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Minister Fights NBS over Job Losses Figures



Chief Audu Ogbeh, minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, has picked holes in the recently released third quarter report of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), indicating that over four million jobs were lost under the present administration in 2017.


Ogbeh, at a press briefing on the National Egg Production Scheme (NEGPRO) in Abuja, faulted those he called ‘calculators of Nigeria’s economic indices’ for reporting job losses in the formal sector without noting that millions of jobs had been created in the informal sector.


The NBS report had stated that the country’s unemployment rate rose from 14.2% to 18.8% in 2017.


The reported job losses came on the heels of the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign promise to create 3million jobs annually, if it came into power.


Ogbeh claimed that there was no difference between income earned in the village and that earned in the towns and cities; pointing out that farmers; across the villages were getting richer.


Ogbeh said “In many of the states, communities have become richer. In some of the states; the last Hajj was funded; people bought their tickets; foreign exchange and travelled, they paid their way and went on Hajj in many of the northern states.


“Let me correct an impression; I’ve been reading in newspapers that Nigeria has lost four million jobs in the last two years and it became a campaign. But let me make it clear, if we’ve lost 4million jobs in the cities and in the factories; we’ve actually created six million jobs on the farms.


“Let no one pretend that income earned in the village is not the same as income elsewhere. There may have been some job losses; but there have been some job creation efforts in the rural areas because you will find this in many places that villagers are getting richer than many of us in the cities. In my village, the Cashew Association sold cashew worth over N150m and I am always proud to say that I taught them how to grow cashew nuts. And when I go home, I get palm wine in salutation.


“So, when the calculators of the economic indices of Nigeria talk, they don’t know what is going on below. I am in a position to say so because I see it. With this NEGPRO coming on board, another one million jobs would be added.”


However, the NBS report indeed stated that the nation’s labour population increased from 83.9 million in the second quarter of 2017, a difference of 1.2million in additional workforce.


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Senate Accuses Samsung of Abusing of FG’s Fiscal Policy



Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff has begun investigation into allegations of abuse of Federal Government’s Fiscal Policy by Samsung Electronics.


Senator Hope Uzodinma, chairman of the committee, told newsmen in Abuja that some foreign companies, including Samsung, were importing finished goods into the country in the guise that they were Complete Knocked Down (CKD)


Uzodinma said: “Foreigners are here, pretending to be manufacturing different products in Nigeria, pretending to be importing raw materials or Complete Knocked Down but in the real sense, they have no assembly plant.


“You can see how a globally acclaimed company like Samsung is importing into the country and pretending to be manufacturing or assembling their products in Nigeria.


“Meanwhile, it has been confirmed now that they have no assembly plant in Nigeria.”


Uzodinma said the committee also found out during its oversight visit to Somotex Companies in Lagos that the claim that they were assembling Samsung fridges and television in Ikeja was not true.

He said: “We visited the site, we saw no assembly plant.


“Samsung has confirmed that Somotex is one of their distributors whom they supply finished products.


“The question is: if they supply finished products to Somotex and Somotex is their distributor, how come Somotex is importing CKD and claim to be assembling it in Nigeria?”


The lawmaker lamented that Nigeria’s economy “is bleeding” and called for the recovery of the country’s non-oil revenue.


He said: “The non-oil sector must be protected because this investigation has revealed a lot of things and we will continue without fear or favour until all these things are properly stamped out.”


Uzodinma said the committee’s investigation entailed looking into the entire import and export value chain with a view to identifying areas of abuses and leakages.


He said: “Apart from the lousy nature of customs duty collections by the authorised banks and their non-remittances and partial remittances, where revenues have been recovered, we have gone into the abuse of fiscal policies.


“Government incentives are being abused by non-manufacturers, and fiscal policies that supposed to assist people to import raw materials are being abused, free trade zones have become points of smuggling.


“These are the areas we have identified and we have raised alarm so that it can be corrected.”


According to Uzodinma, the fiscal policies are borne out of good intentions but the abuses and manipulation by some of these people must be stopped so that the expected impact could be seen.


He said: “We have adopted a segmented approach of all discoveries sector-by-sector, under several subheads, different types of infractions ranging from falsification of Form M and tripping of foreign exchange, were noted.


“Abuse of fiscal policy, abandonment of Customs duly accessed fees and levies, these are different sub-heads that are being addressed.”


Uzodinma said a comprehensive report would be sent to the Senate at the end of the investigation.

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Shell Debunks Amnesty Allegations on Spills Management in Niger Delta



Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) has denied allegations of environmental mismanagement in the Niger Delta levelled against it at the weekend by Amnesty International, reiterating its commitment to swift response to oil spill incidents as much as access and security conditions permit teams to mobilise and deploy to spill sites to investigate, clean up and remediate such areas.


This is in addition to deploying technology and best practice to make it more difficult for unauthorised persons to break pipelines and steal crude oil from its facilities.


“SPDC, in collaboration with government regulators, responds swiftly to spill incidents as quickly as it can and cleans up spills from its facilities regardless of the cause,” said Igo Weli, General Manager, External Relations.


“We regularly test our emergency spill response procedures and capability to ensure staff and contractors can respond rapidly to an incident. However, response to spills, clean-up and remediation depend on access to the spill site and ultimately on the security of personnel and equipment while work is ongoing.”


He said Amnesty International’s allegations are false, without merit and fail to recognise the complex environment in which the company operates where security, a sole prerogative of Government, remains a major concern with persisting incidents of criminality, kidnapping, vandalism, threats from self-described militant groups, etc.


Mr. Weli said the transparency in the online reporting of spill incidents by SPDC in its areas of since 2011, which Amnesty International itself acknowledged, demonstrates its commitment to creating awareness and enhancing collaboration with key stakeholders on oil spill response and clean-up processes and deepening understanding of the complex and challenging operating environment. “SPDC reiterates its commitment to carrying out operations in line with best practice in a responsible and environment-friendly manner,” he added.


Over the years, SPDC, the operator of a joint venture between the government-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation – NNPC, SPDC, Total E&P Nigeria Ltd and the ENI subsidiary Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited, sustained air and ground surveillance as well as anti-theft mechanisms on equipment and pipelines to mitigate third-party interference and ensure that spills are detected and responded to as quickly as possible.


The company conducts daily over-flights of its pipeline network to identify any new spill incidents or illegal activities, and installed state-of-the-art high definition camera to a specialised helicopter that greatly improves the surveillance of our assets.


SPDC also works diligently to develop new hardware barriers and technologies to detect and prevent oil theft, sabotage, criminality and other types of third party interference that cause environmental damage, participating in industrial organisations in Nigeria as well as internationally to share best practices.


Regrettably, despite these and other efforts, criminals still target oil and gas infrastructure, causing spills, and the company is continuing to focus attention on the detrimental impact of these activities on people, the economy and environment in engagements with the media, government officials, diplomats and community people.



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Rights Group to Picket Telcos, Pay TV Operators over Poor Services



Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice (CHRSJ), a civil rights organisation, has expressed its readiness to picket and disrupt business activities in telecoms and pay television service providing companies in the country.


The group has already sent a petition to the National Assembly in this regard, asking it to act in the interest of the Nigerian masses.


The petition dated Monday 18th of December, 2017 was addressed to Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Senate President, and Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the House of Representatives.


It was copied to President Muhammadu Buhari and Mr. Adebayo Shittu, minister of Communications.


Also copied include the Chairmen of both the Senate and House Committees on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition, the Minister for Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, the Inspector-General of Police, the Director-General of the Department of State Security (DSS).


CHRSJ specifically listed companies to be affected to include MTN, Airtel, 9Mobile and Glo while the affected pay television to include Strong TV, DSTv, Startimes and GOTV.

It accused the companies of extorting Nigerians via provision of poor services and high fees, saying the trend would come to an end after the expiration of an ultimatum it gave for the companies to change their operational mode.

Comrade Adeniyi A. Sulaiman, executive chairman of CHRSJ, said that the organisation had in December 2017 written the affected companies, telling them that they risk having their operations disrupted should they continue to milk the Nigerian people via poor and exorbitant fees.


CHRSJ also flayed telecoms operators for habitually failing to redeem promo offers to their customers who are usually ripped off as some of the claims are bogus and never enjoyed by the people.


In the statement, the group stated that apart from the petition, its members are expected to stage series of rallies and protest marches across the country with a view to sensitizing the public on the need to preserve and secure their rights for quality service.


Sulaiman added: “We have written and fine tuned our petitions to the National Assembly, the Presidency the ministers responsible for supervising the activities of these companies and organisations.


“After that, we have mobilised our members to be on standby as we will also stage peaceful rallies in the premises of the affected ministries, which would last for a year terminating on October 1st, 2019 based on our engagement diary and timetable.


“We are also engaging the National Assembly with a view to ensure that they do the needful by siding with the masses of Nigeria in this struggle and that they must respect and act on the petitions that we have written to them.”


Sulaiman listed some of the grouse of his group to include unsolicited messaging, over billing for terminated calls from telecom services as some of the ways they have been fleecing Nigerians, saying the situation would no longer be condoned.


For Ikeja Electric, Sulaiman accused the company of unduly fleecing the people through bogus and phony estimated billing system, which he said has left many people poor, saying the company should commence aggressive metering drive of its customers otherwise it would incur its wrath.


He listed participating group that would participate at the planned protest marches and rallies to include the following; Apata Ayeraye Socio-political Volunteer Group, De Mainstream Independent Campaign Group and we, the facilitator, the Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice.


Others include Centre for Constitutional Rights and Counter-Corruption Crusade, the Conscience Mainstream, African Masses Voices for Survival, The Christian Youth for the Peoples Rights and Development.


Sulaiman also listed the Coalition Against Illegal Arrest and Unlawful Detention, Islamic Movement for Muslim Rights, Veteran Group for Operation Clean Crusade, Divine Nigerians Liberators for Peoples Fundamental Rights.


Others are Passengers Fundamental Rights Group in Africa, The Christian Volunteer Group for Good Governance in Nigeria, The Islamic Political Awareness Group, the Christian Awareness Mission Group and Centre for Socio Justice and Equity.


“We are urging these companies to desist from their illegal and unlawful activities of milking the people of this country. We will not relent in our efforts at ensuring that we make them do the right thing by utilising all legal and lawful means to send them out of the country should they continue in their evil ways of subjecting the people to poverty and misery.” Sulaiman concluded in the statement.





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