National Assembly Passes 2021 Budget, Raises It By N505bn

File photo of the 2021 budget during the presentation by President Muhammadu Buhari on October.

 

The National Assembly has passed the 2021 budget raising the proposed estimate of N13.082 trillion to N13.588 trillion. 

This is an increase of N505 billion from the proposed figures presented by the executive.

This budget was passed on Monday by both the Senate and the House of Representatives during their special plenary held mainly to pass the budget ahead of the Christmas and New Year break.

READ ALSO: SIM Deactivation: Large Crowd Invades NIMC Office In Lagos Amid COVID-19 Restrictions

The lawmakers are sticking to the $40 per barrel benchmark price of crude but asked President Buhari to send a supplementary budget because of the increase in oil price in the international market which is hovering between 47-50 dollars per barrel.

This supplementary budget is expected to fund critical areas in the country.

Key assumptions in the 2021 budget include:

Statutory transfer- N496.528 billion

Recurrent expenditure- N5.641 trillion

Capital expenditure- N4.125 trillion

Debt servicing- N3.324 trillion

GDP growth rate – 3.00%

President Muhammadu Buhari had submitted a N13.082 trillion budget to a joint session of the National Assembly on October 8th, 2020.

The 2021 budget is christened the budget of economic recovery and resilience aimed at accelerating the pace of Nigerian economic recovery, promote diversification, enhance competitiveness, and ensure social inclusion.

Persons Living With Disability Protest At National Assembly Gate

A file photo of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

A number of people living with disabilities from the Niger Delta region on Thursday stormed the National Assembly Complex in Abuja to protest neglect by Federal Lawmakers representing them in the Federal Legislature.

The aggrieved protesters under the banner of Great Minds foundation of people living with deformities Niger Delta, forced themselves inside the assembly complex despite resistance by security operatives at the National Assembly gate.

The spokesperson of the group, Amos Etim, said they arrived at the National Assembly from various states of the Niger Delta to demand their rights from their representatives.

READ ALSO: Police Brutality: Wife Of Victim Demands ₦200m Compensation In Taraba

Some of the persons living with disabilities were reported to have manhandled a National Assembly security man who was trying to prevent them from entering into the main building.

The Deputy Whip of the Senate, Senator  Aliyu Sabi, who lead other lawmakers to meet with the protesters appealed for calm and said their grievances will be addressed.

Senator Sabi asked the protesters to delegate a five-man team to meet the National Assembly leaders.

Senate Passes Finance Bill, 2020

A file photo of lawmakers during plenary in the Senate Chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

The Finance Bill, 2020 has been passed by members of the Senate Chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

This followed the consideration of the report of the Joint Committee on Finance, Customs, Excise and Tariff, Trade and Investment, as well as Public Procurement by the lawmakers during plenary on Tuesday.

Senator Solomon Adeola, who represents Lagos West district, had moved that the Senate should receive and consider the report.

Thereafter, he laid and presented the report before the lawmakers, after which the Senate resolved into Committee of the Whole to consider the report.

After the Senate reported back to plenary, the Finance Bill, 2020 was read the third time and passed.

The bill proposes various amendments to existing tax laws and financial regulations in response to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Nigerian economy.

One of the objectives of the bill is to provide financial relief for taxpayers by reducing the applicable minimum tax rate for two consecutive years of assessment, as well as reforming the commencement and cessation rules for small businesses.

During Tuesday’s plenary, the Senate also adopted the recommendations of the Committee on Communications on the 2021 Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) budget proposal.

This followed the presentation of the report by Senator Oluremi Tinubu who represents Lagos Central senatorial.

Senator Tinubu also presented the report of the Senate Committee on Communications on the 2021 Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) budget proposal.

The recommendations of the committee were thereafter adopted by the lawmakers.

Buhari To Honour Reps Invite, Address NASS Joint Session On Thursday

 

President Muhammadu Buhari will on Thursday address a joint session of the National Assembly.

This is according to the President’s Personal Assistant on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie.

Ms Onochie disclosed this on Monday, via her official Twitter handle.

READ ALSO: Govt. To Deal Decisively With ‘Any Act Of Hooliganism’ In Protests – Buhari

“FireFLASHFire, FireFLASHFire President @MBuhari will address a joint session of the National Assembly (@nassnigeria) on Thursday 10th December 2020,” the president’s aide stated.

This is coming a few days after the House of Representatives said Buhari would appear before the House.

A spokesperson for the Green Chamber, Ben Kalu had disclosed this while briefing journalists at the National Assembly.

Yakubu Asks NASS To Pass Amended Electoral Act Before 2021 First Quarter Ends

A file photo of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

Former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has appealed to the National Assembly to pass the Electoral Act Amendment Bill latest by the first quarter of 2021.

He made the appeal on Thursday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on INEC at the National Assembly complex in Abuja.

Professor Yakubu appeared for his screening by the lawmakers following his reappointment as INEC chairman by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He informed the senators that passing the piece of legislation within the timeframe recommended was critical for the success of the 2023 general elections.

The former INEC chief noted that the nation’s electoral body had submitted several areas for amendments in the Electoral Act.

He stressed that it was extremely important for the electoral legal framework to be finalised in due time, saying INEC cannot conduct elections under uncertainty.

READ ALSO: Buhari Must Listen To The People Or Set Nigeria ‘On Fire’ – Wike

Professor Yakubu, however, said INEC would continue to deepen the use of technology for elections and explore other ways in which the electoral process could benefit from technology.

He assured the lawmakers that the electoral umpire was working to ensure that materials needed for the elections were procured well ahead of time.

The immediate past INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, asks questions from some senators during his screening for his reappointment on November 26, 2020.

 

During the screening, the former INEC chief answered a series of questions from the lawmakers in a bid to return to the office he held for five years.

The Presidency announced Professor Yakubu’s reappointment as INEC chairman for another five-year term on October 27.

His reappointment is, however, subject to approval by the Senate.

Following the completion of his first term, Professor Yakubu handed over the leadership of INEC to Air Vice Marshal Ahmed Muazu who has been acting as chairman of the commission since November 9.

He was first appointed by President Buhari to oversee the activities of the electoral umpire in November 2015, six months after the Nigerian leader assumed office.

Professor Yakubu, who took over from Professor Attahiru Jega, was first appointed into office by President Buhari in November 2015.

Under him, INEC has conducted many elections, including the 2019 polls which saw the President extending his stay in office for another four years.

Members of the Senate considered the President’s request to confirm the reappointment of Professor Yakubu as INEC chairman on Wednesday.

The lawmakers later referred the President’s request to the Senate Committee on INEC for further legislative action and asked the senators to report back on Tuesday next week.

Gbajabiamila Confirms Death Of Vendor Shot By His Security Aide, Suspends Officer

A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

 

The Speaker of the House of Representative, Femi Gbajabiamila has confirmed the death of a newspaper vendor shot by one of his security aides on Thursday. 

Gbajabiamila who, in a series of tweets on his official handle in the early hours of Friday, narrated how the incident took place, explained that the vendor was hit by a stray bullet meant to disperse a crowd when he went to greet newspaper vendors while leaving the National Assembly.

“A horrible incident has taken place. This evening as I left the national assembly, I stopped, as usual, to exchange pleasantries with the newspaper vendors at the corner,” he explained.

“Many of them have known me since I first moved to Abuja and it was a friendly exchange. Unfortunately, after the convoy set out in continuation of movement, unidentified men obstructed the convoy which got the attention of security men in the convoy who shot into the air to disperse them.”

The Lagos lawmaker narrated that some hours after they got to their destination, he was informed that the victim, identified as Ifeanyi had been hit by a stray bullet.

He said this was “contrary to an earlier report by men in the convoy that they applied their security discretion to shoot in the air.

“In the meantime; the officer who fired the fatal shot has been suspended from the convoy pending the conclusion of the investigation.”

While sending his condolences to the family of the deceased, the Speaker expressed distraught about the incident.

“For one of them (vendors) to have been shot by my security detail is horrific and I cannot begin to imagine the grief and loss Ifeanyi’s family must feel on this sad day. No family should have to go through this,” he added.

“I have caused a report to be made to the local police station and an investigation has commenced. My value for human life and my respect for all people – irrespective of social-economic status – is what endeared me to these vendors and these are the reasons why I stop my convoy quite often to connect with them.”

 

Violence: Sanwo-Olu Urges NASS To Set Aside Funds For Lagos, Others In 2021 Budget

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, speaks at the Consultative Forum on Rebuilding Lagos held on November 16, 2020.

 

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has asked the National Assembly to make provision for funds in the 2021 budget, to support Lagos and other states where violence was recorded recently.

He made the appeal on Monday at the Consultative Forum on Rebuilding Lagos held in Alausa, Ikeja.

“I would like to appeal to the National Assembly to take steps to set aside funds for this task of Rebuilding and Restoring Lagos in the 2021 Appropriation Bill being deliberated upon currently by the Assembly.

“This Fund does not necessarily have to be for Lagos alone, it can and should also take into consideration other states also impacted by the recent spate of violence,” Governor Sanwo-Olu pleaded.

He explained that following the violence recorded in the state, the government constituted, by executive order, the Lagos State Rebuild Trust Fund.

The governor noted that as a follow-up, a bill will be sent to the State House of Assembly, to enshrine the Fund in the laws of the land, and give it the necessary backing to accomplish its mandate.

According to him, the state government organised the event to operationalise the fund, by mobilising resources from far and wide for the singular purpose of rebuilding and restoring the state.

“We seek to restore the infrastructure that was destroyed, to revive the energy and confidence of everyone who has been affected by these losses, to help restore the confidence of the people of Lagos in the infinite potentials of Lagos.

“But the state government cannot do this alone. We need all the help that we can get, which is why we have invited you all here, and are grateful that you have honoured our invitation,” Governor Sanwo-Olu told the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and lawmakers present at the event.

He added, “We require the assistance of the Federal Government, from both the Executive and Legislative branches.”

Read the full text of the governor’s speech at the event below:

SPEECH BY THE GOVERNOR OF LAGOS, MR. BABAJIDE SANWO-OLU, AT THE CONSULTATIVE FORUM ON REBUILDING LAGOS, HELD AT THE ADEYEMI BERO AUDITORIUM, ALAUSA, IKEJA ON MONDAY NOVEMBER 16, 2020.

Protocol.

It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this Consultative Forum on Rebuilding Lagos.

Thank you for honouring my invitation, thank you for your willingness to contribute to the restoration of the glory of Lagos State, thank you for your dedication to the ideals and values of the Centre of Excellence; thank you for being socially responsible, we appreciate your contributions to the socio-economic growth of Lagos State, your exemplary attitude towards the sustainability and viability of Lagos State makes the task of governance easier.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the violence we saw at the end of October 2020 is the most widespread carnage the State has seen in decades; not since the SAP riots of 1989 have, we experienced such levels of destruction.

Every aspect of life and livelihood in Lagos was affected – government buildings offices, public monuments and historical archives, public infrastructure like our BRT buses, and, very sadly too, private property and investments – malls, shops, small businesses, residences and many more.

Beyond the physical and economic impact, there has also been the psychological damage: the fear, the terror, the helplessness that all of the victims have felt, the questions about how or where do we start from?

The violence has no doubt set our economy back by tens of billions of Naira and impacted our confidence.

We, have, however, found hope and great strength in the offers of assistance from far and wide, which culminated in the constitution of the Lagos Rebuild Committee to coordinate our efforts to rebuild and upgrade our state.

Let me assure you all that we will bounce back. We do not have a choice, really. Because this is who we are, this is what Lagos is, a resilient people, an irrepressible city. This is our history, and our DNA.

Here is a City that emerged from the most unpromising beginnings, out of the gloom of a sprawling lagoon and malarial swamps. By dint of hard work, entrepreneurial energy, and creative excellence, everything we see and hold dear today was built, over the centuries.

In that time there have been setbacks and challenges of various kinds. The most prominent ones include the Royal Navy bombardment of 1851, The Influenza epidemic of 1918, the Bubonic Plague of the 1920s, even the loss of Federal capital status that many assumed would severely downgrade the State.

Most recently we also faced and defeated Ebola in 2014, and the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 – in both cases Lagos was the Nigerian epicentre.

In the face of all these, Lagos has always survived. And not just survived, it has thrived. We are a continental center of creativity and innovation, and will continue to be.

Every one of these threats and challenges I listed above ended up opening up, in its aftermath, an opportunity for a new kind of progress, one step backwards in the short-term that paved the way for four steps forward in the longer term.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, following the violent aftermath of the ENDSARS protests – we constituted, by Executive Order, a Lagos State Rebuild Trust Fund, to be run by an 8-member Committee.

As a follow-up, a Bill will be sent to the State House of Assembly, to enshrine the Fund in the laws of the land, and give it the necessary backing to accomplish its mandate.

This is the very reason why we are gathered here today: To operationalise this Fund, by mobilizing resources from far and wide, for the singular purpose of rebuilding and restoring our dear City and State.

We seek to restore the infrastructure that was destroyed, to revive the energy and confidence of everyone who has been affected by these losses, to help restore the confidence of the people of Lagos in the infinite potentials of Lagos.

But the State Government cannot do this alone. We need all the help that we can get, which is why we have invited you all here, and are grateful that you have honoured our invitation.

We require the assistance of the Federal Government, from both the Executive and Legislative branches. I am delighted that the Vice President, Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives are here with us today.

I would like to appeal to the National Assembly to take steps to set aside funds for this task of Rebuilding and Restoring Lagos in the 2021 Appropriation Bill being deliberated upon currently by the Assembly.

This Fund does not necessarily have to be for Lagos alone, it can and should also take into consideration other states also impacted by the recent spate of violence.

Why are we seeking this privilege? Let me take us back to the text of nationwide broadcast delivered by the then Head of State, General Murtala Muhammed, on the 3rd of February, 1976, here in Lagos.

It was the Speech in which he announced that the Supreme Military Council had accepted a recommendation to relocate the Federal Capital from Lagos to a new site in a more central area in the country.

The late Head of State said, and I quote:

“Lagos will, in the foreseeable future, remain the nation’s commercial capital and one of its nerve centres. But in terms of servicing the present infrastructure alone the committed amount of money and effort required will be such that Lagos State will not be ready to cope. It will even be unfair to expect the State to bear this heavy burden on its own.”

“It is therefore necessary for the Federal Government to continue to sustain the substantial investment in the area. The port facilities and other economic activities in the Lagos area have to be expanded. There is need in the circumstances for the Federal Government to maintain a special defence and security arrangement in Lagos which will henceforth be designated a special area. These arrangements will be carefully worked out and written into the new constitution.”

Even as far back as half a century ago it was clear that Lagos required a special status, considering its importance to the economy and the reputation of Nigeria.

Today, with a population that is several times also, with approval from the State House of Assembly, be making available a huge amount of money in the 2021 Budget to immediately begin the rebuilding efforts.

This, for us, represents that credible and very important step in the rehabilitation and restoration process; and shows that we are willing, as a Government, to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak.

But let me reiterate this, that our contribution though very substantial, is still quite very far away from what we require to make a dent on the burden that confronts us. Which is why we have invited you here to join hands and support us. With the public sector taking the rightful lead in demonstrating commitment, we have no doubt that the private sector will strive to match that enthusiasm.

I strongly believe that the cohesive efforts and contributions of the private and public sectors will make it easier for us to rebuild Lagos State. These may be challenging times but with responsive and responsible leadership, we will overcome. We can make a greater impact through our collaborative efforts in the shortest possible time.

An African proverb says, “if you want to go fast, go alone if you want to go far, go together”.

Ladies and gentlemen, today’s consultative forum is meant to set the stage for all the necessary Public-Private partnerships and collaborations required for this task of rebuilding and restoration.

Let us work in the commonality of purpose to restore the glory of our state. You are important stakeholders, and I know I can count on you as the Lagos Rebuild Committee reaches out to you for your support in rebuilding Lagos.

Whatever investments we make towards this task will be for the good of all of us. These investments will go into rebuilding and re-tooling security infrastructure, strengthening public transportation systems, restoring judicial and local government operations, rebuilding damaged public monuments.

All of these will positively impact security, tourism, employment generation, and ultimately the social contract between government and the governed. For every Naira of investment mobilised and expended under this Rebuilding Project, there will be a significant multiplier effect, that will benefit the public and private sector alike. These funds will go into the local economy, into the hands of artisans, traders, suppliers, start-ups, and so on.

Let me at this juncture emphasize that transparency and accountability will be foundational elements in the implementation of the mandate of this Committee. For this reason, the fund-raising and disbursement will have oversight from FBN Trustees Limited. Along with the Board, they will ensure that there is maximum accountability and value recorded for every Naira raised.

In this rebuilding process, we will be asking ourselves some necessary questions. For example, we will seriously be exploring the use of technology to improve urban security and better safeguard all that we hold dear and to digitally preserve historical archives that until now have existed only in physical forms. We have a duty, in rebuilding, to ensure that the new which will be replacing the old is fitting for the 21st century.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, the time is now, to start pledging and collaborating. I look forward to our deliberations this morning, and even more important to the action that will follow the talk and make all the needed difference.

Let me once again thank you for honouring our invitation to this Forum. God bless Lagos State, and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu

Governor of Lagos State.

November 16, 2020.

NASS Will Prioritize Allocation Of Resources For Youth Development – Lawan

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Thursday said that the National Assembly will prioritize the allocation of resources for youth development despite the present economic challenges faced by the country owing to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lawan stated this in his remarks which was virtually delivered to flag-off the training of 1000 youths in GSM phone repair, hardware, software, and entrepreneurship development in Yobe State.

According to the Senate President, youth development initiatives serve as one of the ways of empowering and uplifting the wellbeing of the country’s youth population.

“It is most pleasing to flag off this important training for youths in Yobe State. The training of 1000 youths in GSM phone repairs, hardware, software and entrepreneurship development is a landmark in our commitment to uplifting the wellbeing of a key part of the nation’s population.

“It is additionally a reminder of the multiple avenues for empowering youths across Nigeria. We cannot overstate the fact that youths are a crucial category in the nation’s population. They are full of energy and are hopeful for the future,” Lawan said.

READ ALSO: PHOTOS: Buhari Presides Over National Food Security Council Meeting

The Senate President while underscoring the importance of synergy in governance, assured that the National Assembly will ensure the allocation of resources specifically for the purpose of youth development across the country.

He added that the gesture of parliamentary support in this direction would be backed by further efforts to engage Nigerian youths on ways of additionally stimulating their creativity and productivity levels, so as to keep them away from getting involved in crime.

“The future may however not make any meaning to them if their present is not productive. It is why we will strive to surmount the challenges of limited resources to fend for this population group. This also requires creativity on how to engage them.

“With a greater level of engagement for the youths, they can contribute to the economy, still in need of better productivity. Productivity is a prelude to growth, which will also lead to improved wellbeing.

“I am happy that earlier remarks have harped on paying attention to the welfare of the youths. Making them a priority takes them away from crime, which is often a result of idleness.

“The need to pay attention to youths has led to this initiative, as supported by the Nigerian Content Development, and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), and the National Information Technology Agency (NITDA).

“The support once more highlights the relevance of synergy in governance. It is the reason the Senate has been consistent in providing legislative impetus for collaborations amongst government agencies, consistent with the mission to deliver on our mandate. We will continue on this path, for the good of Nigerians.

“Training 1000 youths in Yobe State is not just a milestone, but part of a concerted effort at improving living conditions. We urge beneficiaries to be committed, and to complete the training with resounding success,” Lawan said.

The Senate President while expressing appreciation to the Federal University, Gashua; Federal Polytechnic, Damaturu; Atiku Abubakar College of Legal Studies, Nguru; and the Federal College of Education, Potiskum; for their support in having training centres opened for the purpose, charged participants to demonstrate dedication to the Programme.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, in a speech delivered during the virtual flag-off ceremony, expressed the willingness of his Ministry to partner with the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy to explore high impact opportunities as well as create jobs for youths in the oil and gas sector.

While extolling the leadership qualities of the Senate President and Chairman of the Ninth Assembly, Ahmad Lawan, the Minister called on him “to sustain the cordial relationship between the executive and legislature.”

Sylva advised beneficiaries of the training to take advantage of the Programme to transform lives and ensure national development.

Listen To Voices, Do Not Resurrect Water Resources Bill, NLC Tells NASS

File: President, Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba

 

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has asked the National Assembly to listen to the voices of Nigerians and stop the plan of resurrecting the Water Resources Bill which was rejected in 2018.

The NLC in a statement signed by its President, Ayuba Wabba, on Monday, stated that the bill if passed puts the country’s unity in danger.

Mr Wabba stressed that the National Assembly has the constitutional responsibility to re-introduce any bill that was rejected but urged the lawmakers to avoid any move that will ambush Nigerians.

“The Nigeria Labour Congress joins patriotic voices across the country in calling on the leadership of the National Assembly not to resurrect or cause to be passed into law the Water Bill because of the danger it portends to national unity.

“Although the National Assembly is constitutionally vested with law-making, we warn against the National Assembly ambushing Nigerians,” he added.

READ ALSO: Gov Fayemi Appoints Eight New Commissioners, Warns Against Distractions

The NLC President also warned “against legislative abuse or betrayal of Nigerians as this is what it will amount to if the bill is passed or caused to be passed without public engagement and scrutiny. Already, the sentiments expressed against this bill are too grave to be brushed off.

“Information in the public domain has it that the National Assembly leadership is working surreptitiously with vested interests outside the Assembly anxious to pass the bill without due legislative process.

“We recall that this bill was rejected in 2018 with very good reasons. Although there is no law against re-presentation of a killed or rejected bill, however, given the strong sentiments expressed against this bill from practically all sections of the country, then and now, we would strongly advise that this bill should not be resurrected,” Mr Wabba maintained.

He stated that the country is facing a myriad of challenges and having another controversial bill will cause costly controversy.

“Although legislation is one of the three constitutional functions of the National Assembly, it should not be a licence to dictatorship but a representation of the will, aspirations and sensitivities of the populace.

“In light of this, we state unambiguously that the National Assembly should listen to the voice of reason by resting this bill.”

National Assembly Won’t Tolerate Disrespect Anymore, Lawan Warns Buhari’s Appointees

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

The President of the Senate, Dr Ahmed Lawan, has warned appointees of President Muhammadu Buhari against disrespecting the National Assembly.

He gave the warning on Monday while reacting to the series of disagreements between some lawmakers and presidential appointees, including some ministers and heads of Federal Government agencies.

Senator Lawan was responding to questions from State House correspondents in Abuja shortly after President Buhari inaugurated the Executive, Legislative Party Consultative Council at the Presidential Villa.

“Coming to your second-leg of the question that recently we had some appointees on the executive side walking out or maybe saying things, I believe that that should be the end of it; we believe that we should work together,” the lawmaker stated.

He added, “For us in the National Assembly, I think what has happened has happened and I pray that nobody goes to the National Assembly to do the kind of things that some people did before because that will be disrespecting the President and, of course, abuse of the National Assembly and we are not going to tolerate that.”

 

According to Lawan, even the President made it very clear that he will not accept or tolerate any of his appointees doing things that are not respectable and have no dignity to the National Assembly.

He stressed the need for political officers to ensure the Council produces the desired results and outcomes, that would make Nigeria better in terms of governance.

 

Meeting Nigerians’ Expectations

In his remarks at the inauguration which held earlier as the Council Chamber of the Villa, the Senate President described the event as historic for the APC administration.

He noted that the legislature, executive, and the ruling party have seen the need to bring everybody on board for thorough consultations before major issues were tabled before the citizens of the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari with the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; and APC Caretaker Committee Chairman and Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa in Abuja on August 31, 2020.

 

Senator Lawan explained that the purpose of the inauguration of the Council was to improve the quality of governance and service delivery to Nigerians.

“We have promised Nigerians and Nigerians voted for the All Progressives Congress at all the levels, so it is incumbent upon us at all levels and as a party to ensure we meet the expectations and aspirations of Nigerians.

“Just like Mr President expressed, we believe that the constitution rightly provides for the separation of powers and we believe in that,” he said.

The lawmaker added, “The legislature will always on its own ensure we oversight and we check possible excesses of the executive arm of government.”

Buhari Warns Ministers, MDAs, Others Against Disrespecting National Assembly

President Muhammadu Buhari with the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, at the Aso Villa in Abuja on July 16, 2020.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has read the riot act to ministers and heads of the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) on the relationship with the National Assembly.

This followed a meeting between the President and the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, which held on Thursday at the Aso Villa in Abuja.

In a statement, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, highlighted the details of the meeting which lasted almost an hour.

He explained that it was characterised by an engaging discussion on a range of key issues of national importance, particularly the role of the Legislature as a critical component in supporting their common goal and commitment towards improving the lives of the people of Nigeria.

In the course of their conversation, Shehu revealed that the recent events at the National Assembly were highlighted.

He stated that the President re-emphasised his utmost respect for the National Assembly, adding that any disrespect to the institution by any member of the executive branch would not be accepted.

“Ministers and all heads of Departments and Agencies should at all times conduct themselves in ways that will not undermine the National Assembly as an institution, its leadership and members.

“The President and the leaders of the National Assembly recognised and acknowledged that the Executive and Legislative arms of government are essential partners in the fulfillment of their mutually aligned goal of improving the lives of the Nigerian people,” the statement said.

NDDC Fails To Defend 2019 Budget Over Discrepancies In Figures

In this photo taken on July 14, 2020, acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, writes on a paper during the agency’s 2019 budget defence at the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

The 2019 budget defence of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by the agency’s Interim Management Committee (IMC) has suffered a setback.

This comes as the acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, led the agency’s Executive Director (Project), Dr Cairo Ojougboh, and other top officials to the National Assembly in Abuja to defend the agency’s budget for the previous year.

The NDDC team appeared before members of the Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Niger Delta on Tuesday.

However, they could not successfully defend the agency’s budget as the lawmakers pointed out some discrepancies in the budget.

According to documents presented by Professor Pondei, the NDDC received N305.5 billion for 2019 and spent a total of N122 billion.

While the commission is expected to bring a balance of N183.2 billion forward in the 2020 budget proposal, the report submitted to the lawmakers showed N40 billion.

This photo taken on July 14, 2020, shows some lawmakers at the 2019 budget defence of the NDDC held at the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

Thereafter, Chairman of the House Committee on Niger Delta, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, queried Professor Pondei on the discrepancies in the 2019 budget report of the commission.

In his response, the NDDC boss quickly requested the withdrawal of 2019 budget details in order to address the issue of discrepancies of N143 billion raised by the lawmakers.

This got the members of the joint committee but the Chairman of Senate Committee on NDDC, Senator Peter Nwaboshi, yielded to the request.

The budget presentation was later adjourned until Tuesday next week.

The NDDC team appeared before the lawmaker four days after the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, asked the National Assembly to check against abuses of the budgeting procedures of the agency.

Akpabio had made the request on Friday last week at the continuation of the Senate’s investigative hearing into allegations of financial recklessness by the IMC of the NDDC.

In this photo taken on July 14, 2020, acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, reads from a paper during the agency’s 2019 budget defence at the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

At the previous session, investigation revealed that the commission spent N81 billion between October 29, 2019, and May 31, 2020, an expenditure which was confusing to members of the Senate ad-hoc committee.

The minister said there were instances where monies budgeted had been drastically and illegally reduced by some members of the National Assembly against the originally approved fund.

But the immediate past Managing Director of NDDC, Dr Joy Nunieh, said N8 billion was spent by the IMC under her leadership between October 29, 2019, and February 28, 2020, out of the N81 billion spent by the agency within the period under review.

Professor Pondei, who was also at the session, threatened to resign if the allegations of corruptions levelled against the IMC under his leadership were proven.