Nigeria’s Budget System Is ‘Fraudulent’ – Obaseki

A file photo of Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki.

 

Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, on Monday, called for a more transparent and accountable budget system in the country, saying that the current process is fraudulent.

Obaseki stated this while addressing participants at a four-day training organised by the Edo State Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, in collaboration with Open Government Partnership (OGP).

READ ALSO: ASUU Strike: FG Gives Committee Three Months To Renegotiate With Union

“One of the major crises that we have in Nigeria today, apart from the very weak bureaucracy, is our budgeting process. Our budgeting, I am sorry to use a very harsh word, is almost fraudulent. Why do I say so?”

“As an entity, whether federal, state, or local government, you know how much you can earn. Assuming you can only earn N100 in a year with all the evidence right before you, of course, you know it’s going to be N100,” he said.

“By the time you are preparing the budget and you are giving certain agencies envelopes to put this and that in the budget, you will end up putting up a budget of N200, and you are only going to receive N100. That is where the fraud begins.

“By the time you take that document to the House, the various representatives there have various promises they made to their constituents and the things they want to put in for themselves, and they add N50 to it.

“It will now be a budget of N250, and meanwhile, you have only N100.  From that N100, maybe you have said that N100 will be for recurrent expenditures, to pay for the running of the government and N50 will be for capital. The recurrent expenditure is the first-line charge.”

He continued: “You have to pay salaries before you do anything. Now, you have a budget of N250 and have increased your recurrent expenditure in that proportional sum, so what happens year-in-year-out is that the buck of the money in your budget goes to the first-line charge.

“So, there is little or nothing left on things that affect the people, including building schools, roads, hospitals, and other infrastructure for the people.”

The governor, who reiterated the need for citizens’ budgeting, noted: “for us in Edo, preparing a citizens’ budget is not negotiable. At least for me as governor, it is non-negotiable. That is why I want more of our DFAs to be here.

“At the political level, we are doing what we can to change our politics and make political players realize that when they come out to serve, they are not there to serve themselves. Government is not a business where you make money, it’s where you come and serve.”

Earlier, the resource person for the programme, Mr. David Agu, said citizens’ output has become a huge resource for policymaking and implementation, including the budget.

Agu said popular participation, accountability, transparency, simplification, accessibility, and citizens’ feedback lead to a peoples’ budget that will enhance service delivery, improve good governance and bring about development.

In her remarks, the Edo State Commissioner Budget and Economic Planning, Princess Otse Momoh-Omorogbe, said the event would help chart a new direction for the state’s budgeting process.

Be Transparent In Utilisation Of Budgetary Allocation, Malami Tells Judiciary

Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, made an appearance on Channels Television on June 30, 2020.
File photo: Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami

 

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has asked the judiciary to be transparent and accountable in the spending of the funds allocated to it in its annual budgets.

Speaking on Tuesday at the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Justice Sector Summit 2022 in Abuja, Malami said there was the need for the judiciary sector to “open its own book” the same way and manner the legislature and executive subject themselves for scrutiny.

READ ALSO: Police Arraign Suspected Cannibal, Fake Lawyer In Zamfara

He urged the judiciary to live up to its responsibility and support initiatives that will bring the desired result in the administration of justice in the country.

The Justice Minister also spoke on the appointment of the judges, saying the extant Nigerian laws made the criteria for such appointment very clear.

He said to enhance the quality of the system, there has to be accommodation of merits for consideration as the basis for appointment.

Taliban Release First Budget Since Afghan Takeover

Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint on a street in Kabul on December 17, 2021. Mohd RASFAN / AFP

 

The Taliban said Thursday they have approved their first budget for Afghanistan since the hardline Islamists returned to power in August, with no mention of foreign aid.

International assistance represented 40 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP and made up 80 percent of its budget when the former US-backed government was in control.

When it crumbled in August and the Taliban took command, Western powers froze billions of dollars in aid and assets in what the United Nations described as an “unprecedented fiscal shock”.

“For the first time in the last two decades, we made a budget that is not dependent on foreign aid and that is a very big achievement for us,” said Taliban finance ministry spokesman Ahmad Wali Haqmal.

The budget of 53.9 billion afghanis ($508 million) approved on Wednesday will cover the first quarter of 2022 and is almost entirely dedicated to funding government institutions.

Haqmal said state workers, many of whom have not been paid for months, will start receiving salaries by the end of January.

Women staff, who have mostly been blocked from returning to their jobs, will also be paid.

“We count them like they have come back to work. We have not fired them,” Haqmal said.

Around 4.7 billion afghanis will be spent on development projects including transport infrastructure.

“It’s a small amount but that’s what we can do now,” Haqmal said.

The Taliban exchequer is funded by “our own resources” including tax, trade, and mining revenue, he added.

The Islamists are set to announce their first annual budget in March, shifting the fiscal year to match Afghanistan’s solar calendar.

Since they took power Western nations have grappled with the task of channelling aid to the nation without financing its new rulers.

Meanwhile millions are facing hunger this winter as a cash, fuel and food crisis grips the impoverished country.

AFP

Wike Faults Signing Of 2022 Budget, Says Nigeria Made A Mistake Choosing Buhari

A combination of file photos of President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Nyesom Wike.

 

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has faulted the signing of the 2022 budget of N17.127 trillion into law, saying Nigerians made a mistake choosing Muhammadu Buhari as president in 2015.

According to Wike, Buhari had no business signing the budget when he was well aware that the bill was riddled with a plethora of unimplementable projects.

The governor, who stated this in Bauchi on Saturday when he visited his counterpart, Bala Mohammed, on a ‘special new year visit’, said Buhari, who he claimed knew the importance of the document, should have returned it to the National Assembly for corrections before assenting to the bill.

Wike expressed worry over the state of leadership recruitment in the country and asserted that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) must take responsibility to provide the kind of leadership that Nigeria needs.

READ ALSO: Wike Condemns Bandits’ Attack In Sokoto

“You saw a President [Buhari] yesterday that said this budget is unimplementable, yet he went ahead and signed something he knows would not help the country.

“For the Electoral Act, he faulted errors, saying direct primary will be too expensive and will affect security. But he signed something that he knows would affect the economic survival of the country negatively,” he stated.

Wike further slammed the Buhari-led administration for a biased fight against corruption. According to him, the antigraft agencies only went after members of the opposition.

“But if you go over to the All Progressives Congress (APC), you are no longer a criminal. What kind of system is that? Is that the kind of leadership you want?” the governor asked.

“As we speak today, there is no judicial autonomy in Nigeria. Go and see the nature of the federal courts. I’m surprised that Mr. President could not make a pronouncement when he heard that the house of Justice of the Supreme Court was invaded.

“I’m sure if Justice Odili was killed, he would have issued a statement. In a country, when you see the abomination, like an invasion of Supreme Court justice’s house, it is not just an invasion; it is a threat to the judiciary. And the president could not say, ‘I will not accept this!’,” Wike buttressed.

The Rivers State governor emphasized that the nation is in dire need of leadership that cuts through the barriers of region and religion.

Governor Abubakar Bello Assents To 2022 Appropriation Bill Into Law

File photo of Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State.

 

Niger State Governor Abubakar Bello has signed the over N211 billion 2022 appropriation bill into law.

Bello signed the bill at the Council Chamber of the Government House in Minna shortly before the commencement of the weekly executive council meeting on Wednesday.

The governor, who appreciated the efforts of the lawmakers in passing the bill in record time, maintained that his administration has been enjoying a cordial relationship with the Legislative arm of government.

Governor Abubakar commended the doggedness of the lawmakers in ensuring that the right thing is done always, adding that their insistence in most cases has helped his administration.

READ ALSOSeven Die In Niger State Boat Mishap

“I have seen reasons in their stubbornness sometimes and I must confess I really appreciate it because most times they are right and that is how it should be. So, when we have our differences, we come back and we reconcile,” he said.

He said his administration is poised to fund the budget completely as it is the last full budget to be implemented by the present administration, stressing that the Board of Internal Revenue is also determined to improve the state’s internally generated revenue in addition to the other sources of revenue to the state.

“On our part, we will try and see that we implement the budget but of course, it is subject to availability of funds. As we are all aware, the budget is just a statement; we hope that we are able to fund it 100%,” the governor added.

In his remarks, the Speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, Abdullahi Bawa, said the responses from various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) were encouraging during the budget screening process.

He, however, noted that the budget was adjusted to cater for some MDAs that were hitherto not captured properly.

The Speaker assured that the State Assembly will through its oversight functions, ensure full implementation of the budget.

Governor Abubakar had on the 4th of November, 2021 presented a budget of over N198 billion with the capital expenditure of N124 billion while recurrent expenditure was at N74 billion.

The bill was, however, passed by the State Assembly on the 22nd of December, 2021 with an increase of N13 billion.

The capital expenditure of the budget signed is N131 billion representing 62% while the recurrent budget is now N80 billion representing 38%.

Jigawa Governor Signs N177bn Budget, Child Protection Bill Into Law

File photo of Jigawa State Governor at the Government House in Dutse.

 

Jigawa State Governor, Badaru Abubakar, has signed the state’s 2022 Appropriation Bill, as well as the Child’s Protection Bill into law.

The governor signed the two bills into law on Wednesday at the Government House in Dutse, after the Speaker and other principal officers of the State House of Assembly presented the bills to him.

The 2022 Appropriation Bill was presented to the State House of Assembly last month with the education and health sectors gulping almost half of the entire N177.7bn budget.

Meanwhile, the Child’s Protection Law which seeks to protect children’s rights, has now proscribed the death penalty for sexual offenders on children below the age of 10.

The law comes without the option of life imprisonment or any alternate punishment.

In his remarks, the House Chairman Committee on Judiciary, Muhammad Jallo, explained that the lawmakers invited stakeholders before the passage of the bill.

The move, he noted, was to ensure that the law did not contradict the religion and culture of the people of Jigawa.

“Because of the misconception people have on the bill, we invited religious leaders and we deliberated on the bill and where there’s need for amendment, we did,” Jallo said.

The law also criminalised traditional marks for children and sets aside community service as punishment for offenders.

However, the law is silent on underage marriage, which according to the lawmaker, will contradict Islamic culture that permits marriages before the age of 18.

INEC Reveals Why N305bn Is Required To Conduct 2023 Elections

A file photo of an INEC official carrying a bag with electoral materials.

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that the N305 billion required to conduct the 2023 elections would be used majorly to meet the commission’s technological needs to better serve the country.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, INEC’s National Commission, Festus Okoye, disclosed that part of the money will be used to conduct elections in some states where the gubernatorial polls fall outside the regular schedule.

In defending the request for the funds as made by INEC’s Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the commission’s spokesman noted that all that has been asked for is the best interest of the Nigerian people.

Read Also: Buhari Has No Excuse For Not Signing Electoral Act Amendment Bill, Says Wike

Explaining in detail, Mr Okoye said, “the issue is very clear. The first was that there was a provision of N140 billion to the appropriations committee, from the Executive.

“Out of this, N40bn was for our regular budget which decreases on a yearly basis. So the first N100 billion we classified it as the first tranche for our 2023 general election,” the commissioner stated

He added: “Now as you are aware, we are going to conduct the Ekiti and Osun governorship election in June and July and so from that N100 billion we are going to take some money to conduct the elections in these two states.

“Secondly, as you are aware, the commission is introducing a new technology in the electoral process and it is a multi-functional tech that will take care of voter registration issues, accreditation of voters, and issues of uploading and transmission of electoral results.”

While noting that the smartcard readers have been retired for not serving INEC perfectly anymore, Mr Okoye said this new technology has to be acquired, noting that the advancement is quite expensive but worth it.

According to him, the commission’s projection is that since Nigeria now has a total of 176,846 polling units, then at least 200,000 beavers (the new tech) will serve the purpose of the upcoming elections.

He stressed that there is a need for the equipment to be purchased early enough, adding that while the purchase might be very expensive, they help cut off every worry with regards to registrations, accreditation, and transmission of election results

Mr Okoye assured Nigerians that this modern tech will be a one-off thing that could serve the country for two electoral cycles before the advent of more modern tech.

Speaking about President Buhari’s decline to assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, Okoye, who is also INEC Chairman for Information and Voter Education, said it is unfortunate that the direct primaries have overshadowed the entire bill.

He said the bill is a very progressive one that contains provisions that would make the electoral process more free and fair.

Mr Okoye expressed hope that whatever challenges or provisions are holding the assent of the bill will be resolved quickly.

Infrastructure, Education Get Highest Allocation As Lagos Budgets N1.39trn For 2022

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, presents the state’s 2022 budget proposal to the Lagos State House of Assembly on November 24, 2021.

 

The Lagos State government has earmarked huge capital expenditure in the 2022 fiscal year to service key growth areas to consolidate the recovery of the state’s economy and positively impact residents’ livelihoods.

In the proposed N1.388 trillion budget for the year 2022 presented to the Lagos State House of Assembly on Wednesday, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu revealed that the state would spend N325 billion to deliver vital infrastructure projects in key sectors to energise and expand the growth of the state’s economy.

The key areas of growth identified by the governor include works and infrastructure, waterfront infrastructure development, agriculture, transportation, energy and mineral resources, tourism, entertainment and creative industry, commerce and industry, as well as wealth creation and employment.

He explained that the human capital development drive of his administration was projected to take a leap in 2022, with an allocation of 21.24 per cent combined in the total expenditure to education and health.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Air To Take Off By April 2022, Says Aviation Minister

The proposed budget, christened “Budget of Consolidation”, will be the last full-year fiscal plan of the state before the general elections in 2023.

In his presentation, Governor Sanwo-Olu believes the coming year presents an opportunity for the government to consolidate on the progress recorded, while leveraging investment inflow, partnership and business-friendly policies, to maximally translate its achievements into noticeable positive impact in the lives of residents.

About N823.4 billion, representing 59 per cent of the 2022 budget, is earmarked for capital expenditure while recurrent expenditure – including personnel cost, overhead, and debt services – is N565 billion – representing 41 per cent.

 

Gradual Recovery

The governor noted that his administration had clearly articulated its vision in governance through the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda in the last two years, adding that the state was now looking towards the future with the activation of the implementation of a 30-year development plan (2021-2051) which replaced previous 13-year growth plan developed in 2012.

“Year 2022 Budget is the next step on our journey to true and sustainable greatness in Lagos,” he said. “The challenging environment requires that we focus our interventions on areas of greatest social impact and achieving the greatest good for the greatest number in the shortest possible time.

“It is in this light that we are presenting the Year 2022 Budget of Consolidation with a size of N1,388,285,459,990.51. This financial proposal is presented with a sense of duty and absolute commitment to the transformation of Lagos to a preferred global destination for residence, commerce, and investment.

“The budget projects to see a continuing but gradual recovery to growth in economic activity as the global economy cautiously recovers from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, addressing the lawmakers while presenting the state’s 2022 budget proposal on November 24, 2021.

 

Of the total proposed expenditure, N1.135 trillion would accrue from Internally Generated Revenues (IGRs) and federal transfers, while deficit financing of N253 billion would be sourced from external and domestic loans, and bonds projected to be within the state’s fiscal sustainability parameters.

The state would be earmarking an aggregate of N137.64 billion, representing 9.92 per cent of the 2022 budget, for the funding of green investment in environment, social protection, housing and community amenities.

 

Safer Lagos

On Security, the governor explained that the state’s continued investment in the sector had reaped positive dividends, stressing that more allocation would be channelled to security in 2022 to make Lagos safer for living, working and investment.

Despite the global economic downturn, he said Lagos had seen more construction machinery deployed to deliver new infrastructure in the areas of roads, rail, housing, health, education and waterways.

“There has been significant progress on the Lagos Rail Mass Transit projects, which include both the 27-kilometre Blue line that will run from Okokomaiko to Marina, and the 32-kilometre Red line that will run from Agbado to Oyigbo, and eventually to Marina,” Governor Sanwo-Olu told the lawmakers.

“These rails, when completed, will deliver a combined 32.5 million people every month on their respective routes, reducing travel time by over 250 per cent, increasing the productivity and quality of life of our people.

“The Red line will come with eight new modern train stations, 10 new overpasses and 13 pedestrian bridges. These ambitious projects are expected to be commissioned in the fourth quarter of 2022.”

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, with his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat; Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, and others on November 24, 2021.

 

The outgoing year’s budget, the governor said, performed “remarkably well” despite the challenges encountered by the state, noting that the expenditure performance at the third quarter of 2021 rose to 80 per cent.

He said the need to stabilise the state’s economy led to the adoption of far-reaching cost-saving measures, including restructuring of local borrowings to reduce overall debt service obligations on Lagos.

Governor Sanwo-Olu thanked the residents for supporting and standing by his administration in the past two years.

Noting that there were more challenges lying ahead, he urged them to join hands with him in delivering his programmes for common good, with an assurance that the pace of governance would be amplified in the coming years.

Niger Gov Presents N198.2bn Budget Proposal To State Assembly For 2022

File photo of Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State.

 

Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State on Thursday presented a budget estimate of N198, 245, 654, 759,75 billion to the State House of Assembly for the 2022 fiscal year.

Presenting the appropriation bill tagged ‘Budget of Prosperity and Consolidated Development’ before the House, the Governor said the estimate is hinged on six cardinal objectives.

He further explained that the budget estimates comprise N54,282,425,426 billion from statutory allocation, while Value Added Tax is expected to contribute N20,792,440,780 billion.

Other sources of revenue for financing the estimate, according to the governor, are hinged on Internal Generated Revenue which is projected at N17 billion, Dividend from the North-South power company – N500 million, while the Excess Crude Refund is estimated at N4.87 billion.

Giving a breakdown of the expenditure framework for the 2022 budget proposal, Governor Bello said that recurrent expenditure will gulp the sum of N74.1 billion or 37 per cent of the budget as against the N72 billion for 2020.

Capital expenditure is estimated at a whopping N124.9 billion, an increase of N43 billion from last year’s approved N80 billion capital expenditure which represents 62 per cent of the total budget.

Giving a further breakdown of the sectoral allocation, the Governor who noted that this is the last full budget by this administration, said the sum of N87.4 billion has been earmarked for the economic sector.

Other sectors include the social sector N25.6 billion, administrative sector N9 billion and Law and justice sub-sector N760 million.

The Governor insisted that the budget is targeted at completing all ongoing projects, creation of wealth and the security of lives and properties.

Receiving the bill, Speaker of the Assembly, Hon Abdullahi Wuse, commended the Governor for ensuring that the capital budget estimates far outweigh the recurrent expenditure to drive the developmental needs of the state.

He appealed to the Governor to do everything possible towards securing the Local Government Areas of the state in order to ensure that locals who have been displaced return to their villages to boost agricultural inputs and stimulate economic activities in the state.

National Security: Budget Reduction Will Impede Nigerian Army’s Capacity, Says COAS

 

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Faruk Yahaya, has said the reduction in the army budget will prevent the army from tackling the nation’s security challenges.

He stated this on Wednesday while defending the Army’s 2022 budget before the Senate Committee on Army.

Yahaya asked the National Assembly to convince the Federal Government to exempt the Army from the current budget ceiling or envelope allocation system.

According to the army chief, the sum of N579bn approved for the Nigerian Army for the 2022 fiscal year was grossly inadequate to fight terrorism and banditry in the country.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya speaks before the Senate Committee on Army on November 3, 2021.

 

Lieutenant-General Yahaya urged the Senate panel to approve the sum of N642.7bn as the Nigerian Army personnel emolument for the 2022 budget.

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He also requested the approval of N29.6bn as overhead cost and N37.6bn as capital expenditure.

“In preparing for the year 2022 budget, the Nigerian Army proposed the sum of N710bn. However, the budget ceiling of the  Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning reduced our proposed sum from N710bn to a total sum of N579bn,” he said.

“This reduction would impede the capacity and tempo of the Nigerian Army in carrying out its constitutional duties particularly the ongoing war against Boko Haram terrorists and other criminalities across the country.

“The National Assembly should prevail on the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to exempt the Nigerian Army from the current budget ceiling or envelope allocation system.”

“The timely and complete implementation of the 2022 budget will thus enhance the fulfilment of the Nigerian Army’s constitutional mandate and thus engender peace for the socio-economic development of our country Nigeria.”

He assured the panel that the Nigerian Army was committed to securing the territorial integrity of Nigeria from any violation.

The COAS also lamented the global COVID-19 pandemic, noting it has affected socio-economic activities including that of Nigeria, adding that the attendant negative consequences contributed to allowed insecurity in the country.

‘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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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.”