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Budget Faces Hurdle as MDAs Fail to Provide Details

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  • Budget Faces Hurdle as MDAs Fail to Provide Details

The passage of the 2017 Appropriation Bill by the National Assembly has suffered a setback.

It was reliably gathered on Tuesday that the March 8 date set for the standing committees of both chambers of the National Assembly to submit their reports on the 2017 budget was no longer feasible.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives had suspended plenary for three weeks to conduct budget defence sessions for the government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

It was learnt that though the National Assembly resumed plenary on Tuesday, most of the standing committees had not been able to reconcile their figures with the MDAs under their oversight.

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, after a short plenary, met with other leaders of the chamber and chairmen of the committees.

At the meeting, it was gathered that majority of the chairmen complained that the estimates presented by the executive lacked details.

A dependable source, who was at the meeting, said apart from missing details, several chief executives of the MDAs failed to appear before the committees for budget defence.

The source said, “Most of the committees tabled various complaints. About 60 per cent of them complained that most MDAs did not provide details of their estimates. For instance, on the Social Intervention Fund of the Federal Government, a lump sum was mentioned for the welfare programme without critical details.

“If the government plans to stay N5,000 stipend to each poor Nigerian, we should know their total number and how many they are by geopolitical zones, states and local governments.

“There is also the issue of lack of adequate information on disbursement of funds. It will interest you to know that the Ministry of Finance was asked to go and bring certain missing details on Monday.”

The source further said that lawmakers also lamented that the Budget Office of the Federation and Debt Management Office were issuing conflicting figures, adding that the two offices seemed to be in conflict.

The source added, “Apart from these, there are issues such as non-appearance of the heads of the MDAs before the committees. Also, the executive seems not to have learnt from its mistakes in 2016. Again this year, there are still questionable provisions in the budget such as computers and generators, which had been catered for by the 2016 budget. Some Civil Society Organisations have also fished out some of such items.

“The lawmakers also mentioned massive shortfall in spending arising from the implementation of the 2016 budget. A lot of the MDAs could not give proper account of their budgetary spending last year.”

The source disclosed that Saraki gave the committees two more weeks to meet with the MDAs on the irregularities. This, he said, would be taken by the Senate as a “clean-up” exercise in the budget.

According to him, all the interface should be concluded by the end of February.

“But the success of the clean-up depends on the degree of cooperation from the MDAs,” the source noted.

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.

Government

COVAX Delivered 38m Vaccine Doses To Over 100 Countries, Says WHO

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday announced that more than 100 countries have received life-saving COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

It said the milestone comes 42 days after the first COVAX doses were shipped and delivered internationally, to Ghana on February 24th.

In a statement, the United Nations’ Agency revealed that COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers – AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII).

Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).

It, however, said despite reduced supply availability in March and April – the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimising their production processes in the early phase of the rollout, as well as increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India – COVAX expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.

According to the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr. Seth Berkley, “In under four months since the very first mass vaccination outside a clinical setting anywhere in the world, it is tremendously gratifying that the roll-out of COVAX doses has already reached 100 countries.

“COVAX may be on track to deliver to all participating economies in the first half of the year yet we still face a daunting challenge as we seek to end the acute stage of the pandemic: we will only be safe when everybody is safe and our efforts to rapidly accelerate the volume of doses depend on the continued support of governments and vaccine manufacturers. As we continue with the largest and most rapid global vaccine rollout in history, this is no time for complacency.”

The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “COVAX has given the world the best way to ensure the fastest, most equitable rollout of safe and effective vaccines to all at-risk people in every country on the planet.

“If we are going to realise this great opportunity, countries, producers and the international system must come together to prioritise vaccine supply through COVAX. Our collective future, literally, depends on it.”

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Approved Ibom Deep Sea Port, Proposed $1.4B Fertilizer Plant Will Change Akwa Ibom’s Economic Status – Gov. Udom

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Akwa Ibom State Government has said the approved Ibom Deep Seaport and the proposed $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia Plant are expected to change the economic status of the state.

The State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, made the assertion in an Easter message to the people of the state.

He maintained that with the recent approval and take off of the federal government’s approved Oil and Gas Free Zone and the ongoing construction of the Sterling Petrochemical Plant at Eastern Obolo, the state would be ready to dump its status as a civil service state.

The governor said the fertilizer and ammonia plants should be supported by all indegenes and residents irrespective of political affiliation because of its capacity to change the economic fortunes of the state.

The governor who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the industrial projects in the state said construction work on the Ibom Deep Seaport would commence very soon.

“In recent past, we have been blessed with life-changing projects such as Sterling Petrochemical Plant in Eastern Obolo, where construction is in an advanced stage.

“Two months ago, the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) approved the license for us to commence the construction of our long desired Ibom Deep Seaport. Work would soon commence on this gigantic project. These are huge achievements for our State and our people.

“Ibom Deep Seaport will open up our economic fortunes; create employment and wealth opportunities for our people and throw open our State as a major maritime hub in our nation.

“We thank the President and the Commander in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for this kind approval,” he said.

Continuing, Emmanuel said: “About three weeks ago, we signed a $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia plant with our Moroccan counterparts. The plant will again create huge employment and other supply chain activities for our people, which will transform us from a civil service oriented state to a fast industrialising one.

“These are huge achievements that should gladden the hearts of every Akwa Ibomite irrespective of political affiliations.”

He reminded the people of the state that the essence of Easter would be lost if the resurrection of Christ is not allowed to illuminate their souls through love and sacrifice to one another.

“Let the fishermen in the ocean fronts of Mbo, Okobo, Eastern Obolo and Ibeno love one another. Let the farmers in the rice plantations at Ini, Ikono, Ika, Onna and Nsit Ibom love one another.

“Let the civil servants and public servants, politicians in all political parties, members of all denominations, preachers of all faiths, love one another.

“When we let love drive our every action and every thought, when we let it drip from our lips and from our hands, then shall the joy of Easter be complete, and our State shall surely attain the lofty height set for it by our ancestors when they named it Akwa Abasi Ibom State.” the Governor stated.

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US Intelligence Says ISIS and Al-Qaeda Are Planning to Attack Southern Nigeria

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The United States has warned the Federal Government of Nigeria that Al-Qaeda and ISIS are planning to attack Southern Nigeria.

This was disclosed by Dagvin Anderson, the Commander of the US special operations command, Africa.

According to Dagvin Anderson, AlQaeda is planning to expand into the Southern part of Nigeria and other parts of West Africa.

He, however, said the US will continue to share intelligence with Nigeria.

We have engaged with Nigeria and continue to engage with them in intel sharing and in understanding what these violent extremists are doing,” he said.

And that has been absolutely critical to their engagements up in the Borno state and into an emerging area of northwest Nigeria that we’re seeing al-Qaeda starting to make some inroads in. 

“So, this intelligence sharing is absolutely vital and we stay fully engaged with the government of Nigeria to provide them with an understanding of what these terrorists are doing, what Boko Haram is doing, what ISIS-West Africa is doing, and how ISIS and al-Qaeda are looking to expand further south into the littoral areas. 

Anderson regretted that despite successes recorded in previous years, there has been a setback, adding: “We as a community of international nations, keep thinking we have defeated them or we have put them on their back foot and that they’re just moments from disintegration.” Anderson said for international efforts to yield desired results in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria, the government must take the lead. 

“When it comes to Nigeria in general, Nigeria, obviously, is a critical nation to West Africa. It is a critical nation and we realise that Nigeria is a lynchpin,” he said.

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