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Akwa Ibom to Receive N51b as Arrears of Oil Derivation Fund

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The Akwa Ibom State Government was expected to receive in 2024 fiscal year the sum of N51 billion from the federation account as arrears of 13 percent oil derivation fund.

The figure, which was contained in the state’s 2024 budget, was one of the projected revenue sources for the funding of the budget.

Other funding sources for the budget as projected by the state government include; N55 billion from statutory revenue from the federation account and N280 billion from oil derivation fund.

Governor Eno last month signed into law the N849 billion budget. Of the figure, N490 billion was for capital expenditure while N359 billion for recurrent expenditure.

The review of the Akwa Ibom budgets for the past two years – 2023 and 2022 – revealed that this was the first time that arrears of 13 percent derivation owed the state was clearly reflected in the budget.

The oil derivation arrears were only reflected in the state’s 2021 budget – N61 billion was initially captured but was later increased to N193 billion in the revised 2021 budget.

A further review of the 2023 and 2022 budgets of the state revealed the oil derivation arrears may have been lumped up with other revenue sources under a sub-head called “Other statutory allocation.”

Governors in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region came under pressure in November 2022 after the then Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, disclosed that his administration was using his state’s share of the oil derivation fund arrears paid by President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government to implement several multi-billion naira projects in the oil-rich state.

After much criticism and pressure from the public, other states in the region, including Akwa Ibom, Delta, Bayelsa and Edo, confirmed the receipt of the money from the federal government.

The Akwa Ibom State Government through its Commissioner for Finance, Linus Nkan admitted the receipt of N186 billion as arrears of the oil money between 2021 and third quarter of 2022.

The finance commissioner had in a press briefing in Uyo, said the state government received N160 billion as derivation arrears in 2021 alone.

Nkan, who is still occupying the same office under the present administration, had said that N41.1 billion and N100 billion were estimated as derivation arrears in the 2022 and 2023 budgets respectively.

But findings showed no such sub-head – “derivation arrears” – exists in the said budgets, except in the 2024 budget.

The N51 billion as captured in Akwa Ibom State 2024 budget is a refund of arrears of the 13 percent oil derivation fund from the federation account.

The refunds, which accumulated from 1999 to 2021, were paid to the nine oil-producing states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers.

The federal government began paying the arrears to the concerned states in 2021, according to a statement from The State House.

Spokesperson to then President Buhari, Garba Shehu, had said that the nine states have received the sum of N625.43 in two years (2021 and 2022), leaving an outstanding of N1.1 trillion.

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Benue PDP to gov: Account for the N44b grants

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From Attah Ede Makurdi

The main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue State, on Monday, asked Governor Hyacinth Alia to give account of how he expended the N44 billion special intervention grants he received from the federal government between August 2023 to this year, 2024.

The party stated this following a startling revelation from the All Progressives Congress, APC in the State at a press briefing on Sunday night in Makurdi, that the governor received such amounts and has not done anything with it to see in the State.
The APC had during the meeting passed a vote of confidence on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu while revealing that Governor Alia has received from the federal government variously the sums of N5 Billion as post-subsidy removal fund, N9 Billion as Infrastructure Fund, and N30 Billion Sub-national Intervention Fund, collectively amounting to N44 Billion without making use of it.
The PDP State Publicity Secretary Chief Bemgba Iortyom, in a press statement issued and made available to newsmen in Makurdi, observed that the said interventions of N44 billion are outside the monthly federal allocations which have also increased by about 70% since the removal of fuel subsidy in May last year. “We as a party finds this revelation as shocking as there has been no disclosure from the governor of receipt of such funds, with the exception of the post subsidy removal (palliatives) fund which, after much pressure from the PDP, the APC had accepted having received in part N2 billion, and thereafter had kept sealed lips over the outstanding N3 billion”.”If there was a N9 billion infrastructure fund and a N30 billion Sub-national intervention fund, the people of Benue State are only getting to know about it from the APC statement, and this by all standards of transparency and accountability is unacceptable.”PDP is saddened that this non disclosure of N44 billion federal intervention grants by Governor Alia reinforces his policy of concealment and disregard for due process and the rule of law which underpin a style of governance that is in character a sole administratorship.”We recall that on several occasions, our great party had urged the governor to give account of contracts awarded for projects without recourse to due process and extant financial guidelines and regulations, or disclosure of costs for such projects.”It is our position that Governor Alia should come clean and disclose how he has expended the N44 billion special grants, as to do otherwise will be to thicken further the cloud of suspicions hovering over his administration, particularly against the backdrop of the N20 billion scandal rocking the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs right under his watch”, the statement read in part”.

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Armed herders attacks soldiers, kill one, injured another in Benue

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From Attah Ede, Makurdi

Troops of Operations Whirl Stroke (OPWS), operating in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba States, were reportedly attacked by suspected armed herdsmen leading to the death of one soldier, while another one was injured in Ochuekwu, Benue State.

The soldiers were deployed to Ochumekwu, Apa local government area of the State to keep peace following constant attacks on the community by the armed herders.

Force Commander, Operation Whirl Stroke OPWS Major General Sunday Iserihen Igbinomwanhia who confirmed this to newsmen on Monday, in Makurdi, said one personnel was killed and one injured.

He however said the troops in response killed three and injured several of the herdsmen, while one AK47 and rounds of ammunitions were recovered from them.

” OPWS is currently carrying out a clearance operation to flush out suspected armed foreign herders who have invaded Kwande local government area of the State”, he said.

It could be recalled that in February, a soldier was killed and two (2) others were injured in Agatu local government when suspected herders laid ambush on the troops.

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NEWS

Borehole Drillers Seek Expatriate Levy Review

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The Borehole Drillers’ Association of Nigeria (BODAN), has urged the Nigerian Government to reconsider its decision on the Expatriate Employment Levy (EEL), as it poses a threat to the survival of the drilling sector.

BODAN President, Mr Francis Uzoma, told newsmen on Monday that the decision has prompted many foreign drilling companies to consider relocating to other countries.

The Expatriate Employment Levy mandates an annual fee for organisations employing expatriate workers, requiring $15,000 (£12,000) for a director and $10,000 for other employees.

This move, according to the Federal Government aims to encourage foreign companies to increase the employment of Nigerian workers.

Uzoma said the federal government should reconsider the decision by reviewing the mandated levy to be more considerate in line with current economic realities.

According to him, its members, especially the foreign investors have been worried about the new decision saying it was not beneficial to continue to operate in the country.

“I just came out from a meeting with my members and they have expressed concern about the new law which mandates organisations employing expatriate workers to pay $15,000 for a director and $10,000 for other employees.

“These companies have already indicated their intentions to leave the country, many of them are Indian and Asian drillers.

“There are predictions of massive job losses, affecting mainly Nigerian workers and would contribute to unemployment.

“We are calling for total review of this annual levy as the one-month window given for payment is not tenable and would affect the economy.

“Without such reconsideration, there’s a risk of drilling companies relocating to neighboring countries, as they have expressed dissatisfaction and unfavorable business conditions”.

These effects, he added include potential repercussions on the borehole sector, hindrance to knowledge transfer, and limitations on equipment and technology use.

He stressed the potential retaliation from foreign investors, particularly Nigerians in diaspora, highlighting the importance of considering the policy’s impact.

He mentioned his intention to write to the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, outlining the adverse effects of the policy on the economy.

NAN recalls President Bola Tinubu’s cautionary statement during the recent launch of the EEL handbook, where he warned against using the levy to obstruct potential investors.

He highlighted the government’s expectations to enhance revenue and promote indigenisation, emphasising the objective of balancing employment opportunities between Nigerians and expatriates.

Tinubu clarified that the government’s aim is to narrow wage gaps between expatriates and the Nigerian labor force.

Also, it is to simultaneously foster increased employment opportunities for qualified Nigerians within foreign companies operating in the country. (NAN)

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