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2020 Budget Scales 2nd Reading, As Reps Decry Poor Education Allocation

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After two days of debate, the House of Representatives has passed the 2020 budget for second reading.
The bill was extensively debated by members of the House for straight two days, and when it was put to vote by the presiding officer, Deputy Speaker Idris Wase, the “ayes” had it.
Wase subsequently referred the bill to the committee on appropriation and other relevant standing committees of the House.
The N10.3trillion bill was submitted, last Tuesday by President Muhammadu Buhari.
While debating the budget, the House of Representatives said that the N48billion capital budgetary allocation for education in the 2020 appropriation was poor.
This followed a unanimous adoption of a motion moved by Rep. Babajide Benson (APC-Lagos) in commemoration of World Teachers’ Day at plenary presided over by the Speaker of the House, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, yesterday.
Education, however, got an additional N112billion allocation under Universal Basic Education Commission.
There is also TETFUND, which has a budget in three figure billions.
Nevertheless, the House stressed on the need for an increase in the budgetary allocation to the Education sector in the 2020 appropriation bill to better equip teachers with the required training and adequate facilities in schools.
It also expressed concern that teachers in the country were overworked and remained among the worst paid in the world with poor welfare packages and teaching environments in spite of their contributions to societal development.
The green chamber also urged the Federal Government to improve on the welfare and support schemes for teachers.
It called for more training for teachers using the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) approach to address education policy and curriculum choices in schools.
The legislature emphasised that the training would improve competitiveness in science and technology development in the country.
The green chamber also called for the employment of more teachers to address the issue of inadequate staffing and low productivity within the education sector.
The House further mandated the committees on Tertiary Education and Services, and Basic Education and Service to ensure implementation.
The legislature, however, recognised and honoured the best teacher and principal in Nigeria to appreciate and show support for their selfless sacrifices towards societal development.
However, senators belonging to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for adhering strictly to the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act by ensuring the timely submission of the 2020 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly.
The lawmakers, during the second day of debate on the 2020 Budget estimates, said the early submission of the appropriation bill will facilitate its quick passage by the National Assembly, as well as return the country’s budget cycle to the January-December timeline as provided by Constitution.
Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo South) applauded Buhari over his determination to reverse the poor annual budgetary practice that characterised late submission of the appropriation bill to the National Assembly.
He said: “What President Buhari did this year, is a complete deviation from what we have been seeing in terms of procedure in the presentation of our annual budget estimates to the National Assembly.
“For the first time, the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) were strictly adhered to. Last year, we had the budget presented to the National Assembly before the MTEF/FSP came.
“We know the Act states very clearly that MTEF/FSP must come first, and the National Assembly must pass it, before the budget estimates come.
“This is the first time we are adhering strictly to this procedure. It is commendable on the path of President Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly.”
Urhoghide, while calling on the Federal Government to ensure that capital expenditure in the 2020 budget benefits Nigerians, added that “the provisions of the FRA as regards the budgetary execution and meeting of targets must be adhered to.”
“It is the responsibility of the Finance Minister to meet with the joint Committee of Finance of the Senate and House of Representatives, so that there is a quarterly briefing of releases and distribution of funds. This is lacking, that is why there are mistakes in the execution of the budget,” Urhoghide said.
Another lawmaker, Senator Bassey Akpan (PDP, Akwa-Ibom North-East), also commended Buhari for throwing his weight behind the amendment of the Deep Offshore Inland Revenue Act.
According to the lawmaker, Nigeria stands to benefit “an additional N400billion for this year” with an amendment to the Act.
He, however, stressed that the Committees on Appropriation and Finance of the National Assembly have a task to balance the submission of the President.
“What we do as a National Assembly must reflect equitable distribution of available resources to the good of all Nigerians,” Akpan said.
Senator Clifford Ordia (PDP, Edo Central), while lending his voice to the debate of the budget estimates, said “this budget of growth and job creation is apt at this point in time in the history of our national development because when fully implemented, it will go a long way in removing our youths from the streets.”
He added: “The infrastructural development of this country needs to be handled holistically with timelines. This is the only way we can be able to attract investors to this country.”
While commending Buhari for providing N296billion sinking fund for payment of local contractors, Ordia urged the Federal Government to ensure that those owed over a period of time are duly paid.
Speaking on the manufacturing sector, the lawmaker said “It is supposed to be one of the major sectors contributing to our GDP. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
“Presently, the manufacturing sector and in fact the private sector only contribute about nine percent to our GDP.
“This will not create the right environment that would create jobs for our young school leavers,” Ordia added.
Senator Ayo Akinyelure (PDP, Ondo Central) bemoaned the high level of unaccountability by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government charged with the responsibility of revenue generation.
According to him, revenues accruable to agencies such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) if accounted for, are sufficient to fund the Nigeria’s annual budget.
He said: “Not much emphasis is made in the revenue of government. The revenue of NNPC if accounted for can fund the national budget.
“The internal revenue of the immigration is not accounted for. They are made away with by contractors.
“When we talk about increase in VAT, the Federal Inland Revenue must double its efforts when it comes to remittance of revenues.”
Akinyelure, however, advised that if revenues accruable to government are properly allocated to several projects, same would go a long way in bringing about the much desired development expected by Nigerians.
The Senate adjourned debate on the 2020 budget estimates till next week Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a senior lawyer, Dr Olisa Agbakoba has written to President Muhammadu Buhari on issues surrounding the 2020 appropriation bill laid before the joint session of the National Assembly, last Tuesday.
In the letter, a copy of which was made available to newsmen, yesterday, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), applauded the President for laying the budget estimate in good time. He, however, drew the president’s attention to salient issues regarding the budget and made some recommendations.
The letter reads, “I applaud the unusual departure of the Government of Nigeria by laying the budget estimates in good time and the reciprocity of the National Assembly to pass the estimates in 2019! This is record-breaking, but alas, this is only as good as can be said of the budget estimates.
“In a country of 200 million and 50 per cent living in poverty, the budget reflects many missing fundamentals. The starting point with this budget is a diagnosis of our condition. I would diagnose that Nigeria is afflicted with malignant metabolic economic syndrome complicated by high inflation, high interest rates, mass unemployment, weak infrastructure, slow growth, unclear borrowing policy, unaccountable subsidy, etc.
“To turn things around, I like to assume that you have charged the new Economic Advisory Council to give us short and immediate solutions. Working from my diagnosis of Nigeria’s economic disease, we need to work out a macro-economic development framework that lays out a harmonized fiscal, monetary, investment, legal, institutional and regulatory agenda. Fiscal policy or rate at which government spends, must be dramatically expansionary. We cannot have an anaemic budget of N10trillion for 200 million Nigerians, which is equivalent to N50,000 per person, per annum. This will keep us in poverty abysmal when we need double digit growth!
“On the basis of a GDP of $400billion, the baseline annual budget should be 20 per cent which approximates N20-30trillion annual spend rather than the miserly N10trillion budget. Our annual spend is anaemic and we have to infuse large money. For monetary policy, we need urgent quantitative easing, which is easing of all interest rates in particular to slack the heavy burden of high-interest rates on lending afflicting long-suffering Nigerians. We must be very proactive to look for new funds.
“Traditionally, public revenue has depended on tax and oil receipts but there are far too many other sources- the maritime sector is laden with cash, agriculture and the blue ocean, trade, the real sector, and controversial as it may appear, revenue that can be derived from new legislation on immunity from criminal prosecution. Government must consider legislation on criminal immunity to those who have plundered us, and we will likely see massive inflows of our money in foreign banks back to us. At present, the money is out of our reach anyway! I estimate $100billion will flow back if we grant immunity from criminal prosecutions but with civil sanctions.
“Engagement of the private sector in partnerships will yield a massive stock of revenue. We need our Dangotes, Jim Ovias, Mike Adenugas, Innosons to be involved, just like the Chaebols of South Korea. I know that the Onitsha-Nnewi-Ogidi market axis can generate up to N10trillion if the proper incentives are offered.
“Foreign and domestic investments in infrastructure is possible if the proper legal institutional and regulatory environment is established. Public revenue will be enhanced by, at least, N3trillion if we rebase foreign exchange rates from N305 to N360 and remove fuel subsidy at once.
“Additionally, we must review public expenditure. Far too much money is consumed by recurrent receipts. Downsizing government is a task that needs immediate attention by implementation of the Oronsaye report. Our public sector borrowing requirement needs review so that our revenue to debt ratio is less than 30 per cent. Banks must focus on their primary function of lending not trading as we have seen in purchase of Treasury bills in excess of N400billion. Tax collection efficiency and not increase should be the policy and chairman of FIRS, Fowler, and Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor are two public servants deserving special mention for their innovation.
“As an expert in shipping and hydrocarbons, I query why government only sees dollars from a barrel of crude when the value chain has at least 34 soft and hard by-products other than crude oil. In my field, there is banking, shipping, legal and insurance, but very little of the cash from this value chain from crude oil stays in our economy. We need to reset the clock. I will assume that that the budget estimates is just the start of a turnaround process of economic transformation.
“Having held their meeting with you, can the Economic Advisory Council give us a short turnaround plan to create jobs, opportunities and double digit growth? A good plan can create 10 million jobs annually, open the economy, expand local production and put the economy into double digits and pull millions out of poverty in addition to good education and healthcare.”

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Fund Police Recruitment, Training Adequately, Reps Tell FG … Plan To Probe Face-Off Between PSC, IGP

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The House of Representatives has urged the Federal Government to make provision for the adequate funding of recruitment and training of police personnel in the country.
The lawmakers also resolved to investigate the standoff between the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, over the 2024 police recruitment.
The lawmakers’ resolution was sequel to the adoption of a motion on urgent public importance moved by the member representing Ogbia Federal Constituency, Bayelsa State, Hon. Mitema Obordor, during yesterday’s plenary.
The House called on the Federal Government to provide adequate funding and resources necessary to support the recruitment and training of police officers.
The House also impressed on the Federal Government to increase the number of police personnel to be recruited and in doing so, ensure that the federal character provisions as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution are strictly adhered to.
This is as the Green chamber urged its Committee on Police to investigate the cause of the lingering dispute between the PSC and the IG with the aim of resolving the dispute, and proceed with the recruitment process without further delay.
Titled, “Urgent need to investigate and settle the lingering police recruitment dispute halting the 2023/2024 police recruitment exercise,” Hon. Obordor stated that in view of the population of Nigeria and the security situation in the country, the ideal police-to-citizen ratio in Nigeria ought to be one police officer to 200 citizens.
He lamented, however, that “The country currently has a ratio of one police officer to 650 citizens, indicating a significant shortfall in the Nigerian police strength, and far below the United Nations recommendation of one police to 450 citizens.”
Obordor recalled the lingering dispute between the PSC and the IG, which he said, has resulted to an impasse, and regrettably halted the ongoing recruitment process for almost 10 months.
He added, “The lingering dispute between the Police Service Commission and the Inspector-General of police which has resulted to a halt in the 2023/2024 recruitment process exacerbates the existing shortage of police personnel, undermining the police’s capacity to effectively respond to security threats.
“The House recognizes the critical need to strengthen the Nigerian Police Force by setting a ratio of one police officer to 200 citizen, or adopt the United Nations recommendation of a ratio of one police officer to 450 citizens to address the escalating security challenges facing our nation;
“The House recognises that the resolution of the lingering dispute between the police service commission and the Inspector-General of police, and the recruitment of additional police officers are crucial to bolstering Nigeria’s security and ensuring the safety of citizens.”
He further noted that the shortage of police personnel has reduced police presence in communities, “thereby, leading to a surge in crime rates as criminals take advantage of the situation especially in Bayelsa State, compromised public safety, eroded trust in the police force and the government’s ability to ensure security.”
He added that the House “is also worried that the dispute between the Police Service Commission and the Inspector-General of Police which has resulted to a halt in the police recruitment and the attendant capacity shortage and weakness of the Nigerian police may have a far-reaching national security implications, potentially emboldening terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements.”

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Youths’ll Find Expression In Our Sporting Competitions, Fubara Assures …Showers Cash Gifts On Laurel-Winning Talents, Teams

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has announced that annual sporting tournament will commence immediately in the State to provide platforms for youths to horn their talents and actualise their dreams.
The Governor has, therefore, directed the State Commissioner for Sports, Barrister Christopher Green, to design the structure of the competition, and liaise with his office in order to kickstart the tournament, adding that those who perform excellently will be celebrated at an award ceremony in December, 2024.
Governor Fubara made the announcement at the official presentation of trophies and medals from the Rivers United Under 17 Youth League, Rivers Hoopers Basketball Club, Rivers Angels Football Club, Rivers Table Tennis Team, Judo, Chess, Volleyball, Paralysis and Hockey teams at the Banquet Hall of Government House in Port Harcourt on Wednesday.
The Governor expressed delight over the number of trophies that have been presented to him by the various teams, and said he feels the most lucky representative of the State at a time like this.
Governor Fubara said: “You are making us proud. We will be encouraged to support you the more. We will support you to ensure that you go places.
“Let me say this: it is not about the money that is being pledged to you to encourage you. It is the spirit and the love that you have for our State that has enabled you to represent us, and also make us win in the comity of states.
“So, I want you to leave here, and be encouraged more. Continue to do the best you can to promote sports in our State. The only thing that brings people together is sports, and I think and believe that if we spend and invest in sports, it will go a long way to engage our youths, and reduce crime and criminality.”
Governor Fubara stated: “So, I am here authorising that the Commissioner for Sports should immediately commence a sports programme or festival that can engage our youths within this period.
“Be it football or whatever, but I want you to come up with a tournament that will engage our youths between now and December. I want the programme to be a programme that by December, we should be gathering to honour the winners of the tournament.”
Governor Fubara explained the essence of his decision, saying that instead of using the State’s resources to equip youths with explosive devices to cause mayhem or hire people for daily protests, it is better to spend it on a path that will further advance the good and peace-loving people of Rivers State.
He said, “Let me first of all congratulate, very specially, everyone of you that has worked tirelessly to make Rivers State proud. I want to specially appreciate the Commissioner. One thing is spending money, another one is getting results for the money. I think when it comes to issue of results, he brings results.
“And, he is not bringing the results because he is the Commissioner, he is getting these results because he is working with dedicated team players.
“I want to appreciate you people for everything that you have done, for your determination, because if you are not determined to win, we are not going to flog you: it will just be try again. But, you want to be winners, and that is why we are celebrating today.”
Governor Fubara, who also appreciated the management of the various teams, urged them to continue to do their best in making the State proud because posterity will not forget their contributions.
He announced cash gifts of between N2.5million and N30million for the individual and group winners of all the teams, including the Supporters’ Club.
In his speech, Rivers State Commissioner for Sports, Barrister Christopher Green, explained that the competitions were tough but with the support given by Governor Fubara, and determination of the players, gold, silver and bronze medals were clinched in different games played by males and females alike.
Barrister Green, who also said that new sporting records were created by Rivers teams, particularly in the Open Chess game, said a number of Rivers athletes emerged as most valued players and highest goal scorers, particularly in the U17 tournament played by Rivers United Football team.
On his part, Chairman, Governing Council of Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Chief Adokiye Amiesimaka, acknowledged that the feat being celebrated is not only profound but novel in the sporting history of Nigeria.
Chief Amiesimaka, who thanked Governor Fubara for his support to the teams, which served to boost their morals, urged the players not to rest on their oars but strive for more laurels.
Also speaking, a notable sports administrator in the State, Dr Sam Sam Jaja, said it is easier to be a champion but more demanding to sustain that posture, and charged the players to get more focused on beating the world.
He charged the laurel-winning sports talents to continue to sustain the momentum, in order to keep the State on the global sporting map as leading champions.

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Alleged Misappropriation: Judge Orders Ganduje’s Trial Must Continue In Absentia

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A Kano State High Court yesterday, insisted that the trial of the Chairman All Progressive Congress(APC), Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, charged with alleged bribery and misappropriation must continue even in his absence.
The Tide’s source reports that the state government instituted an eight-count charge bordering on bribery allegations, misappropriation and diversion of public funds running into billions of Niara against the defendants.
Ganduje, alongside his wife,Hafsat Umar, Abubakar Bawuro, Umar Abdullahi Umar, Jibrilla Muhammad, Lamash properties Limited,Safari Textiles Limited and Lasage General Enterprises Limited are charged with eight counts of bribery , misappropriation and diverting public funds.
The source reports that the court had on June 5, granted an order seeking to serve Ganduje and seven others through substituted service.
In a ruling Justice Amina Adamu-Aliyu, dismissed the application of the state government seeking bench warrant on the defendant.
She entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of the defendants and refused to strike out the charge.
“The trial of the defendants continues even in their absentia,” she held.
Adamu-Aliyu adjourned the matter until Oct.23, and 24, for hearing of the preliminary objection and the main charge.
Earlier, Mr Adeola Adedipe SAN, told the court that service of court processes had been effected on the defendants and affidavit of service filed June 6.
“My lord the 1st, 2nd,3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th respondents are not in court nor represented only the 6th respondent.
“The court should enter a plea of not guilty on behalf of the defendants who refused to answer the complaint in the charge pursuant to section 278(1)(2) of Kano State Administration of Criminal Justice Law(ACJL) 2019”
He urged the court to make an order pursuant to section 388 of Kano State ACJL on a bench warrant of arrest on the defendants.
“My lord the essence of arrest warrant is for the santity of the court because an order have been made for the defendants to appear before it and they refused”
Adedipe opposed the 6th respondent application on preliminary objection, affidavit of service and notice of appeal for stay of execution pending the hearing and determination of the case.
Counsel to the 6th respondent, Mr Nureini Jimoh, SAN, told the court that service was not effected on the respondent.
“We filed a notice of preliminary objection on jurisdiction of the court and filed an application for stay of execution before Court of appeal, restraining the prosecution from publishing any charges against the 6th respondent”
Jimoh urged the court to dismiss the prosecution’s application on warrant of arrest and plea of not guilty on the respondent

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