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Lagos speaker urges FG to reconsider VAT collection



Lagos speaker urges FG to reconsider VAT collection

… As FCT residents react to FG’s policy on paternity leave***

The Speaker, Lagos State  House of Assembly, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, has urged the Federal Government to reconsider collection of the Value Added Tax (VAT) in favour of state governments.

Obasa made the call during the 13th Annual Hijrah Lecture 1443 A.H (2021), an event commemorating Islamic calendar and organised by the Lagos assembly on Thursday at its complex.

The newsmen report that the theme of the lecture is: ‘The Role of the Youth in the Emerging Socio-Economic and Political Realities’.

The speaker noted that the practice of true federalism was one of the major solutions to the county’s many challenges.

Obasa noted that China relied on the provinces of the country while the U.S. practised true federalism.

He said  that if  Nigeria practised true federalism, it should be more consistent.

Also read: VAT Saga: Oyo State seeks to join Rivers’ suit against FG

“We should operate in a way that Osun would explore its resources and Zamfara would do same,” he said.

He, therefore, urged the Federal Government to see the current situation as an opportunity to address the issue of collection of  VAT in favour of the states.

Obasa said if Nigeria was to make progress, the country should follow the steps of the U.S. and China,  which relied on the provinces.

The speaker, however, lauded the topic of the lecture, saying it was very important.

“What is the situation of our country? What is the situation with the youth? How do we live our lives? What is the health and educational situation of the country?

“We talk about youth unemployment, but what is the state of education and qualifications? The topic is important, especially with the argument that the economy has become seriously challenged.

“The standard of living and the rate of poverty are biting. Months ago, the dollar rate was still welcoming at a little above N300 but today, it is more than N550.

“This current situation of the country is an opportunity for the Federal Government to address the issue of VAT,” he said.

The speaker said Hijrah afforded  Muslims the opportunity to thank Allah and continue to have faith in Him.

In his lecture, Shaykh Muhyideen Bello, Chief Imam and Missioner, Ansar ud Deen Society of Nigeria, Northern States Council, urged youths to know they would one day lead the country.

Bello also advocated for women to be given more important roles in the governance of the country.

On his part, Dr Sa’eid Ahmad, Consultant General Surgeon, decried the moral decadence in the society, the rot in the education and other sectors.

Ahmad said youths must be diligent and hardworking even in the face of the country’s challenges.

Addressing the guests after the lecture, Mr Tayo Ayinde, Chief of Staff to Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said that on the part of Lagos state government, the points raised by the lecturers would be considered and their suggestions implemented.

Ayinde described the topic of the event as thought provoking.

In the meantime, a cross section of FCT residents on Thursday, extolled the Federal Government’s approval of 14-days paternity leave for fathers of newborn and adopted babies.

The residents spoke with the newsmen in Abuja, against the backdrop of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approval of 14-days paternity leave.

The policy seeks to enable men to properly bond with their newborn babies or adopted ones.

Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, Head of Service of the Federation, had in her address on the initiative, explained that paternity leave was approved for men when their wives are delivered of their new babies.

A resident, Mr Mohammed Bashir, said that the responsibility of child care after child birth should not be left for mothers alone.

According to him, the policy initiative is apt, because it would encourage men to also play key roles in child upbringing after birth.

“I think the policy is a right step in the right direction, since sometimes children are left alone in the hands of people we do not even know.

“What is happening in this country today is because we do not have enough time to bring up children properly.

“It should not be the responsibility of women alone to look after their new born, men should have a stake in it, therefore, the government has really done what needs to be done,” he said.

Another resident, Mrs Eunice Modupe, a Civil Servant, commended the initiative.

She said it was a welcome idea, noting that, some men undergo trauma before and after child birth.

“When we look at it, it is only the women that are given maternity leave, but in most cases men go through trauma too in the process of their child’s birth.

“Most often, when women go to the delivery room, men feel so traumatized than their wives. Obviously a mother that has just given birth cannot do anything.

“Men who do not have means to support their wife will benefit from such policy, because they can now assist their spouses during pregnancy and after child birth,” Modupe said.

In the same vein, Johnson Emmanuel, expressed appreciation to government for coming up with the policy, noting that, it would enable fathers bond with their new born.

“It is a welcome development, in terms of deepening relationship between the father and the child. The father can also help his wife to take care of their child together.

“There should be some space for the father to leave work and take care of the family,” Emmanuel said.

Bello Kajuru, a Civil Servant said, “It is a good policy for fathers to share quality time with their children and also, enable children know their parent as they grow.

“A father can also chart a way forward for his child as he or she grows,” Kajuru said.

On the other hand, Mr Ademiju Adelani, said that paternity leave should be designed to suit both fathers and mothers of newborns to enjoy the period also known as “Omugwo” together.

“Paternity leave for fathers is good on one hand and bad on the other hand; what will a 14-day leave do to impact on new-natal period “first four weeks” in the upbringing of new born.

“The policy should be tailored for both mothers and fathers to take care of their newborn together at the early stages of child birth,” Adelani said.

The newsmen report that the 14 days paternity leave approved  by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) seeks to encourage fathers to help ease pressure of attendant child care after birth.


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NEPZA Boss Says Nation’s Free Trade Zones Not Really `Free’



The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) says the country’s Free Trade Zones are business anchorages that have for decades been used to generate revenues for the Federal Government.

Dr Olufemi Ogunyemi, the Managing Director of NEPZA, said this in a statement by the authority’s
Head of Corporate Communications, Martins Odeh, on Monday in Abuja, stressing that the the widely held notion that the scheme is a `free meal ticket’ for investors and not a means for the government to generate revenue is incorrect.

Ogunyemi said this public statement was essential to clarify the misunderstanding by various individuals and entities, in and out of government, on the nature of the scheme.

He reiterated the authority’s commitment to enhancing public knowledge of the principal reason for the country’s adoption of the scheme by the NEPZA Act 63 of 1992.

“The Free Trade Zones are not hot spots for revenue generation. Instead, they exist to support socioeconomic development.

“These include but are not limited to industrialisation, infrastructure development, employment generation, skills acquisition, foreign exchange earnings, and Foreign Direct Investments(FDI) inflows,” Ogunyemi said.

The managing director said the NEPZA Act provided exemption from all federal, state, and local government taxes, rates, levies, and charges for FZE, of which duty and VAT were part.

“However, goods and services exported into Nigeria attract duty, which includes VAT and other charges.

“In addition, NEPZA collects over 20 types of revenues, ranging from 500,000 dollars-Declaration fees, 60,000 dollars for Operation License (OPL) Renewal Fees between three and five years.

“There is also the 100-300 dollar Examination and Documentation fees per transaction, which occurs daily.

“There are other periodic revenues derived from vehicle registration and visas, among others.

“The operations within the free trade zones are not free in the context of the word,” he said.

Ogunyemi said the global business space had contracted significantly, adding that to win a sizable space would require the ingenuity of the government to either expand or maintain the promised incentives.

“These incentives will encourage more multinational corporations and local investors to leverage on the scheme, which has a cumulative investment valued at 30 billion dollars.

“The scheme has caused an influx of FDIs; it has also brought advanced technologies, managerial expertise, and access to global markets.

“For instance, the 52 FTZs with 612 enterprises have and will continue to facilitate the creation of numerous direct and indirect jobs, currently estimated to be within the region of 170,000,” he said.

Ogunyemi said an adjustment in title and introduction of current global business practices would significantly advance the scheme, increasing forward and backward linkages.

“This is with a more significant market offered by the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA).

“We have commenced negotiations across the board to ensure that the NEPZA Act is amended to give room for adjusting the scheme’s title from `Free Trade Zones to Special Economic Zones respectively.

“This will open up the system for the benefit of all citizens,” he said.

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2023 CLPA: Policy Cohesion Imperative For Implementation Of AfCFTA Agreements, Others



Some policy experts and stakeholders have called for policy cohesion across Africa for the successful implementation of multilateral policy decisions.

They spoke on Wednesday during one of the plenaries at the 2023 Conference on Land Policy in Africa (CLPA), held in Addis Ababa.

The CLPA, the fifth in the series, is organised by the tripartite consortium consisting of the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The 2023 edition has the theme, ‘Year of AfCFTA: Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation’.

Dr Medhat El-Helepi (ECA), chaired the plenary with the sub-theme: ‘Land Governance, Regional Integration, and Intra-Africa Trade: Opportunities and Challenges’.

Panelists at the plenary included Dr Stephen Karingi, Director, Regional Integration and Trade, ECA; Mr Tsotetsi Makong, Head of Capacity Building and Technical Assistance, AfCFTA Secretariat.

Others were Mr Kebur Ghenna, CEO, of the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) and Ms Eileen Wakesho, Director of Community Land Protection at Namati, Kenya.

The event also attracted various stakeholders, including traditional leaders, Civil Society Organisations, and policy decision-makers.

Makong expressed worries over the reluctance of some participants to openly discuss some matters, pleading ‘no go areas of domestic affairs’.

He, however, noted that the issues of land were within the limit of domestic regulations, adding that tenure land security was the solution that would allow intra-African investment that is still low in Africa.

Makong pointed out that the success of the investment protocol under the AfCFTA would depend on countries’ domestic laws that should be in line with the AfCFTA.

“There are guidelines on land reforms that need to be turned into regulations within the domestic systems.

“Policy coherence has to be at the heart of what we do. This can be achieved by engaging everyone including women and youth at the grassroots level.

“Also, you cannot be talking of AfCFTA as of it is just about Ministers of Trade, Economy or Investment. The idea is a totality of the entire governance structure. This is very important,” he said.

Speakers also noted that inclusive land governance was one of the key pillars to enhance Africa’s drive to improve intra-African trade, food security, and sustainable food systems.

They said an inclusive governance system would allow stakeholders to create transparency, subsidiarity, inclusiveness, prior informed participation, and social acceptance by affected communities in land-based initiatives beyond their borders.

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SOLID MINERALS: Alake Revokes 1,633 Mining Titles, Warns Illegal Miners



The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Dele Alake, on Tuesday, announced the revocation of 1,633 mining titles for defaulting on payment of annual service fees.

Alake made this known at a news conference in Abuja on Tuesday, saying his decision was in compliance with the law, the Mining Cadastral Office (MCO) on Oct.  4, began the process of revoking 2,213 titles.

“These included 795 exploration titles, 956 small-scale mining licences, 364 quarry licences and 98 mining leases.

“These were published in the Federal Government Gazette Number 178, Volume 110 of Oct. 10 with the notice of revocation for defaulting in the payment of annual service fee.

“The mandatory 30 days expired on Nov. 10. Only 580 title holders responded by settling their indebtedness.

“With this development, the MCO recommended the revocation of 1, 633 mineral titles as follows: Exploration Licence, 536; Quarry Licence, 279; Small Scale Mining Licence, 787 and Mining Lease, 31.

“In line with the powers conferred on me by the NMMA 2007, Section 5 (a), I have approved the revocation of the 1,633 titles,” the minister said.

*Dele Alake, Minister of Solid Minerals

He said that the titles would be reallocated to more serious investors.

He warned the previous holders of the titles to leave the relevant cadaster with immediate effect.

He said that security agencies would work with the mines inspectorate of the ministry to apprehend any defaulter found in any of the areas where titles had been revoked.

“We have no doubt in our mind that the noble goals of President Bola Tinubu to sanitise the solid minerals sector and position the industry for international competitiveness are alive and active.

“We appeal to all stakeholders for their co-operation in achieving these patriotic objectives and encourage those who have done business in this sector the wrong way to turn a new leaf.

“Ultimately, the Nigerian people shall be the winners,” he said.

According to Alake, It is indeed very unconscionable for corporate bodies making huge profits from mining to refuse to give the government its due by failing to pay their annual service fee.

“It is indeed a reasonable conjecture that such a company will even be more unwilling to pay royalties and honour its tax obligations to the government.

“The amount the companies are being asked to pay is peanut compared to their own revenue projections.

” For example, the holder of an exploration title pays only N1,500 per cadastral unit not exceeding 200 units. Those holding titles covering more than 200 units pay N2,000 per unit, In short, the larger the area your title covers, the more you pay.

“This principle was applied to ensure that applicants do not hold more than they require to explore.

“With a cadastral unit captured as a square of 500 metres by 500 metres, any law-abiding title holder should not hesitate to perform its obligations,” he said.

The minister said that every sector required a governance system that regulated the conduct of its participants, the procedures for entry and exit, the obligations of the government to participants and the penalties for non-compliance.

He said that the philosophy of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 2007 was to establish a rational system of administering titles transparently and comprehensively to ensure a seamless transition from reconnaissance to exploration and from exploration to mineral extraction.

“The principal agency for the administration of titles is the MCO, which receives applications, evaluates them, and issues titles with the approval of the office of the minister of solid minerals development.

“Although the MCO has tried to improve its efficiency by adopting new application administration technology, it continues to face challenges in monitoring the compliance of title holders,” he said.“Although the MCO has tried to improve its efficiency by adopting new application administration technology, it continues to face challenges in monitoring the compliance of title holders,” he said.

He warned illegal miners to desist from their illegal activities as their “days were numbered”. 

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