The mixed reactions that trailed the appointment of new security chiefs by President Muhammadu Buhari dominate the headlines of Nigerian newspapers on Wednesday.
ThisDay reports that President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday injected fresh vigour into efforts by his administration to combat insurgency, banditry and other forms of criminality with the appointment of new service chiefs.
Buhari’s media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement that announced the appointments, named tested insurgency war general, Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor as the new Chief of Defence Staff (CDS); Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru as Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral Awwal Gambo as the Chief of Naval Staff; while Air-Vice Marshal Isiaka Amao emerged the Chief of Air Staff.
Their appointments followed the resignations and retirements of their predecessors who had come under severe attacks, leading to mounting pressure on the president to drop them, over their perceived inability to tame the nation’s worsening insecurity.
Those who retired are the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
Yesterday’s appointments, described by analysts as a sign of the president bowing to pressure to replace the service chiefs in a bid to combat insecurity attracted kudos and knocks from groups and organisations, including the Senate; the House of Representatives; Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF); pan Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere; All Progressives Congress (APC); Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF); and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
The presidency also said the new appointments were carried out in a bid to inject fresh ideas into the system.
Senate spokesman, Senator Ajibola Basiru, told THISDAY yesterday that the change in the service chiefs was in line with two earlier resolutions of the Senate for the nation’s security to be overhauled.
He said: “It is an honourable thing for the CDS and other service chiefs
The newspaper says that President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja directed the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, to coordinate and lead the deployment of a national plan to address the issue of out-of-school children in the country.
Inaugurating an 18-member Presidential Steering Committee on Alternate School Programme (ASP) co-chaired by the Ministers of Humanitarian Affairs and Education, the President said it was unacceptable to see children abandoning formal school to engage in menial jobs and child labour in the markets, streets and workshops.
Buhari said the national plan to be deployed by the federal government, through the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry, would ensure a holistic and comprehensive inclusiveness of appropriate basic education for vulnerable children.
He said, ‘‘To commence this special education initiative, emphasis should be given to first provide a limited scope of subjects in Mathematics, English Language, Basic Science and Social Studies. Gradually, the initiative will be scaled up to ensure the acquisition of relevant technical skills in the process that can enable the beneficiaries to participate in gainful economic activities.
“Some United Nations agencies that report a disturbing level of out-of-school children estimated at 13 million”.
The Sun reports that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, on Tuesday, kicked against any plan to place the country under another lockdown due to the COVID-19 second wave, saying that such a move will wreck the economy and people’s livelihood.
He, however, pledged that the apex bank would extend the five per cent interest rate on loan repayment by one year to March 31, 2022. At a briefing at the end of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja, Emefiele noted that members agreed to retain the Monetary Policy Rates (MPR) at 11.5 percent, the asymmetric corridor, at +100/-700 basis points around the MPR, CRR at 27.5 percent and retain the Liquidity Ratio at 30 percent.
The apex bank had in February 2020 agreed to reduce the interest rate on all its intervention funds from nine percent to five percent for a period of one year with effect from March 1, 2020.
But when asked of the possibility of another extension considering the rampaging pestilence, he responded on the affirmative, especially as the second wave of the virus has affected the economy.
The Punch says that the Federal Government generated N454.69bn from Value Added Tax in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The National Bureau of Statistics disclosed this in its report on ‘Sectoral distribution of Value Added Tax’ for fourth quarter of 2020.
Part of the report read, “Sectoral distribution of Value Added Tax data for Q4 2020 reflected that the sum of N454.69bn was generated as VAT in Q4 2020 as against N424.71bn generated in Q3 2020 and N308.48bn generated in Q4 2019 representing 7.06 percent increase Quarter-on-Quarter and 47.39 percent increase Year-on-Year.
“Professional services generated the highest amount of VAT with N42.38bn generated and closely followed by other manufacturing generating N39.45bn, commercial and trading generating N21.15bn while mining generated the least and closely followed by pioneering and textile and garment industry with N58.88m, N185.72m and N353.75m generated respectively.
“Out of the total amounted generated in Q4 2020, N212.52bn was generated as non-import VAT locally while N143.35bn was generated as non-import VAT for foreign. “The balance of N98.81bn was generated as NCS-Import VAT.”
The Guardian says that Nigeria’s Minister of Power, Sale Mamman, yesterday, hinted at targeted tariff reforms, an audit of electricity distribution companies (DisCos), the efficiency of the nation’s national grid, and sustainability of off-grid renewable solutions.
Increase in electricity tariff in the face of attempts by the government to stop subsidising power, where over N1.7 trillion had been spent, which attracted widespread condemnation in the past months.
The national grid has also thrown up critical issues collapsing for over 120 times post-privatization even as DisCos make desperate attempts to halt the audit. Seven years after privatisation, Nigeria’s power sector has been struggling to perform, as infrastructure challenges cripple output dispatch from generation.
Peak wheeled electricity has remained at an average of 3,500 megawatts. Consequently, an understanding with the United Kingdom may address the infrastructure deficit in the nation’s electricity sector.
Mamman, who met with a group of the United Kingdom Nigeria Infrastructure Advisory Facility (UKNIAF), in Abuja, said there could be technical support for Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Rural Electricity Agency (REA), and Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET). The UKNIAF is regarded as a flexible rapid response UKAID-funded programme and implemented by Tetra Tech International.