Senate Suspends Screening Of INEC RECs

Senate Spokesman Confirms Receipt Of Letter From BuhariThe Nigerian Senate on Tuesday stood down the confirmation of nominees for positions of Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs).

This appears to be the Senate’s way of expressing misgivings about President Muhammadu Buhari’s alleged refusal to sack Mr Ibrahim Magu as acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), despite his repeated rejection by the lawmakers.

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, however, urged the lawmakers to apply some moderation to allow the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, convey their feelings to President Buhari on the issue of the appointment.

He also advised the Upper Chamber to stand down the confirmation of REC nominees for about two weeks.

“Those who drafted this constitution are not stupid, we didn’t draft it ourselves. We are here to protect the law which we all swore to.

“We said we are going to defend our constitution and defend the laws of this country and we must be seen to be doing that.

“But in doing this, I want to appeal that we apply some moderation to allow Mr President (Senator Saraki) to convey our feelings to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on this issue of appointment.

“I just want to appeal that we leave it for one week or at most by two weeks,” the Deputy Senate President said.

The Senators also accused some appointees of the President of disrespecting the National Assembly.

This comes barely a week after Dr. Saraki read a letter seeking the confirmation of 27 nominees for the position of RECs in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The letter was dated February 27, 2017, and signed by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, while acting as Nigeria’s President.

The list, which asked the lawmakers to consider the nominees for the positions, had eight former RECs who were reappointed and 19 new appointees.

Saraki Advises Against Speculations On Buhari’s Loan Request

Saraki Advises Against Speculations On Buhari's Loan RequestSenate President Bukola Saraki has maintained that the National Assembly’s position on President Buhari’s request for $29.9 billion loan from foreign sources still stands.

In a press statement, by his Special Adviser Media and Publicity, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu, Senator Saraki said that the National Assembly has taken a position on the issue as required of it by the laws of the land and legislative conventions.

Last week the Senate rejected a request by President Buhari for approval to borrow $29.9 billion from foreign sources.

The Upper Chamber explained that the loan was rejected because President Buhari did not include details of the loan proposal in the letter to the National Assembly.

Senator Saraki is also advising politicians and the media to stop peddling speculations about his recent visits to the Presidential Villa and linking such visits to the request by the Buhari administration for approval of the National Assembly to get $29.9bn loan from foreign sources.

Senator Saraki said that in all his recent meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the issue of the proposed loan has never come up for discussion.

He noted that the comments by some politicians on the loan issue without any factual basis is unfortunate, as “these politically-motivated commentaries are trivialising a serious national issue” and presenting it as if it is a personal matter that can be decided at meetings between the Senate President and President Buhari.

Senate Advocates Policies To Protect Nigerian Children

Senate, Children, Bukola SarakThe Senate has asked the federal and state governments to ensure the full implementation of policies that seek to protect the rights of Nigerian children.

The appeal was made in a resolution read by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on Thursday at the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja, to commemorate the Day of the African Child.

The Senate wants all children to enjoy the legislation of the Universal Basic Education, which provides for the education of all children in the country.

Senator Monsurat Sunmonu from Oyo State moved the motion, hich was supported by her colleagues, including the Leader of the Senate, Mr Ali Ndume.

They said the issues she raised needed urgent actions considering the plight of children in the country, especially those in the northeast.

A Senator from Ekiti State, Mr Biodun Olujimi, also called on the government to redouble its efforts to ensure that Nigerian children get access to quality education and their rights protected.

While members of the Senate may have stated their position on what needs to be done by the federal and state governments, child rights activists believe that protecting the rights of Nigerian children is the duty of all irrespective of class or status.

Senate Orders Service Chiefs To Probe Enugu Killing

Senate-EnuguThe Nigerian Senate has directed security agencies to immediately conduct a thorough investigation into the attack on Nimbo community in Enugu State and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.

The lawmakers condemned Monday’s attack on a community in Enugu State where suspected herdsmen killed a yet to be determined number of people and burnt buildings.

At the floor of the Senate on Thursday in Abuja, the legislators observed a minute silence to honour the Nigerians killed in Nimbo and other communities by suspected herdsmen.

After a debate, they set up a committee with representatives from each geopolitical zone to meet urgently and proffer solutions to the problem.

The Senate also resolved to invite security chiefs to brief the Upper Chamber on the movement of fleeing terrorists, to ensure that measures were put in place to forestall a spread of terrorist activities across Nigeria.

President Buhari had in a statement by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, unreservedly condemned the attack on Ukpabi Nimbo and other such acts of extreme violence against communities in other states of the Federation.

He instructed the Nigerian Armed Forces and Police to take all necessary action to stop the killing, saying that ending the recent upsurge of attacks on communities by herdsmen reportedly armed with sophisticated weapons had become a priority on the government’s agenda for enhanced national security.

Lawmakers Slam 2016 Budget As Debate Continues

2016 BudgetFor the third day running, federal lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives continued the debate on the 2016 Budget.

Unlike previous days, lawmakers set aside party sentiments to dissect and debate the 2016 budget.

There were criticisms and mixed reactions as lawmakers expressed their views on the budget.

Some Senators slammed the budget for not adequately taking into account, development projects in the Ministry of Women Affairs meant to ameliorate the sufferings of women in the country.

Some other Senators who agreed that there was the need to limit the expenditure of monies borrowed to fund capital projects, also stressed the need to diversify the economy, following the dwindling price of oil in the international market.

The lawmakers said that the funds appropriated to the ministries of Agriculture and Solid Minerals does not show government’s seriousness in trying to diversify the economy.

The budget debate was expected to end on Tuesday but was shifted to Wednesday, January 26.

The debate started on Wednesday, January 20 at both the upper and lower chambers of the National Assembly in Abuja, with the lawmakers in the Senate sharing divided opinions on the financial plan.

Some opposition lawmakers in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had questioned the financial capacity of the government to fund the budget, considering the fall in oil prices and the deficit in the budget with an initial oil price benchmark of $38 per barrel.

However, some legislators from the ruling All Progressives Congress hailed the budget while describing it as a ‘budget of the people’.

Controversies

Controversies over the budget started after rumours spread that the budget had disappeared.

Few days after that rumour, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, revealed that the Senior Special Assistant to the President on the Senate, Senator Ita Enag, reproduced a budget document different from what President Buhari originally submitted to the National Assembly.

He said that the Senate would only treat the document presented to the Senate by the President.

To end the controversy, the President wrote to the National Assembly making some alterations.

The President asked the lawmakers to work with the corrected version of the financial plan as his 2016 budget estimates.

Subsequently, the Senate accepted and adopted the alterations in the 2016 Appropriation Bill.

The total budgetary allocation for 2016 is 6.8 trillion Naira, an increase of one trillion Naira from the revised allocation of 5.9 trillion Naira for 2015.

In the breakdown, 2.648 trillion Naira was for recurrent expenditure while 1.85 trillion Naira was for capital expenditure and 1.475 trillion Naira for debt service.

National Assembly Begins Debate On 2016 Budget

BudgetThe federal lawmakers have commenced debate on Nigeria’s 2016 Appropriation Bill after putting behind the controversies surrounding the budget.

The debate session took place on Wednesday at both the upper and lower chambers of the National Assembly in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

‘Budget Of The People’

The lawmakers in the Senate had divided opinions on the financial plan, as some opposition lawmakers in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) questioned the financial capacity of the government to fund the budget considering the fall in oil prices and the deficit in the budget with an initial oil price benchmark of $38 per barrel.

However, some legislators from the ruling All Progressives Congress hailed the budget while describing it as a ‘budget of the people’.

In the meantime, the budget debate in the House of Representatives was approached with less passion, as it was kick started by the House’s majority leader.

The debate is coming after weeks of back and forth over the status and whereabouts of the budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In its comments about the budget, the opposition PDP said that the federal budget was a ‘big fraud and a grand plan to mortgage the future of Nigeria‘.

Controversies over the budget started after rumours spread that the budget had disappeared.

Few days after that rumour, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, revealed that the Senior Special Assistant to the President on the Senate, Senator Ita Enag, reproduced a budget document different from what President Buhari originally submitted to the National Assembly.

He said that the Senate would only treat the document presented to the Senate by the President.

To end the controversy, the President wrote to the National Assembly making some alterations.

The President asked the lawmakers to work with the corrected version of the financial plan as his 2016 budget estimates.

Subsequently, the Senate accepted and adopted the alterations in the 2016 Appropriation Bill.

The total budgetary allocation for 2016 is 6.8 trillion Naira, an increase of one trillion Naira from the revised allocation of 5.9 trillion Naira for 2015.

In the breakdown, 2.648 trillion Naira was for recurrent expenditure while 1.85 trillion Naira was for capital expenditure and 1.475 trillion Naira for debt service.

The budget debate is expected to continue on Thursday January 21.

2016 Budget Presentation: Nigerian Ministers React

2016 budgetMinisters of the Federal Republic of Nigeria have been reacting to the 2016 budget as presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, December, 22.

Channels Television correspondent caught up with some of the ministers after the budget presentation at the National Assembly and they shared their views on the implementation of the budget and their expectations.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr Udoma Udo Udoma explained that the need to increase the investment on infrastructure as a way to revive the economy was highly considered in developing the 2016 budget.

“It’s an infrastructure and a job budget. We have also set aside money for social intervention as the President explained.

“We are going to recruit teachers, we are going to get loans for market women, various projects to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

“In terms of the money, we know it’s tough but we have to find the money and we believe that we have both domestic and foreign borrowing which we will be relying on,” he said.

He assured Nigerians that the implementation of the 2016 budget would be different as there is a new budget planning and implementation strategy designed to ensure constant monitoring on a monthly basis.

Economic Diversification

2016 budgetPresident Buhari had said that Nigeria remains committed to diversification of the economy with focus on the non-oil sector and the Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said that this had been expected.

“We are already diversified in terms of GDP. Oil only accounts for about 12% of the GDP but it accounts for the bulk of the revenue and that is where the challenge is.

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“So we need to start driving the revenue in the direction of Agriculture, solid minerals, communications and other non-oil sectors so that we would have a much more realistic job creating, revenue generating economy,” he said.

Agriculture

The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe also had some cheering words for Nigerian farmers.

On the back of the President’s emphasis on diversification and the role expected of the Agricultural sector, Mr Ogbe promised “increased support in seed, training, extension services, post-harvest management and bigger overseas market for their produce.

“They will expect innovations in livestock, tree crops and the beautiful news is that the demand for Nigerian produce abroad has never been this high. That is what makes it marvellous.

WATCH INTERVIEW WITH AUDU OGBE

“The private sector and Nigerians are also responding amazingly to the call for Agriculture but what excites me more about this budget are two things – the job issue for young people and the return of teacher training colleges in the local governments.

“That is probably the biggest change that this government has announced and Nigerians will see the difference.,” he promised.

Job Creation

With a promise that the 2016 budget would focus on addressing youth unemployment and cater for the vulnerable, Channels Television 2016 budgetsought to know the plans of the Ministry of Labour and Productivity on the implementation of this key feature of the 2016 budget.

The Minister, Dr Chris Ngige, said, “What you should expect are jobs and more jobs. If you look at the budget it might not be clear to you what we have done. It’s an intervention budget for job creation.

“There are so many programmes that will run under them but all of them will end up being for job creation – giving employment.

“We will give employment that will be decent. For example, one of the programmes we are going to execute is the conversion of graduates into the teaching cadre. We’ll give them training after Youth Corps, 1-year post Youth Corps, 2-year post Youth Corps, that is the bar and we will start form there; get them into teaching.”

He also called on Nigerian youths to embrace technical skills in order to wriggle out joblessness.

2016 Budget: Forget About White Collar Jobs For Now – Ngige

2016 budgetNigeria’s Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige has called on Nigerian youths to embrace technical skills in order to wriggle out of joblessness.

He was speaking to Channels Television after President Muhammadu Buhari’s presentation of the 2016 budget at the National Assembly on Tuesday, December 22.

With a promise that the 2016 budget would focus on addressing youth unemployment and cater for the vulnerable, Channels Television sought to know the plans of the Ministry of Labour and Employment on the implementation of this key feature of the 2016 budget.

The Minister said, “What you should expect are jobs and more jobs. If you look at the budget it might not be clear to you what we have done. It’s an intervention budget for job creation.

“There are so many programmes that will run under them but all of them will end up being for job creation – giving employment.

“We will give employment that will be decent. For example, one of the programmes we are going to execute is the conversion of graduates into the teaching cadre. We’ll give them training after Youth Corps, 1-year post Youth Corps, 2-year post Youth Corps, that is the bar and we will start form there; get them into teaching.

“Whether you are an engineer or lawyer, we will convert you and use that as a transition job for the time being.

“We are also going to do skill acquisition. All our skill acquisition centre scattered all over the country are going to be raised into performing their roles.

“Our children should forget about white collar jobs for now. They should use their hands and learn how to lay tiles, make POP, do some carpentry work. These are jobs that are paying even in the western climes.

“Mr President has assured that Nigerians will smile. It’s a reflationary budget that you are seeing now.”

President Buhari Presents 2016 Budget To National Assembly

2016 budgetPresident Muhammadu Buhari has presented the 2016 national budget before a joint session of the National Assembly.

Buhari became the first Nigerian President to personally carry out this task in recent years.

This was acknowledged by the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, in his opening speech.

Dr. Bukola Saraki also promised that the National Assembly is ready to swiftly pass 2016 Budget to quickly reflate the economy.

While stating that the 2016 budget would focus on addressing youth unemployment and cater for the vulnerable, President Buhari said that Nigeria remains committed to diversification to build and reflate the economy.

He stated that there would be changes in the way government conducts its business as all MDAs would be required to prepare and present their annual budgets on time. “We will align fiscal, monetary and investment policies,” said the President.

Another highlight of the President’s presentation was his announcement that petrol pump price would stay at 87 naira per litre “for now”.

President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the persistent long queues at filling stations across the country and promised to put in place urgent steps to alleviate the pains on Nigerians over the scarcity of the commodity

The 6.07 trillion Naira budget proposal for 2016 was predicated on $38 per barrel oil benchmark; 197 Naira exchange rate.

It is an increase of about 40 per cent from the previous budget of 4.357 trillion Naira which was presented to the National Assembly in 2014 by ex-president, Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

The budget presentation by President Buhari is coming just as the National Assembly approved the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had on December 7 approved the Medium Term Expenditure Framework which pegs the 2016 Budget at six trillion Naira.

Find below the full text of the President’s speech at the a joint session of the National Assembly.

PROTOCOLS

I am honoured and privileged to present the 2016 Budget proposal. This is my first address before this joint session of the National Assembly. I have come here today, not only to address members of the National Assembly, but also to speak directly to the men and women who placed us here.

2. I know the state of our economy is a source of concern for many. This has been further worsened by the unbridled corruption and security challenges we have faced in the last few years. From those who have lost their jobs, to those young people who have never had a job, to the people in the North East whose families and businesses were destroyed by insurgents, this has been a difficult period in our nation’s history, lessons that we must not forget or ignore, as we plan for the future.

3. By June 2014, oil prices averaged $112 per barrel. But as at today, the price is under $39 per barrel. This huge decline is having a painful effect on our economy. Consumption has declined at all levels. In both the private and public sectors, employers have struggled to meet their salary and other employee related obligations. The small business owners and traders have been particularly hard hit by this state of affairs.

4. Fellow Nigerians, the confidence of many might be shaken. However, I stand before you today promising that we will secure our country, rebuild our economy, and make the Federal Republic of Nigeria stronger than it has ever been.

5. The answers to our problems are not beyond us. They exist on our farmlands; our corporations; in the universities in the hearts and minds of our entrepreneurs; through the gallantry of our Armed Forces; and the resolute spirit of Nigerians, especially the youth, who have refused to give up despite all the obstacles confronting them.

6. This Budget proposal, the first by our Government, seeks to stimulate the economy, making it more competitive by focusing on infrastructural development; delivering inclusive growth; and prioritizing the welfare of Nigerians. We believe that this budget, while helping industry, commerce and investment to pick up, will as a matter of urgency, address the immediate problems of youth unemployment and the terrible living conditions of the extremely poor and vulnerable Nigerians.

7. In the medium to longer term, we remain committed to economic diversification through import substitution and export promotion. This will build resilience in our economy. It will guarantee that the problems we have today, will not confront our children and their children. This shall be our legacy for generations to come.

2015: A Year of Global and Domestic Challenges

8. Today, it is widely acknowledged that the global economy has slowed down. This is particularly the case with emerging markets such as Nigeria. However, despite the weak emerging market growth rates, our domestic security challenges, declining oil prices, and the attendant difficulties in providing foreign exchange to meet market demands, the Nigerian economy grew by 2.84% in the third quarter of 2015.

9. We have, and will continue to implement strategies that will maintain macroeconomic stability and manage the oil price shocks we are experiencing.

10. Upon the inauguration of this administration on 29th May 2015, we engaged key stakeholders from various sectors of our economy and interfaced with the heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in order to understand the true state of our nation. What we found prompted us to take certain strategic decisions.

11. On the economy, we injected new leadership at the helm of our revenue generating agencies including the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS). We implemented the Treasury Single Account (TSA) which, so far, has provided greater visibility of Government revenues and cash flows. We intervened to support States to navigate their fiscal challenges by restructuring their commercial bank loans and by providing facilities to enable them to pay salary arrears.

12. We have demonstrated a strong will to fight corruption. I am sure you will agree that the sheer scale of corruption and impunity of the past explains in part, the economic challenges we now face. On these initiatives, and the many more to come, we shall not be deterred. We will pursue the recovery of everything that belongs to the people of Nigeria. No matter where it is hidden. No matter how long it will take.

2015 Budget Performance

13. Distinguished and honourable members of the National Assembly, I now present a review of the 2015 Budget. That Budget was based on a benchmark oil price of $53 per barrel, oil production of 2.28 million barrels per day and an exchange rate of N190 to the US$.

14. The projected revenue was N3.45 trillion, with an outlay of N4.49 trillion, implying a deficit of N1.04 trillion. Due largely to under-provisioning by the previous administration for fuel subsidy and the costs required to support the military operations in the North East, the Government had to obtain National Assembly’s approval for a supplementary budget of N575.5 billion. I take this opportunity to thank all members of the National Assembly for the prompt passage of that Bill.

2016: Budget Assumptions

15. After reviewing the trends in the global oil industry, we have set a benchmark price of $38 per barrel and a production estimate of 2.2 million barrels per day for 2016. We have focused on non-oil revenues by broadening our tax base and improving the effectiveness of our revenue collecting agencies.

16. Also, with the full implementation of the Treasury Single Account, we expect significant improvements in the collection and remittance of independent revenues. To further support the drive for increased remittances, we will ensure that all MDAs present their budgets in advance, and remit their operating surpluses as required by section 22 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

17. We are determined to ensure that our resources are managed prudently and utilized solely for the public good. To set the proper tone, one of our early decisions was the adoption of a zero based budgeting approach, which ensures that resources are aligned with Government’s priorities and allocated efficiently. This budgeting method, a clear departure from previous budgeting activities, will optimize the impact of public expenditure.

18. In addition to the proper linkage of budgeting to strategic planning, we are enhancing the utilization of the Government Integrated Financial Management Information Systems (GIFMIS) to improve financial management. The recently established Efficiency Unit is working across MDAs to identify and eliminate wasteful spending, duplication and other inefficiencies. We engaged costing experts to scrutinize the 2016 budget proposals. They have already identified certain cost areas that can be centralized for economies to be made.

19. We have directed the extension of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) to all MDAs to reap its full benefits. We will also strengthen the controls over our personnel and pension costs with the imminent introduction of the Continuous Audit Process (CAP). These initiatives will ensure personnel costs are reduced. Our commitment to a lean and cost effective government remains a priority, and the initiatives we are introducing will signal a fundamental change in how Government spends public revenue.

2016: Laying the Foundation for Sustainable Growth

20. The 2016 budget, as outlined, is designed to ensure that we revive our economy, deliver inclusive growth to Nigerians and create a significant number of jobs.

21. We aim to ensure macroeconomic stability by achieving a real GDP growth rate of 4.37% and managing inflation. To achieve this, we will ensure the aligning of fiscal, monetary, trade and industrial policies.

22. As we focus on inclusive growth, we are conscious of the current rate of unemployment and underemployment. This is a challenge we are determined to meet; and this budget is the platform for putting more Nigerians to work. I can assure you that this administration will have a job creation focus in every aspect of the execution of this budget. Nigeria’s job creation drive will be private sector led. We will encourage this by a reduction in tax rates for smaller businesses as well as subsidized funding for priority sectors such as agriculture and solid minerals.

23. As an emergency measure, to address the chronic shortage of teachers in public schools across the country, we also will partner with State and Local Governments to recruit, train and deploy 500,000 unemployed graduates and NCE holders. These graduate teachers will be deployed to primary schools, thereby, enhancing the provision of basic education especially in our rural areas.

24. We also intend to partner with State and Local Governments to provide financial training and loans to market women, traders and artisans, through their cooperative societies. We believe that this segment of our society is not only critical to our plan for growing small businesses, but it is also an important platform to create jobs and provide opportunities for entrepreneurs.

25. Furthermore, through the office of the Vice President, we are working with various development partners to design an implementable and transparent conditional cash transfer program for the poorest and most vulnerable. This program will be implemented in phases. Already, the compilation of registers of the poorest persons is ongoing. In the coming weeks, we will present the full programme, which will include our home-grown public primary school feeding and free education for science, technology and education students in our tertiary institutions. Indeed, this will mark a historic milestone for us as a nation.

The 2016 Budget

26. Distinguished members of the National Assembly, I now present, the 2016 Budget proposals of the Federal Government. Based on the assumptions I presented earlier, we have proposed a budget of N6.08 trillion with a revenue projection of N3.86 trillion resulting in a deficit of N2.22 trillion.

27. The deficit, which is equivalent to 2.16% of Nigeria’s GDP, will take our overall debt profile to 14% of our GDP. This remains well within acceptable fiscal limits. Our deficit will be financed by a combination of domestic borrowing of N984 billion, and foreign borrowing of N900 billion totaling N1.84 trillion. Over the medium term, we expect to increase revenues and reduce overheads, to bring the fiscal deficit down to 1.3% of GDP by 2018.

28. In 2016, oil related revenues are expected to contribute N820 billion. Non-oil revenues, comprising Company Income Tax (CIT), Value Added Tax (VAT), Customs and Excise duties, and Federation Account levies, will contribute N1.45 trillion. Finally, by enforcing strict compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 and public expenditure reforms in all MDAs, we have projected up to N1.51 trillion from independent revenues.

29. Although we are working to diversify our economy, we will not lose sight of the need to restructure the oil and gas sector which has been marred by corruption and plagued with inefficiencies. Accordingly, I have directed the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to adjust its pricing template to reflect competitive and market driven components. We believe this can lower input costs and attain efficiency savings that will enable PPPRA to keep the selling price for all marketers of petrol at N87 per liter for now.

30. The current fuel scarcity with long queues at petrol stations all over the country causing social dislocation is very unfortunate. Government profoundly apologizes to Nigerians for this prolonged hardship and misery. It is as a result of market speculators and resistance to change by some stakeholders. Government is working very hard to end these shortages and bring fuel to the pumps all over the country.

31. I have also directed the NNPC to explore alternate funding models that will enable us to honour our obligations in Joint Ventures (JVs) and deep offshore fields. We are confident that these measures can be achieved and will lower the burden that the traditional cash calls have imposed on our budget and cash flows as well as contribute towards shoring up our national reserves.

32. To deliver our development objectives, we have increased the capital expenditure portion of the budget from N557 billion in the 2015 budget to N1.8 trillion, in the 2016 budget. Distinguished and honourable members of the National Assembly, for the first time in many years, capital expenditure will represent 30% of our total budget. In future years we intend to raise the percentage allocation for capital expenditure.

33. This is a fulfillment of our promise to align expenditure to our long-term objectives, and a sign of government’s commitment to sustainable development. This increased capital expenditure commits significant resources to critical sectors such as Works, Power and Housing – N433.4 billion; Transport – N202.0 billion; Special Intervention Programs – N200.0 billion; Defence – N134.6 billion; and Interior – N53.1 billion. These investments in infrastructure and security are meant to support our reforms in the Agriculture, Solid Minerals and other core job creating sectors of our economy.

34. We will invest to safeguard lives and property.

35. We will invest in equipping our farmers with the right tools, technology and techniques.

36. We will invest in empowering and enabling our miners to operate in a safe, secure and humane environment.

37. We will invest in training our youths, through the revival of our technical and vocational institutions, to ensure they are competent enough to seize the opportunities that will arise from this economic revival.

38. Indeed, the future looks bright. And I ask that we all work together to make this vision a reality. The 223% year on year growth in capital expenditure demonstrates our desire to make Nigeria more competitive, and start the journey to deliver sustainable development in our country.

39. In fulfillment of our promise to run a lean government, we have proposed a 9% reduction in non-debt recurrent expenditure, from N2.59 trillion in the 2015 Budget to N2.35 trillion in 2016. Furthermore, we have budgeted N300 billion for Special Intervention Programs, which takes the total amount for non-debt recurrent expenditure to N2.65 trillion.

39. As I mentioned earlier, the Efficiency Unit set up by this Administration together with effective implementation of GIFMIS and IPPIS will drive a reduction of overheads by at least 7%, personnel costs by 8% and other service wide votes by 19%. Distinguished and honourable members, this budget will be executed to provide optimum value by ensuring every Naira spent by this Government, counts.

40. We will devote a significant portion of our recurrent expenditure to institutions that provide critical government services. We will spend N369.6 billion in Education; N294.5 billion in Defence; N221.7 billion in Health and N145.3 billion in the Ministry of Interior. This will ensure our teachers, armed forces personnel, doctors, nurses, police men, fire fighters, prison service officers and many more critical service providers are paid competitively and on time.

41. Distinguished and honourable members of the National Assembly, our 2016 borrowings will be principally directed to fund our capital projects. Furthermore, the sum of N113 billion will be set aside for a Sinking Fund towards the retirement of maturing loans; while N1.36 trillion has been provided for foreign and domestic debt service. This calls for prudent management on our part, both of the debt portfolio and the deployment of our hard earned foreign exchange earnings.

42. I am aware of the problems many Nigerians currently have in accessing foreign exchange for their various purposes – from our traders and business operators, who rely on imported inputs; to manufacturers needing to import sophisticated equipment and spare parts; to our airlines operators who need foreign exchange to meet their international regulatory obligations; to the financial services sector and capital markets who are key actors in the global arena.

43. These are clearly due to the current inadequacies in the supply of foreign exchange to Nigerians who need it. I am however assured by the Governor of Central Bank that the Bank is currently fine-tuning its foreign exchange management to introduce some flexibility and encourage additional inflow of foreign currency to help ease the pressure.

44. We are carefully assessing our exchange rate regime keeping in mind our willingness to attract foreign investors but at the same time, managing and controlling inflation to level that will not harm the average Nigerians. Nigeria is open for business. But the interest of all Nigerians must be protected. Indeed, tough decisions will have to be made. But this does not necessarily mean increasing the level of pain already being experienced by most Nigerians.

45. So to the investors, business owners and industrialists, we are aware of your pains. To the farmers, traders and entrepreneurs, we also hear you. The status quo cannot continue. The rent seeking will stop. The artificial current demand will end. Our monetary, fiscal and social development policies are aligned.

Conclusion

46. Mr. Senate President, Mr. Speaker, distinguished members of the National Assembly, in spite of the global economic uncertainties; we must remain steadfast in our commitment to steer this country back to greatness.

47. The Nigerian economy needs to move away from dependency on oil. Our growth must be inclusive. Nigerians must be part of the growth story. As a Government, we shall deliver security, jobs and infrastructure. This is the right of all Nigerians.

48. I know many people will say “I have heard this before”. Indeed, trust in Government, due to the abuse and negligence of the past, is at an all-time low. This means we must go back to basics. Our actions will speak for us. My team of dedicated, committed and patriotic Nigerians is well aware of the task ahead and I can assure you that we are taking on the challenge.

49. We will not betray the trust reposed in us.

50. We will welcome and be responsive to your feedback and criticisms.

51. We are here to serve. And indeed, Nigerians will get the service they have longed for and which they rightly deserve.

52. We as a Government cannot do it alone. We will require the support of all civil servants, the organized labour, industry groups, the press and of course, our religious and traditional institutions. This is a call for all of us to stand and serve our country.

53. This Budget represents a major step in delivering a new opportunity for Nigeria. It demonstrates our confident optimism that despite the challenging times, we have the will, resourcefulness and commitment to deliver prosperity to our people. And by the Grace of Almighty God and the sheer will and determination of the Nigerian people, we will come out stronger and more united than ever.

54. Thank you and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Buhari To Present 2016 Budget On Tuesday

budgetPresident Muhammadu Buhari will tomorrow, Tuesday December 22, present the 2016 national budget before a joint session of the National Assembly.

This was disclosed to state house correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting which held on Monday in the council chambers of the Presidential Villa, designed to fine-tune the document.

The 6.07 trillion Naira budget proposal for 2016 was predicated on $38 per barrel oil benchmark; 197 Naira exchange rate.

It is an increase of about 40 per cent from the previous budget of 4.357 trillion Naira which was presented to the National Assembly in 2014 by ex-president, Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

The budget presentation by President Buhari is coming just as the National Assembly approved the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had on December 7 approved the Medium Term Expenditure Framework which pegs the 2016 Budget at six trillion Naira.

New Tax Regime

The Monday (December 21) FEC meeting which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, also discussed the new tax regime following a memo by the Attorney General of the Federation.

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, said that the memo is seeking a review of the taxation laws in order to improve the legal framework and enhance compliance by Nigerians.

“We have noticed and observed some inadequacies of the present tax regime and these inadequacies have been exploited by both individuals and corporate organisations to evade tax and this has led to loss of revenue to the government.

“So, the new tax review aims at plugging these loopholes,” he said.

There were also questions about whether the President would be at the National Assembly live for the presentation of the budget or he would get it laid by a minister as has been the practice in the past.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr Udoma Udo Udoma, said “The President will be addressing a joint session of the National Assembly.”

Senate Is Committed To Nigerians’ Interests – Saraki

Senate Is Committed To Nigerians’ Interests – SarakiThe Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, says the Senate is committed to making the interests of Nigerians more paramount.

This according to the senator, would help restructure the nation on the right path.

Dr. Saraki gave the assurance in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital during his 53rd birthday celebration, saying it was not a time for celebration rather a time of reflection.

While assuring the citizens of better days ahead despite the challenges confronting the nation, he restated that the leadership of the nation would ensure the interests of citizens were given priority.

The Senate President also said that the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly was working towards making policies that would affect the lives of Nigerians positively.

Buhari To Present 6.07tr Naira 2016 Budget

Buhari To Present 6.07tr Naira 2016 BudgetPresident Muhammadu Buhari will on Tuesday, December 22, present a 6.07 trillion Naira budget proposal to the National Assembly.

The Senate made the disclosure on Wednesday at the National Assembly in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

The ‎planned presentation has compelled the upper chamber to shift its earlier plan to proceed on Christmas break from Thursday to next week Tuesday.

The 6.07 trillion Naira budget proposal for 2016 was predicated on $38 per barrel oil benchmark; 197 Naira exchange rate.

It is an increase of about 40 per cent from the previous budget of 4.357 trillion Naira which was presented to the National Assembly in 2014 by the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

The budget presentation by President Buhari next Tuesday is coming just as the National Assembly approved the Medium Term Framework Expenditure (MTEF).

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had on December 7 approved the Medium Term Expenditure Framework which pegs the 2016 Budget at six trillion Naira.

This decision was reached at FEC’s emergency meeting presided over by President Buhari.

Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting, the Minister of National Planning, Udo Udoma, who joined the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, said that the crude oil price would be $38, because of the uncertainties in the price of oil.