‘We Do Not Want Biafra’ – Top 21 Quotes Of The Week

 

Nigeria’s Independence Day celebration might have come and gone, however, discussions around sovereignty and freedoms still linger.

Rights and the issue of governance have continued to stir questions of public interest across the globe, and stakeholders have continued to weigh in on various matters regarding leadership.

This week, we bring you some very striking quotes that, when pieced together, shape the narrative of what the world witnessed within the last 7 days.

They also help us to make projections of certain things to expect as we go into the new week.

1. “Every elite in the south-east is not desirous of Biafra. We don’t want Biafra. We only want to be treated equally like other regions in Nigeria.”

Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi

 

Governor of Ebonyi State, who is also the Chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum, David Umahi describes agitations for Biafra as “madness”, saying that most elites in the region do not want it.

2. “They are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.”

This file combination of pictures created on October 08, 2021, shows Maria Ressa (L), co-founder and CEO of the Philippines-based news website Rappler, speaking at the Human Rights Press Awards at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong on on May 16, 2019 and Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-Chief of Russia’s main opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta gestures as he speaks during a news conference in Moscow, on December 11, 2012.  Isaac LAWRENCE, Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP

 

Chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen speaks about the works of journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia who won the Nobel Peace Prize.

3. “Good relations with Afghanistan are good for everyone. Nothing should be done to weaken the existing government in Afghanistan which can lead to problems for the people.”

Taliban fighters stand guard near the venue of an open-air rally in a field on the outskirts of Kabul on October 3, 2021. Hoshang Hashimi / AFP

 

Taliban warns the United States not to “destabilise” the regime during their first face-to-face talks since the US withdrawal as a deadly sectarian bombing raised further questions about their grip on power.

4. “Though he attempted putting up some resistance when troops made efforts to take him into custody, he was not assaulted or subjected to brutalization.”

 

The Nigerian Army reacts to the arrest of Nollywood actor, Chiwetalu Agu, saying he was “inciting members of the public and soliciting support for the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)”.

5. “Where the president comes from has never been the problem of Nigeria, and I can cite examples; neither will it be the solution. There is no such thing as a president from Southern Nigeria or a president from Northern Nigeria.”

 

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar says where the president comes from has never been the solution to the series of problems facing the nation.

6. “It is unlikely that our recovery from these recessions would have been as fast without the sustained government expenditure funded partly by debt.”

A file photograph of Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed.
A file photograph of Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed.

 

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, again defends recent borrowings by the Federal Government, insisting they were instrumental to the country’s exit from recessions.

7. “Why you are having separatist agitations everywhere today in the West, in the South, in the South-South, is that some people are unable to manage our diversity, that is just the fact.”

Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe made an appearance on Sunrise Daily on February 15, 2021.
File photo: Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe.

 

Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, says there are dozens of separatist groups in the south-east region of the country because the ethnic divide has not been properly managed.

8. “We find the renewed desperation by the south to threaten [the] northern people’s right to franchise a deliberate attempt to bastardise democracy, cause greater instability in the guise of contentious undemocratic power shift arrangement and therefore unacceptable.”

CNG spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, speaks during a press conference in Abuja on October 4, 2021.

 

The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) oppose the zoning arrangement by political parties, describing it as unconstitutional and a plot to intimidate the north from contesting for the presidency in 2023.

9. “We gave them the name bandit probably to just soft pedal because terrorism in the international arena is regarded as the most heinous crime that any group of people can engage in.”

A screen grab of Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics on October 3rd, 2021.

 

Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa says bandits are no different from terrorists, insisting that both groups operate the same way.

10. “The conditions make a mockery of the case pending before the ECOWAS court, and create a risk that the course of justice will be seriously impeded or prejudiced in this case.”

A photo combination of SERAP and President Muhammadu Buhari

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), urges President Muhammadu Buhari to “urgently withdraw the impermissible conditions imposed on Twitter pending the final determination of the suit at the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja.”

11. “We face a global recovery that remains ‘hobbled’ by the pandemic and its impact. We are unable to walk forward properly.”

In this file photo an exterior view of the building of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with the IMG logo, is seen on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this file photo an exterior view of the building of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with the IMG logo, is seen on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

The IMF predicts that global economic bounce back from the Covid-19 crisis will downshift this year as countries struggle with rising prices, high debt loads and divergent recoveries in which poor nations are slipping behind wealthier ones.

12. “In developing or Third World countries, it is the escalator of strife, pogroms and civil war, and has played a big role in countries torn to pieces by tribal war, such as it is playing out in Syria, which has become the hotbed of Captagon, and Afghanistan, which controls the opium trade.”

File photo:  Dried cannabis flowers.

 

Chairman/Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Brig. Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (Retd) says cannabis cannot be legalised in the country considering the current security challenges.

13. “Nigeria must go beyond a never-ending potential for becoming a great nation to an actually great one. Many presidents have said it. Shehu Shagari. Olusegun Obasanjo. Umaru Yar’Adua. Goodluck Jonathan. But here we are today, still just a country with potentials.”

Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, made an appearance on Channels Television on February 9, 2021.
Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina.

 

 

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, says the inherent potentials, which in the past have remained dormant in Nigeria, have started to be utilised.

14. “Some have expressed concern over our resort to borrowing to finance our fiscal gaps; they are right to be concerned.”

President Muhammadu Buhari makes a budget presentation speech at the National Assembly on October 7, 2021.
President Muhammadu Buhari makes a budget presentation speech at the National Assembly on October 7, 2021.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari says Nigerians have a right to be concerned about recent borrowings by the Federal Government.

15. “We believe that the debt level of the Federal Government is still within sustainable limits”.

A file photo of President Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari says though Nigerians have the right to be concerned about the nation’s additional loans, still, the country’s debts remain at a sustainable level.

16. “If you are going to get in, in the Nigerian system, in this system of ours, to walk through all that is required, I think you need some experience; a bit of it, you don’t have to be very old.”

A file photo of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says age should never be a barrier for young Nigerians to get involved in holding strategic positions, especially political offices.

17. “For the majority of our people, 1960 provided an opportunity to start all over again but, unfortunately, the nationalist politicians who took over the reins of power from the British colonial regime did not decolonise the country and the psyche of our people.”

Human Rights lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, speaks during an interview on Channels TV’s Politics Today on March 10, 2021.

 

Human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, insists that if Nigeria is to forge ahead in the right direction, then the citizens must be mobilised to take charge of their political destiny.

18. “I want to tell you that Mr President has the magic wand. His attitude, [and] language to the South-East; he has to change it.”

The lawmaker representing Enugu Central in the National Assembly, Senator Chukwuka Utazi speaks during an interview on Channels Television's Politics Today on October 5, 2021.
The lawmaker representing Enugu Central in the National Assembly, Senator Chukwuka Utazi speaks during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on October 5, 2021.

 

The lawmaker representing Enugu North senatorial district in the National Assembly, Senator Chukwuka Utazi asks President Buhari to change the way he addresses the people of the South East region.

19. “Everyone is stunned, but we do not have to be emotional or negative about things. The same team defeated Liberia here in Lagos and Cape Verde away. They still have that ability to deliver.”

A Nigerian supporter dances during the 2022 Qatar World Cup African qualifiers group 3 football match between Nigeria and Central African Republic at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, in Surulere in Lagos State, on October 7, 2021. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) backs the Super Eagles to bounce back from their shocking defeat to lowly-rated Central African Republic (CAR) in a 2022 World Cup qualifier.

20. “Nigeria’s Federal Government is already making efforts to use large shares of clean energy sources, but the development of gas projects poses a dire challenge.”

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo during the event. Photo: Facebook/Yemi Osinbajo

 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo argues that climate change policies must reflect “the different realities of various economies” to be successful.

21. “If we had a policeman for everybody, nobody is going to obey any sit at home.”

File photo:  Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, speaks during a Christmas visit to some hospitals in Abakaliki, the state capital on December 25, 2020.

 

Governor David Umahi says agitation in the South East has been hijacked by criminals.

Cut N26bn Presidency Budget For Medical Centre, Travels And Meals – SERAP Tells Buhari

A photo combination of SERAP and President Muhammadu Buhari

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari “to cut the N26 billion presidency budget for the construction of the presidential wing at the State House Medical Centre, local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, ‘sitting allowance’, and ‘welfare package’, and to use some of the savings to address the growing level of deficit, as well as improve public healthcare facilities across the country.”

SERAP also urged him “to send to the National Assembly a fresh supplementary appropriation bill, which reflects the reduced proposed spending on the construction of the State House Medical Centre, local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, and ‘welfare package’, for its approval.”

In the letter dated 9 October 2021 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “Many Nigerians will find it quite odd, unfair and unjust that the government is spending so much money on many of these items in the middle of a public borrowing crisis. The proposed spending could be better allocated to improve access of Nigerians to basic public goods and services.”

SERAP said: “The government would continue to borrow to fund the country’s budget until there is a substantial cut to the cost of governance. The government should stop spending so much money on these items. Persistent borrowing is neither sustainable nor fair to the Nigerian people.”

It added:“Your government has a responsibility to ensure the interest of the well-being and prosperity of Nigeria and its citizens. The growing budget deficit and debt problems threaten Nigerians’ access to essential public goods and services, and will hurt future generations if not urgently addressed.”


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Nigeria’s Debt Still at Sustainable Level, Says Buhari
2022: Five Major Areas Nigeria’s Loans Will Be Focused On
2022 Budget: FG To Borrow More To Finance N6.258trn Deficit


The letter, read in part: “SERAP also urges you to publish details of spending on construction and repairs of the presidential wing at the medical center and office furniture and fittings since May 29, 2015.

“The proposed spending figures highlight the lack of political will to cut the cost of governance, starting from the presidency. This spending is unsustainable, and would take away critical funding to provide access to quality healthcare and education.

“This would leave the poorest and most vulnerable people without access to these essential public goods and services, and burden the next generation.

“According to our information, for the Office of the President, you recently proposed in the 2022 appropriation bill to spend N24,835,805,231 for the construction of the presidential wing at the state house medical center, local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments.”

The agency noted that “The construction of the presidential wing will cost N21,974,763,310. N2,309,066,788 is proposed to be spent on general travel and transport while N301,138,860 will be spent on foodstuff and catering materials supplies. N250,836,273 is proposed to be spent on refreshments, meals, honorarium, sitting allowance, publicity and advertisements.

“For the Office of the Vice-President, N1,136,717,757 is proposed for local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, purchase of office furniture and fittings, and other expenses. The details are: N778,261,411 is proposed to be spent on general travel and transport.

“N168,210,826 is proposed for office stationeries/computer, consumables, printing of documents, uniforms and other clothing, food stuff and catering materials supplies. N2,350,626 is proposed for cooking gas and fuel costs.

“N99,795,229 is proposed to be spent on refreshments, meals, honorarium, sitting allowance, publicity and advertisements. N31,909,380 is proposed for computer software acquisition while N30,817,085 is proposed for the purchase of motor vehicles. N25,373,200 is proposed for the purchase of office furniture and fittings.

“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our requests.”

The organisation said it “is concerned that the huge spending is neither necessary nor in the public interest, especially in the face of the country’s dire economic position, the scant allocations to education and health, and the growing level of borrowing by your government to fund the 2022 budget.

“Spending limited public funds on the construction of the presidential wing at the State House Medical Centre, local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, honorarium and sitting allowance, and welfare packages at a time the government is borrowing to fund the budget would undermine your government’s constitutional and fiduciary duties to ensure a responsible budget spending.

“The country’s fiscal situation must be changed – and changed quickly – through some combination of cuts in the areas highlighted above. Cutting waste and apparently unnecessary spending would go a long way in addressing the budget deficit and debt problems.

“The recommended measures would also ensure that your government is spending the country’s maximum available resources to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights to basic needs of the poor and marginalized groups.”

Nigeria Won’t Have Exited Recession Without Borrowing, Says Finance Minister

 

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed has again defended recent borrowings by the Federal Government, insisting they were instrumental to the country’s exit from recessions.

She said this on Friday during the Public Presentation and Breakdown of the 2022 Appropriation Bill.

“Having witnessed two consecutive recessions, we have had to spend our way out of the recession which contributed significantly to the growth of our public debts,” the minister stated in Abuja, one day after President Muhammadu Buhari presented the Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly.

“It is unlikely that our recovery from these recessions would have been as fast without the sustained government expenditure funded partly by debt.”

Before now, the minister had said Nigeria will fund its 2022 budget deficit, pegged at N6.258 trillion, through fresh borrowings.

The move was greeted with controversy across the country. Critics and members of the opposition said the development, as well as other borrowings by the Federal Government, call for concern.

“Our party holds it as an act of wickedness that individuals who know that they will be leaving office in less than two years will be accumulating debts instead of seeking ways to reduce the liability they have brought upon our nation,” the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said following Buhari’s request for approval to borrow $4 billion and €710 million to fund the deficit in the 2021 budget.


RELATED
Nigeria’s Debt Still at Sustainable Level, Says Buhari
2022: Five Major Areas Nigeria’s Loans Will Be Focused On
2022 Budget: FG To Borrow More To Finance N6.258trn Deficit


 

Technically At War

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed says the borrowings are within “sustainable limits.”

 

But Zainab has explained that borrowings have helped the government in providing infrastructure to boost the economy.

“Borrowings are essential to enable us to deploy necessary capital expenditure and invest in human capital development,” she maintained.

According to her, with the country’s rising levels of insecurity, the government had to resort to borrowing.

“To compound matters, the country has technically been at war, with the pervasive security challenges across the nation,” the minister added.

“This has necessitated massive expenditures on security equipment and operations, contributing to the fiscal deficit; Defence and Security sector accounts for 22% of the 2022 budget!”

She further allayed fears over Nigeria’s debts, insisting the “debt level of the Federal Government is still within sustainable limits”.

2022: Five Major Areas Nigeria’s Loans Will Be Focused On

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday presented the 2022 Appropriation Bill before the National Assembly

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday submitted the 2022 Appropriation Bill before the Joint Session of the National Assembly in Abuja.

According to the President, the “Budget of Economic Growth and Sustainability” would have its deficit mainly funded by new borrowings totalling N5.01 trillion, N90.73 billion from Privatization Proceeds and 1.16 trillion Naira drawdowns on loans secured for specific development projects.

While arguing that the nation does not have a debt sustainability problem, but a revenue challenge; President Buhari assured the lawmakers and Nigerians that his administration is determined to tackle the revenue problems and ensure that debts remain sustainable.

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s Debt Still at Sustainable Level, Says Buhari

He further explained that his government has endeavoured to use the loans to finance critical development projects and programmes aimed at improving Nigeria’s economic environment and ensuring effective delivery of public services to our people.

For President Buhari, the loans acquired have been and will continue to be focused on:

1. The completion of major road and rail projects;

2. The effective implementation of power sector projects;

3. The provision of potable water;

4. The construction of irrigation infrastructure and dams across the country; and

5. The critical health projects such as the strengthening of national emergency medical services and ambulance system, procurement of vaccines, polio eradication and upgrading Primary Health Care Centres across the six geopolitical zones.

Speaking further about infrastructure financing, President Buhari disclosed that there will be some innovations.

According to him, in 2022, the government will further strengthen the frameworks for concessions and public-private partnerships (PPPs).

“Capital projects that are good candidates for PPP by their nature will be developed for private sector participation,” the President asserted.

He also disclosed that the present administration will also explore available opportunities in the existing ecosystem of green finance including the implementation of the nation’s Sovereign Green Bond Programme and leveraging debt-for-climate swap mechanisms.

The president enunciated that the strategies to improve revenue mobilisation will be sustained in 2022 with the goal of achieving four key objectives and they include:

Enhancement of tax and excise revenues through policy reforms and tax administration measures; review the policy effectiveness of tax waivers and concessions; boost customs revenue through the e-Customs and Single Window initiatives; and safeguard revenues from the oil and gas sector.


2022 Budget: FG To Borrow More To Finance N6.258trn Deficit

The Federal Government says the borrowing will be used to fund infrastructure projects. Photo: Facebook/Femi Adesina.

 

The Federal Government on Wednesday announced plans to finance the proposed 2022 budget deficit pegged at N6.258 trillion through fresh borrowings.

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this during a press conference after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja, adding that this will aid the funding of the Federal Government’s infrastructure projects.

“Government has been borrowing before this administration and continues to borrow and it is important that we borrow to provide developmental projects in the form of roads, rails, bridges, power and water for sustainable development in this country,” she said.

“If we just depend on the revenues that we get, even though our revenues have increased, the operational expenditure of government, including salaries and other overheads, is barely covered or swallowed up by the revenue.”

The Finance Minister says Nigeria’s borrowing is within healthy limits. Photo:Facebook/ Femi Adesina

 

While defending the government’s borrowings, she said the move is necessary to be able to build projects and to ensure they are developed on a sustainable basis.

In spite of persistent agitations in some quarters against the frequent borrowing by the current administration, the Finance Minister insists that the total size of the borrowing is still within healthy and sustainable limits.

A cross section of FEC members during the meeting held on October 6th, 2021.

 

She added, “Nigeria’s borrowing, has been of great concern and has elicited a lot of discussions. But if you look at the total size of the borrowing, it is still within healthy and sustainable limits. 

“As of July 2021, the total borrowing is 23% of GDP. When you compare our borrowing to other countries, we’re the lowest within the region, lowest compared to Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, the very lowest, and Angola.

“We do have a problem with revenue. Our revenues have been increasing. We just reported to Council that our revenues from non-oil have performed, as of July, at the rate of 111%, which means outperforming the prorated budget.”

This is coming as the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the 2022 Appropriation Bill for an aggregate expenditure of N16.39 trillion.

Buhari Submits Revised 2022-2024 MTEF To Reps

A file photo of the House of Representatives complex in Abuja.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has submitted the revised 2022-2024 Medium Term Fiscal Framework (MTEF) for the consideration and approval of the House of Representatives.

According to the President, the revision was necessitated by the need to reflect the new fiscal terms in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, as well as other critical expenditures in the 2022 Budget.

“The underlying drivers of the 2022 fiscal projections, such as oil price benchmark, oil production volume, exchange rate, GDP growth, and inflation rate reflect emergent realities and the macroeconomic outlook, and remain unchanged as in the previously approved 2022-24 MTEF&FSP,” he said in a letter addressed to the lawmakers and read during Tuesday’s plenary.

“The PIA establishes a progressive fiscal framework aimed at encouraging investment in the Nigerian petroleum industry. This significantly alters the oil and gas fiscal terms and has necessitated changes in the 2022-2024 Medium Term Fiscal Framework.

“The fiscal effects of PIA implementation are assumed to kick in by mid-year 2022. The revised 2022-24 Fiscal Framework is premised on a hybrid of January-June (based on the current fiscal regime) and July-December (based on PIA fiscal regime), while 2023 and 2024 are now fully based on the PIA”.

Read Also: President Buhari To Present 2022 Budget To NASS On Thursday

Arising from this and other critical expenditures that should be accommodated in the 2022 Budget, the changes to the 2022 Projections in the Fiscal Framework are as follows:

Federation Account Revenue:

a. Gross revenue projection decreased by N34,157 billion, from N8.870 trillion to N8.528 trillion.

b. Deductions for Federally-funded upstream project costs and 13% Derivation, decreased by N335.3 billion and N810.25 million respectively.

c. Net Oil and Gas revenue projection declined by N5.42 billion from N6.540 trillion to N6.535 trillion.

FGN Retained Revenue;

a. A projected decline in Net Oil and Gas Revenue by N5.42 billion.

b. An increase in projected FGN’s Retained Revenue from N8.36 trillion to N10.13 trillion (inclusive of GOEs), largely based on:

i. A projected increase in the revenues of Government-Owned Enterprises (GOEs) by N837.76 billion,

iii. MDAs Internally Generated Revenue by N697.6 billion;

iv. The introduction of Education Tax of N306 billion and Dividend of N8.3 billion from the Bank of Industry as revenue lines; and

v. FGN share of oil price royalty of N96.9 billion which is expected to be transferred to the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority based on the provisions of the PIA.

FGN Expenditure;

a. The FGN Aggregate Expenditure (including GOEs and Project-tied Loans) is projected to increase by N2.47 trillion, from N13.98 trillion to N16.45 trillion.
b. The increase in expenditure is due to:

vi. N100 billion additional provision to INEC, to cater for 2023 General Elections;

vii. The provision of N54 pillion to NASENI, which represents 1% FGN Share of Federation Account;

vii. Additional provision of N510 billion in the Service Wide Votes to cater for National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (N300 billion), Police Operations Fund (N50 billion), Hazard Allowance for Health Workers (N50 billion), Public Service Wage Adjustments (additional N80 billion), and MDAs’ Electricity Bills Debt (additional N37 billion),

ix. Additional Capital provision of N1.70 trillion, attributed to projected increases in:

– Capital Supplementation by N179.1 billion;

– GOEs Capital by N222.1 billion;

– TETFUND Expenditure by N290.7 billion;

– Multi-lateral / Bi-lateral Project-tied Loans by N517.5 billion; and,

-MDAs Capital Expenditure by N390.5 billion (including N178.1 billion provision for population and housing census to be carried out in 2022).

Fiscal Deficit;

a. The Aggregate Deficit (inclusive of GOEs and Project-tied Loans) is projected to increase by N692.0 billion or to 3.42% of GDP from 3.05% of GDP.

“I, herewith, forward the Revised 2022-2024 MTFF. As the 2022 budget of the Federal Government will be prepared based on the parameters and fiscal assumptions of the approved revised 2022-2024 MTEF, seek the cooperation of the National Assembly for expeditious legislative action on the submission,” the President said.

US Senate Approves $3.5 Trillion Budget Blueprint

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 11: Sen. Ted Cruz (L) (R-TX) and special assistant Gray Harker depart the U.S. Capitol at dawn after an overnight session of the U.S. Senate on August 11, 2021 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP

 

The US Senate early Wednesday approved a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint that would greatly expand social spending with major investments in health, education and tackling climate change.

The measure passed 50-49 along party lines after a marathon “vote-a-rama” session of amendment votes.

“Senate Democrats just passed our budget resolution to provide historic investments in American jobs, American families, and the fight against climate change,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted after the vote.

“It puts us on track to bring a generational transformation to how our economy works for average Americans.”

Democratic leaders intend to push the package through over the coming months using a fast-track process known as reconciliation that allows budget-related legislation to pass by simple majority in the Senate rather than the usual 60 votes.

The 10-year budget blueprint pushes Congress toward the next step in President Joe Biden’s ambitious vision for his first term in office and follows on the heels of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan, which the Senate approved in a bipartisan vote Tuesday and which now moves to the House of Representatives.

It was largely written by independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who has called it the “most consequential” social spending plan since president Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s in response to the Great Depression.

The spending plan includes funding for climate measures, new investments in infrastructure including items left out of the targeted Senate package, residency status for millions of migrant workers, and two years of paid tuition at public universities.

Senators have until September 15 to submit their amendments.

Before the vote early Wednesday Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats were “about to take their first step toward yet another reckless, partisan taxing and spending spree.”

“It will push costs even higher for families. It will shatter President Biden’s promise of no middle-class tax hikes,” he tweeted.

Congress must approve the final spending bills by September 30 to prevent a government shutdown, or extend the current year’s budget into the new fiscal year while debate continues.

But while Senate Democrats are ready to give the green light to the budget resolution in a procedural vote as early as this week, moderates in the party have expressed strong reservations about the total price tag, which means tough negotiations are likely.

AFP

Senate Passes N895.842bn Supplementary Budget

 

The Senate on Wednesday passed into law a supplementary budget of N895 billion of which N173 billion is for recurrent expenditure and N722 billion will be for contribution to a development fund for capital expenditure for the year ending 31st December 2021.

This supplementary budget is intended to equip the military in fighting insurgency, covid 19 vaccination, and also funding for the management of HIV.

Its passage comes after a satisfactory report by Senator Jibrin Barau, Senate Committee Chairman on Appropriation, where he explained that the supplementary budget would augment the effort of various government agencies to discharge their responsibilities.

Senator Barau further noted that security agencies will be able to procure arms and equipment as they continue to contain the security threats posed in various regions of the country.

Approved by FEC

President Muhammadu Buhari on the 22nd of June transmitted the supplementary budget of N895.8 billion to the Senate for approval.

The president’s request comes about two weeks after the Federal Executive Council approved the budget.

According to the Federal Government, the budget is specifically meant to enhance the capacity of the military and para-military agencies to tackle the various security challenges in the country.

“The total of this expenditure is made up of N83.56 billion for COVID-19 vaccine programme, covering 30 billion vaccines from Johnson and Johnson vaccines and the logistics cost related to the deployment of that vaccine,” the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, had said on June 9.

“It also contains the sum of N1.69 billion for the Nigerian Comprehensive AIDS programme currently operating in the States and an additional contingency provision of N40 billion under the public service-wide wage adjustments to take care of the needs for allowances to the health and education sectors and other wage-related issues.”

She said the Council also approved an aggregate sum of N770.60 billion to further enhance the capacity of the defence and security agencies to address current and emerging security challenges in our country.

Sale Of Govt Assets Will Benefit Nigerians, Boost Economy – Finance Minister

 

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, on Friday, said the Federal Government’s planned sale of public assets will benefit Nigerians and help to boost the economy.

In an appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, Mrs Ahmed, who is also the Minister of Budget and National Planning, said some government assets are currently moribund and provide little or no value to Nigerians in their current state.

“There are some government assets that are dead that can be sold to the private sector to be reactivated and put to use for the benefit of Nigerians,” the Minister said.

READ ALSO: SERAP Asks NASS To Stop Buhari From Selling Govt Properties

“So we are looking at different – and I am a member of the National Council on Privatisation – we are looking at different categories of government assets that government has not been able to manage, that are lying down and in some cases even completely rundown, to cede them off to the private sector.

On January 12, Mrs Ahmed had revealed the government’s plan to sell public assets to partly finance the N13.58 trillion 2021 budget.

On Friday, Ms Ahmed stressed that the “intention is not just funding the budget, it is to reactivate these assets and hand it over and have them bring contributions to the growth in the economy.”

A file photograph of Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed.
A file photograph of Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed.

 

She added that the Bureau of Public Enterprises will begin to coordinate with other arms of government on the asset sales in the first quarter of the year.

” . . . in the last week of December, we had a meeting of the National Council on Privatisation where we approved the annual work plan, the 2021 work plan, for that Bureau of Public Enterprises,” she said.

“And I guess it is in this first quarter that the BPE will now be engaging the Senate committee and other committees they work with to say this is our work plan for the year.”

In a statement on Sunday, civil society group SERAP had asked the National Assembly to stop the federal government from selling public assets to fund the 2021 budget.

The group said the government should, instead, look to identify areas in the budget to cut, such as salaries and allowances for public officials.

 

‘Nothing new’

On Monday, Osun State Lawmaker had defended the federal govrnment’s plan to sell public assets to fund the budgets.

“The issue of the sale of assets is not new,” he said during an appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

“Even in the previous budgets, there have always been other sources of revenue and the sales of assets is one of such.”

But he stressed that the government must be transparent throughout the process.

“ . . . the critical issue we need to look at, is ‘What assets are we selling?’ Some assets are already liabilities, so what are we keeping them for? That is my humble opinion,” the lawmaker added. “You have to tell us which assets we are looking at.”

A deficit budget

President Muhammadu Buhari signed the 2021 budget into law in late December after it had been passed by the National Assembly.

About one-third of the budget is devoted to capital expenditure but critics maintain the government hasn’t done enough to curb unnecessary spending, especially around cuts in salaries and allowances for public officials.

With oil revenues still affected by the pandemic, the government has said it will borrow N5.6 trillion from domestic and foreign lenders to fund the budget.

The sale of moribund assets is expected to provide additional funding.

The National Arts Theatre and the Tafawa Balewa Square are some assets that could be put up for sale by the government.

FG, States’ Budgets Are Too Small To Address Needs Of Nigerians, Says Akabueze


The Director-General of the Budget Office, Mr Ben Akabueze, has advised the government at the federal, state and local government levels to adequately address the needs of the people.

Akabueze, who featured as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Tuesday, decried that the budgets were insufficient to meet the expectation of Nigerians.

He also stressed the need for more revenue generation aimed at improving the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“Our tax with GDP ratio is about the lowest in the whole world, not even talking about Africa.

“So, our budgets, not just of the federal, but of the sub-national governments are way too small to be able to address our needs in the way that people expect,” the budget office chief said.

He added, “Unfortunately, in the last five years, we have found ourselves first in recession in 2016 and just as we were turning the curve, the COVID-19-induced recession and during a recession, it is difficult to grow revenues.”

The Director-General of the Budget Office, Mr Ben Akabueze, was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on January 5, 2021.

According to Akabueze, the national budget does not equate to the Federal Government’s budget as perceived by most people.

He stated that all the analysis was always focused on the Federal Government’s budget, but the reality was that an aggregate of the budgets of the Federal, state, and local governments was way below the threshold where it should be.

The economist revealed that the aggregate public spending, as a percentage of Nigeria’s GDP, was about 50 per cent of the African average.

He explained that this was so because the nation’s public sector revenues were half of the African average.

Akabueze stated, “When people are talking about how much we are spending on education, they are talking about how much the Federal Government is allocating, whereas education is a matter on the concurrent legislative list… people really don’t look in that direction and expect the Federal Government’s budget to solve every problem.

“So, every community in the country is looking to see some provision for it in the Federal Government’s budget and it really cannot be that way.”

Zulum Signs ₦248 Billion Budget Into Law For 2021

A file photo of Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum. Photo: [email protected]

 

Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum has signed into law, the 2021 appropriation bill passed by the State House of Assembly.

Speaking on Monday at the Government House in Maiduguri after signing the budget, the governor asked all ministries, agencies and departments to comply strictly with the provisions of the 2021 appropriation law.

Zulum also directed his cabinet members to accelerate activities in their ministries for the people of the state to derive maximum benefit.

He also reiterated his administration’s commitment to prioritising security, education, healthcare, agriculture, provision portable water as well as reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement of internally displaced persons and refugees.

The governor expressed appreciation to the leadership and members of the House of Assembly for their cooperation with the executive arm.

READ ALSO: FG To Kick Off 774,000 Jobs Scheme On Tuesday, Says Keyamo

The budget was however increased from ₦208 billion proposed by Zulum, to ₦248 billion, which the House explained was to cater for industrial projects by the Borno plastic industry and the Maiduguri International Hotel amongst several others.

Governor Zulum had in his initial presentation proposed ₦135.1b was for capital projects which represented 65 per cent of the budget sum, and ₦72 billion for recurrent expenditure.

On his part, the Speaker of the Borno State House of Assembly, Abdulkarim Lawan explained the increase of the budget from ₦208 billion to ₦248 billion was to cater for industrial growth that will increase job opportunities.

2021: Sanwo-Olu Signs ₦1.16trn Budget Into Law

File photo of Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu signing the 2020 budget at the State House in Ikeja on December 31, 2019.

 

Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Sanwo-Olu has signed into law the 2021 budget of ₦1.16trn, noting that his administration will continue its work of rebuilding the state.

Sanwo-Olu, show signed the budget on Thursday reiterated the government’s commitment in advancing economic growth, and expanding opportunities for residents of the state to flourish despite the economic challenges caused by the coronavirus.

“With the passage of the bill, we will continue our work of rebuilding Lagos, advancing economic growth, and expanding opportunities for Lagosians to flourish despite the economic challenges caused by the coronavirus,” he said.

“As we already know, 2020 will go down in history as a peculiar year largely defined by the COVID 19 Pandemic and the ENDSARS protests, which were recklessly hijacked by those who destroyed some of our public assets and private businesses.

READ ALSO: 2021 Budget: Deliver On Revenue Targets Or Get Sanctioned, Buhari Warns MDAs

“We are, however, fortunate to be going into the New Year, with an already passed budget, which will help to expedite our recovery process.

“A significant portion of the budget has been committed to human capital development, youth engagement, social intervention initiatives, and the completion of ongoing projects that are critical to achieving the objectives of our T.H.E.M.E.S agenda.

“The Honourable Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget will present to the general public the full details and breakdown of the budget in due course.”

The budget christened the Budget of Rekindled Hope consists of N702,935,416,976 capital expenditure and N460,586,793,741 recurrent expenditure.

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

REMARKS BY MR BABAJIDE OLUSOLA SANWO-OLU, GOVERNOR OF LAGOS STATE AT THE SIGNING OF THE 2021 APPROPRIATION BILL ON THURSDAY 31ST DECEMBER 2020

Protocol

In a moment and on this last day of the year 2020, I will give my assent to the 2021 Appropriation Bill recently passed by the Lagos State House of Assembly.

The quick passage of the bill reflects the harmonious relationship between the State Executive and the Legislature as well as our mutual dedication to the progress of our State and the prosperity of Lagosians.

You will recall that on November 10, 2020, I presented to the House of Assembly the 2021 Appropriation Bill of N1.55 Trillion, which we christened the Budget of Rekindled Hope. The total size of the budget passed by the Legislature now stands at N1,163,522,210,717.00 with capital to recurrent ratio of 60:40. It comprises N702,935,416,976 capital expenditure and N460,586,793,741 recurrent expenditure.

With the passage of the bill, we will continue our work of rebuilding Lagos, advancing economic growth, and expanding opportunities for Lagosians to flourish despite the economic challenges caused by the coronavirus.

As we already know, 2020 will go down in history as a peculiar year largely defined by the COVID 19 Pandemic and the ENDSARS protests, which were recklessly hijacked by those who destroyed some of our public assets and private businesses.

We are, however, fortunate to be going into the New Year, with an already passed budget, which will help to expedite our recovery process. A significant portion of the budget has been committed to human capital development, youth engagement, social intervention initiatives, and the completion of ongoing projects that are critical to achieving the objectives of our T.H.E.M.E.S agenda. The Honourable Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget will present to the general public the full details and breakdown of the budget in due course.

I assure you that the 2021 budget will be prudently implemented with the people as our focus because we are determined to provide the right economic environment for Lagosians to thrive. As the world combats the coronavirus, we will make the necessary sacrifices to further place our State on the path of abundance and economic recovery. We are going into 2021 with the unwavering determination to engender sustainable and inclusive growth.

I promise Lagosians that the 2021 Budget will indeed rekindle hope, deliver substantial economic growth, and bolster our efforts to rebuild Lagos. We will make tough choices where necessary and seize opportunities as needed while ensuring that no Lagosian is left behind.

With the enormous challenges of the outgoing year, we are conscious of the fact that in order to efficiently and successfully implement the 2021 Budget, we must be selfless and dedicated. We are up to the task- with our collective resilience, we will achieve our key goals in all sectors, and nothing will stop us from justifying the trust of the people in this Government.

I implore all stakeholders and residents of Lagos, the organized private sector, artisans as well as small and medium-sized business owners not to relent in supporting this government by voluntarily discharging their civic responsibilities. The growth and prosperity we seek can only be collectively achieved.

On our part, we will ensure that the resources entrusted in our care are efficiently and prudently managed. We will be non-discriminatory in the distribution of resources. This is a budget for all Lagosians irrespective of their social, economic, ethnic, or religious background.

I thank the Honorable Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Mudashiru Obasa and the members of the State House of Assembly for the thorough and expeditious consideration of the 2021 Appropriation Bill, which resulted in the passage of the budget before the end of the year. Thank you for collaborating with the Executive to satisfy the yearnings of the electorate.

I wish all Lagosians a prosperous Year 2021.

Thank You

Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu

Governor of Lagos State

31 December 2020