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Coronavirus: Senate Wants N10.5trn 2020 Budget Cut, Subsidy Removal, Others

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The Senate, yesterday, said a downward review of the N10.5trillion Appropriation Act 2020 had become inevitable amid the sharp drop in the price of crude oil.
It, however, said the modalities to be adopted in the budget review should be agreed to by both the legislature and the executive.
This followed consideration of a report of Senate Joint Committee on Finance, Appropriations, National Planning and Petroleum Resources (Upstream) on the urgent need to monitor and examine the current economic reality caused by sharp drop in the price of crude oil, the emergence of deadly Coronavirus and the uproar within the OPEC community.
The committee, chaired by Senator Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos) was constituted last week to interface with the relevant stakeholders in the Executive and business community with the intention of bringing out suggestions, solutions and way forward out of the present economic reality.
Lawan warned, yesterday, that following the impact of the ravaging Coronavirus on the economy, Nigeria will be in deeper trouble if as a country, we are not ingenious enough.
Against this backdrop, the Senate has summoned the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele and the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, to appear before it at plenary next week.
According to Lawan, the summon would enable the ministers and the CBN to abreast the la lawmakers with what was going on at the moment with the economy and then the senators can make suggestions, just as the apex bank boss will come up with some measures that are intended to support the economy.
According to Lawan, the system requires a holistic approach, both fiscal as well as monetary policies, just as he promised that the Senate would come up with speedy legislations that would help create an environment where the nation’s economy does not collapse.
Lawan has also urged the Executive to as a matter of urgency, forward to the Senate the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) for quick consideration and passage.
Lawan said: “I think we are in a very challenging period but every challenge normally presents some opportunities. I think like Senator Odebiyi asserted that we should take our opportunities.
“The PIB we had expected by now would have been in the National Assembly but it is not. We had thought we would be able to pass the PIB within this year so that we are able to make our petroleum industry to have the legal framework that investors would find attractive to be here. But we are still expecting that the executive would work faster and harder to present the PIB to the National Assembly in the shortest possible time.
“But before then, now that we know that it is difficult or even impossible to get the foreign loans that we had built our hopes and implementation of our capital budgets on, I think we have to be very ingenious as a country. We have to look inwards.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria has come up with some measures that are intended to support the economy. I think it requires a holistic approach, both fiscal as well as monetary policies and if need be we pass a speedy legislations to create an environment where our economy does not collapse; that our economy is sustained with internal resources.
“But we have to be very careful. If we have to now borrow as a government from the domestic available resources, we should be very careful that we do not crowd out the private sector from getting required loans. So, it is going to be walking a tight rope. But we need to have a plan in which both the executive and the legislature come together.
“We need to listen to them really. I would probably suggest that going forward, in the next one or two weeks that the entire Senate to have a briefing from the Ministries of Finance, Petroleum and the Central Bank so that we are abreast with what is going on and then we can make our suggestions.
“But meanwhile, our Joint Committee continues to engage them, but this is a very tough time and it is a time that we should not suffer only but we should also benefit from this tough time.
“We need to understand what the CBN is talking about. I saw about seven or eight measures that the CBN has come up with to support local investments. We need to engage them and find out whether that is good enough or we can do better because the truth is, every country now will be trying to stay alive.
“So, probably there may not be anything to spare for any other country and if we are not ingenious enough, I think we will be in a deeper trouble. But Nigeria is a very resilient country so we should come together with the executive arm of government and work out a way out of this mess and probably come up with more serious agenda for diversification.”
Citing the committee’s findings, the lawmaker said the effects of the sharp drop in the crude oil price would be felt from May, June and July.
The report therefore recommended that, “Downsizing the Appropriation Act 2020 as passed by the National Assembly is inevitable, but the modalities to be adopted in the review of the budget shall be as agreed to between the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the joint committee of the Senate.”
The report also said the revenue-generating agencies must be alive to their responsibility in line with the Fiscal Responsibility Act passed by the National Assembly and other relevant laws of the National Assembly.
Adeola said the committee, at its inaugural meeting with the Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, discussed issues bordering on the current Appropriation Act 2020; cost of production of a barrel of crude oil; loss of revenue as a result of gas flaring which runs into several billions of dollars; devaluation of Naira; removal of oil subsidy.
He said, “The Joint Committee looked at the issues discussed from two angles; the short and long term solution.
“The short term solution is to address the sharp drop in the crude oil price which is creating difficulties in funding the 2020 Appropriation Act as passed by the National Assembly.
“The long term solution discussed is the need to consider and pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which is yet to be laid before the National Assembly. This will address the issue of cost of production and Gas flaring where the country’s resources are going down the drain and other issues that might affect the petroleum sector.”

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UBEC, RSUBEB Begin Digital School Construction In Rivers

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As part of government’s efforts to realize its dream of making the nation’s educational system a global digital community, the Federal Government, through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the Rivers State Universal Basic Education Board (RSUBEB), have commenced the construction of a modern digital Smart Basic School in the state, with 14-month completion schedule.
The school, which is a pilot modern basic education facility, is designed by UBEC in collaboration with RSUBEB to entrench digitization of ICT-driven basic education system across the 36 states and FCT, Abuja.
Speaking with journalists at a brief handover ceremony of the proposed smart school site to UBEC by RSUBEB at the Community Primary School, Uzuoba in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state, over the weekend, the National Consultant, UBEC Smart School Project, Prof Masud Abdulkarim, said the school was designed to incorporate digital technology into the basic education system in the country, which he said, has been in practice in advanced countries for years.
Abdulkarim stated that the desire of the Federal Government was to ensure that Nigerian children were not left out in the digital space, saying that the school would have great impact on the youth and give them equal opportunity to compete globally in the technology world.
He described the school as the first of its kind in the history of the country, adding that the school would have four categories that would take care of the nursery, handicapped, primary as well as junior secondary students with a maximum of 35 persons per class of two streams.
Abdulkarim noted that with the strategy, no fewer than 700 children would be enrolled into the school.
According to him, the school would afford the children the opportunity to become robotic engineers, artificial intelligence (AI) engineers and ICT engineers, and added that as future leaders, they need to be equipped and encouraged.
The UBEC consultant commended the state government for the provision of the school for the construction of the smart school, and described the site as the most suitable across the 23 states so far visited.
“Let me thank the RSUBEB for the site, in fact, it is the best and most suitable site among the 23 states we have so far visited. Because it has an existing school structure with a fence to protect our equipment and infrastructure. Moreso, the project will impact on the schools around because they will benefit from our Wi-Fi”, he stated.
Abdulkarim called on the host community to jealously guard the project as a growing child, till its maturity to adult stage, saying that they were important stakeholders in the project.
Also speaking on behalf of the Chairman of Rivers State Universal Basic Education Board (RSUBEB), Ven Fyneface Akah, a commissioner in the board, Chief Faith Amaso, called for synergy between the contractors and host community in other to remove every impediment that may affect the delivery of the project on schedule.
Akah opined that the project, when completed, would improve basic education in the state, and expressed happiness over the commencement of the project in the state.

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Rivers United Beat Young Africans Of Tanzania 1-0

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Rivers United Football Club of Port Harcourt, yesterday, at the Adokiye Amasiemaka Football Stadium, trounced the Young Africans Football Club of Tanzania 1-0 in a return leg match of the ongoing Confederation of African Football Club Champions League competition.
The stadium, which was filled to capacity, witnessed a trilling encounter, which saw the crowd craving for more.
It would be recalled that Rivers United had defeated the Young Africans of Tanzania 1-0 in the first leg of the championship at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, last Sunday.
Reacting to the feat, the Chairman of Degema Local Government Area, Hon. Michael John Williams, expressed joy over the victory of the Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt against the Young Africans of Tanzania in the ongoing Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League.
The match, which ended 1-0 in favour of the Rivers United FC, took place at the Adokiye Amiesimaka International Stadium in Rivers State, yesterday.
Top government officials in the state, including Rivers Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo; LG council chairmen and commissioners, amongst other sports enthusiasts, graced the event.
Speaking on the outcome of the match, Williams stated that the Rivers United players exhibited the Rivers team spirit, which culminated in their victory.
The political heavyweight in Degema LGA, noted that nothing would be impossible for Rivers people to achieve when they work together in unison and firm determination.
He added that the massive support and huge investment in the sports sector by the Governor Nyesom Wike administration, also motivated the Rivers team, who worked hard to secure a back-to-back victory.

By: Nelson Chukwudi

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NJC Okays Six Chief Judges, 30 Others For Appointment

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The National Judicial Council (NJC), has recommended the appointment of chief judges and 30 others as judicial officers to beef up judicial functions in some states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
At its 95th meeting held on September 15 and 16, 2021, the council considered the list of candidates presented by its Interview Committee, and recommended the 36 successful candidates to their respective state governors for appointment as heads of courts and other judicial officers in Nigeria.
They are Hon. Justice Richard O. Olorunfemi as chief judge, Kogi State, Hon. Justice Joe Itsebaga Acha for Edo, Hon. Justice Akintoroye Williams Akin for Ondo, Hon. Justice Husseini Baba Yusuf for FCT, Hon. Justice Ekaette Francesca Fabian-Obot for Akwa Ibom, and Hon. Justice J. O. Adeyeye for Ekiti State.
Others are Hon. Kadi Baba Gana Mahdi as Grand Kadi, Yobe; Umaru Ahmad Liman as Grand Kadi, Bauchi; Hon. Justice Osagede Osado Emmanuel as President, Customary Court of Appeal, Nasarawa; Hon. Justice Mashud Akintunde Akinfemi Abass as President, Customary Court of Appeal, Oyo State; and Siyaka Momoh Jimoh Usman as President, Customary Court of Appeal, Kogi State.
Three judges are recommended for High Court of Gombe, and they are Zainab Abdulkadir Rasheed, Abdussalam Muhammad, and Daurabo Suleiman Sikka.
Akwa Ibom has Effiong Asukwo Effiong; Bauchi has Nana Fatima Jibril; while Kaduna High Court has Abdulkarim Mahmud.
The three candidates recommended for Katsina State are Kabir Shuaibu, Ibrahim Ishaku Mashi, and Ibrahim Abubakar Mande, while Prof Alero Akeredolu was recommended for Ondo State.
Four successful candidates for Oyo State are Olusola Adebisi Adetujoye, Folabimpe Beatrice Segun Olakojo, Prof Taiwo Elijah Adewale, and Kareem Adeyimika Adedokun.
Kogi State has three candidates, and they are Abubakar Sule Ibrahim, Abdullah Sulyman, as well as Aminu Ali Eri.
Two Kadis for Sharia Court of Appeal are Adamu Kuna Jibril and Ahmed Baba Bala, while the four for Bauchi are Musa Sani Abubakar, Mahdi Manga, Khamis Al-Hamidallah Muhammad and Sani Musa with Ondo State having one in the person of Orimisan James Okorisa and Oyo Customary Court of Appeal having Ajadi Olubukola Omolayo.
A statement by the NJC Director of Information, Mr Soji Oye, and released in Abuja, yesterday, said that all the recommended candidates are expected to be sworn-in after approval by President Muhammadu Buhari, and their respective state governors, and confirmation by the respective state Houses of Assembly.

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