Provide Administrative Framework Of Intervention Fund, Senate Tells Executives

senateThe Nigerian Senate on Tuesday asked the Executive Arm of Government to provide the National Assembly with a clear framework that would allow for proper administration of the 500 billion Naira Special Intervention Fund, staying action on the executive’s requests for funds.

The request, according to the Senate, would enable the lawmakers ensure that the failure of the past social intervention schemes was avoided.

President Buhari on September 25 forwarded a request to the lawmakers, seeking the approval of the National Assembly for virement of funds appropriated for special intervention to be used to fund some recurrent and capital items.

He is seeking a total of 180 billion Naira to cover the shortfalls in recurrent and capital expenditures.

In the letter read on the floor of the Senate and House of Representatives, President Buhari said the request is necessary because of the shortfalls in provisions for personnel costs and inadequate provision for the Amnesty Programme.

‘Discriminates Against Rural Dwellers’

Deliberations on the request opened on Tuesday with Senator Ndume pointing out some flaws in the initiative.

He insisted that the directive that all the beneficiaries should register online had the tendency of excluding and marginalising the targeted population.

Pointing out that the request by the Senate was not targeted at stopping the initiative, Senator Ndume stated that the Senate fully approved the request of the executive in the 2016 Budget to facilitate the 500 billion Naira fund.

Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, who opened the debate on the motion he raised on the need to avoid the mismanagement of the 500 billion Naira intervention funds, further observed that current economic situation and the need to have a social intervention scheme that could lift people out of poverty, was the overriding concern of the National Assembly when it did not insist on having a proper framework before approval.

“But I expect the social intervention fund to get to all the 9,572 Wards of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he says.

He further highlighted a variable in the initiative – MPOWER – which he said required people to register online, saying “it is faulty and discriminates against rural dwellers”.

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The intervention fund will handle reconstruction of the northeast ravaged by over six years of Boko Haram insurgency, Muhammadu Buhari says

Giving his opinion on the issue, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said he could not find any beneficiary of the programmes of the Social Intervention Funds in his LG.

On his part, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah said the aspects of the implementation of the Social Intervention Funds run afoul of the Constitution.

Senator Na’Allah questioned how the people in the hinterland and localities without internet services that are supposed to get online to register on the website.

Before the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, asked Senator Ali Wakili to shed light on some of these concerns, Senators Hope Uzodinma and Biodun Olujimi condemned the implementation plan, saying it was not far-reaching to all nooks and corners of Nigeria.

Explaining the Social Intervention Plans of the Executive Arm of Government Senator Wakili said the fund was not domiciled in any ministry but managed in Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s office through consultants.

Senator Wakili told the Senate that he expected that the National Assembly, as the representative of the people, ought to be carried along “but this isn’t the case”.

Push For Manual Registration

Another issue that Senator Dino Melaye raised was that Nigeriens, Beninoise and Camerounians could as well claim being Nigerians and apply since it was online.

He concluded that a programme of action on the implementation of the Intervention Fund had to be brought to the Senate.

Insurance Fraud
The House of Representatives had in June also requested for the framework of the intervention fund

After the deliberations, the Senate resolved that manual registration of beneficiary from all Wards & LGs in Nigeria be incorporated in the 500 billion Naira Intervention Programme.

The Senate also resolved that a clear accountability channel must be created, continuously audited and submitted to the National Assembly.

Giving his final words on the issue, the Senate President said that despite the good intentions, the 500 billion Naira might not achieve what it was supposed to achieve with the current implementation.

Dr. Saraki further asked the appropriate committee to work with the executive to ensure the success of the Social Intervention Fund.

This Senate decision is coming months after the House of Representatives demanded for the framework and details of the 500 billion naira Special Intervention Fund.

The lower chamber had directed a joint committee to ensure that the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Social Protection Programmes made available the framework.

Anti-corruption Fight: FG Seeks More Support From Nigerians

yemi osinbajo on anti-corruption fight in NigeriaThe Federal Government is seeking more support from Nigerians for the anti-corruption fight aimed at recovering stolen funds from persons that looted the nation’s treasury. 

The government further assured law abiding Nigerians that they have nothing to fear, as the government’s fight against corruption is aimed at retrieving the commonwealth of Nigerians from persons who have illegally appropriated such wealth to themselves and their families.

Addressing participants at a national conference on Tuesday on the role of the legislature in the fight against corruption, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said “Nigeria stands the risk of perpetually remaining under-developed if nothing is done to stem the tide of corruption”.

Respect The Rule Of Law

He appealed to Nigerians to team up with the Federal Government in its effort to rid the nation of corrupt persons.

The issue of corruption again took centre stage, at the Presidential Advisory Council Against Corruption and the National Assembly conference.

Participants had gathered to brainstorm on how to tackle corruption.

While the Vice President, who declared the conference open, lamented the state of corruption in Nigeria, a former Director of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, Patrick Lumumba, in a keynote address recommended severe sanctions to deter corrupt persons.

The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay, berated the legislature for its failure to fight corruption just as the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, advised the Federal Government to respect the rule of law.

The two-day conference will among other subjects examine the role of the legislature as the champion of anti-corruption reforms, reform of the anti-corruption legal framework and compliance with international standards.

Buhari Elevates Response To Northeast Humanitarian Situation

Northeast Humanitarian Situation Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has approved a change in the management of the humanitarian crisis in the northeast, putting cabinet ministers in direct charge of sectoral coordination.

He said the decision was to ensure that the situation was confronted more effectively.

Before the President’s decision, sectoral coordination of the humanitarian situation was managed by director-cadre ministry officials.

The cabinet ministers will now be in charge of governmental response to the humanitarian emergency caused by Boko Haram insurgency in the north eastern part of Nigeria.

A statement by Laolu Akande, a spokesman for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said an inter-ministerial task force had been established by President Buhari to coordinate the response and work with humanitarian agencies to support the governments and other structures in the affected states.

In the multi-sectoral task force, each sector will now be led by a minister while the entire task force is led by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.

The ministry will now coordinate and mobilise the domestic, governmental and private sector resources necessary to effectively meet this challenge with the urgency it demands.

The ministers, who will now personally supervise their ministry’s role in the newly modified governance structure include ministers of health, interior, women affairs, agriculture and water resources.

Save Lives And Restore Normalcy

The National Security Adviser to the President and the Chief of Army Staff, National Emergency Management Agency and the Presidential Committee on Northeast Intervention would also be actively involved in the new elevated response model approved by the president.

After taking over power in May 2015, President Buhari’s administration has reiterated its commitment to defeating Boko Haram and countering violent extremism.

While military operations in the region have heightened, decimating the terrorist group, UNICEF has raised concerns over humanitarian crisis in the region, saying children are at risk of death due to malnutrition.

It has been difficult to send relief to people in the region due to activities of the terrorist group and military in the northeast, the UN agency said.

As the military forces move deeper into the core Boko Haram strongholds, they have discovered and freed several persons who are severely malnourished and in poor health.

This dire situation shows acute need for stronger coordination, oversight and direction of all northeast humanitarian interventions and resettlement efforts.

Non-governmental organisations, United Nations agencies and other donor agencies have sent relief materials to the region but UNICEF said more nutritious foods are needed to save about 49,000 severely malnourished children, pregnant women and nursing mothers at the risk of death before the end of the year.

The Federal Government of Nigeria has also expressed appreciation for the human and material resources already deployed by the United Nations agencies, international development partners, non-governmental organisations and other private companies and individuals who have been assisting to meet the urgent needs of the victims.

With the new management structure, the Federal Government has given assurances to the UN and all other partners, local and international, of its readiness to effectively lead the humanitarian response, deploy adequate resources and do everything possible to mobilise a rapid response in order to save lives and restore normalcy to the affected areas.

Buhari Woos Investors, Says Nigeria Is Attractive For Business

Muhammadu-Buhari-woos-investorsPresident Muhammadu Buhari has assured potential investors that Nigeria would soon be one of the most attractive places to invest as his administration has embarked on significant economic reforms to realise that goal.

The President gave the assurance to a large gathering of political and business leaders from the United States, Africa and other regions of the world at the Second United States-Africa Business Forum in the New York, on Wednesday, organised by the United States Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The Nigerian leader said that the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, would soon come out with wide-ranging business environment reforms on ports, visa-on arrival, improving the speed and efficiency of land titling and business registration.

Investment Destination In Africa

Some fiscal incentives he noted, include, up to five years tax holiday for activities classified as “pioneer”; tax-free operations; no restrictions on expatriate quotas in Free Trade Zones; and a low VAT regime of five per cent.

“We intend to make Nigeria one of the most attractive places to do business,” he declared, even as he noted that Nigeria remained the number one investment destination in Africa.

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President Muhammadu Buhari said his administration was working hard to set Nigeria’s economy firmly on the path of true diversification

President Buhari told the gathering that his administration would continue to strengthen government institutions in order to address the concerns of investors and ease investments in the Nigerian economy.

“We are weaning ourselves from a historical dependence on crude oil, diversifying our economy, and putting it on the path of sustainable and inclusive growth.

“To this end, we have embarked on policies aimed at establishing an open, rules-based and market-oriented economy.

“We will continue to actively engage with the private sector at the highest levels to listen to your concerns and to assure you of our commitment to creating enabling policies in which your businesses can survive and thrive,” President Buhari said.

He urged participants to “take advantage of this Forum to establish and strengthen business relationships, share valuable experience and collaborate for mutual benefits”.

President Buhari while stressing that enormous potential exists for foreign investment and for the local economy, listed sectors which had barely been exploited to include Nigeria’s 180-million population and abundance of labour; arable land; forest waters; oil and gas; solid minerals; livestock and huge tourist potential.

“These are no doubt challenging times for the Nigerian economy.

“But let me use this opportunity to boldly affirm our conviction that there is no crisis without an accompanying opportunity.

“In our case, we see Nigeria’s ongoing economic challenges – occasioned mainly by the fall in oil prices – as an opportunity to set the economy firmly on the path of true diversification, sustainable economic growth and shared prosperity,” he stated.

The President said that the reform measures taken by his administration since inception in 2015 had started yielding good fruits especially in the areas of security, anti-corruption and revamping the economy.

He emphasised that the priority investment sectors for his administration now were improving infrastructure, industrial productivity, agriculture, mining and digital economy where “young Nigerians are increasingly demonstrating that they have the talent and the passion to leverage”.

On United States-Nigeria business relations, he announced the commencement of the U.S.-Nigeria Commercial and Investment Dialogue with a focus on the infrastructure, agriculture, digital economy, investment and regulatory reform to be jointly led by the Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and his U.S. counterpart.

President Buhari said that after this Business Forum, he looked forward to increased trade and investment flows between Nigeria and the United States.

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Counter-terrorism efforts in Nigeria’s northeast and fight against corruption topped talks at the meeting

The Nigerian leader had met with U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday where issues of terrorism, nation’s dwindling economy and other efforts of the government to revive the economy were discussed.

Obama describes Nigeria as a very important country in the comity of nations which is why his administration decided to assist the administration in the fight.

President Obama also pledged to assist in the area of economy, agriculture, promising to inject more fund to assist Nigeria come out of recession.

He wished President Buhari well, pledging to set up a framework for more support from America even while he leaves office.

FG Launches Digital Training For Nigerian Youths

Yemi Osinbajo, Google Training for Nigerian YouthsVice President Yemi Osinbajo has expressed optimism that Nigeria can overtake India in the market for technology and innovation talent.

The Nigerian Vice President made the statement on Tuesday during a flag-off ceremony of Google digital training for youth empowerment in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

Empowering Nigerian Youths

He said the administration would continue to explore creative ways at empowering Nigerian youths.

“This would mean that we would be building more local capacity to build, assemble hardware and to write innovative programmes.

“We will also be focusing on technology for media and entertainment,” he said.

While the empowerment initiative launched is targeting 400,000 Nigerian youths at a start, Professor Osinbajo said the government was determined to give every opportunity to younger generation to ensure they excel with the use of modern technology.

He hinted that a special initiative on innovative technology and start-ups, as well as presentation of prospective participants had already been done in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.

To achieve this, the Vice President stated that there were many opportunities, as practically anything could be learned online today.

He added that there were also important opportunities for those in the performing and film arts, which go beyond actual performing to effective management of their talents, programmes and projects.

On her part, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefilure, said that the programme was part of the government’s Sustainable Development Goals’ commitment.

She explained that it would be replicated in every state to lift Nigerian youths from poverty.

Other top government officials at the event – the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung and Minister of Labour,  Chris Ngige – harped on the importance of the training to youth development.

They promised to key into the move for positive development of the youths.

The theme of the event was “Diversifying the Nigerian Economy: Enabling Youth through Digital Skills Training”.

FG, Bono Explore Global Partnership To Address Northeast Humanitarian Crisis

Malnutrition-in-northeast-Nigeria-UnicefThe Nigerian government says it will welcome a global partnership that would ensure a concerted and focused international response to the humanitarian crisis arising from the insurgency in the northeast.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, gave the indication on Monday while receiving members of the ONE campaign led by the international Rock Star artist, Bono, and Africa’s richest man, Mr Aliko Dangote, who were at the Presidential Villa to discuss the possibilities of a global partnership to address the crisis through international advocacy.

“Deeply Disturbing”

Addressing members of the delegation that included former UK Development Secretary, Douglas Alexander, Professor Osinbajo pointed out that partnership was important in addressing the crisis.

Over two million persons have been displaced in the northeast, a fallout of the over six years of insurgency by a terrorist group, Boko Haram.

“It is very important that you chose to come and offer some partnership. This is great and we are pleased…Partnership is certainly the way to go,” the Vice President stressed.

He said no matter how prepared a country could be, handling the kind of crisis in the northeast with over two million displaced people including children, as a single country “would be irresponsible”.

“A global partnership to address the situation should be coordinated and more focussed on what is required to be done, for instance, in addressing the issue of malnourished children and not attempting to do too much things at once,” he told the gathering.

Earlier, the Irish born artist, Bono, said he had visited some of the IDPs.

“We want to be useful to you,” he said, explaining that what he saw in the region was “deeply disturbing”.

Bono also commended the social investment programmes of the Buhari administration saying: “We have heard of the incredible plans, the social investment funds,” adding also that the level of transparency already seen in the administration is both “very exciting and transforming”.

The ONE campaign is an advocacy organisation with more than seven million people around the world taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable diseases especially in Africa.

It has on its board people like Mo Ibrahim, Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg among others. It was founded in 2004.

Vice President Osinbajo’s statement is coming days after the UNICEF raised fears that over 400,000 persons are severely malnourished in Nigeria’s northeast.

The UN agency had said that about 49,000 children, pregnant women and nursing mother may die in the next few months if nothing was done.

It has called for nutritious foods and community mobilisers that will go from door to door in the affected region to get the affected children to places they could be treated.

Earlier on Monday, the United Nations expert on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Chaloka Beyani, called on the Nigerian Government and the international community to take urgent humanitarian measures to save lives and ensure the protection of hundreds of thousands of IDPs in the northeast.

Presidency Says Economic Team Considering Policy Options

Yemi-Osinbajo-Nigeria-VPThe Economic Management Team has been considering several policy options and measures to urgently reform and revitalise the economy, a presidency official said on Monday.

Spokesman for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Laolu Akande, said that some of the measures may require legislative amendments and presidential orders.

He said that such inputs would enable the Executive Arm of Government move quickly in implementing the economic reform plans.

“As far as I know, this has not been passed on to the President, the Federal Executive Council or the Legislative arm of government,” he said.

This is coming a day after some Nigerians expressed their feelings about the policies of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in a poll.

Most of the voters said they were confused about the policy thrust of the government.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has said that the government was pumping money into the economy to revamp it.

 

Nigeria To Make Agriculture Arrow Head Of Economic Development

Agriculture in Nigeria The Nigerian government has announced plans to revive and reposition agriculture as the arrow head of the nation’s economic development.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo told a gathering in Abuja on Monday that the government would recapitalise the Bank of Agriculture before the end of 2016.

He added that the government would lend at a single digit rate to its citizens.

Professor Osinbajo announced the plans at the public presentation of the Green Alternative Promotion Policy in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Economic Recession

In attendance with some ministers, the Vice President told the gathering that it had become necessary than ever to revive the sector owing largely to an economic recession.

The Minister of Agriculture, Mr Audu Ogbeh, says that Nigeria was now number three in the export of cocoa, behind Ivory Coast and Ghana.

Before the discovery of crude oil, Nigeria relied solely on agriculture for its revenue and was Africa’s major cocoa exporter.

The official launch of the green alternative was projected to refocus the economy and make Nigeria food self-sufficient.

In 1960, agriculture contributed 60% to the Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product but had since fallen to 23% in 2016.

Buhari’s Presidency Will Energise Nigeria’s Economy — Osinbajo

Osinbajo, EconomyVice President Yemi Osinbajo says the 500 billion Naira Social Investment programmes of the Buhari presidency is a means to energize the economy and deal with issues of poverty in the country.

He said this on Tuesday while receiving a delegation of the Muslim Lawyers Association at the Presidential Villa.

Prof. Osinbajo said that the social investment programmes would train people, create jobs, feed school children from homegrown farming and grant soft loans to traders, artisans and market women.

“All these are ways and means of energising the economy and deal with some of the harshest problems like poverty,” said the Vice President.

He added that despite the current economic conditions in the country there is great hope.

“We are here at this time because that is the will of God to deliver the goods and do the right things for this country. It is very interesting the situation we find ourselves, but there is great hope.”

The Vice President said both the President and himself are committed to a new united Nigeria, populated by a ‘New Tribe’ that would be united across otherwise divisive lines be it ethnic or religious.

He added that Nigerians must fight corruption which is responsible for the current situation of things in the country, stressing that if it is not challenged, corruption would worsen the situation.

He added that as a people, Nigerians “should never be divided on religion and ethnicity, everyone is free to practice their own faith. When we come together as a people we must advance the interest of our nation.”

Earlier, the President of the Muslim Lawyers Association, Dr. Kamal Alhaji Daud, praised both the President and the Vice President, pledging the association’s support in the fight against corruption and also prayed for wisdom and strength for the Buhari presidency.

The group had held a lecture entitled Service Above Self, in honour of the Vice President.

Buhari Holds Closed Door Security Meeting With Service Chiefs

Muhammadu-Buhari-Nigeria-Norway-Fisheries-DevelopmentPresident Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday held a closed door meeting with his security chiefs with a view to tackling the militancy in the Niger Delta region.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was also present at the meeting.

Some of the issues reviewed include the militancy in the Niger Delta region and the level of operations in the war against terrorism in the northeastern part of Nigeria.

Security chiefs present include the Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar; Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok-Ete Ibas, Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura, Director-General, National Intelligence Agency, Mr. Ayo Oke and the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris.

Also in attendance were the Minister of Defence, Brig-Gen. Mansur Dan Ali (Rtd.), National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Munguno (Rtd.), Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal and the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Abba Kyari.

They, however, did not speak with journalists at the end of the meeting that lasted over three hours.

VP Osinbajo Inspects Dangote Refinery In Lagos

Yemi-Osinbajo-Dangote,RefineryVice President Yemi Osinbajo on Sunday inspected the site of the Dangote Refinery and Gas Stations in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.

Professor Osinbajo told journalists after a tour of the investment at the industrial area in Lekki Free Zone that the projects are strategic assets for Nigeria at this time.

He described the electricity project as an important one that would boost power supply tremendously.

In his remarks, the President of Dangote Group, Mr Aliko Dangote, said that the refinery would start production by the first quarter of year 2019.

He stated that when completed, it would be the largest single-line refinery in the world and that the gas pipeline would be able to generate 12,000 megawatts of power.

The Vice President and his team were received by the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, Mr Femi Otedola and top state government functionaries.

When completed in 2019, the Dangote Refinery and Gas Stations are expected to enhance power generation in Nigeria and create employment opportunities for many youths.

FG Set To Begin Disbursement Of N90 Billion Budget Support Fund

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Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Emmanuel Udom.

The National Economic Council (NEC) says disbursement of the N90 billion budget support proposed by the Federal Government to state governments to ease their economic hardship at interest rate of nine percent will start from next FAAC meeting.

This was disclosed to State House correspondents by the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Emmanuel Udom, while briefing on the outcome of the National Economic Council meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

The Central Bank Governor was also said to have briefed council that from Monday next week it will collapse the regulated and the unofficial foreign exchange windows into one entity.

Also, the School Feeding Programme for pupils in junior secondary schools in the country is at the cost of seventy naira per day.

Special Adviser to the President on social Investments, Mrs Mariam Uwais, told council that the programme is designed to fulfill federal government’s social protection role to its citizens.

The loan, according to the federal government, will cover a period of one year.

However, the loan will be extended to the state governments after they meet 22 stringent conditions put together by the federal government under the fiscal sustainability plan.

So far only five states are said to have completed the process for borrowing from the budget support loan while one state has declined from taken from the loan.