THE National Economic Council (NEC) presided over by acting President Yemi Osinbajo has set up a committee to decentralize the operations of the police as soon as possible.
The decision reached at the council meeting on Thursday at the presidential villa, Abuja is part of the measures being put in place by the government to tackle the numerous security challenges facing the country.
This followed a presentation made to the council by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno on current security challenges across the country, particularly in the North West, North East, Middle Belt, South East and South-South.
The committee headed by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, has representatives drawn from Zamfara, Ondo, Plateau, Ebonyi, Katsina, Edo and Borno States.
NEC recommended that it should be set up to meet with the IG of Police, “to determined how to ensure the decentralization of the police operations as quickly as possible.”
Monguno briefed that council on efforts being made by the Federal Government and urged the State Governments to support Federal Government efforts in dealing with the challenges in their respective States, particularly those with local perspectives.
The NSA assured that the Intelligence Community and Security Agencies will continue to sustain current efforts to mitigate the security challenges across the country.
The council decided that cases of bandits should be prosecuted and adequately publicised by the States and Attorney-General encouraged to personally lead the prosecution.
Asked why there was lack of coordination among the nations security agencies following the siege laid by the police on Benue state House of Assembly and that by the Department of State Service (DSS) on the National Assembly, the NSA blamed the situation on inter-agency problems, saying because of that, it has not been easy to coordinate them.
But he assured that the issues are being addressed and it had resulted in improvements in the situation.
Monguno said: “On lack of coordination, it is not easy to coordinate. Yes, all security agencies are supposed to be centrally coordinated but sometimes we have issues. But these issues are being addressed right now and that is probably why we are beginning to see some improvements.
“The truth is that we are dealing with a situation that is asymmetric, that is not normal, not conventional. In dealing with these problems there will be issues, inter-service issues, inter-agencies issues.
“My office has been trying to address in the last couple of weeks, hopefully, we should be able to see some improvements.”
Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa state briefed State House correspondents on the measures by NEC to optimize the contributions of Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to the nation’s tax profile, reporting that MSMEs in the country have hit 37 million.
He said in its presentation to council, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), had argued that when adequately harnessed, MSMEs can have much impact on the profile tax revenue for the country, especially considering their direct correlation with personal Income Tax, VAT and Withholding Taxes.
NEC noted that adequate manpower has been deployed to promptly attend to all tax-related challenges by MSMEs, admonishing that respective organ of Government saddled with disbursement and utilization of tax revenue should endeavour to be transparent and accountable to motivate Voluntary Tax Compliance by the MSMEs.
NEC also advised that Government at all levels should endeavour to provide infrastructural facilities and enabling the business environment to allow MSMEs Business to thrive.
Benue state Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu said NEC received a report on critical issues on the Value Added Tax (VAT) and Withholding Tax (WHT), status report on States Tax Audit exercise, total remittances by the States’ MDAs and contribution to non-import VAT, saying that the council was informed that the total outstanding debt of States’ MDAs stands at N41,047,661,213.66 for the period 2008 to 2016.
He added that report informed Council that remittances from States (January to July 2018) stand at N40,299,839,092.79, adding that FIRS has duly notified the Governors and Finance Commissioners of the ongoing audit exercise and requested the cooperation and collaboration of the States for the success and timely conduct and completion of the exercise.
The report noted that the Honourable Minister of Finance has directed the Federal MDAs and States to verify the authenticity of Tax Clearance Certificates (TCC) online as presented by contractors before awarding contracts.
NEC encouraged all States MDAs to adopt the use of the Payment platform or a comparative alternative – Governors to ensure compliance while states Governors should direct their MDAs to cooperate with FIRS Auditors for timely completion of the States Audit exercise.
The Minister of Finance reported to NEC that as at August 14, 2018, Excess Crude Account (ECA) stood at $ 2, 250, 434, 918.00; Stabilization Fund Account, N21, 591, 091, 564.37 and Natural Resources Development Fund, N 143, 479, 688, 711. 25.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) has engaged the services of lawyers to challenge the probe of states’ security votes by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The commission had recently initiated a process to probe Benue state Governor Samuel Ortom’s security votes, drawing the wrath of the state chief executives.
Governor Badaru confirmed to correspondent during the NEC briefing that the issue was discussed by the governors in their meeting in Abuja on Wednesday night, saying that the lawyers had been instructed to investigate the case.