…Backs Closure of Borders, Says Nigeria in Distress
By Henry Umoru
THE Action Democratic Party, ADP, Friday took a swipe at the Federal Government, describing as ridiculous and totally unacceptable, the increase of Value Added Tax, VAT from 5% to 7.5%, electricity tariff and proposed communications tax.
According to the ADP, if the Communications tax which is presently before the National Assembly, is passed into law, would force Nigerians to be taxed on the calls they make.
Addressing members of the ADP in Abuja at the first Non Elective National Convention of the Party, the National Chairman, Engr. Yabagi Yusuf Sani who noted that Nigeria at the moment was in distress, said, “you can see that the failed political class has since 1999 held the country ransom and remains confused about how to run our boisterous economy, This is evidenced by this year’s budget which from all analysis and indications will lead us nowhere.
“And to compound the problems and further confirm the fact that the failed political class is bereft of ideas on how to move Nigeria 21st century economy forward the Buhari administration is planning to impose heavy taxation on Nigerians to fund the budget.
“VAT has increased from 5% to 7.5%, electricity tariff will also be increased and there is a proposed communications tax before the National Assembly, which if passed into law, will force Nigerians to be taxed on the calls they make. This is ridiculous and is unacceptable.
“Instead of taxing the already impoverished Nigerians, the ADP led government would rather embark on sanitization of the corruption infested Oil and Gas sector where billions of dollars in revenue is being progressively stolen by foreigners in collaboration with some nationals in the industry at the expense of meaningful life for the majority of Nigerians.”
The ADP National Chairman who hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for closing the borders, said, “While we commend the intention of Buhari Administration behind the border closure an ADP led government would have put in place palliative measures that will avert the imminent food crisis in the country. It is obvious that Nigeria has not yet reached sufficiency in the production of certain staple food like rice and this has made the nation apprehensive.
” Nigeria is in distress. The nation is suffering the economic backlash of a visionless political class that has woefully failed Nigerians since 1999. There is no gain saying the fact that the cleaning of the Augean stable created by these visionless political class is beyond the capacity and ingenuity of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) led government. Today, the economic fortunes of Nigerians have deteriorated so fast in the last four years, such that Nigeria according to the World Poverty Clock and the Brooklyn Institute is the poverty capital of the world with nearly 100 million of its citizens living below the poverty line.
“President Buhari in his speech during the 59th Independence day Celebration reiterated the above facts when he promised to bring 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in ten years but the situation has only progressively deteriorated with more Nigerians being impoverished due to a flawed political process institutionalized by PDP and APC successive governments. ADP is poised to change this ugly political situation by providing a credible platform for young dynamic and honest men and women committed to creating new path to prosperity for Nigeria.”
According to Sani, “The retrogressive years of PDP and APC governments have plunged Nigeria into recession that the nation is yet to recover from despite the hurriedly put together APC academic economic agenda called Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), which according to Bill Gates, has no human capacity component. Nigeria’s inflation figures remain at double digits of 11.24%, a very harsh situation for the hapless masses. Unemployment has jumped to 23% from 18% in the last four years.
“The GDP growth rate is barely 1.9% annually for a country whose population grows at 3.4% per annum. Foreign Direct Investment has reportedly reduced by 50% and so is capital inflow despite all the foreign trips and the worn out slogan of attracting foreign direct investment. Naira, the nation’s currency has lost almost 70% of its value in the last four years, which has severe consequences on the disposable income of the masses. Industrial capacity has remained largely poor as the government has gone into a borrowing spree to address deficits in the successive budgets.
“In the 2020 budget estimate presented to the National Assembly this October, the Buhari government projected N10.33 trillion as expenditure while the projected revenue is N8.15 trillion leaving the nation yet again in deficit. The most disturbing is that the government will service debts with N2.45 trillion, which is higher than the N2.15 trillion earmarked for capital project. Worse still about 70% of the budget will be used for recurrent expenditure.
” There are lots of infractions being perpetuated by operators in the Oil and Gas industry with full knowledge of the successive governments in Nigeria and no concrete action taken to solve them in spite of the huge revenue losses to the nation. An ADP led government will put in place measures which will not only eliminate these infractions but ensure they never happen in our country again. We will ensure every drop of oil is measured at all the nodes in the production value chain from wellheads to the Export Terminals. We will stop what is today called Net Back System in determining quantity of oil produced in Nigeria. It is pure fraud.
“We believe ending this endemic corruption in the Oil and Gas sector will free huge amount of resources to fund the budget as Nigeria is capable of doing more than the mere N10 trillion budget which is just about USD34 billion dollars for a nation of nearly 200 million population.
“The recent report by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) indicates that the nation loses about $4.1 or N123billion annually due to poor crude oil production metering.
“The report published by one of the nation’s daily newspapers warned that unless government takes appropriate measures in the metering of crude oil, production will continue to pose serious threat to the nation’s revenue target. The report noted that the government could realize only 58 per cent of its projected revenues from January to June, 2019, which shows how poor oil production can cause huge losses in revenue.
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“In NEITI’s audit reports from 2012-2015, Nigeria lost over $9.89billion worth of crude oil due to poor metering infrastructure. Within this period, over 107 million barrels of oil were not properly accounted for. The latest figures show that Nigeria loses over 250,000 barrels of crude oil per day to oil thieves. This translates to over $25 million daily in revenue.
“According to NEITI, Nigeria is the only oil-producing country without adequate metering to ascertain the accurate quantity of crude oil produced at any given time. I have always known this weakness as a result of my expertise in the oil industry and I have the requisite mechanism to stop this hemorrhage and tackle the menace of oil theft in Nigeria.
“Considering the huge revenue losses and the current volatility in the price of crude oil in the international market, we use this opportunity to call on President Muhammadu Biuhari not to hesitate to reach out to experts who can proffer viable solutions to this cankerworm ferociously eating deep into the nations revenue from the Oil and Gas sector which accounts for over 85% of the total revenue that flows into the federation account from where the Nigerian economy is funded.
“Nigeria should borrow a leaf from other oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirate (UAE), Russia, USA, Brazil, Iran, Iraq and others that have effectively managed their oil productions. Adequate management of the oil sector will boost economic growth and development of the country.
“On the international scene we will review some of the agreements entered into with some countries which may not have been favorable to Nigeria.
“Nigeria has participated in the Forum for China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) since 2000. In August 2019, President Buhari led a large Nigerian entourage to the 7th edition of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) in Yokohama, Japan and also he just returned from Sochi, Russia for the Russia-Africa summit.
“But all these summits appear to have more detrimental impacts on the country and the continent than benefits as they are meant to scramble for African resources and sadly this realization has painfully eluded Nigeria and most African leaders.
“According to experts, our leaders have failed to realize that what these countries calling them for summits do is to invest in the production of consumer goods and services that will be patronized with our own meager resources accruing to us from the exploitation of our mineral resources. So this now weighs the balance of trade heavily in favor of the so called investor nations. That is why we are the dumping ground of manufactured goods.
“We in ADP have the strategy to first of all unite our nation around a pan –nationalist economic agenda that will launch us into the league of well-managed and competing economies. We have no other option but to build a nation well- managed and competitive to produce what the rest of the world would patronize in order to gain enough foreign exchange. We must produce what we consume.
“This is why the ADP is leading the new conversation around national interests with collective approach and not the clannish and bigoted style of the failed recycled political class that practices politics of exclusion.”