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Buhari sacks Bianca, Tafida, Maduekwe, Farounbi, others appointed by Jonathan

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President Buhari Loses Second Nephew In 23 Days

The call of duty is over for top ranking members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who were appointed ambassadors by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

They were recalled home last night by President Muhammadu Buhari after three years of service abroad.

Prominent among them are a former Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Ojo Maduekwe (Canada); Chairman of the Jonathan Presidential Campaign Organisation in the 2011 election, Dr. Dalhatu Tafida (UK);Professor Ade Adefuye (USA);widow of the late Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Bianca (Spain);and former deputy governor of Oyo State, Mr. Taofeek Arapaja (Jordan).

The rest include a former aviation minister, Mrs. Fidelia Njeze (Switzerland);ex-General Manager, Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Ibadan, Mr. Yemi Farounbi (Philippines); a one-time governorship aspirant in Lagos State, Mr. Olatokunbo Kamson (Jamaica); a PDP front liner in Ondo State, Mr. Cornelius Oluwateru (UAE); Alhaji Abubakar Shehu Bunu (Saudi Arabia); a former Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General in Benue State, Mr. Chive Kaave (Argentina); a former financial secretary of the PDP, Alhaji Tukur Mani (Iran);and former permanent secretary, Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA Biodun Nathaniel Olorunfemi (Namibia).

Also on the list are: Chief Asam Asam (SAN), (Russia); Mr. Okwudili Nwosu (Burundi); Mr. Okeke Chukwuemeka (Vatican); Mr. Eric Aworahbi (Italy); Dauda Danladi (Pakistan); and Mrs. Katherine Okon (Czeck Republic); Mr. Nwofe Alexander,; Princess Victoria Bosede Onipede (Republic of Congo); Senator Haruna Garba (Kuwait); Mrs. Nonye Rajis-Okpara (Singapore); Chief Eddy Onuoha (Hungary); Mr. Adamu Babangida Ibrahim (Syria); Dr. Sam Jimba (Poland)

They were among the 93 envoys posted out in June 2012.

Authoritative sources said last night in Abuja that the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had communicated the President’s directive to the affected ambassadors.

They were told to hand over to the highest ranking officer in their various locations.

A Presidency source confirmed to The Nation that some of the ambassadors including the envoy in Saudi Arabia were already on their way back to the country at press time.

The source said: “the President has issued a directive to the Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Foreign Affairs to recall all the political appointees currently serving as ambassadors in all parts of the world. It doesn’t matter whether they have just few months to the end of their tenure.

“I am sure the envoy in Saudi Arabia is already on his way and quite many others should be reporting to the ministry by Monday. I really don’t have a comprehensive list of the number of people that are affected but they are posted in different continents mostly in key European, Asian and American countries.”

The sack is the biggest since President Buhari assumed office on May 29.

Their nominations were endorsed by the Senate on Wednesday February 8, 2012, nearly two months after former President Jonathan submitted their names.

On the list were 32 names of politicians.

The ex-President in a letter to the then Senate President, David Mark, requested that in line with section 171(1) C, sub-section 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, the Senate should consider the list, hoping that “this exercise will receive the usual kind expeditious attention of the Distinguished Members of the Senate of the Federal Republic.”

Of the 88 nominees sent to the Senate by Jonathan, only 87 appeared before the screening committee, while 84 passed the screening. Two of the nominees, Mrs. Sifawu Momoh, Edo; and Mazi Okafor Ojih, Ebonyi, could not scale the screening as the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs did not recommend them for confirmation.

Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu, who was nominated to represent Anambra State on the list of non-career category, did not appear for screening but was confirmed nonetheless, her nomination coming barely a week after her husband died in a London hospital.

Maduekwue was nominated by Jonathan following his ouster as National Secretary of the party in what observers said was a move to placate him.

Kamson, Njeze and Arapaja had all failed to secure the party’s governorship tickets in their states.

The recall of Ambassadors serving in foreign missions is a routine exercise especially where there is a change of guard at the federal level.

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Governors, Labour kick as NNPC presents N3tr subsidy bill to FEC

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The controversies surrounding continued payment of fuel subsidy may not have ended as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited, yesterday, presented a bill of N3 trillion for deliberations at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to the Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, N3 trillion is the amount required to continue to subsidise petroleum products for the 18 months extension recently approved by the Presidency.

Ahmed, who broke the news to State House correspondents, explained that FEC considered the request so as to make additional funding provisions that will enable government meet incremental fuel subsidy payment in the 2022 budget.

According to her, only N443 billion is currently available in the 2022 budget meant to accommodate subsidy from January to June.

Buttressing the position of the government, she said with current realities on ground, especially the poverty rate on the part of Nigerians, the NNPC presented a request for N3 trillion to the Ministry of Finance for 2022.

“What this means is that we have to make incremental provision of N2.557 trillion to be able to meet subsidy requirement, which is averaging about N270 billion per month.

“In 2021, the actual under-recovery that has been charged to the Federation was N1.2 trillion, which means an average of N100 billion, but in 2022, because of the increased crude oil price per barrel in the global market, now at $80 per barrel, and also because an NNPC’s assessment shows that the country is consuming 65.7 million litres per day, we will end up with an incremental cost of N3 trillion in 2022.

“Having taken into account the current realities; increased hardship in the population, heightened inflation and also that measures needed to be taken to enable a smoother exit from the fuel subsidy regime are not yet in place, it was agreed by Council that it is desirable to exit fuel subsidy at a conducive time.”

She revealed that the Council directed the ministry to approach the National Assembly for an amendment to the fiscal framework, including the budget.

BUT the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have blamed the NNPC for the mismanagement of the proceeds accruing from oil.

They have also resolved to enter into working partnership to investigate consumption and distribution figures released by NNPC regarding petroleum products. The NGF disclosed this, yesterday, at its meeting with labour leaders, led by NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, to deliberate on the fuel subsidy removal issue.

A statement by NGF’s media adviser, AbdulRazaque Bello Barkindo, disclosed that “both parties agreed that the lacuna in the subsidy removal agenda was hidden in the untruths bandied by the administrators of the subsidy, particularly the NNPC, which both groups identify to be at the forefront of the mismanagement of the proceeds that accrued therein.”

Delivering his opening remarks at the meeting, which was also attended by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) president and a host of other leaders of organised labour in the country, NGF chairman and governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, argued that the nation’s economy is at the precipice and that it has become necessary for the two groups to carefully verify all NNPC’s estimates, to ensure that whatever action is taken on subsidy will be to the benefit of the people and not a few wealthy individuals and their cronies.

The NGF chairman, who led a delegation of governors Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State and Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, to the meeting, stressed that governors cannot ignore the economics of petroleum, arguing that all the countries surrounding Nigeria, including Niger, Mali, Cameroun and Ghana have their fuel pump price at the equivalent of a U.S. dollar.

“Nigeria has a pump price that is far less than a dollar and is uncomfortable with the removal of subsidy until the challenge of what the NNPC is telling the country is confronted frontally.

“We need a partnership with the NLC to confront the challenges of what the NNPC is about, because there is a lot of fraud in the consumption and distribution figures that the country is getting and we can only move forward if the NLC engages all those who are knowledgeable in the field like PENGASSAN to conduct a thorough research into the sector before any further action is taken on subsidy,” Fayemi said.

He added that only about eight states are benefitting directly from the subsidy while all the others have to contend with the situation on their own.

Commenting, Obaseki warned that the country has a choice of continuing to behave “like Father Christmas (Santa Claus) or take concrete actions on a problem that is permanently with us rather than throwing away N3 trillion on subsidy.”

The Plateau governor, who like Obaseki, joined the meeting virtually, recalled that the NGF had spent three years on this matter. He stated: “We must find options and create opportunities that address the hardships that stare our people in the face.”

The unionists, according to the statement, argued that the conflicting figures that always came from managers of the petroleum sector had always tended towards inefficiency, which have remained, and to organised labour, completely objectionable.

Wabba and TUC president, Quadri Olaleye, wondered why the subsidy issue had always been shrouded in secrecy on the part of government.

Also, NLC National Deputy President, Comrade Bello Ismail, has advised the Federal Government against any attempt to increase the pump price of petroleum products during the tenure of this administration that would terminate in 2023.

Ismail, who addressed Kaduna State workers on the outcome of the suspension by the Federal Government of its initial plan to hike the pump price of petrol, said labour would continue to watch any action of the Buhari administration and ensure it did not increase pump price of fuel in future.

MEANWHILE, the Presidency, yesterday, reiterated the concerns of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) that Nigeria would have to pay a price to continue subsidising petrol, adding that the country may be left with no other choice than to continue borrowing to shoulder its fiscal overhead.

The President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said this when he featured on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme yesterday. He said petrol is not deregulated by the Federal Government, as the price is sold at between N162 and N165/litre at filling stations, far lower than the actual cost of the commodity.

In June 2021, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, stated that petrol price should be more than N280/litre, while the commodity had been subsidised and sold at N162/litre since last year.

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Gunmen kidnap Ex-President Jonathan’s cousin in Bayelsa

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Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s cousin, Jephthah Robert, has been abducted by gunmen at his residence in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital.

It was learnt that the abductors had yet to contact the family since his kidnap on Monday.

The police spokesman in Bayelsa State, SP Asinim Butswat, who confirmed the abduction, said they were intensifying efforts to rescue the victim and arrest the abductors.

Though the detail of the abduction was sketchy, the rate of kidnappings in Bayelsa State has been on the increase recently.

Just last Monday, the state Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Federal Otokito, regained freedom after spending five days in the kidnappers’ den.

He was said to have been kidnapped by the cartel operating illegal refineries in his community for trying to obstruct their operations.

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FEC okays proposed amendments to 2022 budget

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The Federal Executive Council has approved a proposed amendment to the 2022 budget following the initial adjustments made by the National Assembly to the proposal submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2021.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said the approved amendments to be transmitted to the National Assembly would request to repeal clauses 10 and 11 concerning the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit operations in the 2022 budget and as well restore what the lawmakers had deleted amounting to N103bn.

She said: “Clause 10 is referring to a provision that has been made that will enable the EFCC and NFIU be able to take 10% of whatever collections that they recover.

“We’re asking for that to be repealed because this is in direct contrast to the Acts of these two agencies and also it is in contravention of the Fiscal Responsibility Act and the Finance Act 2021.

“Clause 11, on the other hand, is a provision that has been made that says that the Nigeria embassies and missions are now authorized by this Appropriation Act to expend funds allocated to them under Capital Components without the need to seek approval of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

She said FEC also ratified an instrument on diplomatic relations between Nigeria and South Africa with the coming of Africa’s Continental Free Trade Agreement.

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