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FG Presents 2011 Budget Proposal, Tuesday

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The long expected Appropriation Bill for the 2011 fiscal year will be presented to the National Assembly by President Goodluck Jonathan next Tuesday.

A statement read by Senate President, David Mark, during last Tuesday’s plenary session said President Jonathan sought the leave of the Senate to present the budget to the lawmakers on the said date.

As expected, the budget presentation is yet another task which may bring together the two chambers. But emerging signals indicate that the breach of confidence and the cold war that trailed the misunderstanding that erupted between Senators and members of the House of Representatives at the Minna Retreat for the Constitutional Review Joint Committee last year seems to have been finally laid to rest.

The indication came through the spokesman of the Senate, Senator Ayogu Eze who while fielding questions from journalists at a news briefing, said both chambers had regained each other’s confidence and are working together as one.

His words, “A lot of people have misunderstood the problem that occurred last year and no problem is forever, we had some little misunderstanding but I think we have put that behind us, you can see that most things we are doing we are working together as one body.

It is expected that in every organization, the junior colleagues should always listen to the senior both in their attitude and in their actions and I think that if the President has a desire to come and address the nation we should not deprive him of such desire.

“If what happened in Minna did not happen, we were running like one family and I think that we are confident that we have regained the confidence of each other and we are working together as a one National Assembly and really,” Senator Ayogu, therefore, indicated that this time, the issue of venue for the presentation would not be a problem as either of the chambers can join the other at any venue which has the required capacity.

“we don’t have any problem whether it is held in the green chamber or the red chamber. If the green chamber is the one that has all the accommodation to take all of us, we don’t have any problem with that,” he said.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Senator Eze, at the press briefing also confirmed that the senate would pass the amendments to the Electoral Act next week even with a lot of variations from the House of Representatives’ version passed Wednesday.

His words, “a lot of you thought that the passage of the Electoral Act by the House was also the passage by the Senate. I want to use this opportunity to clarify that we have not passed the Electoral Act in the Senate, we will pass it next week and then when we pass it, we are expecting that there will be a lot of differences between the version that we will pass.

“Some differences, not a lot between the version that we will pass and the version that will be passed in the House, and therefore, we are expecting that there will be a conference committee that will look at harmonising it speedily so that we can pass it before we proceed on holiday.

He went ahead to add that the difference in the versions of the two Houses does not mean disagreement between both Houses.

Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja

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Ogoni Youths Give FG 14 Days To Fix East-West Road

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No fewer than 400 youths under the aegis of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the Eleme axis of the East-West Road, giving the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to mobilize to site and fix the road or have economic activities in the area grounded.
The protesters, who carried various placards with inscriptions to press home their demands, trekked from Akpajo Junction to Refinery Junction in Eleme LGA, chanting solidarity songs to register their discontent over the neglect of the road.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, President General of the Ogoni Youth Federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana, said it was regrettable that the road, which was a major route to the economic hub of the nation, has remained in a deplorable state, only becoming a death trap that has terminated the lives of innocent Ogonis.
Yaamabana, who described the mass action of the youths as a ‘warning protest’, said if the contractors handling the road were not immediately mobilized to site, then, the youths will have no option than to shut down all economic activities in the area.
He said, “we cannot continue to watch our people being killed on daily basis by tankers because of the poor state of Eleme axis of the east west road, we are calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency fix the road and save our people from untimely deaths as a result of the sorry state of the road, the only bridge on the road at Aleto has collapse but nothing is being done to avert the disasters faced by our people daily”.
Yaamabana also called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission to address the development needs of the Niger Delta region, noting that the use of interim management for NDDC was “diversionary, self serving and not in the interest of the development of the Niger Delta region”.
The OYF president general also called on the Federal Government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots who were extra-judicially murdered by the late Gen Sani Abacha military junta, and given post-humours honour as martyrs of democracy in Nigeria, while the ideals of justice they stood for should be upheld.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Comrade James Tobin, who joined the protest in solidarity, decried the neglect of the East—West Road by the Federal Government, and called the immediate fixing of the road to save the teeming road users from untold pains and death.

By: Taneh Beemene

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Rising Prices Push 7m Nigerians Below Poverty Line -World Bank

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The World Bank has said that rising prices pushed about seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020.
This was contained in a press statement titled, ‘Critical reforms needed to reduce inflation and accelerate the recovery, says new World Bank report,’ released by the World Bank’s Senior External Affairs Officer of Nigeria, Mansir Nasir.
The press statement was released, yesterday, in line with the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update.
It was acknowledged that the Federal Government “took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession” but it was recommended that certain policies should be set for a strong recovery.”
The statement read, “The NDU, titled ‘Resilience through Reforms,’ notes that in 2020, the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8 per cent than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2 per cent). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households.
“As of April, 2021, the inflation rate was the highest in four years. Food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.”
Quoted in the statement, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, identified some of the challenges faced by the country and recommended a way forward.
“Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.
“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realise its development potential,” Chaudhuri said.
Also quoted is the World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the NDU, Marco Hernandez, who also gave a recommendation.
“Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedite reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery,” Hernandez said.

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Inflation Dips To 17.93% In May, NBS Confirms

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Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 17.93 per cent in May, 2021, from 18.12 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed this in its monthly Consumer Price Index report released, yesterday.
The drop in the headline inflation in May was the second consecutive month this year.
The report indicates that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93 per cent (year-on-year) in May, 2021, which is 0.19 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in the preceding month.
According to NBS, food inflation dropped in the same month from 22.78 per cent recorded in April, 2021 to 22.28 per cent in May, 2021.
The report reads, ‘‘All items less farm produce which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.15 per cent in May, 2021, up by 0.41 per cent when compared with 12.74 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
‘‘The highest increases were recorded in prices of pharmaceutical products, garments, shoes and other footwear, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, furniture and furnishing, carpet and other floor covering.
‘‘Others include, motor cars, Hospital services, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
“Other services include personal transport equipment, gas, household textile, and non-durable household goods,” the NBS added.

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