**INEC Seeks N305billion for 2023 elections
The National Assembly will consider the 2021 budget and pass it on Tuesday, chairman senate committee on Appropriation Senator Jibrin Barau has indicated.
He also assured Nigerians that required appropriation would be made for the Independent National Electoral Commission in the 2022 budget in the general interest of Nigerians.
He spoke after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Monday presented N305b before the National Assembly as projected expenditure for the 2023 general elections.
According to Barau, “The report of this committee on 2022 budget proposals, will be laid in plenary at both Chambers on Tuesday, considered and passed”
The Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmud Yakubu made the presentation before the Senate Committee on Appropriations on Monday in Abuja.
The Committee had in view of the 2023 general elections, invited the INEC Chairman to bring before it, projected expenditure for the election for the purpose of capturing it in the 2022 budget billed for passage by both chambers of the National Assembly Tuesday (Today).
According to the INEC Chairman, the N305billion is different from N40biilion yearly budget of the commission.
He said though N100billion had been given the Commission as the first trache out of the total projected expenditure he would not be enough for adequate preparation
“The commission made a submission through the executive being part of the executive body . We made a submission for N305b for the 2023 general elections in a very comprehensive 22 page document with 260 budget lines.
“In submitting the executive proposal to the National Assembly, the sum of of N140b was made available to INEC as a one line item in the budget and as usual we broke it down and submitted same to the committee that oversights INEC in both the House and the senate.
“The N140b was broken into two, we take it that N40b is our regular budget as an agency of Government and N100b was the first tranche of the 2022 budget and we have gone ahead to make provisions accordingly.
“For the N40b annual budget including in that are also elections that we are supposed to conduct particularly off season elections. It may interest the committee to know that we have 8 bye-election pending; three Federal constituencies and five State constituencies. Infact the last vacancy occured only last Wednesday following the death of a member represent Jiwa west in Kaduna State”, he said .
In making case for more releases from the N205billion balance, the INEC Chairman highlighted to the lawmakers activities that must be carried out ahead of the 2023 general elections.
“What we have done is to look at the activities that we have to conduct before the general election.
“There are activities that must be concluded. For instance if you are going to replace some of the critical facilities like ballot boxes, voting cubicles, these things must be done before the election.
“Party primaries must be conducted and concluded before the election and names of candidates submitted, registration of voter’s would have to be concluded before the election. Printing of the permanent voter’s card would have to be concluded before the election and then some of the critical election technology for the 2023 general election must be concluded and procured before the election”, he explained .
Imo North senator advocates for regional Governmment, police
**Wants each regional Government to oversee its development commission
The senator representing Imo North Senatorial District Ndubueze Patrick Chiwuba has advocated for Regional Government and Regional Police Force as against the cloud for State Police.
Speaking on the heels of the passage of the bill for the establishment of the South East Development Commission senator Chiwuba described the politics of Regional Development commissions that has become a cash cow for some Nigerians as a welcome development as it will soon lead him to sponsor a bill for Regional Government
According him when each region is given its own Developmwnt Commission, it is another form of restructuring
“I’ll be happy, I’m supporting that 100%. After that I can bring up my bill.
“You know when people talk of restructuring, people see it in a different way. You understand? God can bless Nigeria from different angles.
“Let us have regional governments to superintend over all these commissions so that nobody will now go and appropriate it to himself.
“So what am I looking for? The restructuring has gotten it. So it is a very wonderful work. For me, when I saw the other regional commissions, I started preparing my bill for regional government.
“So what I’m trying to say is, it is a good omen. Every region should have it. And you are deriving money from the federal. Now, if you derive from the federal, those places where people can augment their own commission, they will go and augment and move ahead. “Others may copy them. And as such, what do we do there will be regional competition so that States do not need to go cap in hand to the Federal Government to share allocation
“So, my next bill, after we have gotten the commissions, will be a bill for us to adopt regional government. And the regional government will superintend over the commissions.
“If any, somebody can be held responsible by the people of the area. But when the chairman of the board is appointed from the federal level, he is not accountable to the area, the region, because he is not appointed by the people. The people don’t have authority to remove them or to replace them.
“So they behave like emperors because it’s only the federal that can call them to order. You understand? And if the federal wants to call them to order, their relations will go to plead on their behalf
“But when the regional government superintend over such and they are elected, you know what it means? So once you are doing bad either they recall you, or they remove you, or they make sure that your tenure is not renewed.
Also speaking on the issue of the state police he said he is not an apostle of state police but Regional.
He said the regional police will not be accountable to any particular governor. No person will use the regional police to fight his enemy, political enemy.
But state police, people can use it to fight their enemy, but regional, nobody can, because the governors of the region will come together to provide funding
When it comes to regional police, it will derive its power from the region there, no single person can use them.
For now, the appointments, both the board and others are coming from the federal. And when they are appointed, they will recognize every state. That’s one. Two, the chairman and the executive members will be rotated from time to time.
On whether President Tinubu will assent to the South East Development Commission bill he said, “&I ’m not seeing any hindrance. Rather, it’s going to improve our politics in a better sense. What we need is development. What we need is freedom to operate. And that’s what the South is asking for – freedom to operate.
“Once we have freedom to operate, the sky is the beginning, it’s not our limit. And every other part of the nation will benefit.
“If you go down the history, you know when we had regional governments? The South East was rated as the fastest growing economy in the world. Go and Google. During the regional government headed by Michael Okpara, the South East was rated as the fastest growing economy in the whole world. Now, since after the civil war, the South East had been abandoned. That’s why you see people crying of marginalization.
“First of all, we thank God for a day like this, that we can be happy, joyful, and glorify Him for the passage of this bill. And we thank the National Assembly for passing the bill as well.
“We are thanking Mr. President in advance for assenting to this Bill, because I know he will assent to the Bill. So it’s a good thing, it’s a good omen, not just for the South East, but for the nation Nigeria.
Beam searchlights on FG over $3.4b COVID 19 loan, subsidy savings, CSOs Charges NASS
The National Assembly has been charged to probe the $3.4billion loan collected by the Federal Government from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in April 2020 without proof of expenditure on anything, Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has charged
They also faulted unending requests for loans by the Federal Government and expeditious approvals given by the National Assembly with little or nothing to point at, as what the loans were used for.
They added that, savings made by the government from fuel subsidy removal from May last year till date, have not been accounted for by the government as Nigerians are watching and suffering .
The Nine CSOs led by the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, at a media briefing, alleged that the incessant loan collections by the FG, made the debt profile of the country to hit N87.9tr mark which is equivalent to $114.3b
“The escalating debt burden has profound implications for the well – being of Nigerian citizens , and failure to act quickly could result in an additional 23million Nigerians living in poverty and 80milliion working – age citizens without a full time job by 2030.
“These concerning trends underscore the need for the National Assembly to urgently do the needful by among others, investigate the movement and spending of loans received by the Federal Government in the past and present administrations , including but not limited to the $3.4billion loan obtained from IMF as reported in the 2020 annual audited report published by the Auditor – General of the Federation .
“Stopping borrowing for recurrent expenditure ( personnel and overheads ) and dilatory capital expenditure that adds no value to economic growth, wealth creation and development.
‘Demanding accountability for petrol subsidy savings and sincerity of purpose in fulfilling the government ‘s ‘ promises of renewed hope ‘ to the millions of Nigerians who no longer have belts to tighten”.
Other CSOs represented at the media briefing by their Executive Directors, were Centre for Democracy and Development,
International Budget Partnership, Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative,
Oxfam, Social Action, Christian Aid, Action Aid
Northern Senators’ Forum elated as ECOWAS lifts sanctions against Niger
The Northern Senators Forum has commended the leaders of the Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS for lifting the sanctions imposed on Niger Republic as a result of military takeover on 26th July, 2023.
In a statement issued by the forum’s spokesperson, Senator Suleiman A Kawu Sumaila, the forum indicated that the principled and empathetic decision is a prove of the organization’s commitment to regional solidarity, cooperation, and respect for human rights.
“We are pleased to see that ECOWAS has responded to the progressive requests made by us individually and collectively on the subject matter, and we commend their prudent and compassionate approach in addressing these critical issues.
“We understand that this action will go a long way in alleviating the suffering of the people of Niger Republic, as well as ensuring the restoration of stability and economic prosperity in our region.
“We are particularly grateful that ECOWAS leaders have considered our pleas to restore electricity, open borders, and lift the sanctions on Niger Republic.”
Senator Kawu expressed the optimism that the measures will not only have crucial humanitarian implications, but also foster regional integration, trade, and cooperation.
He is of the firm believe that the step taken by ECOWAS will positively impact the lives of the people of Niger Republic and Nigeria and facilitate the restoration of trust and harmony among all member states.
“As representatives of the people and advocates for justice and democracy, we commend ECOWAS for their responsiveness and understanding of the immense challenges faced by our fellow West African nation.
“The Northern Senators Forum stands in solidarity with ECOWAS in restoring democracy and rule of law in Niger Republic and other west African countries, and we are committed to working to promote stability, peace, and socio-economic development throughout the region.
The Forum also urged the government of Niger Republic and its people to seize this opportunity by fasttracking the process of returning to democratic governance to build a stronger and more prosperous nation, harnessing their resilient spirit and unwavering determination.
Furthermore, the statement urged all regional stakeholders to continue engaging in dialogue and pursuing peaceful solutions to address any remaining concern, fostering a harmonious environment for progress and development.
The Northern Senators Forum expressed its deep appreciation to ECOWAS leaders especially President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Nigeria for their proactive and benevolent intervention in lifting the sanctions imposed on Niger Republic.
“We are confident that this decision will leave an indelible mark on the collective consciousness of all West African nations and serve as a shining example for resolving differences through dialogue and diplomacy.”
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