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NCS Raises Concerns Over N3.09trn Revenue Target in 2022

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By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has raised the alarm over its ability to meet up with the N3.09 trillion revenue target for the 2022 fsical year.

It disclosed the collection of  N2.143 trillion out of the N3.019 trillion target given by the Federal Government for the fiscal year.

Comptroller-General, Col.

Hameed Ali, who  Spoke at the 54th Session of the State House Briefing organised by the Media Department at the Presidential Villa, Thursday in Abuja,  said agency might not be able to meet the target this year but said there better hope for 2023.

He said one key area of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was laying a solid foundation to expand the revenue base of the nation and ensure a steady progression in the economy through institutional reforms.

Ali disclosed that the Customs had deployed strategic approaches to block revenue leakage and had succeeded to identify the leakages and blocked them.

According to him, the NCS was generating N876 billion annually to the federation account but after the leakages were blocked its revenue increased to N2.1030 trillion in a year.

He revealed that total collections from these items under excise between 2015 and May 2022 amounted to N610.865 billion.

“From June 2022 to the present time the collection from non-alcoholic, sugary and carbonated drinks totalled N20.391 billion with an outstanding revenue at the close of business in September of N773.943 million.

“By the end of the last quarter of 2022, the Service anticipates collecting about 35 billion naira from this sector alone or 10.2% of its total collectable duty from excise taxes on sugary/carbonated drinks,” he said.

The Customs boss who said, there was no room for under declaration of goods; stressed that “I’m looking forward to the day we will be collecting more excuse /industrial duty.”

Ali said that the only way Nigeria can protect her border is by huge investment in technology, adding, “we are working electronically and scientifically to generate revenue.”

Automation of the Nigeria Customs Service will generate about $176 billion and instill paperless Customs (Office Automation System, Human Resource Management, Document & Asset Management System), Infrastructure upgrades (Customs Data Centre & Network) and Marine Deployment.

The Comptroller-General said he aligned the organizational structure with the reforms agenda and unbundling of Commands/Units and creation of new Commands to achieve strategic objectives in non-intrusive inspections, marine, air-wing, excise, Oil & Gas Free Trade Zones, and export.

“I have enhanced Human Resource Management by ensuring proper placement of officers and men, define clear paths for career progression and ensure promotions based on merit; enhanced welfare for officers and men, salary increase, better housing facilities, well equipped administrative facilities, regular postings to prevent favoritism/corruption and better healthcare,” he said.

The Finance Act 2021 provided for the amendment of section 21 of the Customs Excise Tariff and allows for the collection of excise duties on non-alcoholic, sugary and carbonated drinks from June 2022.

Meanwhile, the Customs boss said he has sacked over 2000 officers for indulging in corrupt practices waring that it would ensure the service is sanitized.

Excise duty, prior to this amendment, was levied on the local manufacture, sale and consumption of beer, spirits, other alcoholic beverages, cigarettes and tobacco among others, Ali said.

One excise on telecommunications services, Ali explained that the Finance Act 2021 provided for the amendment of section 21 of the Customs Excise Tariff and allows for the collection of excise duties on telecommunications services from June 2022 adding that the current statistics puts the total number of phone users in Nigeria at over 204 million persons.

According to the NCS boss, the Federation Account provides for the collection of 5% on all telecommunications services, voice, data and others.

“NCC data reveals Nigerians spent N3.25 trillion on telecommunications service in 2021, extrapolating that the Service anticipates a collection of about N162.5 billion from this Service alone.

On creation of dedicated export command, Ali explained that exports have long since been identified as having huge potentials in foreign exchange earnings and the value of non crude exports (agricultural products) in 2021 was over N500 billion, assuring that the sector has the potential of growing over 100% with the right incentives and support.

He said the challenges faced by exporters have been addressed through the creation of dedicated export Commands, saying that the pilot scheme is located in an accessible off-dock facility at Lilly-Pond Ijora Lagos.

Export Commands are being modified to simplify and harmonize documentation while insisting on standardized packaging to make Nigerian goods more acceptable in the international market, the Comptroller-General said.

“Nigeria Customs Service has contributed its quota in the notable economic achievements of this administration over the past 7 years, especially through exemplary accountability that has been the fulcrum of NCS Management,” the Comptroller-General said.

The purpose of this briefing was to highlight some of the incentives and critical policy initiatives introduced by the Comptroller General and his Management team to support the vision of Mr. President and his administration to further grow the economy and sustain the anti-corruption fight.

Ali said that the NCS multi-strategy approach has yielded record seizures with total Duty Paid Value of N188.626 billion on all prohibited and offensive items.

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Investing in Davido, Meme Coins Highly Risky – SEC

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

The Security and Exchange Commission has warned that investing in meme coins, including $Davido, is highly risky and should be done with a full understanding of the associated risk.

According to the Commission in a Circular, “The attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigeria (“SEC”) has been drawn to a meme coin known as “$Davido” allegedly linked to the popular Nigerian singer, David Adedeji Adeleke AKA Davido.

“Generally, meme coins are crypto-currencies inspired by memes and internet jokes. They are often envisaged as fun, light-hearted crypto-currencies promoted through a social media community and sometimes through celebrity endorsements”.

The SEC further stated that Meme coins are also NOT intended to serve as a medium of exchange accepted by the public as payment for goods and services, or as digital representation of capital market products such as shares, debentures, units of collective investment schemes, derivatives contracts, commodities or other kinds of financial instruments or investments.

The Commission therefore advised the general public that meme coins lack fundamental value and are purely speculative.

“The general public is further WARNED that investing in meme coins, including $Davido, is highly risky and should be done with a full understanding of the associated risk.

“Capital Market Operators are by this Notice warned not to associate with instruments that fall outside the SEC’s regulatory purview. Such instruments should not in any manner be distributed or monitored through any capital market mechanism”.

The SEC also emphasised that the Commission does not recognize $Davido as an investment product or investable asset class under its regulatory purview, as such individuals who patronize it, do so at their peril.

“The Commission will continue to monitor developments within the ecosystem and will not relent in deploying its regulatory powers as and when required” , the circular added.

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Presidency to New York Times: Tinubu Gov’t Tackling Economic Crisis

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By David Torough, Abuja

The Presidency has reacted to a report published in the New York Times criticising the Nigerian economy as facing the worst trajectory in a generation.

Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, responded on Sunday to the report by Ruth Maclean and Ismail Auwal.

According to the Presidency, the feature story, titled ‘Nigeria Confronts Its Worst Economic Crisis in a Generation’ and published on June 11, reflected the typical predetermined, reductionist, derogatory, and denigrating way foreign media establishments have reported on African countries for decades.

Onanuga stated that due to the ‘misleading’ slant of the report, the government needed to clear up some misconceptions conveyed by the reporters regarding the economic policies of President Bola Tinubu’s administration, which took office at the end of May 2023.

He noted that the report painted a dire picture of some Nigerians’ experiences amid the inflationary spiral of the last year and unfairly blamed it all on the new administration’s policies.

He argued that the report, based on several interviews, was at best jaundiced, portraying all gloom and doom without mentioning the positive aspects of the economy or the amelioration policies being implemented by the central and state governments.

Onanuga emphasized that Tinubu did not create the economic problems Nigeria faces today but inherited them.

“As a respected economist in our country once put it, Tinubu inherited a dead economy.

“The economy was bleeding and needed quick surgery to avoid being plunged into the abyss, as happened in Zimbabwe and Venezuela,” he noted.

He explained that this context led to the policy direction taken by the government in May/June 2023, including the abrogation of the fuel subsidy regime and the unification of the multiple exchange rates.

Onanuga highlighted that Nigeria had maintained a fuel subsidy regime for decades, which consumed $84.39 billion between 2005 and 2022 from the public treasury, in a country with significant infrastructural deficits and a high need for better social services.

He also alleged that the state oil firm, NNPCL, had accumulated trillions of Naira in debts due to unsustainable subsidy payments.

He noted that when Tinubu took office, no provision was made for fuel subsidy payments in the national budget beyond June 2023.

“The budget itself had a striking feature: it planned to spend 97 per cent of revenue servicing debt, with little left for recurrent or capital expenditure. The previous government had resorted to massive borrowing to cover such costs.”

Onanuga further explained that like oil, the exchange rate was also subsidized by the government, with an estimated $1.5 billion spent monthly by the CBN to defend the currency against the unquenchable demand for the dollar.

“This low rate led to arbitrage and failures to fulfil remittance obligations to airlines and other foreign businesses, drying up foreign direct investment and investments in the oil sector.

“To address these issues, Tinubu rolled back the subsidy regime and floated the naira on his first day”, Onanuga said.

Despite initial challenges, Onanuga noted that some stability is being restored, with the exchange rate now below N1500 to the dollar and prospects for further appreciation.

He cited a trade surplus of N6.52 trillion in Q1, as opposed to a deficit of N1.4 trillion in Q4 of 2023, and renewed interest from portfolio investors as indicators of improving economic confidence. Loans from the World Bank, AfDB, and Afreximbank are also contributing to Nigeria’s renewed bankability.

Onanuga highlighted efforts to control inflation, especially food inflation, through increased agricultural production and state-led initiatives to sell food at lower prices.

“The Tinubu administration has invested heavily in dry-season farming and provided incentives to farmers.”

He concluded by comparing Nigeria’s economic challenges with those faced by the USA and Europe, emphasizing that the Tinubu administration is working hard to overcome these difficulties.

“Our country faced economic difficulties in the past, an experience captured in folk songs. Just like we overcame then, we shall overcome our present difficulties very soon.”

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Eid-el-Kabir:  Tinubu, Leaders Preach Peace, Religious Tolerance

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja

As Nigerins joined the rest of the world to celebrate this year’s Eid-el-Kabir, President Bola Tinubu, state governors, top government functionaries as well as other notable Nigerians have called for peace and religious tolerance to enhance peaceful coexistence.

The Eid-el-Kabir festival is celebrated by Muslims worldwide on the 10th day of the Hijri month of Dhual-Hijjah in the Islamic calendar.

Tinubu, the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Obafemi Hazmat, the former state governor, Babatunde Fashola, and the Chairman of Dangote, Aliko Dangote, joined hundreds of Muslim faithful to observe Eid prayers in Ikoyi axis of the state yesterday.

Other dignitaries present at the Dodan Barracks ground in Ikoyi were the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu; former lawmaker, Gbenga Ashafa, the former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji amongst others.

Accompanied by top government functionaries, the President arrived at the Eid praying ground at about 8:55 am yesterday with cheers from many worshippers who trooped to the venue to pray and catch a glimpse of the Nigerian leader.

The President enjoined Nigerians to reflect on the essence of the occasion of Eid-el-Kabir, which bears strong meaning and significance for the nation.

CAN President, Calls for Unity in Challenging Times

Relatedly, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday urged all Muslim faithful to unite in challenging times and focus on God for a better Nigeria.

President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Archbishop Daniel Okoh in his goodwill message to celebrate Eid-el-Kabir, made available to journalists in Abuja.

He appealed that everyone should set aside their differences, heed the call for unity and peace, and trust in God’s promise for a better Nigeria, because  the nation is in dire need of God’s mercy, peace, and unity.

 “As Muslims all over the world celebrate Eid-el-Kabir, a festival symbolizing sacrifice, obedience, and faith, I, on behalf of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), extend warm felicitations to our Muslim brothers and sisters.

“On this auspicious occasion, I urge all Nigerians to embody the values of sacrifice, obedience, and faith in our daily lives. Let us set aside our differences, heed the call for unity and peace, and trust in God’s promise for a better Nigeria. Our nation is in dire need of God’s mercy, peace, and unity.

“In the face of current challenges, let us unite in love, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Let us pray for divine intervention in our security, economic, and political struggles. May God’s comfort and strength support the displaced, the bereaved, and the traumatized.

“As the Muslim Ummah celebrate this festival, let us remember that our nation deeply needs God’s mercy, peace, and unity. Let us work together to build a Nigeria where all citizens can thrive, regardless of religion, tribe, or creed. Our diversity is strength, and together, we can overcome any obstacle.

“I call on all Nigerians to embrace peace, love, and forgiveness. Let us pray for divine intervention in our national struggles and strive towards building a united and prosperous Nigeria. Let us remember the displaced, bereaved, and traumatized, offering them our support and solidarity,” The statement read.

The CAN boss who prayed that God bless Nigeria and grant the nation peace, unity, and prosperity.

Almajiri Commission Calls for Enhanced Commitment to Education

In the spirit of Eid-el-Kabi, the Executive Secretary/CEO of National Commission for Almajiri and Out-of-School Children’s Education (NCAOOSCE), Dr. Muhammad Sani Idris, has called on all stakeholders to renew their dedication to education as a fundamental right for every child.

He said this in a statement issued to commemorate Eid-el-Kabir.

“Education remains the cornerstone for unlocking the potential of our youth and empowering them to contribute meaningfully to society.”

 “As we commemorate Eid-el-Kabir, a celebration of sacrifice and faith, I extend warm greetings to all Nigerians, with special recognition for the Almajiri and out-of-school children, who are central to our Commission’s mission,” he said.

While acknowledging President Bola Tinubu’s efforts to eradicate the challenges faced by Almajiri and out-of-school children in Nigeria, he said his commitment to education and human capital development underscores his administration’s dedication to the welfare of all Nigerians, especially the most vulnerable.

Looking forward, the National Commission for Almajiri and Out-of-School Children’s Education (NCAOOSCE)

The Executive Secretary reaffirmed the commitment of the commission to enrol 10 million out-of-school children in school by 2027, saying, “We are actively working to integrate Western education into the Almajiri school curriculum, ensuring a comprehensive educational experience that prepares these children for a brighter future.”

He said they would continue to collaborate tirelessly with stakeholders, including the Federal Ministry of Education, state governments, and development partners, to address the multifaceted challenges faced by the vulnerable children.

He said: “President Tinubu’s leadership and unwavering support have been instrumental in advancing our goals thus far. Together, we are confident in our ability to make a significant impact and ensure that every child has access to quality education, regardless of their background or circumstances.”

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