The Peoples Democratic Party has condemned Federal Executive Council’s approval of $1billion to procure military equipment to fight insurgency, without recourse to the National Assembly.
The party noted this in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday in Abuja.
The money is to be drawn from the Excess Crude Account.
The PDP urged the National Assembly to commence appropriate constitutional legislative actions against the government for unilaterally approving the release of the fund without allowing application of legislative instrument.
It also called on Nigerians to reject the approval, saying it was a renewed attempt to use the money to finance the All Progressives Congress’s national convention and 2019 campaigns.
It expressed concerns that the same administration that claimed to have technically defeated the insurgents still approved such amount to fight insurgency.
“Democracy thrives on constitutional processes of separation of powers, due diligence and transparency and not on totalitarian tendencies.
“We therefore urge the National Assembly to look into the Constitution and impose appropriate legislative instruments if any part of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) has been breached by this unilateral decision.
“We further urge the National Assembly to scrutinise the Constitution and other statute books for the purposes of strengthening the laws guiding the application of funds in our country.”
The party also demanded an independent investigation into the processes of release and utilisation of all special funds for war against insurgency in the last three years.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged Nigerians to reject the recent approval of $1 billion (approx. N370 billion) for the purchase of arms by President Muhammadu Buhari. The opposition party also urged the National Assembly to commence appropriate constitutional legislative actions against President Buhari for gross misconduct in unilaterally approving the release of the funds without recourse to the lawmakers.
The party in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, described the approval as a “renewed attempt by the Presidency to loot $1billion.”
This money, it added, would be used by the government to finance Mr Buhari‘s “interests in the upcoming All Progressives Congress (APC)’s national convention and 2019 election campaign.”
The Minister of Defence, Mansur Ali, revealed yesterday while speaking with journalists at the end of a security meeting that Mr Buhari had approved the release of $1 billion to Nigerian Defence authorities for the purchase of security equipment to fight insecurity in the country.
According to the PDP, its investigation revealed the presidency “willfully sidestepped the National Assembly so as to avoid legislative scrutiny and accountability to pave way for the diverting of the fund for selfish partisan purposes.”
“It is a notorious fact that the presidency and the APC have been plotting to loot this $1 billion from our heavily depleted Excess Crude Account (ECA) since last year, using the guise of fight against insurgency.
“This is the same Buhari administration that has been boasting of having technically defeated the insurgents. This is also an administration that is not known to have exhausted subsisting budgetary allocations for defence.
“Democracy thrives on constitutional processes of separation of powers, due diligence and transparency and not on totalitarian tendencies. PDP believes the President, as a leader, reasonably ought to have known that he is in no way above the law.”
Similarly, the Chairman, House Committee on Army, Rimande Shawulu, has warned of the grave consequences that await the non-confirmation by the National Assembly of President Muhammadu Buhari’s $1 billion for the procurement of arms.
The Executive Arm of Government had said the money was meant to procure arms to help address insurgency and other insecurity in the country.
Shawulu, who made this known in an interview with journalists, said President Muhammadu Buhari lacked the constitutional powers to approve money for arms procurement without the mandate of the legislature.
He warned that any such move was bound to generate more trouble between the presidency and the National Assembly.
The federal lawmaker, while reacting to reports quoting the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, that President Buhari had approved the sum of $1 billion for procurement of arms to battle insecurity in the country said, there would be serious trouble if any money goes out for such purpose without approval from the Parliament.
Hon. Shawulu, who represents Donga/Ussa/Takum/Special Area Constituency of Taraba State in the National Assembly, spoke to journalists shortly after declaring open the Second Procurement Awareness Seminar, organised by the Directorate of Procurement, Army Headquarters, as a Special Guest of Honour.
Defence minister, Mansur Dan-Ali had, in an interview with State House correspondents said, “I can inform you that of recent, our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, gave approval for the purchase of more equipment for the military, worth $1 billion.”
But reacting to reporters’ questions who had sought his reaction on the reported approval President Buhari, Shawulu said, “The fact of the matter is that there are processes for money coming into the federation acounts and for the money being used.
“And the point too that we must note is that a lot of times, pronouncements are policy statements and the policy statements are not just executed, it’s not as if as at yesterday, when the announcement was made, the federation account was debited. No, it doesn’t happen that way.
“When the president says he’s going to spend money, there’s a process that is followed before the money is spent. So I want you to understand that, it’s not as if money has gone out.
“However, if money has gone out without parliamentary approval, that’s is a problem, it’s a very serious problem if money went out without parliamentary approval. “
Speaking at the occasion, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant- General Tukur Buratai, in his address, maintained that the operational capability of the Nigerian Army today depends on the availability of requisite hardware, highly trained personnel and other essential resources.
Gen. Buratai said that in the past few years, the Nigerian Army “has no doubt taken robust steps and emplaced policies in enhancing its Procurement plans and processes with a view to meeting its overarching constitutional roles.
He said the theme for this year’s seminar” Optimising the Operational Capabilities of the Nigerian Army through an Effective Procurement System”, was quite unique and significant, especially in view of the accute need to strengthen the capacity of the Nigerian Army towards meeting the present growing security challenges.
Moreso, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the purchase of military hardware worth $1billion for the use of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
The President gave the approval during a meeting with the Minister of Defence, Brig-Gen Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd), and the service chiefs at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Dan-Ali disclosed this to State House correspondents shortly after the meeting which also discussed the safe release of Leah Sharibu, the last of the Dapchi schoolgirls still in Boko Haram captivity.
According to him, the meeting also discussed security situations across the country and the steps being taken to mitigate them.
The minister further gave more updates on the fund approved by President Buhari.
He said the money was the same approved by the state governors to be withdrawn from the Excess Crude Account to fight insurgency in the country.
Others at the meeting include the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Abayomi Olonosakin, and the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai.
Also present were Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, and the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.
North Can Live Without VAT Accruals, NEF Boasts …Backs Wike, Southern Govs On Fiscal Federalism, Restructuring
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has boasted that the North was a rich region, and can survive on its resources without the “billions” accruing to Southern states.
The NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, made this known, yesterday, when he featured on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ breakfast programme.
He was reacting to the tussle between states and the Federal Government on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).
VAT is a consumption tax paid when goods are purchased and services are rendered, and charged at a rate of 7.5 per cent.
Although Rivers and Lagos states have started the process of collecting VAT within their territories, the Court of Appeal, in a ruling on September 10, ordered that status quo be maintained pending the determination of an appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) against the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt.
Apart from Lagos and Rivers states, Ogun State has also started the process of passing a bill on VAT in its House of Assembly.
At the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in Enugu, last Thursday, the 17 governors insisted that they have the constitutional mandate to collect VAT, and vowed to ensure that the rule of law prevails in the matter.
While some northern governors like Aminu Masari (Katsina), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), amongst others, had kicked against the move, the 17 Southern Governors led by Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) had unanimously supported the position that “the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.”
Speaking, yesterday, during the television programme, Baba-Ahmed said, “I will advise that we wait to hear what the court says. However, even the fact that it has become an issue suggests that we really do need to address the fundamentals and the manner in which the federation works.
“We have always supported restructuring. We have always asked that a major and genuine shift initiative either by groups or the National Assembly so that matters like this be addressed properly.
“If we don’t do that now, then, we should get a leader that would do that in 2023. This administration appears not to understand the importance of restructuring; we do in the North, we recognise the fact that we need to change the manner in which we generate wealth and allocate (it).
“The thing is: the North wants restructuring; the North wants fiscal federalism. We are a rich region, and we can live on what we have, even if we don’t have the billions that accrue to others states. Our poverty is not a kind of problem that we would break this country over.”
According to him, the VAT war is a wake-up call to northern governors who need to recognise the fact that VAT or no VAT, they need to develop their resources and develop the human capital of the North.
The NEF spokesman added, “North, you said you have many people but you are under-developing your own people – the biggest liability of the North is that we have a huge population that is under-developed. You need to develop the human capital that you have.
“We need leaders; the current governors don’t recognise this. Otherwise, they won’t be involved in this argument; allow the court to decide.
“But for goodness sake, (they should) begin to think — what else can we do if the court decides now that Rivers State is right, Lagos State is right, and the Southern states are right, and they won’t be getting all these billions coming in from VAT? What happens?”
Baba-Ahmed said the Northern governors at this stage should not be sleeping, noting that the North is “sitting on wealth, we have massive resources in this country, we have to fight insecurity first, and the Federal Government has to help us, we need to clear the bushes, the forests and all the criminals that are there, and we need to go back to farming.
“Agriculture is a major asset; we have land, we have water, we have livestock, we have minerals that are literally begging to be picked from the ground but our governors are too focused on the pittance that they are getting. This is wrong”, he argued.
Boxing: Joshua Facing Toughest Test In Usyk?
Boxing champion, Anthony Joshua could face his toughest test yet when he fights Oleksandr Usyk in London on Saturday, says ex-world champion George Groves.
Joshua, 31, puts his WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world heavyweight titles on the line against Usyk, a former undisputed cruiserweight world champion.
The 34-year-old Ukrainian has won all 18 professional fights, beating Tony Bellew and Derek Chisora on that run.
“Technically, Usyk is brilliant,” said Groves . “He showed that in unifying the cruiserweight division in great fights and I believe he could be Joshua’s toughest test to date. This is the first fight when I wouldn’t be surprised if Joshua got beaten.
“Joshua has fought [Wladimir] Klitschko and been in with Joseph Parker and also been beaten [by Andy Ruiz] and the only question mark for Usyk Is he big enough to compete with AJ?
“If Usyk keeps a high pace and makes Joshua miss with a lot of shots, that will work to Usyk’s advantage as he has probably got a better engine.
“Joshua is a phenomenal athlete with tremendous punching power and strength but has a tendency to tire out if the pace is uncomfortable for him.”
A crowd of more than 60,000 is expected and it will be the largest attendance Joshua has fought in front of since his win over Alexander Povetkin with 80,000 at Wembley Stadium in September, 2018.
Since then, Joshua has lost to Ruiz in New York before winning the rematch in Saudi Arabia and gained a ninth-round victory over Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena last December, with only 1,000 fans attending because of Coronavirus restrictions.
Both Joshua and Usyk won gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, at super-heavyweight and heavyweight respectively, with the Briton going on to win 24 of his 25 professional fights, including 22 inside the distance.
Meanwhile, Dillian Whyte, who lost to Joshua in 2015 and is pushing for a rematch with him or a shot at WBC champion, Tyson Fury, believes the key to beating Usyk on Saturday is to adopt an attacking strategy.
“I think it’s a great fight and Joshua will stop him in the first six or seven rounds,” Whyte told Tidesports source.
“Usyk will start fast and Joshua should be cagey as Usyk is a bit lighter. Joshua can sometimes lack confidence but hopefully he goes back to the old him, starts pressing, being the bigger, stronger guy and gets the job done early.
“If Joshua sets the pace, he can get an early knockout and if he is strong, confident and walks him down, then I don’t see Usyk’s punches troubling Joshua.”
Groves, who held the WBA Super-Middleweight belt in 2017 and 2018, added: “If I was Joshua, I would take control of the ring and try to dominate and bully off the front foot.
“Usyk will want to be off the back foot for the first couple of rounds, then try to pepper Joshua.
“If I was in the Joshua camp, I would say: You want to keep this guy in his box. You don’t want Usyk having any confidence, so hit him hard and early.
“In the first three rounds, you want to land something big on him.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn also suggested Joshua could get an early victory.
Hearn said: “I’m always nervous for an Anthony Joshua fight, especially when you’re fighting someone that really believes he is going to win”.
2022 AFCON: ‘Cameroon On Track’
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) President, Patrice Motsepe, has said that Cameroon is “on track” to successfully host the Africa Cup of Nations early next year after visiting Olembe Stadium in Yaounde last weekend.
The venue will host the opening match and final of the AFCON in January and February of 2022.
A CAF delegation, including President Motsepe and General Secretary, Veron Mosengo-Omba, were joined by Cameroon’s Sports Minister, Professor Narcisse Mouelle Kombi in inspecting progress made at the Olembe Stadium and various other facilities in the capital city.
“I’m very satisfied with the briefing I got and what I saw. I saw the Olembe Stadium and it is world class; we should all be proud as people of Cameroon and as Africans,” said Motsepe, as quoted by CAF’s website.
“We must applaud Cameroon [for] building such infrastructure. In partnership with the Government, the Minister of Sports, LOC, FECAFOOT President and CAF administration under Veron [Mosengo-Omba], I’m certain that in January next year, the rest of the world will be impressed. I’m very satisfied with what I have seen. We are on track.”
Motsepe continued: “The quality of football that will be played here will once again show the world that Africa has the quality to one day win the FIFA World Cup, that is the ultimate goal. The AFCON is special and I think it is important for us to set the tone in Cameroon.”
Mosengo-Omba also heaped praises on Olembe Stadium: “The infrastructure and architecture of the stadium is world class and can be compared to many other famous stadiums globally. In Cameroon, we have six beautiful match venues. Our job now is to ensure that we are ready with everything else.”
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