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RSG Proposes N490.32bn For 2013 …Unveils Law On Mushroom Schools

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A budget of N490.32billion has been proposed by the Rivers State Government for 2013.

Speaking at the budget presentation at the Rivers State House of Assembly, Port Harcourt, Monday, Governor Chibuike Amaechi said that the proposed budget was to consolidate the achievements of his administration in various sectors of the economy and set the state on an economic rebirth.

From the figures, the 2013 budget is N52.32 billion higher than the 2012 budget of N438billion.

The budget according to the governor is to be largely financed through Federal Statutory Allocations estimated to the tune of N245billion, Internal Generated Revenue (IGR), deductions from social levy to the sum of N80billion, last year balance of N48.32billion and proceeds of N100billion bond and credit of 17billion.

Though the governor frowned at the swelling recurrent expenditure of 176.02billion, capital expenditure still gulped the largest part of the budget with N314billion, slightly less than that of 2012 of N323.70billion.

Amaechi explained reasons for the swelling recurrent expenditure, “We had made provisions under the recurrent expenditure window for new recruitments including the hiring of additional 13,000 teachers to strengthen our education sub -sector.”

A further breakdown of the budget shows the economic sector having the largest chunk of 93billion, followed by the social sector with N64.50 billion. The educational sector trailed with 47.81billion, environment N37.60 billion, health got N10.23billion.

Sub-sectoral allocations put Energy and Natural Resources at the lowest with N160million, Commerce and Industry N400million, Women Affairs with N600million, while Social Welfare and Rehabilitation had N500million.

Water sector got N25.5billion which according to Amaechi is aimed at providing the needed infrastructure for sustainable delivery of water in Port Harcourt metropolis. Agriculture also got improved allocation of N4.03 billion, Culture and Tourism got N1.12billion and Housing N3billion.

The Rivers State Chief Executive assured that this administration would pursue good governance building and re-engineering the civil service through ICT compliance adding, “our agenda on openness, accountability and transparency will continue to be executed in 2013”.

Later, Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon Otelemaba Amachree commended the state government for the vision of moving the state forward, especially by putting emphasis on capital project.

Rt Hon Amachree observed, “we are indeed delighted to be partners in this success story”.

He assured the governor that the budget would be given a speedy in-depth consideration, noting that by next year its oversight functions would be beefed up.

Meanwhile, Governor Chibuike Amaechi has signed into law three bills namely, the State Education Quality Assurance, the Transportation and Disability law bills.

The Leader of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Chidi Lloyd told newsmen after the signing of three bills into law on Monday that the laws are geared at fast-tracking the development of the state.

He explained that the Quality Assurance law will help set standards for intending proprietors of schools in the state, “we can no longer have a situation where those who are not professionals just wake up and establish schools. With the new law, it is an offence for anyone to set up a school without following due process”, he stressed.

On the amended Transportation Law, the Assembly Leader stated that the new law will regulate activities of TIMARIV officials and curtail members of the public from assaulting the traffic officials.

The new law which is an amendment to an already subsisting transport law according to Hon. Lloyd has become pertinent due to numerous harassments faced by both the public and TIMARIV traffic marshals.

“We have made the culpability to be either way,” Lloyd said, “If we find out that a TIMARIV official assaults any member of the public unjustly, the person will go to jail for three months provided that it is proven that the official was reckless in the discharge of his duties”.

For the Handicap Law, the Assembly leader said the law was passed to protect the rights of persons with disabilities, noting that a society that does not care for those with special needs is handicapped.

The law provides for the provision of facilities in public places for persons with disabilities, especially in car parks and other public places.

Earlier, Governor Amaechi commended the Assembly for passing the laws stating both arms of government are partners in the state development, and assured that his administration will continue to be transparent in its dealings.

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Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion

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The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the congestion in Nigeria’s correctional facilities on the country’s Judiciary, explaining that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOS) was not allowed by law to reject inmates sentenced to correctional centres or to release them.
Aregbesola, represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated this while delivering a paper at a policy advocacy conference entitled, “Decongestion of Correctional Centres: Status Quo”, organised as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Order of The Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria, Lagos Metropolitan Council, which was held in Lagos, adding that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justice system. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary, however, as it affects the NCOS we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contribute to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistence of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonging trial but the IGP has mandated officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police are being hampered by a high level of distrust between the citizens and their police institution,” he stated.
Also at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. Paschal Uwaezeapu, stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as the government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering the neighbour then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from a family. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice, without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, KSM William Adebisi, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on the congestion of prisons.
“The government needs to take the matter seriously as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the company and behavioural change of the inmates,” he stated.

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FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer

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The Federal Government has announced plans for a Eurobond issuance in the International Capital Market (ICM) to raise $3billion.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said, yesterday, that Virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, and September 20, 2021.
It said, “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.
“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons why a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.
“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3billion but no more than $6.2billion.”
According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”
The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.
“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.
“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.
“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.
“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.
“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two (2) exchanges and their respective market capitalization.
“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”
The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo&Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.
The last time Nigeria accessed the ICM was November 2018.

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Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media

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The Federal Government has tasked the media to put Nigeria first in the reportage of the country’s activities, particularly the fight against insecurity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja during the ceremony of the renaming of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Headquarters Building after the former Managing Director and Board Chairman of NAN, late Wada Maida.
Mohammed said it may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace.
“In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first”, Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said if one picked up most newspapers, watched most television stations or listened to most radio stations in the country, one will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war.
While acknowledging that there were challenges in the country, especially in the area of security, Mohammed, however, said the Buhari administration had not only acknowledged the challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges.
“A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
“To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme tagged,‘A Week in and For Nigeria’ during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in the diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
“Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media.
“Even when some media organisations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: Be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers”, Mohammed added.
Mohammed congratulated the family, friends and associates of the late Maida for the great and much-deserved honour done to him.
He commended the management and staff of the NAN for coming up with the idea to immortalise the late Maida.
“The Federal Government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realising the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalised by the organisation he served so well in his lifetime”, Mohammed stated.
Mohammed prayed that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Maida, even as he prayed that the soul of the departed continues to rest in peace.

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