Monday, 30 January 2017

Trump signs executive order to drastically cut federal regs

President Trump signed an executive order on Monday to drastically reduce the regulatory burden on U.S. businesses, requiring federal agencies to effectively eliminate at least two regulations for each new one issued.
“We have to knock out a regulation for every two, but it goes far beyond that. This is a big one,” said Trump, in signing the order that makes good on his "one in-two out" campaign promise.
Trump has signed more than a dozen executive orders in his first 11 days in office.  
The order Monday specifically states that prior regulations must be “identified for elimination” when a new rule is put forward. However, the 900-word order makes clear that the costs associated with new regulations each year cannot go up. So they would have to be offset by eliminating “costs associated with at least two prior regulations.” 
For fiscal 2017, Trump told agency heads that the total cost of new regulations finalized this year "shall be no greater than zero" unless otherwise directed. 
“It is essential to manage the costs associated with the governmental imposition of private expenditures required to comply with federal regulations,” the document also states. 
“We will begin efforts to reduce federal regulations. We’ll be reducing them big time,” Trump said in concluding a White House meeting with small business owners before signing the order.
The military, national security and foreign affairs are exempt from the order, which puts the Office of Management and Budget in charge of the changes.
Agencies must present OMB with new regulations and show what is slated for elimination. However, the order offers some flexibility:  allowing agencies to determine the cuts, maintaining White House input and giving the OMB director authority to make emergency exceptions. 
An administration official told Fox News that a recently issued White House memo on temporary regulation freezes remains in place and that the executive order establishes the process going forward. 
- Foxnews

Saraki, Dogara, 2 Others Accused Of Stealing N630m By Paying Rent To Themselves

The quartet of Senate President, Bukola Saraki; his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu; House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara; and his deputy, Lasun Yusuf, have been accused of financial fraud totaling N630,125,499.90. The accusation was made by an advocacy group, Citizens Action to Take Back Nigeria (CATBAN), which said the four principal officers of the National Assembly executed the fraud by pressuring and using the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) to provide them with accommodation. This is in spite of the fact that the monetization policy of the Federal Government bars all agencies from using taxpayers money for to meet personal demands of public officers outside the provisions of the law.
An independent investigation it conducted, disclosed CATBAN, showed that in March 2016, the four principal officers of the National Assembly approached the management of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) to provide them with residential accommodation. This, it said, was sequel to a plan perfected by an agent acting between the National Assembly and FCDA to steal money via dubious accommodation requests.
 The requests, revealed CATBAN, were approved within 48 hours and followed with fund disbursement, an indication of the desperation to quickly get the money. The four principal officers added CATBAN, then presented companies that doubled as estate agents and property owners for the exercise. The companies used were Gogetit Investment Limited, which used a Zenith Bank account to receive the money, Legendark Consult Limited, which used a Guaranty Trust Bank account to reeive its own share, and Pitch Global Services, which has an account domiciled with Heritage Bank.
Through the four companies, CATBAN said it found that the sum of N630,125,499.90 was fraudulently paid by the FCDA for phoney renting, renovation and furnishing of four properties as official residences for Messrs. Saraki, Ekweremadu, Dogara and Lasun.
Messrs. Saraki and Dogara, the group noted, presented residential properties owned by them as rented houses, while Messrs. Ekweremadu and Lasun did not present any residential property, but collected their share of the money. The Senate President, for example, presented a property acquired while he was governor of Kwara State for which he was illegally paid a total sum of N200million.
 For the property, which is located at No. 48 Lake Chad Crescent in Abuja’s Maitama District, Mr. Saraki received N113,095,238.00 and N11,904,761.90 in Value Added Tax (VAT) as rent.
For furnishing, he received N67,857,142.86 and VAT of N7,142,857.14.
On his part, the House of Representatives Speaker presented a property built for him by a controversial property developer also known as Alhaji AA Oil.  The house is located at 9 Persian Gulf Close, off Euphrates Street, Wuse 2, Abuja, the building illegally fetched Mr. Dogara N73m and VAT of N7m as rent. For furnishing, the Speaker creamed off N63m and VAT of N6m giving him an aggregate of N150m.
Deputy Senate President, Mr. Ekweremadu, who did not bother to present a property walked away with N90m and VAT of N9m a s rent, N45,084,285.72 plus VAT of N4,745,714.28 for furnishing, leaving him with a not exactly shoddy aggregate of N150m. The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, like Mr. Ekweremadu, did not present a property but netted a total of N130million.
 According to CATBAN’s investigation, Mr. Lasun illegally got N62m and N6,571,428.58 in VAT for rent, while pocketing N55, 190,476.18 and VAT of N5,809,523.82 for furnishing
CATBAN noted that the discoveries made during its investigation have put a huge question mark on the integrity of the National Assembly leadership and brought into sharper focus the sweeping corruption afflicting the country. CATBAN argued that the affected principal officers must be made to refund the illegally taken sums.
“Based on the above, we demand an immediate refund of our taxpayers’ money stolen by these principal officers and subsequently call on the Nigerian Police Force and all relevant security agencies to wade into the situation and ensure that justice is served. We also want to remind all senators and members of House of Representatives that they are duty bound to ensure appropriate sanctions against their colleagues, who have soiled the image of the National Assembly,” said CATBAN.
The group warned that if members of the National Assembly fail to apply appropriate action against the affected officers, it will mobilise Nigerians to protest at the National Assembly Complex to demand appropriate action.
CATBAN argued that the National Assembly has all its statutory earning and allowances properly fixed and spelt out by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) Act, 2002.
The law, CATBAN added, gives the National Assembly the power and control over its own budget and expenditure, including payment of all forms of allowances. The RMAFC, observed the group, calculates the remuneration packages for political, public and judicial office holders is calculated in relation to the percentages of their basic salaries.
“For example, each Nigerian Senator receives 150% of his/her annual basic salary as accommodation allowance, while each member of our Federal House of Representatives gets the same equivalent.
“In view of this, the appropriate accommodation allowance for the Senate President is N3,720,000.00 and that of his Deputy is N3,451,500.00. In the case of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, his accommodation allowance is N3,705,000.00, while his deputy is entitled to N3,435,000.00,” noted CATBAN.

The group said it established the fact that the National Assembly has always been well taken care of in terms of receipt of allocations and allowances, which implies that all members, including the principal officers of both chambers, have been promptly receiving the statutory allocations, including for accommodation.
- Saharareporters

“I kidnapped my Oga’s son because he refused to settle me” – Suspect

“I kidnapped my Oga’s son because he refused to settle me,’’ a 20-year-old suspect, Emmanuel Blessing, told the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday in Lagos.
The suspect made the confession on the sidelines of a briefing by the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Fatai Owoseni, on criminal activities in the state.
The suspect admitted being the mastermind of the abduction of his boss’s son.
Emmanuel, who claimed to be a trader at the Mandilas market, Lagos Island, was arrested along with one other, while on their way to collect a N5 million ransom demanded for the release of their victim.
The suspect claimed that he singlehandedly abducted the 10-year-old boy at Alafia area of Orile-Iganmu, on his way to school, as a way of paying his master back for refusing to settle him, after working for him for four years.
“I started staying with my Oga since 2013. He took me from my parents to stay with him so that I can learn how to sell clothes. In the agreement he had with my parents before he took me, he promised to settle me after four years.
“He started to count my apprenticeship from 2014. In 2016, when he was supposed to settle me, instead he opened another shop and asked me to be paying him N20, 000 monthly.
“I could not cope because of the recession in the country, so I asked him to settle me as agreed but he refused. Rather, he sent me back to the village.
“I came back early January and I stayed in a hotel. It was then that the idea of how to kidnap his son came to me. Last week Monday, around 7.30 a.m., I stayed along the route where his son normally passed to school at the Alafia area of orile.
“The boy emerged around 7.45 a.m. He came to me when I called him and I took him away,” the suspect confessed.
The suspect further explained that he kept the young boy in his hotel room for four days, until he was arrested around Apapa Road.
“Throughout the four days, the boy stayed with me in my hotel room at Oyingbo. I called my Oga on phone the next day to pay N5 million into my account, if he hoped to see his son again. I sent him my account number.
“I was on my way to collect my ATM card from the bank along Apapa Road when I was arrested. I never knew that the police was on my trail,” he added.
The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, while briefing journalists on the arrest, said that the suspect, along with one other, kidnapped the 10-year old boy.
He said after kidnapping their victim, the suspects demanded for N5 million as ransom for the release of the boy.

Nigerian authorities intercept 661 pump-action rifles imported through Lagos port

The Nigeria Customs Service intercepted 661 pieces of pump-action rifles from China, concealed with steel doors and other merchandise goods, which came in through Lagos port, an official said.
The Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, made the disclosure while briefing journalists on Monday in Lagos.
Mr. Ali said that the Federal Operations Unit, while on patrol, intercepted a Mark truck with registration number BUG 265 XG conveying a 40ft container with number; PONU/825914/3 along Mile 2 Apapa Road, Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the consignment was cleared from Lagos port.
The comptroller-general said the truck was immediately taken to F.O.U. premises for physical examination and 49 boxes containing 661 pieces of pump action rifles concealed with steel doors were revealed.
Mr. Ali said the rifles were under absolute prohibition, adding that its importation was illegal.
“Such deadly contravention of the law is even more unacceptable considering the fragile security situation in some parts of the country.
“Already three suspects have been arrested in connection with this illegal importation,” NAN quotes the comptroller-general as saying.
The suspects are: Oscan Okafor (an importer), Mahmud Haruna (a clearing agent), and Sadique Mustapha (accompanying the consignment to its destination).
Mr. Ali said initially the consignment was said to have originated from Turkey, adding that there was a mix-up in the document which finally revealed that the consignment originated from China.

“Investigation has already commenced and I have directed that the drag net should be wide enough to fish out all persons involved in the importation and clearing of the consignment, ‘’ NAN quotes Mr. Ali as saying.
He said Customs officers who were involved in the clearance of the containers were in the custody of Comptroller Mahmud Haruna of FOU Zone “A’’
Mr. Ali said that the seizure underscored the determination of the service to enforce all laws relating to importation and exportation of goods into and out the country thereby contributing to the economy, security and well-being of the country.
The comptroller-general said that the seizure was commendable and represented the new normal rule in the service “where most officers and men are on a daily basis ensuring that illegalities are not allowed unchecked’’.
He commended the Comptroller in charge of F.O.U. and officers and men who were involved in the seizure.
Mr. Ali, however, urged the media as well as meaningful Nigerians to help the service with information that would assist the service perform its statutory responsibilities in the interest of Nigeria.
He said the seizure would be handed over to the appropriate authority.
- Premiumtimes

CEOs’ confidence rises despite economic uncertainty, says report

Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) worldwide are confident in their growth prospects and their outlook for the global economy to rise, despite their concern about new risks and economic uncertainty, a report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), has said.
Findings of PwC’s 20th yearly survey of CEOs worldwide said 38 per cent (2016: 35 per cent) of CEOs are very confident about their company’s growth prospects in the next 12 months, while 29 per cent of them (2016:27 per cent) believe global economic growth will pick up this year.
The findings released at the just-concluded World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland showed that while business leaders are more positive in their outlook, their levels of concern about economic uncertainty is at 82 per cent.
The report of the survey, which was carried out between September and December last year, showed that while the CEOs’ concerns about over-regulation and lack of key skills are at record levels of 80 per cent and 77 per cent, worries about protectionism are growing, with 59 per cent of CEOs’ expressed concern about protectionism increasing to 64 per cent for in the United States and Mexico.
Although positive on the benefits of globalisation in building the free movement of capital, goods, and people, CEOs questioned what globalisation has done to close the gap between rich and poor or mitigated the issue of climate change. This is in contrast to the first PwC CEO survey in 1998 when CEOs were positive about the drivers of globalisation.
On the reports, its Global Chairman, Mr. Bob Moritz said: “Despite a tumultuous 2016, CEO confidence is moving back up –albeit slowly and still a long way from the levels we saw back in 2007.
“But there are signs of optimism right across the globe, including in the UK and US, where despite predictions of a Trump slump and a Brexit exit, CEOs confidence in their company’s growth are up from 2016. And that mood is reflected elsewhere, with more CEOs across the world targeting the US and UK for investment than a year ago.”
While noting that CEOs are more confident in the opportunity for growth, Moritz said “this year they told us these three concerns that were top of mind: a people and technology strategy that creates a workforce fit for the digital age; preserving trust in their businesses in a world of increasingly virtual interactions; and making globalisation work for everyone by engaging ever more with society and collaborating to find solutions.”
The report said in sharp contrast to last year, CEOs confidence in their own one year revenue growth is on the rise in nearly every major country across the world…with India (71per cent), Brazil, where confidence levels have more than doubled (57 per cent), Australia (43 per cent) and the UK (41per cent) topping the table.”
Confidence also rose by 11 points in China to 35 per cent, six points in the US to 39 per cent and three points in Germany to 31 per cent. In Switzerland confidence levels have more than doubled to 34 per cent. Bucking the confidence trend are Spain, Mexico and Japan where confidence levels have dropped, markedly so in Japan where confidence has plunged from 28b per cent in 2016 to 14 per cent today.
- TheNation

CBN defends forex policies, faults criticisms

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has defended its foreign exchange policies, and faulted the continued and unwarranted attack on its policies by a group of Nigerians, whose real interests, it said were self-serving and unpatriotic.
In a statement, CBN spokesman, Isaac Okorafor, said: “While we respect the rights of every Nigerian or stakeholder to their respective views, we find it curious that certain interests have remained persistent in their move to misinform the larger public, with the intention of discrediting genuine efforts at managing the economy, thereby creating public distrust and panic within the financial system.”
Continuing, he said the self-centered individuals, who have failed to assail our patriotic position, have resorted to the sponsorship of serial propaganda to misinform and mislead the public on the objectives of our policies.
“Intelligence reports at the disposal of the bank reveal the involvement of some unpatriotic elements funding the push to have the CBN and the Federal Government reverse its forex policy, which is aimed at conserving foreign exchange, stimulating agriculture and manufacturing and also promoting exports.
“The present economic challenges that we face have been worsened by our past practice of frittering away huge earnings made from oil sales, over the years. As we have explained severally, our decisions on forex management are prompted by the challenge posed by the level of depletion of the country’s reserves, arising from issues such as a drastic reduction in oil earnings, speculative attacks and round tripping.
“It is pertinent to note that pressures on the country’s foreign reserves have persisted due to a huge fall in the monthly foreign earnings, which fell from over $3.2 billion sometime in 2013 to below $500 million per month sometime in 2016, when the demand for the US dollar, particularly by importers, continued to rise considerably. In spite of the challenges and the basic economic fact that countries earn dollars from international trade, we have ensured we meet the genuine demand of importers to pay for eligible imports and other transactions within available resources,” he said.
Okorafor said the CBN will continue to ensure monetary and price stability as well as maintain external reserves to safeguard the international value of the naira.
“While leaving our doors open for genuine partnership with all our stakeholders, we will only take economic decisions that will impact positively on the lives of all Nigerians. We therefore urge all concerned to be more patriotic and contribute to the soundness of the Nigerian economy; rather than engage in acts capable of undermining the efforts being made at moving the country out of the current economic situation,” he said.
- TheNation

Wenger won’t make deadline day moves

Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal’s squad strength means he has no need to make any last-ditch signings in the January transfer window. 

The Gunners, who thrashed top-flight rivals Southampton 5-0 in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday, are second in the Premier League.

A sign of their strength in depth was that veteran French manager Wenger, in charge of Arsenal since September 1996, was able to make several changes to his starting line-up against the Saints.

Theo Walcott scored a hat-trick against his former club, with Danny Welbeck adding the Gunners’ other two goals as Wenger rested the likes of Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. 

Those four players are all set to return for Tuesday’s league match against Watford, where Arsenal will look to close an eight-point gap to leaders Chelsea. 

Wenger, who will be serving the second of a four-match touchline ban against the Hornets at the Emirates, told Arsenal fans not to expect any new arrivals between now and Tuesday’s 2300 GMT transfer deadline. 

“It’s not only to buy players, you have to have a need in your squad first of all,” said Wenger. “I believe that number-wise and quality-wise, we have what is required to do well. 

“Now it’s down to us to perform and to produce with the quality of our focus, the quality of our ambition and desire to produce the performance in every single game.” 

The only player Arsenal have brought in during the transfer window is 20-year-old defender Cohen Bramall, who joined from non-league Hednesford Town for £40,000 (46,000 euros, $48,500). 

And Wenger forecast there would be few moves elsewhere before the transfer window shut. “(It will be) very quiet. On our front, we have a big squad,” he said. “We are not in need of buying. 

“On a general front it has been very quiet. That shows that there are not many players available who can strengthen English teams. “It also shows that all the teams in England, especially the big teams, have big squads. 

That’s why not a lot happened.” Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema has been linked with a move to north London side Arsenal but only “because he is French,” said Wenger. 

“And maybe there are some noises that he would leave Madrid, but as I just told you, there is no need for us to buy any strikers,” he added. “In the summer window? That’s not my worry at the moment. My worry is the next game against Watford.”

- Vanguard

Conte wants Chelsea to deal Liverpool blow

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte wants his Premier League leaders to inflict the “hard hit” of defeat upon Liverpool when the sides meet at Anfield on Tuesday. 

Conte’s men are currently 10 points in front of Liverpool, who have won just once in eight games in all competitions this month. 

While accepting that there will be 15 league games for both clubs after Tuesday’s match, Conte believes a Chelsea win would deal a huge blow to the title hopes of a Liverpool side who won 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in September — one of just the Blues’ three league defeats so far this term. “
It could be a hard hit mentally for them (if Liverpool lose to Chelsea),” said Conte on Monday. 

“It’s important to win this type of game, increase your confidence, take three points from a rival,” added Conte, who took charge after coaching his native Italy at last year’s European Championship. 

“I hope to change the result if you compare the first game and the first part of the season.”

Chelsea’s loss to Liverpool was compounded with a defeat by London rivals Arsenal — the Blues’ visitors at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. 

Arsenal are currently Chelsea’s closest title challengers, with Arsene Wenger’s men presently eight points off top spot in second place. 

“It’s a very important week, but also I know after two of these games we have 14 games to finish the championship,” said Conte. “

The results are important, but the championship doesn’t finish after these two games.” Having let Chelsea play with a back four at the start of his time with the west London club, defeat by Arsenal led Conte to revert to his favoured 3-4-3 formation. 

Chelsea then embarked upon a 13-match winning streak in the Premier League which only ended at Tottenham Hotspur, another London side, on January 4. “

Honestly, I think we are a different team, not Liverpool. I think that we grew a lot,” Conte said. “After the game (against Liverpool) I said ‘today we faced a great team, a really great team, but today we are not a team. Only through work we can improve to become a team’. 

I think it happened. “We grew a lot and for this reason now we are top of the table. “It’s incredible this, because it’s not easy to have two defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal and to find the strength to start and to arrive top of the table and to have 13 wins in a row.”

- Vanguard

Celebrities to boycott Tuface’s anti-govt. protest

Abuja – Some Nigerian celebrities, say they will boycott the planned anti-government protest by award winning musician Tuface, also known as 2baba. 

Tuface, the African Queen crooner recently took to his Instagram handle: @official2baba, calling on his fans and followers to join in the nationwide protest scheduled for February 5. He stated: “First Massive Nationwide Protests’’.

“A call for good governance.
A call for urgent explanation into the reckless economic downturn nationwide….to come out and protest this obnoxious and baseless policies and excuses of the government of the day.”

Reacting, popular comedian, Bovi Ugboma said he would not join the protest. Bovi on his Instagram handle: ‏@officialBovi stated, “Boycott” is too strong a word to describe my not attending. I won’t be there. Simple. It doesn’t define whether I support it or not. “I am not joining the protest, and stop saying ‘we’ and ‘us.’ You don’t belong… life is not governed by your opinions of me. 

Tuface, real name Innocent Ujah Idibia, is also a producer, entrepreneur and one of the most decorated and successful Afro pop artists in Africa. Similarly, popular Yoruba actress, Funke Adesiyan who disagreed with 2face over the plan said that protest was not the only option. 

The actress, who recently completed a course in film-making and directing at the New York Film Academy in the U.S, stressed the importance of youth participation in governance. 

The Yoruba actress of Ibadan origin who contested and lost Oyo State House of assembly election under the umbrella of PDP in 2015, stated on her instagram handle @funkeadesiyan: “When people ask me why I joined politics, I tell them from the truest of my heart that it is because I got tired of how things were being done in my country. “It’s not enough for us to protest, it’s more important for us, youths of this beloved nation, to get involved in governance. 

You could try many times before you achieve it,” Adesiyan stated. Tuface started his music career while studying at Institute of Management Technology (IMT) Enugu where he recorded several jingles for Enugu state radio broadcasting station. His professional career did not begin until he moved to Lagos where he met other members of the rested Plantashun Boyz group, comprising Black Face and Faze in 1996. 

Idibia has received several awards including MTV Europe Music Award, world Music Award, Headies Awards (Hip-hop award), and Channel O Music Video Awards. Others are BET awards for his musical work, MTV Africa Music Awards, MOBO award, KORA award among others.

- Vanguard

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