Newspaper review of Wednesday, October 11

Newspaper review of Wednesday, October 11

The headlines of mainstream Nigerian newspapers for Wednesday, October 11, 2017, are focused on the allegations of Ibe Kachikwu against its GMD, Maikanti Baru, the request for loan sent to the senate by President Buhari among other stories.

The Nation reports that the crisis of confidence in the oil sector raged on yesterday, with some associates of the Minister of State, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, taking on the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru.

Kachikwu wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari, alleging that Baru awarded $25billion contracts unilaterally, ran a “bravado” management; and made appointments without consultations.

Baru denied it all. He said no money was involved in the contracts and that the NNPC Tenders Board had no business reporting to Kachikwu and the corporation’s Board. The Presidency backed his position.

But Kachikwu’s “loyalists” have described Baru’s response as a potpourri of contradictions and distortions. To them, Baru’s and NNPC’s defence is “unconvincing”.

These verdicts were contained in a fact-sheet meant to clarify issues surrounding the disputed $25billion transactions by NNPC.

The Nation stumbled on the fact-sheet yesterday. It may have been prepared against the backdrop of NNPC’s Monday statement, which described Kachikwu as a “liar” with his August 30 memo to president.

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The loyalists of the minister raised six posers for Baru and NNPC to answer.

The six posers, based on the 1999 Constitution, the NNPC Act and the Public Procurement Act, are as follows:

What becomes of Section 130(2), Section 148(1) of the 1999 Constitution and Section 1(1) of the NNPC Act if Baru said he did not have to consult the Minister and NNPC Board?

How can the NNPC Tenders Board appointed by Baru be responsible for approving contracts in the light of Section 20(1) of the Public Procurement Act?

What is the proof that Kachikwu as NNPC GMD did the same things that Baru is doing?

How can NNPC Board oversee budget without information?

Why was Baru silent on the controversial appointments he made without briefing the board? Did the silence confirm that the appointments were irregular or wrong?

Are there standards of transparency and due process when NNPC awarded contracts of that magnitude without carrying NNPC Board along?

“The procurement Act 2007 borders on Efficiency, Fairness, Transparency, Accountability and Ethical Standards, and way and manner such procurement shall be conducted, and the entities like Tenders’ Board with powers to do.

The Nation newspaper of Wednesday, October 11. Photo credit: screenshot

The Nation newspaper of Wednesday, October 11. Photo credit: screenshot

Thisday also reported that the federal government has directed the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to terminate the boats pilotage monitoring and supervision agreement that the agency has with Intels Nigeria Limited, a leading integrated logistics and facilities services provider in the maritime and oil and gas logistics sectors of the country, saying that the contract was void ab initio.

Conveying the decision of the federal government to NPA, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN), in a letter dated September 27, 2017 to the Managing Director of the NPA, Ms. Hadiza Bala-Usman, said that the agreement, which has allowed Intels to receive revenue on behalf of NPA for 17 years, violates the Nigerian Constitution, especially in view of the implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of government.

Based on the directive to terminate the agreement, Intels which was founded over three decades ago by Mr. Gabriele Volpi, an Italian national who also has Nigerian citizenship, stands to lose several millions of dollars in commissions for the monitoring and supervision pilotage services it handles on behalf of NPA on Nigerian coastal waters.

To ensure the safety of ships’ passage within Nigeria’s seaports, the NPA, through Intels as its agent, provides pilotage services to guide ships into and out of the ports.

The rule of thumb in the maritime industry is that pilotage must be compulsory for all ships of 35 metres overall length or greater unless a valid Pilotage Exemption Certificate is held by the ship’s master.

In return for the service, ship owners/companies are required to pay a pilotage fee, which Intels collects on NPA’s behalf and retains 28 per cent of the revenue as commission for the services rendered.

However, with the memo written by the AGF, a copy of which was obtained exclusively by THISDAY from the justice ministry, Intels would no longer be allowed to provide the service.

Drawing the attention of Bala-Usman to the illegality of the agreement, Malami made it expressly clear that the agreement violates Sections 80(1) and 162(1) and (10) of the constitution, and wondered that the parties – NPA and Intels – did not avert their minds to the relevant provisions when they were negotiating the agreement in 2010.

Section 80(1) of the constitution states: “All revenues or other moneys raised or received by the Federation (not being revenues or other moneys payable under this Constitution or any Act of the National Assembly into any other public fund of the Federation established for a specific purpose) shall be paid into and form one Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.”

Section 162(1) states: “The Federation shall maintain a special account to be called ‘the Federation Account’ into which shall be paid all revenues collected by the Government of the Federation, except the proceeds from the personal income tax of the personnel of the armed forces of the Federation, the Nigeria Police Force, the Ministry or department of government charged with responsibility for Foreign Affairs and the residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”

Thisday newspaper of Wednesday, October 11. Photo credit: screenshot

Thisday newspaper of Wednesday, October 11. Photo credit: screenshot

Vanguard reports that Muhammadu Buhari has written to the Senate, seeking approval for external loan of $5.5 billion to enable the Federal Government finance the 2017 budget.

President Buhari’s loan request was contained in a letter to the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, which was read on the floor of the Senate, yesterday.

The four-page letter is entitled “Request for the approval of External Loans for: Implementation of the External Borrowing Approved in the 2017 Appropriation Act; External Borrowing to Re-finance maturing domestic debts through the issuance of $3 billion Euro bond in the International Capital Market or through a loan syndication.”

According to the letter, while $3 billion will be sourced through Euro bond, the remaining $2.5 will come from other sources in the international capital market. President Buhari, however, allayed the fears of Nigerians on possible effect or problems that might come up as a result of the loan, saying the proposed external borrowing of $3 billion to re-finance maturing domestic debt would not lead to an increase in the public debt portfolio.

According to him, the substitution of domestic debt, with relatively cheaper and long-term external debt, will lead to a significant decrease in debt service cost. The President also said government’s moves in re-financing domestic debt through external debt would also achieve more stability in debt stock, adding that it would create more borrowing space in the domestic market for the private sector.

President Buhari, who noted that the Senate had in the 2017 Appropriation Act, put Debt Service at N1.663 trillion, which represents 32.73% of Federal Government’s total expenditure, added that with this, it had become very imperative to take urgent steps to reduce debt service costs.

He, however, warned that failure to re-balance the country’s debt portfolio through substitution of domestic debt with less expensive long term external debt, would continue to expose the country to the risk of high debt service-to-revenue ratio, thereby limiting the ability of government to execute capital projects and other priority expenditure.

It would be recalled that the 2017 budget was predicated on a debt deficit of N2.1 trillion, which the Federal Government hopes to secure from both local and external sources to fund the country’s infrastructure deficit.

Vanguard newspaper of Wednesday, October 11. Photo credit: screenshot

Vanguard newspaper of Wednesday, October 11. Photo credit: screenshot

Punch reports that the Federal Government, on Tuesday, through the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, filed two separate sets of charges against the Senator representing Bauchi Central Senatorial District, Isah Misau.

One of the two sets of charges, marked FCT/HC/CR/345/2017, filed before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja, stemmed from the running battle between Misau and the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris.

In the case filed before the FCT High Court, the prosecution preferred against Misau, a retired Deputy Superintendent of Police, five counts of making “injurious falsehood” against Idris and the Nigeria Police Force based on various allegations of corruption made by the senator against the IGP in the media.

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Part of the allegations by Misau, considered injurious to the IGP and the Nigeria Police Force, was that police officers allegedly paid as much as N2.5m to get special promotion and posting through the Police Service Commission.

The federal lawmaker also accused the IGP of allegedly diverting money meant for the purchase of Armoured Personnel Carriers, Sport Utility Vehicles and other exotic cars.

Misau was also said to have falsely accused the IGP of making almost half of the mobile commanders in the country the people of his Nupe extraction.

The offences were said to be contrary to Section 393(1) of the Penal Code.

In another set of charges, marked FHC/ABJ/CR/170/2017, the prosecution preferred seven counts of making and “uttering” false documents comprising affidavits, statutory declaration of age deposed to at FCT High Court and the Bauchi State Health Management Board Birth Certificate, which he allegedly submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission in 2011 and 2014.

Punch newspaper of Wednesday, October 11. Photo credit: screenshot

Punch newspaper of Wednesday, October 11. Photo credit: screenshot

The EFCC stage a walk against corruption - on TV.


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