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Buhari to Presents 2017 Budget to N’Assembly Today

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Budget 2017 year on cube with pencil and clock
  • Buhari to Presents 2017 Budget to N’Assembly Today

President Muhammadu Buhari will today (Wednesday) present the 2017 Appropriation Bill to a joint session of the National Assembly.

The document will be the second one to be presented by the President after his inauguration in May 2015.

Buhari, who will be accompanied by top government officials, is expected to present the document at 10am.

The Federal Executive Council had on November 30 approved the document for presentation to the National Assembly.

Speaking to State House correspondents at the end of the council’s meeting, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, refused to give details of the budget proposal as approved by the council.

He said it was only the President who would unveil the document on the floor of the National Assembly.

“The 2017 budget has been approved by the Federal Executive Council and the details will be revealed when the President presents the budget to the National Assembly,” Udoma said.

The budget of N6.07tn for 2016 was predicated on a benchmark price of $38 per barrel of crude oil and N197 to a dollar exchange rate.

Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives have said that the key parameters of the 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework upon which the budget will be based are not sustainable, asking the Federal Government to seek more realistic solutions to the economy.

They voiced their opinions as they debated the MTEF in Abuja on Tuesday, less than 24 hours to the presentation of the 2017 budget estimates to the legislature by the President.

The development came as the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, declared a public hearing on the controversial Oil Prospecting License 245 open, saying that the House was prepared to assist the government to resolve the issues surrounding the lucrative oil well.

Nigeria is believed to have lost over $1.1bn on the OPL 245, better known as Malabu oil deal.

The MTEF’s crude oil production, benchmark and exchange rate projections for 2017 did not receive the full backing of members.

The government plans to spend over N7tn next year, but revenue projection is around N4.9tn, a figure that also accommodates a huge deficit.

The Majority Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, while leading the debate, urged his colleagues to accept the projections.

Gbajabiamila argued that a sudden rise in oil price by about $20 in the past few days suggested that the government could sustain a benchmark of $42.5 proposed in the MTEF.

He also stated that ongoing negotiations between the government and militants in the Niger Delta were indications that peace could return to the region to make the 2.2 million barrels’ daily production projection realisable.

But, other lawmakers called for a review of the projections.

For instance, the Chairman, Committee on Financial Crimes, Mr. Kayode Oladele, said the fact of oil price gaining extra $20 did not justify retaining $42.5 as the benchmark price for the 2017 budget.

He said the price could suddenly drop below $60 or $50, making whatever gains achieved useless.

Oladele said, “Let us look at the daily oil production of 2.2 million barrels; it has not been achieved this year and there are no signs that things will change.

“We can’t even rely on the $42.2 benchmark price because prices are likely to drop.”

Oladele also said the exchange rate of N290 to $1 was not sustainable, adding, “The market rate today is N490/$1, which makes the projection in the MTEF unrealistic.”

Another member, Mr. Shehu Garba, described the MTEF as a document that contained “so many illogical issues.”

“We cannot continue to use figures that are unrealistic. Which of the three exchange rates will be used for investment in Nigeria?” Garba queried.

The Minority Leader of the House, Mr. Leo Ogor, also faulted the MTEF and asked how the government planned to finance the budget deficit.

Ogor noted, “We have not achieved 2.2 million barrels per day of crude in the last five years. Then, there is the budget deficit. We are looking at a revenue of N4.9tn or so, but we want to spend more than N7tn.

“Where is the money going to come from to finance the budget?”

However, the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yussuff Lasun, advised members to downplay emphasis on the benchmark and the exchange rate, and focus more on the government’s plan to diversify the economy.

“What is more important to us is that this government is serious about diversifying the economy. Let us allow the government to use whatever proceeds from oil to diversify our economy,” Lasun said.

The document was later passed for second reading.

Speaking at the hearing on the OPL 245, Dogara recalled that efforts by successive governments to resolve the controversies had failed, making Nigeria to appear before the international community as a country that was not serious with its anti-corruption crusade.

However, he expressed confidence in the current administration to end the controversies.

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

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Concerns Mount Over Security as National Identity Card Issuance Shifts to Banks

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NIMC enrolment

Amidst the National Identity Management Commission’s (NIMC) recent announcement that the issuance of the proposed new national identity card will be facilitated through applicants’ respective banks, concerns are escalating regarding the security implications of involving financial institutions in the distribution process.

The federal government, in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS), introduced a new identity card with payment functionality, aimed at streamlining access to social and financial services.

However, the decision to utilize banks as distribution channels has sparked apprehension among industry stakeholders.

Mr. Kayode Adegoke, Head of Corporate Communications at NIMC, clarified that applicants would request the card by providing their National Identification Number (NIN) through various channels, including online portals, NIMC offices, or their respective banks.

Adegoke emphasized that the new National ID Card would serve as a single, multipurpose card, encompassing payment functionality, government services, and travel documentation.

Despite NIMC’s assurances, concerns have been raised regarding the necessity and security implications of introducing a new identity card system when an operational one already exists.

Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, President of the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, questioned the rationale behind the new General Multipurpose Card (GMPC), citing NIMC’s existing mandate to issue such cards under Act No. 23 of 2007.

Ogunbanjo highlighted the successful implementation of MobileID by NIMC, which has provided identity verification for over 15 million individuals.

He expressed apprehension about integrating the new ID card with existing MobileID systems and raised concerns about data privacy and unauthorized duplication of ID cards.

Moreover, stakeholders are seeking clarification on the responsibilities for card blocking, replacement, and delivery in case of loss or theft, given the involvement of multiple parties, including banks, in the issuance process.

The shift towards utilizing banks for identity card issuance raises fundamental questions about data security, privacy, and the integrity of the identification process.

With financial institutions playing a pivotal role in distributing sensitive government documents, there are valid concerns about potential vulnerabilities and risks associated with this approach.

As the debate surrounding the security implications of the new national identity card continues to intensify, stakeholders are calling for greater transparency, accountability, and collaboration between government agencies and financial institutions to address these concerns effectively.

The paramount importance of safeguarding citizens’ personal information and ensuring the integrity of the identity verification process cannot be overstated, especially in an era of increasing digital interconnectedness and heightened cybersecurity threats.

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Israeli President Declares Iran’s Actions a ‘Declaration of War’

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Israel Gaza

Israeli President Isaac Herzog has characterized the recent series of attacks from Iran as nothing short of a “declaration of war” against the State of Israel.

This proclamation comes amidst escalating tensions between the two nations, with Iran’s aggressive actions prompting serious concerns within Israel and the international community.

The sequence of events leading to Herzog’s grave assessment began with a barrage of 300 ballistic missiles and drones launched by Iran towards Israel over the weekend.

While the Israeli defense forces managed to intercept a significant portion of these projectiles, the sheer scale of the assault sent shockwaves through the region.

President Herzog’s assertion of war was underscored by Israel’s careful consideration of its response options and ongoing discussions with its global partners.

The gravity of the situation prompted the convening of the G7, where member nations reaffirmed their commitment to Israel’s security, recognizing the severity of Iran’s actions.

However, the United States, a key ally of Israel, took a nuanced stance. President Joe Biden conveyed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that, given the limited casualties and damage resulting from the attacks, the US would not support retaliatory strikes against Iran.

This position, though strategic, reflects a delicate balancing act in maintaining stability in the volatile Middle East region.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian cautioned against further escalation, emphasizing the potential for heightened tensions and provocative acts to exacerbate the situation.

In response to the escalating crisis, the Nigerian government issued a call for restraint, urging both Iran and Israel to prioritize peaceful resolution and diplomatic efforts to ease tensions.

This appeal reflects the broader international consensus on the need to prevent further escalation and mitigate the risk of a wider conflict in the Middle East.

As Israel grapples with the implications of Iran’s aggressive actions and weighs its response options, President Herzog reiterated Israel’s commitment to peace while emphasizing the need to defend its people.

Despite calls for restraint from global allies, Israel remains vigilant in safeguarding its security amidst the growing threat posed by Iran’s belligerent behavior.

The coming days are likely to be critical as Israel navigates the complexities of its response while international efforts intensify to defuse the escalating tensions between Iran and Israel.

The specter of war looms large, underscoring the urgency of diplomatic engagement and concerted efforts to prevent further escalation in the region.

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NIMC Announces Launch of Three National ID Cards to Boost Identity Management

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The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has unveiled plans to launch three new national identity cards.

These cards are aimed at providing improved access to government services and bolstering identification systems across Nigeria.

The three new national identity cards, as disclosed by Ayodele Babalola, the Technical Adviser, Media, and Communications to the Director-General of NIMC, will include a bank-enabled National ID card, a social intervention card, and an optional ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card.

Babalola explained that these cards are tailored to meet the diverse needs of Nigerian citizens while fostering greater participation in nation-building initiatives.

In an interview, Babalola outlined the timeline for the rollout of these cards, indicating that Nigerians can expect to start receiving them within one or two months of the launch, pending approval from the Presidency.

The bank-enabled National ID card, designed to cater to the middle and upper segments of the population, will offer seamless access to banking services within the specified timeframe.

Also, the National Safety Net Card will serve as a crucial tool for authentication and secure platform provision for government services such as palliatives, with a focus on the 25 million vulnerable Nigerians supported by current government intervention programs.

This initiative aims to streamline the distribution process and ensure efficient delivery of social services to those in need.

Furthermore, the ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card will provide an optional identity verification solution, facilitating cross-border interactions and promoting regional integration within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The announcement comes on the heels of NIMC’s collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS) to develop a multipurpose national identity card equipped with payment capabilities for various social and financial services.

This collaborative effort underscores the commitment of key stakeholders to foster innovation, cost-effectiveness, and competitiveness in service delivery.

Babalola stated that the new identity cards aim to address the need for physical identification, empower citizens, and promote financial inclusion for marginalized populations. With a target of providing these cards to approximately 104 million eligible applicants on the national identification number database by the end of December 2023, NIMC is poised to revolutionize the identity management landscape in Nigeria.

The implementation of these programs aligns with broader efforts to drive digital transformation and improve access to essential services for all Nigerians.

Babalola highlighted the multifaceted benefits of the new identity cards, including their potential to uplift millions out of poverty by facilitating access to government social programs and financial services.

While the launch date is set tentatively for May pending presidential approval, NIMC remains committed to finalizing the necessary details to ensure a smooth rollout of the new identity cards.

The introduction of these cards represents a significant step forward in NIMC’s mission to provide secure and reliable identity solutions that empower individuals and contribute to the socio-economic development of Nigeria.

Efforts to reach Kayode Adegoke, the Head of Corporate Communications at NIMC, for further insights on the initiative were unsuccessful at the time of reporting.

As Nigeria gears up for the launch of these innovative identity cards, stakeholders express optimism about the potential positive impact on identity management, financial inclusion, and socio-economic development across the country.

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