Posted in Domestic, Government, Politics

Abuja Airport 2nd Runway Captured In #2017Budget Says Senate Leader

Senate Leader Ahmed Lawan said on Friday that the National Assembly (NASS) captured new projects, including a second runway for the Abuja Airport, in the 2017 appropriation bill it passed.

Lawan told state House Correspondents that the projects were covered from the difference in the N42.5 oil bench mark proposed by the Executive and the N44.5 passed by NASS.

He was explaining the reason behind the passage of N7.44 trillion instead of N7.3 trillion proposed by the executive arm of government.

“We have been able to capture for example the second Abuja Airport runway which we all need in this country; we have suffered from having only one.

We have also been able to capture in the NASS from that fund the completion of the Baro inland port.” He said.

Lawan also said that the Abeokuta Airport and the Warri– Aladja rail line were included the in the appropriation.

“These are newly introduced capital projects from the proceeds, the difference between the N44.5 (passed by NASS) and the N42.5 bench mark that we received from the Executive.” He added.

He said that what the NASS passed was still within the good bounds of what the executive presented as there was not much change in the allocations.

He said that the NASS tried to tinker in few cases but ensured that it did not disfigure the appropriation.

“There won’t be, in my opinion and judgment, any issue whether the NASS has tinkered with the budget because we haven’t done much tinkering with it.” The Senate Leader said.

He said the Senate is in agreement mostly with what the executive has presented to the National Assembly.

On the increase in the appropriation for the NASS, Lawan said it was also to take care of the capital projects in the NASS.

According to him, the NASS ensured that the increase was also derived from the two dollar difference in the oil bench mark.
He said that NASS was building the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) meant for capacity building of legislators and non-legislators alike.

He however said he did not think that the allocation was something big as far as NASS was concerned.

He said the nation needs to have a NASS that is really poised, wired and have the capacity and competent to produce good laws.

Posted in Domestic, Politics

#Breaking: President Buhari Suspends SGF Babachir Lawal

President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered an investigation into the allegations of violations of law and due process made against the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr David Babachir Lawal, in the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE).

This was stated in a press release issued by the Special Adviser to the President,Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina on Wednesday in Abuja.

The President has also directed the suspension of the SGF from office pending the outcome of the investigations.

In a related development, the President has ordered a full scale investigation into the discovery of large amounts of foreign and local currencies by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in a residential apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, over which the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has made a claim.

The investigation is also to enquire into the circumstances in which the NIA came into possession of the funds, how and by whose or which authority the funds were made available to the NIA, and to establish whether or not there has been a breach of the law or security procedure in obtaining custody and use of the funds.

The President has also directed the suspension of the Director General of the NIA, Ambassador Ayo Oke, pending the outcome of the investigation.

A three-man Committee comprising the Hon. Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and the National Security Adviser, headed by the Vice President, is to conduct both investigations.

The Committee is to submit its report to the President within 14 days.

The most senior Permanent Secretary in the SGF’s office, and the most senior officer in the NIA, are to act, respectively, during the period of investigation.

(NTA)

Posted in Politics, Security

Senegalese Troops In Gambia As Nigeria Fighter Jets Hover Over Airspace

Senegalese Authorities have confirmed that their troops have entered Gambia, after Adama Barrow was sworn-in as the President of the tiny west African country at the Gambian embassy in Dakar.
The troops are determine to remove Yahya Jammeh by force as he as refused to step down as president of the country .
Reports say the Senegalese army heads  for the Gambian capital of Banjul.
In a the same manner, Nigeria’s fighter jets have been flying over The Gambia as West African regional forces continue to flex their muscles ahead of a military intervention to oust former President Yahya Jammeh.
Jammeh’s fourth five-year term as president expired at midnight on Wednesday but he has refused calls to step down following his defeat in last month’s elections.
The Senegalese troops and Nigerian Jets have been stationed at the border of The Gambia for at least 24 hours.
After been sworn-in, Adama Barrow in a speech called on the Gambian security to show loyalty to his administration as he is now the President.
“I command the chief of defence staff and officers of high command to demonstrate their loyalty to me as commander in chief without any delay.” He said.
“I command all members of the armed forces to remain in their barracks, those found wanting or in possession of firearms without my order will be considered rebels.” He added.
Posted in Economy, Politics

Buhari Begins Fulfilment Of Campaign Promise To The Poor

The Buhari administration has done it again, by fulfilling another campaign promise to the poor, vulnerable Nigerians.

On the heels of the payment of N30,000 stipend to graduates employed under the N-Power programme and N1.2 million micro credit scheme,  the Buhari administration has now started the payment of N5, 000 monthly stipends to the poorest and the most vulnerable in the country.

This is being done, according to a statement from Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s office, through the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) of its Social Investment Programmes, SIP.

Under the CCT, one million Nigerians would receive N5000 monthly payments as a form of social safety net for the poorest and most vulnerable as budgeted for in the 2016 Budget.

In the first batch that commenced last week, nine states would be covered, and many of the beneficiaries have already reported receiving their first payments by Friday last week, December 30, 2016.

Funds for the commencement of the payments in four states were released last week to the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) – the platform that hosts and validates payments for all government’s social intervention programmes. Funds for another set of five states to complete the first batch of nine states would follow soon.

Though the sequence for the payment of the money would be operationally managed by NIBSS, beneficiaries in Borno, Kwara and Bauchi States have started receiving the money. The other states in the first batch to commence the CCT payments are Cross River,  Niger, Kogi, Oyo, Ogun and Ekiti States.

The nine pilot states were chosen because they have an existing Social Register that successfully identified the most vulnerable and poorest Nigerians through a tried and tested community based targeting (CBT) method working with the World Bank.

However other states have already begun developing their Social Registers and would be included in subsequent phases of the CCT implementation.

Beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer of the Federal Government would be mined from the Social Register, initially developed by eight States through a direct engagement with the World Bank. Those states are featured in the first batch, with the added inclusion of Borno States where a validated list of IDPS were compiled in addition to the Social Register which is expected to go round the country.

Working with the World Bank, the CBT process has now been adopted for developing the Social Register in the other States around the country, for transparency, objectivity and credibility in the selection of the poorest and most vulnerable beneficiaries for the programme.

The Federal Government will actually commence community mobilization for the creation of the Register in more States soon, to expand the scope and reach of the CCT across the country.

Meanwhile, Plateau, Jigawa, Adamawa, Anambra, Benue, Enugu, Katsina and Taraba States have so far complied with the stipulated framework provided, and are set for the community based targeting method for the development of their Social Register within their jurisdictions.

These States are to be followed by Delta, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Imo and Ogun States. Once the community mobilization, identification and selection processes are completed, the information garnered from the poorest households would be entered onto the Social Register in the states and the National Register at NIBSS, after which the cash transfers would be disbursed to the beneficiaries.

All the funds approved for the Federal Government’s Social Investment Programmes, SIP, are domiciled with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning. In addition, the payment information and processes for all beneficiaries of the Federal Government’s SIP are hosted at NIBSS, as the Consolidated Beneficiary Register, to ensure and fortify efforts at authentication and verification, as well as for effective and efficient programme management.

With the commencement of the CCT, the Buhari administration is now implementing four of the Federal Government’s SIP.

Besides the CCT, the N-Power Volunteer Corps designed to hire half a million unemployed graduates which has now engaged 200,000, and the National Homegrown School Feeding Programme now running in three states, the Buhari administration has also kicked-off the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, (GEEP).

Under GEEP, soft loans ranging from N10,000 to 100,000 have been designed for artisans, traders, market women among others.

Already, thousands of cooperatives, market women associations, farmers and enterprising youths, have been identified and registered for the purpose, on an ongoing basis, and the disbursement of the soft loans through the Bank of Industry have started since Nov 25, 2016.

At the last count, for the first phase, beneficiaries have been drawn from the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Delta, Imo, Kwara, Kano, Katsina, Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Ogun and Kogi States.

However, disbursements were halted and deferred until after the festive season. Vetting and approval of beneficiaries are now being continued through the month, with the expectation and plan that by month-end disbursements would have been made to 33,000 beneficiaries.

Regarding the 200,000 beneficiaries of the N-Power programme, close to 50% of the graduates, have now been physically verified, and started receiving their monthly stipends of N30,000 last week. A second batch of 300,000 unemployed graduates are expected to be selected early this year to make up the half a million target set by the Buhari administration.

The verified graduates are now being deployed to work as assistant teachers in schools, as community health aides and as agricultural extension workers, in more than 20 States of the Federation. These States include; Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Anambra, Benue, Cross Rivers, Borno, Gombe, Edo, Jigawa, Katsina, Plateau, Kogi, Osun, Rivers, Zamfara, Niger, Sokoto, Ogun and Taraba.

Government has also started the implementation of the National Home-grown School Feeding programme designed to feed 5.5 million school children for 200 school days in the first phase of the programme. Although the initial design was to feed pupils in 18 States, funding challenges had affected an earlier take-off. But the programme has now commenced in Osun, Kaduna and Anambra States. More states are expected to join this new year.

In the new year, it is the plan of the Federal Government to scale up the implementation of the SIP to touch the lives of millions of Nigerians in fulfillment of it’s promises and in furtherance of its Change agenda.

(NAN)