- Presidency Budgets N100m to Purchase Bullet Proof Tyres
The ongoing budget defence in the National Assembly yesterday revealed how in contrast to general beliefs about President Muhammadu Buhari’s perceived frugal lifestyle, the State House has since last year been spending whopping sums of money to purchase printed tyres, otherwise known as bullet proof tyres.
Against this backdrop, the Presidency has planned to spend about N100 million for the purchase of same tyres as contained in 2017 budget.
The disclosure which appeared to be coming to public knowledge for the first time, was shocking to some watchers at the meeting who wondered why presidency officials should be using bullet proof tyres in the face of biting economic recession.
Making the disclosure while defending the 2017 budget of the State House before the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-governmental Affairs, Permanent Secretary, State House, Jalal Arabi, said the N100 million budgeted for printed tyres this year was only 50 per cent lower than what was budgeted in 2016.
“Another area of interest Mr. chairman, distinguished senators is the purchase of tyres, a total sum of N94.5 million is proposed for 2017, representing 50 percent of actual sought for the 2016. This will hope will address the shortfalls and complement the requirements of this sector which are mostly printed tyres procured at exorbitant prices. Mr. chairman, some of the tyres being purchased are bulletproof and hence, constitute the bulk of the budget cost.
“Let me re-emphasise Mr. chairman that the state house has been consistent and indeed conservative in the budget estimates as we are always mindful of our current challenges in the areas of revenue generation over the years,” he said.
Jalabi, who however, disclosed that only paltry sums of the total budget for 2016 was released, said the State House only got N46 million capital release throughout the year adding that of N2.4 billion budgeted for State House Clinic in 2016, only 800 million, representing 30 per cent of the budget was released.
He said the poor releases had resulted in various hiccups and debt accumulation in the Presidential Villa including huge indebtedness to electricity providers. According to him, N319.6 million has been budgeted in 2017 to upset electricity bills owed by the Villa.
“A sum of N45.3 million only was approved in the 2016 budget for this purpose. Suffice it to inform that the State House electricity bill for 2016 alone as forwarded by Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) for state House Abuja was N252 milliom with another outstanding liabilities of over N300 million for state House, Lagos facilities.
“Clearly the provision in the 2016 budget could not accommodate this. It may interest Committee to note in 2016, it took the management of the State House the installation of meters to ensure proper billing and that was what reduced the bill to a reasonable figure. However, since these bills are currently subject ofreconciliations, we have made a modest provision for sum of N319.6 million for 2017 to settle current and part of outstanding bills,” he said.
He also disclosed that the Villa owed an accumulated bill of N52.8 million sewage charges.
“There is a proposal for the sum of N52.8 million in the 2017 budget. The Committee may wish to be informed that the bills received from Abuja Environment Protection Board (AEPB) for liquid waste disposal for the state House for 2016 is in figure sum of N15.6 million with outstanding liabilities of previous years standing at N37.5 million (totaling N52.8m).
This figure has remained consistent over the years.
“This informed the provision of the same figure amount in the sum of N52.8 million in 2017. This position was the same sought for in our 2016 proposal but only paltry sum of N6.1 million was appropriated. We have however, commenced negotiation with AEPB in order to arrive at a mutually acceptable charges henceforth,” he added.
The situation however, irritated the committee which said it was unfortunate that the State House which it described as the symbol of the nation’s sovereignty and authority could be brought into such disrepute by owing sewage and electricity bills.
African Union Holds Global Conference to Accelerate African Vaccine Development and Manufacturing Capacity
African leaders assembled at a global meeting to discuss the status of local pharmaceutical manufacturing on the continent, underscored the need to increase local production of vaccines and therapeutics to achieve greater public-health security.
“The production of vaccines and access to vaccines is an absolute priority,” Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, said Monday in opening remarks at the start of the two-day virtual meeting, convened by the African Union.
The meeting was attended by several African heads of state, health, finance and trade ministers from across the continent, as well as officials from global financial institutions, foundations, pharmaceutical manufacturers, business leaders, and the general public. The African Development Bank was represented by Solomon Quaynor, Vice President Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization.
Although Africa consumes approximately one-quarter of global vaccines by volume, it manufactures less than 1% of its routine vaccines, with almost no outbreak vaccine manufacturing in place. The region lags behind in procuring vaccines amid a global scramble for the medicines among wealthier nations. Thus far, only around 2% of the world’s vaccination against Covid-19 has taken place in Africa.
The need for a new public health order in Africa, which promotes domestic vaccine manufacturing, epidemic preparedness and upgraded healthcare systems to meet the needs of the world’s fastest-growing population, was the conference’s main objective.
The African Union and the Africa CDC said they would continue to work with all stakeholders to identify implementable actions, financing needs and timelines to competitively produce vaccines in Africa.
Quaynor noted that the current undertaking would require immense investment. “Vaccine manufacturing, because of its complexity, is not really an entrepreneurial drive but actually an institutional drive,” he added.
The African Development Bank is working with global and African stakeholders, to articulate a 2030 vision for Africa’s Pharmaceutical Industry in response to several calls received from African Heads of State, who have expressed a strong political will. This vision aligns with its “industrialize Africa” priority strategy.
The vision will build on previous efforts to produce a continental plan of action to boost local African pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, such as the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa adopted in Abuja in January 2005 and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA), prepared by the African Union Commission and the United Nations in 2012, to assist local manufacturers with pharmaceutical production.
Quaynor said Africa could count on the African Development Bank’s support to secure Africa’s health defense system. “Leveraging on our comparative advantages, we will both provide upstream support to governments on the enabling environment, as well as provide financing to private sector and PPPs both indirectly through some of our private equity investee funds and directly through lending, and credit and risk guarantees. We will also use the Africa Investment Forum to bring in all relevant stakeholders and partner DFIs into bankable opportunities…”
The 2030 vision for Africa’s pharmaceutical industry would also work with pharmaceutical industry associations in Africa to create capacity development links between universities and industry in Africa, and work with African scientists in the diaspora, Quaynor said in remarks made on behalf of African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina.
ITF, Nigerian Air Force, Others, Sign MOU To Advance Research
The Industrial Training Fund, ITF has signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, and Equipment and Protective Application International Limited to establish the framework that will give room for optimal performance as well as enhance productivity.
The Director General, Industrial Training Fund, Sir Joseph Ari while speaking at the NAF headquarters in Abuja, said the MOU will be pursued with vigour and all the seriousness it deserves so that greater success would be the catalyst that will drive their intentions.
He explained that over the years, ITF had redirected its focus on technical, vocational training and education noting that developed nations are where they are today because of the initiative.
According to him, “even here in Abuja, we have a model of a skills training centre and the model was brought in from the Singaporean experience of the institute for technical education and services of Singapore”.
“We brought a semblance of it here to experience with five trade areas, Mechatronics and Autotronics, Computer Networking, ICT, Facility Technology as well as culinary in both African and Western cuisine is right there in the heart of Abuja in the ITF house, it is like a university”.
“The ITF is well positioned to work hand in hand with the Nigerian Air Force,” he said
The ITF boss added; “I must say that the Chief of Air Staff has a lot of foresight with his men to think about this Memorandum of Understanding because I deed, ITF is where you should be”.
“The ITF came into contact with the Nigerian Air Force even though a lot of the officers of the Air Force might have participated in its programmes in the past and since then I have noticed that NAF has not relented in its efforts to equipped it’s workforce and also upgrade and retrain its people,” Sir Ari added.
He also commended the men and officers of the NAF for their sacrifice in keeping the nation safe.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal, Oladayo Amao said the Nigerian Air Force has a highly technical Service and technology is the bedrock of all its operations.
Represented by the Chief of Standards and Evaluation, Air Vice Marshal, Olusegun Philip, Amao noted that in line with the focus of the Federal Government in promoting indigenous technology, the Nigerian Air Force has been looking inwards to gradually wean itself of overdependence on foreign technology and to become more innovative and resourceful.
“Therefore, in order to advance the Nigerian Air Force’s Research and Development efforts, we have deemed it necessary to formally collaborate with indigenous organizations through the signing of Memorandum of Understanding,” Amao stated.
“These collaborative efforts provide pedestals to leapfrog capability as well as a repertoire of capabilities that can be harnessed”.
“The collaborative efforts also provide platforms to synergise ideas for innovations that are key to achieving meaningful results to solve the technological challenges we currently face in a cost effective manner,” he said.
The Managing Director, Equipment and Protective Application International Limited, Engineer, Kola Balogun however, assured that the MOU entered would be for the overall economic benefit and development of the nation.
SERAP Urges FG to Slash Politicians’ Allowances
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Chairman of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Elias Mbam, to urgently review upward the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for Nigerian Judges, and reduce the remuneration of President Muhammadu Buhari and other political office-holders in order to address the persistent poor treatment of Judges, and improve access of victims of corruption to justice.
The appeal came on the heels of a nationwide industrial action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government, and the federal government silence on the judiciary workers’ strike that has grounded court activities across the country.
In a letter dated April 10, 2021, which was signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said Judges should get all they are reasonably entitled to, and that it is unfair, illegal, unconstitutional, and discriminatory to continue to treat Judges as second-class people, while high-ranking political office holders enjoy lavish salaries and allowances.
SERAP expressed concern that the remuneration and allowances of Judges have fallen substantially behind the average salaries and allowances of political office-holders such as president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as members of the National Assembly.
The letter read in part: “According to our information, the last review of the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for political, public and judicial office holders carried out by RMAFC in 2009 shows huge disparity between the remuneration and allowances of judges and those of political office holders.
“Judges’ work is very considerable but they cannot give their entire time to their judicial duties without the RMAFC reviewing upward their remuneration and allowances, and closing the gap and disparity between the salaries of judges and those of political office holders such as the president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as lawmakers.
“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the RMAFC to comply with our requests.”
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