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Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme one of the greatest innovations of FG — NAMI

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The Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme has been described by the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Muhammad Nami as one of the greatest innovations of the Federal Government in its resolve to tackle Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit.

The scheme which provides for public-private partnership intervention in the construction, refurbishment and maintenance of critical road infrastructure in the country with participants being entitled to Tax Credits against their future Companies Income Tax was the subject of debate at the Senate Stakeholder and Public Hearing on the 2023 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Paper, which held yesterday at the Senate Chambers.

“I think one of the greatest innovations of the government of the day is the Executive Order 007, which was signed into law in 2019,” Mr. Nami said.

“I want to speak to the one we are handling jointly with the NNPC. The NNPC through its subsidiary for instance is investing in about 1,824 kilometres of roads across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria.

“Some of these roads had been constructed as far back as 1976. I could remember when I was still rounding up my primary school education, the road that leads Suleja to Lapai-Agaie-Bida was constructed by a company called DTV. I am not aware of any significant work done on that road 40 years later, only until now when the NNPC is using Executive Order 007 to reconstruct the road.

“I can report authoritatively to the Chairman and members of this committee that from December 2021 to July this year, the contractor has completed the reconstruction of well over 50 per cent of that road.

“The challenge of road construction in Nigeria has always been funding. Yes, there are contracts for the construction of roads, but funding these constructions is the challenge.

“The road leading from Suleja to Minna for instance was awarded some 11 years ago to a company for over N20 billion. Ironically, annual budgetary provision in our National Budget every year stands between N150 million to N200 million per annum. If we are to complete that road, going by the annual budgetary provisions it would take an average of 35 to 40 years before we finish it.

“I can confirm to the Chairman that with Executive Order 007, NNPC is now providing funds and in the next two to three years that road will be completed. This is an important innovation of the government and I would plead with this distinguished Committee of the National Assembly to support the government on it,” Mr. Nami noted.

Supporting the position of the FIRS Executive Chairman, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajia Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed explained further that the tax credit was only provided to the beneficiaries after completion of the construction work, and not before.

She noted that several companies had indicated interest in carrying out construction and rehabilitation of roads under the scheme across the country, adding that while some of these companies had commenced work, others were yet to as they were still finalising on some of the documentation requirements such as Bill of Quantities.

On the issue of revenue challenges being faced by the country, Mr. Muhammad Nami noted that a major cause of tax revenue loses for the country is the issue of having “fragmented tax systems and agencies.”

“In Nigeria we have 774 Local Governments, each of them have a tax authority; each of the 36 States, too, have revenue authorities with their respective mandates; then we have the FIRS and Customs. What I would advise for efficiency and to do things in line with global best practices, is that we should amend our tax laws to harmonise the tax agencies and tax system.

“With this, when the FIRS, for instance visits ‘Company A,’ it can serve one assessment on the company, and also on the individual that owns the Company; it can also ask the company to account for the VAT it has collected, and ask for PAYE it has deducted from its employees as well as the Personal Income Tax of the Promoters of the Company.

“This is currently not the case, and as such has created a huge gap in our tax system.”

The Senate Finance Committee, led by Senator Solomon Adeola charged the Federal Government through the Ministry of Finance and members of the government’s economic team to explore novel strategies that would shore up revenue for the Federal Government, including restructuring the remitting formula for Government Owned Enterprises (GOEs).

The Committee urged the Federal Government to consider a situation where Government Owned Enterprises (GOEs) remit 100 per cent of their revenue to the government, while being funded by a determined percentage of Cost of Collection as is the case with the FIRS and Customs.

Arguing for this, the Committee opposed the current situation where some government agencies were retaining hundred percent of their revenue, spending from it, and paying government operating surplus.

The Committee recommended that these GOEs should keep only 5 to 15 per cent as their cost of collection from the revenue generated to cater for their salaries, operational expenses and capital expenditure as is currently done by the Nigerian Customs and FIRS, while remitting the difference of 85 to 95 per cent of their gross earnings as against the current practice of operating surplus where they spend between 70 and 90 per cent of their gross earnings.

The Committee noted that this also has the capacity to make them put in more effort to improve their revenue when compared to the FIRS and Customs.

The Committee further urged the Federal Government to apply the same logic to the running of government owned universities by providing funding for only research and infrastructure needs through the Education Tax already being administered by the FIRS, while allowing the Vice Chancellors to use the revenue from school fees and other innovative revenue sources to run the Universities.

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Chess champion Tunde Onakoya meets Sanwo-Olu after record-breaking feat

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By Sodiq Adelakun

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, received a courtesy visit from Tunde Onakoya, the renowned chess champion, at the State Government House in Ikeja on Wednesday.

The meeting came after Onakoya’s remarkable achievement of setting a new Guinness World Record (GWR) for the longest chess marathon.

Recall that on April 17, Onakoya embarked on a mission to break the world record, aiming to empower illiterate children across Africa through his feat.

He successfully achieved the record on April 20 at Times Square in New York City, playing for an impressive 58 hours and winning every match.

Governor Sanwo-Olu congratulated Onakoya on his outstanding achievement, acknowledging the inspiration he has brought to the youth and the state.

Sanwo-Olu, while sharing pictures of the visit on his X (formerly Twitter) page, described Onakoya as an embodiment of “the spirit of Lagos.”

“Powerful visions birth movements that change lives. Today, we welcomed back @Tunde_OD, our chess champion, to Lagos,” he wrote.

“His journey embodies the spirit of Lagos—resilient, ambitious, and driven to succeed. As we celebrate his achievements, we’re inspired by his vision for empowering our children and youth.

“Together with Tunde and the transformative power of chess, we’ll work towards a future where every child in Lagos has the opportunity to realise their full potential.

“The state proudly supports his mission, purposefully providing resources to fuel this noble cause now and in the future.”

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NASS to embark on legislative reforms to reform Judiciary

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The President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio has disclosed that the National Assembly will embark on legislative reforms to reform the Judiciary.

The Senate President made this known at the opening ceremony of a two-day Summit on “Enhancing Justice Delivery in Nigeria” organised by the Federal Ministry of Justice in collaboration with the Nigerian Bar Association and other international development partners in Abuja.

A statement by the Special Assistant on Media/Communication to the Senate President, Anietie Ekong quoted Senator Akpabio to have said that the collaborative efforts of stakeholders will shape the strategic direction of Nigeria’s justice system, making it more robust, accessible, and equitable.

Akpabio urged the Nigerian Judiciary to evolve a blueprint for the transformative changes needed to enhance judicial efficiency and ensure the fair administration of justice across the nation.

According to Senator Akpabio, “In the coming months, I will invite my colleagues in the Senate and the House of Representatives to deliberate on these proposals with the gravity and diligence they deserve.

“Together, with the insights and support of the judiciary, legal experts, and the Nigerian populace, we will embark on this legislative journey to enshrine these reforms into law.

“This is more than legislative duty; it is our moral imperative to fortify the foundation of our nation’s justice system for present and future generations. I look forward to productive discussions and to the eventual realization of these reforms, ensuring a just, equitable, and prosperous society for all.

“I will not be telling the truth if I say that we at the National Assembly are not aware of the delays and backlogs plaguing our courts, which not only deny timely justice but undermine faith in our judicial system.

“These delays harm our society’s most vulnerable and create an environment where justice is seen as inaccessible and inefficient. In an era where technology has transformed so many sectors, it is critical that we harness its potential within our judicial processes to enhance speed and transparency.

“We are committed to budgeting for the implementation of judicial reforms that will include the adoption of digital tools to manage cases more effectively and ensure that justice is neither delayed nor denied.

“This journey requires collective effort. I call upon all stakeholders, including my colleagues in both legislative and executive branches, as well as the judiciary itself, to support these vital reforms. Together, we can build a justice system that is fit for the 21st century,” he said.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu who was represented by Vice-President Kashim Shetima said the administration has embarked upon far reaching reforms to enhance justice delivery including the appointment of the full complement of the Justices of the Supreme Court.

Other stakeholders who presented papers at the Summit included the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Kayode Ariwoola, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi SAN, President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau, SAN among others.

L-R: Deputy Senate President, Senator Barau Jibrin, Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Vice President of Nigeria, Senator Kashim Shettima and Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola at the opening ceremony of a two-day Summit on “Enhancing Justice Delivery in Nigeria” organized by the Federal Ministry of Justice in collaboration with the Nigerian Bar Association and other international development partners in Abuja

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LAUTECH introduces six new degree programmes, including Mass Comm.

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Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, has announced the introduction of six new degree programmes to its academic work.

The acting Vice Chancellor, Prof. Razaq Kalilu, made the announcement during the 16th convocation ceremony held at the university’s Great Hall on Tuesday.

According to Prof. Kalilu, the introduction of the new programmes is part of the institution’s efforts to rapidly change its academic outlook and fulfill its mandate, as well as the vision of its Visitor, Governor Seyi Makinde.

The new programmes are aimed at providing students with a wider range of academic options and equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in an increasingly complex and competitive world.

The introduction of the new programmes is a significant development for LAUTECH, which has been working to enhance its academic reputation and provide students with a world-class education.

The university community and stakeholders have welcomed the development, which is seen as a positive step towards positioning LAUTECH as a leading institution of higher learning in Nigeria.

The VC said, “A year ago, the university established the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences with four academic programmes. This year, we have introduced six additional new degree programmes into that Faculty namely Psychology, Mass Communication, Linguistics, Yoruba, Theatre Arts, and Political Science. A Faculty of Law has also been established to run a degree programme in law.

“All the seven newly introduced programmes have recently gone through Resource Verification, in March this year towards the National Universities Commission’s approval. We hope to admit students for these programmes in this current academic session as soon as we receive the clearance from the NUC,” he stated.

In his address, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council of the institution, Prof Ayodeji Omole charged the graduands to be good ambassadors of the university.

“As you receive your degrees, remember that you are not just graduates of LAUTECH, but ambassadors of knowledge, integrity, excellence, service and progress, all that your university stands for. Carry the torch of learning with pride and let your actions speak volumes about the calibre of education you have received,” Omole advised.

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