How Senate Criticised Executive’s Medium Term Expenditure Framework

Nigerian Senate on MTEF and FSPThe Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper  (FSP) prepared by Nigeria’s Executive Arm of Government has come under heavy criticism in the Senate.

Most Federal lawmakers say the policy document is a fraud, unrealistic and misleading.

Lawmakers on Wednesday deliberated on the MTEF and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) after accusing the executive of sending a document to them that was empty and lacked enough details for lawmakers to deliberate on.

Consideration of the documents that contained President Muhammadu Buhari 2017-2019 MTEF and FSP in accordance with the nation’s Fiscal Responsibility Act began after its details were presented to the Senators by the Deputy Senate Leader Na’Allah.

First to comment on the documents was the Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio.

He said: “We are looking at assumptions and assumptions might not be correct. Let us forward the documents to the appropriate Committee”.

Senator John Enoh told the Senators that the first thing to consider was the broader provisions of the MTEF and FSP, insisting that the executives must put in place negotiations for peace in the Niger Delta to achieve the 2.2 million barrels per day plan contained in the document.

In the documents the executives had presented different figures that will set the stage for the country’s annual budget.

The MTEF and FSP are proposing a budget that will be predicated on an oil revenue benchmark of $42.5 per barrel between 2017-2019, a Gross Domestic Product growth projection of 3.02%, an average oil projection of 2.2 million barrels per day (mbpd) in 2017, a 2.3 mbpd in 2018 and a 2.4 mpbd in 2019.

It also projects an average exchange rate of 290 Naira per dollar.

Host Of Criticism

But the lawmakers had a host of issues with the projections in the policy document.

 

Senator Isiaka Adeleke insisted that the 290 Naira per dollar was not achievable and unrealistic while Senator Dino Melaye described the document as ‘a lie’.

“It is not truthful and is not factual. What happened to the 2017 aspect of the MTEF 2016-2018 that was passed last year?

“We must form a level of compliance to the MTEF we passed last year, what is the amendment, is 290 Naira per dollar realistic?” he questioned.

While Senator Foster Ogola told the Senate that the documents were expected to present the real facts and figures of the economy another Senator, Hassan Mohammed, pointed out that the GDP proposed for 2016 was very unrealistic.

“I don’t understand the basis of it. We should look at the MTEF and FSP and tell the executive to urgently look at them. They are unrealistic,” Senator Mohammed stressed.

Senator Sam Anyanwu, on his part, expressed pleasure with the agreement seen between the members of different political parties in the Senate.

“For the first time Senators of both APC and PDP are agreeing that the MTEF and FSP are unrealistic.

“For me, there is no document before us the MTE and FFSP should be sent back to the executive,” he suggested.

Senator Joshua Lidani also suggested that the executives should rework the document before it would be treated by the Senate.

“The Government needs to take the bull by the horn, the Senate should either tinker adjust it or return it.”

Another Senator, Biodun Olujimi said: “The MTEF and FSP has not received the performance of the 2016 Budget to contrast with the 2017 budget.

“This is not what we expected, it is incomplete the MTEF and FSP is Voo Doo oriented”.

While criticisms continued to pour in, in reaction to the proposal of the Executive Arm of Government, some other Senators called for caution and proper consideration of the documents.

Ahmed Sani told the Senate that they could not just sit in the chambers and say that the document was not good.

“As a Certified Economists, I know that the government can do wonders in three months,” he insisted.

Senator Ahmed Lawan stressed the need for the Senate to be very practical “so that at the end of the day we will not worsen the state of things”.

Senator Gbenga Ashafa, who also spoke in support of the MTEF and FSP, urged his colleagues not to just criticise the documents entirely.

After the debate on the issue, Senate President Bukola Saraki appreciated his colleagues for their contributions and gave his opinion on the MTEF and FSP.

“Let me state some guiding principles. The MTEF and FSP are assumptions and estimates. Some are unrealistic. Oil Prices, GDP and Exchange Rates are unrealistic. We have the responsibility to work on it, use our Committees to look at the MTEF and FSP again and turn it around.

“We won’t take documents from the executive and send it back that way. Committees should take the comments of everybody and use it to decide.

“We should take a debate on 2016 budget performance before we do a debate on the report of the Committee,” Senate President Bukola Saraki concluded.

He then asked the Senate if the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper document should be referred to the Committees on Finance and Appropriations for further legislative action and the Senators answered in the affirmative.

Judges Arrest: FG Says It Has Great Respect For Judiciary

Lai-Mohammed-Nigeria-Minister-of-information
Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, has asked Nigerians not to think that the fight against corruption was a fight against judges, insisting that the Buhari administration has great respect for the judiciary as the third arm of government.

Mr Lai Mohammed made the statement on Wednesday while addressing reporters after the Federal Executive Council meeting at the Presidential Villa.

His statement came few days after several judges’ homes were raided and some of them arrested by the operatives of some Nigerian security agencies on allegations of corruption and misconduct.

The Department of State Services (DSS) after their arrest released a statement, saying that the judges had been under investigation for alleged misconduct and corruption.

The Minister of Information enumerated the number of lawyers in Buhari’s cabinet, highlighting the kind of respect the President had for the judiciary despite losing the elections three times.

According to the Minister of Information, the government is passionate about the fight against corruption and in the process is bound to step on toes.

Abubakar-Mahmoud-NBA-President
President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Abubakar Mahmoud,

The arrest of the judges has whipped up comments from different sections, with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) declaring a state of emergency on the judiciary.

They had asked for the unconditional release of the judges and described the arrests as unconstitutional.

On its part, the Senate condemned the draconian invasion of the homes, arrest and detention of serving judges by the directorate of the DSS without deference to the constitutional responsibility of the National Judicial Council (NJC).

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Senator Joshua Lidani, brought the matter of the weekend arrest of the judges before the Senate at the resumption of plenary on Tuesday.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, says the Senate is in full support of the fight against corruption but the government must ensure that the war on corruption must be done within the rule of law.

The Senate is mandating its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to review all existing laws establishing security agencies and report back in four weeks.

After the NBA requested for the release of the judges, the DSS on Monday released them.

The judges, according to DSS sources, were released on self-recognition but are to report at the agency’s office when requested to, as the investigation and preparation to file charges against them continue.

Senate Asks JAMB To Increase Validity Of UTME

jambThe Senate has asked the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to increase the validity of its results from one year to three years.

This was one of the recommendations adopted by the Senate after debating a motion on the examination body’s new admission policy.

A federal lawmaker Senator Joshua Lidani at plenary drew the attention of the Senate to a recent policy formulated by JAMB which he warned runs contrary to the laws setting up JAMB.

The policy stipulates that candidates of universities with surplus applicants for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations, UTME, are reassigned to other universities with lower number of candidates than their capacities.