9/15/2021

[GIST] Tuition Hike: University Of Benin Students To Resume Protest On Wednesday, Hold Concert, Dancing Competition, Others

[GIST] Tuition Hike: University Of Benin Students To Resume Protest On Wednesday, Hold Concert, Dancing Competition, Others

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Students of the University of Benin have vowed to continue with their protest on Wednesday, as a follow-up to Tuesday’s demonstration at the school which shut down academic activities.

The students on Tuesday protested against N20,000 hike in their tuition.

In a flier sighted by SaharaReporters on Tuesday evening, tagged: ‘UNIBEN Protest Continues Tomorrow (No to 20K school fees increment),’ the students said Wednesday’s protest will commence by 7am.

Describing the protest as one that will have ‘no leader’, the students identified Hall 2 Car Park as the venue for those in “Ekosodin, Hall of Residents, Osasodje”.

For those in BDPA, Isihor, Oluku, Uwasota, the flier gave the protest venue as Main Gate.

“Then the Main Gate protest will be a big concert featuring DJ with good sound, Emcee and various competitions.

“The mic and the process will be coordinated to avoid the random sharing of mic as seen today.

“There will be dancing competition, rap battle and many games. Each faculty will nominate one person each for these competitions so it will be interesting and fun.

“There will also be few musical performances from some of our students,” the flier said.


The students, who alleged that the institution’s spokesman told them to go into prostitution to pay their fees, gathered at the school main gate on Tuesday, carrying placards with different inscriptions, such as 'Madam VC wants to milk us dry', 'Salami wants us to do cash out', 'UNIBEN VC Salami is after my sanity as a student', and many more.

UNIBEN had earlier announced that students who did not pay school fees within the stipulated time would have to pay extra charges and might have their studentship withdrawn.

The statement signed by the school public relations officer, Dr. Benedicta Ehanire had noted that “registration by all students closes on 3rd September, 2021; and after such date, students will no longer have access to the school portal.”

In a video obtained by SaharaReporters, students were seen in their hundreds at the school’s main gate, with a voice saying, "UNIBEN students, we are under pressure, Aunty Lilian, please pity us."

Prof. Lilian Imuetinyan Salami is the Vice-Chancellor of the school; she was appointed on December 2, 2019.

“The UNIBEN that we have been managing, when it gets to Aunty Lilian's turn, she said it's N20,000. Na wah oo! We need help.

"Currently happening in Benin, everywhere is filled up with students protesting for their rights.

"Students of University of Benin are very displeased with the act of their Vice Chancellor," one of the protesters said.

According to a source, from an initial N14,000 tuition, the school management increased school fees for the 2017/2018 academic session to N41,400.

The university management led by the Vice-Chancellor, Salami, increased tuition from N41,400 to N45,000 at the resumption of the ongoing academic session.

However less than a month later, tuition was again hiked with an increment of N20,000, bringing the school fees to N65,000.

The freshers are asked to pay N90,000, a sum considered to be outrageous by the students.

"These insensitive hikes are consistent despite the fact that students have several other fees the institution imposes on them. Some of these compulsory fees include: faculty dues, departmental dues, course registration and many more.

"The management of the institution claims it does not officially sell handouts, its lecturers coerce students to pay for same," the source revealed.

SaharaReporters had earlier reported that a group, Movement for a Socialist Alternative, kicked against the additional N20,000 imposed by the school management for the late payment of tuition.

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[GIST] Buhari'll Decide Fate Of Suspended Police Chief, Abba Kyari Despite Readiness of Probe Report– Minister

[GIST] Buhari'll Decide Fate Of Suspended Police Chief, Abba Kyari Despite Readiness of Probe Report– Minister

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The Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi says President Muhammadu Buhari will take the final decision on the suspended and disgraced former head of the Intelligence Response Team, Abba Kyari.

Dingyadi disclosed this on Tuesday while featuring as a guest on Channels Television programme ‘Politics Today’.

He said the Nigerian government is trying to ensure that due diligence is done on the matter because it has international connotations.

The minister said, “The issue of Abba Kyari has become a public domain and I think by now everybody has heard that the police in their very wisdom, in their usual way of becoming transparent and fair to all have set up a committee to investigate all these allegations”.

“We have also reported that the committee has submitted the report to the Inspector General of Police (IGP). We have also submitted this report and recommendations to the Attorney-General of the Federation for a legal opinion, thereafter, we will take it to Mr President for final consideration.

“So, you can see that even though this matter is a local matter here, it has some international connotations.  We have to do some due diligence to ensure that we do the right thing. We have to do some consultations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice before a final decision will be taken.

“But what is important is that Nigerians should know that the police management is up and doing and they have done what they are supposed to do. I hope people will wait and see what actions will be taken on this matter.”

Kyari had been indicted by the FBI in a $1.1 million Internet scam allegedly carried out by a serial internet fraudster, Ramon Abbas, aka Hushpuppi and four others.

The commission had earlier suspended Kyari with effect from July 31 pending the outcome of the police investigation.

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[GIST] Nigeria Will Integrate ‘Repentant’ Bandits Into Society Even Though They Are Criminals, Committed Atrocities – Buhari’s Minister

[GIST] Nigeria Will Integrate ‘Repentant’ Bandits Into Society Even Though They Are Criminals, Committed Atrocities – Buhari’s Minister

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Nigeria’s Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, has said ‘repentant’ bandits deserve to be reintegrated into society because they are Nigerian citizens.

Dingyadi spoke on Tuesday during an interview on Channels Television, which was monitored by SaharaReporters.

Maigari Dingyadi

Some Boko Haram terrorists terrorising the North-East and bandits terrorising terrorising North-West Nigeria have been surrendering their weapons and given amnesty, a move that has attracted public criticism.

Answering questions about the window of opportunity available to 'repentant' bandits, the minister said since they are Nigerians and have surrendered their weapons, they are free to rejoin society.

He said, “When you talk of amnesty, it is a relative term and what the Federal Government is trying to say is ‘Let us see those who have surrendered their arms, let us listen to them, let us chronicle them, let us receive them. We cannot just throw these people away because they are all Nigerians. 

“Of course, they are criminals. They have committed atrocities, they have committed crimes, but according to the international laws, when you surrender from a war zone, you are not killed, you are not maimed, you are allowed to have your say. We are listening to them to see how we can integrate them into the larger society. What we are trying to do is to get them settled in their various communities, to let them have a kind of means of livelihood so that they can integrate peacefully and honourably into the society.”

Speaking further, the minister noted that “anybody willing to surrender and do it honourably and honestly, government is ready to listen, government is ready to see what they can do to settle them down without much cost.

“As a nation we have responsibilities to our citizens, to integrate them with the little that we can afford to give them and we will continue to monitor what they are doing in their various communities to ensure that they don’t go back to their old days of armed banditry and all of them. We will monitor them and ensure that they don’t go back to their bad old days of armed banditry and kidnapping.”

Recently, the governor of Katsina, one of the states mostly affected by banditry, Aminu Masari expressed regrets that he gave bandits amnesty, stating that he was wrong to have believed that they repented years back.

According to Masari, the amnesty he granted bandits in 2016 should never have happened.

“The only thing I say is with the benefits of hindsight, I wouldn’t have done it because at that time when we started in 2016, there were leaders. But gradually, all the leaders were eliminated. That was the failure of the first round,” he said.

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[GIST] Why Nigeria’s States Will Struggle To Collect VAT By Cheta Nwanze

[GIST] Why Nigeria’s States Will Struggle To Collect VAT By Cheta Nwanze

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The Federal Inland Revenue Service, on behalf of Nigeria’s federal government, has been locked in a legal tussle with the Rivers and Lagos state governments over the collection of value-added tax. In the last few minutes, a VAT collection Bill, similar to the aforementioned two states, has passed the second reading in the Ogun State House of Assembly. It is going to become a law. 

 

The return to civilian rule in 1999 gave some states, starting with Lagos, the courage to challenge the Federal Government on various parts of tax collection. After Lagos lost on a technicality at the Supreme Court in 2014, it kind of relaxed, but now that the Rivers State Government has successfully challenged the powers of the Federal Government to collect the VAT, Lagos is back on the hunt. I expect the current kerfuffle to go all the way to the Supreme Court, and even at that, I think that there will be movements in terms of trying to change certain laws after the apex court has delivered a ruling.

At the base of this rumble is a lingering battle for legitimacy by the Nigerian state, symbolised by the federal government. One of the ways Nigeria is being slowly restructured can be seen in the manner in which its federating units are steadily gnawing at the Federal Government and usurping authority for themselves while the latter looks on almost helplessly. The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria in early 2020 ushered in an opportunity that some state governors took advantage of. When the Federal Goverment moved to lock down Lagos, Abuja and Ogun at the end of March 2020 as a means of curtailing the spread of the virus, other state governments took matters into their own hands and locked down their states. The pandemic coordination efforts were largely spearheaded by the Federal Government under the leadership of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, but one could witness how governors damned federal authority. Cross River and Kogi for instance refused to test for the virus and despite all anecdotal evidence to the contrary, consistently declared that the virus did not exist in their states. As a result, the NCDC did not get Covid data from those states. Furthermore, the manner in which the lockdowns were enforced by the states gave a window into how state policing would be implemented – the very same abrasive, rash and blanket use of force that we have come to know and love is to be expected from state police forces. 

 

This battle for legitimacy will also be felt in the area of tax collection. International financial institutions like the World Bank and the IMF have entrenched a belief that Nigerians do not pay tax, or that taxation is only focused on the formal sector. Nigerians have also parroted this for years. However, recent findings from SBM Intelligence showed that Nigerians are among the most overtaxed in the world, and this is important. There is a world of difference between not wanting to pay tax at all yet going ahead to pay, and not wanting to pay tax and successfully evading tax. Nigerians pay tax, but to whom? While the state is focused on taxing the formal sector, the informal sector is being taxed by non-state actors, most of them armed and out of control. In Lagos - the state with the largest contributor to the VAT purse – there is a huge tax base not controlled by the government, but by area boys who shake down business owners and remit very little to the state coffers while the government looks the other way. Perhaps this is the state government's own way of creating employment for many young people in the state who would otherwise have nothing to do. This however means that the state has subcontracted its basic authority to non-state actors, a sign of its receding legitimacy.

 

In areas outside Lagos, the political implication of this fight for, or loss of legitimacy, is seen in multiple ways – Nigeria loses vast areas of its territories to armed groups that have more or less assumed state functions. The Islamic State West Africa Province demonstrates this fact ever so clearly. In areas around Lake Chad, it has set up a rival government and appointed emirs to oversee various state functions such as the enforcement of and collection of taxes such as cattle and farm taxes. ISWAP's success is largely predicated on providing what the Nigerian state has failed to provide for people under its control – a social contract, social amenities and a form of security. Despite the near-constant air raids by the Nigerian military, ISWAP has been able to do one thing right: provide security and relative stability for people under its control. It did that simply by not antagonising those who accepted its way of life, but by choosing rather focus its insurgency on the Nigerian military. There are other groups that are doing similar stuff in other parts of the country. Proto-states if you like.

 

The struggle over VAT will lead to many consequences – some intended. What is not being seen amidst the banal noise is the possibility of states struggling to raise VAT in the near future for one single reason: at the beginning of the life of a state, the state has a lot of believers, and thus little or no problems raising revenue. At that point, it can easily meet up with its basic task – providing security and stability. As the population expands and the state grows, it may struggle to maintain control if it loses legitimacy, thus depleting its revenue sources. It is ironic because a rapidly expanding population should provide the basis for increased revenue. States that are unable to maintain legitimacy struggle to raise revenue, opening up vacuums for non-state (not necessarily violent) actors to fill. When such people fill such vacuums, they tend not to give back such proceeds to the state because they feel they have done the work the state failed to do for them. The state does not think so, and thus resorts to the use of force to extract tax. This reinforces the crisis of legitimacy as the people at the receiving end of that force are left with no other option but to perceive the state as an illegitimate entity. 

 

Nigerian states have not put the necessary mechanisms in place to extract VAT, and the federal government will continue to focus its attention on the formal sector. The only state which appears to have this under control is Lagos but its dependence on louts to extract tax reduces its legitimacy in the eyes of its people. 

 

The VAT debate is great for all of us as the centralised Nigerian structure has clearly failed. But underneath it all is a crisis of legitimacy for Nigeria’s states, perhaps best put in words by the Ebonyi state governor, David Umahi (who supports FIRS) when he said, “Our very weak states must be taken care of before we say let everybody control their resources.” 

 

I do not believe that the states at the forefront of this push have sat down to count the cost.

 

Nwanze is a partner at SBM Intelligence

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[GIST] Private Jets Owners In Nigeria Involved In Gold Smuggling, Need Closer Monitoring–Minister

[GIST] Private Jets Owners In Nigeria Involved In Gold Smuggling, Need Closer Monitoring–Minister

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The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Uche Ogah, has alleged that owners of private jets in the country are responsible for the high cases of illegal smuggling of gold outside the shores of Nigeria.

Ogah made the disclosure to the Senate on Tuesday in Abuja at an investigative hearing on $9 billion annual loss to illegal mining and smuggling of gold.

Uche Ogah

Speaking at the hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy, Ogah alleged that owners of private jets are masterminds of illegal mining in Nigeria.

Ogar, who lamented the rate of illegal mining in the country, said all efforts to end the menace have failed because according to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), it has no powers to check private jets.

He added that illegal mining in Nigeria started in the early 1980s as a result of the indigenisation policy of the military regime in the late 1970s.

He suggested death penalty as punishment for offenders, saying, “Gold smuggling in Nigeria is often done using private jets, the very reason private jets ownership and operations need to be streamlined in the country.”

SaharaReporters had earlier reported that Ogah accused the Godwin Emefiele-led Central Bank of Nigeria of not contributing to his success as a minister after abandoning the steel and mining sector.

The minister’s attack came following speculations that the Abia State-born politician is one of President Muhammadu Buhari's appointees struggling hard to find their feet in the administration.

He further alleged that nothing is being done by the apex bank to develop the sector, adding that more investment is required in the area of research to develop the sector.

The public hearing was designed to get the inputs of stakeholders on the preparations of four bills and for an investigative motion for the solid minerals sector.

The bills included the Nigerian Minerals Development Corporation Establishment Bill 2021 and Solid Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission Establishment Bill 2021.

Others also were the Institute of Bitumen Management Establishment Bill 2021, Explosive Act 1964 Repeal and Re-enactment Bill 2021 and the urgent need to investigate the loss of 9 billion dollars annually, due to illegal mining and smuggling of gold.

He said, “Equally, we need to ask the Ministry of Finance to speed up the export policy on solid minerals because that is the only way to have operators into the sector.”

On the bill for the establishment of the Nigerian Mineral Development Commission (NMDC), Ogah said he would want an enlargement of the minerals listed there.

He said, “Let us not limit ourselves to only seven minerals because we have other minerals that are needed for industrial revolution.

“We must look at how to fast track development of these mineral resources, and so we must look at the relationship between the ministry and the state governments.

“States must be ready to be involved in driving the production of mineral resources, not just talking about the resources been cited in the states. States should work toward getting institutions to help drive the development of solid minerals resources in their states.

“We need to harmonise all the issues, so we could have a clear direction for the growth of the sector.”

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