Wednesday, September 3, 2014

This Week in Nigeria: Fuel Subsidy Probe Reveals $6 Billion Fraud

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This Week: News

$6 billion defrauded from the fuel subsidy fund

The House of Representatives has been discussing the details of a report documenting monumental fraud in the Fuel Subsidy Fund. The fuel sector probe, started in January amidst widespread protests over the fuel subsidy removal, found that $6 billion has been defrauded from the fuel subsidy fund in the past two years. The report reveals a list of oil marketers, importers and companies involved in fuel scams and details how the accountant-general made 128 subsidy payments each worth N999 million ($6.35 million) in the space of just 24 hours in 2009.

Trillions of Naira spent on food imports each year

Emmanuel Bwacha, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, declared that Nigeria spends N24.5 trillion ($15.5 billion) a year on the importation of food, not including produce entering the country illegally. Bwacha lamented the record low yield in the country’s farming sector claiming the budgetary allocation of 3% to the agricultural sector was insufficient.

Entertainment funding disbursed

The $200 million promised to the Nigerian entertainment industry prior to the 2011 elections has begun to be disbursed. Nigerian Export and Import Bank (NEXIM) CEO Roberts Orya, said “The industry has, by recent estimates, created over 1 million jobs directly and indirectly, and generated a minimum of $500 million in revenue annually producing over 2,500 films yearly in the past three years”. Tony Abulu, CEO of Black Ivory Communication, the first recipient of the fund, showed his delight, remarking “With what we are witnessing today, I can assure you that Nollywood is about to fly.”

Boko Haram attacks target This Day Newspaper

A suicide bomb attack rocked the offices of This Day Newspapers in Abuja and Kaduna killing two people and injuring many more yesterday. Islamic sect Boko Haram has claimed responsibility. In Abuja, a jeep laden with explosives blew up after driving through the main gates of the paper’s building. In Kaduna, information from the blast remains sketchy. Police and paramilitary forces have cornered of the roads to both buildings are investigations are currently under way.

Mass redeployment in police force

The Nigerian Police Force (NPF) has relocated 91 senior officers, 38 Deputy Commissioners, and 53 Deputy Commissioners in a bid to stem rising insecurity across the country. The move was instigated by Acting Inspector General of Police Mohammed Abubakar and the redeployed officers are expected to resume their duties with immediate effect.

Nigerian Stock Exchange-NASDAQ agreement signed

A partnership agreement has been signed between the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and NASDAQ OMX Group. The collaboration is part of the efforts by the NSE to revamp capital markets and improve trading technology. NASDAQ trading technology will cost a total of $2 million and increase transparency between stockbrokers and investors in Nigeria as well as enhance the capabilities of trading from different geographical regions. The new trading platform will be activated and in use by the second quarter of 2013.

This Week: Politics

Once again, the amount Nigeria spends on the importation of food comes to light. The monumental figure draws a sharp contrast with the potential the country has to not only feeding itself, but supply some of its neighbours. Indeed, before the discovery of oil, agriculture was the country’s main source of commerce. The thousands of hectares belonging to the cocoas fields of the southwest and the groundnut pyramids of Kano are still spoken of today, but only as legends of the past.

Some have pointed to the progression from subsistence to mechanised farming techniques and promises of ‘change’ are often used to comfort those who sneer at the current state of affairs. Some states, such as like Anambra, are almost 100% arable; but without tractors, silos and storage facilities, farmers have no incentives for mass production. Adewunmi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture and former director for Food Security at the Rockefeller Foundation, is currently formulating a roadmap for resuscitating Nigeria’s agricultural sector, but whether he has the stamina and nous to navigate through the various bureaucratic, social and legal problems that bedevil Nigeria remains to be seen.

The much-talked-about entertainment fund is finally being distributed by the government. When first mentioned by Goodluck Jonathan in 2011, commentators viewed it more as an electoral ploy than an honest vow to help the industry. So, the fund's actual disbursement was with a mixture of pleasure and surprise. Now the government must ensure that the fund is not used to reward friends but improves the overall environment for the industry, including the legal framework in which it operates.

Writers of the week:

True Federalism as a Panacea for Democracy in Nigeria’ by Akin Oyebode, Professor of Law at the University of Lagos, examines the notion of true federalism and how it can be applied to the Nigerian model. Oyebode dissects federalism and its historic meanings in the context of modern day Nigeria. The brilliantly-written piece charts Nigeria’s independence struggle and the following military incursion into political life whilst examining the prospects for continued unity.

I have a dream’ by Opemipo Adebanjo embodies the true hopes and wishes of the Nigerian people. The article takes the tone of a song and speech in which the writer weaves through the earliest history of Nigeria’s formation whilst battling with the stark reality of its stagnant nature today. The bane of corruption is counteracted with the need for dignity and discipline with the piece ending with words from the national anthem. Her patriotism makes for a refreshing read.

Website of the week:

Ladybrille Nigeria is a publication attempting to fill the void in the Nigerian market for fashion magazines. The aim of the website is to connect Nigeria’s budding fashionistas and professionals to domestic and international audiences. Run by the Ladybrille media group, Ladybrille attempts to bring insight and analysis to the world of fashion and forecast global fashion trends.

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