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Budget Padding: Tambuwal Backs Dogara, Jibrin Meets Police Panel

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Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal

There are strong indications that the Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, has thrown his weight behind the embattled Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, against his accuser, a former Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin.

It was gathered on Monday that the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Mr. Abdulrahman Kawu-Sumaila, was also supporting Dogara.

The moves by the governor and the President’s aide were said to have deepened the budget padding crisis in the House.

It was gathered that Tambuwal had been mobilising some members of the House from the North-West to support the Speaker.

A member of the House said, “It is an open secret that the Speaker is Tambuwal’s man. The Sokoto State governor was instrumental in the emergence of Dogara as the Speaker in 2015. He has not abandoned the man. He is mobilising members of the House for Dogara.”

It was learnt that although the Sokoto State governor had succeeded in convincing the North-West members of the House to support Dogara, the South-West members had, however, declined to support the Speaker.

Findings showed that members from the South-West had not forgotten the role Tambuwal played in the emergence of Dogara as the Speaker in June 2015, dumping Femi Gbajabiamila, the preferred candidate of the All Progressives Congress.

It was learnt that the budget crisis would have been resolved if the South-West members had signed the list of those who were ready to pass vote of confidence in Dogara.

Journalists gathered that most members from the zone, however, decided to be neutral by supporting neither Dogara nor Jubrin.

A chieftain of the party said, “You will recall that the South-West members of the party were instrumental in the emergence of Tambuwal as the Speaker in 2011. In 2015, when it was the time to show gratitude, he abandoned the zone.”

Investigations also showed that the relationship between Jibrin and Kawu-Sumaila had been frosty since the budget padding crisis started.

It was learnt that Jibrin, who accused Dogara of padding the budget, was not happy with Kawu-Sumaila because he thought that the presidential aide prevented him from meeting President Muhammadu Buhari.

The former appropriation committee chairman had in a statement on Sunday alleged that two governors and three former members of the House were blocking him from meeting the President.

A source said, “Jibrin feels that Kawu-Sumaila has been tactically supporting Dogara.”

Kawu-Sumaila, an All Progressives Congress ex-lawmaker from Kano State like Jibrin, had previously served as the Deputy Minority Leader of the House before becoming the SSA to Buhari.

Jibrin did not name the governors, but sources close to him were said to have named Kawu-Sumaila as one of the three former Reps.

“The point is that you could see Kawu-Sumaila with Dogara in the video as the Speaker addressed State House correspondents soon after he emerged from the meeting with the President,” one of close aides of Jibrin alleged.

Efforts to get the spokesman for Tambuwal, Imam Imam, to comment did not succeed, as his mobile phone rang out. He had yet to respond to a text message sent to his phone as of press time.

The Speaker’s Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, declined comment.

‘Jibrin didn’t request to see Buhari’

The Presidency on Monday deplored what it said were attempts by Jibrin to drag the President into the budget padding allegations.

It said Jibrin, as a lawmaker, should know the “protocol” on how to see Buhari, as against his recent insinuations that he had been blocked from seeing the President.

Kawu-Sumaila reacted amid insinuations that he was one of the “three former” members of the House of Representatives accused by Jibrin on Sunday to have “blocked” his efforts to see Buhari to state his own version of the budget scandal just like the Speaker did.

The SSA said there had “never” been a time Jibrin requested through his office to see Buhari that he was denied access.

He said, “The way he has been going about this issue is unfortunate. He is dragging the names of innocent people into it.

“He has not approached me that he wants to see the President. If he makes a request, I will facilitate it for him. He knows the protocol.”

Kawu-Sumaila said his role in Dogara’s meeting with Buhari was to act as a facilitator.

He said he neither participated in the meeting nor knew the outcome.

The SSA added, “When the Speaker wanted to see Mr. President, he told me.

“I did my part to facilitate it. I was waiting at the office while they met. I was not at the meeting with them.

“It was after the meeting ended and the Speaker came out that I saw him off.

“The same thing would have happened if Jibrin requested to see the President.”

Meanwhile, the meeting of the Transparency Group, which was believed to be behind Jibrin, scheduled for Monday to review their strategies, had yet to take place as of 6pm on Monday.

Key figures in the group, including Mr. Abubakar Chika-Adamu and Mr. Baballe Bashir, did not pick their calls when one of our journalists made efforts to get an update.

Baballe, who had disclosed on Sunday that the group would meet in Abuja on Monday, also failed to reply to text messages that one of our correspondents sent to his mobile phones.

Jibrin meets with police panel

Jibrin on Monday met with the police Special Investigation Panel on the budget padding crisis in the House.

It was gathered that during the meeting, which began at 12pm at the Force headquarters, Abuja, Jibrin submitted a large number of documents and other evidence to prove his allegations against the Speaker and the others he accused of padding the budget.

Sources told our correspondent that the lawmaker also promised to bring more documents that were germane to the investigation into the alleged insertions under constituency projects in the 2016 budget.

A source explained that the SIP, led by an Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Amodu Ali (retd.), received the documents with a promise to diligently study them.

The source said, “Jibrin came with documents which he handed over to the SIP on Monday. It was obvious that he was well prepared to establish his allegations against the leadership of the House. He promised to bring more documents during the week.”

It was learnt that the SIP had said it would take time to study the documents and other evidence before summoning the accused to defend themselves.

“This is a high-profile case, so, the SIP is not in a hurry to conclude it; members will take their time, carry out a forensic analysis of the evidence provided, conduct a thorough and diligent probe and by the time they are through, no one would be able to fault the report of the investigation,” another source stated.

Our correspondent gathered that Dogara’s posturing after his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Villa last Friday had initially confused police authorities who felt that he might have reached a political settlement with Buhari.

It was learnt that the Speaker’s statement that “budget padding is not an offence under the nation’s law” gave the public the impression that he and the President had agreed on the point.

Findings indicate that the investigation panel was later told not to get carried away by the Speaker’s publicised visit to the President, but must get to the root of the scandal.

The All Progressives Congress Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Timi Frank, in a statement in Abuja on Monday, said Jibrin would be punished for flouting the party’s order to cease public comments on the budget padding scandal in the House.

A letter addressed to Jibrin and signed by the APC Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawal Shuaibu, last Thursday, had asked Jibrin to stop making public comments or issuing public statements on the lingering budget scandal after the leadership of the party had intervened in the matter.

But Jibrin had, in 82 tweets on Sunday accused Dogara of colluding with some serving governors and ex-lawmakers to change media narrative against him

Frank accused Jibrin of lack of respect for the Shuaibu-led committee, which was working “tirelessly to resolve the crisis.”

The statement partly read, “It is now obvious how disrespectful and desperate Jibrin could be, even to the leaders of our party, which include the National Deputy Chairman, North; National Secretary, National Treasurer, and others who have been sleeplessly working to ensure that peace returns to the House.

“But if Jibrin does not have respect for Speaker Dogara as a person, it is expected of him to respect the Office of the Speaker, the number four citizen of our party and the country.

“Jibrin should also be told that he has clearly shown disrespect for President Muhammadu Buhari who is the leader of our party by this singular act.

“It is high time Jibrin kept quiet and stopped this public show of shame before his excesses would be made known to Nigerians and the whole world.”

Frank said Jibrin’s continued “show of shame” did not only affect the lawmaker, but had great negative impact on the party, its members and the Buhari-led government.

“He should be also aware that disobeying the party in this manner may attract sanction, if the party deems it fit,” Frank stated.

Jibrin had alleged that Dogara and three other principal officers requested the inclusion of N40bn projects in the 2016 budget, besides sundry projects in sums ranging from N20bn to N30bn.

The other three are the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Lasun Yussuff; the Chief Whip, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; and the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor.

He claimed that his refusal to oblige the four principal officers and his opposition to several financial infractions were responsible for his sacking by Dogara on July 20.

The House had said the allegations would be investigated internally by the committee on ethics and privileges after members would have reconvened on September 13 from their annual recess.

There had been claims and counterclaims of signature collection to pass a vote of confidence on Dogara or ask him to step down.

Jibrin had claimed that 250 members were backing the calls for Dogara to resign.

However, on Sunday, some members dismissed Jibrin’s figure and claimed that “80 per cent (288) of the lawmakers” were with Dogara.

None of the sides has made the acclaimed registers public.

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

Coronavirus – Angola: Confronting the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Oil Price Shock

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COVID-19 Vaccine

The COVID-19 pandemic and the shock from the falling price of oil have put severe pressure on Angola since the country’s second review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) in December 2019.

Only months after the conclusion of the second review in December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic reached Angola, ushering in economic and health crises. The decline in oil prices further strained the economy, which is heavily reliant on oil exports. The economic downturn and social distancing to contain the spread of the virus have been damaging, especially given the large informal sector.

A swift response to the crisis

The Angolan authorities adopted timely measures to tackle the challenges arising from the COVID-19 shock. Measures to protect public health included quarantine, social distancing, closing of borders with limited exceptions, closures of schools, restaurants, and public events, and limited transportation. The government recently approved a prudent supplementary budget for 2020 using a conservative oil reference price. It has also introduced a comprehensive set of fiscal and monetary measures to support economic activities.

Fiscal measures

On relief to help vulnerable people:

• Tax exemptions of value-added tax (VAT) and customs duties on goods imported under humanitarian aid and donations.

• VAT tax credit for imported capital goods and raw materials for producing essential consumption goods.

• Interest-free, deferred payment option for social security contributions.

• Regulation of prices for a list of medical goods.

On government spending:

• Freeze of 30 percent of purchases on nonessential goods and services.

• Reduction in the number of ministries from 28 to 21.

• Suspension of selected, nonessential capital expenditures.

• Decrease in travel and real estate investments.

Monetary measures

• Additional liquidity support to banks and a liquidity line to buy government securities from nonfinancial corporations.

• A credit-stimulus program.

• Temporary suspension for debt service payments.

• Requirement for banks to provide credit to importers of essential goods.

A proactive external debt management

The government needs to safeguard its ability to continue to service its debt on schedule, even under the current trying circumstances. The government has therefore availed itself of the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative. They have also secured selected debt reprofiling operations with some of their large creditors.

Financial support from the IMF

On September 16, 2020, the IMF’s Executive Board approved the third review under the EFF and additional financial support to Angola to help mitigate the impact of the crises. Accordingly, the IMF has provided $1 billion to Angola, bringing its total expected financial support to about $4.5 billion under the three-year program. The authorities are strengthening their public financial management to improve accountability for the funds received from the IMF and debt relief from creditors.

The path to recovery

It is important for Angola to continue to stabilize the economy, control inflation, keep the reform momentum, and safeguard financial stability. It is also crucial to persevere with structural reforms, such as privatization, improvement in governance in state-owned enterprises, and strengthened legal frameworks. These reforms will help improve the business environment and pave the way for foreign direct investment and growth-enhancing economic diversification.

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Republic of Korea Contributes Rice and Cash to Assist Ugandans threatened by locusts

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The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed 5,000 metric tons of rice and US$300,000 in cash from the Republic of Korea to provide much-needed relief assistance to 781,000 people including refugees and Ugandans threatened by locusts.

“WFP is extremely grateful for the continued generosity of the Republic of Korea since 2018 and its appreciation of the immense humanitarian needs in Uganda, which were suddenly made even more complicated by COVID-19,” said WFP Officer in Charge Ryan Anderson.

”This contribution of 5,000 metric tons of rice found us at a crossroads when we were considering whether to make deeper ration cuts for refugees because of a shortage of funding, even as we have evidence that they already face high food insecurity,” he added.

Combined with other contributions, the rice may allow WFP to maintain rations for 1.26 million refugees at the current 70 percent of a full ration for a while. Valued at US$4.3 million, it will also meet cereal needs of 614,000 refugees in seven settlements towards the end of the year.

The additional US$300,000 in cash will enable WFP to meet the relief needs of 167,000 people in the northeastern region of Karamoja, which is the most food-insecure region in the country and is threatened by a combination of malnutrition among its residents, locusts, floods and animal diseases.

“The Republic of Korea is committed to supporting vulnerable groups of people in Uganda, especially refugees fleeing conflict and nationals faced by chronic food shortages and malnutrition,” said Ambassador Ha Byung-Kyoo.

“We also are very pleased to continue making contributions of rice, which we have heard is appreciated by the refugees and contributes to much needed dietary diversity,” he added.

WFP was forced to reduce rations for refugees in April to 70 percent of a full ration because of funding shortages. The economic pressures that COVID-19 has brought on donor capitals has further complicated funding to feed refugees. WFP is putting in place safety measures in 13 refugee settlements to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during food and cash distributions.

The Republic of Korea has contributed rice to WFP in Uganda annually since 2018 in support of 1.43 million refugees – the highest number of refugees hosted by any country in Africa.

The US$300,000 contribution will also contribute to supporting WFP assistance in Karamoja. Even though families in the region were able to harvest some crops in August, despite repeated sightings of locusts between February and July, the very presence of the pests in the region threatens both agriculture and vegetation needed for animals. Relief food helps to cushion families as the government and UN partners work to control the impact of locusts.

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UAE May Reverse Visa Restriction on Nigerians Today Amid Airlines Ban

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Nigerian Government Pressures UAE to Revisit Visa Restrictions

Barring any last-minute hitches, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), will today, review the visa restriction placed on Nigerian travellers, following the ban of Emirates Airlines from the most populous black nation.

Sources at the company’s his office in Lagos confirmed that the issue was being reviewed, and the “right” diplomatic approach taken.

This came as aviation stakeholders commended the Federal Government for going “tough and playing tit-for-tat with countries that would not accept Nigerian travellers into their domains.”

The Federal Government, following pressure from some quarters, banned Emirates Airlines from Lagos and Abuja airports, effective today, over refusal to grant fresh visa applications submitted by Nigerians.

The government earlier banned European carriers, with the exception of British Airways, over travel restrictions.
Emirates officials said: “We have met with the Nigerian government on this issue, and we assured them that we will resolve it. We are presently working on it.”
“I hope this issue will be resolved before Monday. One thing I will assure you is that the issue will be resolved earlier than expected,” a manager said.

The Chief Executive Officer of Finchglow Travels, Bankole Bernard, said assurances had been given on the matter.

He noted that Nigeria was third-biggest market to Emirates, adding that the UAE would do everything to sustain their operations.

“UAE should have resolved this matter long ago. The ban means that they will lose the market, and they know the implication.

A market lost is never easily regained. Right now, we are certain that the ban will only affect Monday flights, and hoping that things will be normal by Tuesday,” he added.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, at the weekend, via his twitter handle, announced the suspension of Emirates Airlines from Nigeria, saying the ban would take effect from today.

Emirates Airlines’ situation was reviewed, and they are consequently included in the list of those not approved, with effect from Monday, September 21, 2020,” he said.

The President Muhammadu Buhari administration had in August warned that Nigeria would activate the principle of reciprocity in granting permission to airlines to resume operations in the country as it reopens its airspace.

It said the decision was informed by the embargoing on flights from Nigeria by some nations.

Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Etihad Airways, Angolan TAG, Air Namibia and Royal Air Maroc were not approved to operate flights into the country.

Aviation stakeholder, Julius Akintunde, said the measures were in the best interest of the economy.

Also speaking, Secretary-General of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), urged that the reciprocity should be done with caution in order for the Nigerian market not to be undermined by neighbours.

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