- 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.
Zabarmari Massacre: Buhari to Provide More Resources for the Nigerian Military
President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to provide more resources to the military in the aftermath of the Zabarmari massacre.
On Saturday, Boko Haram killed 43 people with around 70 people still missing in Zabarmari, a village in Borno State.
Reacting to the massacre, Buhari, through his official Twitter handle @MBuhari said “Nothing is more important than ensuring the security of lives and property of Nigerians. Everything is secondary when security is at stake. I will ensure that more resources are made available to the military and other security agencies to prosecute the war against terrorism.
“As we mourn all the lives lost in Zabarmari, the Armed Forces have been given the marching order to take the fight to the insurgents, not on a one-off, but on a continuous basis, until we root out the terrorists.
“We will intensify our cooperation with neighbouring countries on bilateral and multilateral levels, to ensure that there is no hiding place for the terrorists.
“As I noted earlier, the massacre by Boko Haram in Zabarmari is nothing short of senseless, barbaric, gruesome and cowardly. It reinforces our resolve to root out all forms of insurgency and insecurity not just in Borno but everywhere across Nigeria.”
Boko Haram Kills Rice Farmers in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria
Rice farmers were killed on Saturday morning in the Northeast Nigeria by suspected Islamist militants, Boko Haram, according to a Reuters Report.
The report also noted that 30 of the people killed were beheaded while over a dozen others were still missing.
However, resident of the Zambarmari Village where the attacks took place said a total of 70 people were feared dead.
Another resident and Amnesty International were quoted as saying at least 10 women were among those missing.
In another statement by Edward Kallon, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, it was armed men on motorcycles that led the brutal attack on civilians harvesting their fields.
“Armed men on motorcycles led a brutal attack on civilian men and women who were harvesting their fields,” Edward Kallon stated.
“At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack,” he added, noting that several women are believed to have been kidnapped.
“The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice,” Kallon said.
On Sunday, Governor Babaganan Umara Zulum of Borno State, who was at the burial told journalists that at least 70 farmers were killed on Saturday.
The Governor, therefore, called on the Federal Government to recruit more Civilian Joint Task Force members, Soldiers and civil defence fighters to protect farmers in the region.
He added that people are facing desperate choices.
“In one side, they stay at home they may be killed by hunger and starvation, on the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents,” he said.
In The Fight Against Corruption, No Individual is Bigger Than The State – Buhari
In response to the suspended acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, President Muhammed Buhari, lamented that the anti-corruption war becomes endangered “when persons entrusted with the responsibility of that magnitude become suspects themselves.”
Buhari, whose vision is to put an end to corruption in Nigeria, believed that every aspect of the nation’s life is enshrined in corruption and it’s of major concern when leaders of institutions saddled with the mandate to fight the menace are found in the waves of the corruption they claimed to be fighting.
This act is a great abomination not only because it strikes at the root but it also trivialises and undermines the anti-corruption crusade itself, the President explained.
He further said that in a bid to put an end to this great abomination, he had set up Ayo Salami Panel to unravel the mystery behind the mystique of Magu’s alleged involvement in corruption that his administration is fighting.
Buhari said that his administration is ready and willing to go all out in the fight against corruption, and no one is too big nor above the law to become a victim of anti-graft’s sledgehammer.
The president said, “However, the stark reality of widespread corruption becomes poignant when allegations of corruption touch on the leadership of an institution set up by law to coordinate and enforce all economic and financial crimes.
“It is an abomination that strikes at the root and undermines the government’s anti-corruption programme.
“It was in response to the serious allegations against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that I set up a panel headed by the Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami, retired President of the Court of Appeal, via an Instrument dated 3rd July 2020 pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004).
“We recognise that there are more grounds to cover in the war against corruption, and we are prepared to go out to possess those lands by cutting off any stream that nourishes the seed of corruption and supports its growth.
“Let it be known that in the fight against corruption, no one is too big to tackle, as no individual is bigger than the Nigerian State!”
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