- Frivolity, Duplications May Mar Budget Plans
With considerations for the 2017 budget proposals about to begin by the National Assembly, the civil society groups and experts have said that the expected change in the economy may not be realised with the level of duplications and frivolity in the fiscal plan.
They also overviewed the national budgeting processes and its implementations, maintaining that the major traditions that have impinged on performance remain at large.
The consequence will be that while the economy continues to battle the recession, hopes that the 2017 budget will make the difference in ensuring growth and improved well-being of the citizenry have dimmed further.
At the just concluded 2017 Civil Society Summit on Federal Budget in Abuja, the Lead Director of the Centre for Social Justice, Eze Onyekpere, said from sustained late budget preparation, presentation, litany of questionable items in the document to return of oil as major revenue earner mean that nothing has been learned and changed.
“Government must resolve the contradiction between its mantra of cutting down waste, improving efficiencies and removing ghost workers from the payroll and the present rising recurrent non-debt expenditure in 2017 budget.
“Recurrent non-debt expenditure got N2.59 trillion in 2015 and moved up to N2.65 trillion in 2016. Now it has gone up to N2.98 trillion. These increments cannot be the sign of a system that is taking steps to remove waste and inefficiencies,” he said.
Dr. Olalekan Obademi of the Faculty of Business Administration, University of Lagos, noted that there are assessed repetitions, frivolities and ambiguous terms in the 2017 budget, which could aid corruption and non-performance, pointing the Women Affairs Ministry’s proposal.
This observation has been a recurring issue over the years, while Nigerians had expected that these would have been part of the “change” administration.
For example, “Salaries and Wages” appeared twice, with N737.67 million each, followed by “Salary” with the same amount. Others include “Purchase of Residential Building at N30 million, Purchase of Surveying Equipment at N34.5 million, among others.
But in a swift reaction’ the Director-General of Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, refuted the assertion, saying that such repetitions have been done away with and any such trace could only be in the former document presented, not the one currently being considered by the National Assembly.
He expressed the hope that 2017 budget will surely return the economy to growth path, assuring that the projections are based on research, consultations and outlook that has been affirmed by global financial institutions.
According to him, government has stepped up it strategies to engage militancy in the oil rich Niger Delta, as a way to realize production targets, adding that it was the same issue that affected Nigeria revenue target and budget implementation in 2016.
Again, Dr. Uzochukwu Amakom of the Institute for Development Studies, University of Nigeria, queried the rationale for the allocation of more than N1.33 trillion to the budget ministry.
He said it is startling to have N901.2 billion recurrent expenditure and N426.3 billion capital expenditure in a ministry that is more of service offering, than project execution and demanded a clear explanation to Nigerians.
Represented by Dr. David Agu, the economist also raised concern that fiscal information flow is slow, as he noted that there is no clear direction on what happens to funds on excess crude earnings in the budget.
“The proposed budget contained an inflation estimate of 12.92 per cent. Even though this looks realistic, there are pertinent issues. First, the gap between recurrent and capital expenditure in the 2017 budget is enough to trigger inflation.
“The budget has about 30 per cent as its total capital expenditure while the rest are distributed among non-debt recurrent, recurrent and statutory transfers. The proposed recurrent expenditure of 2017 budget is enough to trigger,” he said.
Also, the Fiscal Responsibility Commission has reiterated its concern for late budget, which it said should be approved before January 1 of every year to enable it run a full term and not in the present broken form.
The commission also decried the way some aspects of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework had to be reviewed to capture present realities in the system, even after the proposal was submitted to the lawmakers by the President.
The Head of Monitoring and Evaluation, FRC, Ola Tijani, who spoke for the commission, said government has laid a foundation for recovery and growth with the budget, adding that implementations of the proposals which have been the bane of successive regimes are the concerns.
He admitted that inflation and unemployment have been rising and that government needs to do more than riding the traditional rope of engaging every sector into action.
“I am also afraid that a lot of funds will be going into Service-Wide votes this year. One would have expected a tight budget where there should not be such avenues of funding frivolities. The moment there is any window for free funds, we have already devised means of free spending,” he said.
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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