NIGERIA NEWSPAPERS: Today's Thisday Newspaper Headlines [3rd February, 2018].

Below are the headlines found on Thisday Online Newspaper for today, February3rd February, 2018

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
Former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, yesterday in Abuja stopped short of asking former President Olusegun Obasanjo to mind his own business, saying he had not at any time been named as an adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Oshiomhole, who was at the Presidential Villa made this remark, while reacting to a 13-page statement issued by the former president on January 23, in which he told Buhari to forget a re-election bid in 2019 as a result of his alleged failure in many areas.

On the same day, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, also came down on Obasanjo, saying he was playing politics with the letter he wrote to Buhari.

The former president had accused the incumbent of running a government of nepotism and literarily running the economy aground while showing indifference to mindless killings by Fulani herdsmen in various parts of the country.

But Oshiomhole, who said he was in the Presidential Villa yesterday to reassure the president of his perpetual loyalty and support not only to his government but also for his re-election come 2019, recalled that having warned his erstwhile advisers that he was not bound to heed their advice, Obasanjo also lacked any right to offer Buhari any advice.

“I’m not sure when I see the list of the advisers, that Obasanjo is one of the advisers. But I also recall with respect that the day Obasanjo was swearing in some of his advisers, he did say that anybody who is his adviser can advise him, he will make his own decisions. And I think that principle still stands,” he stated.

Affirming the necessity of his visit to Buhari this precarious moment in the nation’s history, Oshiomhole stated that it was important for the president to know that he still has men and women who believe in his leadership.

According to him, the president has had to contend with acute challenges which he said heralded his advent to the seat of power as he blamed the prevalent case of stagnation, underdevelopment and abject poverty in Nigeria on corruption which he claimed the president had had to contend with in the past two years.

He also argued that the president’s decision to identify the pitfalls of corruption threatening peace and progress in the country and battling it, underscores that he was focused as he proceeded to blame the previous administrations for the acute challenges confronting the nation today.

Claiming further that the president had done well, Oshiomhole reasoned that his administration’s policy of giving a stipend of N5,000 to poor and aged persons in the society was second to none and hence, described it as an important decision in the annals of the country’s corporate existence.

“Let’s trace the route of poverty. It is not something that developed over the past few weeks or few years. If you review all your newspaper editorials from my days as president of the NLC, the challenge has been how do we ensure that the Nigerian economy work for the betterment of the majority of the people particularly the forgotten rural majority?

 “I think people have to realise the amount of damage done by the previous governments. You know when people say no blame game, maybe yes, maybe no. But where I am come from, people say that it is only a fool who will be working on the road, get into a pot hole and fall and then get up and continue the journey, go to the hospital and treat himself. 

“But a wise man must interrogate how and why did I fall? And maybe in the course of doing that, find that there is a pothole. The first and simple thing to do is to fill that pot hole before you continue your journey and then go ahead and treat yourself.

“Nigeria was below ground level and from what you guys reported that I read, we have always had challenges but never, in terms of scale, magnitude, what President Buhari inherited is difficult to describe. So, I have said so before that when you meet such a situation, your first task is to halt the drift. When you halt the drift, then you stabilise before you begin to go. There is no miracle about it.

 “So, yes there are challenges. There are things we need to begin to do and reinforce but there is no question that a lot has begun and a lot is being done. There is no miracle in the life of a nation. So, the fact that the president has lean resources and huge debts that he inherited, and despite the cost of servicing those debts, the president insists that the poorest amongst us who are victims of these several years of misrule, that they must have something to give them a sense of belonging under the social programme which seeks to transfer cash of N5,000 and several other instruments that have been put in place, that is to recognise that they are really people who are so poor that N5,000 can make a difference. That recognition for me is important in a country where nobody has discussed this category of people before. 

“However, the challenge of getting that done is huge given the paucity of data. All the investments we have made in national identity card, you guys know how much previous governments have spent, trying to organise a national data without which really, you can’t deliver a couple of things because you need a data base that is reliable to be able to identify who is poor, where is he located and how do we deliver something to him? 

“But for me, there is a commitment. I can see a heart that cares for the poor. But that doesn’t mean caring for the poor will make the poverty disappear overnight. But that is a starting point because if you don’t recognise that we have these people amongst us and they are in millions, then you are not even likely to reflect on how to deal with their problems. For me, in terms of values, I can see a lot,” Oshimhole said.

Tinubu: Obasanjo’s Playing Politics with his Letter to Buhari

In a related development, former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu, yesterday alleged that Obasanjo was playing politics with the open letter he wrote to Buhari.

Tinubu said that if the former president meant well, he would have met with Buhari to talk about the issues he raised in the letter since he was senior to Buhari both in the army, as head of State and as President.

Tinubu, who spoke after visiting Governor Rochas Okorocha in the company of the pioneer National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande at the Government House Owerri, noted that Obasanjo could have, in several ways, met with Buhari to discuss the issues raised.

He said: “They both had the same background. So, I believe that would have been the conversation of retired Military Heads of State. They have unfettered access to each other either through the Council of States or any other means; he could see the current President privately. He, Obasanjo was also his senior in the army; I think Obasanjo was playing politics with the public letter. That is all I see. They also met at the African Union meeting too. He has a way of discussing with the President any time he wants”.

On what brought him to Owerri, Tinubu said: “I am here to see a very good friend of mine, the governor, Owelle Okorocha and then pay respect to the gentleman, nationalist, great leader of our generation, late Alex Ekwueme”.

Falana Picks Holes in Obasanjo’s Letter

Also yesterday, Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana, called on Obasanjo to “desist from insulting the collective intelligent and memories of Nigerians having instituted the culture of impunity under the democratic dispensation in Nigeria while serving as the president of the country. 

Falana also picked holes in the recent judicial pronouncements on Magu, the EFCC acting chairman, saying there was nothing to celebrate “because it is still the prerogative of the president to make such appointment so long as the man does not act beyond the statutory period.”

Falana, who spoke in Benin City, while reacting to questions bordering on the state of the nation, said Obasanjo had the opportunity to make the country great “by providing good leadership and getting rid of corruption, but he failed to do that as a president.”

He said: “If Obasanjo who ruled this country for eleven and half years had institutionalised democracy, rule of law, respect for human rights, we will not be in this mess.

“So, please, let Obasanjo and others be honest to admit that they brought us to this shameful episode. So, nobody should grandstand when it comes to the misgovernance of Nigerian.

“Nobody has apologized. The fact is that between 1999 and 2007, this country made close to $500 billion from the sale of oil. What is there to show for it? Permanent darkness?

“The more they spend on energy, the more darkness we get. What is there to celebrate? Mass unemployment, sale of the assets of the country to a few boys who were closed to the presidency and rigging of elections.

“Obasanjo is entitled to form his own political party or his own movement but he should please desist from insulting the collective intelligent and the collective memories of Nigerians.

“With great respect to former Obasanjo, apart from the allegations of nepotism and clannishness against Buhari, which cannot be disputed, every other allegation made is nothing to write home about. In other words, all the other allegations took place under Obasanjo and in fact, he institutionalised the culture of impunity under a democratic dispensation in Nigeria.

“Many of us have forgotten about the abduction of the then governor Chris Ngige. Many of us have forgotten the fact that the National Assembly displayed bales of Naira with which the presidency allegedly wanted to use to bribe the legislators.

“Many of us have forgotten about the third term agenda or the fact that many people close to the seat of power then were treated like sacred cows even in the fight against corruption. I do not want to join issues with Obasanjo for now on his letter so that one would not be seen as endorsing impunity in our country. Other than the allegations of nepotism and clannishness which the presidency is notoriously noted for, I think, they are birds of same feathers.”

On the judicial pronouncements on Ibrahim Magu, Falana said the court never made any pronouncement on the appointment of Ibrahim Magu as the acting chairman of the EFCC, and as such, there was nothing to celebrate.

“It is not a judgement to celebrate with great respect. I have read the judgement of the case filed by a private lawyer based in Abuja, Mr. Tolu Ajaomo, against the Attorney General of the Federation and the Senate. Mind you, EFCC is not a party. Magu was not a party, so no court in Nigeria can make order against a person who was not joined in any suit.

“But having read the ruling, with great respect, the case was struck out. If a case was struck out, you cannot rely on it. The court held that the lawyer has no locus standi to have filed the action and therefore struck it out. 

“However, in an academic exercise, the court said, having regard to section 2, 3 of the EFCC Act, the Senate has the power to confirm or reject the nomination of the president. The court never ever made any pronouncement on the appointment of Magu as the acting chairman of the EFCC.

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
Nigeria has entered into Automatic Exchange of Tax Information (AETI) with some foreign countries, including the United Kingdom (UK), particularly on overseas assets owned by Nigerians.

The federal government has therefore advised Nigerian users of offshore structures to take advantage of the tax amnesty programme – Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) – to regularise their taxes before the expiration of the scheme on March 31, 2018.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who spoke yesterday in Abuja during the presentation of Progress Report on Tax Laws Reform by the National Tax Policy Implementation Committee, expressed satisfaction with the data being supplied to Nigeria by foreign countries under the AETI, to which the country became a party in January 2018.

She said: “The data received in Nigeria with regard to overseas assets held by Nigerians has been impressive and will underpin a long term improvement in the nation’s tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ration, in turn, will improve life for the masses.

“The data on bank accounts, property and trusts, which has come automatically from a number of countries is being used to support the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) by allowing the tax authorities to check the accuracy of declarations received.

“The federal government is also using the data to generate ‘nudge’ letters which are being sent to those identified as being potential tax defaulters.” 

She disclosed that Nigeria had written to a number of nations to request specific information about offshore trusts and bank accounts held by its citizens.

The minister advised users of offshore structures to take advantage of VAIDS to regularise their taxes before the expiration of the amnesty programme.

According to Adeosun, “The offshore tax shelter system is basically over. Those who have hidden money overseas are being exposed and while Nigerians can legally keep their money anywhere in the world, they must first pay any taxes due to the Nigerian government so that we can fund the needs of the masses and create jobs and wealth for our people.”

She noted that the moral argument against illicit financial flows and tax evasion and the strong international cooperation were such that every Nigerian tax payer should do the right thing. 

“The needs of our people for development override any other argument against payment of tax,” she explained, stressing the need for sustainable revenue that could deliver infrastructural development for Nigeria and improve the tax to GDP ratio of the country.

The minister assured that the federal government would build a robust tax system and implement the recommendations by the National Tax Policy Implementation Committee (NTPIC), on tax laws reform.

In his address, the NTPIC Vice Chairman, Mr. Taiwo Oyedele, who presented the report, said the committee considered three major policy documents namely; the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), the National Tax Policy and Ease of Doing Business Plan.

He disclosed that the committee agreed that tax reforms should align with overall Government objectives as articulated in these documents, such that every action or recommendations would promote and catalyse the realisation of overall objectives.

According to him, the committee identified the seven major tax areas that would have the highest impact. 

These include: Company Income Tax (CIT), Value Added Tax (VAT), Customs & Excise Tariff (CET), Personal Income Tax (PIT), Pension Contributions, Industrial Development Income Tax Relief (IDITR); and Tertiary Education Trust Fund.

The proposed changes to the tax laws, he stated, would achieve specific objectives, including increasing and diversifying government revenue, simplify paying taxes and doing business, promote micro, small and medium enterprises, protect most vulnerable persons in the society, and remove obsolete, ambiguous and contradictory provisions in the law.

Oyedele added that the committee’s work resulted in two executive orders and five amendment bills.

The executive orders include Value Added Tax Act (Modification) Order and Review of Goods Liable to Excise Duties and Applicable Rate Order.

The proposed Amendment Bills are: Companies Income Tax Act (Amendment) Bill, Value Added Tax Act (Amendment) Bill, Customs, Exercise, Tariff (Consolidation) Act (Amendment) Bill, Personal Income Tax Act (Amendment) Bill and Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) Act (Amendment) Bill.

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
It was indeed a happy end to an eventful life as the remains of late Second Republic Vice President of Nigeria, Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme were laid to rest in his compound in Oko, Orumba North Local Government area of Anambra state at exactly 2:30pm yesterday, in a blaze of Glory.

The internment took place shortly after a funeral service at the St. John the Divine Church of the Anglican Church where President Muhammadu Buhari formally named the Federal University, Ndufu Alike, Ikwo, in Ebonyi State after the departed leader.

Ekwueme was the nation’s first elected Vice President from 1979 – 1983. He was born on October 21st, 1932 and died on November 19, 2017.

His funeral service witnessed the presence of notable Nigerians from virtually all the geopolitical zones including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who represented the president; former President Goodluck Jonathan and wife Patience; former Vice Presidents Namadi Sambo and Chief Ebitu Ukiwe; Governors of Gombe, Ibrahim Damkwambo, Delta, Ifeanyi Okowa, Lagos, Akinwunmi Ambode, Abia, Okezie Ikpeazu, Imo, Rochas Okorocha, Ebonyi, Dave Umahi and Anambra, Willie Obiano. 

In his message at the burial, President Buhari, said the former Vice President was being celebrated because he practiced a kind of principle that sets him apart from his peers, “whether they are rich, poor, unknown or known – the principles of personal sacrifice to others, service to those who cannot offer one, the courage of one’s conviction, bravery in the face of terror. 

“As Vice President, he set an example of loyalty and dedication with the love of the nation in service. After the coup that ousted the government which he served, while his finances were thoroughly combed for evidences and he was imprisoned unjustly, he went on to demonstrate the power of principle which only one man can have.

“While many hid their ideas and thoughts even in the darkest days following the dictatorship in our country, he came out and offered himself as the face and voice of the people and by so doing showed that the beauty of democracy was more than the platitude of wealth, he showed that nations are built on ideals and trusts.

“It is in death that we are confronted with the futility of affluence, wealth and power no matter how it is confronted. It is also in death that we are left with the immortal legacies of those who by their selfless deeds, courage  and service to those who are not prepared are immortal; immortal because from the heart of men and God.

“Ekwueme lived in the hearts of those who are not prepared and those who cannot speak for themselves in tangible ways.

“No amount of commendation can be enough from a nation which is greater for the services of one of her own. We therefore offer only a token. And so it is my pleasure to announce that in commemoration of the life and contribution to the nation by Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme GCON, the President of the federal republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari has approved and directed that the federal University Ndifu, Alike Ebonyi State be now renamed and become known as  Alex Ekwueme Federal University.

“To the illustrious Ekwueme family and people of Oko, we thank you for sharing this moment with us, we pray that you and your siblings will enjoy and that many among you will be greater than he was in the service of the federal republic of Nigeria,” the President who spoke through Osinbajo, noted.

 Earlier in a homily, the Primate of Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh lamented that integrity and honesty which were the most cherished virtues of Ekwueme had taken flight in Nigeria insisting that for the nation to make progress, it must enthrone integrity in its system. 

Okoh who spoke on the theme “Get into the Ark” and drawing his lesson from Genesis chapters 6 and 7 said: “if you are in politics and you engage people that lack integrity, you will not make any progress. Integrity is the key and it has taken flight in Nigeria”.

He urged the new generation of Nigerian politicians to imbibe Ekwueme’s virtues especially his humility and constant contact with his community in their dealings.

The Primate also decried the alarming rate at which Nigerians patronise foreign hospitals each time they were sick, and therefore appealed to the nation’s leaders to help the country by addressing the failing healthcare delivery system.

“We spend so much in America, Dubai, Britain, India and other parts of Europe and we can reduce this by 70 per cent if our leaders do the needful. Our leaders must deliver us from health tourism. Our independence is only on paper, it’s not deep, we must deliver ourselves from over-dependence on other nations for our healthcare,” he said.

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris has blamed the anti-open grazing law implemented by the Benue State Government as the genesis of the crises which claimed at least 73 lives in Logo and Guma local government areas of the state early in the New Year.

He also noted that the open display of the casualties of the attacks, inciting statements by the Governor Samuel Ortom, and the arming of militia groups in the state, were causing renewed tension. 

Idris said these yesterday when he met with the Senate Committee on Police Affairs to brief them on his level of compliance with the Senate directive to apprehend the perpetrators of the Benue attacks and hand them over to the state Attorney General for prosecution. 

The meeting which lasted for two hours was held behind closed doors. 

Idris was accompanied to the meeting by some officers including the Force Public Relations Officer, Moshood Jimoh.

A member of the committee, who spoke off record with THISDAY, provided some details of the IGP’s submission before the Senator Abu Ibrahim-led committee 

Idris, the senator said, chronicled events from the beginning of the attacks and noted that almost 150 persons had so far been arrested with most of the suspects already charged to court.  

Investigation to determine the level of culpability of those that have not been charged to court, was ongoing, Idris said. 

The source further disclosed that Idris recommended that the state should suspend its anti-open grazing law, pending when it would provide ranches for the herdsmen, and then gradually reintroduce the implementation of the law. 

“He also advocated that cattle routes be re-opened, in addition to disarming armed militia groups and dialogue among all stakeholders,” the source said. 

The IGP, according to the senator, presented several pictures to the committee, including those of some bodies and of suspects that had been arrested with arms and ammunition. 

The senator was however unable to ascertain whether the Senate at plenary would be satisfied with the presentation of the IGP and the committee’s report, or would summon him to appear at plenary. 

“Remember that the resolution said he would be summoned to brief the Senate at plenary next Tuesday if our committee’s report is not satisfactory.  I cannot say for now if it is satisfactory or not.

“He just briefed us on what they have done and are doing to restore normalcy. We would meet further to consider his submission and write our report,” the senator said. 

On January 14, 2018, the Senate had issued a two week ultimatum to Idris to apprehend the attackers. He was summoned at the expiration of the ultimatum to brief on his level of compliance with the resolution.
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