By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Author of ‘Reversing the Rot in Nigeria,’ Mr Olusegun Oyegbami, has condemned Federal Government for shielding the fraud behind the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF), saying the PEF policy should be stopped.
Mr Oyegbami, who has spent more than four decades in the Nigeria petroleum downstream sector, described former President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Muhammadu Buhari as the co-founder of Nigeria’s woes.
“The Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) was put in place in early 1976 when former President Olusegun Obasanjo was Head of State and current President Muhammadu Buhari was the Petroleum Minister, and the intention might have been honest to let everybody have equal access to the petroleum product but equal access should not have been the mantra we should follow but equitable access.
“That is to say if you are in a particular place where you are close to the petrol, then you can buy it slightly cheaper but it should be available to everybody in that location at same price,” the author said.
Mr Oyegbami expressed further that the whole idea in economics is that Nigeria government operates on a comparative advantage and localization of citizens’ advantage.
“When you are in a place like Warri or Port Harcourt and when we are talking about importation, Lagos where the petrol lands should necessarily be cheaper than other places where they come to pick that petrol but where government is now paying to transport petrol to far places that is where the fraud comes into it, which make us to be running a non-economic platform, it is very wrong. Until we change this, Nigeria can never make any progress.
“Because it is looking like government is favouring those people transporting the petrol to their places at government expense, this should not happen and this is what has been happening for more than 40 to 42 years and until we change that, we cannot get it right as a country. I am very convinced about this, you run an economy on an economic template and not as a social platform,” he said.
Discussing fuel subsidy, Mr Oyegbami said the government has never subsidized fuel for its citizens for one day.
“The price at which petrol has been coming in has always been the economic price and up until the PEF scam came in, the money being collected started to be more than what has been voted out of the purse of fixing the price.
“It is like when you increase the price from N1 to N1.50k maybe before they use to allocate 5k out of that N1 for transportation but when it is now N1.50k they will add another 5k to transportation cost so that they will now have more money to pay for transportation and 10k will now be used for transportation.
“So, they have not subsidized the price of petrol as at that time, all they have subsidized is transportation of the product to distant locations. So, it was when, often time when the price began to sky rocket to N100 they now decided that because we are bringing it in at N80 we are going to be giving you additional money, but all the extras are being added to cost of transportation.
“Constantly, the cost of transportation that is the bridging element in the price builds up, that is what always goes up steadily.
“I am telling you that out of N145 as the cost of petrol today, N6.20K is still allocated for transportation.
“Why? It means that anybody using fuel down south is still paying N6.20k more than he should have paid. This is now gathered together to transport petrol to other parts of the country, especially the North.
“It is really an economic matter that the south should not continuously right from over 42 years ago be paying for transporting fuel to the North, because come to think of it whatever is coming from the North always has its own element of transportation that the South pays for. We have never eaten beef, cow, yam at the same price as the north.
“It is purely an economic matter, it is when you are looking at it from political angle that you will say this man is trying to incite one tribe against the other, No, it is purely economics. These are elements of deception that we have been having in this country. Sometime in the second republic, some people were arrested for ‘smuggling’ beans from Bida to Oyo. That is funny.
“Nigeria government should let the Nigerians trade fairly among themselves, if we are going to trade in petrol take the petrol at the available price at the depots, add your own transport cost and sell it there, we will have normalcy in this economy within a year or two but now we still have deception and manipulation going on even right now because anybody who is buying petrol in Lagos is still paying N6.20k for carrying it to the north, it is wrong. That should stop.
“It is when this manipulation stops then we know this government of Buhari is ready to fight corruption, because the same Buhari started the PEF far back then and he’s still protecting it till today, until we stop that before we know he is actually dealing with corruption honestly and he’s treating all Nigerians fairly across board. But for now, No, that is not happening,”
When asked about the inspiration behind written the book, Mr Oyegbami said the death of his mother, more than anything else, epitomizes the transience of existence because it is the departure of spaceship into the horizon.
“You feel lost and marooned leading to a compulsion and resolve to improve things in your society because the inevitability of my own imminent departure is more palpable”.
He said the feeling gave him rise to the writing of ‘Reversing The Rot In Nigeria’ a critical exposé on the nation’s Cul-de-sac.
Buhari Tasks MOFI Board to Grow Assets to N100trn
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The newly inaugurated board of the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI) has been given the mandate to grow its Assets Under Management from the current value of N18 trillion to at least N100 trillion in the next 10 years.
A statement issued on Wednesday by Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, disclosed that the charge was given at the State House, Abuja, during the inauguration of the MOFI board shortly before the commencement of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting today.
The President also tasked the new board to “be the clearinghouse for the management of federal government investments and assets in line with global best practices with a view to ensuring that these investments are delivering superior risk-adjusted returns to the government.”
He also called on the new MOFI to “work with other MDAs to create a consolidated national asset register with a view to converting these assets into cashflow-generating entities to support the government’s revenue drive and; partner with the government with a view to using government-owned investments and assets to support the government in delivering on its social and economic obligations to the citizenry.”
To this effect, he directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, to commence the process of amending the MOFI Act and other legislations to institutionalise this reform further and ensure that MOFI is restructured and repositioned to become a trusted custodian and manager of Federal Government investments and assets.
President Buhari said the event was significant as the restructured MOFI will help identify “what we own” and how to get the best out of them.
According to him, the MOFI Act of 1959, now Cap. 229, Laws of the Federation, 2004 “explicitly empowers MOFI to enter into commercial transactions of any description on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria in its own name. As a result, MOFI was used as a Special Purpose Vehicle across different sectors to invest in commercial entities over the last 64 years. To put this in context, MOFI was created even before Nigeria’s independence.”
Speaking further, the President said, “MOFI was not structured to be governed or resourced to deliver on the expected mandate. MOFI’s peers, on the other hand, that were deliberately set up with the institutional framework, governance structure, and execution capacity, have gone on to make major social and economic impacts in their respective nations. Many of these have become global brands for investing domestically and internationally.
“As part of the governance structure, there will be a Governing Council headed by me, a Board of Directors under the leadership of a former Minister of Finance and an Executive Management Team headed by Dr Armstrong Takang.”
President Buhari reminded members of the Governing Council as well as the Board of Directors that this administration expected much from them. Specifically, he tasked Ministers who are members to “create an enabling environment that will facilitate the creation of a National Asset Register that will be harnessed to strengthen our fiscal and economic realities and the optimization of our investments and assets that will be under the purview of MOFI.”
In her remarks, Mrs Ahmed thanked President Buhari for his support and approvals that have made the restructuring and repositioning of MOFI possible, assuring him that Council members and the Board will ensure that the new MOFI delivers on its mandates.
US Stocks May Give Back Ground Ahead Of Fed Announcement
The major US index futures are currently pointing to a lower open on Wednesday, with stocks likely to give back ground following the strong upward move seen in the previous session.
Traders may cash in on gains by US stocks yesterday ahead of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy announcement this afternoon.
While the Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates by 25 basis points, traders will look to the accompanying statement for clues about the outlook for further rate hikes.
After a slightly cautious start, stocks climbed higher on Tuesday thanks to sustained buying across the board.
Investors picked up stocks right through the day’s session, digesting a slew of stronger-than-expected earnings updates and the latest batch of economic data.
Data showing a slowdown in the pace of growth in US labour costs helped raise expectations that the Federal Reserve will soften its aggressive approach to fighting inflation.
The major averages all ended with strong gains. The Dow ended with a gain of 368.95 points or 1.09 per cent at 34,086.04. The S&P 500 surged 58.83 points or 1.46 per cent to 4,076.60, while the Nasdaq climbed 190.74 points or 1.67 per cent to 11,584.55.
The Dow gained about 6.6 per cent in the month, while the S&P surged nearly 3 per cent, and the Nasdaq gained as much as 11.5 per cent.
Data showing a drop in labour costs has reinforced the view that the central bank will likely slow the pace of its monetary policy tightening and raise the interest rate by 25 basis points.
The central bank’s accompanying statement will be in focus for clues about further interest rate hikes.
On the economic front, data from the Labor Department showed employment cost index wages in the US increased by 1% on quarter in the fourth quarter of 2022, after rising 1.3 per cent in the previous quarter.
The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index in the United States decreased 0.8% month-over-month in November of 2022, the same as in October and marking a fifth consecutive decline.
A report from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said the Chicago PMI in the United States fell back to 44.3 points in January of 2023 from 44.9 in December and compared to market forecasts of 45. The reading pointed to a fifth consecutive month of contraction in business activity in the Chicago region.
PDP Created Forex Crisis That Weakened Naira Exchange Rate—Onanuga
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Director of Media and Publicity of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), Mr Bayo Onanuga, has again said his principal, Mr Bola Tinubu, did not attack President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Cross River State when he said the Naira, under the present government, has lost its value since he assumed office in 2015.
Addressing party faithful and others at the campaign rally of the APC at the U.J Esuene Stadium, the former Governor of Lagos State said, “They (the government of Mr Buhari) moved the exchange rate from N200 to N800 (in the black market).
“If they had repaired it, if they have arrested this, we won’t be where we are today. We will have been greater.
“They don’t know the way, they don’t know how to think, they don’t know how to do [it].”
But in a statement on Wednesday, Mr Onanuga blamed the media for misinterpreting Mr Tinubu’s comments, saying he was only referring to the PDP.
According to him, the APC presidential candidate never blamed the current administration for weakening the Naira in the currency market, stating that PDP created the forex crisis the country was experiencing.
“The reference to exchange rate was not in any way an attack on the Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress administration but an attempt to capture how the economic mismanagement of the PDP created forex crisis in the country since 2015.
“Anyone who followed the entire sequence and context of what Asiwaju said at the rally in Calabar will know he directed his missiles against PDP and Atiku. Let’s we forget, the PDP left the forex reserve at $28 billion by May 2015, when Buhari took over,” a part of the statement today by Mr Onanuga said.
“Asiwaju Tinubu could not have meant President Buhari does not know road, having celebrated numerous times the achievements of the Buhari administration. Tinubu had also said at the campaign fora he would build on the achievements when elected on 25 February.
”It is simply illogical that the same Asiwaju would attack the Buhari administration for not knowing the road,” he added.
“We want to state categorically that all the machinations of the opposition elements to put a wedge between President Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Tinubu will fail.
“APC, its leadership and President Buhari are strongly united behind our presidential candidate,” the statement declared.
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