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Senate Under Fire Over N1.4tn Demand

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Bukola Saraki
  • Senate Under Fire Over N1.4tn Demand

The Senate, on Friday, came under attack over a plan to allocate 20 per cent of the national budget (N1.4tn) for constituency projects.

Socio-political groups and experts, in separate interviews with Saturday PUNCH on Friday, said the demand for N1.4tn for constituency projects, clearly indicated that the lawmakers were insensitive to the plight of Nigerians.

They noted that the lawmakers had not given a good account of themselves in handling the projects.

The Senate had on Thursday, approved for further legislative work, a bill seeking to reserve 20 per cent of annual budgets for its members to execute constituency projects exclusive of the executive arm of government.

Going by the projected budget of N7.2tn for 2017, which President Muhammadu Buhari is to present to the joint session of the National Assembly on Wednesday, the lawmakers are expected to get the sum of N1.4tn allocation for constituency projects.

Condemning the proposal, groups and individuals including the Campaign for Democracy and the convener of the Coalition of Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, said it was another way of increasing corruption in the country.

President of the Campaign for Democracy, Bako Usman, said that the National Assembly members should concentrate on their oversight functions.

He said, “When their primary responsibilities are something they are not meeting up with, (like issues of oversight of projects), it surprises me when constituency project allocation becomes more interesting to them.”

On his part, Mohammed described the plan to include constituency projects in the budget as an attempt by the National Assembly to legitimise corruption.

He urged President Muhammadu Buhari to stop what he described as “a heist of our common patrimony.”

Mohammed said this in response to enquiries by Saturday PUNCH on the subject during a telephone conversation on Friday.

Mohammed, who was a member of the House of Representatives during the Second Republic, said there was no justification for such a legislation.

He said, “It (the law) is not only unfair, it is also utterly irresponsible. It is a violation of all the Revenue Expenditure and Finance Act we have inherited from the British and the ones we inherited from the first, second, third, fourth, up to the current republic.

“It cannot be justified by constitution; it cannot be justified by the law they are trying to enact.

“The executive will do well to ignore such a law because it cannot be justified by our Constitution. It is ultra vires to our Constitution and any known law of decency.

“The idea that the National Assembly should initiate all matters pertaining to budget and fiscal responsibility is something I find untenable and I am yet to be persuaded.”

Speaking in a similar vein, the Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Centre, Auwual Musa, said, “What we need now are laws and policies that will take Nigeria out of this recession and not this distraction.

“Our lawmakers cannot continue to act as if Nigerians who voted them into office don’t matter. This issue of constituency projects has been used and abused by our lawmakers. I am yet to be con.tvinced that making it a part of our budget will solve our problems.”

Also, the Executive Secretary, Anti-Corruption Network, Ebenezer Oyetakin, said that the implementation of the projects should be left for the executive.

Oyetakin stated, “It is high time the National Assembly corrected itself and did the needful by identifying projects priority for their constituencies and allowing government agencies in charge to implement, execute and handle finances.

“The approach to the constituency budgets at National Assembly has become a way to recoup the huge cost of running elections and it is corruption personified.”

The President, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Malachi Ugwummadu, said, “The degree of disconnect between the Nigerian State actors and the citizens is incomprehensible.”

Speaking on the development, some experts described the move by the Senate as premature.

The Head, Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Uche Uwaleke, said that while the country needed to develop the rural communities through investment in constituency projects, channeling it through lawmakers would not guarantee the needed result.

In his comment, a former Managing Director, Unity Bank Plc, Mr. Rislanudeen Mohammed, said as far as budget implementation was concerned, constituency projects had never been effective.

He said, “Constituency projects have never been effective as far as budget implementation is concerned.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Nigeria Immigration Service Reopens Portal With New Passport Application and Payment Process

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Nigerian International passport- Investors King

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″

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INEC To Publish The List Of New Polling Units Next Week

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INEC-PVC- Investors King

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.

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Recovered Assets: Ad-hoch Committee Gives Emefiele, Others 72 Hours Ultimatum

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House of representatives

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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