Civil rights groups on Friday berated the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for incurring a N2.2tn domestic debt in the last one year.
The groups, in separate interviews on Friday said that there were no visible impacts of the borrowed money on the country in the period.
The statistics obtained from the Debt Management Office showed that the Federal Government’s domestic debt stood at N10.6tn as of June this year, up from N8.4tn a year ago.
FG borrowing to pay salaries —Social Action
Expressing concern about the sharp increase in the country’s debt profile, the Head of Abuja Social Action, Vivian Bellonwu-Okafor, said the only response of the administration to the economic recession was “to borrow more money.”
She said that the group was concerned about the circumvention of the laid down legal provisions for loan acquisitions.
Bellonwu-Okafor stated, “The Fiscal Responsibility Act, which outlines the democratic steps that should accompany any loan, is not being respected and so in this regard, loans are taken in a most shoddy and blanket manner without any clear purpose or project line tied to such acquisition(s) as well as cost-benefit analysis, as stipulated by the FRA.
“It is thus not surprising that government has not only taken but also advanced loans for recurrent items such as payment of salaries, sponsorship to foreign trips and conferences etc; this is in clear violation of the FRA which states that loans shall only be acquired for capital expenditure(s).”
She said that it appeared that the government was hiding under “a superfluous guide of so-called recession to embark on unrestrained and unmanageable borrowings.”
The head of Social Action stated that such an approach was “a false solution to the economic problems of Nigeria,” adding that the government was simply postponing the evil day.
Bellonwu-Okafor said, “Debt servicing will soon completely wipe out the country’s capital allocation. This free walk into another debt-trap should, with all experiences of hindsight, be avoided.
“The burden of debt falls on the shoulders of innocent citizens. Nigeria has the wherewithal both in human, natural as well as material and intellectual resources to have a thriving and flourishing economy without undue recourse to dependence-borrowing.”
No visible impact-CD
On his part, the President of Campaign for Democracy, Abdul Usman, said that the borrowing did not show desirable performances by the administration.
According to him, the President and his cabinet of ministers should be held accountable not only in matters that have to do with corruption, but also on debts.
He stated, “Nigerians have never had it this bad and are losing faith in the change promised by the administration. There is hunger almost everywhere in the land. Citizens will want to see published documents or Mr. President should address the nation as we have yet to see the positivity on the budgeted N500bn social welfare.”
‘Buhari’s govt not creative’
The Executive Secretary of the Anti-Corruption Network, Ebenezer Oyetakin said the craze for borrowing had shown that the administration was not creative.
He stated that it was unfortunate that the government, which based its campaign on “change” had reverted to the old practices, which Nigerians voted against.
Oyetakin stated, “The thrust of the change is expected to be largely in the way we handle the economy. The craze for borrowing simply shows how uncreative we are and the lack of innovative thinking economically.
“What would have happened if we were Republic of Cuba that was and is still under total economic, commercial and financial blockade by the USA and its allies for 55 Years? What will happen if the entire world refuses to lend us money? I am against our craze for borrowing as a nation.”
N2.2tn domestic borrowing used to fund budget —Minister
But the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, while responding to enquiries from one of our correspondents, justified the increase in the debts.
The minister was asked what the money was spent on. She simply said, “I guess it would have been used to fund the budget and whatever government is spending money on.”
She said the government would continue to scale up spending in the area of infrastructure such as road, power and railway among others.
Invest borrowed funds in productive ventures, NLC tells FG
The Nigeria Labour Congress urged the Federal Government to utilise the borrowed funds to revamp the economy.
The General Secretary of the NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson said that while it was not bad to borrow to stimulate the economy during a period of recession, it was important that the money was put to productive use.
He advised that such funds should be committed to the creation of employment opportunities.
Ozo-Eson stated, “Well, with the economy in recession, we have all agreed from the beginning, we need a stimulus to turn the economy around. This is why the 2016 budget is hugely a deficit budget. That implies that you need to borrow in order to create that stimulus. It is the use to which we put what is borrowed that is important.
“If we plough it heavily into infrastructure and in creating employment, in the long run and in the medium- term, it will help to revamp the economy and then restore balance to fiscal operations. So we do not think that borrowing is bad, particularly in the period in which we have to stimulate the economy.”
Nigeria Immigration Service Reopens Portal With New Passport Application and Payment Process
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has announced the reopening of its passport application and payment portal.
The assistant comptroller of immigration, Mr Amos Okpu announced in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.
In the statement, Mr Muhammad Babandede, the Comptroller-General of the service, said the portal became effective for new applications from 12 midnight on Tuesday.
Babandede further said that the portal would allow eligible applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of passports of their choice.
Mr Muhammad Babandede explained that with the reopening of the portal, a new passport application and payment regime had begun.
The statement in full:
“The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (CGI), Muhammad Babandede MFR, has announced the reopening of the Passport application and payment portal effective 8th June 2021 by 12 midnight to allow eligible Passport applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of Passports of their choice.
The Passport portal was closed following the directives of the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on the 17th of May, 2021to afford the Service the opportunity to clear all backlogs of applications that have piled up across Issuing Centres in the past few months.
With the reopening of the portal, a new Passport application and payment regime have commenced. Under the new Passport regime;
Applications and payments for Passport services shall be made through the Service website www.immigration.gov.ng;
- applicants are expected to visit the portal to apply and upload their support documents for vetting and processing;
- a chat room facility to guide applicants through the application and payment process has been provided on the portal;
- upon successful applications, applicants shall make their online booking interview/enrollment appointment on any day, time and location they consider convenient;
- that the new timeline for Passport production and issuance after a successful enrollment at the selected Issuing Centre shall be six weeks for Fresh applications and three weeks for Re-issue (Renewal applications);
- that no applicant who is yet to make an online application and payment shall be allowed into any of the Passport Issuing Centres for Passport processing;
- applicants will be contacted through email and phone number they provided during application when their Passports are ready;
- a helpline with the number 08021819988 has been provided for feedback mechanism on any challenges.
The Comptroller General, Muhammad Babandede MFR wishes to use this medium to call on Nigerians and indeed Passport applicants to avoid patronizing touts as the entire process has been made seamless for effective and efficient service delivery. He warned Passport racketeers to desist from acts capable of undermining the reform efforts to avoid very strict sanctions.
Signed AMOS OKPU MNIPR
ASSISTANT COMPTROLLER OF IMMIGRATION
SERVICE PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER
For: COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF IMMIGRATION 8TH JUNE, 2021″
INEC To Publish The List Of New Polling Units Next Week
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has pledged to publish a comprehensive list of its new polling units across the nation next week.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja.
Yakubu was speaking at the formal handing over of a new state of the art fire truck, deployed to the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja by the Federal Fire Service (FFS).
He said that details of the locations of its registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration for resumption of nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) would be made available in the second week of May.
He expressed appreciation of the commission to the FFS and all security agencies for the demonstration of their support to protecting INEC facilities
He said that the support was coming on the eve of the resumption of the CVR nationwide in the next three weeks.
“We earlier assured Nigerians that we shall conclude work on the expansion of voter access to polling units and make the new polling units available to citizens ahead of the CVR exercise.
“I am glad to report that we have accomplished this task for the first time in 25 years.
“A comprehensive list of the new polling units will be published next week.
“Similarly, details of the locations of the registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration will also be made available after a series of regular consultative meetings with stakeholders next week,” Yakubu said.
He said that as a member of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) FFS had been as concerned as other security agencies about the recent attacks on our offices across the country.
“This is particularly so because out of the 42 attacks on our facilities nationwide, 18 incidents resulted from arson and three more by a combination of arson and vandalisation.”
Yakubu recalled that concerned by those incidents, the commission convened an emergency meeting of ICCES last week of April, where the security agencies renewed their determination to collaborate more with the commission.
According to him, they pledged to assist the commission address the challenge beyond the routine protection of INEC assets and the security of its officials, voters, observers, the media, candidates and their agents during elections.
“On its part, the Federal Fire Service offered to deploy an additional state-of-the-art fire engine to the INEC headquarters to complement the two existing trucks.
“At the same time, it directed its state offices to take additional protective measures around other INEC facilities nationwide.
“Today’s inauguration of the new fire engine is another affirmation of the support to the commission from the FFS whose personnel, already deployed permanently to the commission
“The personnel will continue to operate and maintain the fire engines and other firefighting equipment installed by INEC,” Yakubu said.
Speaking earlier, the Controller-General (CG) of FFS, Alhaji Liman Ibrahim said the deployment of the firefighting truck was premised on recent fire attacks on INEC offices in different parts of the country.
Ibrahim, represented by the Assistant Controller-General of the service, Mr Samson Karebo, said the deployed truck would serve as fire cover for the premises of INEC headquarters and the entire Maitama vicinity of Abuja.
“The FFS is taking this step as a proactive measure to protect our critical infrastructure and help to protect our economy by forming synergy with all stakeholders in protecting our environments.
“Our center is focused on bringing firefighting operations to every part of the country as part of our statutory duties by having a presence in virtually every state in Nigeria
“The FFS will very soon be moving into all senatorial headquarters in the country. That is how we want to operate for now so that we can touch every corner of this country,” Ibrahim said.
He called for the cooperation of all for the service to better serve the nation by not molesting FFS staff in the line of duty.
In his remarks, the National Security Adviser (NSA) retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, who is also Co-Chair of ICCES, described the deployment of the truck as a demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to sustain Nigeria’s democracy and address insecurity.
Monguno said that the gesture also symbolised commitment to a clear affirmation of Buhari toward protecting institutions of government, toward securing their property, toward fighting acts of irresponsibility, vandalisation and outright criminality.
“The President is determined as much as he can within the confines of legality to suppress any kind of criminality and destruction of public property.
“This is something that he is determined to do regardless of whatever the challenges are.
“He will apply all the resources in his disposal in his capacity as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to ensure the wider Nigerian society is safe, stable and is allowed to carry out its legitimate undertaking, free from any act of insecurity,” he said
Monguno urged all other security agencies not to relent in ensuring that they continued to protect lives and property.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Usman Baba pledged commitment to security agencies to work with INEC and protect INEC’s facilities, citizens’ life and property.
Also at the occasion was the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, represented by Director of Joint Services, Mr Peter Obodo; as well as the representative of Director-General, Directorate of State Services, Tony Adikweruka.
Recovered Assets: Ad-hoch Committee Gives Emefiele, Others 72 Hours Ultimatum
The House of Representatives ad-hoc committee, investigating recovered assets, has given the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, 72 hours to appear before it.
The committee also issued same ultimatum to the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, and the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh.
The summon was issued on Monday, after Mr Emefiele and the others failed to appear before the committee.
The government officials had sent representatives, but the committee chairman, Adejoro Adeogun (APC, Ondo), said they failed to forward letters to that effect.
He said allowing representatives without a proper letter of introduction would be akin to allowing “impersonators.”
“You are indirectly insulting the House of Representatives. You are undermining the House of Representatives,” an angry Mr Adeogun said.
Moving a motion to give the agencies 72hours to appear before the committee, Ibrahim Isiaka (APC, Ogun), said the agencies created by Acts of the parliament “should not be undermining the parliament”.
The motion was unanimously adopted by the committee.
Mr Isiaka suggested that the House should shut down its activities if the agencies fail to appear before them.
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