There may be an imminent clash between the Presidency and the Senate over the status of the newly confirmed board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, yesterday insisted that with the approval of the Senate on November 5, the approved board has become the authentic authorities in charge of the NDDC.
The Senate President reiterated yesterday that the Senate will only deal with the board members of the Delta Development Commission, NDDC it screened and confirmed this month.
Speaking shortly after the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, All Progressives Congress, APC, Kebbi North read the Executive Communication on the 2019 and 2020 Budget Estimates of the NDDC that the Senate do consider of President Muhammadu Buhari.
President of the Senate who refereed the request to the Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Delta North led Committee on Niger Delta Affairs to return at plenary in two weeks. Lawan said,” I want to reiterate for emphasis that you deal with the Governing Board that this Senate approved.”
Recall that President of the Senate had on Tuesday read a letter from the President on the 2019 and 2020 budget estimates of NDDC.
The President of the Senate said, “ I believe that the executive arm of government will attend to that quickly so that we have the right people to come and defend the Appropriation request of Mr. President.”
Lawan had read the President’s request at plenary which is contained in a letter dated November 21, 2019 and addressed to him on the approval of the budget proposals for the NDDC. .
The letter reads: “Pursuant to Section 18(1) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) (Establishment) Act, I forward herewith, the 2019 and 2020 Budget Estimates of the Niger Delta Development Commission, for the kind consideration and passage by the Senate.
“While I trust that the Senate will consider this request in the usual expeditious manner, Please accept, Distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration
Recall that President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan had said on Tuesday that the onus was now on the President to do the needful by inaugurating the Dr. Pius Odubu led NDDC following the confirmation by the Upper Chamber in consonance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Also recall Lawan had said that those it screened and subsequently confirmed as Chairman and board members of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC are the only rightful people that will come and defend the budget of the Commission before its Committee on Niger Delta Affairs.
The Senate had also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency, swear in the Dr. Pius Odubu led NDDC Board. Recall that the Senate in the first week of November, confirmed President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominees for the board of NDDC.
The former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Dr. Pius Odubu, was confirmed by the Senate as Chairman of the NDDC Board, just as a nominee from Delta State, Chief Bernard Okumagba, was also confirmed as the NDDC Managing Director.
The confirmation followed the presentation and consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs by its Chairman, Peter Nwaoboshi, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Delta North.
Also confirmed were Otobong Ndem who is now the Executive Director, Projects and Maxwell Oko as Executive Director, Finance and Administration.
The Senate had also confirmed Prophet Jones Erue (Delta), Chief Victor Ekhator (Edo), Nwogu Nwogu (Abia), Theodore Allison (Bayelsa), Victor Antai (Akwa Ibom), Maurice Effiwatt (Cross River), Olugbenga Elema (Ondo), Hon. Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian (Imo), Aisha Murtala Muhammed (Kano), Ardo Zubairu (Adamawa) and Amb. Abdullahi Bage (Nasarawa). Only a nominee from Rivers State, Dr. Joy Yimebe Nunieh was not confirmed by the Senate as she did not appear for screening.
The expired 2018 budget of N346. 5bn of the agency had N2.883bn as Capital Expenditure, while N311.371bn was approved for development projects.
The sum of N19.521bn was for Personnel Cost, while N12. 737bn was for Overhead Expenditure.
Similarly, in 2017, the NDDC got a total of N364bn as its annual budget out of which N329.850bn was approved for capital projects.
Meanwhile, the Senate President yesterday , referred the consideration of the budgets to the Committee on NDDC.
He specifically told the panel to work strictly with the new board approved by the Senate.
He said, “Please make sure you deal directly with the board of the NDDC that the Senate approved.”
Investigations by our correspondent, however, revealed that the interim management team which Akpabio inaugurated, on the orders of the Presidency is still controlling the affairs of the agency. The NDDC panel is expected to start work on the document next week.
In another development, the Senate has begun moves to again improve on the process of nipping in the bud, the security challenges in the country and to have national inclusion by introducing process a bill for the establishment of a National Institute for Security and Strategic Studies in Orumba, Anambra State.
This bill which was read the first time at plenary, will help fill the void that was already in existence and achieve a holistic and comprehensive coverage of strategic security development institutions across the country. The bill is being sponsored by Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, Young Progressives Party, YPP, Anambra South.
After the introduction of the Bill by the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, All Progressives Congress, APC, Kebbi North, the Clerk of the Senate, Nelson Ayewor affirmed it.
On the Bill, Senator Ubah said that the proposed legislation “is a strategic intervention geared towards deepening and strengthening Nigeria’s capacity to train and equip our people to tackle the several security and defence challenges of the 21st century.”
“This bill will help fill the void that is already growing, the last piece of the puzzle to achieve a holistic and comprehensive coverage of strategic security development institutions across the country.
“The institute which will see the South East host and complete the circle of zones with tactically placed instruments of state defence and security has been applauded by the Senate as worthy to pass through the first reading”, expressing the hope that the legislative initiative will be approved and passed.
“It is worthy of note to state that out of the six geo-political zones, it is only the South East that does not have a key institution for internal and external security. There are already existing institutions in other geo-political zones.”
According to Senator Ubah, such Institutions include the Staff Services Academy, SSA in Lagos, South West; State Services Technical Academy, SSTA in Calabar, South South; Institute of Security Studies, ISS, recently upgraded to National Institute for Security Studies, NISS in Abuja representing the North Central; Staff Development Centre- SDC in Kaduna, North West, and the Senior Staff Development Centre-SSDC in Bauchi, North East.
The Senator further said that these institutions are mostly saddled with the training of Department of State Services, DSS staff as well as other national security staff/recruitment which is managed by the DSS.
Ubah said, “certain occurrences have in recent times, further exposed the dire need for greater capacity building, institutional strengthening and the strategic integration of all parts of the nation in the security architecture for total national cohesion and unity.
“This, therefore, brings home, the urgent need to establish a security training institute in the South East so as to augment the already existing institutions in other geo-political zones and strengthen our national security architecture,” he added.
Senator Ubah who recalled that the institution was existent in Enugu before it was closed, said however that “the essence of this bill is to create a regional balance/inclusion and cultural background which is a core and pivotal element of intelligence, especially now that security and national inclusion are top priorities of the federal government.”
He said that the institute would nurture and develop dynamic and quality security services in Nigeria through training, examination and certification, adding that it would also be saddled with the responsibility of training students on high standard strategic security studies and intelligence reports.
He further noted that the establishment bill, would also promote and enhance the general development of security by conducting research programmes into security and allied subjects with special emphasis on innovative global security practices while creating security awareness among the general public.
Ubah added that it would not only create employment opportunities, but also engender social inclusion as well as intensify security awareness in the South East.
Wike Carpets Oshiomhole, Peterside At Book Launch …Urges EFCC To Fight Corruption Within The Law …As Rivers Set To Launch Security Trust Fund
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike and All Progressives Congress, APC, National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, yesterday traded blames on the concept of leadership by example.
The two leaders had divergent views at the official presentation of “The Big Interviews,” a book authored by the immediate past Managing Director of the Sun Publishing Limited, Mr Eric Osagie.
In his usual manner, Oshiomhole who was called to make a few remarks before the unveiling of the compendium, drew applause from the crowd with his delivery, as he called on media practitioners to be more courageous particularly when taking on men in power.
Citing an instance when a foreign journalist once took on an unnamed Nigerian President a few years ago on the scourge of population control, Oshiomhole said the ex-President was wrong to have spoken on the subject matter when Nigerians were yet to be told the number of his children and wives.
“How could he speak on population control when Nigerians didn’t even know the number of his wives, both registered and unregistered? Nigerians didn’t know the number of his children and I think leaders should learn to practice what they preach,” Oshiomhole stated.
Although his Peoples Democratic Party, PDP counterpart, Prince Uche Secondus managed to fire a few salvos in response, it was Governor Wike who brought the capacity-filled Atiku Abubakar Auditorium, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja, venue of the book launch, down with laughter and excitement. “Let me begin from where the APC national chairman stopped,” he began. voice.
“Where are some of you who did Occupy Nigeria? Do you still write and speak the way you used to do? Who are those now sponsoring all manner of bills against free speech?” he asked as Oshiomhole and his predecessor, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun reeled in laughter.
Continuing, Governor Wike chided the APC national chairman for what he called a deliberate ploy to mislead Nigerians into thinking that he still wears the khaki of old when he was a labour leader, saying “the kind of safari he wears now are different.”
Governor Wike also took the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside to the cleaners who in his earlier remark, called on journalists to portray Nigeria in a good light in their reportage.
According to the NIMASA boss, investors could easily look away from Nigeria if reports by journalists continue to paint the country in a bad light.
Responding, however, Wike said: “Without the states, there can be no Nigeria. You want people to speak well of the country but you are running down your own state. Practice what you preach.”
The event had in attendance journalism finest hands including the publisher of the Vanguard Newspaper, Mr Sam Amuka, business mogul, Isa Funtua among others.
Meanwhile, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to fight corruption within the ambit of the law, saying that any action outside the tenets of the law is corruption.
Speaking on Monday during the “Walk against Corruption”, organised by the EFCC to mark this year’s International Anti-corruption Day in Port Harcourt, the Governor said “EFCC should fight corruption within the ambit of the law. We will support EFCC to fight corruption within the ambit of the law.
“Anything outside the law, Rivers State Government will not be part of it. Fighting corruption outside the law is corruption”.
While appealing to the EFCC to ensure that they establish processes to fight corruption within the rule of law, Wike emphasized that “anything that is against the rule of law is no longer a fight against corruption”, saying that the Rivers State Government will support legal efforts by the EFCC to end corruption in the system.
He used the opportunity to announce that the State Government has resolved to donate another premises to the EFCC to expand their operations in the state, noting that “corruption has eaten deep into the national system, distorting the development process in the country; hence all stakeholders should support the EFCC to fight corruption.
”EFCC alone cannot fight corruption. It requires all Nigerians to join hands to fight corruption. If you are in my Government and you don’t want to fight corruption, you cannot be in my Government.
”Without law, EFCC cannot be in existence. It is the law that created EFCC. So you must work within the law. Nigerians should know that corruption has eaten deep into the society. Corruption has set us back. We must all come out to join EFCC to fight corruption”, he said.
Speaking, the Zonal Head of EFCC, Port Harcourt, Mr. Abdulrasheed Wahab said that EFCC is marking the International Anti-corruption Day with sister agencies and para-military agencies to sensitize the public on the fight against corruption.
Noting that this year’s theme is “zero tolerance for corruption in the maritime and transport sectors”, the EFCC boss said the history of EFCC in Port Harcourt is that of EFCC investigating the oil sector, illegal oil bunkering, crude oil theft, economic sabotage and other related crimes in the maritime sector.
Wahab urged vessel owners, badge owners, boats and vehicle owners to be law abiding and obtain all relevant licenses from relevant authorities, while also charging them to know their captains and drivers in order to stem the tide of illegality.
According to him, the EFCC has over the years worked for the recovery of more than N700billion and over $200 million (USD) and 407 mansions to the Federal Government.
He, therefore, urged all groups to join the fight against corruption in the interest of the development of the country.
Leaders of Civil Societies in the maritime sector and para-military agencies who spoke after the walk declared their support in the fight against corruption.
The walk against corruption started at the EFCC Zonal Office at Old GRA and terminated at the Rumuwoji Market, with Governor Wike and the leaders trekking back to Government House from the Rumuwoji Market.
In another development, Governor Nyesom Wike has declared that the state will launch a State Security Trust Fund as part of its move to strengthen security in the state to attract more investments.
Towards this end, the Governor said all major companies operating in the state must contribute to the state security fund because they benefit from the resources and infrastructure of Rivers State.
Speaking during a courtesy visit by the President of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Hajiya Iya Aliyu on Monday at the Government House, Port Harcourt, the Governor said the launching will be part of a security summit.
“By January, 2020, we will hold a security summit and also launch a security trust fund. All the major companies operating in the state are under obligation to contribute.
“We are committed to improving security in order to attract more investments in the state. We are developing the right infrastructure for economic development”, he said.
Governor Wike said that the Rivers State Government will write to Dangote Plc to contribute, as it does in other states, noting that the company uses the state’s infrastructure for her businesses.
“Dangote has not contributed anything to this state. I will write to him to support the security trust fund.
“I cannot do roads and your trailers will take over our roads. If you go to G.U Ake Road, you will see Dangote Trailers all over the state.
“Zenith Bank, Access Bank and other major companies must contribute to Rivers State Security Trust Fund as they contribute to Lagos State. This is sufficient notice. As they contribute there, they must contribute here. If they don’t support Rivers State, we will not agree”, the Governor said.
While noting that Rivers State is the best place that anyone can invest, he said the State will continue to improve security and infrastructure, adding that no society can develop without the contributions of the private sector.
“We need the private sector to drive the economy. Look at what is happening in the USA, over two hundred thousand jobs in one month through the private sector”, he said.
He explained that it was in order to encourage the private sector that the State Government harmonised taxes in the State, noting that the State Government is currently working with the private sector to resolve the few challenges associated with taxes in the state.
Develop Land Early Or Lose C-Of-O, Wike Warns Organisations
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has given a stern warning to organizations allocated government land to develop the property as early as possible or risk losing the Certificate of Occupancy.
He gave the warning Monday when the President of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Hajiya Iya Aliya, paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
The Governor said in a space of six months, the Rivers State Government would consider any organisation that has not developed their land to be not serious.
“I will not give land for a longer period to anybody. After six months, if nothing happens, we take it back.
“We observe that organisations come for land allocation and won’t develop it for 20 years, thereby depriving others. I will give you, and in six months, if you don’t develop it, I will take it back”, he said.
He noted the importance of private investors in the development of any economy and stressed that that was the reason Rivers State Government considers them as crucial partners.
While lauding the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (PHACCIMA) for its contributions in the development of the state, the Governor, who noted that the State Government has a robust relationship with PHACCIMA, pointed out that the huge infrastructure and security improvement as well as harmonisation of taxation by his administration were direct strategies of ensuring ease of doing businesses in the state
Particularly, he commended the President of PHACCIMA, Chief Nabil Saleh, for the huge investment he had maintained in the state, stressing that the Rivers State Government was planning to honour him as a way of recognising his efforts.
Earlier, the NACCIMA President, Hajiya Iya Aliyu, had lauded the Governor for the huge infrastructure and security in the state, declaring the state safe for investments.
She also expressed delight at the harmonisation of taxation in the State, noting that the step has encouraged private investment.
The NACCIMA President further commended the Rivers State Government for allocating land for construction of Permanent Trade Fair Complex, and appealed to Governor Wike to provide a Certificate of Occupancy for the land.
By: Chris Oluoh
NASS Passes N10.59trn Budget For 2020 … Jerks Its Appropriation By N264bn, Gives Reason
The two Chambers of the National Assembly (NASS), yesterday passed the Appropriation Bill of N10.59 trillion budget for the 2020 fiscal year with a view to returning the nation’s budget cycle to January to December.
The Lawmakers jerked up the budget as proposed by President Muhammad Buhari to the tune of N246 billion.
The lawmakers passed the 2020 budget following a clause-by-clause consideration of the report of the Committee on Appropriations of the two Chambers.
Briefing the press after plenary session, the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriation Committee, Barau Jubril and Stella Odua, respectively, defended the additional N246 billion the lawmakers injected into the budget.
The Chairman described the budgeting process as the best so far because it is the first time the Executive, Senate and House of Representatives came together on a roundtable to agree on a united document as budget of the country.
He defended the N264 billion increase injected into the 2020 budget as not padding of the appropriation bill, but harvested additional revenue, saying the additional fund was brought in conjunction and consultation with the Executive.
Denying that the extra funds injected was padding, Senator Jibrin Barau said the word padding is alien to the 9th Senate because the infusion on additional vote for capital projects was done in collaboration with the executive arm of government.
According to him, the Senate saw avenue to make additional revenue and “just fixed the expected increased revenue to sectors in need of additional revenue”.
He said “In a Presidential system of government, there is room for checks on what any arm of government is doing by the other. President Buhari no doubt presented a perfect budget, but it is our own responsibility as the parliament to critically look at what was presented by the executive and make corrections where necessary.
“During the course of deliberating on the budget, we saw opportunities of where we can get additional income for the government and we deployed them to areas that need further spending.
“The National Assembly has the right to do it and that is what we have done”, he said.
Presenting the report, Senator Barau Jibrin said the increase of N264billion allowed for interventions in critical areas such as national security, road infrastructure, mines and steel development, and health.
A breakdown of the budget, Senator Jubrin said, is that Statutory Transfer stood at N560.5billion, recurrent expenditure-N4.8billion, capital expenditure-N2.5billion, debt servicing-N2.7illionbn, fiscal deficit-N2.3trillion and deficit to GDP of 1.52 per cent.
He pointed out that daily oil production stood at 2.18 million barrels per day, Oil Benchmark stood at $57 per barrel against $55 proposed by the Executive, while the exchange rate stood at N305 per dollar.
Capital Expenditure for Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs) for the 2020 fiscal year are: Ministry of Defence N116,181,290,730; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, N7,608,141,474; Ministry of Information and Culture, N7,555,803,233; Ministry of Interior, N34,035,825,302; Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, N1,722,796,040; Ministry of Police Affairs, N15,959,986,864; Ministry of Communication Technology, N5,919,002,554; and Office of the National Security Adviser, N27,418,469,323.
Others are: Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, N25,188,940,930; Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, N2,158,620,395; Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, N124,395,096,917; Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, N4,976,199,925; Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, N38,583,331,761; Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, N24,445,756,678; Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, N62,882,531,566; Federal Ministry of Transport, N121,366,932,571; and Federal Ministry of Aviation, N52,061,533,122.
Also, for the 2020 fiscal year, the Ministry of Power has an allocation of N129,082,499,363; Ministry of Petroleum Resources, N3,337,444,887; Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, N10,431,563,177; Ministry of Works and Housing, N315,563,564,269; Ministry of Water Resources, N91,679,927,042; Ministry of Justice, N3,853,600,220; Federal Capital Territory Administration, N62,407,154,360; and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, N23,120,350,399.
Others include: Ministry of Youths and Sports Development, N3,735,486,210; Military of Women Affairs, N6,650,300,966; Federal Ministry of Education, N84,728,529,572; Ministry of Health, N59,909,430,837; Federal Ministry of Environment, N12,350,140,731; and Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, N61,085,146,003.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his concluding remarks after the 2020 budget was passed, said, “when we came in, all of us approved our legislative agenda, and one of the key pillars of this agenda is to take back our budget cycle from the very undesirable cycle that cannot be defined to something that can be defined and bought into by our country and business partners living in and outside the country.
“Today, we have been able to achieve this. It means where there is will, there is always a way. This is something that we have been able to achieve together with the House of Representatives.
“I must give members of the Ninth National Assembly the credit, because we thought it was going to be impossible.
“Let me also commend the buying-in of the executive arm of government. When we continued to preach that we have to receive the 2020 budget estimates before the end of September, it was not easy for the executive.
“I know they (Executive) worked day and night. So it was presented to us on the 8th of October. We have been able to work harmoniously. There is no way we can achieve this without all of us working together.
“I want to commend our colleagues from the opposition. This Senate from the beginning, we said, will be bi-partisan. You have given us all the support that we require, and indeed, this is the way it should be”, Lawan added.
The Senate President also noted that with the recent passage of landmark legislations such as the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) Act, Finance Bills and Public Procurement Bills by the National Assembly, the Executive arm of government is sufficiently empowered to ensure the successful implementation of the 2020 budget.
By: Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja
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