Friday, 19 January 2018
Tuesday, 25 December 2012 02:26

Fire razes NAFDAC Lagos office

Lagos, Dec. 24, 2012 (NAN)  A fire on Friday evening destroyed counterfeit products in the warehouse of National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Lagos.

Mr Abubakar Jimoh, the Deputy Director, Public Relations, confirmed the incident in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). He said that the fire started around 7p.m. at the warehouse where fake and counterfeit products are kept.
 
 "It happened in the warehouse where we keep fake and counterfeit products,’’ Jimoh said.
He said the fire might have been caused by an electrical fault as was the case in an earlier incident. "As I speak with you we are trying to overhaul the entire electrical system in the office,’’ Jimoh said.

 

 

 

Lagos, Dec. 24, 2012 (NAN) Alhaji Yahaya Ndu, the Chairman of the de-listed African Renaissance Party (ARP), on Sunday welcomed the decision of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to de-register his political party.

Ndu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that INEC was right in de-listing the party for operating with no verifiable headquarters and not winning a seat in the National and State assemblies. He also admitted that composition of National Executive Committee (NEC) of his party did not meet the requirements of Section 223 (1) and (2) of the amended 1999 Constitution. 
"It’s true that we no longer have a functional national headquarters, if I say it’s not true I am a liar. "I don't play politics of lies, I will prefer to fall on the side of truth than to stand on the side of lie,’’ he said.
 
Ndu said that his party would reapply for registration and had begun the process of setting up a new and functional national secretariat. He advised other de-registered parties to accept INEC’s decision, arguing that the commission acted within the provisions of the law.
"As far as my own party is concerned, the conditions that INEC set, we are no longer fulfilling them and that is why it is deregistering us.  "INEC would not have de-registered the political parties if they have not done something wrong. "The law which INEC acted on was made more than one year ago and political parties did nothing to change some of the issues which they have been indicted.’’ He recalled that INEC reached out to political parties in July during a meeting in Tinapa Calabar to discuss some issues with the new law.

"All the parties that came for that meeting walked out on INEC, I was the only party chairman that remained,’’ he said. 

Tuesday, 25 December 2012 02:06

HIV, a big problem in FCT

Abuja, Dec. 24, 2012 (NAN) Mr Mohammed Labaran, the Coordinator of HIV and AIDS in Gwagwalada Area Council, FCT, says the council has concluded plans to sensitise no fewer than 129 communities on HIV prevention.

Labaran told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday that the council had already reached out to 63 communities in order to ensure zero-HIV infection in the council by 2015.
He said that the council intended to create awareness, free HIV services and provide HIV kits for Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) for pregnant women during antenatal.
 
"There are a lot of procedures and strategies adopted during coordinators’ training, which we are going to apply in order to achieve strategy objectives,” he said.
According to him, this will ensure zero HIV infection in the council in particular and free HIV society at large. Labaran also said that the council was working to ensure effective HIV and AIDS prevention, supports and management of the scourge.
 
He said that the council had mapped out programmes on how to mobilise people to educate them, especially the pregnant women, on ways to effectively prevent mother-to-child transmission.
He also said that the council would establish Ward Development Committee in each of the wards, to give them basic facts and myths of HIV and AIDS. "These are people that are basically living in the community; we are going to call them from each ward because we have 10 political wards in the council. "Also if any wife was found to be positive, we encourage the husband to accept the result with good faith and to attend clinic for HIV testing and counseling as well.
 
"We have over 892 people living with HIV and AIDS who accessed HIV services such as drugs, medication among others, and we normally have monthly meeting with them.’’
The coordinator said that its challenges were paucity of funds to implement some of its programmes. Labaran said that the team needed operational vehicles to enable it work effectively in the council in order to achieve some of its objectives.

He, therefore, called on the FCT administration to provide logistics to the HIV and AIDS teams in the council for it to implement the program.

 

 

The arbitrary port charges emanating from  bureaucracy, terminal operators and the multinational shipping companies have been a source of concern to shippers (importers and exporters), investigations have showed.

As a result of the arbitrary port charges, Nigerian ports were tagged the most expensive in the world.
Available records show that Nigerian shippers are losing N65.4 billion annually to arbitrary port charges, thereby causing Nigeria to lose the bulk of its shipping businesses to neighbouring countries.
It would be recalled that in 2010, the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) took up the fight to stem the tide of arbitrary charges by publishing a list of 40 unapproved port charges.
These include terminal handling charges, container deposit, container clearing, shipping company charges, demurrage charges, and cost-on-turnover.
Others are: transfer documentation charges, transfer charges, rent charges, equipment charges, manifest amendment charges and tally clerk charges.
The discovery prompted the former Minister of Transport, Alhaji Yusuf Suleiman to issue an order for the cancellation of about 12 of the unofficial charges. The Senate Committee on Marine Transport recently visited the headquarters of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in Lagos on an oversight function and it also made the same complaint.
Mrs Zainab Kure, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transport said during the visit that the committee had been inundated with complaints of arbitrary charges in Nigerian ports.
She said that the reports the committee got were disturbing, adding that ``there is no doubt that a commercial regulator is needed in the Maritime industry’’.
However, Mr Zebulon Ikokide, the President, Institute of Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (IFFN) said the private terminal operators were not imposing arbitrary charges. He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that allegations of arbitrary charges being made by some port operators were not true.``There is nothing like arbitrary port charges as the terminal operators are not charging beyond what has been approved by government,” he said.
Ikokide said that the NPA had reduced all port charges by over 30 per cent at the start of the concession agenda. The maritime expert said that concessionaires were, however, allowed to increase the charges after two years with the permission of the Federal government.
``The concessionaires wrote to the Federal Government which approved 20 per cent increase in port charges. ``This is not arbitrary or exorbitant, but within the provisions of the concession agreement with the government,’’ the IFFN president said. Ikokide said that there was need for a commercial regulator in the industry to handle complaints in respect of the port charges.
Mr John Ofobike, Chairman, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA), Apapa Chapter, however, insisted that the concessionaires were imposing arbitrary charges.
Ofobike alleged that the operators were not offering quality services, but wanted to recoup their investments in two to three years without waiting for the 15 to 20 years given them by government.
``The concession agreement says that on no account should you unilaterally jerk up your rates without due process and notifying all stakeholders. ``I have been the Chairman of ANLCA since 2003, long before the private operators came and I am talking authoritatively, we need a commercial regulator,’’ Ofobike said. ``Before the concessionaires came, the Nigerian Ports Authority was charging N750 for a 20 ft. container to stay at the ports and N1, 500 for a 40 ft. container.
``The concessionaires started by charging the same rate as the NPA for the initial period, but later started charging N2,500 per 20 ft. container in a day and N6,000 for a 40 ft. container.
``They came again and charged N6, 000 for a 20 ft. container and N10, 000 for a 40 ft. container per day, now they have jerked it up again. ``As we speak, a 20 ft. container attracts a charge of N8,000 and a 40 ft. container attracts N12,000 per day as demurrage with other port charges inclusive. ``Is that not exorbitant port charges? ‘’Ofobike asked.
At a one-day forum organised by Emeka Akabogu and Associates, in collaboration with the NSC in Lagos during the year, maritime stakeholders expressed their anger over the arbitrary charges levied by port concessionaires and shipping companies.
The stakeholders explained that port concession had not reduced the cost of doing business in Nigerian ports.
A maritime lawyer, Emeka Akabogu, said that due to the high charges incurred by importer and exporters, most of them preferred taking their cargoes through the neighbouring ports to reduce cost.
Mr Olayiwola Shittu, the President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) suggested that the e-payment mode should be adopted as another way of eradicating illegal and duplicated charges.
Industry experts explained that the situation was aggravated by the absence of a commercial regulator; the failure to pass the Port and Harbour bill; and the inability to pass the National Transport Commission Bill.
Industry observers suggested that there should be a legal backing for the port reform programme and the appointment of a commercial regulator to regulate port charges.

 

Niger Commissioner for Information Alhaji Danladi Abdulhamid on Tuesday said the state government has spent over N1billion on disaster related issue from 2007, among  which was the 2011 December Madalla  bomb blast.

Abdulhamid made this known while addressing news men on the one day
National Emergency Management Agency Stakeholders training and
workshop held in Minna. According to the Commissioner, “the government has always been very
proactive in responding to disaster issues, offered assistance and
support to the victims of such disasters”.``We have always support and cooperate with security agencies, so that  they can carry out their job in the highest possible standard without
any hindrance or interference.
 
``This pledge for support is what prompted the approval for the
release of N440m to purchase equipment and vehicles for security
agencies in the state``, he said. Abdulhamid appealed to the Federal government to give ‘Executive support’ to Niger to help the government tackle problems faced by the
over populated Suleja local government in the state.
The problems which he said resulted from the relocation of the
nation’s capital from Lagos to Abuja.

 

Mr Victor Eyaru, President, National Association of Air Traffic Controllers (NATCA) has called on the Federal Government to declare national emergency on aviation communication facilities in the Nigeria airspace.

Eyaru, who made the disclosure in a statement on Monday in Lagos, said that the reason for the declaration was in the interest of Nigerians and to forestall any mid air collusion in the airspace that would cause tragedy.

He noted that radio communication in the Nigerian airspace has not improved despite spirited efforts by the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to fix the problem.

 “If all operational Air Traffic Controllers, who are members of NATCA, through their daily loggings, are saying the communication equipment available to them should be improved upon to avert impending air disaster are termed as alarmists and saboteurs, then, the system needs a curative measure fast.

 “All the claims of NATCA on the issue on the precarious state of VHF radios used by the two Area Control Centres in Kano and Lagos are verifiable facts. “And NAMA management attested to this by saying that it has challenges in solving the radio problem,’’ he said.
 
Eyaru noted that the communication problem with the radio has existed for three decades, saying that the solution to the problem has overwhelmed the agency overtime. He expressed sadness that the NAMA management expended over N400 million for the total VHF coverage project.  “The problem with communication facilities is not new to this management because Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) reports this to the NAMA management on daily basis through the ATC Watch Log Books. “Aviation is a global phenomenon and not Nigeria's and no lie told in the sector can stand the test of time. The issue of bad radios within Nigerian airspace has been a thing of concern to aviation international bodies,” he said.
 
Reacting to the allegation, the NAMA management said it finds it difficult to understand the motive behind the combative posture of the air traffic controllers over the communication status of the agency. In a statement signed by the agency’s management, it noted that the picture being painted by NATCA does not exist as the daily statistics show more traffic across the nation's airports.

“Apart from this, daily foreign flights into the country have been on the increase just as the nation is being inundated with more requests by the foreign airlines aspiring to explore Nigerian market.

“What else do you need to measure a safer sky? If there are no communication as being alleged by the controllers, one may then ask of their magic wand in handling these flights in question,” it said.

The statement noted that over 300 controllers had so far been trained this year alone to enhance productivity and was on record that NATCA enjoys upmost priority in the scheme of things. “We confirm again the ongoing effort to the Lagos Area Control Centre by deploying 120.9MGH and what we demand from the controllers is co-operation. “To achieve this drive as a recent test run of the frequency by both controllers and engineers proved successful. It said that the Federal Government had expended more than N15 billion on various capital projects at NAMA covering TRACON and VHF radio coverage among other safety critical projects to boost air safety in Nigeria.
The Federal Government has been urged to revitalise the 13 River Basins in the country in order to ensure adequate water provision.

Mr Tunji Oniyangi, Director, Department of Information, Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority (LNRBDA), Ilorin, gave advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
He said there was need to revamp the river basins in the country in order to ensure holistic management practice. Oniyangi noted that inability of governments in developing countries to evolve holistic approach to river basin management was hindering the development of the sector.
 
“This is especially pronounced in hydrology and water quality monitoring and assessment for sustainable water resources management,” he said. Oniyangi said that the River Basin Authority had been plagued by multiple policy changes by different regimes in Nigeria.
 
He said that river basins, if well, managed would generate revenue for the country.

“In retrospect, river basin acts as a multipurpose industry which engages in farming, fishery, poultry, irrigation, dam construction and the likes”, he said.

Oniyangi disclosed that the authority was undertaking construction of irrigation projects in various towns of the country.

 
 

 

 

Allhaji Balarabe Musa, Chairman, Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) and Second Republic governor of Kaduna State, in a recent interview with the Nigerian Tribune newspaper, gave a damning verdict on the level of corruption in the country and its dangerous implication on the national question.

Responding to a question on Nigeria’s recent rating as the 35th most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International (TI), a global anti-corruption watchdog,  Musa described the TI rating as an ‘’understatement’’, arguing that Nigeria was worse than that, based on the realities on ground.

He attributed the present unprecedented high level of insecurity, poverty, hunger and unemployment to the brazen   corruption and sleaze permeating all levels and sectors of the Nigerian society and warned that Nigeria could collapse by 2015, should the present state of affairs persist.

Describing the anti-corruption efforts of successive Nigerian governments as a failure and mockery, Musa asked rhetorically:

 ‘’How many corrupt people with proven cases of corruption have been prosecuted? Out of those that are prosecuted, how many are in prison and for how long? The so-called war on corruption is a mockery.’’

He said that there were over 42 million unemployed youths in the country, which constitutes about a quarter of Nigeria’s total population. He said it was clear that such a huge youth population may not continue watching helplessly at the few people plundering the nation’s resources and commonwealth, but would soon unleash their revolutionary angst on the country’s leadership.

The damning verdict of Alhaji Balarabe Musa succinctly underscores the fact that the cankerworm called corruption which is undoubtedly at the centre of all Nigeria’s multi-faceted problems has reached its Armageddon.

The cancerous disease called corruption has eaten deep into the moral fabrics of the Nigerian society, all arms of government, namely, the executive, judiciary and legislature, the bureaucracy, the security agencies, the private sector, as well as the federal, state and local tiers of government.

And, like the dreaded HIV/AIDS disease, which has defied all attempts to find a permanent cure, Nigeria has been infected with the incurable disease called corruption since independence but its recent dimension and attendant complications and implications have assumed an unprecedentedly alarming level.

Successive administrations have, over the years, made efforts t to exorcise the ghost of corruption from the nation’s body politic to no avail and, rather than abate, the corruption ‘vampire’ regularly resurrects to overwhelm virtually every aspect of the nation’s national life, sucking out both blood and marrow out of her, leaving the nation in a pathetic state of economic anaemia and political leukemia.

Recent mind-boggling revelations of official corruption in the National Assembly with their panoply of ‘’gates’’, the Police Pension scam, Haliburton bribery, the banking industry, fuel subsidy, oil pipelines security deals for Niger-Delta ex-warlords, among others, have created goose pimples among the hitherto silent but now restless youth populace.

 As the chickens come to roost, Nigeria is now perching precariously on the precipice with the national question now put in the front burner. Corruption has become the Achilles heel of Nigeria’s development, as well as the biggest bane vis-à-vis Nigeria’s survival.

Niyi Osundare, a professor of English at New Orleans University, USA, in a presentation he made at a lecture organised by the Save Nigeria Group in Lagos recently lamented the docility of the Nigerian masses which he said had helped to entrench the culture of corruption because they treated it as ‘business as usual’.

‘’Nigerians are psychologically intimidated, morally weakened, politically wasted and indolent about their rights’’, Osundare remarked.

‘’The people easily forgive the crimes committed by their leaders and are unfazed about catastrophes that would shake normal societies to their foundation. They instead envy the ‘luck’ of the political elite who loot the treasury ’’, he said.

In order to free Nigeria from her present corruption quagmire, which he described as ‘the biggest industry in the country’, Osundare suggested that civil society groups must be strengthened to mobilise the people against corruption and corrupt leaders.

Although corruption is a global phenomenon, Nigeria of recent, seems to have assumed the unenviable, notorious appellation of a country where corruption walks on all four legs. Corruption is the cause and sponsor of Nigeria’s Boko Haram fundamentalism, gross unemployment, under-development, under-education, grinding poverty, violent crime, political thuggery, brain-drain, value system paralysis, among others.

Recently, one document that opened Nigeria’s Pandora box on the extent of corruption as a prevailing daily phenomenon in federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), is an audit report released by the office of the Auditor-General of the federation which indicted virtually all MDAs.

The content of the 400-page report tagged: Annual Report of the Auditor-General for the Federation on the Accounts of the Federation of Nigeria (2009), is indeed a case study in vicious official corruption at the highest level.

Most of them, including The Presidency, Supreme Court, National Assembly, the Armed Forces, Police, among others, were found to be citadels of corruption and financial irregularities as they were indicted of one nauseating form of financial misconduct or the other.

According to the report, billions of naira which ought to have been used for development and service delivery to the people went down the drain and, in many cases, ended up in private pockets, with culprits walking the streets tall, flaunting their ill-gotten wealth.

The most scandalous aspect of the finding according to a Newswatch magazine publication of February 13, 2012, was that even the indicted officials ignored audit queries raised over their misconduct and behaved as if nothing had gone wrong.

‘’What the attitudes of the nation’s public officials to audit queries suggests is that they do not seem to know that corruption is an offence. They see it rather as a way of life that is typically Nigerian, a culture that should not change’’, the magazine said.

Government officials at the top echelon of government in the country are not helping matters, as far as public cynicism about their sincerity in fighting the corruption malaise is concerned.

This seemingly tacit approval or institutionalisation of corruption via the body language, comments, actions or inactions of senior government officials seems to lend credence to the suspicion that government is playing to the gallery or indulging in sheer hypocrisy with the anti-corruption war.

 Fred Agbaje, constitutional lawyer and activist thinks that Mohammed Adoke, Minister of Justice, for instance, is either playing the Ostrich or acting a script in this regard because, according to him, Adoke’s actions and utterances negatively impact anti-corruption war.

Agbaje said that one of the major setbacks to the anti-corruption crusade was the directive by the Minister that the EFCC must recourse to him before initiating criminal proceedings against all suspects.

He said that the directive was a violation of the original law setting up the EFCC which made it an autonomous body to fight corruption but that autonomy is now being assailed and made subservient to the minister, with the attendant danger of selective justice for party loyalists.

Agbaje took a swipe at the policy whereby the minister deliberately enters nolle prosequi, that is, he automatically nullifies a prevailing prosecution process in many corruption cases involving politically-exposed persons with loyalty to the government.

‘’If a top level PDP member is being prosecuted and the AGF enters into a nolle prosequi, would he be said to be acting in the interest of the party or the public interest’’, the fiery lawyer told TheNews magazine in a recent interview.

One bizarre instance of corruption in the country recently involved the Judiciary itself in which a Federal High Court Judge allegedly held court as the chief accounting officer under whose supervision a contract was awarded for the construction of a High Court complex for N4.5billion, was later reviewed upwards by N1.6billion and the contractor was paid 85% of the contract sum upfront!

The National Assembly is not left out in the open-ended tale of corrupt practices in Nigeria. The Lawangate,  the Ettegate, the Bankolegate, the Wabaragate, etc, are but a few of the most recent cases of scandals involving the legislative arm of government.

At the state level, most state governors, past and present, have been indicted and/or prosecuted of corrupt practices running into billions of naira as if the governors were enmeshed in a competition to decide who among them would win the coveted prize reserved for the highest treasury looter! The celebrated cases of ex-governors Alamisiegha, Dariye, Ibori, Turaki, Kalu, Odili, Nyame, Nnamani, Igbinidion, among many others, have yet to be resolved

The wanton spate of corruption in the country has also taken its toll on the third tier of government where most local governments are on their death beds, gasping for the oxygen of survival, no thanks to state governors who rob them of funds allocated to them basically due to lack of financial autonomy, even as some council chairmen too have been indicted or found guilty of corruption.

In the last thirteen years of democratic rule, for instance, many state governors have been accused of misappropriating their local governments’ funds. A case in point is Gbenga Daniel, former governor of Ogun State, who is being prosecuted by the EFCC on account of diverting local government funds, though he is not the lonely ex-governor in this charge.

Yemi Osinbajo, a professor of Law and former Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, who founded Orderly Society Trust, an NGO, which took  upon itself the responsibility of investigating Nigerian LGAs, wrote that ‘’the system of local government administration has been plagued by a lack of transparency and accountability’’.

Writing in a book titled: ‘Making Local Governance Work for the Poor,’ Osinbajo observed that there was ‘’an embarrassing disconnect between majority of the people and the local government councils’’.

‘’Officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, have been busy in recent times pursuing local government chairmen, both past and present, across the states, on suspicions or allegations bordering on looting, stealing or diversion of local government funds’’, he said.

Corruption has remained, by far, the single most dangerous problem staring Nigeria in the face and threatening her corporate existence as a nation-state. And, like the HIV/AIDS disease example given earlier on, it kills the country-victim after destroying the leadership from top to bottom with its deadly virus.

As things are now, unless government stems the corruption tide by taking a bold step like declaring a state of emergency on corruption and putting in place an enabling law like the death or life sentence for convicted corrupt officials, Nigeria could collapse. For if a person knows that when he steals from  the commonwealth he will not be alive or be at liberty to enjoy the loot, that is enough deterrence for him to abstain from the act.

In sum, Nigeria’s leadership woes from independence to date, by and large, stem from her seemingly incurable corruption curse which has inflicted the country’s clueless leadership for over half a century, thereby, bringing a country that should have been, by now, perhaps, among the top ten global economic giants, to her present pathetic state of national Armageddon.

 

The relevance of tax in the global economy cannot be under-estimated. In the developed world and in some of the emerging economy, emphasis is highly placed on revenue-drive through taxation to boost economy. However, in Nigeria the case is different because the cumbersome tax administration system. For instance, the 2012 World Bank in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers report ranked Nigeria economy 138 out of 183 on the ease of paying tax.

According to the report, Nigeria dropped from its 134th position last year, to 138, making it the worst for the country, since the annual report was first published in 2006.Responding to the development, Mr Taiwo Oyedele, Partner/Tax and Corporate Advisory Service Leader, PricewaterhouseCoopers told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the report showed the weakness of nation’s tax system. According to Oyedele, the report was a yearly report put together by the World Bank and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

According to him, the aim was to ascertain the countries doing well in terms of revenue generation using the instrument of taxation to boost her economy. Oyedele said that the report examined three aspects of tax payment, which were “the tax cost, ease of paying tax and the time involved in tax compliance”. The tax expert said that among the three tax indicators, Nigeria ranked 180 making it the worst in Africa on the time it took to comply with tax issues and only ahead of three countries in the world: Vietnam (181), Bolivia (182) and Brazil (183).

Oyedele explained that a medium size company in Nigeria made 35 tax payment annually, paid 32.7 per cent of its business profit in taxes and spends 938 hours to comply.  He added, Nigeria ranked 123 on number of tax payment, 56 on total tax rate and 180 on time required to comply out of 183 economies. “The World Bank and PricewaterhouseCoopers looked at how difficult it is pay tax which is called ease of paying tax in 183 countries around the globe. “The body also examined the number of tax payment and the amount of time it takes to comply with tax issues, the time it takes to calculate your tax, file result and collect Tax Clearance Certificate (TCC). “They looked at these three factors and calculate the average for every country,” he said.Oyedele attributed the enormous time required for tax compliance in Nigeria to the bureaucratic, complex and cumbersome tax administration system. He said that Nigeria should avoid multiplicity of taxes where Federal, State and Local Governments collect different taxes thus making it difficult for tax payers to comply.Oyedele condemned the uncoordinated policies by the government were issues relating to tax administration were not well implemented.

“The National Tax Policy approved by the Federal Executive Council and the National Executive Council is there to guide tax administration. The idea is to reduce the number of taxes and be able to streamline our tax system,” he said. Oyedele suggested the adequate use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to facilitate tax administrations in the country. Also speaking, Mr Rasaq Quadri, President West Africa Union of Tax Institutes said that the report may not necessarily represent the actual state of the nation’s economy. Quadri said that certain factors like security, epileptic power supply, transportation and other infrastructural challenges may have been put into consideration. “For instance, there is no investor that will like to invest where his life and business is not secured. “We should stop deceiving ourselves by saying that we are talking to investors, direct foreign investment when there are no amenities on ground,” he said. Quadri said if Nigeria economy must grow in 2013, there was need to diversify into agriculture, tourism and other non-oil sectors. He that the United Arab Emirate (UAE) solely depends on tourism to drive her economy, adding that Nigeria had numerous untapped tourism centres.

Quadri also suggested the immediate implementation of the recommendation by the working group constituted by the Federal government in 2002 to under-study the ways to improve the nation’s tax system. According to him one of the recommendations was that we should have a virile tax administration, good tax policy and laws. “Unfortunately, the National Tax Policy has been launched in February but since then it has not been implemented,” he said.

Quadri said that the implementation of the tax policy would enable us do away with the direct system of taxation and embrace indirect system of taxation where people would pay as they consumed. He said that the pay as you consumed system of tax as practiced in most part of the world would raise the revenue profile of the country. The tax expert condemned the five per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) practiced in Nigeria, saying it slowed down the nation’s revenue portfolios. He said that there was a need to increase it in the interest of the economy noting that the taxation industry was bright because of the abundant human and natural resources. He urged government to create an enabling business environment that would encourage investors, ‘Once there adequate and functional infrastructure, every other thing will fall into place. Quadri commended the federal government for the new Personal Income Tax Act (PITA) Amendment 2011 saying it had draw the President and every other political office holders into the tax dragnet. Mr Chukwuemeka Eze, former president, Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN), Ikeja branch said that the taxation sub-sector had faired well in year 2012.

Eze said that various reforms like the PITA and Industrial Trust Funds (ITF) Act were brought into limelight in the year under-review despite the fact that they were introduced last year. He said that the introduction of the rule of Transfer Pricing (TP) by the Federal Inland Revenue Service was also another milestone in the taxation industry. On the World Bank ranking, Eze said that the ranking portend danger for the economy because it showed that we do not have “sufficient power economically to absorbed shocks”. He said that the inflationary rate was 12.3 per cent in the economic index because we spent too much on recurrent expenditure. Eze said that for the nation improve economically in 2013, government should invest more on infrastructure like power, transportation and well security. He said those indices would encourage rapid economic transformation in the country.Mr Peter Olarenwaju, member CITN said the tax industry was vibrant in the year 2012 despite some challenges in the nation’s economy.

Olarenwaju said the World Bank ranking was as a result of poor utilisation of the nation’s resources. He urged the government to implement the various tax laws in the country to enable the tax authorities discharged their duty effectively in 2013. Similarly, Mr Anthony Aslem, a tax expert said that Nigeria had no justification to be ranked so low in the Word Bank reports. Aslem said that the taxation industry was bright if the “right pegs were put into the right holes” He urged government to put taxpayers’ money into use in 2013 saying that was the only way to encourage tax compliance.

 

The Nigerian capital market, which was severally hit by the impact of the last global financial crisis in 2008, has seen massive recovery this year.  In what many analysts described as response to fundamental respite in economic down turn across the globe and series of attempt at reforms at the local level, the local bourse has seen large flows of investment in the second half of the year.

By the last count, the market has moved from huge loss recorded last year to achieve one of the biggest growth among its peers in the frontier market as the reforms in the financial market, the major driver of the market and strict adhere to governance by the regulators continue to yield positive result.  
 
Record of trading on the Nigerian Stock Exchange as at December 20, 2012 showed that the equity market rose by 33 percent year-to-date with the market rated the best investment stopover in sub-Saharan Africa as offshore investors scramble to take position and benefit from the recovery in the market.
 
As part of move to stem the drift in the market and restore public confidence, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) introduced major reforms such as the licensing of market makers in September, establishment of securities lending and short selling, while the upward review of circuit breaker and new listing rules kicked in investors’ interest in the market.
Others factors are the latest announcement of N22.6 billion forbearance packages for 84 stockbroking firms, elimination of stamp duties and Value Added Tax (VAT) on stock market transactions and improved regulatory framework.  
 
The market was also positively impacted by the stability in the exchange rate, which encouraged more foreign investors to stay in the market. The market remains relatively stable around N157 to the dollar for the better part of the year due to various measures by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stem capital flight and encourage offshore investment in local debt paper.
The key driver of offshore investors into the economy during the year was the change in the leadership of both the SEC and Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) with it attendant reforms.
The new leadership of the market has bolster confidence with fresh policy initiative aimed at increased regulations, enforcement of market rules and surveillance which have kept in check major breach that characterized the operations of the market in the past.  
 
Market data showed as at the closed of Market on December 19, the All-Share Index of the Exchange during the review period appreciated by 31.93 per cent year-to-date to close trading at 27,349.10 against opening year index of 20,730.63. Also, the market capitalisation which opened trading for the year at N6.53 trillion grew by N2.24 trillion to close trading on Dec. 19 at N8.73 trillion.
 
Speaking on the market performance, Ms Arunma Oteh, the Director-General of SEC, attributed the growth to concerted efforts of by operators, regulators and the Federal Government through various reforms and initiatives to boost activities in the market. Oteh debunked claims in some quarter that the recent growth in the market will soon fizzy out, noting that "the capital market is not driven by euphoria, but by fundamentals of different sectors of the economy represented on the exchange."
 
She said the recent growth in the market was not only in the financial sector, “but the banking sector is leading because globally everybody recognizes the bold steps that Nigeria took to address the challenges in the financial sector."
 
"It is broader reflections that today many people recognise that Nigeria is indeed the preferred investment destination despite the challenges," Oteh said.  According to her, SEC is monitoring the present reforms in the nation’s economy, including the privatisation programme of the government to ensure that privatised companies are encouraged to list on the local bourse.
She added that efforts are on top gear to create the enabling environment for energy companies operating in the upstream and downstream sector, and telecommunications companies also list on the Exchange.
 
Mr Nicholas Nyamali, the Managing Director, Investment One Financial Sevices Ltd., on his part noted that the recent growth in the market was driven by both the reforms in the banking sector and the performance of quoted companies. Nyamali said the last crash in the market brought it below par with its peers in other market with major stocks undervalued for several years, noting that the recent growth has ensure that most equities, including banking stocks have started reflecting their real values.
 
He however expressed optimism that the trend would continue if the reforms were sustained in the years ahead. Mr Emeka Madubuike, President, Association of Stockbroking Houses of Nigeria (ASHON), said that the growth being witnessed in the market could also be attributed partly to the activities of market makers, while the impressive financial results by listed companies further strengthened investor confidence in the market.
 
He urged local investors to take advantage of the current market trends and improved companies’ results to increase their stake in the market. However, Mr Ariyo Olushekun, President, the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) expressed his reservation on the gains so far recorded in the market, saying over 70 percent of transactions are done by offshore investors, leaving local investors with mere 30 percent.
 
"We will only say that the market has recovered when we have more local investors participating in the market than foreign investors," Olushekun said. Over all, the Nigerian capital market no doubt has recorded impressive growth in 2012 but the market still has so many challenges to contend with in 2013 which borders on local investor confidence. This stemmed from the fact that local investor participation in the market is still very low with 30 per cent while foreign investors is dominating with 70 per cent. 

 

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