Ndume Advocates Improved Allocation For Northeast Intervention

Ali Ndume, Northeast Intervention, Budget AllocationThe Senate Committee Chairman on Finance, Ali Ndume, says the Federal Government’s 45 billion naira allocation in the 2017 budget for intervention in Nigeria’s Northeast is not adequate.

Senator Ndume, a member of the Presidential Committee on Northeast Initiative (PCNI), made the observation after the PCNI visited the Borno State Deputy Governor, Usman Durkwa.

The group’s visit was to declare its donation of food items which were offloaded at the warehouse of the National Emergency Management Agency in Maiduguri.

“I want to use this opportunity to thank the international community; and I have said this even on the floor of the National Assembly that the contribution of the international community and its commitment to the humanitarian crisis we have in the northeast is more than that of the government.

“We are now calling on the government using this medium to at least take the lead or match what the international communities do,” Ndume said.

The senator noted further that foreign aid and commitment to the plight of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have continued to dwarf government’s effort over the years.

“So far the humanitarian response plan under what we call UNOCHA is budgeting $1.05 billion for 2017 (and) if you turn that into Naira, it translates into over 300 billion Naira.

“As at December last year, $449 million was donated by the international community; that also represents about 130 billion Naira.

“Unfortunately last year, the Nigerian Government budgeted only 12 billion Naira. In this year’s budget, it budgeted only 45 billion Naira (and) that also is grossly inadequate.

“So we ask the Borno State government to join us and other members of the National Assembly that are crying out to the government and to the leadership of the National Assembly to increase the budget for the intervention in the northeast from a paltry 45 billion Naira to at least 108; that is our call.” Senator Ndume stated.

Mr Durkwa, on his part, thanked the PCNI for the food donations which he said would go a long way in complementing the feeding of the IDPs.

He, however, urged donors to consider providing building materials in subsequent interventions to speed up the resettling process of the displaced persons.

“We say we are grateful and we ask for more. Now that we are in the post-insurgency stage, it’s time to now carry out constructions and resettle our people back to their base.

“That means we expect more apart from the food security. We are still asking for building materials to complement the effort of the state government,” the deputy governor stated.

The Borno State government is presently carrying out rebuilding of homes destroyed by the Boko Haram terrorists in Bama, Gwoza, Konduga and Kaga local government area of the state.

2017 Budget Will Fix Economy, Senate Leader Assures

2017 Budget Will Fix Economy, Senate Leader AssuresThe majority leader in Nigeria’s Senate, Mr Ahmed Lawan, says the 2017 budget will address most of the economic challenges bedeviling the country.

Answering questions from journalists in Damaturu, Yobe state, the lawmaker who represents Yobe North at the upper chamber of the National Assembly, said that the 2017 budget contains lots of provisions that will improve the lives of ordinary Nigerians.

“Let me tell you that bad economy is one of the development challenges we face as a developing nation and I can assure you that the 2017 budget was well planned to address some of these problems we face as a nation.

“The budget makes the economy better because so many provisions, suggestions and estimates that will make life better for ordinary Nigerians were reflected in it to bring relief to Nigerians,” the Majority Leader said.

Senator Ahmed Lawan also has cheering news for disadvantaged citizens, saying they are also well taken care of in the budget.

“I want to assure Nigerians that some social interventions are enclosed therein for those who are so disadvantaged, so that the most vulnerable in the society access some funds for agricultural purposes and employment opportunities for our teaming youths.”

Dr. Ahmed Lawan said that the Senate has no option to act differently than to support the President to actualise his transformation agenda.

“There is nothing the Senate will do differently than to make life better for the people.

“The Senate will ordinarily key into this laudable programme aimed at making life more meaningful for the people,” he stressed.

The lawmaker said that this can be done either by legislation or simply by enlightening Nigerians on the benefits of such policy which needs the support of all and sundry.

On his recent emergence as the majority leader of the Senate, the Senator said his appointment in that capacity “was the initial position of the party and it is done now to uphold the party supremacy as earlier agreed by the APC caucus”.

The appointment according to him would stabilize the party more and unify the APC caucus since that was their initial plan.

“This development will help us face real development challenges better and minority parties will have more focus and will work better, thereby making a more productive Senate.”

He described his appointment in that capacity as “an act of God” and will continue to work for the progress and development of the country.

While calling for the support of legislative arms to accord Mr. President the needed support in actualizing his dreams for the country, Dr Ahmed Lawan said that the act of legislation is very key and central in any administration.

He thanked his colleagues for the trust they have in him and promised to do the job to the best of his abilities.

Dr. Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan takes over the position of the majority leader of the Senate from Senator Ali Ndume who represents Borno South at the upper chamber of the National Assembly.

Senate Considers Magu’s Re-nomination As EFCC Chair

Senate, Inmates' BabiesThe Nigerian Senate has read a letter sent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari re-nominating Mr Ibrahim Magu, as the substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, read the letter during plenary on Tuesday that began after a closed-door meeting that lasted for one hour 30 minutes.

It was earlier believed that the re-nomination of Mr Magu may have topped talks at the meeting, but the Senate President explained that the Senate simply discussed the issue of welfare of the Senate and National Assembly.

‘Satisfactorily Clarified Allegation’

When Plenary began, the Senate President then read the letter from the President, re-nominating Mr Magu for approval as the Chairman of the EFCC.

In the letter, which was sent to the Senate on Monday, President Buhari explained that the nominee had satisfactorily clarified the allegation, which led to the earlier rejection by the Senate.

Buhari Re-nominates Ibrahim Magu As EFCC Chairman
Mr Ibrahim Magu is currently the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission

The President also rejected the recommendation of the Senate, asking for the removal of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation over allegation of corruption.

However, the Chairman of the Senate ad-hoc Committee on the Humanitarian Situation in the North East, Senator Shehu Sani, dismissed the president’s response, describing it as a distortion of facts.

The federal lawmakers had in 2016 turned down the President’s request for the confirmation of Mr Magu who is currently the acting chairman of the anti-corruption body.

They cited security report by the Department of Security Services (DSS) which the Senate claimed indicted Mr Magu.

The decision by the Senate had been a subject of controversy as former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, had insisted that Mr Magu was not rejected by the lawmakers but his confirmation was only stepped down for further consultation with the Presidency.

Explaining the reason behind the decision, the Senate said that security report available to it showed that Mr Magu is not fit to be chairman of the body.

Addressing journalists at the National Assembly after that decision was taken, Senate Spokesman, Aliyu Abdullahi, said that based on security reports, the Senate cannot proceed to confirm the acting EFCC Chairman.

A lawyer, Daniel Bwala had earlier said that he expected the Senate to confirm the acting Chairman of the anti-graft agency, but stressed the need for the lawmakers to allow him respond to the allegations against him.

Senate Pushes For Harmonisation Of Humanitarian Efforts In Northeast Nigeria

Senate Continues Public Hearing On PIBThe Nigerian Senate is pushing for the harmonisation of humanitarian efforts in the northeast to ensure that all victims of insurgency in the region will benefit from the support.

During plenary on Wednesday, the Senate asked its committee on Special Duties to initiate the process of bringing together the United Nations, donor agencies Federal and State governments to work in harmony for the benefit of displaced persons and victims of insurgency.

This is in response to an alarm raised by the former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, at plenary that there was no coordination between these agencies and government in helping the displaced persons and victims of terrorism in the northeast.

He told the Senate that donor agencies, international organisations and the Federal and State governments had spent colossal sums of money on the crisis, but highlighted that there was a gap between what was reported to be the level of funding response and the reality on ground in the affected areas.

Navy, Counter-terrorism, Lake chad
United Nations agency UNICEF says children with ‘skin over bone’ need more of nutritious food

The observation is coming months after allegations of mismanagement of items provided as relief for displaced persons were put forwarded against coordinators of different Internally Displaced Persons Camps in the region.

More than 1.6 million persons have been displaced in the region since insurgency began over seven years ago.

United Nations agency, UNICEF, has raised concerns over severe malnutrition cases in the region, saying that over 75,000 children risk death in the region.

It has called for aids in form of nutritious foods to be sent to the region.

But penetration of aids has been hampered by ongoing counter-insurgency operations and the activities of Boko Haram members.

Ali Ndume Faults Process Which Removed Him As Senate Leader

alli-ndume-senateThe former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, removed on Tuesday is dissatisfied with the process of his removal.

Senator Ndume’s removal was announced at the resumption of plenary after the yuletide break.

Thirty-nine Senators from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) had signed a resolution, passing a vote of no confidence on senator Ali Ndume as the Senate Leader.

After his removal, Senator Nduma told reporters that he was not aware the party had decided to replace him with Senator Ahmed Lawan.

On Wednesday, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who announced the resolution of the APC caucus, after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, insisted that there was no crisis in the National Assembly.

He said the institution was bigger than every Senator.

“There is no crisis in the National Assembly. Things like this aways happen. Everything is calm and fine,” he said.

Asked to react to comments in some quarters that Senator Ndume was sacrificed, he laughed and said: “do I look like someone that does things like that?”

After Wednesday’s plenary session, Senator Ndume faulted the process of his removal, but said he has accepted it in good faith.

Saraki Denies Friction Between Legislature And Executive

Saraki Denies Friction Between Legislature And ExecutiveSenate President, Dr Bukola Saraki has dismissed insinuation in some quarters of a frosty relationship between the executive and legislative arms of government.

Dr. Saraki was speaking to State House correspondents shortly after holding a meeting with the President, following the Friday jumat prayers in the Presidential Villa.

He said that both arms of government are working to move Nigeria forward.

He asked Nigerians not to politicize the Senate’s rejection of the President’s request for foreign borrowing.

“Don’t let us politicize very important issues. As we said, this is work in progress,” he said.

The Senate has explained that it turned down the external borrowing request due to “lack of documents supporting the request as referenced in the letter” from the President.

President Buhari wrote to the National Assembly seeking its approval for an external borrowing of 29.9 billion dollars to ensure the prompt implementation of projects.

The Senate had also accused the Executive of submitting an incomplete Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) to the National Assembly.

The National Assembly is required to pass the MTEF and FSP before working on the 2017 budget.

At Thursday’s legislative proceedings, Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, drew the attention of the lawmakers to a statement credited to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr Udo Udoma, in a newspaper report.

Senator Ndume said that the Minister allegedly stated that the National Assembly was to be blamed for any delay in the presentation of the 2017 budget.

He also claimed that the MTEF, which the Executive submitted to the Senate was empty, adding that it has hindered work on the policy document.

The lawmaker alleged that attempts to get Mr Udoma to submit the necessary documents on the MTEF to the Senate have been unsuccessful.

He also purported that the Minister has not replied the letter or made himself available for scheduled meetings.

Senate Accuses Executive Of Submitting Incomplete MTEF

National Assembly, Senate, Executive, MTEF, FSPThe Nigerian Senate has accused the Executive of submitting an incomplete Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) to the National Assembly.

The National Assembly is required to pass the MTEF and FSP before working on the 2017 budget.

At Thursday’s legislative proceedings, Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, drew the attention of the lawmakers to a statement credited to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr Udo Udoma, in a newspaper report.

Senator Ndume said that the Minister allegedly stated that the National Assembly was to be blamed for any delay in the presentation of the 2017 budget.

He also claimed that the MTEF, which the Executive submitted to the Senate was empty, adding that it has hindered work on the policy document.

The lawmaker alleged that attempts to get Mr Udoma to submit the necessary documents on the MTEF to the Senate have been unsuccessful.

He also purported that the Minister has not replied the letter or made himself available for scheduled meetings.

On Tuesday, October 4, President ‎Muhammadu Buhari forwarded to the National Assembly, the MTEF which showed a proposal to spend 6.8 trillion Naira on the 2017 budget with the debt servicing of 1.6 trillion Naira.

The receipt of the document was acknowledged at plenary by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.

Based on the MTEF, the oil benchmark price is put at $42.50 per barrel with 2.2 million barrels of oil production per day and an exchange rate of 290 Naira to a dollar.

The document also states that 65 billion Naira will be spent on the Amnesty Programme while 350 billion Naira will be spent on the special intervention programme in 2017.

Provide Administrative Framework Of Intervention Fund, Senate Tells Executives

senateThe Nigerian Senate on Tuesday asked the Executive Arm of Government to provide the National Assembly with a clear framework that would allow for proper administration of the 500 billion Naira Special Intervention Fund, staying action on the executive’s requests for funds.

The request, according to the Senate, would enable the lawmakers ensure that the failure of the past social intervention schemes was avoided.

President Buhari on September 25 forwarded a request to the lawmakers, seeking the approval of the National Assembly for virement of funds appropriated for special intervention to be used to fund some recurrent and capital items.

He is seeking a total of 180 billion Naira to cover the shortfalls in recurrent and capital expenditures.

In the letter read on the floor of the Senate and House of Representatives, President Buhari said the request is necessary because of the shortfalls in provisions for personnel costs and inadequate provision for the Amnesty Programme.

‘Discriminates Against Rural Dwellers’

Deliberations on the request opened on Tuesday with Senator Ndume pointing out some flaws in the initiative.

He insisted that the directive that all the beneficiaries should register online had the tendency of excluding and marginalising the targeted population.

Pointing out that the request by the Senate was not targeted at stopping the initiative, Senator Ndume stated that the Senate fully approved the request of the executive in the 2016 Budget to facilitate the 500 billion Naira fund.

Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, who opened the debate on the motion he raised on the need to avoid the mismanagement of the 500 billion Naira intervention funds, further observed that current economic situation and the need to have a social intervention scheme that could lift people out of poverty, was the overriding concern of the National Assembly when it did not insist on having a proper framework before approval.

“But I expect the social intervention fund to get to all the 9,572 Wards of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he says.

He further highlighted a variable in the initiative – MPOWER – which he said required people to register online, saying “it is faulty and discriminates against rural dwellers”.

buhari, Anti-Corruption
The intervention fund will handle reconstruction of the northeast ravaged by over six years of Boko Haram insurgency, Muhammadu Buhari says

Giving his opinion on the issue, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said he could not find any beneficiary of the programmes of the Social Intervention Funds in his LG.

On his part, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah said the aspects of the implementation of the Social Intervention Funds run afoul of the Constitution.

Senator Na’Allah questioned how the people in the hinterland and localities without internet services that are supposed to get online to register on the website.

Before the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, asked Senator Ali Wakili to shed light on some of these concerns, Senators Hope Uzodinma and Biodun Olujimi condemned the implementation plan, saying it was not far-reaching to all nooks and corners of Nigeria.

Explaining the Social Intervention Plans of the Executive Arm of Government Senator Wakili said the fund was not domiciled in any ministry but managed in Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s office through consultants.

Senator Wakili told the Senate that he expected that the National Assembly, as the representative of the people, ought to be carried along “but this isn’t the case”.

Push For Manual Registration

Another issue that Senator Dino Melaye raised was that Nigeriens, Beninoise and Camerounians could as well claim being Nigerians and apply since it was online.

He concluded that a programme of action on the implementation of the Intervention Fund had to be brought to the Senate.

Insurance Fraud
The House of Representatives had in June also requested for the framework of the intervention fund

After the deliberations, the Senate resolved that manual registration of beneficiary from all Wards & LGs in Nigeria be incorporated in the 500 billion Naira Intervention Programme.

The Senate also resolved that a clear accountability channel must be created, continuously audited and submitted to the National Assembly.

Giving his final words on the issue, the Senate President said that despite the good intentions, the 500 billion Naira might not achieve what it was supposed to achieve with the current implementation.

Dr. Saraki further asked the appropriate committee to work with the executive to ensure the success of the Social Intervention Fund.

This Senate decision is coming months after the House of Representatives demanded for the framework and details of the 500 billion naira Special Intervention Fund.

The lower chamber had directed a joint committee to ensure that the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Social Protection Programmes made available the framework.

Senate Advocates Policies To Protect Nigerian Children

Senate, Children, Bukola SarakThe Senate has asked the federal and state governments to ensure the full implementation of policies that seek to protect the rights of Nigerian children.

The appeal was made in a resolution read by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on Thursday at the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja, to commemorate the Day of the African Child.

The Senate wants all children to enjoy the legislation of the Universal Basic Education, which provides for the education of all children in the country.

Senator Monsurat Sunmonu from Oyo State moved the motion, hich was supported by her colleagues, including the Leader of the Senate, Mr Ali Ndume.

They said the issues she raised needed urgent actions considering the plight of children in the country, especially those in the northeast.

A Senator from Ekiti State, Mr Biodun Olujimi, also called on the government to redouble its efforts to ensure that Nigerian children get access to quality education and their rights protected.

While members of the Senate may have stated their position on what needs to be done by the federal and state governments, child rights activists believe that protecting the rights of Nigerian children is the duty of all irrespective of class or status.

Senate Leader Meets With Buhari Over 2016 Budget

BudgetSenate Leader, Ali Ndume, on Monday met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Senator Ndume told reporters shortly after the meeting that he was in the Presidential Villa to consult with the President ahead of the Tuesday’s resumption of the Senate.

He said that it was wrong to say that the executive and the legislature were at loggerhead over the 2016 Budget.

According to the Senate Leader, “what is happening is good for the country”.

Senator Nduma stressed that it was the first time the two arms of government were working together to iron out a budget that would be in the interest of the common man.

The budget was submitted to the National Assembly by President Buhari in December last year, but during the ongoing budget defence the lawmakers observed that government ministries had padded their budgets.

The lawmakers further shifted an earlier plan to pass the budget in February, saying it was no longer feasible.

On Monday, the House of Representative said it would pass the budget in March.

Senate Leadership Meets With Service Chiefs

SenateThe Senate leadership has met with Service Chiefs to review the fight against Boko Haram in the north eastern part of Nigeria.

The meeting was however held behind closed doors.

The meeting between the Senate leadership and the Service Chiefs may be connected with the recent terrorist attacks in Dalori, Borno State where over 60 people were killed and many injured.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, the Senate Majority Leader, Ali Ndume, revealed that the Senate leadership held frank discussions with the Service Chiefs and reviewed the security situation in the northeast.

On January 30, suicide bombers launched an attack on Dalori village in Borno State, killing over 60 persons.

There have been conflicting reports about the death toll.

The National Emergency Management Agency has put the death toll at 65 which is less than the earlier figure of 85, given after the attack.

Senate Asks Military, Police To Relocate IDPs

SenateThe Nigerian Senate has asked the military and police authorities to  begin the  process of relocating all Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) scattered across the country.

The Senate also asked the military and other security agencies to re-open all the closed highways in the north-east.

Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, made the request on behalf of the Senate, during a meeting with the Service Chiefs and the Inspector- General of Police, Solomon Arase, on Tuesday.

The Service Chiefs were represented by senior military officers at the meeting that was held behind closed doors.

Senator Ndume said the meeting was an opportunity for the Senate to hold talks with the Service Chiefs about the specific steps to take to complete the process of relocating the IDPs this year, following containment of the activities of Boko Haram terrorists in the north-east.

He urged the Service Chiefs to offer suggestions on what they needed to facilitate the relocation of the IDP’s, as that would allow the lawmakers use their powers of appropriation to render necessary support.