Below are the headlines found on The Guardian Online Newspaper for today, Monday, 29 January, 2018.

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has vowed to shut down the nation’s seaports over Federal Government’s failure to fix dilapidated access roads.

The union issued a seven-day ultimatum for the removal of abandoned trucks on the Oshodi-Apapa Road, which leads to the Apapa and Tin-Can Ports. It demanded that roads to the seaports be motorable, failing which members would embark on an indefinite strike, beginning Tuesday, February 6, 2018.

If the union makes good its threat, the economy could lose billions of naira daily. The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Apapa Command, had, in September 2107, disclosed it realised N32.1 billion the previous month, a minimum of N1 billion everyday.

Apart from the Apapa port, which has remained virtually inaccessible due to bad link roads, ports in Calabar, Port Harcourt, Warri and Onne have been largely under-utilised. This means that trucks carrying export goods to the Apapa port have to spend about three weeks on roads within the area before gaining access to the terminal.

With the prolonged delay, the quality of most of the goods depreciates before they get to their destination. This explains why Nigerian goods are often rejected for failing to meet international standards. This basically pertains to perishable goods.

Tola Faseru, the President, National Cashew Association of Nigeria, was once quoted as saying: “Export warehouses are filled with commodities. Instead of being promptly shipped out, they are rotting away.”

Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man and cement manufacturer, had, while offering to assist in repairing the link roads, also tried to quantify the loss Nigeria incurs from running seaports without good access roads. “The economy loses more than N20 billion daily. It affects businesses across the country,” he said.

The figure amounts to N7.3 trillion per year, an equivalent of the country’s annual budget.

MWUN’s threat was contained in a statement signed by President-General, Adewale Adeyanju, and Secretary-General, Felix Akingboye.

The statement recalled a 21-day ultimatum issued by the union last year, May 14, 2017, calling for the roads to be fixed. The union disclosed that before expiration, the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) met with the workers, pleading it had begun repairs. It also explained that major works were not captured in the 2017 budget. Consequently, the union suspended its planned action.

“Nine months after we suspended the ultimatum, the roads have completely deteriorated and have claimed several lives and properties. In fact, we lost two of our members on the Oshodi-Apapa Dual Carriage Way, which has completely failed.

“From Berger Bridge, there are countless craters and potholes. To worsen the already terrible situation, from Otto Wharf, the road has become a park and mechanic workshop for heavy-duty trucks abandoned by drivers and owners in the last few months.

“People defecate, sleep, cook, wash clothes, bathe and do whatever they like on the road. As a result, it is now a haven for criminals who seize every opportunity to assault and rob innocent Nigerians including our members who trek to and from work, daily, on the unmotorable road.”

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has said it broke boundaries in 2017, notwithstanding the country’s slow activities and exit from recession, to achieve a record N4 trillion in tax revenue collections.
The Chairman of FIRS, Babatunde Fowler, said this during a courtesy visit of the agency, the members of the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on Finance, to the palace of the Oba of Lagos.

Fowler reiterated that the new grounds the agency has attained supersedes the record of N3.3 trillion as revenue collection in 2016 by over 20 per cent and maintained that with his agency’s drive on tax revenue collection, the country would move forward to attain more grounds.

“By putting our hands together in contribution on to our set goal, I am confident that we will surpass our past result and we will be on our way to the future we hope to achieve.

“Even if the price of oil gets as high as $100 per barrel, taxation and tax administration will continue to move forward. It is clear that taxation is the most sustainable of all government revenue sources,” Fowler said.

“For us in Nigeria, a decline in receipts from oil revenue and decline in accruals to states from the federal account has placed many states in a financial quandary, to the extent where basic obligation such as the payment of employee wage has become a perennial challenge,” he added.

The visit to the palace was to thank the Oba for his immense support to the FIRS through his participation in making sure that tax revenue collections are properly carried out in Lagos, which also contributed significantly to the agency’s tax revenue collection successes.

Fowler also commended the National Assembly and the traditional ruler for their involvement in deepening tax collection in the nation and requested for more support from the Oba as the Chairman, Council of Traditional Rulers, to see to it that his subordinates follow his footsteps.

The Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, who received visitors at his palace, thanked the National Assembly and the FIRS for their contribution and support to tax revenue generation in the country.

The royal father noted that the country needed good government, governance and leadership and urged them to be patient with the president in his system of moving the country forward.

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
The word “frivolous” implies something that has no serious purpose or value, and in the context of the national budget, it becomes anything that has no developmental effect, especially in this period of high borrowing aimed at delivering the economy from the shackles of inactivity.
Yearly, the menace and scam has been perpetrated with inexplicable terms, repetitions, and mind boggling sums cutting across from the agencies to the Presidency. Sometimes, some of the expenditure proposals cannot be supported by any high level national plan or policy.

These frivolities ignore the pressing problems and challenges, while providing for the fancy, whims and caprices of the budget crafters. The inappropriate provisions also are not suitable or proper, given the present circumstances. They are short of policy goals declared by the government.

Unclear provisions are deliberately crafted by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), to deceive the uninitiated and sail through given the volume of the document, as many who would have shown interest are discouraged ab initio by numerous pages made of the national plan.

Already, about N219.4billion has been identified as resources to be saved and reprogrammed by the National Assembly, if only the lawmakers will do the needful for the common good.

The Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Eze Onyekpere, while speaking with The Guardian, said the strategy is made to confuse, and most times, the provisions do not have any fixed meaning, without clear activities, services, goods, construction and deliverables that any reasonable person can understand.

“In the age of ‘Buy Made in Nigeria’, most MDAs are insistent on buying foreign products and brands, and even have the temerity to put the foreign brands in the budget when there are equally good locally made alternatives. This is more pronounced in the quest for foreign SUVs,” he said.

For the BudgIT, a civic organisation that applies technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement, to facilitate societal change, the 2018 plan is masked with several opaque administrative items as capital projects just to shore up the percentage of capital component.

In the 2018 budget proposal, there are huge provisions for cleaning and fumigation and subscription to professional bodies, which are obviously bogus, while the yearly ritual of buying computers and computer software remained large in almost all the government agencies.

Specifically, from the Office of the National Security Adviser, over N1.14billion was proposed for cleaning and fumigation services. This sounds outrages for a mention, and in the usual budget process, it will go through without further inquisition to know how many “estates” are involved in this sanitation and “chemical bath”.

Similarly, the Directorate of State Security Service came up with a N2.2billion proposal tagged, “Social Media Mining Suite.” These proposals need further explanation and interrogation to determine the appropriateness and purpose of this vote.

These raise more posers: Should the government be buying computers and software every year? What happened to previously acquired computers and software? At the State House, Presidential Villa, there are large requests for yearly maintenance, repairs, and rehabilitation far in excess of the reasonable needs of the Villa. This tradition is followed by a number of MDAs.

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
Argentine midfielder Emiliano Rigoni has singled out the Super Eagles of Nigeria as their toughest opponent at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
The two nations are in Group D and will clash in the final group game at Saint Petersburg on June 26.

However, the Zenit St. Petersburg right-winger reckons it will be a different ball game in Russia, despite the fact that his side has a superior head-to-head record over the three-time African champions.

Rigoni came on as a substitute in their 4-2 loss against the Super Eagles in last November’s friendly in Krasnodar.

“In general, I think that there is no such group at the World Cup in Russia where you can definitely say who is the favourite, where exactly you know which teams will leave the group,” Rigoni told his club’s official website.

“This is not [as] all matches will be difficult. Separately, I would single out the game with Nigeria, which we have met a huge number of times in the past World Cups, and it has never been easy.

“It will not be easy this time, but we will come to this tournament with a clear desire to win all, not to lose a single match and win the title, so that no one to us and could not get close.”

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
Heavy transactions in the shares of some companies, especially Transnational Corporation (TRANSCORP), and First City Monument Bank (FCMB), last week, lifted the volume of shares traded, as a turnover of 7.157 billion shares worth N42.545billion were recorded in 39,037 deals by investors on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). This volume of shares [] 

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
Despite assurances, fiscal governance experts are raising issues with the feasibility of the 2018 budget and its outcome in engendering economic growth as claimed by the Federal Government. The concerns, which cut across capital expenditure vote, debt service provision and rising recurrent non-debt expenditure, are assessed as conduit to fritter public funds, deprive the poor [] 

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has vowed to shut down the nation's seaports over Federal Government's failure to fix dilapidated access roads. 

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
Mrs Rabi Umar Sodangi is the Acting Director General and Chief Executive of the National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency (NSRMEA). In this interview with BENJAMIN'ALADE, she talks about how the nation can move beyond oil and exploit its mineral resources, especially coal for power generation for wealth creation. Excerpts How would you describe activities [] 

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
The word 'frivolous' implies something that has no serious purpose or value, and in the context of the national budget... 

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
Argentine midfielder Emiliano Rigoni has singled out the Super Eagles of Nigeria as their toughest opponent at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. 

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has said it broke boundaries in 2017, notwithstanding the country's slow activities and exit from recession, to achieve a record N4 trillion in tax revenue collections. The Chairman of FIRS, Babatunde Fowler, said this during a courtesy visit of the agency, the members of the Senate Committee on Finance [] 

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
At a recent meeting of the National Steering Committee on Child Labour, the Federal Government reiterated its commitment to stopping the social menace of child labour and human trafficking in the country. The government pledged that Nigeria as a signatory to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations 'should not be found behind [] 

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
The AXA Mansard Investment Limited has advised Nigerians at all levels to setting financial insurance golds as the year begins. According to theRelationship Management Head, AXA Mansard Investments Limited,Renah Osiemi, said itt is a new year and another great opportunity to getfinancial situation right in order and a key factor in doing that is [] 

Mon, 29 Jan 2018
In this interview, Mrs. Temitope Iluyemi, Director, Government Relations and Public Policy, Procter & Gamble (P&G) Africa Operations, spoke about the company's commitment to supporting Federal Government's backward integration agenda as it focuses on developing local partners to international standards. P&G recently organized a meeting with suppliers of raw materials in the country, convened by [] 
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