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FG, NASS’ Talks On Budget, Healthy …41.3% Already Implemented – Finance Minister

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Senate President David Mark said yesterday that the disagreement between the legislature and the executive over the non-implementation of the 2012 budget was necessary.

The Senate president said this at an event to mark StarTimes’ second anniversary and the inauguration of StarTimes Mobile TV.

He said that the rift between the two arms of government became necessary in order to achieve the common objective of ensuring that ordinary Nigerians benefitted from the dividends of democracy.

“The rift between the executive and the National Assembly is a necessary disagreement for us to come to one simple objective.

“The final objective for the legislature and the executive is that the ordinary Nigerian in the street must see the dividends of Democracy.

“The intricacies and mechanism that result to this is not truly the problem of the ordinary Nigerian. So, when we talk of whether we have implemented the budget to 56 per cent or to 21 per cent or to 36 per cent, the man who walking on the street in Nigeria is not interested in those figures.

“He wants to see that there are infrastructures on the ground for him to utilise. He wants to be employed. He wants to have three square meals in his house. He wants security to do his business. He wants to have enough power”, he said.

Mark, who said the disagreement was exaggerated, called on both arms of government to sheathe their swords and work toward the growth of the economy.

He called on both arms of government to concentrate more on meeting the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians, rather than debating on the level of budget so far implemented.

“We should not begin to preach about percentage, I think we should worry more on how these percentages have been translated to realities on ground.

“But let me also say that I think there is an over exaggeration as to the rift between the executive and the Legislature, we are all working for Nigeria, but I must emphasise that the legislators are the elected representatives of the people and we wear the shoes, so we should know where they hurt most and I think people should listen to us,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senate President David Mark said that the military was better off in a democratic setting since it performed its constitutional roles without interference

Mark said this yesterday at a dinner organised by the National Defence College for Graduates of Course 20 participants and also to mark the 20th anniversary of the college

He said the military was getting back to its glorious days where the personnel did their constitutional duties and nobody would think they would do otherwise’

“So we have accepted that democracy is the order of the day and the military regime is no more in fashion and is completely outdated.

“And the Nigerian Armed Forces are so well trained, that they understand that constitutional democracy is the order of the day, so I want to thank you for that,’’ he said.

Mark said the Course 20 participants had the most challenging period, adding that the experience gained by them was not thought of some years back as there were no suicide bombers then in the country.

He said the challenge the participants had during the course was an opportunity for the participants to review most of the activities of these suicide bombers.

“Therefore, I think you had very challenging and exciting period as the Defence College by now have got a blue print because this is the highest thinking institution in the whole of West African Sub-Region.

“And anything you cannot solve militarily , then it is assumed that it is difficult for any military institution to solve and the challenge that you have must have informed your new syllabus and the new thinking that the college is working on,” he added.

Mark said by changing the name of the college from war to defence college showed that the tendency in the world now was not to fight war but to defend.

“Let me assure the commandant, staff and participants of the college that the National Assembly would do what it can in terms of legislation to make sure that they are properly equipped, to make sure they are in a position to deliver the best training.

He called for synergy between NASS and the college as their research papers would help in ways to curb the current security challenges.

Our correspondent  reports that presentation of awards were made to staff who distinguished themselves.

In a related development, the 2012 budget was passed in April and 41.3% has been implemented. This was confirmed by the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The minister said this while addressing members of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, yesterday.

Okonjo-Iweala said that the sum of N1.3 trillion was appropriated for capital expenditure in the 2012 budget and out of this; the ministry has released N404 billion with N324 billion cash backed.

“So far, 56 per cent of the capital budget had been utilised while 44 per cent was still outstanding.” she said.

She added that the ministry had so far released N1.6 trillion for recurrent expenditure.

The Minister said that the budget was meant to run from January to December, so it should be executed in that manner, she also claims that the media lied about the budget implementation.

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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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