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Withdraw Your Budget Padding Allegation, It’s Careless, Irresponsible – Saraki Tells Tinubu

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President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has challenged the  National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to prove that he has padded the national budgets since   2015.

Former  Lagos State governor Tinubu in a statement on Sunday accused  Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, of padding national budgets since they came to power.

“National budgets were delayed and distorted as these actors repeatedly sought to pad budgets with pet projects that would profit them,” Tinubu claimed in the statement.

“Even worse, they cut funds intended to prosper projects that would have benefited the average person. After four years of their antics, halting the progress of government, we should do all we can to prevent a repeat of their malign control of the National Assembly.

“He (Saraki) planted himself at the apex of legislative power. But his actions as Senate President showed a man devoid of compassion for the average Nigerian. All he cared for was power and position.”

But in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu, on Monday, Saraki slammed the allegation as “careless, irresponsible and callous”.

The former Kwara State governor challenged Tinubu to prove the allegation or withdraw it.

The statement said, “In all the three budgets already passed by the National Assembly, we challenge Tinubu to make a specific reference to where  Saraki and the leadership of the National Assembly ‘sought to pad with pet projects’ as he alleged.

“Tinubu should be graceful enough to substantiate this allegation. We consider that allegation careless, irresponsible and callous. We, therefore, demand that he withdraw it.”

Olaniyonu described  Tinubu’s statement as “another of his now well-expected quarterly vicious attack” on  Saraki.

He added, “Since we have taken it for granted that Tinubu’s attack on Saraki every three months will come as expected, we would just have ignored his statement but for the fact that it was filled with untruth, fallacies and misrepresentations. The statement was another effort to sell a concocted narrative about the 8th  National Assembly and its leadership.

“To further make the points here clear, we invite  Tinubu to look at the records of the time of  the submission of  the budgets and their passage since 2010 and he will see that, with the exception of the 2013 budget, which was passed on December 20, 2012, all the budgets were passed between March and May of the same fiscal year.

“This    should give him a better understanding of the fact that the date the Appropriation Bill is submitted to the parliament and the readiness of the MDAs to defend the proposals submitted as well as a  timely agreement on the figures by both chambers of the National Assembly are the main determining factors when the budget is eventually passed. So, Tinubu should see that the facts cannot support his spins and fake narrative.”

Saraki faulted Tinubu’s criticism of the leadership of the 8th National Assembly, insisting he and other leaders of the upper chamber were democratically elected.

The statement said, “It is because they are the choice of their colleagues that they have remained in office for the past 46 months despite  the plots hatched by anti-democratic, reactionary and fascist elements pretending to be ‘progressives.”

It added, “In fact, Tinubu should know that if there was any mistake made on June 9, 2015, it was the miscalculation by himself and his cabal in the APC who felt they could decide for the senators-elect and House of Representatives members-elect. When they failed after their grandstanding that they could always get whatever they desired, they resorted to undermining the institution of the legislature and waging a campaign of calumny against the lawmaking body.”

Saraki’s aide also accused Tinubu of attacking his principal due to his belief that the APC chief frustrated his ambition to be President Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate in 2015 as well as his presidential ambition in 2023.

The statement said, “It is obvious his arbitrary and tactless interference in the process of the emergence of the leadership of the 9th National  Assembly is already falling through. The frustration from this experience might have been responsible for this needless and baseless outbursts.”

It added, “A situation where  Tinubu is dictating to elected legislators and ordering them to either comply with his directives or get out of the party will not augur well for the legislature in the next dispensation. History should have thought him that only leaders that truly enjoy the support of members can help the President and his administration to achieve their objectives.

“It is a good development that the candidates for the various positions are already reaching out to their colleagues and forging alliances. We can see that after he realised that he has misfired, he is trying to retrace his steps.”

Meanwhile, an aspirant to the House Representatives speakership, Mr Mohammed Bago, has urged Tinubu to allow the best aspirant to get the job.

Bago in a statement on Monday by spokesman for the Bago Campaign Organisation, Mr Victor Ogene, said, “Not too long ago, in 2015, when Tinubu tried to foist the same mentee of his as Speaker. In spite of the rational voices of caution by many stakeholders, many have been left wondering if the enforcement effort was at the instance of President Buhari and the party.

“Although a greater portion of the statement centred on his probable scheming for the 2023 presidential election, real or imagined, our concern revolves around the oblique reference to loyalty as the basis for his decision to stand by his adopted (son) as the next Speaker of the House of Representatives.”

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ECOWAS Makes U-turn, Lifts Sanctions on Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Niger Republic

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has resolved to lift some sanctions on Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Niger Republic.

The resolution was taken at the extraordinary summit on the peace, political, and security situation in the ECOWAS sub-region in Abuja on Saturday.

While the regional bloc said the political and targeted sanctions on the Niger Republic remain, it lifted some financial and economic sanctions on Guinea and other sanctions on Mali.

Following the military coup in Niger Republic on July 26, 2023, which toppled President Mohamed Bazoum, ECOWAS imposed several sanctions on the country.

But reading the communique after the emergency summit of the West African bloc on Saturday, ECOWAS Commission President, Omar Alieu Touray, reeled out some of the sanctions the Authority resolved to lift.

They include the closure of land and air borders between all ECOWAS countries and Niger Republic; no flight zone to all commercial flights to and from the Niger Republic, suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS member states and Niger Republic and freezing of all service transactions including utility services.

Other sanctions on Niger lifted are the freezing of assets of Niger Republic in all ECOWAS Central banks; freezing of assets of Niger State and the state enterprises and parastatals in commercial banks; suspension of Niger Republic from all financial assistance and transactions with all financial institutions lifted and travel bans on the military officials and their families involved in the coup attempt.

Touray said that the decision by ECOWAS is based on humanitarian considerations especially “as we are in the month of Lent and as we prepare for the holy month of Ramadan”.

He noted that the authority also resolved to lift the sanctions regarding the recruitment of Malian citizens in statutory and professional positions within ECOWAS as well as lifting financial and economic sanctions on the Republic of Guinea.

The ECOWAS President added that he has been instructed by the Commission to invite Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, and Guinea to attend the technical and consultative meetings of ECOWAS as well as all security-related meetings.

ECOWAS directed all its institutions, member states, and other regional institutions to implement these decisions.

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Peter Obi Dismisses INEC’s Report on 2023 Election As ‘Medicine After Death’

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Presidential Candidate of Labour Party in the 2023 elections, Peter Obi, has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of deceiving Nigerians with report of the poll released earlier on Friday.

In the 526-page report of the 2023 elections, formally released ahead of the first anniversary of the election, INEC explained why the IREV failed to upload the presidential results despite the seamless working of the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS).

The commission attributed the challenge to technical glitches, which was, however resolved and that this did not in any way affect the credibility of the elections.

Obi, who spoke to Daily Trust through Dr Yunusa Tanko, the Chief Spokesperson, Obi-Datti Campaign Committee, described the report as medicine after death.

“I think the INEC report is medicine after death. The truth about it is that if I didn’t mean that INEC actually deal with this issue as it happened during the election, possibly Nigerians will have believed and trusted this particular report.”

“But here we are, the report of the INEC which signifies that the IREV refused to function or been uploaded during the election is false. Considering the fact that there were three elections that happened on that day, the Federal House of Representatives, the Senate, and the result was uploaded and there was no issue.

“Why must there be issue as regard to the presidential election? So totally for us is deceit, disdain for the people and is trying to promote an indecency,” he said.

He lamented that unfortunately everyone knew when INEC gave a written document, citing that they would not agree with any result that is not posted on the IREV.

“It is documented and everybody saw it. But then this is the same INEC who went again to the Supreme Court citing that they had an authority to collate the result manually and it was stamped on authority on illegality by our judiciary.

“And you want to convince me that that particular issue of glitch was not done deliberately? The truth is that nobody was arrested. Somebody ought to have been arrested who has been saddled with that responsibility.

“And if he is saddled with the responsibility, he must be held responsible and account for why the glitches occur.

“And even if there was a glitch, it’s just like your network taking off. It shouldn’t take up to a whole day. A few seconds it is off, three seconds it is back. Why was the server not back or why is the glitch not resolved?

“So for me and many of us, this is totally unacceptable. The report is deceitful to the Nigerian people. Our electoral Act and electoral law must be revisited to give clarity as regard to the process of our election.

“We don’t want to give any lacuna to any of our election process and give room for the judiciary only to decide who wins election. Election should be done and dusted at the polling units,” he said.

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Akpabio Lied, No State Received N30bn from FIRS – Makinde

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Oyo State Governor and Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Seyi Makinde, on Thursday, declared that there was no truth in the claim by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, that states of the federation got an additional N30 billion each outside of their statutory revenue allocations, to address food insecurity in their states.

A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Suleiman Olarenwaju in Ibadan, the state capital, said the state has not received any N30 billion from the Federal Inland Revenue Service or the Federal Government, and that his administration has been and will always be open and transparent to the people of the state.

The Governor, who added that he has been doing everything to cushion the effects of the economic hardship on the people, warned that leaders should instill confidence and hope in the citizenry in this trying time rather than playing the blame game.

Makinde stated this in Iseyin where he commissioned the newly-renovated multi-billion naira Iseyin Central Mosque facilitated by a legal icon, Ahmed Raji, SAN, hailing the religious harmony in the state as being exemplary.

The Governor decried Akpabio’s reliance on unverified reports, clarifying that states couldn’t get funds from the FIRS, since all revenues go into the Federation Account and belong to the FG, states and local governments.

“The only fund that Oyo State got from the Federal Government outside of statutory allocation was N2 billion out of the N5 billion promised to all states in the wake of the removal of fuel subsidy, adding that the Federal Government had even been asking for the refund of the N2 billion,” he stated.

Makinde added that his government has been doing its best to mitigate the hardship on residents of the state, having been the first to announce and implement measures to cushion the effect of the hardship through the Sustainable Action for Economic Recovery.

He said, “This is a very difficult period in our nation’s history because all of us are aware of what we are going through economically. But for us as an administration, I can say we are the first in Nigeria to announce and implement measures on the 9th of June 2023, to cushion the effect of this policy through SAFER.

“We have been doing our bit. And the reason I came here is for us to talk to ourselves and intensify prayers. So, this is one of the edifices through which we can reach God, though we have done our bit. We have health insurance for our own people, we give farm inputs to our farmers but, at this stage, we need to cry to God.

“For the workers, we have been paying a wage award; N25,000 for workers and N15,000 for pensioners, and we have paid for close to six months. Only last week, I announced an extension for another six months so that we can have the time to conclude the discussion on minimum wage. Well, we know there is much to be done and we will continue to do everything within our power to support our people through this hard time.”

Makinde cautioned that “this is not the time to play politics, as we have real issues that deserve real solutions. But yesterday, I saw the video and read in the news where the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, made a statement, though he said it was an unverified report, stating that the state governments received an additional N30 billion from the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, outside of our statutory allocation, in the last few months, to address food security.”

The Governor added, “Please, listen to me loud and clear. I can speak for Oyo State and can also speak for any of my colleagues. This is because, as the Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, I know when things are happening.

“If I want to play politics, I will keep quiet and let this slide, but I am not going to let this slide. FIRS cannot give money to any state. It is not possible. All revenues accruing to the country go into the federation account and it is distributed to all tiers of government.  The FG does not give states money. The money in the federation belongs to all of us; it does not only belong to the Federal Government.

“So, if the Senate President, who is the number three citizen in this country, could be quoting an unverified report, people are looking at us as leaders. This is the period that we are supposed to give confidence to our people. It is not the period to start playing politics or to start looking for scapegoats.”

“We need to engage with our people. If our policies are not working, we need to listen to the people and amend them. So, if the number three citizen had nothing but an unverified report, why did he need to say it? Does his statement give confidence to the people or solve the problem of hunger and anger in the land?” he queried.

“Let me say it clearly, as for Oyo State and for most of my colleagues, there is nothing like N30 billion being given to states for food security and I stand to be challenged.

“Yes, the Federal Government promised the states N5 billion and out of that, it only gave N2 billion and they are even asking that the N2 billion should be refunded right now.

“It is the responsibility of the Federal Government to manage the fiscal situation in Nigeria and manage the inflationary trend we have in the country right now.

“We have been transparent about everything we are doing here and this is the time for us to stay together as a nation to solve the problems we are facing. It is not the time to engage in blame games and propaganda. Hunger and anger are real and, as leaders, we must address them.”

Also speaking, the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, appreciated Makinde for attending the event and for speaking passionately as expected of leaders, saying the state governor is on the right track.

Earlier, the facilitator of the Iseyin Central Mosque renovation project, Raji, appreciated the governor for his presence, urging citizens of the country to continue to pray for its leaders and to pray to God to lessen the burden of the people.

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