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Despite hardship, Nigerian lawmakers push for new jets for Tinubu, Shettima

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Despite the hardship and pervasive hunger Nigerians are going through occasioned by the drastic economic policies of the President Bola Tinubu-led administration, members of the National Assembly are pushing to purchase new presidential jets for the President and Vice President.

The recommendations for the purchase of the new jets, according to reports, were made by the Committee on National Security and Intelligence in the House of Representatives and is expected to get the nod of the Presidency for the purchase of the planes to sail through.

An exclusive report carried out by a reputable media outfit during the week had revealed that the committee made the proposition in a report issued after its technical subcommittee conducted a hearing on the status and airworthiness of aircraft in the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF).

The committee report which was signed by its chairperson, Ahmed Satomi, and the clerk, Makwe Eric, showed that it had already been forwarded to the presidency for action.

“The Committee is of the strong and informed opinion that considering the fragile structure of the Nigerian federation and recognising the dire consequences of any foreseen or unforeseen mishap that may arise as a result of technical/operational inadequacy of the Presidential Air Fleet, it is in the best interest of the country to procure two additional aircraft as recommended,” the report read in part.

Further investigations reveal that plans to buy new aircrafts for the president and vice president began as early as February this year despite the hues and cries from Nigerians due to the pains and agony they have been subjected to since the present administration came into power in 2023.

The investigation also revealed that the federal government was tired of spending humongous amount of money in maintaining the aircraft in the fleet as the maintenance of the presidential fleet between the routine maintenance and purchase of parts, the aircraft had been guzzling huge amounts of money.

It was gathered that Tinubu had put a hold on the move due to anticipated backlash that would follow any move to buy new aircrafts for the presidential fleet considering the economic downturn in the country, as millions of citizens battle every day to feed owing to impacts of some of the reforms of the current administration.

However, while justifying their call for new aircraft for Tinubu and Shettima, members of the House of Representatives Committee on National Security and Intelligence said their recommendation was based on available facts.

“This will also prove to be most cost-efficient in the long run apart from the added advantage of providing a suitable, comfortable and safe carrier befitting of the status and responsibilities of the office of the president and vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the committee said.

The panel said a new aircraft befitting the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should be procured, taking into consideration the country’s leading role in the West African, African, and global scheme of affairs.

“That for ease of administration and in order to guarantee a secure and dedicated main and backup fleet for the office of the president at all times, it is recommended that a new aircraft akin to Air Force Two of the USA be procured for the office of the vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the subcommittee added.

“This can also serve the office of the presiding officers of the National Assembly, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, etc., as appropriate.”

Metro

Over 10 million people displaced by Sudan war— IOM

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The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that as the world’s worst displacement crisis worsens in Sudan, almost 10 million, which is about 20% of the country’s population, have been forced from their homes since the conflict there started.

This is the most recent alarming estimate from the nation in East Africa, which has been destroyed by fighting that started in April 2023. The majority of the nation, around 50 million people, are now in need of humanitarian help and half of them are experiencing starvation as a result of the war.

According to a bimonthly report from the IOM, since the start of the conflict, over 2.2 million people have fled to foreign nations and about 7.8 million have sought safety within the nation. Previous conflicts in the country have already resulted in the displacement of an additional 2.8 million people.

When fighting broke out between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the capital city of Khartoum last year, it soon spread to the west throughout Darfur, with the RSF seizing control of most of the major cities.

Some UN experts have argued that the main cause of migration from Darfur—where it is impossible to provide aid—is now hunger rather than conflict.

“All refugees I met said the reason why they fled Sudan was hunger,” said World Health Organisation country director Dr. Shible Sahbani to reporters after visiting refugees from Darfur, the source of half of the displaced population, in Chad.

“A woman who just reached Adré reported that all food they used to produce locally in Darfur was taken by the fighters,” he added.

More than 150,000 people were displaced from Sennar state as the RSF extended its reach in the southeast of the nation in recent weeks, according to the IOM. Many of these individuals were relocated for the second or third time following RSF attacks on houses and marketplaces in the state’s minor towns and villages.

The RSF blames the activities of rogue actors and disputes that it has harmed civilians.

RSF forces have conducted incursions in Gedaref state, home to 668,000 people who are facing heavy rains and no shelter. This state is currently hosting a large number of displaced persons.

Human Rights Watch issued a warning last week about the risk of the RSF expanding into the Gedaref for the 40,000 Ethiopian refugees, most of whom are Tigrayans, who are alleged by the RSF to be fighting alongside the army.

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Nigerian govt to spend N3tn on new minimum wage, pensions, gratuities— Minister

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Nigeria’s Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu, on Friday, disclosed that the Federal Government would spend N3 trillion on the new minimum wage as well on payment of pensions and gratuities.

The minister made the disclosure during a meeting with the Senate Committee on Appropriations chaired by Olamilekan Adeola, while presenting the general principles of the newly amended 2024 budget to the committee at the meeting.

During the meeting with the Committee, Bagudu highlighted that the new budget additions would not be funded by loans but by an already reserved profit.

He further explained that priorities were given to projects that would open up roads for investments and emergencies, while other road projects would be addressed in subsequent batches.

He also stated that the country’s historical underinvestment in infrastructure was a root cause of recent problems and commended President Bola Tinubu for addressing the infrastructure deficit.

Bagudu told the Committee that the recurrent budget of N3tn will fund the minimum wage, pensions, and gratuities, while the capital component of N3.2tn will augment existing road projects on state and federal routes, including coastal roads, the Sokoto-Badagry road, railway construction, and dam irrigation.

Recall that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had on Thursday, accepted the N70,000 minimum wage proposed by Tinubu, saying it was an act of solidarity.

The union, in a statement signed by its National President, Joe Ajaero, at the end of its National Executive Council meeting, affirmed that the NLC would continue to defend the rights of Nigerian workers at all times.

“NEC-in-session concluded that this decision, though challenging and far from our initial demand, was made in the spirit of solidarity and sacrifice for the Nigerian masses to avert a threatened further hike in the price of petrol, which would inflict more hardship on the already suffering masses.

“Once again, NEC-in-session restates the commitment of the NLC to continue standing resolutely in its mission to defend and advance the rights of Nigerian workers and the Nigerian people at all times.

“It therefore calls on all Nigerians to unite in this cause and to hold our leaders accountable to the same standards of sacrifice and service.”

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