Press zooms in on allegation by presidential candidate that government is behind oil theft, others

APA– Lagos The allegation by the presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi, yesterday, that government is behind oil theft in the country dominates the headlines of Nigerian newspapers on Tuesday. The Guardian reports that the presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi, yesterday, that government was behind oil theft in the country.

APA – Lagos (Nigeria) The allegation by the presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi, yesterday, that government is behind oil theft in the country dominates the headlines of Nigerian newspapers on Tuesday.

The Guardian reports that the presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi, yesterday, that government was behind oil theft in the country.

Obi, who was the guest speaker at the second in the series of Private Sector Economic Forum of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) for presidential candidates, asserted that it was impossible for an ordinary Nigerian to steal oil without the cooperation of government.

“Payment of oil subsidy as currently practiced in Nigeria is an organised crime. We need an aggressive production of local refining. Make resources available to ensure a private-sector led oil refining,” the former Anambra State governor advised the Federal Government.

The presidential candidate who made the remarks, while answering questions from panellists at the event, also reacted to a question on the issue of cost of governance. “I have allergies to waste,” he said, alleging that 50 per cent of the claimed subsidy being paid was ‘corruption’.

Speaking on challenges relating to high exchange rate, Obi, who said the problem was due to ‘physical recklessness’, stated that Nigeria needed to move away from being a ‘consumption to production nation’.

Another critical policy he identified to address exchange rate challenges was to stop ‘dollarisation’ of local oil transactions.

He insisted that there was need for an overhaul of the security architecture in the country, proposing multi-level policing from the federal to the community security system.

The newspaper says that Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has raised the alarm over 50 different taxes, levies and fees imposed on organised businesses by local, state and the Federal Government.

The employers’ body, also revealed that, currently, at the National Assembly, there are over five different Bills, which also seek to impose various taxes and levies on businesses, in addition to the notable taxes and levies which are of general application, such as The National Information Technology Development Levy (NITDA Levy), Education Tax (or Tertiary Education Tax), National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Company Income Tax (CIT), Television and Radio License Fee, Local Content Levy and Stamp duty, among others.

The Director-General of NECA, Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde, lamented that the action will not only reduce the competitiveness of the industries but will also increase the cost of doing businesses and further reduce the potential sustainability.

Articulating factors that were already crushing the real sector, Oyerinde, said while debt and paucity of revenue are challenges that are acknowledged, businesses should not be made to suffer the lack of proper economic planning and political will that have pervaded successive administrations.

He said it was strange that at a time when the government should do all that was necessary to protect businesses from total collapse and reduce the increasing unemployment rate, there are proposals to further increase excise tax on select products, including spirits, alcoholic and non-alcoholic products.

Considering varied challenges faced by the real sector, which ranges from shortage of FOREX, stringent regulatory environment, non-alignment of fiscal and monetary policies, Oyerinde, said the government would do well not to further burden the real sector with additional taxes and stringent regulatory environment.

While emphasising the need for the government not to over-burden enterprises, he recommended that as the “African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) comes into full swing, Nigeria cannot afford to become a dumping ground for cheap imported products because we have refused to protect local businesses.

“Over the years, we have urged the government to expand the tax net, take a bold step towards stopping the oil-theft industry, take more than a cursory look at national assets that are laying waste and address the national embarrassment called the petrol subsidy regime.”

“There is no justification why the nation’s four refineries are still moribund after many Turn-Around-Maintenances (TAM). It will be counter-productive for the government to continue tightening the noose on legitimate businesses that are contributing to national growth, while there exist obvious wastages and inefficiency in government yet unattended to.

“As a panacea to the ever reducing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), rising unemployment and multi-facet revenue challenges, the government and its agencies must protect local businesses and make the operating environment more hospitable.”

The Punch reports that the Nigerian Government, on Monday, said there are plans to increase the N30,000 minimum wage in the light of inflation raving the world. The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, revealed this at the Nigeria Labour Congress public presentation titled, “Contemporary history of working-class struggle” in Abuja.

According to him, the adjustment had become important to reflect what was happening globally.

He said, “The inflation is worldwide, we shall adjust the minimum wage in conformity with what is happening now. The 2019 Minimum Wage Act has a new clause for a review. The adjustment has started with the Academic Staff Union of University because the stage they are with their primary employers, Ministry of Education, is a collective bargaining agreement negotiations.

“Under the principles of offer and acceptance, which is that of collective bargaining, ASUU can look at the offer they gave us and make a counter offer, but they have not done that. If they do that, we are bound to look at their offer. These are the ingredients of collective negotiations.”

He added stated, “If you don’t work, you won’t eat,” adding that labour provided the riches of any nation as well as the prosperity of every family.

He, however, advised the executives of affiliate unions of the Nigeria Labour Congress to familiarise themselves with labour laws.

Plans, he added, were being put in place to convert the Michael Imoudu Institute of Labour Studies, Ilorin, Kwara State, into a degree-awarding institute.

He said that in the current economic situation, the current minimum wage of N30,000 would not, in the present economic reality, pay workers’ transportation fares to work for a month.

Also speaking, President of the Trade Union Congress, Festus Osifo, who said that the sole aim of the labour movement in the country was to protect the interest of workers.

If not for the struggle of the founding fathers of the movement in the country, the story would have been different today, he said.

The newspaper says that the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and oil marketers, under the aegis of the Petroleum Retail Outlet Owners Association of Nigeria, are worried of an impending fiscal crisis in Nigeria following the continued rise in subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol.

NESG expressed its concern in the group’s September 2022 report titled, “The State of Nigeria’s Economy,” obtained in Abuja on Monday, as figures from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited indicated that petrol subsidy gulped N2.04tn between January and July this year.

NNPC said its under-recovery of PMS/value shortfall, otherwise called fuel subsidy, was N210.38bn, N219.78bn, N245.77bn and N271.59bn in January, February, March and April 2022 respectively.

In the months of May, June and July, petrol subsidy gulped N327.07bn, N319.18bn and N448.78bn respectively. The total sum spent on PMS subsidy during the seven-month period was put at N2.04tn.

In its latest report on the state of Nigeria’s economy, the NESG observed that the Federal Government’s huge fuel subsidy spending had been a drain on the country’s revenue despite the rise in crude oil prices in 2022.

The group stated, “In line with historical precedent, Nigeria’s fiscal space has been largely unimpressive, primarily on the revenue alongside a growing fiscal deficit.

“Despite an increase in global oil prices, the Federal Government’s actual revenue (N1.63tn for January – April 2022) is short of the pro-rated budget (N3.32tn), while government spending (N4.72tn for January – April 2022) was significantly closer to the budgeted levels (N5.77tn for January -April 2022).”

The NESG said the government should cut its fiscal deficit to avert an impending fiscal crisis, highlighting the gradual withdrawal of fuel subsidy as one of the measures to achieve this.

ANA NEWS WIRE Disclaimer:
The African News Agency (ANA) is a news wire service and therefore subscribes to the highest standards of journalism as it relates to accuracy, fairness and impartiality.
ANA strives to provide accurate, well sourced and reliable information across Text, Images and Video. Where errors do appear, ANA will seek to correct these timeously and transparently.
The ANA platform also contains news and information from third party sources. ANA has sought to procure reliable content from trusted news sources but cannot be held responsible for the accuracy and opinions provided by such sources on the ANA platform or linked sites.
The content provided for on the ANA News Wire platform, both through the ANA news operation and via its third party sources, are for the sole use of authorised subscribers and partners. Unauthorised access to and usage of ANA content will be subject to legal steps. ANA reserves its rights in this regard.
ANA makes every effort to ensure that the website is up and running smoothly at all times, however ANA does not take responsibility for, and will not be held liable for times when the website is temporarily unavailable due to technical issues that are beyond our control.