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Nigeria contributes $710m to ECOWAS, more than 13 countries put together

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ECOWAS customs union will facilitate free trade - Finance Minister

Nigeria has contributed more money to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) than 13 other Members states put together in the last 12 years, statistics have shown.

Statistics on payment of the Community Levy showed that between 2003 and 2015, Nigeria paid $710, 497,352, equivalent to 480, 355,205 West Africa Units of Account (UA).

The West Africa UA is the official nominal monetary unit of measure or currency used to represent the real value.

The document was presented by the ECOWAS Commission as part of the Status of the Community report during an Extra Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament.

In the same period, 13 other countries contributed a cumulative amount of 697. 947 million dollars.

The countries are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Senegal Sierra Leone and Togo.

Out of the 13 countries mentioned, Guinea Bissau contributed the least amount of 3. 107 million dollars followed by The Gambia with 11. 171 million dollars and Cabo Verde with 12.879 million dollars.

Within the period, Sierra Leone contributed 19. 632 million; Liberia 29. 988 million dollars; Guinea 31. 101 million; Niger 37. 788 million; Togo $48. 961 and Cote d’Ivoire $54. 173 million.

Benin Republic contributed a total of $76. 147 million; Mali paid $93. 538 million; Burkina Faso with $105. 278 million; while Senegal paid $174. 177 million.

The highest paying country after Nigeria is Ghana which paid $327. 976 million within the same period.

According to the statistics, a total of $1. 736 billion was contributed within the period by all 15 member states, with Nigeria paying 40.9 per cent of the amount.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the budget for each financial year is met by the member states through their contributions to the Community Levy, a 0.5 per cent tax imposed on goods from non-ECOWAS countries.

The national customs administrations of member states are responsible for “assessment and collection” of the levy and daily record “accounts of amounts received”.

However, the contributions by Nigeria is not equivalent to the weight it pulls in the sub-regional body, especially in the Parliament.

For instance, out of the 35 seats allocated to Nigeria in the Parliament, many of the representatives are usually absent during plenary.

At the plenary in May 2018, only four members out of 35 were present on the day Nigeria presented its Country Report.

Also, during its recent ongoing Second Ordinary Session, less than 10 were present for the aforementioned presentation.

The absenteeism by Nigerians also got the attention the Bureau of Parliament and other members who expressed displeasure at the attitude of the Nigerians.

Some representatives from Nigeria also admitted that the attitude had become worrisome and needed to be addressed.

Shehu Garba who briefed newsmen after the presentation by Nigeria at the on-going session, said it was time the leadership of the delegation intervened and deployed people who had time for parliament’s activities.

(NAN)

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Atiku absent as presidential candidates sign peace accord in Abuja

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70 percent of my appointments will go to youth, women if elected president – Atiku

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, was absent at the signing of a peace pact for 2019 presidential candidates in Abuja.

It was not immediately clear why Mr Abubakar, the major challenger to President Muhammadu Buhari, did not turn up at the event.

Mr Abubakar was among those expected at the event.

Spokespersons for Mr Abubakar and the PDP separately told PREMIUM TIMES they were not aware of the event, which began at 3:00 p.m., and promised to make urgent findings and revert.

Mr Buhari arrived at the International Conference Centre to join other candidates in signing the peace agreement, which was drafted by the National Peace Committee.

Abdulsalam Abubakar, a former Nigerian military ruler, is the convener of the committee and the event.

A similar pact was signed by presidential candidates in 2015 and the committee was widely deemed crucial to the peaceful outcome of that contentious election.

Details shortly…

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Reps committee threatens to block aviation agencies’ 2019 budgets

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Reps discharge 16 committees of 25 referral bills

The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation has warned it may block the budgets of agencies under it over the failure of their heads to turn up for a budget defence meeting with the committee.

The committee Chairman, Nkiru Onyejeocha (Abia, APC), at a scheduled meeting of the committee with the agencies on 2018 budget performance said the committee would be left with no other option than to block the 2019 budgets of the agencies.

Ms Onyejeocha was reacting to the absence of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and heads of parastatals.

None of the heads of parastatals were present at the meeting but rather, sent in representatives.

Prior to the passage of the 2018 budget by the National Assembly, some agencies had alleged that some lawmakers demanded bribes as conditions for passing their budgets.

The officials said the unceasing demand for gratification was responsible for the reluctance of a number of heads of MDAs to honour invitations by Senate and House of Representatives committees to defend their budgets.

“It is either one director-general is not in the country or the other has travelled out,” Ms Onyejeocha said while lamenting their absence.

“Let it be on record that we are not happy with the ministry and all its agencies,” she continued.

“It is unfortunate because your minister is a product of this parliament. As a former member of the House of Reps and of the Senate, he should know the rules,” she told the representatives.

Ms Onyejeocha said the committee was not satisfied with the way the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, was running the ministry, adding that he cannot get anything good out of it.

“We won’t ask questions and get a reply, the budget implementation is zero to the best of our knowledge as far we are concerned. If they do not take time, they won’t have a 2019 budget; we have sent referrals and consultants to the ministry but they refuse to comply.”

The chairman said her committee recently contacted the ministry and its agencies that they would be coming for oversight but was either told the minister was not around or the head of agency had travelled.

“We are not here to play politics, we would just collect these documents, our hands are tied, the committee’s hand is tied, the House of Reps’ hands’ are tied. After this session, we may issues summons for them to appear before the House.”

She said the controversial issue of Air Nigeria and others were forwarded to the committee for investigation but was withdrawn and forwarded to the committee of the whole due to the absence of the minister and his officials.

“If Aviation is now domiciled abroad, let us know that we may request to the House and that we need visa to see your DGs. Today, we the members of the committee are saying no, we can’t take this committee for a ride, we shall collect the documents and let them speak to it.

“We give them not less than 48 hours to appear before the committee, it must happen, and if it does not, you people must appear on the floor of the House,” she ruled.

In his comments, Abiante Dgomie (PDP, Rivers), said the ministry and the various parastatals under it had become very evasive and were not accountable to Nigerians.

He said this was unfortunate, as it was happening under a regime that has a signpost of anti-corruption.

Mr Dgomie said the representatives of heads of agencies did not have sufficient information for the committee.

“If we begin to interrogate the documents, you will hear that I am not the DG or minister and so I can not talk on the matter. This is a waste of precious time and Nigerians are watching and observing a and they will run their own commentaries themselves.

“Those saddled with these responsibilities have failed Nigerians and let us put it on record. The strength of any nation is not as regards for individuals but for the strength of the institutions that run the affairs of the nation,” he said.

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I met my wife and an old man in a compromising position – Divorce-seeking husband

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I met my wife and an old man in a compromising position – Divorce-seeking husband

A Grade `C’ Customary Court, Bode Igbo, Ibadan, on Tuesday adjourned the divorce suit filed by Taiwo Philip, as the wife, Bukola, urged the court to plead with her husband on her behalf.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Philip, a plank seller, allegedly accused his wife of disobedience, keeping late nights, unfaithfulness and arrogance.

According to Philip, who resides at Omi-Adio, Bukola is also fond of not caring for the well-being of their six children; the oldest being 16-years-old and the youngest, one-year-eight-months-old.

“Two years after our marriage, my wife told me she wanted to further her education of NCE, of which I didn’t refuse.

“I established a Nursery and Primary School where she served as the headmistress but in spite of all these efforts, she still turned out to be an ingrate by behaving badly at home, ‘’ he said.

Philip said he once met his wife and an old man in a compromising manner in her shop when he went in search of their second child, who ran away from home.

According to him, as I demanded explanation from my wife, some goons, called ‘Gobe’, beat me up right there and then.

“I reported the incident at the police station for my wife to produce all those involved but the matter degenerated.

“With the matter still with the police, we were directed to approach the court for divorce, ‘’ he said.

The Respondent, Bukola, said she agreed to all her husband’s allegations, except that she never had an affair with the alleged old man.

Bukola said the old man in question was the husband to the woman who introduced her to Philip and facilitated their marriage.

“I usually approach this man for advice, because my husband will not allow me to visit my family since we wedded,’’ she said.

Bukola also defended herself by saying that her husband was the violent type at home and that he was fond of driving her as a slave.

“He places curse on me at will and he is fond of keeping late nights.

“My lord, he once sent me out of the house, forcing me to sleep in the shop.

“Sir, in spite of everything, if the court can beg him, I will still be willing to settle the issue,’’ she said.

After hearing the plea of the wife, the President of the court, Chief Muraina Agbomeji, adjourned the case until Dec. 17 for possible settlement out of court.

(NAN)

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