By Friday Idachaba, Lokoja.
Kogi State House of Assembly should take deliberate steps to ensure increased citizens’ participation in budgetary processes, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room in collaboration with Initiative For Grassroot Advancement In Nigeria (INGRA) has charged.
This, according to the CSO, can be achieved through the organization of public hearing during its constitutionally provided function of annual consideration and approval of the Appropriation Bills from the Executive arm.
The CSO made the call in a communiqué issued at the end of the 1st Bi-Monthly meeting of the State Level Advocacy And Legislative Engagement Forum, which took place on Friday in Lokoja
The Communiqué, signed by Mr Hamza Aliyu, Executive Director of INGRA, said the meeting was organized with support from the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
The Communiqué observed that the state budgeting process has always, majorly been a top-bottom approach, with little or no inputs from citizens adding that Bills and Motions by elected members of the House are mostly without inputs from their constituencies.
“Constituency meetings by elected members of the Kogi State House of Assembly are not consistent and effective in providing the constitutional platform for engagement with citizens.
It further observed that a review of the 2023 State Budget showed that there was a heavy sided focus on recurrent expenditure, to the detriment of the needs of citizens
The Communiqué held that there was a need for a shift in focus from Recurrent to capital spending in the 2024 Budgets.
“There is a need to reduce allocation of resources from Administration Sector to Social Sector to ensure better standard of living for Citizens of Kogi State.
“Executive and the Legislature must ensure increased resources to Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH), Housing, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (MWASD), Youth Commission, and Disability Board in the 2024 budget appropriation”, the communiqué urged.
It also enjoined stakeholders to, with urgency, engage the relevant House Assembly Committees with a view to addressing the optimal operationalization (implementation) of the Child Rights Law in the state.
Other laws demanding urgent operationalization according to the Communiqué include, Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law, Youth Commission Law, Elderly Person and the Aged Law, as a result of certain limitations in these laws and their enforcement.
The Communiqué also urged Kogi State House of Assembly to as a matter of urgency, appropriate sufficient resources to the Ministry of Agriculture to address issues of food security in the 2024 budget.
It further urged the government to prioritize the the capacity building of leaders and make it a core criterion before appointment at all levels – Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for functionality and effectiveness.
The Communiqué signed by Mr Hamza Aliyu, Executive Director, INGRA, further said, “There should be deliberate funding for capacity building in 2024 Budget to cater for this”
Senate urges FG to withhold statutory allocation to LGC without elected officials
The Senate has urged the Federal Government to henceforth withhold statutory allocation to the Local Governments Councils(LGC) without democratically elected leaders
In the last three months of August, September and October the Local Governments received N702.647b out of N1.006 shared for the three tiers of government in the period under review.
The legality or otherwise of the Federal Governmemt’s power to enforce the Senate’s recommendation is left for legal experts to analyse
The Senate’s recommendation came after debate on the Urgent Need to halt the erosion of democracy: the dissolution of elected Councils in Benue State sponsored by Sen. Moro, Abba Patrick (Benne South)
The senate condemned the arbitrary dissolution of democratically elected Local Government Councils in Benue and other states in Nigeria
It also resolved to urge the Federal Government to review the Benue State governor’s dissolution of the elected councils and constitution of caretaker committees and reinstate the elected council executive forthwith.
The upper legislative chamber urged the governor of Benue state to adhere to his oath of office to obey the rule of law and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
While leading the debate Senator Moro he was dismayed by the dissolution of Democratically Elected Councils in Benue State,
According to him, replacing the elected chairmen with Caretaker Committees to is an aberration and alien to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)
Quoting Section (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) he said it guarantees a system of local government by Democratically Elected Councils.
He insisted that it is the Constitutional responsibility of every state to ensure the existence of Local
Government Councils by law.
He indicated that there are subsisting court rulings directing the Governor, the House of Assembly, their agents, privies etc not to tamper with the tenure of the elected Councils
He therefore challenged the Governor/Government of Benue State to first appeale the outstanding judgments which has not been done adding that it is against the grain of the rule of law
Senator Adams Oshiomhole (Edo North) pointed out thatabout 16 states in Nigeria are currently without democratically elected council officials.
He urged the Senate to direct the Finance Minister to stop funding LGS without elected council officials.
Oshiomhole’s suggestion was supported by Senator Ali Ndume.
The senator representing Oyo North, Abdulfatai Buhari indicated that the Electoral Act should be amended to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct local government elections.
The President of the senate Godswill Akpabio also frowned at the establishment of multiple federal agencies but advocated the creation of the National Electoral Commission for Local Government so that governors would no longer have overbearing influence on council polls
Tinubu asks Senate to endorse $8.6bn, €100m loans approved by Buhari’s govt
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has asked the Senate to give him the authorization to borrow $8,699,168,559 and €100 million to carryout critical projects across the country.
The president’s request was contained in a letter read at the commencement of plenary on Tuesday by Senate President Godswill Akpabio.
Tinubu, in the letter, explained that the request was part of the federal government 2022-2024 external borrowing plan approved by former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
He said the projects to be funded with the loan cuts across different sectors of the economy, and were selected based on economic evaluation and the expected contribution to the country’s development.
The letter reads, “I write in respect of the above subject and to submit the attached the federal government 2022-2024 external borrowing plan for consideration and early approval of the National Assembly to ensure prompt implementation of the projects.
“The Senate may wish to note that the past administration approved a 2022-2024 borrowing plan by the federal executive council (FEC) held on May 15, 2023.
“The projects cut across all sectors, with specific emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, water supply, roads, security, and employment generation as well as financial management reforms.
“Consequently, the required approval is in the sum of $8,699,168,559 and €100 million.
“I would like to underscore the fact that the projects and programmes in the borrowing plan were selected based on economic evaluations as well as the expected contribution to the social economic development of the country, including employment generation, and skills acquisition.
“Given the nature of these facilities, and the need to return the country to normalcy, it has become necessary for the Senate to consider and approve the 2022- 2024 external abridged borrowing plan to enable the government deliver its responsibility to Nigerians.”
Niger Coup: Northern Senators ask ECOWAS to lift restrictions on Niger Republic
***Plead with Tinubu to restore electricity supply to Niger
The Northern Senators Forum on Monday called on President Bola Tinubu to as a matter of Urgency use his position as Chairman of ECOWAS to lift restrictions on Niger Republic in the interest of business and border community
They also demanded that Nigeria restore electricity supply to Niger Republic in line with the Nigeria-Niger treaty mandate.
The senators had in July on the heels of the military forceful take over of the democratically elected government in Niger, cautioned President Tinubu against use of Military power towards tackling the military coup, as they called for diplomatic options.
A communique issued at the end of their emergency meeting which was read by the chairman of the forum, Senator Abdul Ningi (Bauch Central) stated, “The forum on very strong terms condemn the spate of Military intervention in the democratic spaces in the West African subregion.
“The Northern Senators Forum in particular condemns the coup in Niger and urged the military junta in Niger to soften the relationship with the rest of ECOWAS military by setting free President Muhammed Bazoum and his immediate family to freely choose a country of his choice for asylum
They further urged the junta in Niger to bring about a transition time table that will last not more than two years.
They ask ECOWAS to lift restrictions on Niger Republic in the interest of business and border community.
“It is important that Nigeriens should not suffer because of the coup that took place just like we have seen what is happening in Gaza
“We ask the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Commander in chief of the Armed forces and of course the chairman of ECOWAS, President Muhammed Bola Tinubu to as a matter of humanitarian gesture restore electricity supply to Niger Republic in line with the Nigeria-Niger treaty mandate.
Ningi called on Nigerians and Nigerien to remember that they remain brothers, partners and Africans and above all, we remain human beings
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