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For The Record

Oil, Gas, Post Amnesty: Role Of The Nigerian Editor

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Being speech delivered by Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, Governor of Rivers State at the 6th  All Nigerian Editors Conference which ended in Port Harcourt, Friday

On behalf of the good people and the government of Rivers State, I heartily welcome everyone in this distinguished gathering to Port Harcourt, the beautiful and peaceful capital of today’s Rivers State.

This gathering is indeed distinguished in so many ways. For one, it sits the minds that make it their life business to mind the business of our great nation and of those who straddle its affairs. It sits individuals who, with the tools of their trade, tease out the accepted standards that could distinguish or rubbish the rest of us. Above all, it sits men and women, who have defied and continue to defy very difficult challenges, near poverty, persecutions, imprisonment, even death of comrades in arms, in order to uphold their conu11.itment to the peculiar challenges of defining Nigeria’s tomorrow today.

We, in Rivers State, salute you. You are the heroes of Nigeria’s Jubilee. Rivers people and indeed the entire Niger Delta appreciate you for finding a space to begin the playing of our song: the telling of our true story.

The truth of that story would necessarily demand that we remember yesterday with the fresh strokes of our very mighty pens and signals. For Yesterday contains within itself the capsule of our national misadventure in the exploration of oil and gas from the lands and waters of today’s Niger Delta. Yesterday is the sheet upon which the prognosis of the disease sought to be cured by amnesty and post amnesty is written. Amnesty is a deed. Post amnesty, on its part, is a process: a series of deeds. Its’ key elements, even though ascertainable, depend for its right determination on the honest engagement of the misdeeds, defaults, neglects, ignorance and omissions of yesterday.

That is where the Nigerian Editor comes in as the gatekeepers of the texts that inform the minds and spirits of the emerging nation, Nigeria. You have the sacred duty of communicating to every stakeholder of this nation that there is something diabolically unjust about the state supervised economic oppression of a region that contributes 80% of government revenues, 95% of export receipts and 90% of foreign exchange earnings. There is something that violates the peaceful bent of any young mind forced to live within violent realities of the so-called oil curse while a few revel in wealth flowing directly from oil and gas. Instructively, in more tl1an 20 years, Rivers State, which I now have the privilege of governing has not felt any touch of federal presence.

It is not just about Rivers State or the Niger Delta though: it is about our national destiny. After a half century of oil production from which almost $300 billion in oil revenues have {1owed directly into the Federal government’s coffers” Nigerian per capita income still stands at $2748, abysmally low, compared to Ghana’s $10, 748 and Cameroun’s N10,758. Indeed, for the bulk of Nigerians, living standards are perhaps worse now than they were at independence. The Story is infinitely worse in the Niger Delta region. TI1e truth of yesterday is that the discovery of oil in Nigeria ‘and the attendant annual oil revenues of tens of billions of dollars has ushered in a miserable, undisciplined, decrepit, and corrupt form of ‘petro-capitalism’.

Oil and gas seems to have crippled the inherent but readily available mental capacity of our nation to engage itself fully with the lure of easy petro-dollar. Curiously, it now sounds mischievous to remind ourselves that God has placed within the natural and human resources of every sub-national entity in Nigeria, east, west, north or south, all it needs to be successful. That was yesterday: the Nigerian Editor needs to push that truth out today through insistence on fiscal federalism.

Our nation stands on a threshold even as we turn the corner into 2011 and the transition it portends. Never before has the agenda setting role of the media via its editorial engine room been as needful as it is today. The choice lies between undue sensationalism and clear headed battling for the soul of our nation. It lies between choosing to be on the side of Nigeria’s fundamental or directive principles of state or the whims of politicians. Nigeria needs the rule of law: it also needs editor who appreciates the full implication and the demands of that regime. Nigeria needs editors who would hold elected servants accountable to the mandate of the people who elected them.

Certainly, in Rivers State, we would welcome any objective effort to hold us accountable to the people and stakeholders of Rivers State. In reality, it would just be complementary to our own efforts at remaining accountable to Rivers State. We, as a government, are focused not just on combating violent militancy but in the prudent use of our God-given resources to rightly re-define ‘life’ in our State.

We remain most grateful for the Federal Government amnesty programme put in place by late President Umar Yar’ Adua saw many militants laying down their arms. Its result has been the release of the once treacherous creeks of southern Ijaw controlled by Southern MEND to the boundaries of Nigeria and Cameroon where the General Franklin and his boys unleashed terror on the people and oil installations. Today, we are speedily replacing arms with infrastructural development thereby encouraging the gradual growth of peacetime local economy.

Our efforts also include establishment of the Social Rehabilitation Institute (RSI) saddled with the task of embracing real militants for re-integration into decent living. We have since followed up with several other initiatives including training at the Leadership Institute in Jos, Plateau State. Training in. various forms of trade in Okehi was also undertaken. As we speak, we have set up the first batch of 300 into cooperative societies and funded through banks to practice their trades. This is a way of meaningfully engaging the youths so as to take their minds into more productive ventures. Another set of 600 have been screened, 300 of them are rounding off their leadership training for the next batch to go. Some are undergoing training for professional career in sports like football and so on. For us, the circle of engaging our youths remain a continuous one.

We need the Gatekeepers of our national conscience to partner with this project. However commendable the success of the amnesty programme ~ of the federal government, there is the need to ensure that the Federal Government  remains and is perceived as ,being to its commitment. Already, some of the militants are crying foul on the suspicion that the government is reneging on its promises to them. Some of them openly confessed that they have their PLAN B, which .is, returning back to the creeks and resuming militancy-this .is not a good sign.

That is why we have undertaken to hold the fort by making maximum social and economic impact on our people. We are working to seize the moral high-ground by changing the state’s development indices through the delivery of good governance to Rivers people. Our major policy thrust therefore .is to improve living and working conditions as well as the quality of the workforce, through rapid infrastructural development.

To stem the tide of poverty we have had to return to the basics – the provision of basic, compulsory and qualitative education, and good healthcare delivery. So far we have Over 350 model primary schools and 24 secondary schools at various stages of completion. We are also building 160 Health Centres in all 23 LGAs ( municipal councils) of the state and other secondary and tertiary health care institutions. Critical infrastructure is needed to drive development. A Minimum of N100 Billion  invested yearly on roads/bridges/infrastructure in the past 2 year. We have also carried out five land reclamation and shore protection projects.

The state has in addition embarked on a state-wide urban renewal programme and development of infrastructure, chief of which is the Greater Port Harcourt project. Greater Port Harcourt is a new city that covers an area of approximately 1,900 square kilometres(190,OOO Hectares of land) with a projected population of two million. The Master Plan is for a period of fifty (50) years, with periodic reviews, and will be implemented in phases.

Indeed we are mindful of the fact that bad governance and a corrupt leadership can only serve as catalysts for brigandage and an unwholesome environment. We also recognise that an effective democracy is one in which the people actively participate in the things which affect them.

Our vision is to be the preferred destination in which to live and do business in Nigeria, and we are changing our economic direction so as to create a robust economy that will meet the challenges of our present reality. While building on our natural strengths of oil and gas, we shall return to Agriculture, we are also making deliberate efforts to be the technology hub of Nigeria. By actively pursuing education, providing the requisite infrastructure and improving access to credit at all levels, we are fast tracking development. Also by encouraging commerce and entrepreneurship, we are restoring the values of our past while tapping into the gains of modern economics.

For us in Rivers state, this is a new dawn. While we clearly understand the need to tackle the twin problems of underdevelopment and poverty we are even more certain that building enduring structures and entrenching good governance are the only ways we can secure the Niger Delta and put an end to the menace of criminality masquerading as militancy. That is the future we have to define today.

As you converge to discuss, I would like you to remember that a lot depends upon those deliberations for the next decade of Nigeria’s existence. It is therefore gratifying that you have chosen not to play the ostrich but rather have chosen to frontally engage the very issues that strike at the core of Nigeria’ existence today:

Oil, Gas, Post Amnesty (defined as the accelerated but concrete development of the Niger Delta), and the Nigerian Editor. You have the right issues: I am confident your deliberations would bring us all the right answers.

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For The Record

Rivers State Has Entered A NEW Realm Of Glory -Nsirim

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Being a text of press briefing by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim on the second leg of the second phase of the advocacy campaign #OurStateOurResponsibility on Monday, November 15, 2021, at the Ministry of Information and Communications Boardroom in Port Harcourt.
Excerpts.
Protocol
Two months ago, I had cause to address you as the Ministry rolled out activities to commence the second phase of our advocacy campaign with the hash tag OurStateOurResponsibility.
It is therefore my pleasure this afternoon to welcome you again, our very esteemed journalists, to keep you abreast of what has happened thus far and what is to come in the next few weeks, as we keep alive the advocacy campaign, which by all parameters has received tremendous buy-in from relevant stakeholders in the State.
Let me use this opportunity to commend you all for the unprecedented support you have shown since we commenced this advocacy campaign two years ago. You have sustained the tempo of the campaign through your reportage and have clearly demonstrated your unflinching belief in the campaign, as it is a win-win situation for all who reside and do business in Rivers State, as we continue to act according to the dictates of the advocacy campaign.
May I request that as we proceed in this second part of the second phase of #OurStateOurResponsibility advocacy campaign, you should increase the tempo of your support as we drive towards engraving the message of the advocacy campaign in the hearts of the people of Rivers State and all who reside and do business here.
As you may be aware, the essay competition among youths of the State which aimed at inculcating in the minds of our young ones the ideas and ideals behind the advocacy campaign, as future drivers of the message, was a huge success. It did not only throw up an amazing and adorable 18-year-old Rivers girl, Sophia Awajibenem E. Oyibo as the winner and hence, our Ambassador for the quarter, it opened a new vista of hope that the advocacy campaign is gaining grounds among our youths.
At this juncture, I wish to publicly acknowledge the rare qualities of this young lady who within the few months of her being the Ambassador of the Ministry of Information and Communications has continued to arouse the interest of the youths in Rivers State to understand and embrace the advocacy campaign championed by the Ministry.
A few days from now, precisely on November 25, 2021, at the Ministry of Women Affairs auditorium, she would be hosting, with the support of the Ministry of Information and Communications, a one-day sensitisation programme titled “The Wind of Change” aimed at promoting and strengthening the advocacy campaign, #OurStateOurResponsibility. She would be interfacing and interacting with youths from the 23 local government areas, youth organizations and people living with disabilities, to further drive the second phase of the advocacy campaign, May I request that you extend your support to this brilliant, eloquent young girl who we are glad to showcase as our Ambassador.
Gentlemen of the press, when we kick-started this second phase of #OurStateOurResponsibility advocacy campaign, we laid out various programmes aimed at driving the message with the overall aim of ensuring that everyone becomes a major stakeholder in the Rivers State project and portraying the State in its true positive image as the most hospitable in Nigeria, is achieved.
Having successfully executed the essay competition, the Ministry is ready to roll the dice for the theme song competition. Therefore, today’s briefing is to outline the plans towards achieving a theme song for the advocacy campaign. This, like the essay competition, would involve input from members of the public in line with our philosophy of ensuring a further buy-in from all stakeholders.
To this end, the Ministry of Information and Communications is calling for entries for theme song competition for the advocacy campaign. The entry is open to all persons residing and doing business in the State. Our desire in rolling out this theme song competition is to ensure that our best and brightest creative minds are given the opportunity to be innovative. We want our people to put their creative talents to work by searching for breakthrough ideas through thinking.
It is important to stress that the theme song must align and match the hash tag OurStateOurResponsibility. We expect the theme song to tell the people of Rivers State and others what to expect and what is expected of them. We expect a theme song that people can have in their heads, something that is simple, catchy and easy to remember and establishes a connection with the listeners and should not exceed three minutes. All the entries would be judged equally on four areas, namely: – Content originality, content alignment with theme, production and sound quality (clarity, consistency of audio levels and lack of noise)
The entry for the theme song competition starts today, November 15, 2021. We expect that between today and November 29, 2021, the necessary awareness must have been generated and created by you all, as we expect contestants to download the entry forms, rules and regulations guiding the competition from the advocacy compaign website: www.ourstateourresponsibility.com on or before December 13, 2021, which is the deadline for submission of entries.
The completed entry form and the signed acceptance of the rules and regulations as well as the entry materials should be forwarded to our email address: rsministryofinformationandcoms@gmail.com.
Gentlemen of the press, to ensure professionalism, we have chosen a unique set of judges whom we believe have the required capacity to select the best, knowing the expectations of the Ministry and what the competition aims to address. The three-man panel of judges include Lexy Mueka also known as Lexy M, a versatile musician and former Chairman of Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Rivers State chapter, Baridam Charles, a.k.a Vitamin C, a well known on Air Personality and Ofori Williams, one of Nigeria’s best Disc Jockeys, based in Rivers State.
Let me also state that the theme song competition comes with an incentive. The Ministry of Information and Communications has earmarked cash prizes for the best three entries. The overall best entry would attract a cash prize of Three Hundred Thousand, while the second and third best entries would attract One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira and One Hundred Thousand Naira respectively.
But beyond the cash incentive, lies an even greater opportunity. This competition has the potentials of throwing up the winner to the national or global stage as we have seen from little beginnings of this nature. We therefore expect our creative minds to look beyond the cash incentive and think about a legacy that they can be remembered for.
As you are aware, Rivers State has entered into a NEW realm of glory since May 29, 2015, as a result of the achievements of the hardworking Governor of our dear State, His Excellency Nyesom Ezenwo Wike. He has remarkably transformed the State in a manner that has left his critics dumbfounded and bewildered. It is therefore not surprising that all they do now is to clutch on straws and attempt to throw weak punches that cannot hurt a fly.
Through well thought-out and craftily executed projects, Governor Wike has earned the title of Nigeria’s Face of Democracy. His projects speak for themselves and the people of Rivers State must remain vigilant to ensure that the forces of darkness and retrogression who see nothing good in the genuine efforts being put in to transform the State, remain where they have been consigned, in the dustbin of history.
Gentlemen of the press, I thank you all for your attention and for honouring our invitation.
God bless you.

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For The Record

FG Has Met Its Debt Servicing Commitments -Buhari

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Being the text of a speech delivered by President Muhammadu Buhari at the joint session of the National Assembly, Abuja on Thursday, October 7, 2021.
Excerpts.
Protocols
It is my great pleasure to be
here once again to present the 2022 Federal Budget Proposals to this distinguished Joint Session of the National Assembly.
Distinguished and Honourable leaders, and members of the National Assembly, let me start by commending you for the expeditious consideration and passage of the Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2021. This further underscores your commitment to our collective efforts to contain the Covid-19 Pandemic and address the various security challenges facing our country.
I will also take this opportunity to thank you for the quick consideration and approval of the 2022-2024 Medium-term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper. Our hope is that National Assembly will continue to partner with the Executive by ensuring that deliberations on the 2022 Budget are completed before the end of this year so that the Appropriation Act can come into effect by the first of January 2022.
The 2022 Budget will be the last full year budget to be implemented by this administration. We designed it to build on the achievements of previous budgets and to deliver on our goals and aspirations as will be reflected in our soon-to-be launched National Development Plan of 2021 to 2025.
Distinguished Senators and Honourable Members, in normal times, I make use of this opportunity to provide an overview of global and domestic developments in the current year, a summary of our achievements, and our plans for the next fiscal year.
However, these are exceptional times. The grim realities of Covid-19 and its lethal variants are still upon us. From President to Pauper, the virus does not discriminate.
This is why our country still maintains its Covid-19 guidelines and protocols in place to protect its citizens and stop the spread of this disease.
Over the past few days, we have consulted with the Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19 and the leadership of the National Assembly on how best to present the 2022 budget proposal keeping in mind the deep-rooted traditions in place and the guidelines for safe mass gatherings.
We ultimately decided that the most responsible and respectful approach was to hold a shorter than usual gathering while allowing the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to provide fuller details of our proposals in a smaller event.
I am sure many of you will be relieved as my last budget speech in October 2020 lasted over fifty minutes.
Still, over the next few minutes, I will provide key highlights of our 2021 performance as well as our proposals for 2022.
Performance Of The 2021 Budget
The 2021 ‘Budget of Economic Recovery and Resilience’ is based on a benchmark oil price of 40 US Dollars per barrel, oil production of 1.6m b/d, and exchange rate of 379 Naira to US Dollar. Furthermore, a Supplementary budget of 982.73 billion Naira was recently enacted to address exigent issues in the Security and Health sectors.
Based on the 2021 Fiscal Framework, total revenue of 8.12 trillion Naira was projected to fund aggregate federal expenditure of 14.57 trillion Naira (inclusive of the supplementary budget). The projected fiscal deficit of 6.45 trillion Naira, or 4.52 percent of GDP, is expected to be financed mainly by domestic and external borrowings.
By July 2021, Nigeria’s daily oil production averaged one 1.70million barrels (inclusive of condensates) and the market price of Bonny Light crude averaged 68.53 US Dollars per barrel.
Accordingly, actual revenues were 34 percent below target as of July 2021, mainly due to the underperformance of oil and gas revenue sources. Federal Government’s retained revenues (excluding Government Owned Enterprises) amounted to 2.61 trillion Naira against the proportionate target of 3.95 trillion Naira for the period.
The Federal Government’s share of Oil revenue totalled 570.23 billion Naira as of July 2021, which was 51 percent below target, while non-oil tax revenues totalled 964.13 billion Naira. The poor performance of oil revenue relative to the budget was largely due to the shortfall in production as well as significant cost recovery by NNPC to cover the shortfall between its cost of importing petrol and the pump price.
The National Assembly will recall that in March 2020 the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency announced that the price of petrol would henceforth be determined by market forces.
However, as the combination of rising crude oil prices and exchange rate combined to push the price above the hitherto regulated price of 145 Naira per litre, opposition against the policy of price deregulation hardened on the part of Labour Unions in particular.
Government had to suspend further upward price adjustments while engaging Labour on the subject. This petrol subsidy significantly eroded revenues that should have been available to fund the budget.
On a positive note, we surpassed the non-oil taxes target by eleven (11) percent in aggregate. The sustained improvement in non-oil taxes indicates that some of our revenue reforms are yielding positive results. We expect further improvement in revenue collections later in the year as more corporate entities file their tax returns and we accelerate the implementation of our revenue reforms.
Improving Revenue Generation and Administration
We have stepped up implementation of the strengthened framework for performance management of government owned enterprises (GOEs), with a view to improve their operational efficiencies, revenue generation and accountability. The 50% cost-to-income ratio imposed on the GOEs in the Finance Act 2020 has contributed significantly to rationalizing wasteful expenditures by several GOEs and enhanced the level of operating surpluses to be transferred to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF). I solicit the cooperation of the National Assembly in enforcing the cost-to-income ratio and other prudential guidelines during your consideration of the budget proposals of the GOEs, which I am also laying before you today.
On the expenditure side, as at end of July 2021, a total of six point seven-nine (6.79) trillion Naira had been spent as against the pro-rated expenditure of seven point nine-one (7.91) trillion Naira. Accordingly, a deficit of four point one-seven (4.17) trillion Naira was recorded as at end of July 2021. The deficit was financed through domestic borrowing.
Despite our revenue challenges, we have consistently met our debt service commitments. We are also up to date on the payment of staff salaries, statutory transfers, and overhead costs. As at (4th of October 2021, a total of 1.732 trillion Naira had been released for capital expenditure.
I am pleased to inform you that we expect to fund MDAs’ capital budget fully by the end of the fiscal year 2021.
Capital releases thus far have been prioritised in favour of critical ongoing infrastructural projects in the power, roads, rail, agriculture, health and education sectors.
We have made progress on the railway projects connecting different parts of the country. I am glad to report that the Lagos-Ibadan Line is now completed and operational. The Abuja-Kaduna Line is running efficiently. The Itakpe-Ajaokuta rail Line was finally completed and commissioned over thirty (30) years after its initiation.
Arrangements are underway to complete the Ibadan-Kano Line. Also, work will soon commence on the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Line and Calabar-Lagos Coastal Line, which will connect the Southern and Eastern States to themselves and to the North.
Progress is also being made on several power generation, transmission, and distribution projects, as well as off-grid solutions, all aimed towards achieving the national goal of optimizing power supply by 2025.
I am again happy to report that we continue to make visible progress in our strategic road construction projects like the Lagos – Ibadan expressway, Apapa – Oworonsoki expressway, Abuja – Kano expressway, East-West Road and the second Niger bridge. We hope to commission most of these projects before the end of our tenure in 2023.
The Pandemic revealed the urgent need to strengthen our health system. Towards this end, we constructed 52 Molecular labs, 520 bed intensive care units, 52 Isolation centres and provision of Personal Protective equipment across 52 Federal Medical Centres and Teaching Hospitals.
We continue to push our expenditure rationalization initiatives which we commenced in 2016. For example, on personnel costs, the number of MDAs captured on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System increased from 459 in 2017 to 711 to date.
The recent passage of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, and consequent incorporation of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation should also result in rationalisation of expenditure, as well as increased investments and improved output in the oil and gas industry.
Distinguished Senators and Honourable Members, you will agree with me that a lot has been accomplished over the last year but there is still much to be done. I will now proceed with a review of the 2022 Budget proposal.
Theme And Priorities Of The 2022 Budget
The allocations to MDAs were guided by the strategic objectives of the National Development Plan of 2021 to 2025, which are:
a.Diversifying the economy, with robust MSME growth;
b. Investing in critical infrastructure;
c. Strengthening security and ensuring good governance;
d. Enabling a vibrant, educated and healthy populace;
e. Reducing poverty; and
f. Minimizing regional, economic and social disparities.
The 2022 Appropriation therefore is a Budget of Economic Growth and Sustainability.
Defence and internal security will continue to be our top priority. We remain firmly committed to the security of life, property and investment nationwide. We will continue to ensure that our gallant men and women in the armed forces, police and paramilitary units are properly equipped, remunerated and well-motivated.
The 2022 budget is also the first in our history, where MDAs were clearly advised on gender responsive budgeting. These are part of critical steps in our efforts to distribute resources fairly and reach vulnerable groups of our society.
Parameters And Fiscal Assumptions
Distinguished Members of the National Assembly, the 2022 to 2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper sets out the parameters for the 2022 Budget as follows:
a. Conservative oil price benchmark of 57 US Dollars per barrel;
b. Daily oil production estimate of 1.88 million barrels (inclusive of Condensates of 300,000 to 400,000 barrels per day);
c. Exchange rate of four 410.15 per US Dollar; and
d. Projected GDP growth rate of 4.2 percent and 13 percent inflation rate.
2022 Revenue Estimates
Based on these fiscal assumptions and parameters, total federally-collectible revenue is estimated at 17.70 trillion Naira in 2022.
Total federally distributable revenue is estimated at 12.72 trillion Naira in 2022 while total revenue available to fund the 2022 Federal Budget is estimated at 10.13 trillion Naira. This includes Grants and Aid of 63.38 billion Naira, as well as the revenues of 63 Government-Owned Enterprises.
Oil revenue is projected at 3.16 trillion, Non-oil taxes are estimated at 2.13 trillion Naira and FGN Independent revenues are projected to be 1.82 trillion Naira.
Planned 2022 Expenditure
A total expenditure of sixteen point three-nine (16.39) trillion Naira is proposed for the Federal Government in 2022. The proposed expenditure comprises:
a. Statutory Transfers of 768.28 billion Naira;
b. Non-debt Recurrent Costs of 6.83 trillion;
c. Personnel Costs of 4.11 trillion Naira;
d. Pensions, Gratuities and Retirees’ Benefits 577.0 billion Naira;
e. Overheads of 792.39 billion Naira;
f. Capital Expenditure of 5.35 trillion Naira, including the capital component of Statutory Transfers;
g. Debt Service of 3.61 trillion Naira; and
h. Sinking Fund of 292.71 billion Naira to retire certain maturing bonds.
Fiscal Balance
We expect the total fiscal operations of the Federal Government to result in a deficit of 6.26 trillion Naira. This represents 3.39 percent of estimated GDP, slightly above the 3 percent threshold set by the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007. Countries around the world have to of necessity over-shoot their fiscal thresholds for the economies to survive and thrive
We need to exceed this threshold considering our collective desire to continue tackling the existential security challenges facing our country.
We plan to finance the deficit mainly by new borrowings totalling 5.01 trillion Naira, 90.73 billion Naira from Privatization Proceeds and 1.16 trillion Naira drawdowns on loans secured for specific development projects.
Some have expressed concern over our resort to borrowing to finance our fiscal gaps. They are right to be concerned. However, we believe that the debt level of the Federal Government is still within sustainable limits. Borrowings are to specific strategic projects and can be verified publicly.
As you are aware, we have witnessed two economic recessions within the period of this Administration. In both cases, we had to spend our way out of recession, which necessitated a resort to growing the public debt. It is unlikely that our recovery from each of the two recessions would have grown as fast without the sustained government expenditure funded by debt.
Our target over the medium term is to grow our Revenue-to-GDP ratio from about 8 percent currently to 15 percent by 2025. At that level of revenues, the Debt-Service-to-Revenue ratio will cease to be worrying. Put simply, we do not have a debt sustainability problem, but a revenue challenge which we are determined to tackle to ensure our debts remain sustainable.
Very importantly, we have endeavoured to use the loans to finance critical development projects and programmes aimed at improving our economic environment and ensuring effective delivery of public services to our people. We focused on;
a.the completion of major road and rail projects;
b. the effective implementation of Power sector projects;
c. the provision of potable water;
d. construction of irrigation infrastructure and dams across the country; and
e. critical health projects such as the strengthening of national emergency medical services and ambulance system, procurement of vaccines, polio eradication and upgrading Primary Health Care Centres across the six geopolitical zones.
Innovations in Infrastructure Financing
In 2022, Government will further strengthen the frameworks for concessions and public private partnerships (PPPs). Capital projects that are good candidates for PPP by their nature will be developed for private sector participation.
We will also explore available opportunities in the existing ecosystem of green finance including the implementation of our Sovereign Green Bond Programme and leveraging debt-for-climate swap mechanisms.
Enhancing Revenue Mobilisation
Our strategies to improve revenue mobilisation will be sustained in 2022 with the goal of achieving the following objectives:
a. Enhance tax and excise revenues through policy reforms and tax administration measures;
b. Review the policy effectiveness of tax waivers and concessions;
c. Boost customs revenue through the e-Customs and Single Window initiatives; and
d. Safeguard revenues from the oil and gas sector.
Distinguished Senators and Honourable Members, I commend you for the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021. It is my hope that the implementation of the law will boost confidence in our economy and attract substantial investments in the sector.
Finance Bill 2022
In line with our plan to accompany annual budgets with Finance Bills, partly to support the realization of fiscal projections, current tax and fiscal laws are being reviewed to produce a draft Finance Bill 2022.
It is our intention that once ongoing consultations are completed, the Finance Bill would be submitted to the National Assembly to be considered alongside the 2022 Appropriation Bill.
Conclusion
Mr. Senate President, Mr. Speaker, Distinguished and Honourable Members of the National Assembly, this speech would be incomplete without commending the immense, patriotic, and collaborative support of the National Assembly in the effort to deliver socio-economic development and democracy dividends for our people.
I wish to assure you of the strong commitment of the Executive to strengthen the relationship with the National Assembly.
Nigeria is currently emerging from a very difficult economic challenge. We must continue to cooperate and ensure that our actions are aimed at accelerating the pace of economic recovery so that we can achieve economic prosperity and deliver on our promises to the Nigerian people.
The fiscal year 2022 is very crucial in our efforts to ensure that critical projects are completed, put to use and improve the general living conditions of our people.
It is with great pleasure therefore, that I lay before this distinguished Joint Session of the National Assembly, the 2022 Budget Proposals of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
I thank you most sincerely for your attention.
May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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For The Record

Let’s Build Egalitarian Nigeria-Wike

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Being a text of the speech by Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, on the occasion of Nigeria’s independence Anniversary celebration on Friday, October 1, 2021 in Port Harcourt. Excerpts.
My dear people of Rivers
State; fellow Nigerians
Today, we have gathered to celebrate the 61st independence anniversary of our beloved nation, Nigeria. For 61 years we have existed and lived together as one independent nation with our destiny in our own hands.
But at 61, it does not seem to me that there is anything worthy of our celebrating except, perhaps, the fact that we have remained independent and managed to struggle with our existence for all these years.
At independence, we were not only and still the most popular black nation on earth; we have been the most influential country in Africa, our proud and beautiful heritage, and where we have made tremendous and immeasurable impact as the big brother.
At independence, we were and still a rich nation, the largest economy and market in Africa; notably wealthy in human and natural resources, with immense agrarian lands and related endowments that are more than adequate to feed ourselves and the rest of Africa, if properly harnessed.
At independence, we were at par and even better in resource endowments and potential for development with our contemporaries like Malaysia, Singapore and several other countries.
At independence and even now we are a nation blessed with very hardworking and resourceful people. Our youths are some of the smartest people in the world, doing great exploits, flying our flag and making us proud across the world in music, dance, acting, culture, arts, sports, academics and our unique expressions and community ways of live.
At independence, our universities were among the best in the world; our public institutions were strong, effective and accountable to the people in service delivery.
At independence, our judicial system was not just efficient and effective; it served justice to the common man, and our judges and judgments were recognised, respected and adopted internationally.
Our part to independence was charted by great, patriotic, visionary, knowledgeable, compassionate, caring and inspirational leaders.
Our founding leaders not only loved Nigeria and worked hard for its independence; their singular vision and commitment was to build a united, peaceful and prosperous black nation that would lead Africa to stand shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the civilised world within the shortest possible period.
They embraced and worked for the entrenchment of democracy, the rule of law, judicial independence and true federalism, where the constituent sub-nations will be free and independent over their affairs with their own constitution.
Yes, we had Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, the great Zik of Africa; we had Chief Obafami Awolowo, the sage and unmatched transformational pace-setter, and we had Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto – a consummate transformer and manager of peoples and resources.
Individually and collectively, they all laboured and led to their last days and laid the foundations for the progress of their respective regions and the development of Nigeria.
Indeed, there was a country, respected and admired the world over for its enormous natural endowments, quality of leadership, great potential and acknowledged as the undisputable leader of Africa.
Suddenly, the military intervened and the country not only snapped; it was set on a reverse course from the pressure and frustrations of military adventurism.
The interventionists not only dismantled our democracy and distorted our federal system by balkanising the country into politically inspired, inequitable and unviable and dependent states and local government areas; they also succeeded in creating so many fault lines and ocean of injustices, which have continued to blunt, hunt and debunk the basis of the nation’s existence as one indivisible country with one destiny.
However, the restoration of democracy in 1999, after a protracted and bloody struggle and sacrifice, again, raised so much hope about the future of Nigeria and the aspirations of our people for a better deal from the government.
With democracy, Nigerians expected the timeless values of the rule of law, judicial independence, inclusiveness, social justice, transparency and accountability to be the basis of governance and transformation.
With democracy, Nigerians expected its political leadership to harness the country’s resources to drive economic growth, manage our diversity, promote national unity, provide basic infrastructure, protect lives and property and advance well-being of everyone, including the less privileged and vulnerable ones.
With democracy, Nigerians expected a National Assembly that would be loyal to the people, make good laws and render strong and effective oversight over the executive, devoid of ethnic, regional, party or political sentiments.
With democracy, Nigerians expected a judiciary with capacity, strength, and courage to protect its independence against executive intimidation and effectively use its powers to be the bastion of democracy, the rule of law, and social justice as the last hope of the common man.
With democracy, Nigerians expected strong national institutions, the bureaucracy, the security institutions and the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC to be loyal only to the constitution, the law and the people.
But today, after 61 years of independence and 22 years of unbroken democracy, it only seems there’s not much to be excited about Nigeria except our notional sense of independence and unity that had endured this long in the face of sustained fratricidal assaults to its existence.
Let us make a candid assessment of the situation of our country, especially in the last six years, and tell ourselves some hard, undiluted truths.
First of all, we cannot deny that most of the countries that started with us 61 years ago are far more advanced and developed with superlative standards of living for their people than Nigeria.
Our democracy is being weakened and put to enormous stress and jeopardy with the continuous violation of our constitution by the Federal Government and other public institutions.
The National Assembly has literarily abandoned its constitutional checks and balance role over the executive arm of government and become a slavish appendage to the Federal Government as rubberstamp assembly.
Neither is the situation and postures of the nation’s judiciary any better, where only a few judicial officers can stand the test of judicial courage, integrity and commitment to substantial justice in the performance of their constitutional responsibilities, while the entire judiciary, especially at the national level, has been bullied to nervousness to the detriment of our democracy, the rule of law and social justice.
The federal government claimed to be fighting corruption but public corruption has amplified out of control before their very eyes; while bigotry, hypocrisy, abuse and misuse of public office and power and the manipulation and politicisation of everything, including ethnicity is now the hallmark of governance at the centre so much so that Nigeria is more divided today than ever.
In the last six years, our economy has been in tatters and gasping without any realistic hopes for meaningful recovery in the nearest future as high inflation rates and massive unemployment continue to push more and more people into dehumanising misery and abject poverty.
They therefore tell lies when they say that our economy is growing and doing well when no one is feeling the benefits of an improving economy, if any.
Unable to mobilise sufficient domestic revenues, Nigeria is now one of the most indebted countries in the world, yet the federal government’s appetite for more loans remains high even as we are approaching the twilight of its tenure. The effect of this is to mortgage the progress and wellbeing of future generations of Nigerians with billions of debts burden in hard currencies.
We know and we agree that there is no country without one form of security challenges or the other. But truth be told, despite repeated assurances, nothing has demonstrated in the last six years that Nigerians can enjoy improved security of lives and property any time soon.
Rather, the facts continue to show that no one or nowhere in Nigeria, including educational institutions, worship places, women and children, is safe anymore with the unending Boko Haram insurgency, the rapid killing instincts of bandits, herdsmen and kidnappers and the apparent lack of will and wits on the part of the federal government to protect Nigerians from becoming almost daily prey to destruction, killings and gender-based violence.
As we therefore celebrate our independence today, we must both reflect on the state of our country and the direction it is wrongly headed and move more quickly with all seriousness and sense of responsibility to rescue this nation of ours before it becomes too late.
There is no doubt that we are greater and better together as one indivisible nation than going our separate ways.
And although our challenges are multiple and varied, they are not beyond redemption. What is needed is the courage and commitment of our leaders and everyone to find sustainable solutions to these challenges and lay the groundwork for a new, peaceful, united and prosperous Nigeria, through national dialogue and on the basis of justice, equity and accommodation.
Above all, we must defend the basic structures of democracy and good governance by rising up to protect our right to free, fair and credible elections by demanding for the immediate incorporation of electronic voting and simultaneous transmission of results into our electoral system, which the nation’s electoral management body has repeatedly said, it has both the capacity, commitment and infrastructure to effect, if only the national assembly would allow.
The national assembly stands condemned before God and the people of Nigeria should they fail to yield to this overwhelming demand by Nigerians for electronic transmission of election results. This is not a matter of politics of sentiments; it is a matter of the survival of our nation, which is superior to all other considerations.
For us in Rivers State, our commitment to one Nigeria is irrevocable but we will never cease to demand the remaking of the country to reflect true and fiscal federalism, devolution of more powers and resources to States and local governments and the total reformation of the repressive police system to allow for effective governor’s oversight, control and funding at the State level.
Ladies and gentlemen, as I had repeatedly said, Rivers State belongs to Nigeria and all those who live in it. We therefore have no reason to discriminate against any person or deny any resident the benefits of our services and good governance.
We have spent the last six years in laying the most concrete foundations for rapid economic growth and put the entire State on the path to a prosperous future.
Our economy has grown far beyond the national average and is expected to accelerate even further in the coming years with the measures we have put in place, including fiscal discipline, improved revenue generation and massive provision of infrastructure as long as the nation maintains appreciable level of macro-economic stability.
It is not by chance that Rivers State is today ranked as the most fiscally improved and responsible State in Nigeria that can survive independently on its own internally generated revenues. This is as a result of the fiscal discipline, reduction of corruption in the procurement process and our expanding capacity to mobilise funds from domestic sources to fund our development agenda.
We concede that there is still more to do across the State in the provision of all-season roads, bridges, quality healthcare, education, water, electricity, housing, food security, full employment and social security for citizens.
But one thing we do have is the will and commitment to serve our State and deliver quality socio-economic infrastructure to better living conditions and wellbeing of everyone.
This, we have evidently demonstrated with the construction of over 700 kilometers of roads in the last six years, including over 20 dual-carriage express ways and nine flyovers to ease the movement of goods and services and drive socio-economic development.
Our commitment to the development of the State is also evident in the sheer number and quality of basic primary and secondary schools we have reconstructed and equipped, the quality of hospitals, including the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, the multi-billion-naira Dr Peter Odili Cancer and Cardiovascular diseases centre, we have either delivered or under construction and the outstanding turnaround of the entire judicial infrastructures and other public institutions, including our tertiary institutions, abandoned public buildings and other assets.
Days ago, we approved funding for the execution of several more projects, including the dualisation of the 27 kilometers Chokocho-Igbodo road, the Oyigbo – Afam road, the Rumuokurusi – Elimgbu flyover, the Nabo Graham-Douglas campus of the Nigerian Law School, the new Magistrates’ Court Complex, and the Rivers State Judicial Institute to further consolidate on our development agenda for the State.
We are building the Rivers State Judicial Institute to complement the services of the National Judicial Institute in providing regular training and retraining of our judicial officers, magistrates and other senior judicial staff to advance effective and efficient administration of justice in the State, which as you know, is pivotal to peace, security and socio-economic development.
Also, we have been able to transform several of our rural communities with improved infrastructure, including internal roads, water, while many more communities are due to be similarly provided with in the coming months and years to improve rural economic activities and better conditions of living.
Our commitment to protecting lives and property remains strong. For us, the provision of security, despite the federally imposed challenges, is our primary duty and we are happy with the success we have recorded so far to ensure the security and safety of citizens across the State.
We assure you that we will not give any breathing space to criminals to freely operate in the State, hence will continue with the demolition of shanties and other hideouts used by criminals to terrorise the State, businesses and our people.
As you know, we now live in a digital world and Rivers State cannot remain indifferent to the digital revolution, if we must accelerate our development.
Accordingly, we have since started the digitisation of the State with the Rivers State Internal Revenue Service, the State’s Judiciary and some public institutions, including the Ministries of Commerce, Justice as well as Lands already operating on the digital platforms.
We are going to also digitalise other important ministries and public services to expand our tax base, e-commerce and the provision of education and healthcare services to remote areas, reduce corruption and increase internal resource mobilisation to fund government development projects.
We have implicit faith in the youth of Rivers State and their capacity to achieve whatever they set out to achieve with quality education and economic opportunities and support. That is why in addition to advancing access to quality education at all levels, we have provided the Real Madrid Football Academy and other platforms for them to acquire live skills to create wealth, live a responsible life and contribute to the development of our State and the nation.
We know that entrepreneurship is key to achieving sustainable prosperity. We will therefore continue to support the development of small and medium business as well as partner with the private sector to set up agriculture and manufacturing clusters to advance economic growth, create jobs and eliminate poverty among our people.
Fellow Nigerians, at this time and on this occasion of the nation’s 61st independence, we commit to the service and development of Rivers State with new pledges and aspirations, which no challenge or obstacle can prevent us from fulfilling.
We believe in the prevailing unity of purpose and the strength of our resources, capabilities, skills and talents to effectively defend our rights and freedoms and advance our collective peace, progress and prosperity within a united and just Nigeria. So, help us God.
May God bless our country, Nigeria
May God bless our dear Rivers State.
I wish Mr. President and all Nigerians happy 61st independence!

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