Connect with us

Government

Budget Controversy Deepens

Published

on

Nigeria senate house

The Senate on Thursday accused the executive of smuggling copies of a doctored version of the 2016 Appropriation Bill into the upper chamber of the National Assembly.

The Senate stated this while discussing the report of its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, which it set up to investigate the alleged disappearance of the budget.

The Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, after a two-hour executive session with his colleagues, explained that the upper chamber deliberated extensively on the report of the committee behind closed doors.

At the plenary, Saraki said the committee, in its report, revealed that the Senate had in its possession two versions of the 2016 budget proposal.

According to him, the first version is the hard copy submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari while the second is a different version produced and brought into the Senate by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang.

Saraki, however, said members of the upper chamber had resolved to start the consideration of the 2016 Appropriation Bill on Tuesday, January 19, but with only the original document submitted to the National Assembly by Buhari.

He noted that if the Presidency wanted to amend the initial version of the bill that was submitted to the National Assembly, there were proper legislative channels to do so.

Saraki added, “Our findings revealed that Senator Ita Enang, the SSA to the President on NASS Matters, printed copies of the 2016 Appropriation Bill and brought them to the Senate. We have discovered that what he brought was different from the version presented to us by Mr. President.

“We have resolved to consider only the version presented by Mr. President as soon as we receive the soft copies of the original document from the Executive.”

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, in company with his deputy, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, also told journalists after plenary, that Enang mass-produced for distribution, a different version of the document.

He said, “The report about a missing budget is not true. We don’t have a budget that is missing.

“The investigation by the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, had been submitted at the executive session. It was a fallout of the collective decision we took at the last executive session.

“Our findings are these: That Mr . President did lay the budget before the joint session of the National Assembly and thereafter, the senate went on recess and upon resumption, copies of the document were produced by Senator Ita Enang, who is the SSA to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate) and the copies were submitted to the Senate and House of Representatives.

“What we found out is that the document, submitted by Senator Ita Enang, upon our resumption, has some differences and discrepancies with what was originally laid by Mr. President at the joint sitting of the National Assembly.

“However, the Senate in defence of its own integrity and honour, will not work with what has not been laid on the floor of the National Assembly. We are constitutionally mandated and duty bound to consider only that budget that had been so laid by Mr. President.

“The budget submitted by the president is not missing.”

The Senate spokesperson assured Nigerians that the senators would as from next week, get down to business as members had already picked dates to speak during the three days set aside for the debate on the 2016 budget.

He recalled that Saraki visited Buhari on Tuesday because the Senate leadership was mandated to speak with all those concerned with the document, hence, “that was why the Senate President was in touch with Mr. President”

Enang, who was alleged to have submitted another version of the budget, different from the version submitted by Buhari, declined comments on the issue when contacted by one of our correspondents on Thursday.

A source in Enang’s office said, “Oga is just a sacrificial lamb in this case because he was being unfairly accused of an offence he never committed. These copies were brought to our office and Oga just asked us to start distribution. How will he know the content?’’

Attempts to speak to the Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, on the differences between the documents submitted by Buhari and the one distributed by Enang, failed as he declined comments on the issue.

A member of the committee, however, told our correspondent that their terms of reference did not include examining both versions of the documents to identify the differences.

But the Presidency said the current level of relationship between the Executive and the Legislature is too precious to be expended on issues that are not compelling.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said this in an interview with one of our correspondents on Thursday.

Shehu was reacting to the claim by the Senate that the Presidency smuggled doctored 2016 Budget proposal to its chamber.

The presidential spokesman said since the lawmakers had expressed their readiness to start working on the budget, the Presidency would not encourage anything that would distract them from the work at hand.

He said, “We are happy that they (the lawmakers) are ready to get on with the budget. We don’t want anything that will distract them from their work.

“The present level of relationship between the Executive and the Legislature is too precious to be expended on issues that are not compelling.”

But the National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party has called on the National Assembly to remove Buhari for what it described as various constitutional breaches, especially the submission of two versions of the 2006 budget proposal.

The PDP said this in a statement by its Acting National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus on Thursday.

The party said the National Assembly should thoroughly investigate what it described as a shameful act, including what it called the distortion and banding of figures to accommodate personal interest.

“We therefore call on the National Assembly to commence the impeachment of President Muhammadu Buhari for the various constitutional breaches especially the submission of two versions of the 2006 budget,” the party stated.

Secondus also asked the Ministers of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the Presidential Adviser on National Assembly to resign, saying they had failed to provide the much-needed capacity in the management of the nation’s economy, which he said resulted in the embarrassing crashing of the nation’s currency to as low as N305 to a dollar.

The PDP also asked the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, to resign for allegedly plunging “the country’s currency policy into chaos, an action that has thrown investors into total confusion.”

In his own reaction, the Chairman, Senate Committee on National Identity, Senator Kabiru Marafa, faulted the argument of his colleagues that two versions of the 2016 budget, were available in the Senate.

Marafa, in an interview with journalists in his office on Thursday, challenged the Senate leadership to make the two versions of the 2016 budget available to members of the public or should identify the differences.

He denied Enang’s culpability in the alleged smuggling of the doctored document into the Senate, adding that such action was impossible.

Marafa added, “I don’t understand what is playing out. We started with one problem and we are ending with another problem. Today, we say there are two versions, the procedure of laying budget is very clear.

“President Muhammadu Buhari laid the budget in December. If somebody says there are two versions, where is the second version and when did we have procedure of collecting budget from SSA? We have procedure. I think it is very necessary to differentiate what is fake and original.

“Mr. President laid the budget inside the box and it is still inside the box. Ita Enang will be the last person that will do that. If you doctor one out of eight copies, does it make sense?’’

Investigations revealed that the copy laid by the President was still in the box with which it was conveyed while the Executive had withdrawn the version said to have earlier been distributed by Enang.

Further findings at the office of the Senate President and the SSA to the President on NASS Matters, revealed that all the “doctored” version had been completely returned to the Budget Office, thereby making it difficult to spot the differences.

Contrary to the argument of the Senate, the House of Representatives said it had only one version of the 2016 budget as laid before the joint session of the National Assembly in December by Buhari.

It also clarified that it would go ahead next week to start debating the general principles of the budget as laid by the President.

The House maintained its position that no budget was missing from its chamber, adding that the same document submitted by Buhari earlier was intact.

The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, clarified the position of the House to reporters amid claims that there were two versions of the N6.08tn document.

Namdas said on Thursday, “As far as we are concerned in the House, the budget is in the public domain.

“It is the same document that was laid by Mr. President that we have with us.

“Next week, we will begin to consider the proposal. Any other document outside the one Mr. President presented is not with us.

“So, for us, if our budget was never missing, how could we have another version?”

Namdas, who confirmed an exclusive report by The PUNCH on Tuesday, explained that the House shifted the consideration of the budget to next week to give members the time to study the details.

“You know, we just reconvened after the Christmas and New Year break.

“Members need a few days to study the document. We could have started the consideration this week,” he stated.

The House also claimed that contrary to “interpretations by some persons,” Buhari did not say that he would stop the National Assembly from buying 469 exotic cars for its legislative duties.

Namdas, who was making a reference to Buhari’s December 30 media chat, said the President’s reaction was due to the “wrong” figures that were given to him on the cost of the cars.

He added, “Mr. President never said he would stop us from buying cars.

“He was given a wrong figure of N47bn as the cost of the cars. He only said if it was true that such an amount would be spent on cars, there would be issues.

“It has turned out that the N47bn is not true. That was as far as the issue went.”

Punch

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

Government

FG Has Paid Fuel marketers N74B in Seven Months — NMDPRA

Published

on

petrol

The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) on Wednesday disclosed that the federal government has paid oil marketers N74 billion as bridging claims in last seven months..

The agency said it was reacting to claims by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association Nigeria (IPMAN), Suleja branch, that continuing fuel scarcity was caused by non-payment of bridging claims.

The agency said it paid N71.2 billion bridging claims and another N2.7 billion freight differentials to the marketers as of June 6.

In May, IPMAN said the government owed its members half a trillion naira being the cost of transporting petrol across the country.

However, at the time NMDPRA had claimed to have paid oil marketers bridging claims of about N59 billion in five months.

In recent months, fuel scarcity has worsened in Abuja and several other cities across the country.

Marketers had listed the high cost of buying petrol at the depots and the high cost of diesel to truck them as the major factors responsible for the recent queue.

On Monday, the government announced that the nation’s capital petroleum deliveries were up nearly 100 per cent after the government offered additional N10 freight reimbursements to marketers.

The statement by the NMDPRA reads: “The attention of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) has been drawn to allegations made by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association Nigeria (IPMAN Suleja Branch) on product scarcity as a result of non-payment of bridging claims.

“The authority chief executive of the NMDPRA, at a meeting held on 17th May 2022 with IPMAN bridging payment was discussed extensively and the processes were explained and agreed upon by IPMAN.

“He assured IPMAN of NMDPRA’s willingness to continue making payments of outstanding claims to promote seamless operations.

“Pursuant to the meeting, the NMDPRA went ahead to make an additional payment of N10 billion in June and sought for an upward review of the freight rate which was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari and is currently being implemented.

“The Authority wishes to reiterate that bridging payment is an ongoing process which is carried out after due verification exercise by the Authority and Marketers.

“So far, the Authority paid N71,233,712,991 bridging claims and another N2,736,179,950.84 freight differentials to the Marketers as at 6th June 2022.

“A breakdown of payment made to Marketers is as follows: Major Marketers (MOMAN) received N9,958,777,487.24, IPMAN members were paid N42,301,923,616.96, NNPC Retails N6,661,459,118.61 while DAPPMAN members were paid N12,303,195,651.57, these translate to a total of N73,969,892,941.84.

“It is disheartening that despite these payments and increase of N10 bridging cost, which was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari two weeks ago, IPMAN could turn around to accuse the NMDPRA of insensitivity,” the statement said.

It said NMDPRA remains committed to ensuring a safe, efficient, and effective conduct of midstream and downstream petroleum operations.

Continue Reading

Government

Nigeria-Cameroon Link Bridge up for Inauguration this June – Fashola

Published

on

The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has stated that the Nigeria-Cameroon link bridge will be inaugurated this June.

Speaking at the 16th inter-ministerial meeting of the group in Abuja, Fashola who doubles as the Chairman of the five regional ministerial steering committees, explained that the largely funded bridge by the African Development Bank (AfDB) is completed and in hopes that ECOWAS would deliver support for the inauguration.

“We have completed a new link bridge that links Nigeria to Cameroon, and it was funded largely by the AfDB and we are hoping that the ECOWAS commission will give us the necessary support to ensure the formal opening of that bridge sometime in the month of June,” he said.

The commitment to the piece of infrastructure, according to the minister, is to transform the road network into a first-class six-lane motorway, emphasizing that while speed is important, quality must not be lost.

“We’re trying to deliver a better life for five countries and over 40 million people who use that corridor, almost on a daily basis.

“The future is bright, this is an important investment for the people of Africa to achieve the objective of the Africa Union (AU) to create a trans-African highway,” he stated.

Lydie Ehouman, AfDB’s Chief Transport Economist and Project Task Manager, also spoke at the event, stating that the bank had been able to acquire an additional €3.5 million for the road project.

Investors King gathered that the total sum available for the initial financing of the project’s strategic research has increased to $41 million.

“The agreement for the on-lending of this additional grant by the bank to ECOWAS is currently being finalised. Thus, in addition to its substantial contribution of $25 million, the bank will have mobilised €12.63 million in the form of a grant from the European Union.

“This brings the total amount available for the financing of this highly strategic study to the equivalent of about US$ 41 million,” she stated.

She did, however, point out that specialists in member countries’ claims of delays were untrue, because the arrangement was that labor should persist while any differences were aired and rectified.

Continue Reading

Government

UNDP, DPGA to Promote Global Digital Goods 

Published

on

digital

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA), the government of Norway, and Sierra Leone have agreed to promote inclusive digital public infrastructure in countries across the world.  

On Wednesday, Investors King gathered that world leaders, development organisations and philanthropic funders are set to invest in a “large-scale technology sharing, funding, and commitment to supporting the international cooperation agenda.”

In its published statement, UNDP stated that the agreement is to improve governance frameworks, which are critical to building a resilient future for countries. 

At the event, global leaders committed their efforts to funding and the implementation of digital public infrastructure through a newly established Digital Public Goods Charter (DPG), which serves as a framework to increase international cooperation on this plan.

With its DPG Charter, co-led by the DPGA and the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), the UNDP outlines a clear vision for a coordinated global approach to building a safe, trusted, and inclusive digital public infrastructure using DPGs. 

“Doing so can enable countries – regardless of income levels – to transform services and service delivery for people and communities everywhere,” the statement read. 

The DPG Charter, and the commitments made by global leaders, are especially relevant given the devastating socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and mounting climate disruption. 

These challenges, compounded with the unprecedented food, energy, and financial crisis added by the war in Ukraine, are creating an urgent need for global action. 

Digital Public Goods are open-source solutions used to build digital public infrastructure (DPI), enabling countries to provide better services and foster inclusive economic growth. 

While the Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) involves digital systems like cash transfers, digital identification, and data exchange that enable the adequate provision of essential society-wide functions. It also allows the building of resilient crisis recovery. 

 

Continue Reading




Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending