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Women Can’t Help in Nation-Building if Excluded by Law, Cultural Practices—Johnson



omobola johnson Nation-Building

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The chairman of Guinness Nigeria Plc, Mrs Omobola Johnson, has lamented the imbalance in female representation in all facets of life, warning that it could hinder women from being part of nation-building.

She said this on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, when the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited hosted a digital closing gong ceremony to celebrate the accomplishments of female chairpersons of NGX listed companies and their affiliates who were appointed in 2021.

The event was organised in line with the exchange’s ongoing collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) which aimed to reduce the gender gaps in leadership, employment, and entrepreneurship under the Nigeria2Equal programme.

In her presentation, the businesswoman said, “It is quite ironic that we are celebrating the advancements we have made in corporate governance a day after the National Assembly voted very strongly against a bill that was seeking to address the imbalance in female representation in all facets of our national life.”

“Building a greater nation requires all hands to be on deck. Women want to be partners and collaborators on this journey and we cannot be if we are excluded by law, cultural practices and norms,” she submitted.

In her remarks, the Chairperson of NGX Real Estate Limited, Mrs Angela Adebayo, appreciated the board of directors of the bourse for the laudable initiative.

She acknowledged the transition of NGX Group of Companies from a company with less than 30 per cent female representation on the National Council of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) to a group of four companies with two female Chairs.

She also commended NGX for its continuous efforts in collaborating with renowned organisations such as the IFC and leveraging its platform to make gender issues front and centre in the economic agenda.

On her part, Mrs Catherine Echeozo, Chairman of NGX Regulation Limited, acknowledged and congratulated the board chairperson appointees being celebrated, highlighting the benefits of diversity. “Diversity is about tapping on the full breadth and depth of talent available and equipping companies with diverse talents and viewpoints so that they can better navigate and address challenges in an increasingly complex and competitive global environment,” she stated.

Commenting on the opportunities that corporate organisations can leverage from promoting gender equality, the chairman of Ecobank Nigeria, Mrs Bola Adesola, stated that, “As a pre-eminent Pan-African institution in over 33 African countries, our focus on gender balance supports our mission to contribute to the economic and financial development of our continent.

“This is so because one in four Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, in Africa is managed by a woman. Ecobank is very happy to continue to collaborate with NGX and IFC to Break the Bias. I would like to urge us all to diligently work against actions that threaten the human rights of half the population of our dear country.”

The Chairman of Access Bank Plc, Mrs Ajoritsedere Awosika, congratulated all the recent board appointees and highlighted the importance of celebrating female leaders as a critical step to inspiring younger professional women.

She said, “This closing gong ceremony is a laudable occasion where NGX has shown that evidently, there is a need to celebrate women in order for other women to come up.

“This celebration of women that NGX is implementing in partnership with IFC is going to go a long way to show other institutions the need to promote what is ongoing at all levels of human endeavour that women are actively getting into positions of service to make a positive difference.”

During his opening remarks, the CEO of NGX, Mr Temi Popoola, assured that the organisation will continue to provide the platforms to support issuers and market participants to achieve their gender goals and aspirations.

As for the Senior Country Manager for Nigeria, IFC, Mr Kalim Shah, the IFC will continue to invest in increasing women’s participation in corporate leadership, employment and entrepreneurship.

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LG Financial Autonomy: FG, NFIU Floor Governors in Court



financial autonomy

By Adedapo Adesanya

A Federal High Court has ruled in favour of the federal government and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) against the state governors over the financial autonomy for the 774 Local Government Areas of the federation.

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja delivered the ruling on Monday, May 23 in favour of the central government and the NFIU.

The NFIU had in June 2019 issued guidelines aimed at curbing crime vulnerabilities created by cash withdrawals from local government accounts by various state governments.

It directed that the states/local government joint accounts should use only for receiving funds and subsequently transferring them to local government accounts only.

The guidelines also reduced cash withdrawal from local government accounts to N500,000 daily.

Immediately after the guidelines came into place, most local governments across the country stopped facing challenges in the payment of staff salaries.

However, the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) sued the FG and the NFIU for interfering with state government powers to initiate transactions on Local Government Joint accounts citing provisions of the 1999 constitution.

While reacting to the judgement the Director/CEO of NFIU, Mr Modibbo Tukur, said the judgement is good because the federal government is always ready to protect both states and local governments by making funds available for their governance responsibility.

He stressed that funds can now be decided on by local councils which can be channelled to improve local security.

Mr Tukur stated that the ruling would help ensure transparency and accountability since anti-corruption agencies like the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are involved.

“From this judgement and from today all transactions on Local Government funds will be disclosed to ICPC and EFCC 100 per cent and will be reported continuously,” he said.

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Buhari Meets Kano Explosion Victims, Expresses Sorrow



Kano explosion victims

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

President Muhammadu Buhari has met with the families of victims of the explosion in Kano State to express his condolences and that of the nation, describing the incident as sad and unfortunate.

Mr Buhari met the Kano explosion victims on Monday during a short visit to officiate at the Nigerian Air Force Day and 58th Anniversary Celebration, a statement from the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu stated.

At a visit to the palace of the Emir, Mr Aminu Ado Bayero, the President spoke with various community leaders resident in Sabon Gari Kano, including Mr Nicholas Ibekwe, the Eze Igbo.

In a brief address, Mr Buhari said he was “extremely pained by the loss of lives and injury to many due to the explosion,” adding “my thoughts and that of the nation are with the bereaved families. I hope the injured will recover fully at the earliest possible time.”

He drew parallels between Kano and his native Daura and described the palace of the Emir as his own home, commending the traditional institution and the people of Kano for standing with him at all times.

In his remarks, the Emir thanked President Buhari for the condolences and commended him for providing a fair and just leadership.

He conveyed the Kano community’s appreciation for the numerous things the federal government is doing in the state and prayed for the emergence of good leaders in the coming elections.

Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje announced cash support in various sums for the families of the deceased, the injured and others whose property were partly damaged.

As per the official reports, nine people lost their lives and 22 were injured and receiving treatment.

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Why Nigeria Rejected OECD Minimum Corporate Tax Agreement—FIRS



OECD Minimum Corporate Tax Agreement

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Muhammad Nami, on Monday explained why Nigeria did not endorse the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Minimum Corporate Tax Agreement.

In a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Media and Communication, Johannes Oluwatobi Wojuola, the tax agency boss stated that signing the deal will not be in the interest of the nation.

The OECD Minimum Corporate Tax Agreement was designed to allow multinational enterprises (MNEs) to have a fair payment of taxes in different countries.

But Mr Nami said if Nigeria endorses it, it will lose out on potential revenue from the digital economy as the agreement is unfair to the nation and the developing countries in general.

“There are serious concerns on how the rules would compound the issues in our tax system. For instance, to be able to tax any digital sale or any multinational enterprise (MNEs), that company or enterprise must have an annual global turnover of €20 billion and global profitability of 10 per cent. That is a concern. This is because most MNEs that operate in our country do not meet such criteria and we would not be able to tax them,” he said.

“Secondly, the €20 billion global annual turnover in question is not just for one accounting year, but it is that the enterprise must make €20 billion revenue and 10 per cent profitability on average for four consecutive years, otherwise that enterprise will never pay tax in our country, but in the country where the enterprise comes from, or its country of residence,” he was further quoted as saying in the statement.

The FIRS head noted that for Nigeria to subject a Multinational Enterprise to tax under the rule, the entity must have generated at least €1 million turnover from Nigeria within a year, stressing that this is an unfair position, especially to domestic companies which, with a minimum of above N25 million (that is about €57,000) turnover, are subject to companies income tax in Nigeria.

He added that this rule will take off so many multinational enterprises from the scope of those that are currently paying taxes to Nigeria. In other words, even the MNEs that are currently paying taxes in Nigeria would cease to pay taxes to us because of this rule.

On the issue of dispute resolutions under the Two-Pillar Solution, the FIRS Executive Chairman explained that the rules were such that in the event of a dispute between Nigeria and a Multinational Enterprise, Nigeria would be subject to an international arbitration panel as against Nigeria’s own justice system.

“It would be subject to international arbitration and not Nigeria’s judicial system and laws—even where the income is directly related to a Nigerian member of an MNE group, which is ordinarily subject to tax in Nigeria on its worldwide income and subject to the laws of Nigeria.

“We are concerned about getting a fair deal from such a process. More so, such a dispute resolution process with a Multinational Enterprise, in an international arbitration panel outside the country, would lead to heavy expenses on legal services, travelling and other incidental costs. Nigeria would spend more; even beyond the tax yield from such cases,” he said.

On the issue of Nigeria losing significant revenue if it fails to sign in to the OECD Inclusive Framework rules for the taxation of the digital economy, Mr Nami noted that this was not a problem as the country had already put forward four ongoing solutions to the challenge of taxation of the digital economy.

“One, we have made it a point of practice to annually amend our tax laws to reflect the current global realities, it was courtesy of these reviews that we developed the Significant Economic Presence (SEP) rule, through the Finance Act of 2019 and 2020. The SEP rules set a threshold for multinational enterprises, without a physical presence in Nigeria, for registration and payment of taxes to the country.

“Two, we have deployed technology in order for us to bring digital transactions to the tax net. Coupled with the Significant Economic Presence rule, we have started seeing the impact of the technology we have deployed; companies like Twitter, Facebook, Netflix, and LinkedIn, among others who have no physical presence in Nigeria and that were hitherto not paying taxes, have now registered for tax purposes and are paying taxes accordingly. A positive to this is that we surpassed our target in the year 2021, despite the challenge posed to the global economy, including our own economy, by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The third initiative is the Data-4-Tax Initiative, a blockchain technology which FIRS is jointly developing with the Internal Revenue Service of the 36 states and that of the FCT, under the auspices of the Joint Tax Board. With this project, we are confident that we are going to have a seamless view and access to all economic activities of individuals and corporate bodies in Nigeria going forward, including money spent on digital commerce.

“The fourth is that we have set up a specialised office, the Non-Resident Persons Tax Office, to manage the taxation of non-resident persons and cross-border transactions, including all tax treaty operational issues and the income derived from Nigeria by non-resident individuals and companies,” he disclosed.

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