After two days of debate, the House of Representatives has passed the 2020 budget for second reading.
The bill was extensively debated by members of the House for straight two days, and when it was put to vote by the presiding officer, Deputy Speaker Idris Wase, the “ayes” had it.
Wase subsequently referred the bill to the committee on appropriation and other relevant standing committees of the House.
The N10.3trillion bill was submitted, last Tuesday by President Muhammadu Buhari.
While debating the budget, the House of Representatives said that the N48billion capital budgetary allocation for education in the 2020 appropriation was poor.
This followed a unanimous adoption of a motion moved by Rep. Babajide Benson (APC-Lagos) in commemoration of World Teachers’ Day at plenary presided over by the Speaker of the House, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, yesterday.
Education, however, got an additional N112billion allocation under Universal Basic Education Commission.
There is also TETFUND, which has a budget in three figure billions.
Nevertheless, the House stressed on the need for an increase in the budgetary allocation to the Education sector in the 2020 appropriation bill to better equip teachers with the required training and adequate facilities in schools.
It also expressed concern that teachers in the country were overworked and remained among the worst paid in the world with poor welfare packages and teaching environments in spite of their contributions to societal development.
The green chamber also urged the Federal Government to improve on the welfare and support schemes for teachers.
It called for more training for teachers using the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) approach to address education policy and curriculum choices in schools.
The legislature emphasised that the training would improve competitiveness in science and technology development in the country.
The green chamber also called for the employment of more teachers to address the issue of inadequate staffing and low productivity within the education sector.
The House further mandated the committees on Tertiary Education and Services, and Basic Education and Service to ensure implementation.
The legislature, however, recognised and honoured the best teacher and principal in Nigeria to appreciate and show support for their selfless sacrifices towards societal development.
However, senators belonging to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for adhering strictly to the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act by ensuring the timely submission of the 2020 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly.
The lawmakers, during the second day of debate on the 2020 Budget estimates, said the early submission of the appropriation bill will facilitate its quick passage by the National Assembly, as well as return the country’s budget cycle to the January-December timeline as provided by Constitution.
Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo South) applauded Buhari over his determination to reverse the poor annual budgetary practice that characterised late submission of the appropriation bill to the National Assembly.
He said: “What President Buhari did this year, is a complete deviation from what we have been seeing in terms of procedure in the presentation of our annual budget estimates to the National Assembly.
“For the first time, the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) were strictly adhered to. Last year, we had the budget presented to the National Assembly before the MTEF/FSP came.
“We know the Act states very clearly that MTEF/FSP must come first, and the National Assembly must pass it, before the budget estimates come.
“This is the first time we are adhering strictly to this procedure. It is commendable on the path of President Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly.”
Urhoghide, while calling on the Federal Government to ensure that capital expenditure in the 2020 budget benefits Nigerians, added that “the provisions of the FRA as regards the budgetary execution and meeting of targets must be adhered to.”
“It is the responsibility of the Finance Minister to meet with the joint Committee of Finance of the Senate and House of Representatives, so that there is a quarterly briefing of releases and distribution of funds. This is lacking, that is why there are mistakes in the execution of the budget,” Urhoghide said.
Another lawmaker, Senator Bassey Akpan (PDP, Akwa-Ibom North-East), also commended Buhari for throwing his weight behind the amendment of the Deep Offshore Inland Revenue Act.
According to the lawmaker, Nigeria stands to benefit “an additional N400billion for this year” with an amendment to the Act.
He, however, stressed that the Committees on Appropriation and Finance of the National Assembly have a task to balance the submission of the President.
“What we do as a National Assembly must reflect equitable distribution of available resources to the good of all Nigerians,” Akpan said.
Senator Clifford Ordia (PDP, Edo Central), while lending his voice to the debate of the budget estimates, said “this budget of growth and job creation is apt at this point in time in the history of our national development because when fully implemented, it will go a long way in removing our youths from the streets.”
He added: “The infrastructural development of this country needs to be handled holistically with timelines. This is the only way we can be able to attract investors to this country.”
While commending Buhari for providing N296billion sinking fund for payment of local contractors, Ordia urged the Federal Government to ensure that those owed over a period of time are duly paid.
Speaking on the manufacturing sector, the lawmaker said “It is supposed to be one of the major sectors contributing to our GDP. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
“Presently, the manufacturing sector and in fact the private sector only contribute about nine percent to our GDP.
“This will not create the right environment that would create jobs for our young school leavers,” Ordia added.
Senator Ayo Akinyelure (PDP, Ondo Central) bemoaned the high level of unaccountability by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government charged with the responsibility of revenue generation.
According to him, revenues accruable to agencies such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) if accounted for, are sufficient to fund the Nigeria’s annual budget.
He said: “Not much emphasis is made in the revenue of government. The revenue of NNPC if accounted for can fund the national budget.
“The internal revenue of the immigration is not accounted for. They are made away with by contractors.
“When we talk about increase in VAT, the Federal Inland Revenue must double its efforts when it comes to remittance of revenues.”
Akinyelure, however, advised that if revenues accruable to government are properly allocated to several projects, same would go a long way in bringing about the much desired development expected by Nigerians.
The Senate adjourned debate on the 2020 budget estimates till next week Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a senior lawyer, Dr Olisa Agbakoba has written to President Muhammadu Buhari on issues surrounding the 2020 appropriation bill laid before the joint session of the National Assembly, last Tuesday.
In the letter, a copy of which was made available to newsmen, yesterday, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), applauded the President for laying the budget estimate in good time. He, however, drew the president’s attention to salient issues regarding the budget and made some recommendations.
The letter reads, “I applaud the unusual departure of the Government of Nigeria by laying the budget estimates in good time and the reciprocity of the National Assembly to pass the estimates in 2019! This is record-breaking, but alas, this is only as good as can be said of the budget estimates.
“In a country of 200 million and 50 per cent living in poverty, the budget reflects many missing fundamentals. The starting point with this budget is a diagnosis of our condition. I would diagnose that Nigeria is afflicted with malignant metabolic economic syndrome complicated by high inflation, high interest rates, mass unemployment, weak infrastructure, slow growth, unclear borrowing policy, unaccountable subsidy, etc.
“To turn things around, I like to assume that you have charged the new Economic Advisory Council to give us short and immediate solutions. Working from my diagnosis of Nigeria’s economic disease, we need to work out a macro-economic development framework that lays out a harmonized fiscal, monetary, investment, legal, institutional and regulatory agenda. Fiscal policy or rate at which government spends, must be dramatically expansionary. We cannot have an anaemic budget of N10trillion for 200 million Nigerians, which is equivalent to N50,000 per person, per annum. This will keep us in poverty abysmal when we need double digit growth!
“On the basis of a GDP of $400billion, the baseline annual budget should be 20 per cent which approximates N20-30trillion annual spend rather than the miserly N10trillion budget. Our annual spend is anaemic and we have to infuse large money. For monetary policy, we need urgent quantitative easing, which is easing of all interest rates in particular to slack the heavy burden of high-interest rates on lending afflicting long-suffering Nigerians. We must be very proactive to look for new funds.
“Traditionally, public revenue has depended on tax and oil receipts but there are far too many other sources- the maritime sector is laden with cash, agriculture and the blue ocean, trade, the real sector, and controversial as it may appear, revenue that can be derived from new legislation on immunity from criminal prosecution. Government must consider legislation on criminal immunity to those who have plundered us, and we will likely see massive inflows of our money in foreign banks back to us. At present, the money is out of our reach anyway! I estimate $100billion will flow back if we grant immunity from criminal prosecutions but with civil sanctions.
“Engagement of the private sector in partnerships will yield a massive stock of revenue. We need our Dangotes, Jim Ovias, Mike Adenugas, Innosons to be involved, just like the Chaebols of South Korea. I know that the Onitsha-Nnewi-Ogidi market axis can generate up to N10trillion if the proper incentives are offered.
“Foreign and domestic investments in infrastructure is possible if the proper legal institutional and regulatory environment is established. Public revenue will be enhanced by, at least, N3trillion if we rebase foreign exchange rates from N305 to N360 and remove fuel subsidy at once.
“Additionally, we must review public expenditure. Far too much money is consumed by recurrent receipts. Downsizing government is a task that needs immediate attention by implementation of the Oronsaye report. Our public sector borrowing requirement needs review so that our revenue to debt ratio is less than 30 per cent. Banks must focus on their primary function of lending not trading as we have seen in purchase of Treasury bills in excess of N400billion. Tax collection efficiency and not increase should be the policy and chairman of FIRS, Fowler, and Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor are two public servants deserving special mention for their innovation.
“As an expert in shipping and hydrocarbons, I query why government only sees dollars from a barrel of crude when the value chain has at least 34 soft and hard by-products other than crude oil. In my field, there is banking, shipping, legal and insurance, but very little of the cash from this value chain from crude oil stays in our economy. We need to reset the clock. I will assume that that the budget estimates is just the start of a turnaround process of economic transformation.
“Having held their meeting with you, can the Economic Advisory Council give us a short turnaround plan to create jobs, opportunities and double digit growth? A good plan can create 10 million jobs annually, open the economy, expand local production and put the economy into double digits and pull millions out of poverty in addition to good education and healthcare.”
RSG Alerts On Orchestrated Media Campaign
The Rivers State Government has raised alarm over alleged moves by some critics of the government to use selected media houses in the state to denigrate the state government.
A statement signed by the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, yesterday, reads, “The Rivers State Government is aware of clandestine plans by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State to use selected media houses in the state to denigrate the government of Governor Nyesom Wike.
“This is as a result of the intimidating sterling performance of Governor Wike in infrastructure, healthcare, education, agriculture, rural transformation, housing development, administration of justice, social welfare and sports development.
“This orchestrated campaign spearheaded by a defeated and dumped governorship aspirant of the APC, Dr. Dakuku Peterside is designed to portray the government of Governor Wike as one that is not meeting the developmental aspirations of Rivers people.
“However, the uncommon transformation of the 23 local government areas as witnessed during the last six years of projects commissioning and flag off shows clearly that Governor Wike is actually meeting the yearnings of the people.
“The fact that Rivers people that turn out en mass at the various projects sites to heartily welcome their beloved governor and his guests drawn from all political divides is a clear indication that Rivers people can no longer be swayed by cheap politically induced blackmail.
“The truth of the matter is that the APC government that boasted that Governor Wike will not see money to pay workers’ salaries and execute projects has been humbled by the revolution in governance currently witnessed in the state.
“Instead of people like Dr. Dakuku Peterside and his acolytes to eat the humble pie, they are busy looking for cheap popularity through sponsored appearances in the media.
“No matter how hard these detractors push their propaganda, Governor Wike will never be distracted in executing his social contract with the people of Rivers State.
“In the next few weeks, more projects that have direct bearing to the lives of Rivers people will be unveiled.
“Governor Wike’s promise to continue working as if this is his first tenure and not abandon any project remains sacrosanct.
“Rivers people are watching those whose stock in trade is to dance naked and pray that they continue as merchants of mischief, falsehood and baseless allegations.”
“The people of Rivers State love Governor Wike whose outstanding achievements in salvaging the state from the dearth of basic infrastructural development required for speedy socioeconomic transformation has received national and international applause.
“Therefore, no amount of negative propaganda by the failed APC can diminish the legacy of Governor Wike in Rivers State.
“Rather than launder the thoroughly battered image of the APC, such media appearances by Dr. Dakuku Peterside and his cohorts will further expose APC’s penchant for lies and deception which is now a public knowledge.
“The former governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, has confirmed that Governor Wike is the best Rivers State has produced.
“’I have been there. And I make bold to say Governor Nyesom Wike, you are the best,’ Dr. Odili said.
“Odili’s comment serves as an answer to those masquerading as informed commentators with puerile and suffocating commentaries”, the statement added.
Bandits In Trouble As Super Tucano Aircraft Arrives
The first batch of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft has arrived in Kano, yesterday, at about 12.34 pm.
The NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, confirmed the arrival of the fighter aircraft in a statement.
“On hand to receive the aircraft were the Hon. Minister of Defence, Maj-Gen Bashir Magashi (rtd); Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Farouk Yahaya; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao”, he said.
We’ve No Patience With Failure, Oyedepo Lashes Out At Sacked Pastors
The General Overseer and Founder of The Living Faith Church International also known as Winners’ Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo, has reacted to the recent sack of over 40 pastors by the church.
One of the affected Pastors, Peter Godwin, took to social media, claiming they were sacked for not generating enough income.
Godwin, who was in one of the church’s branches in Ekiti State, had claimed, “I was told by the management that the church doesn’t operate at a loss.
“They also told me that the total income that is being generated from my station should be able to cater for my welfare and accommodation, so as a result of low income, I’m hereby dismissed.”
Reacting to the allegation in a video posted on the social media, Oyedepo said the sack of the pastors was not about money, adding that the latter were sacked as a result of their failure and the church “has no patience with failure.
“Money? Nonsense! We have never lacked it, and yet, we have never prayed for it.
“We are just simply obeying God, and He is backing up what He is asking us to do. Awesome God,” he noted.
On those criticising the sack, the GO said, “People are confused about our ministry. I learnt some fellows said, you know, they are not bringing income, that is why they asked them to go”.
He added, “We asked you to go because you are unfruitful. Unfruitful! Blatant failure. Doing what there? We have no patience with failure here.
“When we employed 7,000 people at a time, social media was dead.
“We have more employees in this organisation than most of the states. No one is owed a dime salary and we don’t borrow, we don’t beg. Ask our bank whether we take overdraft.
“We are covenant bound, working in the light of God’s word, enjoying an open Heaven.”
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