Aso Villa Reads for 03/02/2020

Every day, we bring you the best stories that the Media is reporting about the Government of Nigeria

The Federal Government will this week sign a tripartite pact with the United States of America and the Island of New Jersey for the repatriation of $321m looted by the late former Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha. A spokesperson for the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), Dr Umar Gwandu, said in a statement on Sunday that the minister would sign the agreement on behalf of the Federal Government in Washington DC. wandu stated that Malami departed Nigeria on Sunday to attend a three-day meeting of the United States-Nigeria Bi-national Commission in Washington DC, during which the signing of the pact would take place. The statement said, “At the meeting, the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice is expected to, on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, sign a tripartite agreement with Nigeria, the Island of New Jersey and the United States of America for the repatriation of $321m looted assets, as part of the Federal Government’s efforts to recover more stolen funds stashed abroad.” It added that the meeting was an annual event between Nigeria and the US aimed at reviewing the bilateral relationship and taking necessary steps to advance mutual interest in all diplomatic areas among the two countries. It described the meeting as “a friendly bi-national meeting that holds annually devoid of intervening concerns or relating to the internal affairs of the participating states.” According to the statement, other members of the Nigerian delegation to the meeting, apart from Malami, are, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo; Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd.); Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.); and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Faruk. Punch reports.

As reported by Punch, the Federal Government said over N100bn would be needed to reactivate the abandoned fishing terminals in Akwa Ibom State. The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, stated this on Saturday after a tour of the facilities located at Akai Ebughu and Ibaka in the Mbo Local Government Area of the state. He said, “Part of our efforts is to make sure that the economic potential of Nigeria in the sea, including agriculture, fishing, port activities and all things that can engage citizens of this country, as well as generating revenue for the economy are activated. “We are assessing the state of these multipurpose terminals which were initially conceived as fishing terminals but it is for all kinds of vessels and all economic activities. “These terminals when activated can take care of economic challenges of this country, which include; fishing and all kinds of import which would create employment.”

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has said the Federal Government cancelled the minimum tax for insurance sector to help the sector to grow. He said this in Abuja while delivering the National Defence College Course 28 Lecture. Osibanjo said, “We expect to see growth in the insurance industry because they are now to be treated like just any other company and a lot of restrictions on their growth have been removed by the Act.” He explained that operators in the industry had complained about lack of growth, adding that the tax amendment was good news for them. Before the Act was enacted, he said that insurance companies were only allowed to carry forward losses for four years, even when firms in other sectors of the economy could carry forward their losses indefinitely. He said, “This anomaly has now been removed. They can now carry their losses forward indefinitely.” The Vice President said the Finance Act was the government’s fiscal response to the twin issues of generating enough revenue and creating a good environment for businesses to thrive. He said the Finance Act had two main purposes. The first was that it addressed the issue of domestic revenue mobilisation. The second, he said, was that it contributed to improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria. Punch reported.

The Federal Government has said it will provide farmers with 10,000 tractors to boost agricultural output in the country. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Nanono, said the tractors, fertilisers, chemicals and other inputs would be distributed to farmers under a soft-loan scheme. The scheme, according to him, is designed to boost agricultural mechanisation in the country. The minister according to a statement from the ministry said these during a courtesy visit to the Emir of Dutse, Alhaji Nuhu Sanusi, in his palace. Nanono said the government would distribute the 10,000 tractors and inputs to farmers in the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria. According to Punch, the minister explained that each of the councils would be allocated tractors worth N150m each and inputs as soft loan to be repaid in an 11 year plan. He said the beneficiaries must be genuine farmers and indigenes of the participating Local Government Areas. Nanono noted that the gesture was to assist farmers to boost their production capacity so that the government could mop up excess produce for strategic reserves. The minister said the Federal Government would begin the implementation of the programme in the second quarter of this year.

The federal government, Monday, commenced induction training programme for 700 civil servants in a bid to improve their performance and efficiency. The training, organised by the Office of the acting Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, attracted directors and permanent secretaries, Office of the Head of the Civil Office to the Public Service Institute of Nigeria, PSIN, Kubwa, Abuja, venue of the event. Declaring the 5-Day training workshop open, Acting Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan charged the trainees to take advantage of the programme to acquire relevant skills needed to function in a global economy. Lamenting the failure to induct thousands of civil servants in the past, Dr Yemi-Esan noted that the Nigerian civil service was shifting emphasis away from theories to hands-on skills that will differentiate them (civil servants) from the pack. Vanguard reported.

The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri, has said the Turkish government has promised to invest $15 million in Nigeria’s agricultural sector in two years. The minister disclosed this when he received Turkish investment delegation led by the Commercial Counsellor, Turkish Embassy in Nigeria, Mr. Onur Akgul, in his office, recently in Abuja. In a statement from the ministry, Shehuri said that prior to the discovery of crude oil, agriculture was the main source of revenue generation in Nigeria, but, unfortunately, it was abandoned due to the easy resources realized from the oil sector. The minister acknowledged the fact that Nigeria stands to gain more from Turkey experience in the agricultural value chain having progressed exceedingly in the sector over the years. Shehuri pointed out that there are a lot of areas of collaboration between Nigeria and the Turkish government like subsistence and mechanized intervention farming in order to achieve food security for the development of the country. He assured the members of the delegation, the full support of the ministry, adding that the ministry will come up with a document that will guide all investors in the agricultural sector and help both the investors and the government achieve the desired goal. Sun News reported.

Nigeria’s finance minister, Zainab Ahmed, says the government is expecting to rake in some N252 billion from sales of public assets in 2020. Ahmed did not name the specific assets to be privatised. Ahmed, who sat down for an exclusive interview with BusinessDay at the Udo Udoma and Belo Osagie Private Equity Summit in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, said this would help in better utilizing some government assets as the country seeks to explore various forms in generating revenue in the wake of falling crude oil prices. “We have some government assets that have been scheduled for privatisation and we expect to generate between N250–252 billion from them”, Ahmed told Business Day on Friday.

The Federal Government has set up a committee to work out modalities for the exploitation and exploration of bitumen resources in the country. The development was in line with the economic diversification agenda. Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, inaugurated the nine-man Committee on the Development of Bitumin Resources in Abuja on Friday. Speaking during the event, Adegbite disclosed that Nigeria has an estimated reserve of about 42.74 billion metric tons of bitumen, mostly located in Ogun, Ondo, Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa states. He noted that the reserves have remained largely untapped for several years. Noting that bitumen is being used in road construction projects across the country, Adegbite said the Federal Government intends to explore and exploit the mineral for economic development. The committee, headed by the Director-General, Mining Cadastre Office, Simon Nkom, has officials in relevant departments in the ministry, and a representative from the Bureau of Public Enterprises, as members. Punch reported.