about Nigeria in a manner that made me to be proud of him. He talked about Nigeria, including her different vegetations, from Sahel through Guinea/Savannah to tropical rainforest in a manner that made us proud of him. His comments about Nigeria are devoid of pretences. We have a President that acknowledges that Nigeria has problems created over the years and is genuinely committed to our getting it right.

We cannot solve Anambra or Nigeria’s problems through protecting our narrow interests as most Nigerians do. If you have followed development in Anambra, you will agree with me that what we need is not a Chudi Offodile, who is busy doing trubom trubom ka amaru onye o ga ato be ya with me, but genuine critics who should be ready at all times to criticise and commend, as well as offer ideas without looking at their cash values for they are priceless. Obienyem is based at Awka.

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