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COVID-19: FG Plans Giving Stipends To Nigerians, Says Finance Minister

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Zainab Ahmed, the minister of finance, budget and national planning, says the federal government is considering giving out stipends to people whose jobs have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Ahmed was speaking on Politics Today, a programme on Channels TV.

“We have a number of fiscal incentives that we have thought through and designed but we have to do a couple of engagements before we announce them because of our fragile fiscal situation,” she said.

“We don’t want to rush and make announcements of tax cuts or tax holidays without looking at the full picture of how it affects the federal government, states and how it affects businesses.

“The government is looking at the possibility of giving out stipends, increasing the stipends that it giving out to the category of Nigerians that are classified as poor and vulnerable.

“Also, we are looking at the category of citizens that have been affected by the nature of their jobs by this pandemic. For example, airports are closed so people who run taxi services at the airport will be at home with nothing to do. So we have to carefully identify the groups that will get these interventions. We are also not forgetting businesses.”

She said the government is still trying to determine the method of disbursing the funds and ensuring maximum impact given Nigeria’s large population.

However, the minister said the economy would enter a recession if the health crisis lasts up to six months.

“Are we broke, no we are not broke. Are we buoyant, we are not buoyant as well. We have resources to manage and we have been able to find new sources of funds to realise very quickly to keep the country stable,” she said.

“Fact is, we are going to struggle in terms of revenue. The federal and state government will be frantically looking for alternative sources of funding in the form of budget support.

“We are hopeful that this pandemic will be limited in time. If it is an average of three months, we should be able to close the year with positive growth. If it goes longer than that, six months, one year, we will go into a recession.”

She said the federal government is already talking with lenders to renegotiate repayment terms and “seek a stay of the debt service to preserve some of the revenue”.

Nigeria’s revenue has taken a hit after crude oil, its major source of income, witnessed a sharp price decline.

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Focus On Gumi, Shekau Before Chasing Me, Igboho Tells FG

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Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeyemo , better known as Sunday Igboho , has advised the Federal Government to channel its energy towards arresting Boko Haram leader , Ibrahim Shekau , and Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, who has been holding meetings with bandits .
Igboho said this during an interview with The PUNCH on Friday while reacting to the face – off between him and security agents around the Guru Maharaji bus stop along the Lagos -Ibadan Expressway .
The Yoruba activist, who has been in the news for serving a quit notice on Fulani herdsmen in some parts of the South -West , said he was never invited before they attempted to arrest him .
When asked if he would honour a police invitation, Igboho said , “ Go and ask them to invite Gumi and Shekau first before disturbing me . Let them face the bandits instead .”
Igboho also said he would not run , adding that he had returned to his base in Ibadan .
When asked if he would go into hiding , he said , “ What for ? I am in the neighbourhood . I cannot run . ”
Igboho also affirmed that his bank account was initially frozen but the restriction was lifted recently .
He said he had done nothing wrong but fight for the rights of his people .

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EFCC Arraign Insurance Brokers For N26bn PHCN Severance Benefit

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Thursday, arraigned Abiodun Waheed Hassan and his company, Bestworth

Insurance Brokers Limited, before Justice S.C Oriji of the Federal
Capital Territory High Court, Apo, Abuja on a five count charge of
alleged criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of funds to the
tune of over Twenty Six Billion Naira (N26billion).
The defendant allegedly diverted humongous sums of money earmarked for the payment of outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), into the corporate account of entities.

Count one of the charge reads: “That you, Abiodun Waheed Hassan, Director, Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited and Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited on or about 15th January 2015, in Abuja within the jurisdiction of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, while being entrusted with certain property to wit:

the sum of N26,236,594,986.00 (Twenty-six Billion, Two Hundred and
Thirty-six Million, Five Hundred and Ninety-four Thousand, Nine Hundred
and Eighty-six Naira only) paid into Bestworth Insurance Brokers
Limited’s Skye Bank Account No. 1771645118 from PHCN STAFF Severance Benefits account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, being funds earmarked for the payment of outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), did
commit criminal breach of trust in respect of the said property by
dishonestly misappropriating the sum of N2,500,000,000.00( Two Billion
Five Hundred Million Naira only) thereof when you transferred the said
sum into Kakatar CE Limited’s Zenith Bank Account No.1012637660 and you
thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 315 of the Panel Code Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, (Abuja) 2004.”

Count Five states, “that you , Abiodun Waheed Hassan, Director, Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited and Bestworth Insurance Brokers
Limited on or about 18th December 2014, in Abuja within the jurisdiction
of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, while being
entrusted with certain property to wit: the sum of N26,236,594,986.00
(Twenty-six Billion, Two Hundred and Thirty-six Million, Five Hundred
and Ninety-four Thousand, Nine Hundred and Eighty-six Naira only) paid
into Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited’s Skye Bank Account No.
1771645118 from PHCN STAFF SEVERANCE Benefits account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, being funds earmarked for the payment of outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), did commit criminal breach of trust in respect of the said property by dishonestly misappropriating the sum of N6,000,000,000.00 ( Six Billion Naira only) thereof when you
transferred the said sum into PJO Venture Limited’s Skye Bank Account
No.1771645235 and you thereby committed an offence punishable under
Section 315 of the Panel Code Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria,
(Abuja) 2004.”

The defendant pleaded ‘not guilty’, when the charges were read to him.
Based on his plea, prosecution counsel, Benjamin Lawan Menji, ask for a
trial date and prayed the Court to remand the defendant at the
Correctional Service pending the trail.

Counsel for the defendant, Ade Olusalako told the court that the defense
had filed a motion for bail of his client and pleaded for the remand of
the defendant in the custody of the EFCC pending the determination of his bail application on the grounds that “the defendant has been on administrative bail for almost five years and he has an underlining sickness”.

However, the prosecution counsel objected to the application. “As he
rightly submitted, we received the application but we shall vehemently
be opposing the application; we said vehemently so that the court will
know that we have a strong opposition. Moreover, our facility is
overstretched because of the issue of the Covid-19 Pandemic, the little
we have we are trying to manage them. The proper place of detention or
custody is the Correctional Service which the government has done its
best in providing”, Menji told the court.

However, Justice Oriji adjourned the matter till March 4, 2021 for
hearing on the bail application and remanded defendant in EFCC custody.

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Niger Delta Militants Threaten To Attack Lagos, Abuja

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Niger Delta militants under the aegis of Supreme Egbesu Liberation Fighters have threatened to destroy infrastructure in Lagos State and Abuja .
In a video posted on Tuesday by AIT , members of the group were seen wearing masks and putting on a military uniform .
One of them , who read a statement on behalf of the group , lamented poor implementation of the amnesty programme in the region, saying , “ there are no schools , no potable water , no light , no hospital and access roads for our people to enjoy till date” .
He said , “ Over the years, the Niger Delta people have made frantic efforts to create an enabling environment but to our great dismay, the Nigerian government over the years has decided to handle the issues of the Niger Delta with kid gloves .
“ They have betrayed the struggle and have left the people to their fate ,” a member of the group read from a statement .
“ Rather, what is visible is the presence of military gunboat and the numerous military personnel dispersed to the Niger Delta who are killing, raping , and maiming the innocent people of the region.
“ Look at the security surveillance contract taking place in our region through the federal government these agencies in place have decided to shortchange our people . Now in our territorial waters , it is an Israeli company that is providing waterway security which we have competent hands with expert knowledge to manage.
“ Don ’t worry, because we are coming to destroy all your infrastructure in Abuja and Lagos . As a group committed to giving total liberation to our people , we will destroy the oil facilities both onshore and offshore in no distant time , we will be seen to be crippling the Nigerian economy. ”

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