The Senate has justified the N125 billion proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari as the National Assembly budget for the 2020 fiscal year.
“The National Assembly has a lot of staff to take care of in both chambers. The number of committees is large too because of the volume of work. So, there is no way we can operate with a small budget,” said spokesman of the Senate, Adedayo Adeyeye, in an interview with The Guardian.
His comment came as Italy’s parliament voted to cut down the number of legislators in both houses. While the Senate will now have 200 lawmakers from 315, the chamber of deputies will have 400 as against 630.
“The bulk of this money is spent on issues that promote legislative operations. Unfortunately, many people believe that legislators take the largest chunk of the money. Our salaries are open for public scrutiny,” Adeyeye said.
“The truth is: it is either we want to have a working and effective National Assembly that is properly funded or we do not. Running the system in the National Assembly is very expensive.”
The spokesman, however, failed to provide details on how the N125 billion would be spent, declaring that he was yet to get the specifics.
The National Assembly has in the past come under intense criticism over its failure to release the details of its budget.
Also, the Senate has reintroduced a bill seeking to establish the National Assembly Budget and Research Office (NABRO).
The Eighth Senate passed the bill on May 3, 2019. Buhari, however, did not assent to it. The proposed office, among other functions, will report yearly to the Senate and House of Representatives all items funded in the preceding financial year for which no appropriation was made by the National Assembly, and all items contained in the Appropriation Act in the preceding financial year but which were not funded by the Federal Government.
Lawmakers, meanwhile, continued debate on the 2020 budget yesterday with Senator Emmanuel Bwacha saying the document does not reflect Nigeria’s readiness to diversify its economy. He also accused his colleagues of being insincere in their handling of the budget.
“I’m saying this because, since 1999, budget implementation has not reached 70 per cent. This is very worrisome. We are discussing the 2020 budget estimates. Is it fair to say that we have a 2019 budget, which has not been implemented? As we speak now, nothing has been done. We have the 2019 Appropriation Act and we are discussing the 2020 budget proposal.
“Oversight functions have become a ritual. We have to take it seriously as a parliament. We refused to address this aspect of our shortcomings. We are only prepared to speak from both sides of our mouths. We need to walk the talk if we really want to achieve significant growth in our economy,” he said.
Senator Christopher Ekpeyong said the planned increase in VAT was incompatible with the budget. He explained: “If you increase the VAT to 7.5 per cent today for an investor or a contractor, he will pay educational tax of one per cent, he will pay ITF of one per cent, he will pay NITTF of one per cent, and some times, he goes behind to pay some percentage to the ruling party.
“These taxes are not mentioned. What is the result of the product the man will sell? For that reason, I am not in support of the VAT increase because already the VAT not mentioned is over 9 per cent and if you now add this to this, you will be having 10.5 per cent as VAT in the country.”
Similarly, the vice-chairman, Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFund, Ojang Sandy Onor, described Buhari’s attribution of low receipts in VAT to the general election as a cover-up. According to him, the real reason is that the economy is not performing well.
He said: ‘If yesterday when VAT was five per cent we experienced lower levels of economic activities, today that VAT is 7.5 per cent, we risk not having economic activities at all, and the consequences are dangerous.”
But Senator Ajibola Basiru who seemed to support the proposal gave the reason for the lack of full implementation of the 2019 budget. “The budget was not fully implemented because it was passed and signed into law towards the end of the Eighth National Assembly. What struck me is that the revenue projections and infrastructure show a 70 per cent deficit in the 2019 budget, and in 2020, it has already been highlighted that N2.18 trillion will be the proposed deficit,’’ he stated.
“People are looking at the allocation to key sectors and the revenue to fund the projects. For instance, when you talk of the N256 billion being allocated to Works, I have it on good authority that what is even required to take care of the outstanding in the Ministry of Works and Housing is in excess of N500 billion. Yet, many people are hailing the N256 billion allocated for Works, describing it as huge. We should also be looking at the aspect of progressive taxation.”
Mamman Daura’s Daughter’s Release of Clip at this Time is Mischievous, Didn’t Share Video Where She Abused the First Lady, Aisha Buhari – Presidency Source
A source within the Presidency has debunked claims made by Fatima, daughter of Mamman Daura who is one of President Buhari’s closest allies on being attacked by First Lady, Aisha Buhari at the Aso Villa, The Nation reports.
Recall that in an interview with BBC, Fatima denied report of her father arranging a second wife for President Buhari. She also denied claims that her dad is allegedly the head of ”a cabal” which controls the Buhari presidency (Aisha Buhari had in the past alleged that some persons have taken control of her husband’s government).
Fatima also revealed that she recorded the viral video of Aisha Buhari screaming at some persons in the Villa in 2017. According to her, she recorded the video to prove that the First Lady was violent to her and her family members after President Buhari asked them to vacate an apartment they were given in the villa after he assumed office in 2015.
However The Nation reported that a Presidential source debunked the claim, alleging that Mamman Daura’s daughter failed to tell the full story on why they were asked to vacate the apartment.
According to the source, the apartment was needed for the then recuperating Yusuf after his Power Bike accident.
She said: “By now the airwaves are awash with Fatima, Mamman Daura’s daughter, consenting to the fact that she indeed shot and leaked the now infamous video clip which showed the wife of the president in a very angry mood.
“The incident happened over a year ago when the wife of the president, on the instructions of the president, asked the Dauras to vacate their living quarters inside the Villa for a sick Yusuf Buhari who was recuperating after an accident.
“For this reason, the quarters were needed and the Dauras were asked to move to another part of the Villa. Long before the accident, Yusuf’s mother had requested in writing for the Dauras to vacate the place because the building is officially designated for the biological children of any serving president.
“The IG of police, DG DSS, NSA and the vice president who was the acting president, were all notified of this request. Despite this, the Dauras deliberately refused to comply with the instructions of the security agencies. Mamman Daura’s daughter, Fatima, did not say this in her interview.
“What really was the intent for the video being released now if not for mischief? Fatima didn’t showcase her part in the drama where the door was locked against the first lady to deny her access to some areas of the Villa, neither did she acknowledge the abuse she first vented before the first lady reacted under the instruction of DG Lawal Daura, who was brought into government by Mamman Daura.”
Brazil/Nigeria Match: Why I Used Okoye Instead of Ezenwa – Rohr
Brazil forced Nigeria to a 1-1 draw in the friendly game played on Sunday.
Speaking after the match, Rohr noted that Ezenwa, who is number two in the pecking order of goalkeepers, has not tasted action since the conclusion of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, while Okoye was active for Fortuna Düsseldorf’s reserve team in the Regionalliga West.
“We decided to put in Maduka because Ezenwa didn’t play for months, not even in the CHAN Team,’’ Rohr said in an interview with the Super Eagles Media Team.
“He didn’t have any experience of competition in the last three months so we decided to play with Maduka because he was playing for his club.”
Rohr regretted that Uzoho had to leave the game because of injury, praying the goalkeeper would recover soon.
He added: “Francis had a great match, we regret so much his injury, he will have examinations tomorrow so we will see exactly.
“He is playing again in his club so he can come back with us to play. I hope he will not be out for a long time because we have two important matches to play, against Benin in Nigeria and Lesotho, so we have a lot of work to do.
“He is playing well in his club so he can come back with us. I hope he will not be out for a long time because we have two important matches to play. So, we have a lot of work to do.”
Uzoho, who was impressive in the game left the pitch in the 65th minute as a result of the injury.
The Omonia Nicosia goalkeeper is now a doubt for next month’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Benin and Lesotho.
The German was impressed with the general performance of his players, saying, ‘they caused many problems for Brazil.’
Rohr lauded his team’s fighting spirit and solidarity for the duration, despite Brazil leveling in the second half through midfielder Casemiro.
The 66-year-old insisted the Eagles gave their more flamboyant opponents “problems” despite conceding possession to the South Americans.
“The team did very well, big solidarity, because Brazil wanted to win the game,” Rohr added.
“They scored very early in the second half and when they scored we had another 44 minutes to play, so, it was really not easy but with a lot of solidarity, fighting spirit and also counter attacks especially our wingers; they were very strong today, and we gave them problems.”
Customs Places Indefinite Ban on Exports, Imports Through Land Borders
The Nigeria Customs Service on Monday announced an indefinite ban on importation and exportation of goods through the land borders.
Comptroller-General, NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (retd), who stated this at a press conference in Abuja, also said Niger Republic had placed a ban on export of rice to Nigeria as a result of Nigeria’s border closure.
This came as the Nigeria Immigration Service said it had stopped 1,111 foreigners from entering Nigeria since August 20, 2019 when the country’s land borders were partially closed.
Ali said, “For now, all goods, whether illicit or non-illicit, are banned from going and coming into Nigeria. Let me add that for the avoidance of doubt, we have included all goods because all goods can equally come through our seaports.
“For that reason, we have deemed it necessary for now that importers of such goods should go through our controlled boarders where we have scanners to verify the goods and how healthy they are to our people.”
The closure of borders is being enforced by the NCS and NIS, in collaboration with the Nigerian armed forces and the Nigeria Police Force. It is being coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser.
Ali said the aim of the exercise was to better secure Nigeria’s borders, address trans-border security concerns and strengthen the economy.
The customs boss said it was disturbing that some neighbouring countries were circumventing the ECOWAS protocol on transit.
He said, “For clarity, the ECOWAS protocol on transit demands that when a transit container berths at a seaport, the receiving country is mandated to escort same without tampering with the seal to the border of the destination country.
“Unfortunately, experience has shown that our neighbours do not comply with this protocol. Rather, they break the seals of containers at their ports and trans-load goods destined for Nigeria.”
Ali said the closure of the borders had curbed the smuggling of foreign rice into Nigeria and addressed the diversion of petroleum products from Nigeria to neighbouring countries.
According to him, 10.2 million litres of petrol had been stopped from being diverted out of the country since the borders were closed, while producers of local food were making increased earnings.
On security, the customs boss stated that so far, 317 suspected smugglers and 146 illegal migrants had been arrested.
He said, “Also, some items seized are 21,071 pieces of 50kg bags of parboiled foreign rice; 190 vehicles; 891 drums filled with petrol; 2,665 jerry cans of vegetable oil; 66,000 litre-tanker of vegetable oil; 133 motorcycles; 70 jerry cans of petrol and 131 bags of NPK fertiliser used for making explosives. The estimated monetary value of the intercepted items is about N1.43bn.”
He explained that 95 per cent of illicit drugs and weapons used for acts of terrorism and kidnapping in Nigeria came through the porous borders.
He said following the closure of Nigeria’s borders, “Niger Republic has already circulated an order banning exportation of rice in any form to Nigeria.”
According to him, no date has been fixed to reopen the borders, adding that Nigeria will only end closure when its neighbours have fully complied with the Economic Community of West African States Protocol on Transit.
He said, “The government, through diplomatic channels, will continue to engage our neighbours to agree to comply with ECOWAS protocol on transit.
“Goods that are on the prohibition list in Nigeria, such as rice, used clothing, poultry products and vegetable oil should not be exported to the country.