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2018 Budget Faces Fresh Threats from N/Assembly

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  • 2018 Budget Faces Fresh Threats from N/Assembly

Members of the House of Representatives are demanding increased funding of the 2017 budget as a condition for treating the 2018 budget expected to be presented to the National Assembly on November 7 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Lawmakers have generally assessed the funding of the budget, particularly the capital component, as “poor and far from encouraging.”

Investigations showed that very dear to the hearts of the members were their zonal intervention projects, which have so far been neglected by the Executive.

There is a provision of about N100bn in the budget for the zonal intervention projects of members of the National Assembly.

However, checks revealed that the releases so far made did not cover the zonal projects.

One source stated, “Nothing has been released for the constituency projects of members. These people are politicians and elections are not far away.

“They have to present something to their people as dividends of democracy to guarantee some votes at the next polls. If the zonal projects are not funded, there will be setbacks for the 2018 budget.”

Another top official of the legislature also said that it was unlikely that members would approve the 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper, which must be done before touching the 2018 budget.

The official explained, “You know that the MTEF is a requirement of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.

“Without the approval of the MTEF, there will be no new budget. So, let the executive wake up.”

The Federal Government plans to spend N8.60tn in 2018. While work is progressing on next year’s budget, the 2017 budget of N7.441tn is still running until May 2018.

However, members are worried over the slow releases of funds for the current budget.

For instance, out of the N2.2tn budgeted for capital projects in the 2017 budget, only N336bn has been released till date.

Findings further revealed that out of the N336bn, the Ministry of Power/Works/Housing got the highest allocation of N90bn.

The Ministry of Defence got N71bn; Ministry of Transportation, N30bn; Agriculture, N30bn; and Water Resources, N12bn.

All other sectors, combined, received a total sum of N103bn, bringing the grand total to N336bn.

Asked to comment on the development, the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, said members wished the funding of the budget was sped up.

“They (the executive) have done some releases, but it can be better. What we notice is that some ministries and agencies are well-funded, but many others have no money at all. So, let them spread the releases so that all the agencies can begin to work on capital projects,” Namdas stated.

But, he declined to speak on the threat by members not to touch the 2018 budget if their zonal projects were not funded.

On whether the country would run two budgets concurrently from January 2018, assuming a new budget is added to the one of 2017, Namdas replied that the budget known to law “for now is the 2017 budget.”

He also explained that receiving the 2018 budget from the President did not mean that it would be passed the next day.

“We are still implementing 2017 budget. If the 2018 one comes, it will take some period to pass it. It will not start running immediately.

“So, in actual sense, it is 2017 that will be running, while work is in progress on 2018’s.

“I am certain that by the time it will be passed and signed into law, the period left for 2017 will be almost negligible,” he added.

The Leader of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, had while speaking with reporters after a meeting with President Buhari on Thursday said the early passage of the 2018 budget would depend on the time it was submitted by the executive and what the budget contained.

He further explained that federal lawmakers would not pass the budget by December 31st “at all cost.”

Lawan said although it was the desire of all stakeholders that the bill was passed latest by December 31, he and his colleagues in the National Assembly were determined to do a thorough job.

The Senate leader said, “It (passing the budget by December 31) depends on how it goes. You know we are supposed to be working for the same people of Nigeria and we will like to see the National Assembly working with the executive arm of government.

“You know these things will be determined by what the budget looks like, the estimates presented to us, because naturally, we always try to do a very thorough job, a very patriotic job to ensure that the budget is implementable, to ensure there is equity, fairness, and justice in the distribution of projects across the country.”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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NIMC Announces Launch of Three National ID Cards to Boost Identity Management

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The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has unveiled plans to launch three new national identity cards.

These cards are aimed at providing improved access to government services and bolstering identification systems across Nigeria.

The three new national identity cards, as disclosed by Ayodele Babalola, the Technical Adviser, Media, and Communications to the Director-General of NIMC, will include a bank-enabled National ID card, a social intervention card, and an optional ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card.

Babalola explained that these cards are tailored to meet the diverse needs of Nigerian citizens while fostering greater participation in nation-building initiatives.

In an interview, Babalola outlined the timeline for the rollout of these cards, indicating that Nigerians can expect to start receiving them within one or two months of the launch, pending approval from the Presidency.

The bank-enabled National ID card, designed to cater to the middle and upper segments of the population, will offer seamless access to banking services within the specified timeframe.

Also, the National Safety Net Card will serve as a crucial tool for authentication and secure platform provision for government services such as palliatives, with a focus on the 25 million vulnerable Nigerians supported by current government intervention programs.

This initiative aims to streamline the distribution process and ensure efficient delivery of social services to those in need.

Furthermore, the ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card will provide an optional identity verification solution, facilitating cross-border interactions and promoting regional integration within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The announcement comes on the heels of NIMC’s collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS) to develop a multipurpose national identity card equipped with payment capabilities for various social and financial services.

This collaborative effort underscores the commitment of key stakeholders to foster innovation, cost-effectiveness, and competitiveness in service delivery.

Babalola stated that the new identity cards aim to address the need for physical identification, empower citizens, and promote financial inclusion for marginalized populations. With a target of providing these cards to approximately 104 million eligible applicants on the national identification number database by the end of December 2023, NIMC is poised to revolutionize the identity management landscape in Nigeria.

The implementation of these programs aligns with broader efforts to drive digital transformation and improve access to essential services for all Nigerians.

Babalola highlighted the multifaceted benefits of the new identity cards, including their potential to uplift millions out of poverty by facilitating access to government social programs and financial services.

While the launch date is set tentatively for May pending presidential approval, NIMC remains committed to finalizing the necessary details to ensure a smooth rollout of the new identity cards.

The introduction of these cards represents a significant step forward in NIMC’s mission to provide secure and reliable identity solutions that empower individuals and contribute to the socio-economic development of Nigeria.

Efforts to reach Kayode Adegoke, the Head of Corporate Communications at NIMC, for further insights on the initiative were unsuccessful at the time of reporting.

As Nigeria gears up for the launch of these innovative identity cards, stakeholders express optimism about the potential positive impact on identity management, financial inclusion, and socio-economic development across the country.

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Nigeria Launches New National ID Card to Enhance Access to Social and Financial Services

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The Federal Government of Nigeria has announced the launch of a National Identity Card with integrated payment and social service functionalities.

This initiative, spearheaded by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS), aims to provide Nigerians with a single, multifunctional card that combines identification, payment, and access to various government and private sector services.

The new National ID card backed by the NIMC Act No. 23 of 2007 is poised to become the country’s default identity card, serving as a tangible proof of identity for citizens and legal residents alike.

With features aligned with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, including a Machine-readable Zone (MRZ) and biometric authentication capabilities, the card offers robust security and verification mechanisms.

One of the most significant aspects of the new ID card is its payment functionality. Cardholders will have the ability to link their cards to bank accounts, enabling them to conduct debit and prepaid transactions seamlessly.

This feature is expected to enhance financial inclusion efforts, particularly for the unbanked and underbanked populations in Nigeria.

Also, the card will grant holders access to a wide range of government interventions programs, including travel, health insurance, microloans, agriculture initiatives, food subsidies, transport benefits, and energy subsidies.

By consolidating these services onto a single platform, the government aims to streamline administrative processes and improve service delivery efficiency.

To ensure widespread accessibility, the NIMC has outlined various channels for obtaining the new ID card, including online applications, commercial banks, participating agencies, and NIMC offices nationwide.

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New York City Hit by 4.8 Magnitude Earthquake

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New York City, famously known as the “city that never sleeps” was hit by a 4.8 magnitude earthquake.

The tremors reverberated through the towering skyscrapers and bustling suburbs as it sent shockwaves across the densely populated metropolitan area and left residents feeling shaken.

The earthquake, with its epicenter approximately 45 miles west of New York City and 50 miles north of Philadelphia, caught many off guard.

Reports indicate that over 42 million people across the Northeast region may have felt the midmorning quake with reports coming in from as far as Baltimore to Boston and beyond.

The impact of the earthquake was not confined to mere tremors; it resulted in significant damage to several multifamily homes in Newark, New Jersey, displacing nearly 30 residents.

Officials immediately sprang into action, conducting checks on bridges and other major infrastructure to assess any potential structural damage.

Flights were diverted or delayed, Amtrak slowed trains throughout the busy Northeast Corridor, and a Philadelphia-area commuter rail line suspended service as a precautionary measure.

The experience was unsettling for many New Yorkers, with some likening it to the sensation of an explosion or construction accident.

Shawn Clark, an attorney working on the 26th floor of a midtown Manhattan office, described it as “pretty weird and scary,” echoing the sentiments of many who felt the earth move beneath them.

Aftershocks were reported hours later in a central New Jersey township, causing additional concern and producing reports of damage and items falling off shelves, according to Hunterdon County Public Safety Director Brayden Fahey.

The disruption caused by the earthquake extended beyond immediate safety concerns. Cellphone circuits were overloaded as people tried to reach loved ones, and phones blared with earthquake-related notifications during the New York Philharmonic’s morning performance, adding an unexpected twist to the day’s events.

Even as the seismic event rattled New York City, residents and officials alike drew comparisons to past earthquakes, particularly the memorable tremor of August 23, 2011. Registering a magnitude of 5.8, it was the strongest quake to hit the East Coast since World War II, leaving lasting impressions on those who experienced it.

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