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Pipeline vandals hurt most communities more than government – President Buhari

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President Buhari today said the destruction of oil facilities by vandals was hurting the host communities, the majority of the people and the environment more than the government.

Receiving South-South Monarchs Forum (SSMF) led by King Edmund Daukoru, Mingi XII, Amanyanabo of Nembe Kingdom, at State House, President Buhari appealed to South-South elders to do more to end pipeline vandalism in their communities.

The President told the traditional rulers who came to congratulate him on his re-election and discuss issues of specific relevance to the zone, that they were culturally and traditionally positioned to complement government efforts on enhancing security in the Niger Delta.

He, therefore, charged them to educate the youths on the dangers such nefarious activities posed to the environment and the economy. ‘‘You need to educate the people that the destruction of installations is hurting the majority of the people.

If pipelines are blown and the waters are polluted, it affects both the fishermen and farmers. Even the fishes in the sea are affected. These people who blow up the installations are hurting the people more than they are hurting the government,’’ the President said.

President Buhari also decried the spate of kidnapping in the area, urging the royal fathers not to relent in their support to security agencies to effectively contain the negative trend.

Responding to an inquiry by the group on 10 per cent equity participation for host communities in solid minerals and whether the same is applicable to the oil sector, President Buhari said:

‘‘The constitution is very mindful of the way resources are shared. The 13 per cent derivation means that relative to whatever you are producing, 13 per cent is given to your States.

‘‘Then, whatever is offshore in the continental shelf belongs to the nation. Again your States get their own shares. This means your constituencies get two shares, the 13 per cent derivation and the balance in the continental shelf, which is shared among the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

‘‘If the 13 per cent or what is in the continental shelf is not getting to you then I think by now you ought to have known because you have qualitative leaders with great antecedents.

‘‘For example, when I was a junior officer, one of the royal fathers here was Governor of a State.

‘‘Everybody knows him and he has continuously been in the limelight of the politics of the country, and if the Federal Government is cheating you by denying you part of the 13 per cent derivation or the balance from the continental shelf, you as the leadership ought to have seen it by now and brought it out.’’

On Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the President told the Forum that his administration was mindful of the core mandate of the commission.

‘‘We are concerned about the leadership of NDDC and we hope that money which is constitutionally allocated to it is properly utilised for infrastructure in the area.

‘‘Be assured that we are very mindful of the conditions in your area and how strategic your geopolitical zone is to the economy and stability of the country,’’ the President said.

Congratulating the President on his re-election, Daukoru said: ‘‘In exercise of our role as traditional rulers, we plead with all those who are unhappy with the imperfections of our electoral process to graciously transcend their grievances and to join the immense task we all face of building a secure and prosperous Nigeria.’’

A prepared text presented by the Royal Father on behalf of the Forum raised the issue of Niger Delta security, economic development, infrastructure, environment and oil sector matters.

On oil sector matters, King Daukoru said: ‘‘Mr President, we think it is time to hold operators accountable for their lack of transparency in community development programmes.’’

The traditional ruler accused the operators, among others, of ‘‘polarising communities and by-passing traditional authority by pandering to the interest of bully boys and their local militia.’’

Speaking on behalf of Bayelsa Elders’ Council, HRM Alfred Diete-Spiff (former military governor, old Rivers State), the Amanyanabo of Twon-Brass Kingdom, appealed for more tangible Federal presence in Bayelsa.

He urged the Federal Government to give priority attention and award contracts for Ogbia-Nembe-Brass Road, Yenegoa-Oporoma-Ukubie-Koluama Road and Sagbama-Ekeremor-Agge-Road.

According to the Royal Father, the contracts for the construction of these roads were awarded by him 50 years ago as military governor, but nothing much had happened.

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Buhari govt insists on VAT increment, gives reason

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Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, has insisted that Value Added Tax (VAT) has to increase.

She said this while noting that the nation will not be able to reach 80 per cent revenue performance for 2019.

Ahmed at the public presentation of the 2020 budget proposals, said that as at half year, the actual aggregate revenue for 2019 was N2.04 trillion, which was 58 per cent of the prorate target.

Ahmed said of the figure, oil revenue accounted for N900 billion, Company Income Tax (CIT) N349.11 billion, Value Added Tax (VAT) N81.36 billion and Customs Collections N184.10 billion.

“As to whether we will reach the N8.33 trillion at the end of 2019 is very unlikely and that is why we have to make special efforts to boost revenue performance”, NAN quoted her as saying.

“It is clear that we can not reach even 80 per cent and that is why we have to do several things to make sure that revenue performance is enhanced.

“Releases did not start until late July and as at last week we had scheduled and releases are now up to N650 billion.”

According to her, N294.63 billion was released for capital expenditure as at the end of September, but the target is to be able to reach N900 billion by the end of December 2019.

Ahmed said that of the total appropriation of N8.92 trillion, N3.39 trillion had been spent by June 30, as against the prorated expenditure budget of N4.58 trillion, representing 76 per cent performance.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2019 Appropriation Bill was presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on Dec. 19, 2018, but was signed into law on May 27, 2019.

The N8.92 trillion budget had a revenue projection of N6.97 trillion, consisting of oil revenue projected at N3.73 trillion while non-oil revenue was estimated at N1.39 trillion.

Estimates for non-oil revenue consisted of N799.52 billion from CIT, N229.34 billion from VAT and Customs Duties of N302.55 billion.

The 2019 budget was predicated on oil production of 2.3 million barrels per day at 60 dollars per barrel and an exchange rate of N305 per dollar.

On the issue of border closure, she said only the main borders that were manned by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and other security operatives were closed.

She added that the nation had seen the benefits of the closure and that though there were some challenges, the NCS and the committee working on the borders closure was looking at how to ease some of the difficulties.

“It has to be Nigeria first and we have to protect our own industries because some of our neighbours have been flagrantly abusing commitments that we jointly signed to and the President has said this is no longer acceptable.

“The border closure is not forever, there will be an end date, the Federal Government is currently in discussion with governments of our neighbouring countries Niger and Benin Republic.

“We are negotiating to make sure that the challenges that led to the closure of the borders are addressed on both sides but, especially that our neighbors meet the commitments that we signed unto several years ago.

“Once those discussions are concluded, the borders will be opened again,” she said.

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Fuel subsidy to gulp N450bn in 2020

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Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget and national planning, says under-recovery, also known as subsidy, on petrol will be N450 billion in 2020.

She said this at the public presentation of the 2020 budget proposals in Abuja on Monday.

Ahmed said it was called “under-recovery” because it was the cost of operation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

“We have a provision for under-recovery of PMS in the sum of N450 billion. If you look at the budget office website, it is in the fiscal framework, which is an annexure to the budget,” she said.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday, presented a budget proposal of N10.33 trillion to a joint session of the national assembly.

He put the federal government’s estimated revenue in 2020 at N8.155 trillion, comprising oil revenue of N2.64 trillion, non-oil tax revenues of N1.81 trillion and other revenue of N3.7 trillion.

Other estimates are N556.7 billion for statutory transfers, N2.45 trillion for debt servicing and provision of N296 billion as sinking fund.

The 2020 budget is based on an oil production estimate of 2.18 million barrels per day, oil price benchmark of 57 dollars per barrel and an exchange rate of N305 to a dollar.

Ahmed said that recurrent (non-debt) spending was expected to rise by 11.28 per cent, from N4.39 trillion in 2019 to N4.88 trillion in 2020.

This, she said, would reflect in salaries and pensions, including provisions for implementation of the new minimum wage.

Ahmed said the overall budget deficit of N2.17 trillion represents 1.52 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and N1.64 trillion of it would be funded by both domestic and external borrowing.

According to her, the external sources will provide N850 billion, while domestic sources will provide N744.99 billion.

Citing the top 12 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) capital allocations, she said the ministry of works and housing was allocated N259.2 billion, power N127.67 billion, transportation N123.07 billion, education (including Universal Basic Education Commission) N162.74 billion.

Others are defence N99.87 billion, health N90.98 billion, agriculture and rural development, N79.79 billion and water resources, N78.34 billion.

Humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development, N45.45 billion, aviation, N53.85 billion, industry, trade and investment, N41.34 billion and science and technology, N37.55 billion.

She, however, said that there were key expenditures captured in the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF), but were not in the 2020 budget.

“They are N61 billion for the Presidential Power Initiative, N1.22 trillion for federally funded projects in the oil and gas sector to be undertaken by NNPC on behalf of the federation,” she said.

“Others are: N272 billion as transfers to Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) for infrastructure projects in tertiary institutions and N82.35 billion as transfer to Nigeria Sovereign Wealth Investment (NSIA) for Public Private Partnership/Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF).”

For revenue, Ahmed said there were strategic revenue growth initiatives (SRGI) aimed at boosting revenue generation to meet targeted revenue to GDP ratio of 15 percent.

She added that the SRGI would be implemented with increased vigour to improve revenue collection and expenditure management.

She said Nigeria must mobilise significant resources to invest in human capital development and critical infrastructure.

“Some reforms will be tough but they must be done to look at the facts and be frank to ourselves,” she said.

“However, we will engage the public sector in whatever we do, including any changes in taxes, with regards to rates or administration methods.”

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N1.1million ‘Jesus Shoes’ with holy water soles and mini crucifix go viral

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A pair of trainers dubbed ‘Jesus Shoes‘ — with holy-water injected soles coupled with a mini crucifix and drop of blood on the tongue to match — have begun to go viral.

The now-trending godly sneakers, which were created by MSCHF (Mischief), a Brooklyn-based creatives, sold out within minutes of being released online on Tuesday, October 8.

The MSCHF rebranded a pair of Nike Air Max 97 sneakers to implement the idea of walking on water with ‘Jesus Shoes’.

Nike was, however, not connected to the project in any way.

The ‘Jesus Shoes’, which are selling for as much as £3,000 (approximately N1.1million), contain holy water from the Jordan river in the bubbled soles, a steel crucifix on top of the laces of the right trainer and a red blob at the tip of each trainer tongue to signify the blood of Christ.

Each pair contains 60 cubic centimeters of liquid.

On the Stockx sneaker trading website the shoes are priced at $3,000-$4,300 a pair.

In addition to the holy water, which was blessed by a priest, there is also the biblical verse ‘Matthew 14:25’ — which accounts the act of Jesus walking on water — referenced on the side of the shoes.

The bottoms of the shoes are also dyed a reddish tint to mimic the shoes worn by popes long ago.

“We thought of that Arizona Iced Tea and Adidas collab, where they were selling shoes that [advertised] a beverage company that sells iced tea at bodegas,” Daniel Greenberg, the company’s head of commerce, told the New York Post.

“So we wanted to make a statement about how absurd collab culture has gotten. We were wondering, what would a collab with Jesus Christ look like?. As a Jew myself, the only thing I knew was that he walked on water.”

The company also disclosed that more of the sneakers will be available from October 22.

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