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Deregulation: Nigeria to Earn ₦1tr Annually, Create Massive Jobs – Minister

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The federal government has explained its decision to fully remove subsidy from petrol, saying the country stands to rake in over ₦1 trillion annually which would be deployed to fund other critical components of the economy.

Minister of state for Petroleum and Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, during an interview with some political correspondents Thursday in Abuja, also revealed that from next month (October) Nigerians can now convert cars using petroleum to gas, which he said will be more cheaper.

“It is time for Nigerians to face reality and do the right thing. What is deregulation going to do? It is going to free up a lot more money. At least from the very beginning it will save us up to a trillion and more every year. Already, we have taken up the budgetary provision for subsidy which is about N500 billion in the budget. Also, we have taken off the excess forex price that special rate that was given to NNPC which also came at a cost. So, all the money that we used to defend the naira at that time to subsidise the dollar will now be freed up for development.

“I believe that this discussion around subsidy has been a vexed issue that has captured the imagination of this country for a long time now. Successive administrations have attempted to deregulate. But sometimes, some administrations lacked the political will and at other times, the time was not good for it. And why did I say the time was not good for it? Does that imply the time is good for it now? The problem around deregulation is that people must understand first, that the product we are talking about is a derivative of crude oil. It is refined from crude oil. Therefore, it has a direct relationship with the price of crude oil. If the price of crude oil goes up, then you expect that it would reflect in the price of the derivative.

“So, the best time to achieve this we looked at was the time when crude oil prices are low so that Nigerians will get the benefit of those low prices. In March, when we announced the deregulation, the prices were low and that advantage was transferred to the consumer. So, we brought down the price of petrol. The unfortunate thing is that when we brought down the price of petrol, nobody reacted in the market place. The prices were the same. Nobody reduced their prices because price of petrol had reduced. Even bus fares, taxi fares were the same. It did not go down when we reduced the pump price of petrol. We thought that those people in the market; the transport drivers and transport owners would reduce their price. But nobody reduced their prices. But anytime there is even a kobo increase in the pump price of product, you see that people will increase their prices triple fold and four fold.”

On the plan to roll out car conversion next month, the former Bayelsa state governor said: “To give it (Deregulation) a human face, we are introducing an alternative fuel. We are giving auto gas. Gas will now become a fuel for our cars. This programme will be rolled out within the next one month. So, if you go to a filling station and you convert your car to dual capability or dual fuel, then you drive into a typical filling station you will find gas LPG, you find CNG and NLG being sold. So, if you look at the price of PMS versus the price of gas and you think that gas is cheaper which of course, it is going to be cheaper.

“Gas will even be cheaper that PMS as it is today. So you see that we are also giving an alternative to the ordinary Nigerians. You now have a situation where tricycle, I pass my neighbour generators etc will convert to gas. So, you connect your gas cylinder in your house to your generator and it becomes easier for you, cheaper and cleaner. We are not just deregulating, we are also giving you an alternative to make it easier for the average Nigerians. What I want you to begin to really understand more is how you are going to transit from fuel to gas, and you will see that you will not miss much. The average transporter will probably even be better off with gas. So we are introducing it as an alternative at least to cushion the effect so that when you go to a filling station you have options. And that programmes will be rolled out within the next one month. And it is going to create a lot of opportunities and jobs. So, you see that deregulation has not taken away the human face from this government. This government is still a government of the people and by the people.”

While urging Nigerians not to listen to the antics of the opposition elements, the Minister said: “At this moment, let Nigerians not be fooled; there are people who are ready to take advantage of every situation to create anarchy and chaos. And it is this people that are at work now. Is anybody saying that this policy direction is a wrong policy direction? That is the discussion we should be having. If it is a wrong policy direction, why has every successive government attempted to do the sane thing? Because it is something that is unsustainable. Subsidy is unsustainable. Let us look at it: Subsidy means that you buy the product at a certain price and then you reduce the price and sell it at a loss to the people. It is something that is good to do. It is something that our president would like to do so much because of his love for the common man. But is it something that can be sustained in perpetuity? You get the product and sell it less at the pump. And that is not the only subsidy. You also subsidise the effects that is used to import the product. So at the end, the subsidy is going on two ways. It is like burning your candle from both ends. How long can that candle last? So in the wisdom of the President and all of us, we felt that it was time because this subsidy is something that cannot be sustained in perpetuity. It is time for Nigerians to face reality and do the right thing.

“What is deregulation going to do? It is going to free up a lot more money. At least from the very beginning it will save us up to a trillion and more every year. Already, we have taken up the budgetary provision for subsidy which is about N500 billion in the budget. Also, we have taken off the excess forex price, that special rate, that was given to NNPC which also came at a cost. So, all the money that we used to defend the Naira at that time to subsidise the dollar will now be freed up for development. And, I believe that going forward, we will begin to see a lot more developments, a lot more money available to the government that will be put into critical infrastructure instead of being burnt in our cars.”

Sylva added that the subsidy regime was very fraudulent as only a few benefitted from it at the expense of the public.

“Let us look at subsidy critically. Who are the beneficiaries of subsidy? When a few years ago you had this subsidy scam all over the place, all the monies that were taken by all the subsidy thieves and so on, how many poor people were among those people? Subsidy only provides opportunity for rich and unscrupulous Nigerians to steal and enrich themselves at our expense, at your expense. So, ladies and gentlemen, deregulation is actually a policy direction that is good for the common Nigerian”, he added.

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Gunmen Kill Five Police Officers, Two Civilians In Rivers

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Gunmen have killed at least five policemen and two civilians in Rivers State.

The attack which occurred on Friday night was launched at a police station in Rumuji community, Emohua LGA, and a police checkpoint, known as C4i at the entrance of Emohua from Port Harcourt.

Emohua is a Local Government Area along the East-West road, connecting Rivers and Bayelsa state.

During the attack security vehicles were also burnt.

In another attack, a police station in Elimgbu in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area was attacked and three police officers were said to be beheaded.

One of the officers who was beheaded had his head taken away by the gunmen.

Although the Police are yet to confirm the attacks, a youth leader in the Local Government Area, residents of the communities confirmed the incidents to Channels Television.

This attack comes less than one month after gunmen killed three customs officers, five soldiers, and some police officers at different security formations in Ikwerre and Abua/Odual Local Government Areas.

The attacks in April prompted Governor Nyesom wike to impose a nighttime curfew at various entry and exit points of Rivers State between 8 pm and 6 am, and restriction of movement within the state from 10 pm to 6 am.

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We Didn’t Bathe for 56 Days in Kidnappers’ Den –Freed Afaka Students

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It was jubilation galore as 27 kidnapped students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Kaduna were reunited with their families after 56 days in captivity.

Tears of joy flowed freely from both parents and their children. At about 3pm, the entire premises of the college, located along the Kaduna International Airport, opposite the Nigerian Defence Academy, erupted in jubilation as the students were being escorted by heavily-armed policemen in company with the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, and the state Commissioner of Police, Umar Muri.

Narrating their ordeal in the kidnappers’ den, one of the freed students, Zakariya Magaji, described the kidnappers’ den as hell, saying he would never wish the experience for his enemies.

“The bandits need prayers. All that we have to do is to pray for them for God to touch their hearts. As for me, I have forgiven them for whatever we went through in their hands. The experience was hell.”

A female student, Sarah Sunday, said she and her colleagues were subjected to all sorts of dehumanising conditions, including not being allowed to take a bath while in the bandits’ den.

Sunday said, “A lot of things happened while we were there. We were subjected to hunger. We were subjected to trekking and all sorts of dehumanising experiences. We were insulted but thankfully, they did not molest or kill any of us. They only beat us on the first day when they did a video of us.”

Asked if they were fed at all, Sunday said, “The boys used to go and fetch water for us to cook. We cooked tuwo with miyan kuka, and tuwo with dry okra. We only cooked rice once, and we cooked spaghetti once too.”

When asked whether the abductors used to leave them to go out for other operations, Sarah said, “Yes, they used to go out, but they always left some of their armed members to stay with us.

“Even our male colleagues who used to go and fetch water were always escorted to the stream by gang members bearing AK-47 rifles.

“Our living condition in the jungle was very bad. We never had a bath. We were exposed to the rain. Athough there was a hut that we always ran to hide whenever it was raining, still there was no escaping the rain because the hut was poorly built. But we have forgiven our kidnappers. And we pray that God will give them the chance to change for the better.”

‘Bandits said our abduction was to get govt’s attention

Also speaking, a freed student, Pamela Ibrahim, said the bandits said their grouse was with the government and vowed to unleash hell on Kaduna State.

Ibrahim said, “Before they released us, the kidnappers told us that they didn’t have anything against us (students). They said they kidnapped us because they needed the government to settle things with them and that they also wanted to be educated like other Nigerians. They need work and houses too.

“They said if the government doesn’t settle with them, they would continue to make sure that Kaduna State is unsafe. They said they meant it. Some of them are Nigerians, others are foreigners. They spoke mainly Fulani (language) and Hausa.

“There was an old man among them who prevented others from harassing us and anytime he was not around, we were beaten and insulted.”

In a jubilant mood, one of the parents, Ibrahim Hassan, said he was glad that his daughter was freed few days to her elder sister’s wedding.

Hassan said, “I was confused; my life was miserable throughout the time my daughter was with the kidnappers. I only depended on God.

“When I heard that some of the students of Greenfield University were killed, I became sad thinking that I would never see my daughter again but when I learnt they had been released, my joy knew no bounds, especially as her elder sister’s wedding comes up in Zaria tomorrow (Saturday). It is double joy for me.”

Another parent, Mr Friday Sanni, said before he could allow his two daughters – Victory and Rejoice – to return to the college, he must be assured of adequate security in the school.

Sanni said, “The truth remains that if my children must come back here, I must be sure that there is a serious security structure on the ground, that this kind of incident will not happen again.

“If in few months’ time nothing serious is on the ground, I will move my children out, because they are too dear to me.

“The first one will be 20 years old by September while the second one will be 18 by November. They are too dear to me to lose and I will not want this kind of experience again. I have never experienced this kind of situation before in my life.”

Speaking, the state Commissioner of Police, Umar Muri, said the freed students had undergone medical tests and were fit to be reunited with their parents.

“As we speak, the victims are all clinically stable,” he said.

He urged the students not to allow their ordeal to discourage them from pursuing their education.

Speaking on the process leading to their release, Muri said, “The federal and the state governments as well as the acting Inspector-General of Police, the state police command, the military and other sister security agencies adopted the best modus operandi at our disposal and 10 of the students were first released on April 5 and 8 in two batches.

“With this sustained effort, the remaining 27 kidnapped students were subsequently released to the command on May 5, at about 4.10pm without any casualty.”

The police commissioner said concerted efforts were being made to also secure the release of the abducted students of Greenfield University, who had been in captivity since April 20.

The Provost of the college, Dr Muhammad Bello, who received the students, appreciated all those involved in the process to get the students released.

“You should not be discouraged from pursuing your dreams,” Bello told the students.

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Food Security: AFAN Set to Commence Court Action Against Agric Minister

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The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has initiated legal proceedings against the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono over his stance to destabilise the body’s internal democracy structure and impede farmers efforts at working harmoniously with the federal government in attaining food security.

In a release signed by the Assistant Publicity Secretary of the umbrella body of farmers in the country, Salisu Mukhtar, the body noted that the undue interference of the minister, rooted in vendetta by insistently recognising an illegal faction, was at cross-purposes with its constitution and counter-intuitive to the rule of law.

“Upon the appointment of Alhaji Mohammed Sabo Nanono as HMA, who was once removed as acting Chairman of AFAN Kano State chapter in 2007 for misappropriating fertilizer, the undue interference in AFAN activities began.”
According to the body, AFAN being an NGO is not a department in FMARD and cannot be controlled or destroyed by any individual no matter how highly placed.

“Actions of the HMA which have become a mockery of the law include recognising an unconstitutional and illegitimate leadership faction of the association by playing host to them in his office on several occasions and accepting invitations by them in the full glare of the public, in spite of knowledge of the pending court case.

“This polarising act by a minister representing a constitutionally recognised administration of President Buhari, is undoubtedly antithetical to the rule of law and democratic norms, which are the bedrock of the administration he is serving under,” Murktar said.

The association is asking that the matter which is in Court 9 of the Federal High Court (FHC) before Justice Taiwo Taiwo should be allowed to be resolved, especially by the Plaintiffs who filed the suit in the first place.
“The minister’s actions are directly inimical to the economic progress of the sector which is also hinged on the leadership stability of the private sector stakeholders which AFAN represents.

“Farmers as an extension of the national polity, who participated in and voted overwhelmingly for this administration, are irked by the actions of the minister, which is inadvertently truncating the association’s efforts at enjoying internal democracy nationwide.

“To act in any way by the minister, the Plaintiffs’ lawyer or the Plaintiffs themselves, before the determination of the suit is lawless and adjudged a contempt of court.

“Justice must be allowed to take its course if AFAN is to continue to exist as the apex body of all farmer-associations by whatever name called in Nigeria,” Murktar said.

The body stated that AFAN was registered in 2005 by the CAC with reg: 18160 and three registered Trustees namely Murtala Nyako, Dr Shettima Mustafa and Chief Femi Coker as the apex body of all farmer-associations by whatever name called in Nigeria.

Murktar explained that: “President Olusegun Obasanjo advised then that Murtala Nyako should head the management of AFAN as National President and the duo of Chief Femi Coker and Shettima Mustafa to be deputies 1 and 2 respectively pending general election.

“All other officers were appointed as interim management members in the same manner.
“AFAN elections did not hold until after Abdullahi Adamu former governor of Nasarawa State became the President.

“The elections from the Wards of 774 LGAs to the 36 states plus FCT took nearly two years to be concluded.

“The National Election was conducted in 2014 and the elected Executives duly inaugurated.
“From this point on AFAN began to be recognized as the umbrella of all farmer-associations in Nigeria guided by its constitution as an NGO.”

AFAN on the 6th of May, 2021, served the minister a pre-action notice through their attorney A.O Okeya and Associates for legal actions against his person, for unduly interfering and recognising the Mr Faruk Rabiu faction in the capacity of leaders of the association.

The pre-action notice accused Rabiu’s faction of circulating letters to AFAN state chairmen across the 36 states of the country including the Federal Capital Territory, under the directive of the minister asking them to purchase inputs supplied by the ministry through them at exorbitant prices.

According to the association’s attorney: “We were informed that on the 26th of April, 2021, the said Faruk Mudi through his Counsel M.M Bakari Esq, wrote a letter to your office intimating you about an election conducted by them, which you directed the Permanent Secretary of your ministry to advise all agencies to recognise this illegal faction, knowing fully well that there is a pending matter at the Federal High Court 9 Abuja.”

“From the above, we demand that you desist from dealing, transacting, aiding and encouraging Faruk Mudi & Co to stop using your office to perpetrate injustice, as the leadership tussle is before a court of competent jurisdiction.

“Take notice therefore that this is a pre-action notice, as we shall seek redress in the law court and demand for damages against your person for aiding Faruk Mudi & Co to defraud AFAN members. You are warned.”

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