Wike: We Are Not at War with FG over Tax Collection

Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, said at the weekend that the state was not at war with the federal government or any of its agencies. The clarification followed insinuations in some quarters about hostility between the two tiers of government in the wake of the legal dispute over who is authorised to collect Value Added Tax (VAT) in the state.

Wike made the explanation at a public lecture on “Taxing Powers in a Federal System.” He said Rivers and the federal government were coequals because they derived their life from the constitution.
The public lecture was organised in commemoration of the 60th birthday of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Ahmed Raji.

Wike was represented at the occasion by the Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Professor Zacheus Adangor.
The governor said, “I have heard a lot of comments been made that we are fighting federal government. There is no desire or any intention of the Rivers State government to fight the federal government, but you must remember that in a federal system, the states are not houseboys of the federal government.

“The principle of coequality is fundamental to federal arrangement, that principle leads to the principle of autonomy, autonomy leads you to fiscal autonomy and fiscal autonomy leads you to fiscal federalism, and when you put all the principles together, what it means is that each level of government, whether federal or state, is coequal because none derives its life from the other.

“They both derive their life from the constitution because they have coequality and every level of government is entitled to have access to sufficient revenue so that they can carry out its own responsibility without subordinating its will to that of a superior authority.

“That is the fundamental aspect of fiscal federalism and until we get it, we will continue this journey of talking and talking without result. But I think that the court has a role to play, the court can lay this crisis and controversy to rest when it makes a pronouncement.”

Wike explained that the taxing system being sought was one that would ensure homogenisation, adding that what operates today is not what was agreed upon at the constitutional conference.
“Can we say that the federal government has the power to impose and collect those taxes that the court struck down in Port Harcourt?” Wike queried.

“Certainly not, and so for me, we need to resolve this issue through the courts and that is what Rivers State has opted to do and we encourage as many states as possible to join us in this new revival of the Nigerian federal arrangement so that we can lay some of these issues to rest,” the governor added.

The celebrant, Raji, used the occasion to call on the Nigerian government to immediately introduce a new tax policy known as “Wealth Tax,” that would make very rich Nigerians pay tax that would be used to cater for the downtrodden in the country. He said the policy, if introduced and implemented, would make rich Nigerians to contribute meaningfully to government’s purse to bridge the gap between the affluent and super poor in the nation.

According to Raji, “It is a fact that the downturn in Nigeria’s economy are having harsh and devastating effects on the poor majority Nigerians. The wide disparity between the rich and the poor should be of grave concern to patriotic Nigerians and the way out must be found.

“The gap between the rich and the poor is so much and so offensive that it can lead to breakdown of law and order in any moment.
“It is in the interest of justice that the super-rich should shed part of their stupendous wealth to cater for the downtrodden masses before it is too late.”

The senior lawyer said he opted to use the public lecture to mark his birthday so as to use it to draw attention to some burning issues and challenges that deserve public attention, rather than engage in mere merry making.



PDP Warns against Court Action to Scuttle National Convention

The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Convention Organising Committee (NCOC), has warned members against any court action that could distract the October 30 and 31 national convention of the party, warning party members to be wary of such disgruntled and misguided folks in its fold.

But as the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division, is billed to sit tomorrow to hear the interlocutory motion restraining the party’s convention, suspended national chairman, Uche Secondus, has said he was only seeking justice and was not the one that took the party to court in the first place.

Reacting to the case instituted at the High Court in Kaduna to prevent the PDP from holding its convention, Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, who is the Secretary of the planning committee, in a statement released late Sunday night, stated that the party is “using this medium to alert members of party and members of the public that we are aware of the actions of a few misguided PDP members, who have approached the High Court in Kaduna in an attempt to prevent PDP from holding its National Convention on October 30 and 31, 2021.”

“Notwithstanding their right to approach a court of competent jurisdiction to air their grievances, we maintain that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PDP, has acted in good faith in fixing our convention for October 30 and 31. It is not meant to witch-hunt anyone or to truncate anyone’s mandate.

“Therefore, we call on all members and supporters of the PDP to ignore this distraction as we prepare to host a convention that will send a clear signal to Nigerians that the PDP is the only party that has the will and the might to rescue Nigeria from the catastrophe that we have been enduring for the past six years.

“Therefore, we urge our teeming supporters nationwide to keep the faith as we are taking all necessary measures to ensure that we will not be distracted from our goal,” he said, adding that they were determined to strengthen the party structure and put in the work needed to unify and restore the nation back on the path to economic prosperity and greatness.

“We therefore urge all party faithful to continue to rally support as we prepare to host our National Convention on October 30 and 31, 2021,” the statement maintained.
But Secondus, in a statement by his media adviser, Ike Abonyi, stated that, “For the avoidance of doubt, the media office wishes to restate that Prince Secondus is really under pressure for justice and would seek it anywhere to save the party from hirelings out to destroy and derail the focus of the party. The truth, which the said news did not state is that Prince Secondus is not in court against the party but was dragged to court instead by person bent on hijacking the soul of the party.”

He said the party leaders are aware of who, went to court against it and knows what to do rather than indulging in mind game, adding, “Nothing short of Justice and respect for its servants will save PDP from the hands holding now.

“For avoidance of doubt the justice Prince Secondus is seeking is as enshrined in the party constitution, which is Supreme and states clearly how a National Chairman and any National officer can be sanctioned even where there is a known breach talk less where there’s none.”

However, buttressing the point that he did not take PDP to court in the first place, Tayo Oyetiba (SAN), said, on 23 August 2021, one Mr lbeawuchi E. Alex and four others jointly instituted Suit No PHC/2183 /CS/202I at the High Court of Rivers State, Port Harcourt Judicial Division against Secondus and the PDP as Defendants.
“On I0 September 202 1, the High Court of Rivers State delivered its judgment in the Suit whereby Prince Uche Secondus was, inter alia, restrained from performing the functions of the office of National Chairman of the PDP,” he said.

Oyetiba is expected on Tuesday at the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt to move a motion to stop the national convention pending the conclusion of the appeal by Secondus.
He is also seeking an affirmation of his four years as contained in section 59 (3) that guaranteed his four years in line with the constitution of the PDP.

In the motion to restrain the PDP from holding the national convention, Oyetiba argued that “The general practice is that on application for an order for interlocutory injunction, all activities affecting the res, are automatically terminated as a mark of respect to the court before whom the application is pending.

“If parties to the suit senselessly rush their tortious trespassory activities in the spacious belief that that would promote their unfounded claims to the res, nothing can be farther from the truth. Such heedless posture is, to say the least, a fragrant disrespect to the court. It clearly, in my opinion amounts to intransigence for a party against whom an order for injunction is sought to intensify his interference with the res.”



Omo-Agege tasks Igbos on dialogue

The Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege, has urged the Igbos to imbibe dialogue rather than confrontation in the pursuit of their grievances.

Omo-Agege, Senator representing Delta Central at the National Assembly, gave the charge on Saturday in Asaba at the Inauguration ceremony of the Anambra State Association of Town Unions (ASATU) in Delta.

Represented by his Senior Legislative Aide, Mr Athanasius Iwuchukwu, Omo-Agege said that the Igbos should support every action that would promote peace in the region and the country at large.

He assured that the Senate would continue to make laws that would positively impact the peoples’ lives.

He also urged the newly-inaugurated association to continue to promote and ensure peace and development in Delta.

He thanked the association for giving him an award in recognition of his contribution to development in Delta and Nigeria in general while assuring that the award would spur him to do more.

Omo-Agege, an All Progressive Congress (APC) chieftain and leader in Delta, however, announced his intention to run for the governorship seat of the state and called for the associations’ support in 2023.

On his part, Mr Titus Akpudo, National President of ASATU, said the inauguration marked the birth of a new association in Delta.

He charged the association to use the platform to relate with the government and people of Delta to ensure peace among Anambra people and the people of the host state.

He noted that by relating with their immediate community, the people of Anambra would be better for it.

In an interview, the Chairman of the occasion, Mr Chibuzor Agunwa, charged the association to keep the light of the nation shining in Delta.

According to him, the association must reflect what Anambra represents by being good ambassadors in Delta.

On the Nov. 6 governorship elections in Anambra, Agunwa urged the people to come out in masse to vote and to be law-abiding while urging the electoral umpires to ensure a free and fair election.

Also, Mr Victor Mbanefo, Newly-inaugurated President General, ASATU in Delta, said the inauguration was a great achievement for the people of Anambra.

He said that it was a step to achieving the associations vision and mission in Delta towards the collective good of both states.

Earlier, Chief Ike Obiesili, Secretary-General, ASATU in Delta, in an address, said,” the association will form a great synergy between the various communities and the government for a more rapid development through participation in the affairs of the state.

“Indeed with this, it is hoped that we enjoy very cordial relationship with the state government”.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the high point of the occasion was the inauguration and the awards presentations to deserving indigenes of Delta and Anambra states by ASATU.

The occasion was also spiced with traditional dances and acrobatic displays to the admiration of the guests.

The awardees in Delta include Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta; former Governors James Ibori, and Gov. Emmanuel Uduaghan; Sen.

Ovie Omo-Agege, Deputy Senate President; Obi Prof. Chike Edozien, Asagba of Asaba; and Obi Martha Dunkwu, Omu of Anioma, in recognition of their achievements and contributions to development of the country.



Kano will support Tinubu’s Presidential ambition, Kano Speaker

The Speaker of the Kano State House of Assembly, Hamisu Chidari, said the APC in Kano State would support the 2023 presidential ambition of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in 2023.

He spoke at the inauguration of the Tinubu Support Group and the state steering committees of the TSG in Abuja on Saturday.

Chidari said Kano State, which has the highest number of voters and delegates in the country, would repay Tinubu’s act of helping the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to become President in 2015.

“My purpose is to kick-start the journey that will take us to the Villa by God’s grace with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the number one citizen of Nigeria,” he said.

The lawmaker added, “In Kano, being the state with the highest number of delegates, we have already decided and already concluded; we are set to give him at least 98 per cent of delegates in the primaries. Not only that, we are set as usual to give him the highest number of votes so that come May 29, 2023, we will be at the Eagle Square to swear him in as the President.

“All of us in the North-West are aware of the role he played in taking our son, President Muhammadu Buhari, to the Villa. So, we are going to reward him; we are going to pay him back. So, I have assured him of victory. Almost all the delegates from the North-West states are going to vote for him in the next primary elections.”

The purported ambition of the former governor of Lagos State was said to have deepened the crisis of the APC in Kano State, Sunday PUNCH has learnt.



Nothing should stop poll, Ohanaeze warns

However, reacting to the proposed one week sit-at-home the apex pan-Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, warned that nothing should threaten the November 6 governorship election.

The spokesperson for the group, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, warned all parties to tread with caution, saying it would be unwise to stop the polls.

Ogbonnia, who said this in an interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday, called for calm while efforts to ensure Kanu’s release were being made by Igbo leaders.

He said, “Ohanaeze Ndigbo urges everybody to show maturity and wisdom especially in issues concerning the Indigenous People of Biafra, especially now that leaders in Igboland from all walks of life have united in the struggle to ensure that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is freed.

 “The November 6 Anambra governorship election is very important to all Ndigbos, because the state is the economic live wire of the Igbo. It is in the best interest that Anambra maintains its economic growth. Therefore, we appeal to our youths to show maturity. Anything that disrupts this election is not in the interest of the Igbo. We wish that the election should be held.”



Anambra election won’t hold if Kanu isn’t released, IPOB threatens

The Indigenous People of Biafra has declared a one week sit-at-home protest across the South-East states starting from November 5, the eve of the governorship election in Anambra State.

IPOB’s Media and Public Secretary, Emma Powerful, in a statement on Saturday in Awka, the Anambra State capital, said the protest was aimed at prevailing on the Federal Government to release its leader, Nnamdi Kanu.

The group vowed that the protest would go on as planned if Kanu was not released before November 4.

Details later…



Buhari Charges Varsity to Develop COVID-19 Vaccine

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday tasked the University of Ilorin to play a leading role in research and production of vaccines locally.

Buhari, also, appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other unions within and outside the university system to always give peace a chance.

He gave this charge through Prof. Ignatius Onimawo of National Universities Commission, who represented him at the 36th convocation of the university held in Ilorin.

“The nation expects your university to play a leading role in research efforts to develop COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria. The nation expects nothing less from the Nigerian university system.’’
Buhari equally challenged all universities to give their best in the fight against infections and diseases.
He also appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to embrace peace, adding that dialogue was always better than conflict.

“No one gains from crisis. While government alone cannot solve all challenges facing a society, this administration is willing to listen to complaints and alternative points of view to managing a situation.
“The university system cannot withstand any crisis now considering the time it had lost to Coronavirus pandemic,’’ he submitted.

He reiterated government’s resolve to prioritise and promote teacher education to raise the quality of teaching in the country.

Prof. Onimawo who also represented the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, at the occasion noted that the University of Ilorin had excelled in several disciplines.
He noted also that the university is one of those that had enjoyed very stable academic calendars over the years.

“In the last couple of years, the University of Ilorin has had the highest students’ subscription in JAMB enrolment.
“As of today, the University of Ilorin has become the university of choice in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Earlier in his address of welcome, Prof. Sulyman Abdulkareem, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin said the university sustained the reputation of running seamless academic sessions in spite of the COVID-19 lockdown.

The university awarded degrees to 10,922 graduates at the ceremony.
At the graduate level, 180 bagged First Class degrees, 2,836 got Second Class Upper Division, 4,879 got Second Class Lower Division, and 1,110 had Third Class degrees while there were 14 passes.
There were 142 graduates who bagged Postgraduate diplomas, 1,142 had Masters Degrees while 113 had Masters in Business Administration.


Business News

Buhari to unveils CBN’s eNaira Tomorrow

President Muhammadu Buhari will tomorrow (Monday) formally launch the Nigerian Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), known as the eNaira at the State House, Abuja.

The unveiling of the much-anticipated electronic money had been delayed partly to allow for the country’s 61st independence celebration, according to the CBN.

A statement from CBN’s Director, Corporate Communications, Nwanisobi, noted that the launch of the eNaira is a culmination of several years of research work by the central bank in advancing the boundaries of the payments system to make financial transactions easier and seamless for every strata of the society.

The apex bank had designed the digital currency, following a series of engagements with relevant stakeholders including the banking community, fintech operators, merchants, and indeed, a cross-section of Nigerians.
According to the bank, the eNaira marks a major step forward in the evolution of money as well as the CBN’s commitment to ensuring that the digital currency, like the physical Naira, is accessible by everyone.

Nwanisobi, stated that given that the eNaira is a journey, the unveiling marks the first step in that journey, which will continue with a series of further modifications, capabilities, and enhancements to the platforms.
He said, “The CBN will continue to work with relevant partners to ensure a seamless process that will benefit every user, particularly those in the rural areas and the unbanked population.

“Since the eNaira is a new product, and amongst the first CBDCs in the world, we have put a structure to promptly address any issue that might arise from the pilot implementation of the eNaira.
“Accordingly, following Monday’s formal launch by the president, the bank will further engage various stakeholders as we enter a new age consistent with global financial advancement.”
According to him, the theme of the eNaira is: “Same Naira, more possibilities”.

Meanwhile, the CBDC is expected to improve monetary policy effectiveness and enhance the government’s capacity to deploy targeted social interventions, and boost remittances through formal channels.
The bank explained that eNaira wallet is required to access, use and hold eNaira.

The CBN also tasked the deposit money banks (DMBs) to facilitate prompt placement of restrictions on eNaira wallets in the event of a valid report of loss, theft of device or compromise, a hack of a user eNaira wallet.
According to the Regulatory Guidelines on the eNaira, obtained by THISDAY, the apex bank, further directed banks to ensure that customers can report via USSD channels, internet banking platforms, customer care phone lines, and in-branch customer care where there is any compromise in the eNaira transactions.

The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had said that in unveiling the digital money, the bank does not downplay potential risks, adding however that the apex financial regulatory body had put in place appropriate mitigation mechanisms for safer operation.

He said, “We are not going to pretend that there are no risks in opening your system up. We will look at the various products, determine the risks, determine the best way to mitigate the risks before opening it up.
“But it is a journey that we are determined and decided that we will start on October 2021.”

The planned unveiling of the much-awaited Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), known as the eNaira, originally slated for October 1, 2021, was put on hold due to other key activities lined up to commemorate the country’s 61st independence anniversary.

However, the CBN, in the framework for the operation of the eNaira further set the transaction and balance limits for individual and merchant eNaira wallets.
In the Tier 0 category or phone number without verified National Identity Number (NIN), the daily transaction is limited to N20,000 with a balance or eWallet limit set at N120,000.
For the Tier 1 category with verified National Identity Number (NIN), the daily transaction limit is set at N50,000 with an N300,000 balance.

However, those in the Tier 2 category will be able to do transactions up to N200,000 daily with an eWallet balance of N500,000, while Tier 3 will have daily transactions of N1 million with balances of N5 million.
However, merchants, or duly accredited individuals and non-individual (corporates) authorised to conduct business in Nigeria will have no limits on eNaira transactions.

The CBN also stated that under the digital currency framework, Financial Institutions (FIs) shall render returns to the bank in line with the provisions of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 2020 and as may be specified from time to time.

The guidelines, among other things, said FIs shall put in place appropriate measures to ensure sound risk management practices to address potential threats to their operations.

These include an enterprise risk management framework; Appropriate governance structures; Documented and approved policies; and Secured information technology infrastructure.
It said, “Financial Institutions shall be required to implement additional risk management measures as may be prescribed by CBN guidelines from time to time.”

The guidelines stipulated the role and responsibilities of the different stakeholders particularly concerning ensuring the prevention or minimisation of loss following a loss, theft of a user’s device or compromise, hack of user eNaira wallet.



Cleric Urges National Assembly to Initiate Bills to Take Nigeria Out of Poverty

The National Ameer of Daaru-R-Rahmat (DARMAT) Islamic Society, Ustaz Misbahudeen Olawale, has decried the level of poverty and unemployment in the country.

Olawale consequently urged the members of the National Assembly to initiate bills that would take the country out of poverty so as to have a virile country.

Speaking on the sideline of this year Maulud Nabiyy celebration to mark the birthday of Prophet Muhammed, and the provision of succour to over 10 widows to mark the celebration, Olawale said there was no doubt that the current economic situations in the country is seriously biting harder.

He said: “It is worrisome now in Nigeria that to make ends meet is a serious problem among the people due to poor economic policies on the part of the leaders.

“This situation is getting worse, and the people have resorted to begging before they can eat. This is uncalled for, and not good for the country.

“We elected people to give us good leadership that will transform our lives to economic prosperity, but it is the opposite, and this has continued to have serious toll on the wellbeing of the society.

“Poverty has taken over the land, and the people could not get work to do in view of the bad policies imposed on us and this has to change so as to bring new lease of life to Nigerians.”

The Islamic leader, who called on the members of the National Assembly to initiate laws that would take the country out of poverty and unemployment, said the gesture would assist Nigeria to move forward.

The cleric noted that the provision of succour to the widows was to give them the sense of belonging and improve their socio-economic wellbeing.

He, however, advised Muslims across the country to continue to imbibe the teachings of Prophet Muhammed so as to bring new lease of life to the doorsteps of the society.



JAMB registrar urges FG to declare state of emergency in education

Registrar of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, yesterday, pleaded with the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the education sector.

Prof. Oloyede, who was guest speaker at the annual lecture of Faculty of Arts, Lagos State University (LASU), also appealed for increase in the budgetary allocation to the sector.

He said: “Declare and prosecuting a state of emergency in education with a view to addressing all the challenges facing the sector comprehensively.”

Oloyede, who spoke on “Normalising the Abnormal: JAMB Operations during COVID-19 Era” tasked government to improve learning resources and infrastructures in schools preparatory for another pandemic which, it is hoped would not be here soon.

Oloyede called for strong and swift disciplinary measures for staff and students caught in of examination malpractice as has become the practice in JAMB operations in the last five years.

He also called for the establishment of a process for the lodgement of complaints against sexual and other misdemeanours in the education industry without exception.

According to him, stakeholders in the education sector should strive towards establishing a pedigree of integrity by sticking to honesty, probity and transparency in examination processes as well as results computation.