The House of Representatives on Monday grilled the Director-General, Debt Management Office (DMO), Patience Oniha, over rise in domestic debts totalling N3.3 trillion.
Ahmed Safana, Chairman of the House Committee on Aids, Loans and Debt Management, in Abuja, expressed surprise at the astronomical increase in debt profile of the country and rejected continuous borrowing by the federal government.
The lawmaker criticised the DMO for overseeing a huge increase in domestic and external debts from borrowed funds by the federal government.
He said that there was a N1 trillion increase in the debt profile of the country in the last one year, while calling on DMO, as the relevant agency, to halt the frequency of borrowings.
According to the DG, the domestic debt profile of the country stood at N3.685 trillion and there is another N2.57 billion from external borrowing by government.
The committee said borrowings by government at any level must be tied to specific projects and demanded details of the N3.55 trillion earmarked for borrowing in the 2023 budget.
At the budget session, a member of the Committee, Emeka Azubogu (Anambra-PDP), decried frequent borrowings while others demanded details of the personnel cost of the agency and the number of its employees.
Another member of the House Committee, Steve Azaiki (Bayelsa-PDP), advised the federal government to engage consultants to be able to access funds from the $70 billion climate change funds in the USA.
Promise Dike (Rivers-PDP) demanded that the agency should submit to the committee all details of assets sold, payment made and outstanding debts owed to the agency under privatisation.
Responding, Ms Oniha said domestic debt profile rose from N3.2 trillion in 2022 to N3.3 trillion in 2023 due to high interest rate from borrowed funds from domestic and international sources of funds.
She said that borrowing was a collective responsibility and there was a need for the parliament to look at borrowing of funds by the government from macro-economic perspectives.
Projects Delivery: Our Record Is Unparalleled … Wike
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has declared that there is no iota of doubt or contradiction over the superlative performance of his administration in the delivery of infrastructural projects and dispensing of the dividends of democracy in Rivers State.
Governor Wike said such uncommon commitment by his administration towards the development of critical infrastructure in the state was unparalleled in the country at large and exemplified the true essence of good governance.
Governor Wike made the declaration while inaugurating the Rukpokwu-Rumuapu-Izo-Ogbodo-Igwuruta Link Road, which took place in Rumuapu community in Obio-Akpor Local Government Area, last Tuesday.
The governor said Rivers people were impressed about the performance of his administration and desirous to reciprocate the gesture by voting for candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
The governor, however, stated that Rivers votes for the presidential candidate would be decided at the appropriate time.
He said: “For the presidential candidate, I will come and tell you where we will vote. These ones (Governorship, Senatorial, Reps and State Assembly candidates) I mentioned now, make sure you come and vote for them. Very soon, we’ll meet in our houses and take a decision where we are going to.”
Governor Wike said that governorship candidates of other political parties in the State were desperate to acquire political power without any followership or grassroots support, and charged Rivers electorate to vote the party that had come to their aid, supported and made them happy while also sustaining the peace in the State
On the issue of security, the governor said with the inauguration of the Police Intelligence and Surveillance Centre in Port Harcourt by the Inspector General of Police last Monday, criminals involved in kidnapping would be easily arrested for prosecution.
In a similar vein, the Rivers State governor, on Thursday and Friday, inaugurated the 13.86km Rumuodogo 1 and 2 Road in Oluua – Rumuodogo community in Emohua Local Government Area and the Mgbuoshimini internal roads respectively.
Governor Wike had also last Wednesday inaugurated the Renal/Dialysis Centre and House Officers Quarters delivered by his administration at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital in Port Harcourt.
The inauguration of the Mgbuoshimini internal roads which was performed by the Governor of Benue State, Dr Samuel Ortom, was the climax of the three weeks intensive project commissioning in the state as Governor Wike declared that the flag-off of new projects in the state would commence today, Monday, December 5.
The Rivers State governor also, last Saturday, performed a major state function by conferring state awards on distinguished personalities who have made immense contributions to the development of the state through their respective disciplines. Also honored were some state governors and other high profile personalities from other parts of Nigeria.
Delivering his welcome address at the event, the Chairman Awards Committee, Chief Ferdinand Anabraba, said the recipients of the various categories of awards were selected strictly on merit.
The special guests were thrilled to a lavish rendition of cultural displays at the awards night which held at the Banquet Hall of Government House, Port Harcourt.
By: Taneh Beemene
Osun Tribunal: Oyetola, APC Close Case
Former Osun State Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, and his party, All Progressives Congress (APC), the petitioners before the Election Petition Tribunal hearing matters emanating from last July 16 Osun governorship election, on Saturday closed their case.
The panel also at Saturday’s hearing admitted original copies of Form CF001 and all its attachments used by Osun State governor, Ademola Adeleke, to contest the 2018 governorship elections.
The documents presented to the panel by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), through a Deputy Director, Joan Arabs, after counsel to the petitioners, Mr Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, had checked through them, were admitted as exhibits.
Earlier, counsel to INEC, the first respondent in the matter, Mr Henry Akunebo, informed the panel that an original file of Adeleke’s GCE results, testimonial as contained in Form CF001 he used to contest the 2018 election, had been brought by his client in compliance with the order of the Tribunal.
At last Thursday’s sitting, INEC on subpoena by the panel had presented the documents, but Adeleke’s GCE results and testimonial obtained from Ede Muslim Grammar School, Ede, were noted to be blurry and the Commission was ordered to bring a clearer copy at the next sitting.
Counsel to Adeleke, the second respondent in the matter, Mr Niyi Owolade, and that of PDP, the 3rd respondent, Dr Alex Izinyon, SAN, said they had gone through original copies brought by the first respondent, noting that the documents were more legible than the previous ones presented.
After going through the documents, Mr Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, who represented the petitioners, said they were legible enough and applied to tender them before the panel.
But counsel to the respondents opposed tendering of the documents but they reserved their argument till the final written address stage.
Izinyon also said the entire documents and its attachment could not be admitted, since only two pages were said to be blurry, out of the ones previously brought by INEC.
But Fagbemi insisted that the entire documents should be admitted since the copies earlier brought by INEC had not been admitted by the panel.
The panel admitted all the original documents brought by INEC and tagged them as exhibit ‘FILE D.’
Fagbemi while further addressing the panel, said the petitioners had closed their case.
In his ruling, the panel chairman, Justice Tetse Kume, adjourned further hearing till December 20 for the respondents to open their case.
NGF Carpets FG, Rejects Blame For Poverty In Nigeria
The thirty- six State Governors, under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, have lampooned the Federal Government for blaming the high level of poverty in the country on state governors.
The governors took a swipe at the Federal Government, saying that its dereliction of duty was responsible for the rising poverty in the country and the reason people have been unable to engage in regular agrarian activities in commerce.
According to the governors, the accusation by the federal government came as a surprise to them, saying that the central government got it wrong, adding that the assertion was not only preposterous and without any empirical basis, but also very far from the truth.
The Governors said that what the federal government was talking about were total lies.
The federal government through the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba had last Wednesday blamed the high level of poverty in the country on state governors who paid more attention to flyovers and airports rather than improvement of life in the rural areas.
Agba gave the admonition while fielding questions from State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
But reacting to the allegation, the Governors said that the tirade by the junior Minister came to the Nigerian Governors’ Forum as a surprise, adding that the Minister got his message totally wrong.
In a statement last Friday by the Director, Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, the Governors noted that the attacks were not only unnecessary, but represent what they described as a brazen descent into selective amnesia. It is also diversionary as far as the Governors were concerned.
The Statement read, “The tirade early this week by the Minister of state for Budget and National Planning Mr. Clement Agba, on the 36 Governors, where he blamed them for the rising poverty index in the country comes to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum as a surprise. The Minister got his message totally wrong.
“His attacks are not only unnecessary, but they represent a brazen descent into selective amnesia. It is also diversionary as far as the Governors are concerned.
“The Minister who should be responding to a question demanding to know what he and his colleague, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, were doing to ameliorate the hardship Nigerians are facing attempted to defray the notion that rising levels of hunger and lack were peculiar to Nigeria.
“True as that may be Mr. Agba went further to explain that their government, through many of its social security programs, has been dedicating resources to alleviating hardship, and then goes further to accuse state governors of misdirecting resources to projects that have no impact on the people.
“While rightly pointing out that 72% of the poverty in Nigeria is found in the rural areas, the Minister said that the rural populace had been abandoned by governors.
“This assertion is not only preposterous and without any empirical basis, but also very far from the truth. It is Mr. Clement Agba’s veiled and deliberate effort, as a minister, to protect his paymasters and politicize very critical issues of national importance. Instead of answering the question thrown at him by journalists, Mr. Agba veered his attention to soft targets that happen to be 36 Governors.
“It is the opinion of the Governors that the dereliction that the Minister is talking about lies, strictly speaking, at the doorstep of the Federal Government which he represents, in this scenario.
“First and foremost, the primary duty of any government is to ensure the security of lives and property, without which no sensible human activity takes place. But the Federal Government which is responsible for the security of lives and property has been unable to fulfil this covenant with the people thus allowing bandits, insurgents, and kidnappers to turn the country into a killing field, maiming and abducting people, in schools market squares and even on their farmlands.”
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