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S418M Paris Club Refunds: Governors Tackle Malami

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*AGF’s action self-serving, fraudulent

*We’ll pursue matter to Supreme Court

Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN) yesterday came under scathing criticism over his position on the controversial $418 million Paris Club consultants’ fee.

The 36 states’ chief executive officers, under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), described the AGF’s action as self-serving.

The NGF’s position was contained in a communique issued at the end of its meeting, held at the Conference Hall of the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
It was read to reporters by its Chairman Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who is Ekiti State Governor.

The NGF and the AGF have been at loggerheads over the latter’s insistence that the cash is deducted from the states’ allocation from source to pay consultants hired to push the cause of the governors.

Malami, who featured on a Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) programme on Tuesday, said the issue of the payment would be resolved before the expiration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure on May 29 next year.

According to the AGF, it was established that the payment was outstanding.

He said: “This is a point that they are in no way contesting. When this matter became an issue of the judicial contest, ALGON (Association of Local Governments of Nigeria) and the Governors’ Forum submitted a consent judgment before a court of law, agreeing that these deductions are effected and payment is made.”

He said they engaged a consultant, submitted to a consent judgment, provided a letter of no-objection by ALGON and letters of indemnity by the governors, as well as approved that the Federal Government should effect payments.

“Are we now saying that the Federal Government should allow itself to be subjected to ridicule and embarrassment arising from the attachment of its assets, taking into consideration that, at a point, action is instituted against Federal Government, and this time, joining ALGON as a plaintiff against the government and you think the AGF will fold his arms and allow judgment against the interest of the Federal Government?

“The implication is that the government will be embarrassed, its assets will be attached; including financial assets, foreign reserves and any other associated income deposited with the Central Bank of Nigeria can now be executed upon and payment made to the consultant. It’s an inherited issue and we are trying to address it as a government of the day.”

But Fayemi said the governors have resolved to pursue the issue, which is before the law court, to a logical conclusion.

Insisting that the planned deductions from the state’s allocations to settle the controversial consultancy fee would amount to illegality as the matter is before the courts, the NGF alleged that Malami is not acting in the public interest.
The communique reads: “The forum extensively reviewed the purported attempt by the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Finance to circumvent the law and a recent judgment of the Supreme Court, to secure the approval of the Federal Executive Council to effect illegal payment of the sum of $418 million to contractors who allegedly executed consultancies in respect to the Paris Club Refunds to state and local governments.

“The forum set up a committee comprising the Chairman, the governor of Ekiti State, the Vice Chairman, the governor Ondo State, the governor of Plateau State, the governor of Nasarawa State and the governor of Ebonyi State, to interface with the committee set up by Mr. President to review the matter.
But the position of the Governors’ Forum is clear and unequivocal. Although this matter is sub-judice and we are very reluctant to get in the way of a matter that is still being pursued in the courts, we are constrained by the manner in which the Honorable Attorney-General has been going around various media houses and purporting to create the impression that this is a liability to which governors have committed themselves to and agreed to, even though he is very much aware that that’s not the case.

“We reject all of the claims that he has made on these issues and we also insist that states will not give up on insisting that these purported claims will not stand, as far as governors are concerned, and we will use every constitutional and legal means to ensure that these purported consultancies are fully litigated upon by the highest courts in the land. If the courts now find governors and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and states liable, then, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

“As far as we are concerned, this is a matter that governors feel very strongly about and we do not believe that the Attorney-General is acting in the public interest.

“We believe he’s acting in personal, selfish interest that would ultimately become clear when this matter is fully addressed in the law courts.”

Governors seek solutions to economic problems, ASUU strike
The governors also deliberated on the prevailing economic and security situation in the country, resolving to intervene by engaging with the Federal Government and other stakeholders to deliberate, and suggest immediate action plans to ameliorate the current situations.

They said: “The Forum extensively discussed the state of the Nigerian economy and security, following a presentation by Mr. Bismarck Rewane, member of the President’s Economic Advisory Council.

“The Forum resolved to immediately engage with the Federal Government and other critical stakeholders; Labour, the presidential candidates of political parties, and corporate actors on finding resolutions and suggestions to implement a set of immediate actions to ameliorate the worsening economic conditions in the country.”

On the prolonged industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the communique said: “The forum encourages the Federal Government and ASUU to find meaningful resolutions to the lingering impasse and as proposed to engage with both parties, just as we have done in the past, in a bid to ending the strike.”

NGF promises improved funding for primary health care
The Forum also resolved to increase funding for the health care sector and encourage fiscal transparency in states.
It reads: “One, the Forum launched a Primary Health Care Leadership Challenge, a flagship programme to revamp the primary health care under the one-roof policy in the country by maximising the commitment of state governors to primary health care under one roof, promoting progressive increase in primary health care funding, and ensuring all primary health care centres have the requisite human resource capacity.

“The leadership challenge is a joint project of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Aliko Dangote Foundation, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCD).

“Starting from December 2022, the challenge will be anchored on a total of 13 awards to state governments, consisting of 12 awards for the best performing and most improved states in every zone and one award for the overall best performing most improved state.”

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Economy

BREAKING! Currency Swap: President Buhari Approves 10-day Extension

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In response to agitations for the extension of Tuesday’s deadline for swapping of old Naira notes for the redesigned ones, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the extension of the exercise by ten days.

This is according to reports from Daura, the President’s country home in Katsina State where has been on a State visit.

The reports indicate that the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, arrived Duara, early Sunday morning for a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

Details later…..

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Nigeria Energy Dialogue, Ministry Partner on Methanol Fuel Technology

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By Dorcas Jonah

The Nigeria Energy Dialogue (NED) has partnered with the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation to unveil the Methanol Fuel Production Technology.

The Executive Director of NED, Frank Edozie said this at the ongoing 2023 Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation Expo on Tuesday in Abuja.

Edozie who said the partnership was a revolution simplified by technology, said it would also drive the country’s vision for a clean, safe and available energy.

He said methanol is a transportable energy that can be used to power industries, rural electrification and household energy with a multiplier effect on the economy through job creation.

“We will get our people to work as many people needed accessible energy. The beauty of it is we are talking about technology that is there.

“We will build on Brass Methanol and numerous methanol projects across the country.

“We don’t see this as an alternative; it will eventually become the main source of energy because it is green and accessible.

“The more it is deployed, the cheaper it becomes until it gets better current cost of energy,” he said.

Edozie said that the technology convert gas methanol to hydrogen fuel cells for multiple uses across the energy space in Nigeria.

The director this was coming at a time Nigeria was almost completing the construction of Brass Methanol plant, in partnership with Sun Hydro Energy Limited and Clean Energy Resources.

Also speaking, Dr Peter Ekweozoh, Director, implementation of Methanol value chain in Nigeria, said that Methanol Fuel technology implementation would assist Nigeria achieve its obligation under the Paris agreement.

Ekweozoh said that the project would reduce global warming in various sectors of the economy by reducing hydrocarbon emission footprints.

“This technology will help to improve our transportation system, because we are going to use hydrogen fuel cells or Methanol which has low carbon footprints to drive vehicles when fully adopted by Nigerians,” he said.

He said that 40 million jobs would be generated in two years from the methanol production value chain.

He said it would also generate cheap quality affordable clean and trusted energy to power the rural areas in Nigeria.

Dr Offiong Archibong Anyanwu, Programme Director for NED, said the project would create a platform for stakeholders in the energy sector to ensure that net zero was achieved.

“The objective of this partnership is to sustained focus on the momentum that has been made on methanol in Nigeria, and this will ensure cleaner source of fuel for cars, household applications and industries,” she said.

Anyanwu added that methanol was the future of energy, expressing hope that this achievement of the Buhari’s administration would not be swept under the carpet by the next administration.

She said this was because Methanol was already used across the system and since technology was not static, it was imperative that the current government build on the momentum methanol hence the slogan BOOMM.

Dr. Joy Ogaji, Chief Executive Officer, Association of Power Generating companies in Nigeria expressed confidence in the revolutionary move to possible cheaper fuel to power generation companies in Nigeria.

She said if methanol is properly packaged and implemented, power generation companies can have better access to cheaper fuel.

Joy also said it will at the long run bring about the climate change and draws closer to meeting our net zero 2060.(NAN)

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Economy

CBN Domestic Card Scheme Takes off

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The Central Bank of Nigeria, in line with its mandate to promote stability, inclusion and growth in the financial and payment system, has introduced a national domestic card scheme that becomes effective on January 16, 2023.

Although the bank is yet to disclose the procurement cost and operational charges, Nigerians will from Monday receive a new electronic card for local transactions that will be charged in Nigeria.

The card payment scheme processes payments using debit and credit cards.

The card is expected to compete with other debit cards, including Mastercard, Visa, and Verve cards operating in Nigeria.

The CBN, in conjunction with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc and the Bankers’ Committee made the announcement of the new card scheme at a press briefing in October last year.

At the conference, the Managing Director of NIBSS, Premier Oiwoh, explained that the domestic card scheme would reduce the operating costs of cards in the country for both the issuers and users.

“The card would be optimised for local content solely for the Nigerian market and support micropayment and credit, e-government, identity management, transportation, health and agriculture regarding payment,” Owoh added.

The CBN’s Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr Osita Nwanisobi, also corroborated Oiwoh’s position, explaining that Nigeria’s payment ecosystem has grown and can buoy a domestic card scheme.

“Considering the strength and breadth of its banking sector and the rapid growth and transformation of its payments system over the last decade, Nigeria is ideally positioned to successfully launch a national card scheme”, he said.

The new card, expected to unify payments across the banking landscape, is coming at a time Nigerians are fighting commercial banks over alleged dubious and duplicitous charges on their cards.

The card will be delivered through Nigeria’s central switch, the NIBSS, in conjunction with the Bankers Committee and other financial ecosystem stakeholders.

Today’s deployment will enlist Nigeria into the growing list of countries like India, Turkey, China, and Brazil that have launched similar cards for domestic use.

The CBN said, “The domestic card scheme will be an important game changer for financial inclusion in Nigeria.

“The plan is to deliver Africa’s first central bank-driven, domestic card scheme that combines a fully domestic infrastructure with international interoperability. Our plans will enable us to pivot into the largest card scheme in Africa, and amongst the biggest globally.”

However, it could not be ascertained yet if Nigerians would be able to use it for international transactions as its application is for now restricted to local shores.

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