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Edo Earmarks N99.25bn For 2010

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Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole Friday in Benin City presented the 2010 budget estimates of N99.25 billion to Edo State House of Assembly. The Appropriation Bill christened: “Budget of consolidation,” exceeds the 2009 Budget by N18.66 billion representing 23 percent. The 2010 fiscal policy comprises capital projection of N60.54 billion and a recurrent estimate of N38. 71 billion. A sum of N61.358 billion is proposed as recurrent revenue which is made up of internally generated revenue (IGR) of N18 billion representing 29 percent, statutory allocation of N29. 75 billion or 48 percent and excess crude and other oil revenue put at N13.60 billion representing 22 percent. In the financial estimates, the balance of N37.89 billion will be funded with N6.6 billion from the ValuEAdded Tax (VAT), N9.23 billion from grants as well as the contribution from loans and the opening balance from the current 2009 Budget. On capital projects priorities for 2010, the Governor said the combined-proposed allocation to roads with flood and erosion control and environmental beautification is N32.6 billion which constitutes 54 percent of the total, budget proposals, adding that the primary attention on Benin City would be sustained while road construction and rehabilitation would be extended to the 18 local government areas of the state. According to Comrade Oshiomhole, there would be commencement of a new primary drainage system within Benin City that would properly channel floods into natural tributaries based on the new Benin City Storm Water Master Plan, just as the Benin Moat will experience up-grading through stone-pitching to enhance its durability for the purpose of flood control and its presentation as a tourist heritage. He said government would embark on a massive aforestation programme in 2010 starting with the raising of one million tree seedlings. Another priority area is the construction and rehabilitation of infrastructures in the education sector for which the sum of N7.5 billion is proposed. To boost agricultural productivity, N120 million is allocated for the purchase of additional tractors and implements to support farmers and farming communities in addition to other key initiatives in the agricultural sector. New fleet of mass transit buses would be acquired to strengthen the Edo Transport Service to ease the pains of commuters in a partnership arrangement with the private sector for which the initial Edo State Counterpart Funding of N372 million is provided in the 2010 budget. Also in the transport sector the State Government proposed to set up traffic management and Accident Rescue Corp while 250 million has been proposed for the purchase of emergency relief materials and N120 million for the rehabilitation and development of markets. The governor emphasized that as promised last year, the capacity of the Edo State Broadcasting Service (EBS) and The Nigerian Observer would be enhanced, hence the allocation of N100 million for the purchase of Outside Broadcasting Service (OBS) vans and other facilities to improve performance while N70 million had been proposed to acquire state-of-the art printing equipment for The Nigerian Observer. Ben-Ose Ogbemudia, Benin

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Niger Delta

Headcount: NPC Commences Update Of Database In C’River

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The National Population Commission (NPC) says it has commenced an update on Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD) in Calabar Municipality of Cross River State, in preparation for the national headcount which could come up in the first quater of 2022.
Federal Commissioner representing the State on the Board of the NPC, Navy Captain Charles Ongwa, in a press conference in Calabar, said pre-census trial test conducted by the commission threw up some issues in Calabar Municipality, partly because the methods used during the initial phase of the EAD were manual.
He explained that satellite imagery platforms, geo-referencing and other latest applications for data and population capturing would be used this time around and that the exercise is scheduled between July 28 and the last week of August, 28 days to be precise.
“We are doing an update of the EAD in Calabar Municipality. The Commission undertook a pre-census trial test and it brought out Calabar Municipality as the only LGA in Cross River State which we should conduct updates.
“What informed the choice of that LGA is because when the EAD was done in Calabar Municipality, it was manual. The pre-test was to see whether the manual method used and the new scientific method would align and be effective during the census proper.
“The Commission decided that all the phases which were done manually in Calabar Municipality will run and be updated scientifically so that we would not have the challenge recorded during the pre-test. It is not a fresh enumeration. Other States are doing similar thing in those LGAs which the pre-test threw up,” he said.
The Commissioner disclosed that after the completion of the EAD and updates in some LGAs across the country, what would be left would be for President Muhammadu Buhari to make a proclamation for the census to be conducted.
He said the international communities, including the United Nations, were mounting pressures on the country to conduct a head count since the last census was done 16 years ago as against the internationally recommended ten years period for new census to ascertain the true population of a country.
Also speaking, the State Director of the NPC, Mr Billy Bassey Eteng, believed that when the exercise is completed, the country would be happy for it.
He therefore, solicited cooperation from residents of Calabar Municipality and indeed all Nigerians to support the exercise to succeed.

By: Friday Nwagbara, Calabar

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Police Retirees Decry Poor Management Of Pension Scheme

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Retired police officers under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) have faulted the poor and inefficient management of the retirement programme in the country.
They disclosed this in a release made available in Calabar and signed by its 16 states Chapter Chairmen alongside four others.
Titled “Retired Police Officers Under Contributory Pension Scheme Applauded No One,” the group noted that Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) has denied police retirees of periodic increment of their monthly pension.
The retirees explained that the recently announced consequential adjustment of pension allowance by the federal government in line with section 173(3) of the constitution of the Federal Government of Nigeria (as amended) did not include police retirees under CPS.
The release read in part: “No police retiree under CPS who has been exposed to the highest level of frustration and abandonment after suffering to keep the peace of this nation, will ever applaud those who have seized their terminal benefits to run a private profit making business in which the owners of the money (police retirees) are not stakeholders.
“It is unthinkable that police officers who enlisted into the force under Defined Benefits Scheme (DBS) and had served this nation up to pensionable years before the introduction of CPS could be coerced into a system that has robbed them of their entitlements.
“The group wondered why “Service Chiefs in other Agencies and the leadership of other organisations are working to better the living standard of their serving and retired personnel, while the police leadership is conspiring with the NPF Pensions Limited to cheat police retirees.”
”The approval of 2.5 percent by the President is not a favour done to anybody as it is the entitlement of the employee that is due the employee following the review of employer and the employee rate of contribution,” adding that, “the propaganda of 300 percent special gratuity for retired police officers awaiting the President’s approval is too old a story to be repeated after four years.”
They also frowned at the denial of the 300 percent annual basic salary and the 80 percent monthly basic salary as gratuity and monthly pension on retirement.

By: Friday Nwagbara, Calabar

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Alleged N3bn Diversion: Absence Of Defence Counsel Stalls Whistle Blower’s Trial

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The absence of defence counsel to a former General Manager of Radio Bayelsa, John Idumange, who raised an alarm over alleged diversion of N3 billion Agric loan by government officials was yesterday stalled at a Bayelsa High Court.
When the case was called for hearing, the prosecution led by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Bayelsa, Mrs Iyobosa Apulu, noted that the bench warrant issued on the defendant, Idumange, ought to be issued against his surety.
She urged the court to issue another bench warrant on the defendant’s surety, to produce his client in court.
“We do not know the whereabouts of the defendant, who was previously on bail before the case was transfered to this court.
“But his surety can be traced and that is why we want the bench warrant be issued against the surety, to prevail on him to produce the defendant in court,” Iyobosa said.
The court had on July 19 issued a bench warrant authorising the arrest of Idumange, whose counsel, Ebikebuna Aluzu, had informed the court that the defendant was involved in an accident and was hospitalised.
Justice Iniekenimi Uzakah subsequently adjourned the matter until September 10.
The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Bayelsa, Biriyai Sambo, (SAN) had filed a suit against Idumange for misdemeanour and seditious publications against government officials.
Reports had it that a Magistrates’ Court had on March 11 in Yenagoa, ordered Idumange’s detention for 30 days, pending police investigation.
Idumange, who alleged that officials of Bayelsa government had diverted a N3 billion Agric loan and subsequently submitted a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, was arrested on March 10.
Some officials of the state government had reported to the police that Idumange had made seditious publications that maligned their persons in his claims.
However, the State High Court, Sagbama Division, granted bail to Idumange, who was also an aide on Research and Documentation and later Social Media to former Bayelsa Governor, Seriake Dickson.
The Tide reports that the case, earlier assigned to Justice Ebiyerin Omukoro, was reassigned to Justice Uzakah.

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