FG Reassures On Proper Implementation Of 2016 Budget

Ahmed Zainab, Budget ImplementationFederal Government of Nigeria has reassured the nation that it will give priority attention to infrastructure, agriculture and power in the implementation of the 2016 budget.

This was said by the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Ahmed Zainab, at a meeting with members of Civil Society Organizations in Abuja on the implementation of the 2016 budget.

Over one month after the 2016 appropriation bill was passed by the National Assembly, some members of the civil society organizations have expressed their concerns about its implementation.

Some of them in the meeting were especially concerned with how the Federal Government would implement the 30% earmarked for capital projects.

A total of 6.06 trillion was appropriated for the 2016 fiscal year by the Federal Government with over two trillion deficit to be financed by borrowing recovered loots.

The Acting Director-General of the Bureau for Public Procurement, Ahmed Abdul, said that government would save over 40 billion Naira to finance capital projects with the adoption of electronic purchasing system in its offices.

The 2016 budget is referred to by the incumbent government as a ‘budget of change’ but analysts say the change the budget proposes depends so much on its implementation.

Group Decries High Level Of Discrimination Against HIV Positives

HIV-and-AIDS-in-AfricaA coalition of Civil Society Organizations has advocated for the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS.

The group, on Saturday, insisted that discrimination at workplace is on the rise.

At the presentation of the 2016 National Stigmatization Report in Abuja, members of the group said that over 73% of HIV positive individuals have continued to experience discrimination in schools and work places in Nigeria.

They called on government and employers of labour to stop the discrimination against people with HIV.

The HIV and AIDS Anti-discrimination Bill was signed into law in 2015.

INEC, Political Parties Meet Over Inconclusive Elections

Mahmood-Yakubu-InecThe Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, is consulting with leaders of political parties on how to make elections conclusive and also reduce the spate of elections nullification by the courts.

According to him, the consultative meeting is one in the series of three meetings with stakeholders to discuss issues arising from the 2015 general elections and the recent governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States.

He is also scheduling a meeting with Civil Society Organisations and media owners on the same issues.

During a meeting on Tuesday with regional commissioners, the commission also disclosed that it would increase the quantity and quality of card readers.

Mr Yakubu said that INEC would also begin to use votes collation machines for speedier and more credible polls.

North-east Seeks Leadership Of National Assembly

NASS-on-zoning principal officialCivil society organisations in Nigeria have joined the debate on the zoning arrangement of National Assembly principal officers, demanding that it should be zoned to the north-east.

At a news conference in Abuja, on Wednesday, the coordinator of the Justice and Development Consultative Forum, Mr Elisha Ishaku, said the north-east deserved the position of the Senate president, having delivered the second highest number of votes for the party.

Mr Elisha argued that the north-east had been marginalised in the political equation in the country since the inception of democracy.

At a separate news conference, the coalition of Buhari-Osinbajo campaign movement argued that the zone deserves the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

On Monday, the Deputy Senate President urged the incoming administration to learn from the mistakes of previous governments and avoid imposing principal officers on the National Assembly.

Senator Ike Ekweremadu gave the warning at the opening of an induction seminar for incoming legislators held in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

He urged the presidency to allow federal lawmakers choose their presiding officers.

2015 Elections: Jega Seeks Collaboration With United States

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has asked for more collaboration with the U.S. on electoral process in the country.

The commission’s Chairman, Prof. Attaihiru Jega, made this request on Monday during a visit to his office by the U.S Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr James Entwistle.

According to him, INEC is doing everything possible to improve on the electoral process to ensure that elections in the country are credible and transparent.

He said: “We are not promising a perfect election in 2015 but we are confident that we will do our best. We have taken some steps to achieve this. For instance, staff training, in collaboration with development partners, strategic plans and re-organised staff. We are planning a retreat to finalize the timetable for 2015.

“We are still on the Continuous Voters Register and have held series of meetings with security agencies, Civil Society Organizations and development partners ahead of 2015. While it is the responsibility of INEC to organise civic and other registration awareness, the commission faces challenges of funding as well.

“The resources available to discharge that responsibility are usually insufficient, given the enormity of the task of dealing with a large illiterate population and to get them really understand what to do not only during voting but the larger issues of costing good candidates and so on. So there is a lot of things the CSOs can do”, he said.

Mr. Entwistle, while pledging the Obama administration’s commitment to a transparent election in Nigeria come 2015, however, asked Nigerian politicians to ensure that their comments do not provoke tensions that would lead to violence.