Sunday, 19 November 2017
Tuesday, 17 October 2017 17:05

Nnamdi Kanu absent as treason trial resumes

The leader of a pro-Biafran group that wants to break away from Nigeria failed to appear in court on Tuesday as his treason trial was scheduled to resume.

Nnamdi Kanu, who heads the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement, was nowhere to be seen as proceedings resumed at the Federal High Court in the capital, Abuja.

Prosecutor Shuaibu Labaran said Kanu’s absence was “contrary to the order of this court” but the separatist leader’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, said: “I don’t know where my client is.

“The home of of the first defendant (Kanu) was invaded by soldiers and since that time I have not heard from him. I cannot tell… whether (he) is alive or dead.”

Ejiofor also suggested Kanu was “in the custody of the (federal government)”.

Judge Binta Nyako adjourned the case until November 20, pending more information as to Kanu’s whereabouts.

Kanu and three other defendants, who were remanded in custody, are facing several charges linked to his calls for a separate state for the Igbo people, the majority in Nigeria’s southeast.

He was first arrested in October 2015, stoking grievances that have festered since a previous declaration of independence in 1967 sparked a bloody, 30-month civil war.

The conflict left at least one million people dead, most of them Igbos from the effects of starvation and disease, as federal forces blockaded the fledgling state.

Threat of violence 
Kanu, who also runs the London-based Radio Biafra station, was released on bail in April this year on health grounds but under strict terms.

The judge ruled that he should not attend any rally, be in a crowd of more than 10 people or give any media interviews while on bail.

He was ordered to pay sureties totalling 300 million naira ($835,000, 710,000 euros) to ensure his attendance at trial.

Ejiofor told reporters at the time they were “very sure we will fulfil the conditions for bail”. But since then, Kanu has rarely been out of the spotlight.

He told AFP in an interview in May to mark the 50th anniversary of the declaration of independence that he was “more determined than ever” to secure a breakaway republic.

He also called for “civil disobedience” until a referendum was granted on self-determination.

Kanu’s whereabouts have been the source of increasing speculation in recent weeks, after a military surge in his home city of Umuahia and the surrounding area.

The IPOB leader’s younger brother, Prince Emmanuel Kanu, said the army attacked the family’s compound last month, killing 28.

The army has denied the claim and also that they were holding Kanu, but their tactics come in for criticism for fueling tensions in the restive region.

Comparisons have been drawn to Boko Haram’s founder Muhammad Yusuf, who died in custody in 2009 during a military crackdown in the northeastern city of Maiduguri.

“If anything happens to him (Kanu), the reactions are likely to be very violent in the southeast,” said security consultant Don Okereke.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday regretted that despite the various interventions by the Federal Government there are still complaints and agitations by workers over unpaid salaries and allowances in states.

He wondered how the unpaid workers had been managing to meet their needs.

Buhari made his position known while addressing a delegation of the Nigerian Governors Forum led by the forum’s chairman, Abdulaziz Yari.

Yari had led Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom representing South South; Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, representing  North West; Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara, representing North Central; deputy governor of Ebonyi, Dr. Eric  Igwe representing South East; Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi, representing North East; and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo, representing South West to a meeting with the President at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The various interventions the current administration had extended to states included bailout, Paris Club refund and budget support.

Some governors were alleged to have diverted the bailouts.

The President told the governors that the plight of workers in the states need urgent attention as many could barely survive.

“How can anyone go to bed and sleep soundly when workers have not been paid their salaries for months.

“I actually wonder how the workers feed their families, pay their rents and even pay school fees for their children,” he said.

The President told the governors that two out of the three-pronged focus of the ruling All Progressives Congress to secure the country and fight corruption had received some commendable reviews by the people, noting that the challenge in payment of salaries in states had taken a toll on the people.

“God has been merciful in hearing the prayers of his servants so the rainy season has been good, you can ask the Kebbi State governor on this, and our enormous food importation bill has gone down,” he said.

Buhari said the Federal Government and state executives would need to work closer together to ameliorate the situation of workers across the country.

The President said he had instructed all government agencies to comply with the Treasury Single Account in order to ensure more transparency and prudence in accounting for the revenues of the government and the sharing of entitlements with states.

The statement quoted Yari as saying that  the various interventions by the Federal Government, which include the bailouts, were judiciously utilised by the states.

He stressed that the governors inherited backlog of unpaid salaries and huge debts portfolios on assumption of office.

Former international footballer George Weah and Liberia’s Vice President Joseph Boakai will face a runoff for the presidency on November 7, the national election commission announced Sunday.

With tallies in from 95.6 percent of polling stations, Weah took 39.0 percent of the votes and Boakai 29.1 percent, both well short of the 50 percent barrier required to win outright from the first round of voting held on Tuesday.

National Elections Commission chairman Jerome Korkoya told journalists that 1,550,923 votes had been counted and turnout was at 74.52 percent.

Three other candidates took a significant share of votes with veteran opposition leader Charles Brumskine at 9.8 percent, former Coca-Cola Executive Alexander Cummings at 7.1 percent and former warlord turned preacher Prince Johnson at 7.0 percent.

These candidates will now decide which runoff contender they will direct their supporters to follow, holding significant sway over the final results.

Hundreds of demonstrators in Burkina Faso marked the 30th anniversary of Thomas Sankara’s assassination by demanding truth and justice on Sunday for the assassinated revolutionary leader.

The young army captain, nicknamed “Africa’s Che Guevara,”, was cut down in a hail of bullets on October 15, 1987 on his way to a special cabinet meeting.

Demonstrators wearing T-shirts bearing the likeness of the anti-imperialist crusader chanted “Truth and justice for Thomas Sankara,” with some waving signs that read “Shame on rotten prosecutors and corrupt judges.” 

Sankara was assassinated along with 12 comrades in a putsch that brought his close friend Blaise Compaore to power. Compaore ruled Burkina Faso until October 2014, when he was ousted by a popular uprising.

Compaore, who is in exile in Ivory Coast, is the subject of an international arrest warrant in connection with Sankara’s killing.

About a dozen people have been charged in connection over the assassination including soldiers from the presidential security unit.

“No one… Burkinabe or not, who was involved in these killings should be able to escape punishment,” said Bernard Sanou, president of the Thomas Sankara International Memorial Committee.

Sunday, 15 October 2017 17:06

Morocco replaces Kenya to host CHAN 2018

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) announced on Saturday that Morocco has replaced Kenya as the hosts of CHAN 2018.

CAF’s Emergency Committee chaired by president Mr Ahmad Ahmad, met on Saturday in Lagos, Nigeria, and unanimously decided to grant the organization of the fifth edition of Africa second tier’s football competition to the Royal Moroccan Football Federation.

The cities of Casablanca, Agadir, Marakech and Tangier have been selected to host the biannual tournament.

Kenya was stripped of the hosting rights after failing to provide facilities vital for the competition, notably the stadia as promised in the beginning of the year and despite having numerous chances to make things right, there was no political will to make the competition a success and most of the process went dragged on as Goal.com reports.

The candidacy of Morocco was preferred to that of Equatorial Guinea, another country that had submitted a valid application.

The Ethiopian Football Federation which had also expressed its willingness to host the tournament, did not provide the government’s letter of guarantee, which is a mandatory document required as per CAF’s rules of application.

Next year’s competition is set for January 12 to 4 February and will bring together 16 national teams composed exclusively of players playing in the national championships of their respective countries.

ECONOMY

Growth in Agriculture and Solid Minerals:

The number of sub-sectors of the economy experiencing negative growth has almost halved; falling from 29 sub-sectors for the whole of 2016 to 16 in Q1 2017. Growth in manufacturing has returned to positive territory after five quarters of negative growth. It grew by 1.36% in Q1 2017 after falling to -7.0% in Q1 2016.

Our priority Sectors of Agriculture and Solid Minerals have seen improved

performance, in spite of the recession. Agriculture grew by 4.11% in 2016, while Solid Minerals recorded a 7% increase. The contribution of the Ministry of Solid Minerals’ to the Federation Account tripled to about N2 billion in 2016, up from N700m in 2015.

Savings:

  •   Even at a time of low oil prices (and by implication low government revenues):

  •   Nigeria’s External Reserves have grown by US$7 billion since October 2016

  •   The Sovereign Wealth Fund has seen inflows of US$500m in 2016 and 2017 (the first inflows since the original US$1bn with which the Fund kicked off in 2012), and

  •   The Excess Crude Account has seen an inflow of US$87m, in 2017.

Phasing Out of Subsidy Regimes for Petroleum Products and Fertilizers.

The Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (details below), combined with a newly developed soil map designed to aid fertilizer application, substantially raised local production of grains in 2016 (yields improved

from 2 tonnes per hectare to as much as 7 tonnes per hectare, in some States) and produced a model agricultural collaboration between Lagos and Kebbi States.

Nigeria’s rice imports fell from 580,000 MT in 2015 to 58,000MT in 2016

The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (which involves a partnership with the Government of Morocco, for the supply of phosphate), has resulted in the revitalization of 11 blending plants across the country. The benefits include annual savings of US$200 million in foreign exchange, and ₦60 billion annually in budgetary provisions

for Fertilizer subsidies. The Scheme has also made it possible for Farmers to purchase Fertilizer at prices up to 30 percent cheaper than previously available.

Support for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises: The Administration has launched a series of funding and capacity development initiatives designed to support MSMEs across the country, as follows:

  •   The new Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) is finally taking off, with initial funding of US$1.3bn (provided by the World Bank, German Development Bank, the African Development Bank and Agence Française de Development) to provide medium and long-term loans to MSMEs

  •   The MSME Clinic, which bring relevant Government Agencies and their

managements together with small businesses operating in various cities across the country, to enable the Agencies provide direct support to these businesses. The Interactions allow the Agencies better understand the issues facing small businesses, and provides a platform for speedy resolution.

  •   The Ease of Doing Business Reform Programme (see below)

  •   The Government Enterprise and Empowerment component (GEEP) of the Social Intervention Programme (SIP)

Ease of Doing Business Reform Successes: The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (inaugurated by President Buhari in August 2016) implemented a 60 National Action Plan between February and April 2017, with 70 percent of the Targets achieved, including the following:

  •   Intending Business Owners can now search for Company names on the website of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)

  •   Intending Business Owners can now upload their registration documents directly to the website of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)

  •   Eliminated the need for SMEs to hire lawyers to prepare registration documents

  •   Introduced a single form for Company Incorporation to save time and reduce cost

  •   Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) e-payment solution has been integrated with the CAC portal to facilitate e-stamping.

  •   Interested parties can conduct online searches of secured interests on movable assets on the National Collateral Registry

  •   New Arrival and Departure forms for use at our International airports. The new forms are shorter, and have also consolidated a number of previously separate forms into single documents.

  •   Simplified our Visa on Arrival (VoA) Process. Submission of VoA applications and receipt of approval letter can now be done electronically via a dedicated NIS email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  •   Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has now been mandated to schedule and coordinate joint physical examination of cargo to ensure there’s only one point of contact between importers and official

  •   Imports into Nigeria now required to be placed in pallets to facilitate quicker physical examination.

  •   Central Bank, Customs and banks now required to process Net Export Proceeds forms within 72 hours; and Pre-Shipment Inspection Agencies (PIAs) now required to issue Certificate of Clean Inspection (CCI) within 3 days

  •   Approval obtained to reduce number of documents required for imports from 14 to 8, and number of documents needed for exports from 10 to 7

  •   Minimum container placement notice time needed by Terminal Operators for examination reduced from 24 hours to 12 hours.

  •   Minister of Interior has approved and launched a new Immigration Policy for Nigeria

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has since followed up on the National Action Plan by signing, in May 2017, Executive Orders on Improving Efficiency in the Business Environment, and on Promoting Local Procurement by Government Agencies.

Infrastructure:

  •   The Buhari Administration has demonstrated a single-minded commitment to upgrading and developing Nigeria’s Transport Infrastructure.

  •   Road Projects are ongoing across every State of the country; many of these projects had been abandoned in recent years because of mounting debts owed by the Federal Government to contractors.

  •   The Administration is also pushing ahead with the revitalization of Nigeria’s

3,500km network narrow-gauge railway. In March 2017 a consortium led by General Electric, and comprising Transnet of South Africa, APM Terminals of the Netherlands and Sinohydro Consortium of China submitted the sole bid for the concession of the Lagos-Kano Railway narrow-gauge Line. (Transaction Advisers were approved for the project in 2016). In May 2017 the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the commencement of negotiations with GE to conclude the concessioning.

 In addition, Abuja’s Light Rail system will also go into operation (test-run) in 2017. The first line to be launched will connect the city center with the Airport,

with a link to the Abuja-Kaduna Railway Line. The test-run will start in November 2017, ahead of full commencement of operations in Q1 2018.

 The Buhari Administration successfully completed the reconstruction of the Abuja Airport runway within the scheduled six-week period (March – April 2017).

Progress with the Alignment of Monetary, Fiscal and Trade Policies: Landmark initiatives here include:

 Ongoing FX regime reforms by the Central Bank, which have seen increased stability in the FX market, and increasing appetite for Nigerian stocks by foreign portfolio investors. Reforms include the creation in April 2017 of a New FX Window for Investors and Exporters. The new Window has attracted $1.4bn in its

first four weeks of operation, according to data from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

  •   Revision of the List of 41 Items excluded from the Central Bank FX Window, in line with a request from the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN)

  •   The establishment of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations by the Economic Management Team (EMT), and

  •   The Introduction of a new, Tariff-driven Tomato Policy to support domestic producers and production.

A new Social Housing Programme is kicking off in 2017. The ‘Family Homes Fund’ will take off with a 100 billion Naira provision in the 2017 Budget. The rest of the funding will come from the private sector. A pilot component has already kicked, to construct the first set of homes for the Programme)

1.2 Trillion naira has been released for capital expenditure in the 2016 budget, since implementation started in June 2016. This is the largest ever capital spend within a single budget year in the history of Nigeria. This investment has enabled the resumption of work on several stalled projects — road, rail and power

projects — across the country.

All 4 components of the Social Investment Programme (SIP) have now taken off.

  •   The SIP is the largest and most ambitious social safety net programme in the history of Nigeria, with more than 1 million beneficiaries so far — 200,000 N- Power beneficiaries (160,000 of them have had their details validated and are now receiving the monthly N30,000 stipend, while the rest are undergoing verification.

  •   3,162,451 people belonging to 26, 924 registered cooperatives have been registered for the Government Enterprise and Empowerment (GEEP) Scheme.

57,234 interest-free (except a one-time low administrative fee) loans have been issued, across 28 States and the FCT. 56% of loans so far disbursed has gone to female beneficiaries.

  •   1,051,000 Primary School Pupils are currently benefiting from the Homegrown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP), in 8,587 schools across seven States. More than 11,000 cooks have been employed for the HGSFP.

  •   Under the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Programme, 26,942 beneficiaries are now receiving the monthly N5,000 stipend in 9 States and 84 Local Government Areas. The States are Borno, Cross River, Niger, Kwara, Ekiti, Kogi, Oyo, Osun and Bauchi.

Strategic Engagements with OPEC and in the Niger Delta have played an important

part in raising our expected oil revenues. Already, Nigeria’s External Reserves have grown by around $7 billion in the last six months. In the same period we have added $87m to the Excess Crude Account, and $250m to the Sovereign Wealth Fund.

New Vision for the Niger Delta:

Acting President Osinbajo is leading the engagement, on behalf of President Buhari and the Federal Government. The Vice President has been visiting oil-producing communities across the Niger Delta, listening to them and outlining the Federal Government’s commitment to the peace, security and development of the region — encapsulated in the Buhari administration’s ‘New Vision for the Niger Delta’.

The New Vision brings together a robust set of promises, solutions, targets and initiatives aimed at ensuring that the people of the Niger Delta benefit maximally from the region’s oil wealth.

The New Vision offers a detailed response to the 16-point Demand Agenda submitted to President Buhari by the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) in November 2016.

Tangible results of the New Vision so far include:

 Approval of a 2017 commencement date for the stalled Nigerian Maritime

University in Delta State

  •   Approval by President Buhari of an additional 35 billion naira for the 2016 budget of the Presidential Amnesty Programme

  •   Approval for the establishment of Modular Refineries across the nine States of the Niger Delta

  •   Resumption of construction work on abandoned projects across the Niger Delta, including the all-important East-West Road.

Beneficial Government-to-Government Partnerships with China and Morocco: President Buhari’s April 2016 Official Visit to China has unlocked billions of dollars in infrastructure funding. Construction work has commenced on the first major product of that collaboration, a 150km/hour rail line between Lagos and Ibadan.

The National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (NERGP), the Federal Government’s medium-term Economic Plan, launched by President Buhari in April 2017, charts a course for the Nigerian economy over the next four years (2017–2020).

The Vision of the NERGP is to restore economic growth, invest in Nigerians, and to build a globally competitive economy, and the Plan aims to achieve these by focusing on five execution priorities:

  •   Stabilizing the macroeconomic environment;

  •   Achieving Agriculture and Food Security;

  •   Ensuring energy efficiency (especially in power and petroleum products);

  •   Improving transportation infrastructure; and

  •   Driving industrialization primarily through SMEs.

The ERGP will return Nigeria’s economy to sustainable, inclusive and diversified growth, and to transform Nigeria from an import-dependent to a producing economy; a country that grows what it eats and consumes what it produces.

The almost 8-fold oversubscription of our recent Eurobond (orders in excess of US$7.8 billion compared to a pre-issuance target of US$1bn) demonstrates strong market appetite for Nigeria, and shows confidence by the international investment community in Nigeria’s economic reform agenda.

Power Sector:

  •   Power Sector Reform is on course with the launch of the 701 billion
    Naira Payment Assurance Programme designed to resolve the liquidity challenges in the Power Sector by guaranteeing payments to Generating Companies and Gas Suppliers, while the Federal Government undertakes the much-needed reform and strengthening of Distribution Companies.

  •   In addition to the PAP is a much more comprehensive Power Sector Recovery Programme, launched in March 2017 and which has received the endorsement of the World Bank.

Improved Local Refining Capacity: The total amount of Crude refined by the NNPC’s three Refineries (Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna) grew from 8m barrels in 2015 to 24m barrels in 2016, and 10m barrels in the first quarter of 2017.

ANTI-CORRUPTION AND TRANSPARENCY

The Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA):

 PICA was set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to strengthen controls over Government finances through a continuous internal audit process across all

Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), particularly in respect of payroll. Through the activities of PICA, more than 50,000 erroneous payroll entries have been identified, with payroll savings of N198 billion achieved in 2016.

 Also, the Federal Ministry of Finance has set a target to ensure that the Federal Government’s Payroll Platform — the ‘Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System’ (IPPIS) — covers 100 percent of MDAs by the end of 2017. Currently 60% of MDAs are enrolled on the IPPIS platform.

Budget Reforms:

  •   First, a Presidential Order was issued directing that all budgets of all Government Agencies be prepared in line with International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), using a budget template developed for that purpose.

  •   Second, the 2017 Budget was collated using a web-based application developed by the Budget Office of the Federation (BOF), for the first time ever. Instead of the traditional method of hard copy submissions of budget proposals, Ministries, Departments and Agencies were asked to upload their proposals to the new budget preparation portal.

  •   By replacing paper submissions with an audit-able and trackable online system, the 2017 budget preparation process was strengthened against manipulation and unauthorised alteration. All MDA budget proposals were uploaded to the new system, for review and final collation by the Budget Office.

  •   More than 4,000 staff of the MDAs were specially trained to use the new application, across multiple locations nationwide. Also to support the deployment of the budget portal, the Budget Office set up a Helpdesk, accessible by telephone and email, for authorised users.

Expansion of TSA Coverage:

  •   On August 7, 2015, President Buhari issued a directive to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to close their accounts with Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and transfer their balances to the Central Bank of Nigeria on or before 15th September 2015.

  •   This decision to fully operationalise the Treasury Single Account (TSA) system— a public accounting system that enables the Government to manage its finances (revenues and payments) using a single/unified account, or series of linked accounts domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria — has resulted in the consolidation of more than 20,000 bank accounts previously spread across DMBs in the country, and in savings of an average of N4.7 billion monthly in banking charges associated with indiscriminate Government borrowing from the

DMBs.

  •   As at February 10, 2017, a total sum of N5.244 Trillion had flowed into the
    TSA. The TSA allows the managers of the Government’s finances, including but not limited to the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, to have, at any point in time, a comprehensive overview of cash flows across the entire Government.

  •   It also ensures increased transparency in public financial management, as well as prevents a scenario in which some MDAs have idle cash while other MDAs are compelled to borrow exorbitantly from DMBs.

  •   The TSA system was launched in 2012, but failed to gain traction until President Buhari’s executive order in August 2015. As at December 2016, 766 MDAs were TSA-compliant. The Ministry of Finance continues to fine-tune the system to improve its efficiency, and has also commenced an audit to ensure that all funds due to the TSA are remitted into it.

Deployment of BVN for Payroll and Social Investment Programmes:

 Considering that personnel costs are the Federal Government’s largest

expenditure line, the Federal Government has given priority to the deployment of the BVN for payroll and pension audits. The use of BVN to verify payroll entries on the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) platform has so far led to the detection of more than 50,000 erroneous payroll entries.

 The Federal Government has also ensured the deployment of BVN system to serve as the verification basis for payments to beneficiaries and vendors in the N-Power Scheme and the Homegrown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP)

Replacement of old Cash-Based Accounting System with an Accruals-Based System:

  •   Cash accounting makes no reference to the liabilities that the Federal Government may be required to meet in the future nor does it recognise the benefits that will be obtained from assets purchased over a period of time.

  •   The cash accounting system fails to capture information on public sector assets and liabilities which may present the illusion of positive financial results in the short term, at the expense of longer-term fiscal stability and sustainability.

  •   Accruals-based accounting, on the other hand, presents the true financial position of the Federal Governments assets and liabilities, which would help the Government plan future funding requirements for asset maintenance and replacement, and the repayment of existing and contingent liabilities and, thus, better manage their cash position and financing requirements.

  •   It provides comprehensive information on Government’s current and projected

cash flows, leading to better cash management. For example, the conversion from cash accounting to accrual accounting led to the discovery of unrecorded debts owed contractors, oil marketers, exporters, electricity distribution companies and others.

Enlistment into Open Government Partnership (OGP):

  •   In May 2016, President Buhari attended and participated in the International Anti- Corruption Summit organised by the UK Government. At that Summit he pledged that Nigeria would join the OGP, an international transparency, accountability and citizen engagement initiative.

  •   In July 2016, Nigeria became the 70th country to join the OGP. Following this, Nigeria constituted an OGP National Steering Committee (NSC), which went on to develop a National Action Plan (2017–2019) that aims to deepen and mainstream transparency mechanisms and citizens’ engagement in the management of public resources across all sectors.

  •   The National Action Plan was submitted at the OGP Global Summit in Paris, France, in December 2016.

Insistence on Conditionality of Fiscal Support to States:

  •   The Fiscal Sustainability Plan (FSP) is a reform programme that specifies conditions under which States can access the Federal Government’s N510 billion Budget Support Facility (BSF). The FSP was introduced to enhance fiscal prudence and transparency in public expenditure, across the states. 35 States signed up.

  •   Independent verification and auditing of participating States is now ongoing — against the FSP conditions & milestones — by eight (8) accounting firms.

  •   State Governments that fail to implement the FSP action plans, as stated, will be taken off the Budget Support Facility with immediate effect.

  •   The Fiscal Sustainability Plan is part of our reform of Public Financial Management Systems nationwide.

Creation of Efficiency Unit (EU) to spearhead the efficient use of government resources, and ensure reduction in Recurrent Expenditure:

 The Efficiency Unit reviews all Government overhead expenditure, reduces wastage, provides efficiency and ensures quantifiable savings for the country. Also, the Unit identifies best practices in procurement and financial management

for adoption.

  •   The Efficiency Unit’s efforts have resulted in more than N15 billion in savings on travel, sitting allowances and souvenirs.

  •   There is also potential savings of N7 billion on other expenditure lines where the unit seeks to control spending through Circulars. In addition, there is on-going work on the deployment of a price-checker, as well as the use of debit cards for payments.

Asset Recovery Reforms:

Oil and Gas


 Petroleum Industry Governance Bill:

 The Constitution of a Presidential Committee on Asset Recovery (PCAR), headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, to bring together all law enforcement agencies involved in the recovery of assets; as well as designation of a dedicated Central Bank Account to receive all recovered funds, for coordination and transparency of management and oversight.

Since August 2015, NNPC began publishing its performance monthly (NNPC

Monthly Oil & Gas Report) in newspapers and various new media platforms and

most importantly on the NNPC website to improve transparency and probity.

The controversial Offshore Processing Arrangement (OPA) has been cancelled

and replaced with a ‘Direct Sales and Direct Purchase (DSDP)’ scheme with

reputable offshore refineries.

Completion of work, by the Federal Ministry

of Petroleum Resources, on the draft of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill.

The Bill has now been passed into law by the Senate, after 17 years of failed

efforts.

Reform of longstanding Petroleum Sector Cash Call Arrangement:

  •   In 2016 the Federal Government exited the cash call arrangement by which the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) traditionally funded its share of the crude oil exploration and production Joint Ventures (JVs) with International Oil Companies (IOCs).

  •   The Cash Call obligations had consistently put pressure on the Federal Government’s finances, and a failure to fully fund them has resulted in the accumulation of debt arrears of more than six billion dollars, as at December 2015.

  •   Starting 2017, a new funding mechanism is being introduced, which will allow the JVs to transform into independent, self-financing entities. The advantages for the

Federal Government finances include: (1) freeing-up the Federal Government from the budgetary obligation of coming up with the cash calls (savings made under the new arrangement can be directed to critical Infrastructure projects), and (2) a potential increase in Nigeria’s oil production to about 2.5 million barrels per day, on account of optimal funding.

 Also as part of the reforms, the debt arrears owed the IOCs have been negotiated downwards to approximately US$5.1 billion — for which a long-term repayment plan has been drawn up.

New Whistleblowing Policy:

 The new Whistleblowing Policy introduced by the Federal Ministry of Finance yielded, within its first two months of operation, yielded $160m and N8 billion in recoveries of stolen Government funds.

SECURITY

Capture of Boko Haram’s operational and spiritual headquarters, “Camp Zero”, in Sambisa Forest. Following this the Nigerian Army conducted its Small Arms Championship from 26th to 31st March 2017, a measure aimed at enabling the Armed forces to dominate the area, and avoid regrouping by the terrorists.

More than 12,000 Boko Haram hostages have been freed from Boko Haram captivity, including 106 of the Chibok Girls abducted in April 2014.

Revitalization of Multi-National Joint Task Force operations, aimed at combating trans-

border crime and the Boko Haram insurgency.

Arrest of Usman Mohammed, aka Khalid AlBarnawi, leader of the Ansaru Terrorist group and one of the most wanted Terrorists in the world, with a US$6m United States bounty on his head. He’s currently being prosecuted alongside his accomplices. Also arrested and being prosecuted: Amodu Omale Salifu, leader of an ISIS affiliate group active in North Central Nigeria.

Establishment of civil authority in the areas affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.

The Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC)

have deployed officers in liberated areas to take over effective civil responsibility from

the military, and secure and maintain law and order in the affected areas. The NSCDC

has also deployed 5,000 personnel to the North-East to protect the Internally Displaced

Persons’ (IDPs) camps and re-occupy the reclaimed towns and villages.

Transfer of 2 Nos. AW 101 Helicopter from the Presidential Air Fleet to the Nigerian Air

Force, for deployment in support of Operation LAFIYA DOLE in the North East. Also

transferred to the NAF: 3 EC-135 and 3 Dauphin helicopters, from the Nigerian

National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)

Establishment of a Naval Outpost in the Lake Chad Basin.

Successful Military Operations across the country:

  •   Operation Harbin Kunama in Dansadau Forest, Zamfara aimed at flushing out

    armed bandits and cattle rustlers.

  •   Operation Safe Haven to curtail the incessant clashes between Fulani herdsmen

    and farmers in the North Central (Plateau, Nasarawa, and Benue states).

  •   Exercise Crocodile Smile to curtail the menace of militant activities in the Niger

    Delta

  •   Exercise Obangame, a multinational operation aimed at securing and protecting

    the Gulf of Guinea.

  •   Operation Awatse, a joint operation between the Military and the Police, in South

    West Nigeria, to flush out militants and pipeline vandals

  •   Operation Python Dance in the South East to tackle kidnappers and militant

    elements.

Establishment of the 8 Task Force Division in Monguno to further strengthen military

presence in the North East.

DIPLOMACY AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Re-establishment of Nigeria’s position and influence in the regional and global arena. Fragile/broken relations with the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, and with

neighbouring countries (Chad, Niger, Cameroon) have been revived and strengthened since June 2015. The Meeting of the was the first since 2009.

Nigeria’s prominent participation in the London Anti-Corruption Summit and the Commonwealth Conference on Tackling Corruption, in May, 2016 in London. Major outcomes of these events include:

  •   The establishment of a Global Forum for Asset Recovery to be hosted by the governments of the US and UK this year, to focus on assisting Nigeria and three other countries to reclaim their stolen assets.

  •   The signing, in August 2016, of an MoU with the UK Government on modalities for the return of Nigeria’s stolen assets in the UK.

    In 2016 Nigeria signed an Agreement on the identification and repatriation of Illicit Funds with the United Arab Emirates during the Visit of Mr. President to that country.

    The Federal Government under President Buhari has engaged the governments of Switzerland, Jersey Island, United States, United Arab Emirates, and Liechtenstein among others, in an effort to ensure the repatriation of Nigeria’s stolen assets. So far, the Swiss government has agreed to repatriate illicit loot of about USD320 million, while another tranche is being expected from the Jersey Islands.

The Buhari Administration has mobilized International Support for the War against Boko Haram, forging strong partnerships with key countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, ECOWAS, the AU, the UN, and others.

The Buhari Administration has revamped the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) comprising troops from Nigeria and Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin; this revamp has contributed significantly to the weakening of Boko Haram.

Landmark Government-to-Government engagements with China and Morocco, aimed at developing and upgrading National Infrastructure.

Nigeria’s successful rallying of OPEC and Non-OPEC members to discuss stabilisation of the global oil market in Doha and in Algiers, and the successful negotiation of an exemption from the OPEC production freeze agreed at the 171st OPEC Ministerial conference in Vienna in November 2016; leading to a rise in oil prices to US$55/bbl for the first time in 16 months.

Prof. Tam David-West was minister of petroleum and energy when President Muhammadu Buhari was head of state. He tells OLUFEMI ATOYEBI that the office of the minister of state should be scrapped, among other issues

What is your comment on the recent $25bn oil contract controversy at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation?

When I first read it in the newspaper, I was flabbergasted. It is out of the question completely. I have said I will never comment on NNPC, but it would be irresponsible of me to keep quiet. It is dangerous. Despite the fact that I am no longer the oil minister, I know what is happening in the oil industry every day. I am still in touch with the system in Nigeria and even the North Sea Oil, Brent, I get the price every day.

I am interested in the oil industry just like any other Nigerian, for obvious reasons. Oil accounts for 80 per cent of the Nigerian budget and 90 per cent of its assets outside. The money we have outside and foreign reserves are mainly from oil. As someone from an oil-producing state, I am interested in what goes on in the industry. Thirdly, I have been there before and I know what is happening there.

I don’t know the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, or the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Maikanti Baru, but what is going on is very embarrassing to Nigeria. This has never happened before.

I had a misunderstanding with my managing director when I was oil minister, but it was well managed, although that case was different compared to what is happening currently. Fortunately for me, we both attended the University of Ibadan, so we were friends. But what is happening between Kachikwu and Baru is a misunderstanding over claims and circumstances that are beyond them.

When you say that a minister of state is the boss of the GMD of NNPC, it is wrong. That cannot be. People are making those claims because of misconception. The minister of state in the First Republic was a minister without a portfolio. He cannot be a boss of the GMD of an oil industry, who is the livewire of that sector.

Each time I read the newspapers about this issue, I am upset. An editor called me and asked me, ‘What is the duty of a minister of state?’ Some of these problems are caused by personality problems. Some of them have both bloated and ballooned egos. No one is indispensable in Nigeria because for every Nigerian holding a position, there are many others who are better qualified. No public servant can threaten the country. Nigeria is bigger than anyone, so whoever is in a top position should thank God and the country for the opportunity to serve. One million Tam David-Wests cannot threaten Nigeria.

When I read Kachikwu’s letter, I was flabbergasted. But I was relieved when the NNPC replied that nothing like that happened. There is a danger in having Kachikwu loyalists and Baru loyalists in the same sector. It is very dangerous for the nation.

When I wanted to recommend a managing director for Buhari as his minister when he was the head of state, three people who were qualified were vying for the position. I called them to my office at night after close of work and told them that they were all qualified but that I would choose Aret Adams.

Why did you do that?

One of them had contested the position and the other one was also interested in the position at a time in the past. They both had loyalists in the company. It would not augur well for the industry. That was why I chose someone who was fresh.

As a minister, Rivers State indigenes organised a reception for me, but I told them that I would not attend and that they should cancel it. I did that because I did not want to make myself a sectional minister. I was a minister for everybody. Buhari appointed me as a Nigerian minister and not as a Rivers minister.

Something must be done quickly before it puts the oil industry in jeopardy. The whole world is watching what we are doing in Nigeria. No one should do anything that will put the nation’s oil industry in jeopardy. If there is a problem in an industry, how can we attract foreign investors? They will be scared to come to Nigeria to invest in the country. No one wants to come to a country that is not safe. There must be a favourable atmosphere for them to come. If you give an impression that NNPC is not conducive, no one will come.

If you predict a bad thing and it comes to pass, you will be sad. But if you predict a good thing and it comes to pass, you will be happy. I am sad because I have predicted that something like this would happen one day.

When Rilwan Lukman was the Minister of Petroleum Resources and he carved out about 11 to 12 subsidiaries out of the NNPC, I said it was dangerous. I was supported by a prominent Nigerian oil technocrat, Chief Feide. I pointed out that what Lukman was doing was not good for Nigeria. I said it would be dangerous because what we are going to have are pockets of autonomies. Now it has happened. How can you refer to the NNPC as a parastatal? It is a parent body for all the subsidiaries carved out from it. It should not be under any ministry. Even now, it is not under any ministry.

But there is the Ministry of Petroleum Resource. Is the NNPC not responsible to it?

It is a ludicrous thing. The NNPC is a parent body. Was there a Ministry of Petroleum Resources in (Shehu) Shagari’s time and during Buhari’s first term in government? Let me clarify this, what we have is the ‘Department of Petroleum Resources’ and not a ministry.

But Kachikwu is today the chairman of the NNPC Board. Is there not a mix-up?

Buhari made him the chairman of the NNPC board. The chairman of that board does not have to be a minister.

Is Buhari not doing too much as a president and minister of petroleum?

People have forgotten what he said when he resumed as president. He said that he would hold that position for 18 months, during which he intended to straighten things up in the place. Actually, Buhari should be the chairman of the NNPC board and not Kachikwu, who is a minister without a portfolio in reality. It would be better if we scrapped the ‘minister of state’ which is superfluous and redundant.

Shouldn’t Buhari step down as minister since the 18 months have passed?

He will decide when to take that decision but that title of minister of state should be scrapped or called ‘minister without portfolio.’

Would you recommend he choose a substantive minister?

Buhari is a competent man when it comes to the oil sector. I learnt a lot from him when I became minister.

Don’t you think that based on his complaint, Kachikwu has been sidelined?

If he is complaining about being sidelined, maybe there is a clash between what he expected and what he has found. There is a fundamental problem there. But are his expectations valid? There are a lot of misconceptions and lies.

Another important thing is that you cannot be oil minister or the GMD and be an oil merchant. The two individuals should search themselves. Is there a conflict of interest in their activities? Baru said that Kachikwu recommended eight companies to lift oil but Kachikwu said it was a lie. The President must set up a panel to investigate this. In my time, I was offered things by oil companies that I rejected. King Ado Ibrahim in the Ebira land can bear me witness.

What is your comment on the restructuring agitations?

I am writing an article titled, ‘Restructure, constitution and scapegoatism.’ Fear is the cause of this agitation. (Charles) Darwin’s theory of organic evolution underscores that God restructures from time to time by restructuring the animals that inhabit the world from time to time. I am fully in support of restructuring. My only fear is that those who are clamouring for it are not sincere. They cannot define clearly what they mean by restructuring. It is hypocrisy and stupid.

People blame Lord Lugard for amalgamating the southern and northern protectorate. The company he represented asked him to do so because of administrative reasons. He executed the amalgam and it is left for us to form a nation. There is a difference between an amalgam and a compound. Lugard did the amalgam but it is left for us to create a compound out of it to form a nation. He has done nothing wrong. He did not come to create a Nigeria. If what he did was so bad, why did we celebrate 100 years of amalgamation?

Will the Petroleum Industry Bill see the light of day and will it have positive effect on Nigeria’s oil industry?

The PIB will make foreign companies investment in oil business in Nigeria difficult. The bill is meant to correct the oil industry but there are lots of taxes in it. It will not encourage what we call joint venture partnership. The taxes will chase investors away. They may not tell us the truth but the reality is that many oil companies are divesting from Nigeria secretly. They are taking their assets out of Nigeria without making a noise about it. Before now, many oil companies objected to a lot of clauses in it. They inject a lot of money into the industry, they pay royalty, they pay taxes and now you want to add more burden on them. The PIB has clauses that are burdensome. If you consider the politically unfavourable atmosphere in Nigeria, the electric car issue, alternative source of energy and so on, the future of oil business in Nigeria is in jeopardy. We will suffer more because we depend on oil. Nigeria depends only on oil. We only talk about diversification without acting on it.

What is your view on the search for oil in the northern part of Nigeria?

This is the typical Nigerian factor. They have made this issue political. Kachikwu assured the North that by January, he would strike oil in the region. I will continue to mention his name. Before I became minister of petroleum, a lot of money had been spent on the search for oil in the North and the search stopped. When I came, I called Aret Adams and told him that we should try again. He said a lot of money had been spent without getting even gas in that area. Adams was in charge of exploration at the time. I insisted that we try once more in 1984. I gave him six weeks to get me a rig. In four weeks, he got a rig for me and I bought it and took delivery of it at the Port Harcourt harbour. I took it to Gaji Gana to begin the search all over again. We started digging but we could not find anything. On my way to Maiduguri (in Borno State), I had an accident and almost died. I told Buhari what happened.

Before we left Gaji Gana, someone wrote in the newspaper that oil had been discovered in the North. I told my personal assistant to counter the report that it was not true. I said it would be better to use the money to build schools and hospitals for our people instead of wasting that money. That was the background to the search for oil in the North. I was shown two wells that were drilled but which were closed because they could not find oil there. It was like a wild goose chase. The search for oil has been made political. On the French side of Chad there is oil so, they said there should be oil on the Nigerian side. I alerted the nation that foreign countries were not willing to go to the North and start looking for oil. If there was oil there, they would have rushed to the place. Some read conspiracy theory to it but I said I and Adams are from the Niger Delta and we made so much effort to find oil in the North.

Why then is the search still going on?

Let us assume that there is oil there, is it in commercial quantity? If you say technically you have oil there, the only reason for anyone to go there and dig is if it is in commercial quantity, else, it is a waste of time and money. Some years ago, northern governors came together and said they would explore the possibility of getting oil in the North. It was a good move to jointly look for oil there. I have the record. They thought NNPC was not serious enough about it.

I wrote a three-page article titled, ‘Ankali, Ankali (be careful)’. I gave them the history of oil search in the Chad basin, the record of failures, how much was spent and how I bought a rig and took it there. I advised them to spend the money on education and health instead of spending it on the search. A professor from Maiduguri said I was wrong so they continued. I knew it was a chase that would not be fruitful.

More than a decade after giving refinery licence to investors, none has been built. What could be wrong with the initiative?

This is an interesting country. The first thing is that during Babangida’s era, they (the government) proposed to sell our refineries and (people) kicked against it. They changed it and said they wanted participation whereby someone would come and manage them for us. I said it was a risky move. They wanted to buy a refinery for Nigeria abroad and I wrote to Babangida (speaking) against it. They were beating about the bush. I said we were not facing the music. If we bought a refinery abroad, would it help our workforce at home? NNPC has competent staff in Nigeria.

Are private refineries the solution? They can only complement our own refineries. I wrote an article and said our refineries were sabotaged. Many years after, the Senate confirmed my claim. If our refineries are working, no one will import fuel. Fuel importation is a fraudulent business. The cabal and the unpatriotic people behind fuel importation know why our refineries were sabotaged. I conducted a study and found out that each time the refineries broke down, the same part would break down from each of them.

How can Nigeria stop the sabotage?

Except we stop importation of fuel, it will not stop. We had three refineries in my time and we never imported a litre of fuel. We were even exporting it. Private refineries are good but not the solution.

Why do you think those already handed licences to run private refineries yet to begin operations?

It is capital intensive and after you have built it you will have to get the crude from Nigeria. That is where the problem is. Our quota according to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is about two million barrels per day. Many with the licences did not study the implication. Is Nigeria ready to cut its exportation of crude and prefer to sell to the private refineries? Can we satisfy both markets without exceeding the OPEC quota? I once told the late MKO Abiola that with all his wealth, he would not be able to start oil business alone. You need foreign partners. It is attractive but when you get to the details, you will slow down.

But we have people who locally refine crude in the creeks. How are they finding it easy to do?

I am happy you brought that issue. The militants refine few litres for their daily use. That is not the type of quantity we need. They talk of modular refinery but even though that is easy to build, it cannot solve our problem. When we sit down to face the problem really, we will find a solution.

Can private refineries bring down fuel price in Nigeria?

The answer is yes and no. It will bring it down if the investors have enough crude to refine massively. But the question is that will they have enough because of the OPEC quota that we cannot exceed.

More than $153m has permanently seized from former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke while $9.2m allegedly was found in the home of former GMD of NNPC, Andrew Yakubu. Is Nigeria actually monitoring its oil business the way it should be managed?

I am happy and I am sad over this issue. I am sad that a Nigerian public officer could have such amount of money at home. This is a country that cannot pay N18,000 minimum wage to its workers. I am vindicated because I have always challenged anyone to come out and prove me as a corrupt minister. I never took money from anyone I awarded a contract or involved myself in oil business. A former Inspector General of Police once told me that Babangida was always sending spies to trail me anytime I travelled abroad to know how I got money. He said Babangida suspected that I was making money outside. I have forgiven him. He jailed me for life for taking a wristwatch (as a gift). If I wanted to be corrupt, will taking wristwatch (as a gift) be my target? I occupied top positions and never corruptly enriched myself. All the charges were lies. As a minister, my signature could command multimillion-dollars. It is not how much wealth you amass but the legacy you leave behind.

I know Dieziani very well. She was in Shell before; so I was surprised that she did what she did. How could she enrich herself so much? The PIB that was proposed was personalised. It gave the minister more power in the sector and she made sure it was so while she was there. If without the PIB, she made billions, with it, she would have stolen trillions.

Saturday, 14 October 2017 21:57

Somalia: At least 30 dead in Mogadishu blasts

A massive bomb attack in a busy area of the Somali capital Mogadishu has killed at least 30 people, police say.

Dozens more were wounded when a lorry packed with explosives detonated near the entrance of a hotel.

Police say two people were killed in a second bomb attack in the Madina district of the city.

It is not clear who staged the attacks. Mogadishu is a regular target for the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab group, which is battling the government.

After the first blast, police captain Mohamed Hussein told Reuters news agency: "It was a truck bomb. There are casualties but we do not know the exact amount as the scene is still burning."

Witnesses told the BBC they believed dozens of people were dead.

Saturday, 14 October 2017 21:43

Bayern thrash Freiburg on Heynckes return

Jupp Heynckes made a perfect start to his fourth spell as Bayern Munich coach with a 5-0 thrashing of Freiburg at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

An own goal from Julian Schuster put Bayern in front on seven minutes, and a flying header from Kingsley Coman doubled the lead shortly before half-time.

A fine strike from Thiago Alcantara put the reigning champions 3-0 up on 63 minutes, just moments after they had been denied a penalty by VAR. Further goals from Robert Lewandowski and Joshua Kimmich completed a perfect start to Heynckes’ fourth reign.

The win saw Bayern move within two points of Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga table, before the league leaders’ match against RB Leipzig later on Saturday.

Heynckes’ men are two points clear of third-placed Hoffenheim, who twice threw away the lead in a 2-2 draw at home to Augsburg.

After Michael Gregoritsch had cancelled out Benjamin Huebner’s opener 15 minutes from time, Mark Uth restored the lead with a curling strike into the top corner for Hoffenheim.

Augsburg, though, equalised once again in the 89th minute, with Kevin Vogt deflecting a Jeffrey Gouweleeuw cross into his own net.

At the other end of the table, Hamburg could celebrate scoring their first goal since August despite losing 3-2 to Mainz.

Alexandru Maxim’s second-minute opener for Mainz was quickly cancelled out by Walace, the Brazilian’s equaliser ending a five-game goal drought for Hamburg.

Stefan Bell restored the lead shortly after half-time, however, before a Christian Mathenia error allowed Danny Latza to add a third. A late penalty from Sejad Salihovic was not enough for Hamburg to avoid defeat.

Elsewhere, disciplinary mistakes saw Hertha Berlin suffer a 2-0 defeat by Schalke 04.

Genki Haraguchi was sent off before half-time, while Vladimir Darida conceded a penalty after the break. Leon Goretzka scored from the spot, before Guido Burgstaller added a second on 78 minutes.

Schalke moved up to fifth, after Hanover 96 were defeated 2-1 by a late Ante Rebic winner against Eintracht Frankfurt.

A Salif Sane header had cancelled out Sebastien Haller’s early goal in the first half, but Rebic struck on 90 minutes to inflict a first home defeat on Hanover this season.

Saturday, 14 October 2017 21:26

Late Ronaldo winner rescues Real at Getafe

Cristiano Ronaldo struck his first La Liga goal of the season five minutes from time to save Real Madrid from losing more ground in the title race with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Getafe on Saturday.

Real looked on course for a comfortable three points when Karim Benzema fired the visitors into a deserved half-time lead.

However, Jorge Molina’s equaliser early in the second half and an incredible miss by Ronaldo left the European champions needing a late saviour.

And Ronaldo rode to the rescue and made amends for his earlier profligacy with an accurate volleyed finish into the far corner.

Victory takes Real up to second and within four points of Barcelona, who travel to Atletico Madrid later on Saturday.

Despite being shorn of Gareth Bale, Dani Carvajal and Keylor Navas through injury and illness, Zinedine Zidane surprisingly left Luka Modric and Isco on the bench after their exertions on international duty and with one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League clash against Tottenham Hotspur.

However, that decision backfired as once again Zidane’s men produced a lacklustre performance in La Liga.

Real dropped points at home to Valencia, Levante and Real Betis to allow Barcelona to open up a seven-point gap at the top of the table and even failed to find their top form in seeing off Alaves and Espanyol in recent weeks.

Part of Madrid’s problem has been Ronaldo’s poor league form since returning from an early season five-game suspension.

Ronaldo’s first effort did at least produce a stunning save from Vicente Guaita as he drove Benzema’s neat layoff goalward from the edge of the box.

Guaita was left helpless six minutes before half-time, though, when Benzema latched onto Ronaldo’s pass and kept his composure to fire low into the far corner for his first league goal of the season.

Getafe had barely threatened before levelling in fortunate circumstances 11 minutes into the second half when Molina bundled home Francisco Portillo’s low cross despite appearing to be in an offside position.

The equaliser awoke Real from their second-half slumber and Guaita produced another great double save to block at Ronaldo’s feet before tipping Marcelo’s follow-up effort over.

Ronaldo drilled a free-kick just wide, but his embarrassing moment was still to come 17 minutes from time.

With the goal at his mercy as the ball rebounded into his path from a free-kick, the Portuguese somehow skewed wide at the far post.

Zidane threw on Isco, Theo Hernandez and Borja Mayoral from the bench in the search for a winner.

And it was Isco who provided the inspiration as his through ball released Ronaldo to finally break his duck in La Liga for the season by firing into the far corner.

Getafe could still have salvaged a point in stoppage time when Mehdi Lacen’s shot flew inches over with Real ‘keeper Kiko Casilla stranded.

Real jump into second thanks to Sevilla’s 1-0 defeat to Athletic Bilbao earlier on Saturday as Mikel Vesga got the only goal two minutes before half-time.

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