The National Union of Pensioners has asked the Federal Government to pay the 18 months’ arrears of the 33% pension increase owed pensioners since the review in 2010.
The pensioners were reacting to the payment of 24 months out of the total 42 months owed them.
They say apart from the paramilitary pensioners, other beneficiaries of the increase such as the railway corporation, universities, the Police and electricity workers are yet to fully benefit from the scheme.
They asked for more since their pension has been due for review since 2015.
Reacting to the pensioners’ outcry, the Executive Secretary of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, Sharon Ikeazor said that the 2016 budget did not make provision for the payment of the arrears.
She, however, explained that the agency is working with the relevant players in the pension sector to resolve the issue.
She also assured the pensioners that the verification of pensioners which was suspended in 2014 would resume to ensure that every pensioner is accounted for and paid as and when due.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, has appealed to the African Development Bank(AfDB) to fast track the one billion dollars loan facility it promised the country as support for the 2016 budget.
The loan is expected to cover the 35 per cent shortfall in the 2016 budget.
Senator Udoma made this appeal on in Abuja during a meeting with an AfDB team over the weekend
The Minister said: “I want to thank you for the support. We value the relationship with AfDB and we appreciate the budget support. We want AfDB also to fastrack the loan facility”.
Senator Udoma while giving an overview of the government’s plan to reflate the economy and spend out of the recession, said that the government was trying to contain the militancy in the Niger Delta which had affected oil production in the country.
The government hopes to restore production to 2.2 million barrels per day at the end of the year.
“The government is committing money into infrastructure development, processing of export zones, and also providing loans through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at a single digit to support farming in Nigeria,” he stated.
According to the Minister, the Economic Recovery Plan is designed to consolidate and harmonise all the sectoral plans in a single document and set out in broad detail an integrated roadmap for the growth and sustainability of the country’s economy, and is also a part of the commitment the Federal Government made with Nigerians, whether there was a recession or not.
Also at the meeting was the Director General of the Budget Office, Mr Ben Akabueze and he said that what the government was doing differently concerning budget releases, was that it had shifted from the old practice of releasing monies quarterly but on specific request which are tied to projects.
Mr Akabueze said that so far over 750 billion had been released for capital projects.
He says hopes are high that revenue will improve in the second half of the year as the Federal Inland Revenue Service, (FIRS) and the Customs will do better, having overcome some of the challenges faced in the first half of the year.
The Acting Director for Governance and Reform, Mr Coulibaly, who spoke earlier said that the AfDB team came to seek further clarification on policy reforms, level of budget implementation, as it touches capital budget releases.
He also stated that they wanted the Minister to highlight if there was any new policy introduced in the 2017 budget and updates on the Social Protection Policy.
Participants at a workshop for senior civil servants in Kuru, Plateau State have identified inadequate funding as one of the major challenges facing primary health care delivery in the state.
Among other limitations identified were lack of clear cut policies, as well as over-concentration on secondary and tertiary health care.
The workshop which was to discuss efficient health budgeting for the 2017 Appropriation Bill, had over 50 participants comprising of senior civil servants in the public as well as the organised private sector, and the participants urged the government to prioritize the health sector during budgeting.
They gathered at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru in Jos, North Central Nigeria.
Sharing the experience of Ghana in budgeting for health in the current economic situation, a representative of the Ghana National Health Insurance Authority, Dr Lydia Dsane-Selby, believes that primary health care systems remain the closest to the public in the preventive and curative treatment.
The discussions were designed to provide participants with essential knowledge for effective health sector budgeting.
Several issues were tackled, ranging from budgeting in the era of recession, an overview of the 2016 budget, innovative financing sources for primary health care funding and making optimal use of donor funds.
Governor of Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade, has appealed to the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC), to faithfully execute all the projects it allocated to the state in the 2016 budget.
The Governor made the appeal on Tuesday, at the Government House in Calabar, when the Senate Committee on the Niger Delta and the NDDC directors led by the Acting Managing Director, Mrs Ibim Semenitari, paid him a courtesy visit.
He was represented by the Deputy Governor, Professor Ivara Esu, who said that the state deserved sympathy because it was disadvantaged among the Niger Delta states.
The governor’s plea came just as the government is considering to begin work on Calabar-Itu-Ikot Ekpene-Aba Road in Cross River State which had been in a poor state.
While the River State Governor is asking for more projects in the state, the 127.6 kilometer long Lagos–Ibadan Expressway, a major route to the northern, southern and eastern parts of Nigeria also craves for attention.
The contractor, Julius Berger, may have returned to site but the impact of rehabilitation said to be ongoing, is yet to be fully felt.
Rail transportation has also been a major craving as it would serve as an alternative in reducing the current pressure on Nigerian roads.
In June, the Minister for Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi disclosed that the proposed Lagos-Ibadan segment of Lagos-Kano rail line and the Port Harcourt- Calabar project, would be ready and operational within the next two and half years when the administration would be rounding up its four-year term.
So far, the government through the Minister Of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, claims it has released 420 billion Naira into the system, with plans to add another 350 billion Naira.
That, according to the Minister, makes 770 million Naira already channeled into capital projects, especially in the works, defense, transportation, interior, power and agriculture sectors.
She also disclosed that the administration was working on raising $1 billion Eurobond and the proceeds for this, would be used only for capital projects.
The House of Representatives is asking that the uniforms and apparel of Nigerian military and paramilitary agencies are produced and procured indigenously.
Considering the motion, moved by Rep. Prestige Ossy and supported unanimously by members, the House noted that local industries have the ability to produce the quality of apparels required for the agencies.
The lawmakers also noted that the N4.3 billion in the 2016 Budget for uniforms and apparels would benefit local industries and boost the economy.
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has held a meeting with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, in his office in the Presidential Villa.
It is the second time the Speaker of the House of Representatives is visiting the Presidential Villa within two weeks.
Political watchers say Friday’s visit may be in connection with the rift in the National Assembly and how to improve on the relationship between the Executive and Legislative arms of government, following allegations of padding of the 2016 budget.
But the Speaker told reporters after the meeting that he just came to see the President and would not say anything to the press because he is on vacation.
Also at the Presidential Villa was the General Overseer of the Later Rain Assembly Pastor Tunde Bakare.
Pastor Bakare entered the Villa at about 2:45pm local time and went straight to the President’s office for a meeting also said to be private.
After the meeting that lasted for about an hour, Pastor Bakare told reporters that he was happy that the President was doing well health wise.
In answer to the questions on the performance of the administration, he called on Nigerians to be patient with the administration, which he said inherited a lot of rot.
“There is no pain without gain,” he said, assuring nigerians that President Buhari will not disappoint them.
The Chief Whip of the House of Representatives in Nigeria, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, has responded to the allegation of budget padding levelled against him and some other principal officers of the lower chamber.
In an interview with Channels Television on Sunday, Mr Doguwa described the allegation as frivolous and baseless.
A former Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Honourable Abdulmumin Jibrin, had alleged that four principal officers of the House of Representatives – Speaker Yakubu Dogara, his Deputy, Suleiman Lasun, the Chief Whip Alhassan Ado Doguwa and the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor -padded the 2016 budget.
It is now a week since Honourable Jibrin spoke exclusively to Channels Television on the allegation that the Speaker of the House of Representatives has dismissed, saying padding was not an offence.
On Sunday, however, Honourable Doguwa insisted that no matter what the lawmakers did on the budget, none of it could be regarded as a crime.
“When you expect a legislator to work on a bill, certainly he has the constitution and supreme right to deal with that bill at any level, whether in first reading second reading or general reading.
“At whatever level the legislator engages a budget, he is doing nothing but his legitimate responsibility,” he explained.
“Enemy To The Institution”
The lawmaker said padding was strange in context of the 2016 budget and that all the allegations made by honourable Jibrin were frivolous
“That is a strange word to me.
“It is a crime for you guys to be calling legislators ‘padders’. It is a speculation. Baseless speculation,” he said.
The Chief Whip further described Honourable Jibrin as a cancer in the legislative system of Nigeria’s National Assembly, insisting that that was why he was removed as the chairman of the Appropriation Committee.
“He is an enemy to the institution, an enemy to the system of democracy in Nigeria and our own great party, the APC [All Progressives Congress],” he told Channels Television.
Mr Doguwa , however, assured Nigerians that there would be a perfect budget in 2017.
A constitutional lawyer, Mr Mike Ozekhome, believes that the padding of the 2016 budget originated from the executive arm of government and not the legislative.
The legal practitioner, who spoke on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, linked his opinion to the sacking of some officials at the budget office by the President.
“The real padding in this current budget was actually from the executive, not from the National Assembly.
“President Muhammadu Buhari had to sack some people in the budget office when he discovered through some ministers who literally denounced their appropriation figures before the National Assembly, saying (that) it was not my deed (what we call ‘Non Est factum’ in law),” he stated.
Mr Ozekhome expressed dismay that the sacked officials were yet to be arraigned before a court.
On the other hand, he explained that padding would have occurred at the National Assembly if figures were smuggled in the budget, after the lawmakers had made a resolve.
“Padding can only occur in the National Assembly if figures are smuggled in, after the finance committees at the various appropriation committee (Finance Committee, Budget Committee and the National Planning Committee) have agreed.
“If after they have agreed on certain figures debated and approved by the House itself at a plenary session, someone manages again to smuggle in some figures, then that could be padding,” he said.
The majority leader of the House Of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, has distanced himself from having a hand in the ongoing budget padding controversy that has engulfed the House.
In a statement on Monday, the lawmaker said that he has worked well with the Speaker and all other principal officers in a bi-partisan manner and in the interest of the institution and the country.
The statement reads:
“Since the budget controversy that engulfed the House about a week ago, I have pointedly maintained a dignified silence.
“I did this for the sake of the institution I represent and which I have labored hard to grow and protect, knowing that whatever I say could be impactful both within the House and outside it.
“I was determined to keep in place the glue that holds an otherwise fragmented House, protect its integrity and at same time avoid eroding the little confidence and vestiges of hope Nigerians have in us.
“Unfortunately, the controversy has now taken a different turn following the rather strange if not comical text making the rounds amongst members about my complicity in this rather sordid matter. I am being dragged into an arena I tried very hard to stay out of only for the good of the House.
“The Speakership election has come and gone. The election was divisive and acrimonious but I have since worked hard to heal the wounds some of which still fester amongst members on both sides.
“It is my responsibility to bring all tendencies in a House I lead together and I have worked well with the Speaker and all other Principal officers in a bi-partisan manner and in the interest of the institution and the country.
“This text message, which desperately seeks to finger me in some macabre plot to destabilize the House is a throwback and echoes our dark post Speakership election history. The resurfacing or resurgence of the faceless text messengers will not help us as a House and let me quickly add that it will fail.
“My strongest critics and biggest political adversaries in the House cannot deny the fact that my commitment has always been to strengthen the legislature and its processes and our democracy as a whole.
“I consider everyone a friend and colleague and urge that as we collectively work towards a stronger legislature and strive to deepen our democracy, we do not pull back the hands of the clock nor lose sight of the enormous responsibility placed upon us by providence as members of a critical arm of government.
“On the budget issue at hand, it is clear that our budget process needs radical reform and very quickly too.
“Yes, allegations have been made but I strongly believe judgment should not be passed based on allegations. We operate a constitutional democracy and we must at all times submit to its dictates and ethos.
“All parties are innocent until otherwise proven. This should be our guide. I plead with all members. The mudslinging must stop.”
Former Chairman of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, Abdulmumin Jibrin, has made true his threat to submit more documents to back his allegation of budget padding against some members of the House.
Representative Jibrin on Monday submitted a petition at four federal government agencies against the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara and 11 others.
The petition was submitted at the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Department of Security Services (DSS) and the Police headquarters all in Abuja.
Speaking with journalists shortly after submitting his petition at the ICPC, Representative Jibrin said that if the accused could be prosecuted, found guilty and sent to jail, it would send out a powerful signal of President Muhammadu Buhari’s war against corruption.
He posted earlier on Monday via his Twitter account; “My lawyers have confirmed my appointments for today with security and anti-corruption agencies to personally provide insight on my petition.
“We will be at the ICPC 10am, DSS 12noon, EFCC 2pm and Police HQ 4pm. The law will surely catch up with the corrupt Speaker Dogara and others.”
Later on Monday afternoon, he tweeted:
What a day! Submitted petition against Corrupt Speaker Dogara and twelve others. Now it’s over to the security and anti corruption agencies
This move by the DSS is believed to prevent any attempt to tamper with documents in the office of the Appropriation Committee.
Jibrin expressed readiness to help fight corruption in the National Assembly.
Another member of the House of Reps, Hon Uzoma Abonta, had also appeared on the same edition of the Channels TV programme with claims that there was no case of budget padding or corruption in the House as he dismissed Jibrin’s claims.
Honorable Abonta said that the allegations were false and a plot to tarnish the image of the lawmakers and the leadership of the lower legislative house in particular.
He went on to accuse the former committee chairman of being culpable in the scandal.
Jibrin has since added the Rep’s name to his list of lawmakers allegedly indicted by his evidences.
“I added one new name to my petition, Hon Abonta Abonta. The member who spoke after me on Channels and denied corruption exists in the House,” he tweeted.