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M-I-NA AMBASSADOR, Sport

Nigeria International, Wilfred Ndidi, continues his impressive form for English Premier League top side Leicester City on Tuesday night as he open the scoring in the 2:0 defeat of Chelsea FC to lead his side to the top of the league table.

Leicester are now a point ahead of Manchester United having played a game more while Chelsea are in eighth, five points off the Champions League places.

The dominant performance at The King Power Stadium, with  two first half goals from the Nigerian and team mate James Maddison increased the pressure on coach Frank  Lampard and the struggling London side.

It’s Leicester’s first home win over Chelsea since their title-winning season of 2015/16, with that game costing Jose Mourinho his job that night as coach of the London club.

Wifred Ndidi known for his defensive prowess and long range strikes is arguably the best player in his position in the English premier league.

The Nigerian who made his debut for the club on 7 January 2017, in a 2–1 win against Everton in the third round of the FA Cup, has been consistent over the years, becoming a major stay at the heart of his team’s progress in the league and the Nigeria national team, the Super Eagles.

Ndidi was part of the Nigerian youth setup during his time at Nathaniel Boys of Lagos. He played for the U-20 team between 2013 and 2015, forming the bedrock of the midfield. He was called up to the Senior Nigeria national football team on 8 October 2015, making his debut in the friendly game against DR Congo.

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Economy, Finance

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) generated a total sum of N4.9 trillion of tax revenue in the year 2020, a landmark achievement that represents approximately 98% of the national tax target of N5.076 trillion set for the FIRS by the Federal Government.

This was disclosed by the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr. Muhammad Nami during a press conference in his office.

While briefing the press, Mr Nami pointed out that this near 100% collection feat was all the more remarkable when placed against the backdrop  of the debilitating effects of COVID-19 on the Nigerian economy; the all-time low price of crude oil in the international market; business disruptions and lootings during the #EndSars protests; generous tax waivers granted by the FIRS to ease the impact of the COVID-19 shutdown; additional tax exemptions granted to small companies in the 2019 Finance Act; and  insecurity in some parts of the country.

Throwing more light on the significance of the 2020 performance, he further noted that the FIRS recorded this feat at a time when the price of oil hit an all-time low. In other words, oil which used to contribute over 50% in tax returns through the Petroleum Profits Tax in previous years, accounted for only 30.6% contribution to the tax revenue generated in 2020. He also added that the non-oil tax collection was 109% in 2020, which is 9% higher than the previous year. 

Mr. Nami attributed the FIRS revenue generation success in 2020 to a number of reforms initiated by the Board and Management of the Service under his leadership. The reforms included capacity building for members of the staff; improved staff welfare package; promotion and proper placement of staff; deployment of appropriate technology for tax operations; segmentation of taxpayers to ease tax compliance; and continuous collaboration with relevant stakeholders, among others.

 Mr. Nami commended “the conscientious taxpayers in the country and dedicated members of staff of the FIRS nationwide for their support and devotion to work which made this performance possible despite the numerous obstacles encountered by the Service in 2020”.

He added, “The FIRS is optimistic this current fiscal year 2021 will be better than 2020. We shall perform exceedingly well given that our Service reforms are expected to yield greater dividends, especially as different parts of tax administration are being automated. We are also optimistic that exploration activities will improve in the oil sector and increase the prospect of higher tax revenue from the sector. Similarly, the ongoing reforms by the Service together with increased stakeholder collaborations will brighten the prospect of improved voluntary compliance and consequently higher tax revenue generation for the country this year and beyond.” 

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Finance, Government, ICT

Following the successful activation of the Economic Sustainability Plan’s (ESP) Cash Transfer scheme aimed at delivering financial support to at least 1 million urban-based households using technology, the Buhari administration’s vision of reducing extreme poverty by lifting at least 20 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next two years is now within reach, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this Tuesday in Abuja while flagging-off, virtually, the cash transfer scheme to be facilitated through a wholly technology-based approach called the Rapid Response Register (RRR).

RRR is the means by which urban poor and vulnerable population can be speedily identified using geographic satellite technology and other related means for the purposes of delivering cash to households affected by the fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

According to the Vice President “the groundbreaking success of the RRR, now emboldens us to achieve our aspiration of a social security programme for a minimum of twenty million Nigerians in the next two years. This will be the largest of its kind on the continent. This (aspiration) is, at least from the perspective of this tested approach, now well within our reach.”

“The only constraint, of course, is the funding which we must look for because, this country deserves a social security scheme that will not merely alleviate poverty but also create wealth for the millions of those who are waiting for this opportunity.

“Our government launched the National Social Protection Policy (NSPP) in 2017 to provide the framework for institutionalizing the work we started since 2016 on reducing extreme poverty in Nigeria, based on our administration’s vision to create a comprehensive social security programme for the poor and vulnerable and thereafter the pledge to lift 100 million Nigerian’s out of poverty in ten years.”

The Vice President maintained that the launch of the (RRR) social protection method of targeting, which is the first strategy to be developed and tested in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, would enable Nigeria tackle poverty in a more systematic manner, leveraging technology to expand the scope of the interventions.

His words: “As of 31st December 2020, we have identified and registered about 24.3 million poor and vulnerable individuals into the National Social Register; equivalent to about 5.7 million households. Through this project, we are currently injecting about N10 Billion directly into the hands of about 2 million poor and vulnerable people every month.

“This is about the largest evidence-based effort by any administration on poverty reduction and its impact on the lives of the poor is huge; by way of improving the livelihoods of the beneficiaries through enhanced household purchasing power; smoothening consumption; increasing savings and acquisition of household assets; and improving the local economy. There are many more ramifications.”

Earlier in her remarks, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq said the initiative would provide a gateway to other important government programmes, adding that Nigeria now has a database for impact tracking and the expansion of social interventions and related programmes, in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision of extending financial support to more Nigerians.

She said “By design, this register links to other databases such as banking information of respondents and national identity numbers. It is also a process that is advanced in unifying national databank towards the delivery of social development in Nigeria. There is no doubt that in future, as has been demonstrated in the previous presentation, we would be reverting to the process used here and the register itself, to aid emergency assistance”.

On his part, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Mr Subham Chaudhuri commended the Federal Government for the initiative, noting it as a critical component in the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While pledging the support of the World Bank for the project, Mr Chaudhuri emphasized the need for stakeholders to remain transparent in the selection and disbursement of the funds to the beneficiaries.

About 3,115 households received alerts of payments instantly at the flag-off of the project by the Vice President. A total of 1 million households would be impacted directly under the scheme in the next 6 months.

The Cash Transfer scheme which is part of the ESP is designed to build a shock responsive framework for capturing and registering the urban poor and vulnerable populations across Nigeria. The RRR focuses mainly on the urban poor wards selected using scientifically validated methods of satellite remote sensing technology, machine learning algorithm and big data analysis.

Also present at the event include the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige; the representative of the European Union (EU) mission in Nigeria, Mr Ketil Karlsen, among others.

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ICT

At the end of a review meeting on 18th January 2021, the Technical Implementation Committee under the Ministerial Task Force has reported significant progress in the ongoing NIN-SIM linkage exercise.

So far, a total of 47.8 million NINs have been collected by the mobile operators. At an average of three to four SIMs per subscriber, this means many millions will be linked up before the deadline in February 2021.

Reacting to the report, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, expressed satisfaction with this commendable achievement. He expressed the Federal Government’s appreciation for the commitment demonstrated by all stakeholders and citizens and urged them to submit their NINs before 9th February, 2021 deadline.

The Minister urged the technical team to fast-track the processes so that the project is delivered soonest.

The Technical Committee drew attention to the App developed by Federal Government which allows subscribers to link up to a maximum of seven (7) SIMs to their NIN.

The Minister concluded by reminding Nigerians to secure and protect their NINs, urging subscribers to desist from selling their NINs or allowing others to use their NINs for registration. “For any action committed with the SIM, good or bad, it will be officially traced and attached to the NIN owner,” the Minister warned.

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Energy

President Muhammadu Buhari is set to virtually inaugurate the National Oil and Gas Excellence Centre (NOGEC), Lagos, January 2021. This is to boost the operations of the nation’s petroleum sector, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), has said.

Mr Paul Osu, Head, Public Affairs,  in a statement issued on Monday, in Lagos, quoted the Director  of DPR, Mr Sarki Auwalu, the chief host of the event, as saying that the centre would afford the oil and gas industry the critical elements for competitive advantage, in a changing global energy landscape.

“The integrated centre will also entrench Nigeria’s status as a regional leader and position the nation for significant global impact in the provision of value-added services and breakthrough solutions for the industry in years and decades to come,” he said.

According to him, the centre was structured to drive the three-pronged objectives of safety, value and cost efficiency which are critical for oil and gas industry stability, growth and sustainability .

Auwalu said  the NOGEC complex was structured to house various flagship centres, including Search, Rescue and Surveillance (SeRAS) Command and Control Centre and National improved Oil Recovery Centre (NIORC), in  order to comprehensively cover all the key areas of the industry.

Other centres are the Oil and Gas Dispute Resolution Centre (DRC) , Oil and Gas Competence Development Centre (CDC) and Integrated Data Mining and Analytics Centre (IDMAC).

The DPR boss said: “SeRAS is an industry-wide programme established to enhance safety management, emergency preparedness and response, as well as bed space management and logistics services across the industry .

“The SeRAS Command and Control Centre (CCC), established at the NOGEC Centre, Lagos, will entrench safe practices, drive cost reduction and improve operational efficiency across the industry.

”Two  other Rescue Coordination Centres (RCC) will be set up at Osubi and Brass, in the first instance, for effective coverage of all areas of operations, ” he said.

The director said that the NIORC was established to formulate and implement strategies for improved and enhanced oil recovery methods in the industry for the purpose of achieving maximum production at the lowest possible cost.

“The centre will partner with operators and technology innovators, in their research and development efforts, for achieving its objectives.

“It will also collaborate with similar international oil and gas regulators in sharing lesson learnt and operational best practices.

“NIORC will focus on the implementation of a robust national IOR framework to enable the country optimise its resources, as well as create greater opportunities for operators,” he said.

Similarly, he noted that the Oil and Gas DRC would offer arbitration, mediation and conciliation services for the Industry.

“The DRC is structured to adequately resolve disputes  in a manner consistent with regulatory and commercial interests of the Industry.

“This will address sub-optimal development of oil and gas assets associated with lingering disputes and the attendant consequences of value erosion in terms of national resource growth. It will also improve global competitiveness, investment attractiveness, government take and investor’s profitability,” he added.

Auwalu  said the centre would leverage industry technical experts, Alternative Dispute Resolution Practitioners and resources of the National Data Repository (NDR) to provide fair and balanced resolutions of industry-related disputes from an informed position.

On the Oil and Gas CDC, he said, it was set up to be a regional hub to deliver trainings for oil and gas industry practitioners, as well as a world class centre of excellence that would serve as the innovation hub for the oil and gas Industry in Nigeria, and beyond.

“The centre will feature state-of the-art training facilities, meeting rooms, conferencing, electronic library, digital visualisation centre, and co-working spaces.

”It is designed to stimulate creative thinking to proffer solutions for the technical and business challenges facing energy sector practitioners.

“The centre wil significantly reduce the cost of training and capacity building, which is often associated with international travels by utilising both local and international subject matter experts (SME), to deliver world-class training in-country.

“The centre shall leverage the National Data Repository (NDR) and its robust suite of digital solutions as well as other existing real-time electronic services to deliver hands-on, practical solutions to industry challenges,” Auwalu explained.

As for the IDMAC, the director said it would provide a platform for appropriate analysis of industry data, to provide meaningful insights, that would enable effective decision making for investment, asset development, portfolio management and operational excellence.

”Technical, operational and economic decisions, across the value chain, are underpinned by credible, reliable datasets both from corporate and national planning perspectives.

“IDMAC will take advantage of DPR’s resources and tools- Big Data, Internet of things (loT) and Artificial intelligence (Al), for evaluation, analytics and data synthesis by interested parties.

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