By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the probe of former managements of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, over what it called poor remittances in the past.
This is as the current leadership of JAMB has for the first time remitted N5 billion to the coffers of the government with a balance of N3 billion still to be remitted compared to maximum N3 million per annum remitted in the past.
Meantime, the Federal Government has told Nigerians living close to the Kanji Dam and River Niger to be on the look out for more flood, saying that as the rains increase the flood could be drastic.
Briefing State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun disclosed that JAMB in July announced the remittance of N5 billion to the Federal Government which happens to be the highest so far in the last 40 years of its existence.
She said the disparity in the remittances of the two agencies in the past and now necessitated the decision to probe all previous heads of the former heads, adding that despite the poor remittance in the past, NIMASA has remitted N4.95 billion in 2015 and N24 billion in 2016.
The minister also disclosed that other agencies with similar discrepancies in their revenue remittances will be probed.
Adeosun said that FEC approved that Nigeria should join the African Trade Insurance Agency.
She said, “FEC approved for Nigeria to rejoin the African Trade Insurance Agency. This is an agency that is out to provide risk guarantee for private investors coming into Nigeria as well as exporters from Nigeria.
“It will provide risk guarantees. So, instead of projects asking for sovereign guarantees, we will be able to provide that risk mitigation through the African Trade Insurance Agency. Many other countries are already members so Nigeria will be also joining.
“This agency has an A rating international and is able to guarantee long term projects. So what we see as a result of this is that there will be increased level of investments, particularly PPP where every often the investors want some guarantee from the government, instead the government issuing sovereign guarantee directly.
“This agency will step in and issue it. It is very similar to MIGA, which Multi-lateral Insurance Guarantee Agency that is owned by the IFC.
“My second activity was part of the briefing on the economy and to speak to the fiscal conditions and outlook.
“As you know we are on the part way of resetting the economy and adjusting permanently to a sort of lower oil pricing.
“The recent announcement of the exit from recession we see as statically backed indicator that we are moving in the right direction.
“We recognized that there is a lot to be done. I briefed the council on various fiscal initiatives that we are pursuing. These include continued fiscal consolidation and cost efficiency, driving cost savings in government.
“There is still a great need to do so. I have some progress report on the work we have done with payroll where we are still seeing contraction. Every time we put agencies into our automated payroll system we see contraction and we intend to continue with that.
“Secondly, we spoke about revenue generation, the VAiDS Programme is ongoing and we are having quite a positive response in terms of tax compliance.
“We also reported on the progress made by a number of our agencies some of whom have reported very significant increases in the amount paid into the consolidated revenue fund.
“Council discussed JAMB which recorded significant progress and NIMASA as well as others and gave us the charge to really go and look at these agencies, look in some cases the past management of those agencies and see where those agencies were leaking and to encourage agencies that haven’t done so to continue with efficiencies.
“So in summary the outlook is positive. We did some comparative analysis in June 2014 with oil price of $109 federation allocations was N844 billion and in June 2017 it was down to N318 billion, just to give you an idea of how much income the country has really lost in the last few years.
“So we are adjusting very strongly and we believe if we continue with this trajectory not only will we stay permanently out of recession but more importantly we will have a positive and growing economy what works for all Nigerians which is our aim.
“The highest amount that JAMB has ever remitted to the consolidated revenue fund before this management was N3 million. This year so far they have done N5 billion and the minister of education reported that they have additional N3 billion that they are ready to remit which will take this year’s figure alone to N8 billion.
“Now they have not increased their charges nor their fees. So the question that Council members were asking was that where were all these monies before? So the directive was given that we must call those who were the heads of those agencies and similar ones to account and that is what we intend to do.
It is a similar stories with other agencies and these are the leakages which we are now blocking. These are the monies in the consolidated fund that is now being applied in the projects that really needs to get the economy moving.
“These are the monies that are missing that have led us to the position we are in. It is the grandest looting that this administration action has come in to address.”
FG gives flood alert
Also briefing journalists, the Minister of Minister of Water Rsources Sulieman Adamu said that as the volume of rains increase, some parts of the country would be highly affected.
The Minister said he briefed FEC on the incident of flood.
According to him, “Niamey the capital of Niger Republic has put the country on alert. The levels of the River in Niamey has increased considerably and the country is at alert at the moment.
“That is an indication that there will be more flood into the river Niger downstream towards Kanji, Jabba and of course by the time you come down on confluence at Lokoja the situation will be compounding because you are already aware of the flood situation in Benue.
“The good thing is that we have an observatory in Niamey and another one in Lokoja to give us that real time, per second updates on the water level.
“So we are monitoring the situation and I briefed council on our efforts to monitor the situation which we are doing. Our consultation with NEMA, which is working closely with Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency which is an agency under the Ministry of Water Resources.
“And if there is any indication that there is going to be a significant rise or is going to get to an emergency situation, we will be able to give an early warning to NEMA which is poised to to inform affected states along River Niger particularly Kogi, Anambra, Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers.
“For now there is no cause for alarm but like I said we are monitoring the situation and it could very well become more drastic with more rains.
“I believe the most important thing is that we cannot stop the flooding but we can provide early warning and we ensure that we take safety measures to reduce lost of property and lost of life.
“We give a flood outlook and the areas that are vulnerable, we have done that. When the flood at Mandala happened I held a press conference and I informed the states what was going on, the flood outlook and the warnings that we gave and admonished them on what to do.”
Also briefing, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma said the FEC had extensive discussion on the state of economy.
He said the council was encouraged on the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, growth rate which indicated that it was going in the right direction, adding that the policies of the government have succeeded in stopping economic the slide.
He assured that the 2018 Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF and the next year’s budget proposal will be submitted to the National Assembly by October this year.