The Federal Executive Council has approved the refund of a total of ₦148,141,987,161.25 to five states being funds spent by the states on federal road projects. The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said Wednesday that the memo for the refund was presented by the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fasola. After the FEC meeting held virtually, Mohammed said President Muhammadu Buhari considered claims of the five beneficiary states; Cross River, Ondo, Osun, Bayelsa and Rivers, in the approved memo. A breakdown of the refunds, per state showed that, Cross River collected ₦18,394,737,608.85; Ondo ₦7,822,147,577.08; Osun ₦2,468,938,876.78; Bayelsa ₦38,040,564,783.40 and Rivers ₦78,953,067,518.29. The minister said the FEC had warned that there would be no more such refunds in future should any state government venture into projects without the nod of the FG. 36 states of the federation had sent a huge bill to the FG in 2016, asking for compensation for money that they have expended on federal roads. Buhari had also set up a committee to go and verify the claims of these 36 states, whether indeed these projects were actually constructed and were they completed, in line with the FG standards. At the end of that exercise by an inter-ministerial committee, chaired by the Minister of Works and Housing, and also had ministers of Education, Transportation, Finance, Minister of State for Works, DG, BPP and Permanent Secretary of the Cabinet Office as members, it was recommended that the FG should refund ₦550,364,297.31 billion to 31 of the 36 states, after they were convinced that the projects were completed and there were FG roads. But the claims of five other states Cross River, Rivers, Ondo, Bayelsa and Osun failed on the grounds that they did not do proper documentation and the committee felt they needed proper documentation. The minister said that the committee went back with new terms of reference to ensure that the claims of the five states were in order, which made the BPP part of the committee. The committee at the end of the exercise reported that the five states – Cross River with 20 roads and one bridge will get a refund of ₦18,394,737,608.85, Ondo with six roads to get a refund of ₦7,822,147,577.08, and Osun with two roads and one bridge to get a refund of ₦2,468,938,876.78. Others are Bayelsa with five roads and one bridge is to get a refund of ₦38,040,564,783.40 and Rivers with three roads and three flyovers bridges is to get a refund of ₦78,953,067,518.29.
The Lagos state government is reverting to the pre-2018 land use charge rate to reduce the financial pressure on citizens. The LUC was increased in 2018 by the immediate past governor, Akinwunmi Ambode. He increased the charge on a property solely occupied by the owner for a residential purpose to 0.076 percent per annum from 0.0394 percent. According to the state commissioner for finance Rabiu Olowo, at the 2020 ministerial briefing to mark the first year anniversary of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu led administration, in 2018, there was an increase in LUC rate and at the same time, a revaluation of property; this twin-shock had a sporadic increase in LUC assessment. The pre-2018 reform, he added, also considered a flexible land use charge payments and efficient customer service management in other to ensure prompt issue resolution. The rate for an investment property fully occupied by tenants or third party(ies) was increased from 0.394 percent per annum to 0.76 percent during the Ambode administration. After opposition from various quarters, the rate for commercial properties was reduced by 50 percent and 25 percent for owner-occupiers. The present administration, according to Olowo, hopes to keep economic activities going in the state without causing problems that will complicate the financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government of Lagos has inaugurated two committees with a view to starting community policing in the state. The State Community Policing Advisory Committee (SCPAC) and its operations arm, State Community Policing Committee (SCPC) were inaugurated by Governor Babajide Sanwoolu on Wednesday in an effort to re-strategise and rethink the security architecture using Community Policing Initiative as proposed by the Inspector General of Police. Sanwoolu said that the reform is being implemented with the aim of addressing inadequacies of the current policing model, which, he said, had failed to engage members of local communities and neighbourhoods in knowledge sharing and intelligence gathering that could help in nipping crimes in the bud. SCPAC, which is co-chaired by the Commissioner of Police, Mr Hakeem Odumosu, and chairman of Council of Obas and Chiefs in Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, will be the custodian of the initiative and it is to maintain the highest level of oversight on community policing in the State. SPAC, on the other hand, will be responsible for managing and coordinating the State-level operations of the community policing programme, and it will, among other functions, help identify security threats in communities and work with the police and the Community Police Officers (CPOs) in evolving appropriate strategies for addressing them.
The new coronavirus pandemic has hampered Nigeria’s effort to cut its flared gas by at least 6 weeks, the Department of Petroleum Resources said on Wednesday. The country has been making efforts to commercialize the gas that is currently burned at its wells as waste so that it can be exported or used for power production. The West African country, being one of the top ten gas-flaring countries in the world, flared some 7.4 billion cubic feet in 2018, according to a report by PwC. The country loses an estimated $1 billion in revenue annually to flaring. This also adds to extreme environmental pollution in the Niger Delta region. However, according to the head of the DPR, Sarki Auwalu, the current bidding round had been delayed due to travel restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of the virus. He added that the bidders need physical access to the flare points. Authorities approved the country’s gas flare commercialization programme in 2016, and the DPR held a round for companies wanting to bid on the opportunity to commercialise 96 flare points in February. Submissions for the bids were due in early April as Auwalu said some 200 companies had joined the process.