State House

The National Economic Council was on Thursday given an interim briefing on the NEC Working Group’s assignment on herdsmen-farmers clashes.

The Bauchi State Governor, Mohammed Abubakar, told State House correspondents this at the end of a meeting of the council presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The council, which was chaired by Osinbajo, had all the 36 state governors, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and some relevant ministers as members.

The Bauchi State governor said Osinbajo, who headed the NEC committee, delivered the interim briefing.

Abubakar quoted the Vice-President as saying that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the rebuilding of communities affected by the recent clashes.

He stated that Osinbajo also said the President had approved the establishment of a committee saddled with the responsibility of deciding the modalities to be adopted in rebuilding the communities.

“The Vice-President informed the council that the President has approved the formation of a committee to look into the issue of rebuilding affected communities and providing welfare and other facilities as may be considered appropriated.

“The President has asked that the Vice-President head the committee,” the governor said.

He further quoted Osinbajo as reporting to the council that the group, which he headed, had met twice and formed a technical sub-committee chaired by the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi.

He said the sub-committee was given the assignment of consultations with some of the affected communities, adding that the working group would give a detailed report at the end of the work of the sub-committee.

He added, “The Vice President also reported that the working group has noted the need for a joint military-police operation to manage violent outbreaks where required while also calling for more efficient intelligence gathering.

“The working group also calls for the use of the military force to flush out bandits whose activities have been linked to the clashes, as well as engagement with traditional leaders to foster peace in their communities.

“The group noted that an agro rangers corps should be trained to provide security around the ranches, livestock production centres and grazing routes.

“It also noted that the land use laws and regulations invest the states with power over land titles and use, while the Vice-President added that the Federal Government will not impose on state governments. The FG will only share templates on best practices for the conduct of livestock production and business.”

The governor also said the Group General Manager of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Maikanti Baru, briefed the council on Premium Motor Spirit supply and the cost of under-recoveries arising from the difference between importation cost and the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency cut off market price.

Baru reportedly told the council that the PMS open market price was continuously shaped by crude oil price volatility in the international market with the attendant cost under-recoveries due to differential between actual supply and distribution.

He informed members that favourable market conditions encouraged private participation by independent marketers in Nigeria between May and September 2016.

Baru was said to have explained that there was currently a sudden decline in private participation in Nigeria due to decline in favourable market condition and also the sudden shock in consumption which was overstretched.

The Bauchi State governor said, “The GMD of NNPC submitted his report and the NEC has a committee that has been interfacing with all revenue generating agencies of the Federal Government under the chairmanship of the governor of Gombe State.

“That committee has been given the responsibility of interfacing with the NNPC with a view to determining the correct price for PMS considering the price of the product in especially countries that are bordering Nigeria because that is one reason that encourages smuggling of the products to these areas.”

On how some Federal Government’s revenue generating agencies had been engaging in under-remittance of revenue, the Lagos State Deputy Governor, Oluranti Adebule, told State House correspondents that the council received the final report on the forensic audit of the agencies as regards the revenue accrued into the Federation Account, Excess Crude Account and Consolidated Revenue Fund.

She said the report which was prepared by the audit firm, KPMG, concerned 18 agencies including the NNPC Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigeria Customs Services, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Communication Commission, Central Bank of Nigeria, Department of Petroleum Resources and the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited, among others.

The report, she explained, covered the period between January 2010 and June 2015.

The Lagos deputy governor said, “The report observed several cases of under-remittance and a few over-remittance.

“There were also late remittances into the various accounts. It therefore recommended that NEC should decide on repayment plans for all concerned, as well as stepping up oversight function on the relevant agencies to ensure remittance as and when due.

“It also recommended the proper and regular auditing of the amount of the RGAs and those of the FG. It also said there was the need for annual review of the agencies.

“Council received the report and resolved that the Ad-hoc NEC committee on the matter be expanded to include a lawyer and an accountant. The committee would study the KPMG report and report back to council at its next sitting for possible adoption.

“The Federal Government officials, including the CBN Governor, the Ministers of Finance, Budget and National Planning and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, would join the expanded committee to also take a look at the report.”

The Special Adviser to the President on Special Investment Programme, Maryam Uwais, gave an update on the programme, which she said had recorded total direct beneficiaries of 7,812,201 and secondary beneficiaries of 1,500,000, mainly farmers and cooks.

Uwais put the total actual spending on the programme in 2016 and 2017 at 15.58 per cent of the budgets.

She listed some of the challenges facing the programme to include corrupt practices in states, such as short-changing, racketeering and harassment of beneficiaries, exploitation of the vulnerable due to poor levels of literacy, as well as monitoring and communication problems resulting from insufficient awareness/publicity.

To surmount the problems, the presidential aide said the government was collaborating with various organisations within and outside the government in the areas of monitoring and security.

In a statement later made available to journalists, the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, was said to have put the balance in the ECA as of February 14, 2018, at $2,317,252,449.57; Stabilisation Fund Account, N11,290,664,060.06; and the Natural Resources Development Fund at N123,624,644,411.24.

On the budget support loan facility, Idris said 23 states had accessed the facility out of which 11 states received in January 2018, adding that the remaining 12 states would soon get theirs.

Out of the remaining 13, he said five states had complied with the Fiscal Sustainability Plan and would be considered.

“The eight outstanding states are under consideration under the 22-point requirement of the Fiscal Sustainability Plan. A total of N16.1bn has been disbursed as of January 2018,” he added.

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