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NASS Passes N10.59trn Budget For 2020 … Jerks Its Appropriation By N264bn, Gives Reason

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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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We Are Committed To Deepening Democracy, Says Rivers State Governor Wike

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Governor Nyesom Wike inspect, Judges Quarters and Court of Appeal, on Wednesday, 08 July 2020

Rivers state Governor, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has explained that the support given to the judiciary by his administration is to deepen democracy in Nigeria.

He said all the arms of government need to work in synergy in discharging their  responsibilities to serve the people with courage and efficiency.

Governor Wike was speaking shortly after inspecting the progress of work at the reconstructed residence of the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal and other judicial staff located in Amadi flat, Old GRA in Port Harcourt and the Judges Quarters for Judges of Rivers State Judiciary in Orazi in Obio/ Akpor Local Government Area of the state, on Wednesday.

The governor said his administration had commissioned quarters for Judges of the Court of Appeal while the residence of the Presiding Justice and staff of the same court would  be ready soon to boost their morale to confidently discharge their duties.

“We are quite impressed with the level of work that is going on there. You must give the people all it takes to do their best because you can’t talk about fighting corruption and then you will not give the Judiciary the support that it requires.

“You cannot talk about deepening democracy without having the Judiciary or Legislature playing their role.

“The  three arms of government must work together to be able to engender development for the state,” he said.

Commenting on the provision of quarters for Judges of the Rivers State judiciary, Governor Wike said it would solve the problem of accommodation for Judges on retirement.

 

“I did say that we are going to give them owner- occupier residence so that when judges retire, they will get accommodation.

“It is very funny to find that when Judges retire, they do not have a place to stay or are compelled to stay in remote places after years of service. So, we thought that there is need to give them a befitting place after  retirement.

“We are happy that the contractor has completed the building, and now Julius Berger PLC is carrying out the furnishing. In a short time, we believe that it will be commissioned and handed over to the Chief Judge of the state who will then hand them over to the beneficiaries,” he added.

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COVID-19: Rivers State Governor, Wike Sues For Understanding

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Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike on a State broadcast on Wednesday, 08 July 2020

* Imposes night time curfew from 8p.m to 6a.m on Bonny LGA and Onne Community in Eleme LGA with effect from July 10, 2020 till further notice

*Sets up Taskforce to enforce wearing of facemasks

* Plans to reopen markets

*Sacks serving Permanent Secretary for flouting COVID-19 guidelines

Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has appealed to residents of the State to take personal responsibility to curb the spread of Coronavirus.

He also cautioned that with the commencement of inter-state travels and domestic travels, residents must be cautious in relating with friends and relatives coming from heavily impacted areas like Lagos and Abuja in line with the established protocol of 14 days Isolation.

Governor Wike made the appeal in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, in a state-wide broadcast.

“As at July 8, 2020, the COVID-19 status of our State is as follows:
Total samples collected: 4573
Total samples tested: 3871
Total confirmed cases: 1235
Total discharged cases: 810
Total active cases: 382
Total death: 43
New cases: 30

“From the first days of this virus, we took serious measures and literally set the pace in our country to slow down the spread.

“We have noticed that most affected people are resorting to self medication instead of presenting themselves for treatment at the State’s Treatment Centres.

“Those who experience symptoms of fever, cough, loss of smell or taste and shortness of breath, among others should present themselves for appropriate treatment at the expense of the State Government.

“Furthermore, in the face of increasing infections and systemic risk to public health and safety, most residents have continued to disregard the mitigating protocols with reckless abandon.

“Public and private transporters, business owners and churches are refusing to adhere to the relevant protocols.

“Burial ceremonies are also reportedly being conducted in clear breach of the 50 persons maximum attendance limit such that a serving Permanent Secretary  had the temerity to chase away officials of the State Ministry of Health who went to enforce the established guidelines on public burials at Oyigbo,” he said.

The Governor therefore announced the sack of the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Sunny Okere with immediate effect for flouting and obstructing the enforcement of the guidelines.

This, he said, would serve as a lesson to all other public officers who may wish to be irresponsible.

He assured that government would decontaminate public schools to keep them safe for resumption in line with the Federal Government’s Guidelines.

Government, he said, is also appraising the prospect of opening markets as soon as it is satisfied that it is safe with appropriate guidelines on social distancing, hand washing and wearing of face masks.

Governor Wike announced the setting up of a Joint Taskforce made up of security and civilian personnel to enforce the wearing of face masks.

He stated that to sustain the progress made in the state, the State Security Council has imposed a night time curfew from 8p.m to 6a.m on Bonny Local Government and Onne Community in Eleme Local Government with effect from July 10, 2020 until further notice.

The Governor assured all health workers, including doctors and nurses that government would continue to cater for their welfare as they continue to serve the state at grave risks to their own lives.

He added that government would not fail to do whatever it takes to slow down the spread of the virus.

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Governor Wike Is Building The Future For Rivers State – Nsirim …To Collaborate With CoolWazobiaInfo On Development Reportage

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The Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, has stated that the State Governor, Nyesom Wike is deliberately building an enviable future for Rivers People.

Nsirim, who stated this on Tuesday, when the Management of CoolWazobiaInfo, operators of Cool, Wazobia, and Nigeria Info radio stations, paid him a courtesy visit in his office, stated  that every step the Governor has taken since 2015  had been targeted at developing the State.

“Within the last five years, His Excellency has demonstrated keenly that his passion to turn around the fortunes of Rivers State is not something that he is  just playing to the gallery. In almost all sectors of the economy of the State you can see the monumental changes that are taking place here.

“That’s what we have found in this visionary leader and we are quite proud to be associated with him”, he said.

The Commissioner noted that the manner in which the Governor executes all the developmental projects in the State is only characteristic of a leader who is driven by the will to serve the  people.

“Do you want to talk about the three flyovers that are ongoing simultaneously? You know, naysayers thought that it was a political gimmick when he said I have paid 70% of the contract sum of the projects.

“The speed with which the work is going on is so amazing. That is what you see when there is political will and you find a man whose passion for selfless service speaks in all that he does”, he said.

While expressing the willingness of the Ministry to partner with the Station in areas that would develop the State, the Commissioner stated that such partnership would be based on the station ensuring strict adherence to the regulatory guidelines set by the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

Such guidelines, he said, has to do with the principles of objectivity, fairness and balance, noting that when this is not done,  there is a breach of the NBC guideline, which regulates the operations of the broadcast media in Nigeria.

He stated that media houses  are supposed to be  bridge builders who harness public opinion for the common good.

According to him, no Media house should expose itself to be seen to be antagonistic.

“Every Media house owe society the obligation to create a balance in the reportage of activities.

The Commissioner assured that the State Government welcomes criticism and would  only collaborate with initiatives that will ensure development for Rivers people.

We are looking forward to any partnership that will bring into focus ethics, objectivity, fairness, and balance. A partnership that will engender  development for Rivers people.

“Governor Wike has given governance a  new meaning and we believe that partnership with the media will compel him to do more for Rivers people.

” We welcome constructive criticism that will promote the state as an investors’ haven,” he said.

Earlier in his speech, the Programme Manager of the Station, Carl Orakwe, proposed a collaboration with the Ministry towards the development of the State.

“Part of the reasons why we are here is to extend our support and let everyone know that coolwazobiainfo family as a media outfit would strive to promote good governance.

He pledged that they would collaborate with the ministry to project the state in good light.

Also present was the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mrs Ibiwari Clapton-Ogolo and all the Directors of the Ministry, as well as the Head of Station, CoolWazobiaInfo, Jeta Onomewho.

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