Nigeria’s Petroleum Subsidy: “The Winners and the Losers”

Nigeria’s Petroleum Subsidy: “The Winners and the Losers”

By Okiemute Esiri

Last week, a committee set up by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) pressed for the immediate removal of petrol subsidy and recommended that the product be sold between N380/litre and N408.5/litre. The governors had in a communiqué released after thier meeting called for full deregulation of petrol.

According to the communiqué, the governors further revealed that between N70 billion and N210 Billion is spent monthly to subsidise the petrol price at N162 per litre. They further approve the increase in price of petrol to N385 per litre and butressed further that it would help stem the increasing smuggling of the product to neighbouring countries. 

Nigeria has lost billions of dollars as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the states are now cash-strapped. The NNPC had said that it would remit zero allocation to FAAC due to the huge cost of subsidising petrol.

Fuel subsidy has been a growing liability to Nigeria’s budgets, in a systematic fashion for almost four decades, hence creating vested interest. The cost of fuel subsidy has risen at an unprecedented rate due to increasing crude oil prices on the foreign market, exchange rate fluctuations, and Nigeria’s population expansion, both of which have resulted in increased petroleum consumption; the combination of these three variables therefore made the cost of the fuel subsidy unsustainable. Understanding the current fuel subsidies magnitude is critical for advancing reform because it underscores the potential socio-economic benefits to be realized. In addition to the burden that fuel subsidy is placing on the national budget, keeping petroleum below the market value has discouraged additional investment in Nigeria’s oil sector, because the visibility of recovering the investment under the artificially low price structure is uncertain.

Subsidy is characterized as any government intervention in the private sector, whether in cash or in kind, for which the government receives no comparable benefit. In practical terms, the petrol subsidy is calculated as the difference between the Expected Open Market Price (“EOMP”) and the approved retail price of petrol, both of which are determined by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (“PPRA”) in line with set policies. The EOMP is determined as the sum of landing costs of petrol and a distribution margin. In simple terms, it is composed of the cost of production (that is the cost of purchasing refined petrol and importing same into the country) and an expected profit margin per litre of petrol. The PPRA determines the approved retail price of petrol (the “pump price”) derived from a consideration of the EOMP vis-à-vis prevailing economic conditions and the FGN pays the difference between the EOMP and the pump price as Fuel Subsidy to the petrol marketers to ensure that petrol is sold to the public at the approved retail price without incurring losses for the marketers.  

While Nigeria produces 1.6 million barrels of crude a day, the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation imports virtually all its fuel from abroad due to the country’s low refining capacity, reselling it locally at a subsidized price.

On Nigeria’s estimated daily consumption of about 60 million liters of fuel, the NNPC is absorbing monthly losses of between 100 billion and 120 billion naira, according to the firm’s group managing director, Mele Kyari, at a media briefing on March 25. The NNPC MD also said It was paying this below the table since the petroleum sector was supposedly deregulated last year. That the subsidy has now jumped to N720 billion in less than one month, points to the fact that the opaque administration subsidy regime is a riddle wrapped in confusion. This is a monumental disaster and makes the president’s record here, as almost everywhere else, rather spotty.

Fuel subsidy elimination has been a source of contention for a long time. It had been an open sore on which various flies feed fat

In 2011, the year of public demonstrations over it. It had surpassed the trillion Naira mark that year. Wives and children of politicians, many of 

whom had never worked in the petroleum industry, were fuel importers in a crowded area where only godfathers and godmothers were 

expected. Some of them did not import a litre of fuel yet they were handsomely paid from the national treasury.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) leadership cautioned that any effort by the government to raise the pump price of petroleum products will be met with strong opposition, after a meeting of its National Executive Council (NEC) yesterday.

The NEC meeting discussed the situation in Kaduna as well as the pending constitutional reform, which took place remotely when most Labour leaders were in their respective zones for the public hearing on the draft constitution amendment.

Despite the fact that the federal government said the governors lacked the authority to set the price of gasoline, the congress insisted that no price increase would be tolerated.

A labour leader said all the affiliate unions of the NLC have been put on notice, if the government does otherwise.

According to him, Labour rejected the recommendation that petrol be raised to N212/litre on Easter by the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari.

He said: “We are not in support of petrol increase. All these governors, they don’t mean well for Nigeria. They have over 100 aides. They are stealing money every day; it is only the common masses they want to continue to inflict pains on. It is not fair.

“We will reject it totally. We will not accept any increase. We don’t need any further ultimatum to respond, to re-activate and resume our suspended action. We don’t need to give anybody ultimatum again. If they go into that area, we will just resume our suspended action.

“We have issued directives that all our affiliate unions should start mobilising. As soon as they increase the price of petrol, we will down tools, withdraw all economic activities.

“We don’t need to negotiate with government or write them that we are coming to meet them because the last time we met before Easter, the GMD of the NNPC came that fuel will be N212 or N208 per liter because the landing cost was N198 and we told him to go back to the drawing board; to do as others are doing.

“We told him to go and repair our refineries. That was what brought our meeting to a deadlock. Remember that after two months, they announced plans to repair the Port Harcourt refinery for $1.8 billion.

It is too early to tell whether the Nigerian government will succeed in these renewed efforts to remove subsidy after years of dancing around the issue and trillions of Naira spent, the removal of the fuel subsidy remains a “Live Cinema Theatre with the Goverment as the lead Actor and the Nigerian populace as Spectators.

Hadiza Bala-Usman and the Missing N165bRevenue

Hadiza Bala-Usman and the Missing N165bRevenue

On Thursday May 6th, President Muhammadu Buhari authorised the suspension of Hadiza Bala-Usman, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), to allow for an investigation into allegations leveled against her.

This was disclosed by presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu.

Read full statement by Mr Shehu below.

PRESIDENT BUHARI APPROVES PANEL OF INQUIRY ON NPA, ASKS MD, HADIZA USMAN TO STEP ASIDE

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the recommendation of the Ministry of Transportation under Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi for the setting up of an Administrative Panel of Inquiry to investigate the Management of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA.

The President has also approved that the Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman step aside while the investigation is carried out. Mr Mohammed Koko will act in that position.

The panel is to be headed by the Director, Maritime Services of the Ministry while the Deputy Director, Legal of the same ministry will serve as Secretary.

Other members of the panel will be appointed by the Minister.

Garba Shehu

Senior Special Assistant to the President

(Media & Publicity)

11 Man Investigative commitee Inaugurated

In the wake of allegations of financial misdeeds by Hadiza Bala-Usman, the suspended Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi inaugurated an investigation panel to look at the agency’s books.

Mr. Auwalu Suleiman, Director of Maritime Services, chairs the 11-member commission, which is co-chaired by Mr. Ben Omogo, Director, Organization Design & Development (OHCSF).

The terms and references of the committee include: “Examine and investigate the administrative policies and strategies adopted by the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority and confirm compliance with extant laws and rules from 2016 — date.

“Examine and investigate issues leading to the termination of pilotage and other contracts of Nigerian Ports Authority and confirm compliance with the terms of the respective contracts, court rulings and Presidential directives.

“Examine and investigate compliance with the communication channel as obtained in the Public Service.

“Examine and investigate the procurement of contracts from 2016 to date. Come up with suggestions and advice that would strengthen the operations of Nigerian Ports Authority and forestall such occurrences in future.

“And any other matter that may be necessary in the course of the assignment.”

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman, was suspended as part of moves to allow independent audit of the accounts and remittance of the agency, documents seen by PREMIUM TIMES have shown.

According to details of a letter sent to President Muhammadu Buhari by Nigeria’s transport minister, Rotimi Amaechi, the yearly remittance of operating surpluses by the NPA from 2016 to 2020 was “far short of the amount due for actual remittance.”

In the letter, dated March 4, 2021, Mr Amaechi said within the stipulated years, the NPA recorded an outstanding unremitted balance of N165 billion (N165, 320, 962, 697).

Mr Amaechi thereafter suggested that the financial account of the NPA be investigated and audited.

Meanwhile, the suspended NPA boss has continoiusly denies allegations , In her letter which was dated May 5, 2021, Bala-Usman said that the said amount was presented by the Budget Office of the Federation for the years under investigation on which the Ports actual remittances were short of the projected estimate revenue. She therefore stated that the N165.32billion was the budgetary expectations from the Authority which was not the same as the actual revenue generated.

Bala-Usman said that the remittances of the audited financial statements of the Ports for the period of 2017 and 2018 provided an operating surplus of N76.782billion and N 71.480billion as opposed to the N133.084 and N88.79billion projected by the Budget Office.

She said that in line with the Fiscal Responsibility Commission, the Operating Surplus of the Authority stands at N51.09billion and N42.51billion for 2017 and 2018 respectively adding that the said amount would culminated in the amount due the CRF in the sum of N40.87billion and N34.065billion representing 80% of the projected surpluses for the year 2017 and 2018 respectively.

The letter further stated that the remittances for the years under probe are as follows;

“The Authority consequently made a remittance of N42.415billion and N33.969billion for the years 2017 and 2018 respectively for the amount required as remittances for the period (attached herewith are the Treasury receipts).

“Based on the above, we wish to clarify the following: (1) The Authority’s Computation of its remittances for the CRF are concluded arising from numbers from the Audited Financial Statements using the template forwarded to the Authority from the Fiscal Responsibility Commission.

“That the Authority remitted the full amount due CRF for the periods of 2017 and 2018 arising from the Operating Surplus derived from the Audited Financial Statement for the period totaling N76.384billion as evidenced in attached treasury receipts.

“That the Authority has remitted a total of N82.687 billion for the period 2019 and 2020 pending the audit of the financial statement at which point the amount so computed arising from the value of the Operating Surplus in the audited financial statement will be remitted to the CRF”, the letter read.

She also requested that the Chief of Staff to the President retrieve the documents aforementioned from the Accountant General of the Federation to substantiate her claims and ascertain the Authorities remittances to the CRF.

TWASC will be bringing all the details as the comitee commence sitting. Follow us for more updates

SPECIAL REPORT FOR MAY DAY 2021: Nigerian workers at an edge

SPECIAL REPORT FOR MAY DAY 2021: Nigerian workers at an edge

By Okiemute Esiri, Juliet Ogaga, marvellous Okuku and princewill Ogu

May 1st marks another Workers’ Day. Before the COVID-19 pandemic altered the story last year, a day known as May Day was observed around the world with a funfair.

But it is not just COVID-19 that has made the celebration less unforgettable for Nigerian workers; the past year has been plagued by several ills, ranging from inflation, which has put the cost of food out of control for the people, to high energy costs, such as exorbitant power bills and skyrocketing fuel pump prices, to unemployment and others, all without corresponding earnings.

All of this together tagged this year’s May Day theme, “COVID-19: Socio Economic Crisis – Challenges for Decent Job, Social Security, and People’s Welfare.”

There is no question that Nigerian workforce have been overworked to the point of exhaustion, as the N30,000 minimum wage will no longer satisfy the needs of the ordinary man, who now lives in poverty and is on the verge of starvation despite working. It is not limited to public-sector employees, but also includes their private-sector counterparts.

Some elites, on the other hand, believed that workers ought to take control of their own fate and stage a revolt against the capitalist class.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), in a joint address to Nigerian workers at Eagle Square in Abuja to mark this year’s celebration, directed workers in states where governors were not paying the minimum wage to immediately down tools and commence an indefinite strike.

President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, and his TUC counterpart, Quadiri Olaleye, said: “We demand an upward review of salary of core civil servants to narrow the gap between their emoluments and those of employees in other segments of the public service. We implore the federal government to once more direct the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to set up a committee to undertake this review.

“For Nigerian workers, it has been a catalogue of workplace and trade union rights violations. First is the criminal refusal by some state governors to pay the new national minimum wage and consequential increase in salaries thus violating workers’ rights. We have already directed all our state councils to declare strike actions if any governor remains adamant about paying the new national minimum wage.”

Reacting, President Mohammadu Buhari said the 36 governors of the Federation were bound by law to pay the N30, 000 minimum wage. According to him, any governor not paying the new wage was breaching the new National Minimum Wage Act, signed into law by him, in April 2019.

Economic Hardship

The World Bank estimated last year that the COVID19 shock would drag around 5 million more Nigerians into poverty by 2020. While the number of impoverished Nigerians was estimated to rise by around 2 million before the pandemic, this is now expected to rise by 7 million, with the poverty rate increasing from 40.1 percent in 2019 to 42.5 percent in 2020.That is an underestimate about what workers, who make up the majority of the workforce, are going through today, when the nation has relapsed into another recession in less than a year.

Due to the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria’s Organised Private Sector OPS (OPS) said it lost 74.2 percent of its participants.

According to a survey conducted by the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), 74.2 percent of businesses have ceased operations as a result of COVID-19. Mr. Taiwo Adeniyi, the Association’s President, stated that a survey of companies was undertaken with the aim of determining the precise effect of COVID19 on businesses in order to help NECA’s advocacy activities, among other things. The survey also showed that 15.8% of businesses are either entirely on site or teleworking.

He said “Over 90% of surveyed businesses said insufficient cash flow was a barrier to operations, and over 90% said demand for their products and services had decreased significantly,” he said.

“With many businesses closed down and many others on the verge of bankruptcy, we had urged Government to give attention and support to businesses to ensure their survival and competitiveness.”

For the majority of last year up until today, unions have been busy bargaining with employers over an escape plan for their workers who are being retrenched on a regular basis as a result of the pandemic’s detrimental effect on the economy as a result of the mandatory lockout.

Bill to Increase the Minimum Wage

The feathers of Nigerian workers were recently ruffled by a Bill aimed at destabilizing the Minimum Wage and exacerbating workers’ sufferings, but the Organized Labour fought back hard, with the two centers mobilizing their supporters to shut down the National Assembly.

Despite the fact that the federal government has begun paying the N30,000 minimum wage, over 18 states have yet to do so, with others attempting to return to the old wage. The bill, according to labor, was introduced by governors in order to delay payment of the new wage, further impoverishing jobs.

Several employees have lost their jobs over the last year, and organizations that wanted to send workers home or halve their wages have refused to recall them. The Airport Hotel in Lagos had ordered some of its staff who had been at home due to lockdown to go on a three-month leave without pay around this time last year, without paying the March wage.

Sheraton hotels in Lagos and Abuja have told their employees that they would not be paying in April. This is despite the fact that Arik Airline has laid off some of its employees. About 10,000 people lost their employment in the chemical industry, while more people would have lost their jobs in the banking sector if the Central Bank of Nigeria had not intervened, as the Access Bank attempt was thwarted.

Despite this, Oyinkan Olasanoye, President of the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance, and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFFI), has stated that the sector is still not a gold mine for employees.

According to her, workers in the banking sector may be at the receiving end of the pandemic, even though there is present understanding that the employers should not unilaterally disengage the workers.

“The effect of COVID-19 pandemic on our sector is so much and wide. During the lockdown, our members have been working remotely and not all of them have been recalled back. The truth is more people may lose their jobs as the employers have discovered that they can do with few. This year they will end up making more profits as they have been able to cut down cost.

“But this is done at the detriment of the workers, it’s affecting our work time balance, there is the health issue as our members are exposed to so many hazard counting mutilated money. There is no increase in our medical facility and unfortunately despite the fact that we are always on duty, widely exposed to COVID-19, government do not consider us as essential workers.”

Segun David, president of the Chemical and Non-Metallic Products Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (CANMPSSAN), said some employers used the pandemic to improve the lot of their employees, while others did the opposite by doing a slew of activities that were detrimental to workers’ development under the guise of COVID-19.

“For instance, a lot of companies downsized arbitrarily and indiscriminately, while some even went ahead to reduce the salary of workers. Now that things have improved reasonably, those salaries were not reversed.

“Also, we saw where a majority of companies declared huge profits than they usually made in recent past. But most of them to date have not done salary appraisals and yet, they are declaring huge profits.

“These profits, if I may say, part of it was gotten as a result of suppression of workers, because some of them did not increase salary, some employees retired and there were no replacements, they froze promotions and in all these, they counted them as profits, not even considering the workers that worked for them to make these profits,” he said.

In light of the country’s socio-economic condition, including workers’ health and the national minimum wage of N30,000, David said it was time for labor leaders to rise to the occasion once more to save Nigerian workers.

“Going down memory lane when the minimum wage issue was being discussed with the Federal Government then, the exchange rate was N360 and petrol price was still N97. But now, the dollar is almost N500 and the petrol price is N165. These developments have thrown a challenge to labour leaders to once again rise to the occasion.

“Apart from inflation and exchange rate, the high level of insecurity in the country has made it difficult for an average worker to get things at ease, which had made things go above the reach of the common man.”

“We need togetherness and unity. We must be able to point out to employers when they err for them to make adjustments.”

As Nigerian workers gathered around the country to commemorate Workers Day under the auspices of the National Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), one message was clear: to avoid further attempts by those in positions of power to drive them off the edge.

Tributes pour in At Yinka Odumakin’s Lying in State

Tributes pour in At Yinka Odumakin’s Lying in State

On Thursday, April 22, a number of prominent Nigerians attended the late activist Yinka Odumakin’s lying-in-state ceremony at the Police College in Ikeja, Lagos.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, a former governor of Ondo state, Olusegun Mimiko, and a former governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos, Jimi Agbaje, were among those who attended the ceremony.

Afenifere chief Pa Ayo Adebanjo, influential human rights lawyer Femi Falana, SAN, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, Mohammed Fawehinmi, were all present.

Nigeria has lost one of its most brave and patriotic men, and the Yoruba nation has lost an illustrious son, with the death of Yinka Odunmakin.

Yinka Odumakin was a hero in the pro-democracy movement, known for voicing truth to authority and championing the cause of justice and fairness – and he did so for decades until his death.

Representatives from a variety of civil society groups from around the world were in attendance. 

Odumakin died from COVID19-related complications at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital isolation centre on Friday, April 2.

Local Goverment Resources: The Cash Cow of the Governors

Local Goverment Resources: The Cash Cow of the Governors

By Okiemute Esiri

The  36 state governors of Nigeria are united in their opposition to allowing local governments absolute autonomy. Nigeria’s local government system is dysfunctional due to governors’ disproportionate power over the third tier of government through the use of unpopular pooled accounts, as well as widespread abuse and political patronage.

President Muhammadu Buhari on May 20, 2020 signed an Executive order that guaranteed financial autonomy of state legislature, judiciary and local goverment and Up untill now, the order is yet to be implemented due to the refusal by the ‘comandos‘ governors.

In Nigeria’s political dispensation, governors are very powerful. After the President, whom the respected outspoken Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, described as being the most powerful in the world – regardless of who occupies the office – the governors are next in the power-wielding game.

Some of these governors are also treated as demigods in some states, and it’s not only because of their titles, though that helps, particularly when combined with the cliche, “His Excellency.”

It’s all about the synthesis of the immense forces bestowed upon them by the constitution and the vast resources available to them.

Despite these powers, it seems that governors are dissatisfied, and this is evident on how they intervene with the governance and financing of other branches of government in their jurisdictions, such as the judiciary, legislature and the local goverment administration.

However, in their pursuit of greater authority, they will often go to whatever extent, including disregarding the law, disobeying court rulings, and refusing or battling official procedures. Without a doubt, this has harmed governance at the subnational level.

The states are required by the Constitution to hold local government elections, governors tend to nominate caretaker committees in order to maintain control of local government funds and to install their cronies in positions of power in order to increase their presence at the local level.

As a result, appointees feel compelled to show allegiance to their backers, even though it means neglecting their responsibilities to the people they serve. This will explain the lack of growth at the grassroots level.

Let us consider how local governments could carry out some of the duties outlined in the Nigerian Constitution. Construction and maintenance of bridges, sidewalks, streetlights, drains, and other public highways, parks, gardens, open fields, and other public facilities; provision and maintenance of public conveniences, drainage, and waste disposal; and establishment, maintenance, slaughterhouses, markets and motor parks; assessment of privately-owned houses or tenements for the purpose of levying such rates as may be prescribed by the House of Assembly of a state, collection of rates, radio and television licences, establishment and maintenance of cemeteries, burial grounds and homes for the destitute or infirm, naming of roads and streets and numbering of houses; registration of all births, deaths and marriages; control and regulation of out-door advertising and hoarding, movement and keeping of pets of all description, shops and kiosks, restaurants, bakeries and other places for sale of food to the public, laundries, and licensing, regulation and control of the sale of liquor.

Unfortunately, most state governments have taken over some of these functions, especially when it comes to tax collection. For example, most state legislatures have cleverly usurped the right to manage and oversee out-of-door advertisements and hoarding, as well as other tax outlets that are the prerogative of municipal governments, and are profiting handsomely from it.

The abolition of joint accounts would relieve local councils and improve their power, as well as relieve governors of the pressure of public expectation. This would also force local governments to fulfill their statutory obligations.

Most local councils in Nigeria are only able to pay wages due to the operation of joint accounts, and what is left is often too small to spend on production, and therefore always ends up in officials’ personal pockets. While the joint account was created with the intention of reducing corruption in local councils, it has turned out to be the worst thing that has ever happened to the local government system.

The governors are benefiting fat on the resources of the local goverment councils and that is one reason they are opposed to Local Goverment autonomy.

Why are the governors adamant and unwilling to allow local government in their states to enjoy absolute and sincere autonomy? The answer is yet unknown but majority of Nigerians believe the governors are corrupt and trying to hide skeletons in their cupboard. We will be posting coments and videos from Nigerians on the streets. You can also send in your comments and we will publish them.

Prof. Abdul Rasheed Na’Allah : The Emperor of University of Abuja

Prof. Abdul Rasheed Na’Allah : The Emperor of University of Abuja

The vice chancellor of university of Abuja, Prof. Abbdul Na’Allah has installed himself as an emperor at the university, setting a tense atmosphere at the school.

Front View UNIABUJA senate Building

Na’Allah, a professor of Comparative Literature, served two terms as the vice chancellor of Kwara State University between 2009 and 2019.

He was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University Of Abuja  (UNIABUJA) in 2019.

After his appoinment, There was anxiety and optimism among students, but upon resumption, His actions have been autocratic rather than democratic.

A top source of the university who claims anonymity said “The government is to blame for whatever is happening at the university. The government is responsible for the appointment of Universities’ leadership and most times, they are selected based on party affiliation and not merit” he said

“ It’s a shame UNIABUJA is facing these kind of issues right now. It’s not only students that are affected, it cuts across the entire school system as these kind of policies are strange to us here”

Here are some of the contencious actions taken by Na’Allah upon resumption:

  • Immediate increment in school fees
  • Immediate increment of acceptance fees from N4,500 to N30,000
  • Immediate increment of hostel accommodation fees (This has made most students relocate to off campus)
  • Shuttle buses moving students between both campuses were stopped

Some others include;

  • Upgrade of the school portal and appointment of portable managers and ICT operators in Ilorin, his home state ( students are made to call personnels in Ilorin whenever they have issues relating to the portal)
  • Dissolution of the Students Union Government Executives and setting up a caretaker committee without a blueprint for elections

In February 2021, the Students of the University of Abuja staged a protest along the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Expressway and the entrance to the main campus against alleged hike in tuition fee and other issues.

The management of the school had promised to look into issues raised by the students, but the Vice Chancellor made a U-turn and dissolved the SUG executive due to what a close source refered to him as saying “ they are not loyal”.

On April 5th 2021, Students were shocked with a statement released by the Vice Chancellor which reads, ‘Anyone who has not registered his or her courses or having issues related to portal payment is not a student of the school. Therefore, the current session should be deferred. In addition to this, an ultimatum of three weeks was given from the 5th of April, 2021 for deferment; else, such students will be completely withdrawn.”

A 200 level student of the department of philosophy who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “I made my fees payments on Thursday May 21, 2020. Unfortunately, the school’s portal closed immediately making me unable to register my courses for year two. It is important to note that, this happened during the course of the 2020 ASUU strike as well as the lockdown which lasted for months. I immediately sought for help at the school’s I.C.T department, currently located at Zenith Bank, University of Abuja main campus. I was asked to continue refreshing the portal and was assured that the portal will eventually become available to register courses. “

“As a result of the lockdown, I could not make any report until March 2021. I was still assured at the ICT department that the problem will be rectified soon and I would be able to register my courses. Later that month, the portal was completely shut down.

Another student who spoke on this same development expressed frustration and anger at the school authorities.

“I paid my school fees on the 9th, of March, 2020. However, the portal closed immediately after my payment was made through Remita. This challenge made it impossible for me to print out my school fees receipts. My payment was then reflecting as ‘pending’. Within a short while, it disappeared from the site totally, as if I haven’t made any payment at all. The only evidence of my transaction with the school was the Remita slip containing the RRR.

“I went further to the School’s I.C.T where I was encouraged to be patient and that my payment will eventually reflect on the portal.  To this day, nothing has changed”.

TWASC findings also revealed that some students are yet to pay school fees, while some others paid late.

A visit to the school’s ICT office saw one  Mr Kingdom, a staff of the University’s I.C.T unit directing affected students to the office of the Deputy Registrar to state their complains.

All efforts to speak with him were fruitless as he declined an interview.

Over 400 students were seen lamenting and making different complaints at the office of the deputy registrar. A female staff addressed the students on the issue, advising them to comply with the VC’s directive.

As at the time of filing this report, a message sent to the school’s PRO mobile phone is yet to be responded to. With this new development, these students sent a mail to the address made available by the school for complains on school fees payments. There was no response, neither were changes made.

In addition to the challenges faced by students is a report from a 100 level student in Faculty of  Arts,(Student’s Name and Department withheld). Her case is totally away from school fees payments and course registration challenges. She shared her story with TWASC.

“I successfully paid my acceptance fee and school fees before the pandemic. However, due to hitches with the portal, I was unable to convert my JAMB registration number into Matric number, a general procedure for first year screening exercise. This lingered all through the lockdown period. By the time school re-opened, I returned to the I.C.T unit  to seek for help.”

“It became really complicated because the portal was closed and it was assumed that anyone who didn’t have evidence of his/ her payments or registration of any sort didn’t do it before the date of the portal closure. I then contacted Mr. Kingdom severally via phone calls, texts and physical meetings but it was all futile. When it was time for me to commence my semester exams in the University, I became worried, but was advised to use my  JAMB registration number during my exams. This meant that, there was no course registration for first semester and I could barely prove that I have been offered admission into the school”

Currently, the young girl has been advised by the school to either defer the session too or sit for the next JAMB examinations and seek for another admission.

TWASC is calling on students who are affected with similar cases to send in their petition to our email address: twascorg@gmail.com, as we do a follow up with the school authorities before the said date of deferment.

A Rubber Stamp Senate? : ‘We Are Not Rubber Stamp Senate’, Ahmed Lawan- President of the Senate

A Rubber Stamp Senate? : ‘We Are Not Rubber Stamp Senate’, Ahmed Lawan- President of the Senate

By Okiemute Esiri

“We in the National Assembly have been working with the veto arm of the government, so far, so good. We do so consciously, we do so purposefully, we do so patriotically because we believe that both arms of government are voted in to serve the people.

“And where we will have to disagree with the veto arm of government, we’ll do so. We have done so before and if it becomes necessary to do so, we will do it again,” Ahmed Lawan -President of the Nigerian Senate

The Senate President who was Special Guest at the commissioning of New Evans Ewerem Way in Imo State noted that the two arms of government are working in tandem to see that the dividends of democracy are duly provided for the Nigerian people.

 “But where we have no cause to differ, where we have no cause to say ‘No!’ we will not differ and we will not say no because that is what will serve the people of this country.

“We don’t care if the opposition will say ‘this rubber stamp assembly,’ you had an assembly that never saw anything good in working together, what did the people get, nothing.

“As a person, as the chairman of the National Assembly, as the president of the Senate, I don’t care if you say what we do is rubber stamp but you know inside you, inside your heart, that we are not Rubber stamp; we are there to make sure that the people of this country get the best deal from the government that they vote in.”

The separation of powers in democracy is to ensure that one arm of government does not dominate the others and that none abuses its powers.

Also while it is ideal to recognize their inter-dependence, an enlightened legislature in endorsing every aspiration of the other arm does not do it mindlessly.

The 8th senate under Bukola Saraki, is seen by majority of Nigerians as the best senate since 1999, its firmness also created a frosty relationship with the Executive Under Buhari.

Evidently, there is sufficient information on why the 9th National Assembly is configured to seemingly align with the perceptions of those that dismiss it as a rubber stamp of the executive. Among others, the legislators through the senate president, Ahmad Lawan, have vigorously had to defend itself that if choosing to have a harmonious relationship with the other arms, primarily for the overall benefits of the masses; is the basis for such negative label, that they are ready to wear it with dignity that Nigeria may work again.

Now, Let’s X-ray the narrative about Nigeria’s rubber stamp legislature, there are two closely-related perspectives that are fundamental.

Firstly, an individual, a group and organizations are rated based on what is known about them. Then secondly, despite the amount of available information, certain persons are inclined to select only those that suit their dispositions. So head or tail, entities are judged objectively or subjectively depending on varying tendencies.

One glaring and contencious issue the executive had with the 8th senate is the approval for overseas loans without providing necessary details for which it was not granted.

The first and clearest indication that we have a rubber stamp senate was immediately the 9th senate was constituted they would pass a $29.96 billion loan request by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The president had sent the same request to the eight Senate under Bukola Saraki in 2016. He had requested for about $30 billion.

The then lawmakers, however, rejected the request as majority voted against it when it was brought for consideration.

A former lawmaker, Shehu Sani, had explained in an interview that the eight Senate rejected the President’s loan request to save Nigeria from sinking into the dark gully of a perpetual debt trap.

Mr Sani, who was the chairman of the Senate committee on local and foreign debt, said the eight Senate did not want the country to be recolonised by creditor banks.

Nigeria’s external debt in 2015 was $10.32 billion and it escalated to $22.08 in the second quarter of 2019 – which is 114 per cent. Had the eight Senate approved that loan request, Nigeria’s external debt could have catapulted to over $52 billion and that is not sustainable, he said.

While reacting to the 2016 rejection, Mr Lawan, who was then a senator, said the Senate was right then to have rejected the loan request.

The Projects to which these loans are being acquired are invisible in the eyes of the ordinary Nigerians who have continued to endure the hard economic impact of today Nigeria.

According to dataobtained from the Debt Management Office (DMO). Nigeria’s total debt as of Q3 2020 stood at N32.2trn from N12.6trn as of 2015. Nigeria’s debt increased by +155.56% in Q3 2020 from N12.6trn in 2015. Nigeria’s debt to revenue ratio as of Q1 2020 was 99% in other words of the N950.56 billion retained revenue of the Federal Government, N943.13 billion was used to service debt, although this improved slightly in May 2020 as the debt-to-revenue ratio dropped to 72%.

Nigeria’s ballooning debt profile is a major source of worry for the economy and its fiscal stability. The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened Nigeria’s rising debt profile. A recent report released by an international rating agency, Fitch, shows that although Nigeria’s economic outlook has been upgraded to stable, its new investment grade of B is not an investment grade. A rising debt profile with no clear viable outlook regarding revenue is of major concern.

The senate has rubber stamps every request of this present administration, What is your take on the 9th senate? Rubber stamp or Not?

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