- 2017 Budget Faces Fresh Hurdle At National Assembly
Legislators have delayed forwarding the 2017 budget to the presidency for assent after allegations of illegal alterations were raised by some members yesterday, according to a Daily Trust report.
The two chambers of National Assembly passed the budget Thursday after several months of delay.
However, it was gathered that the allegations are already creating ripples among some senators.
Many of them are said to be calling for the document to be properly scrutinised and the illegal insertions weeded out before it is presented to the presidency for assent.
Accusing fingers are being pointed at the Senate works committee as being responsible for the alterations lately discovered in the budget.
The committee is headed by Kabiru Gaya (APC, Kano) who is said to be outside the country at the moment and therefore could not be reached for comment.
Some senators claim projects approved for their constituencies are now missing in the budget just passed by the National Assembly.
Senators are also piqued that the works committee inserted into the budget projects for Trunk B and Trunk C roads which are entirely the responsibilities of the states and local governments.
“I know of some senators that have complained bitterly about it. He (Gaya) inserted even local governments’ roads in the budget. There are instances that state roads were also inserted. How can one do that? Those roads are the exclusive rights of states and local governments.
“Again, some senators complained that he tempered with their proposals for federal road projects domiciled in their senatorial districts. This is something that they’re already looking at even at the Senate level before forwarding the document to the Executive for assent,” a source familiar with the matter said yesterday.
“This is what is delaying the budget submission. But besides that, the National Assembly needs to have a clean copy without mistakes before sending it to the Executive,” the source added.
When our correspondents sought to know if the same challenge obtains in the House of Representatives, the source said no.
Another source said hopefully, all issues would be resolved within this week and a clean copy transmitted to the acting president for assent.
One lawmaker said House members were currently discussing a new sharing formula for constituency projects adopted by the leadership of the House of Reps, which surrendered N5 billion, out of its traditional N20bn, to the rest of members.
This, he said, could bring about further delays.
“You know they (leadership) used to take N20bn, but this time around they took only N15bn and left N5bn for members. So, the sharing formula is still being handled to avoid any rancour among members,” the lawmaker said.
The spokesperson of the Senate, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger) was unavailable for comments as he was said to be attending a meeting last night when our correspondent called him.
Attempts to get reaction of the House spokesman, Abdulrazak Namdas (APC, Adamawa), were not successful as he was said to be away in South Africa for a Pan-African Parliament assignment.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, also confirmed the budget had not been transmitted to the executive.
“It is not yet transmitted but I’m in contact with the National Assembly authorities and management. They have confirmed that they are certifying page by page of the document. It will be ready within a very short period, “he said in a phone interview.
Osinbajo meets ministers, Emefiele over budget funding
Meanwhile, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday convened a meeting of the National Economic Management Team (NEMT) to review the 2017 budget.
This is even as the details of the budget, passed by the National Assembly on Thursday, are yet to be transmitted to the executive.
The lifespan of the 2016 budget has since May 5 come to an end.
Our correspondent learnt that the meeting, which was held at the Vice President’s wing of the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja, discussed the funding of the passed 2017 budget.
The National Economic Management Team, headed by Osinbajo, is the Federal Government’s think-thank responsible for the formulation of the nation’s economic policy direction.
The National Assembly had jerked up the 2017 budget from N7.298 trillion earlier proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari last December to N7.441 trillion. They also raised the proposed oil benchmark from $42.5 to $44.5 per barrels.
Yesterday’s meeting was attended by Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun, Budget and National Planning Minister Udoma Udo Udoma, Trade Industry and Investment Minister Okechukwu Enalemah, Water Resources Minister Suleiman Adamu and Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jibrin.
Also in attendance were the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele as well as the directors-general of the Debt Management Office, the Budget Office of the Federation, the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council and the National Bureau of Statistics, among others.
A government official, who was at the meeting that lasted over three hours, told our correspondent that the session brainstormed on how to make funds available for the budget after the presidential assent.
The official, however, stressed that the Presidency was still awaiting official transmission of the budget from the National Assembly.
“The meeting discussed the funding of the 2017 budget. It is on how to make sure that once the budget is signed, the resources that will be utilised to fund it are available. The meeting also discussed how funds will be released.
“The budget is still in the National Assembly. We are still waiting for the formal transmission of the budget document that was passed last week,” the official said.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, also confirmed via Twitter that the meeting reviewed major issues including the 2017 budget.
Lawmakers Tensed Over Possible Boko Haram Attack On National Assembly
Lawmakers have been notified of a possible attack by Boko Haram insurgents on the National Assembly complex and other public buildings in Abuja, The media gathered.
Several members of the House of Representatives, on Wednesday, confirmed to Punch correspondent that they had been notified of the imminent attack by the terrorist group.
One of them, who is from a state in the South-West, said his presence would henceforth be limited on the premises.
“That is the security alert I saw today. I’m already moving out of here. I’ll only be around when there is a major reason to do so. Nowhere is safe in the country anymore,” he said.
Already the notice of the impending attack has been made available to the lawmakers.
The notice, a copy of which our correspondent obtained, was sent to the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, other principal officers and all members of the House.
The ‘security alert’, dated May 4, 2021, was issued by the Chairman of the House Committee on Internal Security, National Assembly, Mr. Usman Shiddi.
It was titled ‘Re: planned insurgent attacks on VIP locations, government facilities and assets in Abuja.’
The alert read, “I refer to the above subject of which a copy of the intelligence report from the Force Intelligence Bureau of the Nigeria Police Force in the National Assembly Complex has been made available to my office.
“The report indicates planned insurgent attacks by some elements of Boko Haram on some VIP locations, government facilities and assets in Abuja, including the National Assembly complex.
“In view of the above intelligence, I have considered it paramount to advise that all members should, henceforth, use the presidential gate for ingress and egress.
“This is to avoid the unforeseen congestions that are sometimes encountered at the main gates since such congestions could easily be the targets for these insurgent elements.
“Security agencies are, however, actively on top of the issue to unravel and to contain the intended menace. Accept the assurances of my highest regards, please.”
Security has been beefed up in and around the complex since Thursday last week.
For the first time, security operatives on that day checked vehicles entering the premises, causing traffic congestion especially at the third (and last) gate, a process that has continued to date.
Before now, the security operatives were only after the identities of drivers and passengers to confirm that they were staff members, legislative aides, journalists, or persons working in private businesses in the complex.
The media correspondent observed that soldiers joined the regular sergeants-at-arms and men of the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Services, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Federal Road Safety Corps that manned the gates.
Recall that the Governor of Niger State, Sani Bello, had on April 26, 2021, raised the alarm over Boko Haram terrorists taking over a part of the state, hoisting their flag in Kaure village from where they had made incursions into more than 50 villages.
Bello said Abuja was not safe, with Boko Haram’s presence in Kaure – a two-hour journey from the Federal Capital Territory.
He said, “I am confirming that there are Boko Haram elements here in Niger State. Here in Kaure, I am confirming that they have hoisted their flags here.”
The same day, Gbajabiamila had met with the President, Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, in company with the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa.
On the next day, the House held a long executive (closed-door) session to discuss the rising spate of insecurity across Nigeria, calling on Buhari to declare a state of emergency on security.
At the secret session that lasted over three hours, the lawmakers unanimously adopted a series of resolutions, one of which was that “the Federal Government should ensure the protection of national infrastructure and assets, particularly the Shiroro and Kainji Dams in Niger State.”
Lagos State Plans To Launch 500 Small New Buses Next Week
The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has promised to introduce 500 small new buses to the state by next week Thursday in a bid to provide alternatives to local motorcycles.
The Governor said this in a speech on Wednesday to mark the opening ceremony of the Lagos Architect Forum. The forum themed, ‘The City of Lagos: The Next Twenty Five Years’ was organised by the Nigerian Institute of Architects, Lagos chapter, at the Expo Hall of Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island.
The 4-day forum which will run till Saturday had in attendance other dignitaries including the Oniru of Iru Land, HRM Oba Abdulwasiu Omogbolahan Lawal; the Lagos State Chairman of the NIA, Arc. David Majekodunmi; SA to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Aramide Adeyoye; and the President-elect of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, Arc. Enyi Ben-Eboh.
In his speech, the governor noted the progress made in the T.H.E.M.E.S agenda and his vision for the Lagos master plan to ensure that Lagos becomes ‘Africa’s model megacity’ by 2050. Acknowledging the challenges in the transport sector, the Governor gave assurances on improving the various modes of transport including the roads, waterways and rail lines.
“For the waterways, we’re currently building 16 jetties and terminals. About seven of them should be ready before the end of the year; we have some that are already currently being used.
“All of them will not look as nice as the one at Falomo, but we want all of them to be comfortable. We have a fleet of almost 20 boats now each carrying 50, 60, 40 passengers. We want people to use the waterways which is why we’re investing in them,” Sanwo-Olu said.
On road and rail transport, Sanwo-Olu said the state would soon begin to operate 100 new high-capacity buses, with plans to launch 500 LASTMA small buses by next week Wednesday or Thursday as alternatives to okadas that don’t have enough passenger space. He also promised that one of either the blue or red rail lines will become operational by next year.
Presidency Warns Over Alleged Plot To Overthrow Buhari’s Administration Through Vote of No Confidence
The Presidency on Tuesday claimed it has evidence that reveals that certain “disruptive elements” are recruiting ethnic groups and politicians with the motive of convening conferences where a vote of no confidence will be passed on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari.
It said the purpose of the move was to further throw the country into turmoil.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement titled ‘Our response to DSS alert, by Presidency.’
Adesina was giving further insights into a recent claim by the Department of State Services that some people were planning to undermine the government and the nation’s sovereignty.
The presidential spokesman however said the present regime would keep the country together, even if some unruly feathers would be ruffled in the process.
He claimed that some disgruntled religious and past political leaders are behind the plans.
The statement read, “The Department of State Services on Sunday alerted on sinister moves by misguided elements to wreak havoc on the government, sovereignty and corporate existence of the country.
“Championed by some disgruntled religious and past political leaders, the intention is to eventually throw the country into a tailspin, which would compel a forceful and undemocratic change of leadership.
“Further unimpeachable evidence shows that these disruptive elements are now recruiting the leadership of some ethnic groups and politicians around the country, with the intention of convening some sort of conference, where a vote of no confidence would be passed on the President, thus throwing the land into further turmoil.
“The caterwauling, in recent times, by these elements, is to prepare the grounds adequately for their ignoble intentions, which are designed to cause further grief for the country.
“The agent provocateurs hope to achieve through artifice and sleight of hands, what they failed to do through the ballot box in the 2019 elections.
“Nigerians have opted for democratic rule, and the only acceptable way to change a democratically elected government is through elections, which hold at prescribed times in the country. Any other way is patently illegal and even treasonable. Of course, such would attract the necessary consequences.
“These discredited individuals and groups are also in cahoots with external forces to cause maximum damage in their own country. But the Presidency, already vested with mandate and authority by Nigerians till 2023, pledges to keep the country together, even if some unruly feathers would be ruffled in the process.”
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