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Squabbles not over! Nigeria kicks-off 2018 budget year, 6 months after

Nigeria on Wednesday had its 2018 appropriation bill, containing the year’s federal spending details as approved by the National Assembly, signed into law

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Nigeria on Wednesday had its 2018 appropriation bill, containing the year’s federal spending details as approved by the National Assembly, signed into law.

President Muhammadu Buhari gave legal teeth to the budget at the presidential villa in Abuja, the country’s capital city but not without a grumble.

The total budget is N9.1 trillion, up from the N8.6 trillion estimates he submitted to the Assembly on November 7, 2017.
The two chambers of the National Assembly passed the budget on May 16, six months after it was presented by the president.

Buhari expressed serious reservations over the treatment meted on the original budget proposal noting that the document had been ‘padded’ by the lawmakers. He said as follows:

“The National Assembly made cuts amounting to 347 billion Naira in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to 578 billion Naira.

“Many of the projects cut are critical and may be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation. Some of the new projects inserted by the National Assembly have not been properly conceptualized, designed and costed and will therefore be difficult to execute.

“The provisions for some nationally/regionally strategic infrastructure projects were cut by an aggregate of 11.5 billion Naira. Provisions for some ongoing critical infrastructure projects in the FCT, Abuja especially major arterial roads and the mass transit rail project, were cut by a total of 7.5 billion Naira.

“The provision for Rehabilitation and Additional Security Measures for the United Nations Building by the FCT, Abuja was cut by 3.9 billion Naira from 4 billion Naira to 100 million Naira; this will make it impossible for the Federal Government of Nigeria to fulfill its commitment to the United Nations on this project.

“The provisions for various Strategic Interventions in the health sector were cut by an aggregate amount of 7.45 billion Naira.

“The provision for security infrastructure in the 104 Unity Schools across the country were cut by 3 billion Naira at a time when securing our students against acts of terrorism ought to be a major concern of government.
“The provision for the Federal Government’s National Housing Programme was cut by 8.7 billion Naira.

“At a time when we are working with Labour to address compensation-related issues, a total of 5 billion Naira was cut from the provisions for Pension Redemption Fund and Public Service Wage Adjustment.

“The provisions for Export Expansion Grant (EEG) and Special Economic Zones/Industrial Parks were cut by a total of 14.5 billion Naira.

“The provision for Construction of the Terminal Building at Enugu Airport was cut from 2 billion Naira to 500 million Naira which will further delay the completion of this critical project.

“The Take-off Grant for the Maritime University in Delta State, a key strategic initiative of the Federal Government, was cut from 5 billion Naira to 3.4 billion Naira,” he said.

The President said about seventy new road projects have been inserted into the budget of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.

“In doing so, the National Assembly applied some of the additional funds expected from the upward review of the oil price benchmark to the Ministry’s vote. Regrettably, however, in order to make provision for some of the new roads, the amounts allocated to some strategic major roads have been cut by the National Assembly,”

However, in a quick reaction, the lawmakers through Bala Na’ Allah, the deputy leader of the Senate who represented Senate President Bukola Saraki, and the Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Doguwa, who represented Speaker Yakubu Dogara, said the lawmakers had no option than to tinker with the budget estimates.

Mr Na’ Allah said their job as parliamentarians is a difficult one.
“The way the budget came, if we had allowed it to go that way, we would have been in trouble with those who elected us,” the lawmaker told journalists after the budget signing ceremony.
The senator also said they decided to alter the budget in order “to balance between the six geo political zones” across the country.

He said it is the “balancing efforts” by the National Assembly that led to the observations raised by Mr Buhari.

On his part, Mr Doguwa said “certainly you wouldn’t expect us to just rubber stamp and just bring it back. We have to do the nitty-gritty of budget consideration.”

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Politics

Nigeria: Senate President wants police rid of bad officers 

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Nigeria’s Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, has asked the police to get rid of bad officers. He also promised that the National Assembly would work with and back the police to make Nigeria safer.

Akpabio said this at the first Nigeria Police Awards and Commendations Ceremony, which took place in Abuja on Monday night. The Senate President commended the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, and the rest of the Nigeria Police leadership for putting together the event. He also told them to use it to celebrate the force’s accomplishments and reaffirm their promise to work together to make Nigeria safer.

He stated,  “I commend the Police for this maiden effort in organising this awards ceremony. It is a testament to IGP Egbetokun’s commitment to giving honour to whom it is due.

“By recognising the gallant, selfless and patriotic contributions of individual officers, we not only motivate them for higher performance but also reinforce the new policing agenda of the Force.

“This agenda focuses on internal ethical regeneration, restoration of professional standards and the enhancement of the anti-corruption drive.

“However, let us not ignore the challenges faced by the police in Nigeria. The ever-evolving landscape of crime and the increasing sophistication of criminal gangs pose significant obstacles. “

“Moreso, as we honour the good officers, let us weed out the bad ones because a chain is as strong as its weakest link. We must address these issues and work together to find solutions, he emphasised.

In front of Vice President Kashim Shettima and other important people, Akpabio said, “As the leader of the National Assembly, I pledge our full cooperation and support for better cops in Nigeria.”

“We recognise the importance of a well-equipped and motivated police force in ensuring the security and well-being of our citizens.

“We will continue to work tirelessly to provide the necessary legislative framework and resources to enable the police to carry out their duties effectively.”

Statista data shows that most Nigerians did not trust the cops at all in 2020. In cities, where six out of ten people who answered the survey said they didn’t believe the police, this lack of trust was higher. Also, 19% of the people interviewed in Nigeria’s cities and 26.8% of those interviewed in the country’s rural areas said they merely trusted the police.

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Politics

Chad: Interim President Deby begins campaign ahead of election

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With a promise to improve security and the economy, Mahamat Idriss Deby, Chad’s temporary president, started his campaign for president on Monday.

 

The election is set for next month and will end three years of military rule. Concerns of a democracy backslide have been raised about Deby’s government and others that have taken power in West and Central Africa since 2020.

 

Chad is one of the countries in Central and West Africa that is run by the military. There is still a push from both inside and outside of Africa for the country to switch to a democratic government.

 

Mahamat’s father had been in charge for a long time and was killed in rebel fighting in 2021. At first, Deby promised that polls would happen in 18 months. Later, however, his government passed measures that let him run for president and pushed the election date to 2024.

 

 

Some countries in the region and around the world have been pressuring Chad to quickly hand power back to people, but the country has been the first to hold elections.

 

 

“Today we are at the final turn on the road to constitutional return,” Deby told a large crowd gathered in scorching weather at the high-security event in Chad’s capital N’Djamena.

 

 

“You know me, I am a soldier and I hold my promises,” he said, barely visible behind a barrier of bodyguards crowding the podium.

“We will strengthen internal security to guarantee peace and stability in our country,” he said.

 

 

 

Deby made it official that he was going to run at the beginning of March. The news came a few days after Yaya Dillo, an opposition politician, was killed in a gunfight with security forces. This caused worries about the safety of the upcoming election.

 

Since then, forensic experts have said that Dillo was most likely shot from close range. Among the nine other candidates for president is Succes Masra, who was recently named Prime Minister of Chad and is a strong opponent of the junta.

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