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Senate passes N17.3tr 2022 Revised budget, raises recurrent expenditure by N198.77bn

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**Okays N4trn subsidy, raises oil benchmark to $73,

The National Assembly on Thursday passed an aggregate expenditure of N17.3 trillion as revised budget for 2022 fiscal year which mainly raised recurrent expenditure by Nl98.77bn while capital expenditure was not affected
The amount represented an increase of N192.5 billion from the N17.1 trillion approved and assented to last December.
The passage came after the consideration of a report by the Appropriations Committee on the 2022 Appropriations Bill in both chambers.
Out of the N17.3 trillion passed, N817.6 billion is for Statutory Transfer; N7.1 trillion is for Recurrent Expenditure; Capital Expenditure remained at N5.4 trillion, while N3.97 is for Debt Service. 
The parliament also approved revised 2022 fiscal framework, raising the oil benchmark to US$73 as proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The national assembly oil production volume of 1.600 million per day; Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS) subsidy of N4.00 trillion (NGN); and a cut in the provision for Federally funded upstream projects being implemented by N200 billion from N352.80.
The two chambers also approved the fiscal deficit of N7.35 trillion, an increase of N965.42 billion, representing 3.99% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 
The incremental deficit, it said, would be financed by new borrowings from the domestic market.
The lawmakers also their own budget (National Assembly) and its agencies to N153 billion from the earlier N139 billion.
The breakdown of the National Assembly votes in the 2022 revised budget are:
While approving an increase in the Federal Government Independent Revenue of N400 billion, the chambers gave its approval for an additional provision of N182.4 billion to cater for the needs of the Nigeria Police Force.
It approved net reductions in Statutory Transfers by N66.07 billion.  
A breakdown of the net reductions are as follows: NDDC, by N13.46 billion from N102.78 billion to N89.32 billion; NEDC, by N6.30 billion from N48.08 billion to N41.78 billion; and UBEC, by N23.16 billion from N112.29 billion to N89.13 billion. 
Others are Basic Health Care Fund, by N11.58 billion from N56.14 billion to N44.56 billion; and NASENI, by N11.58 billion from N56.14 billion to N44.56 billion
President Buhari, in a letter dated 5th April, 2022, requested the National Assembly to adjust the 2022 fiscal framework.
He said doing so became necessary in view of new developments in both the global and domestic economies.
Lawmakers, who took turns to make contributions during consideration of the report on the review of the 2022 fiscal framework, blamed the country’s economic downturn on crude oil theft. 
Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi (Ekiti North), said the federal government and security agencies owe it as a duty to stop the stealing of our common wealth. 
 
He lamented that at a time when most countries of the world are reaping bountiful harvest due to the increase in crude oil prices occasioned by the Russia-Ukrainian crisis, Nigeria is left out owing to its inability to meet its OPEC quota. 
The Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, who spoke along the same lines as Adetunmbi, said the country should be in a state of mourning over what is currently happening to it.
He attributed the failure of security agencies to protect oil assets as a major reason for the decline of the economy.
He expressed worry over the increasing cases of oil theft in spite of huge resources allocated to the military, police and other security agencies. 
Senate President Ahmad Lawan, in his remarks, called on the Federal Government to take “radical” steps towards stopping the theft of crude oil by economic saboteurs.
He also called for a stop to the importation of refined petroleum products into the country, so as to cut down on expenditures incurred in the process, as well as to maximize profits from crude oil sales.  
“This (crude theft) is not something to play politics with, and I don’t think the answers are going to be easy to come by.
“Radical decisions would have be taken, but before we find answers we have to live with this, but we have to be fast as possible in looking for answers.
“I had a session with the Chief of Defence Staff about a month ago, and my discussion with him was on the oil theft and the efforts of our security agencies to combat this menace.
“And like we know, our security agencies are doing their best but we have people – our people – who are sabotaging the oil industry, because the oil theft is not perpetrated by somebody else but by people who are citizens.
“I also believe that, whether there is oil theft or not, until we stop the importation of refined products to Nigeria, we will never get the best out of the oil and gas industry,” Lawan said.
Recall that the National Assembly in December, 2021, had approved the sum of N442.7 billion for subsidy in the 2022 budget for the period of January to June this year. 
Buhari, however, anchored his fresh request on the fact that PMS subsidy was not been duly appropriated for in the national budget beyond June.
According to him, the development was as a result of the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act which stops all such payments past the given June deadline. 
In another letter dated 12th April, 2022, President Buhari requested the National Assembly to approve an additional N1 trillion to his earlier N2.557 subsidy request to bring the total amount on payments to N4 trillion for the year 2022.
He explained that the additional request was against the backdrop of adjustments to the 2022 fiscal framework which became imperative due to market developments occasioned by the spike in crude prices, following the Russian-Ukrainian war.
The chamber, accordingly, approved the President’s request for additional N3.557 trillion for PMS subsidy with the passage of the 2022 Appropriations Act (Amendment) Bill, Thursday.
It also approved N192.52 billion aggregate increase sought by the executive, and an additional provision of N182.45 billion to cater for the needs of the Nigerian Police Force to enhance their morale.
The Senate, after passing the 2022 Appropriations Act (Amendment) Bill, adjourned till the 26th of April, 2021.

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Legislature

Kogi Assembly, CSO partner on HIV/AIDS anti-stigma legislation

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By Friday Idachaba, Lokoja

Kogi State House of Assembly has assured that the bill for a Law to provide for the prevention of HIV and AIDS Based Discrimination and stigmatization will be accorded smooth and accelerated passage for full implementation in the state.

Deputy Speaker of the Assembly Rt Hon. Comfort Nwuchiola Egwaba, disclosed this at a One-day Capacity Building And Media Round Table on the Proposed Anti-stigma Bill For HIV With Kogi State Assembly members.

She said that the partnership between the House and Initiative for Grassroots Advancement in Nigeria (INGRA), a Civil Society Organization (CSO,) had yielded fruits with the resounding support of members for the bill.

The meeting aimed at building capacity of Kogi State Assembly members and Media personalities on the issue of HIV stigma and discrimination among others, was organized by INGRA with support from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) in Lokoja.

The Deputy Speaker said that the private member Bill before the House had had its first and second readings and was being primed for Public Hearing and Third Reading by the House Committees on Health and Judiciary.

Nwuchiola-Egwaba said, “We have done more than justice to the Bill. This bill will scale through and will see the light of day. We are not living any stone unturned. We are doing this for our people.”

Also speaking, sponsor of the Bill, Hon. Bin Ebaiya Shehu-Tijjani (APC-Lokoja I) thanked his colleagues for the fervour with which they rallied support round him for the Bill to scale through the legislative mills and urged them to sustain the tempo until it is finally assented to by the governor.

Chairman of the House Committee on Health, Ochidi Usman (APC-Idah) decried the spate of discrimination and stigmatization against people living with the virus saying that they did not bargain for it.

He described them as victims of circumstances as he thanked the sponsor of the Bill and pledged to stand by him to provide support for the Bill to have accelerated passage.

Speaking earlier, Mr Hamza Aliyu Executive Director of INGRA who described the bill as a “Policy Bill” said it was not just for HIV/AIDS alone but against every form of discrimination and stigmatization against affected persons in the state.

He hinted that available statistics showed that over 28,000 persons are living with the virus in the state adding that they could be more as many are not aware of their status and are quite unwilling to get tested for fear of discrimination and stigmatization.

Aliyu said the Bill had been passed in 16 states of the Federation and would only be fair for the Act to be domesticated in Kogi through the legislation to ensure that affected persons are not unnecessarily discriminated against.

Executive Secretary, Kogi State Agency for Control of AIDS (KOSACA), Dr Sheidu Yunusa, who explained some of the provisions of the law, the offences and punishment said stigmatization and discrimination had the potency to destroy all the efforts being made to end the HIV scourge.

Dr Yunusa gave examples of stigmatization and discrimination against Persons Living with HIV (PL-HIV) to include health care professionals refusing to provide care or services to an affected person, Refusing casual contact with someone living with HIV.

It also include among others, socially isolating a member of a community on account of HIV positive status, referring to people as HiVers or Positives, Unlawful disclosure of an affected person’s status.

Amb. Idris Ozovehe Muraina, Chairman, Kogi NGOs Network (KONGONET) said, “we should not see this law as draconian but an attempt to squelch discrimination against out affected brothers and sisters.”

Comrade Jimoh Audu, Kogi State Coordinator of Persons Living With HIV AIDS (PLWHA) commended INGRA and the House of Assembly for their determination to get the Bill passed.

“We appreciate the meeting of our leaders, we believe in you. All we are asking it to reduce to the barest minimum the issue of discrimination against us. The medical practitioners should be more professional in their conduct”, he said.

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Legislature

Senate moves to probe 11, 856 abandoned projects across Nigeria

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***sets up ad-hoc panel

The Senate has pun in place an ad-panel to investigate the number of viable projects abandoned across Nigeria in all sectors.

The committee is also to recommend appropriate actions to be taken to reduce project abandonment in Nigeria and how most of the projects can be recovered.

The member Ad-hoc committee comprised Senators Lola Shiru (chairman), Jimoh Ibrahim, Mpigi Barinada, Abdullahi Yahaya, Victor Umeh and Isah Jibrin, members.

This came following the adoption of a motion on “Urgent need to look into the 11, 856 mega projects abandoned by the Federal Government” sponsored by Senator Jimoh Ibrahim (Ondo South).

The Senate noted that in 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan set up a Presidential committee on federal government- abandoned projects in Nigeria and the committee visited the 36 states in Nigeria and identified 11,866 projects abandoned by the Federal Government since Nigeria’s independence in 1960.
According to Senator Ibrahim, reports have it that about 63% of the entire projects since independence were abandoned, adding that the 63% of projects abandoned in Nigeria is worse than any country under comparison”.

“The abandonment of the project is of significant concern because of project costs which constitute a significant part of the GDP. While spending on a public project in the UK is now about one trillion British pounds Nigeria has no idea of the total amount spent on public projects either successful or unsuccessful since independence,

He observed, for instance that in the investigation carried out at the University of Cambridge doctorate in management science between 2018 and 2022, the value of the 38 projects investigated cost Nigeria over $40 billion”.

“What is now key to this investigation is the need to look inward at our infrastructural development as Foreign Direct investment declined from$8.8b in 2011 to $3.3 billion in 2019, and the current account balances in that year from $10.6 billion to 5-17 billion, while the population was growing around 5% about 86% of the citizen, were living under $2 between 2011 and 2019. Public debt increased from 17% of the GDP in 2011 to 29% in 2019.

According to him, government has the responsibility to set up a professional system that will deliver the critical value from major infrastructure development for its citizens, adding that for 66% of projects to be abandoned since 1960 is “nothing less than a calamity that reduces our pride as a ‘Giant of Africa’ if we are still one”.

He said three abandoned projects out of the 11,886 projects such as Ajaokuta Steel Company, where billion of dollars was spent without any production, Second Niger Bridge, etc are over 30% of the national debt.

In his contribution, Senator Orji Kalu (Abia North) said Nigeria cannot industrialize without steel production.

The former Abia governor said “we should face steel production. If we don’t face it, we are wasting our time. If you check our debt repayment, it is coming on this project.

“Why would Nigeria be suffering on what ought to have been done? We supposed to convert that our money and build these industries for debt repayment on them and save the interest we pay?

“We should appeal to President Bola Tinubu, may be 2026, 2027 budget we dedicate all these industries. They are our own. If we do not do it we will not move forward”, he said.

Senator Isah Jibrin said the abandoned projects should be properly profiled and the viable ones be sold to bring return on investment.

In his remarks, the Senate President Godswill Akpabio said Nigeria cannot be using over 90% of its resources to pay interest on loans.

The committee was given one month to report back to the Senate.

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Legislature

Convert Oloibiri Shell Airstrip to Airforce Base, Senate tells Aviation Ministry, Airforce

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Senate has urged Ministry of Aviation, Nigeria Airforce to take possession and convert the abandoned Shell Airstrip at Oloibiri oil well in Bayelsa state to modern Airforce base.

This followed adoption of a motion on urgent need for transformation of the abandoned Shell Airstrip at Oloibiri Oil Well 1 in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State to an Air Force Base.
The senator representing Bayelsa East SundayAgadaga (PDP) who sponsored the motion said Shell airstrip was constructed in 1958 following the first discovery of crude oil in 1956 at Oloibiri Oil well one.
According to him the airstrip, sitting on over 25 hecters of land has long been abandoned.
Agadaga said that the airstrip, while in effective operation, was a very valuable asset in the company’s oil exploration and exploitation activities in airlifting of personnel and equipment.
He said during the years of its functionality, heavy duty equipment, company workers, captains of Industry, top government functionaries and diplomats resorted to the route for easy access to the Niger Delta region.

He expressed regret that since the gradual decline of Shell’s operations in the area and final departure from Oloibiri oil field, the airstrip and the land where it operated has been abandoned and left desolate.

“The land itself appears to have been sentenced to perpetual condemnation as no agricultural activity which is the economic mainstay of the local dwellers can be carried out anymore due to the concretized topography of the soil.”

According to him, the abandoned airstrip poses environmental challenges and serious ecological complications to the Host Community as Shell has left the people in deprivation, squalor and lamentation after decades of operation.

He observed that upgrading the abandoned airstrip to an airforce base would bring renewed hope to the people, restore life to the area and attract the following benefits to the country:

“It will strengthen the security architecture of Nigeria as the creeks of Bayelsa up to Brass Island and the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in the gulf of guinea where the oil export terminal is located will be easily monitored and protected.”
Agadaga
said its evental upgrade would reduce the rate of oil theft and pipeline vandalism.

This, he said would enhance surveillance activities in the numerous oil producing communities that constitute hub of oil industry activities in Nigeria.

He said the airstrip ,if converted to an airforce base would attract more business opportunities in the area thereby creating additional jobs to boost economic growth of Nigeriaa and ease the cost of living of the people.

Senator representing Kogi East Isah Jibrin (APC) said he was neither in support or against the motion pointing out that the cost implications of converting the airstrip to an airforce base would be huge, adding that government may not be dispose to consider the cost involved.

He said government may decide to confine the project on a long term basis, saying that he do not see the urgency in converting the airstrip to an airforce base at this period.

Sen. Adams Oshiomole (APC-Edo) said the conversion of the airstrip to an airforce base holds great benefits for Nigerians and people of the region especially on quick intervention on insecurity issues.

Sen. Maidoki Garuba (PDP-Kebbi) said the conversion would help strengthen security of the nation, check crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism.

Sen.Victor Umeh (LP-Anambra) said there was need to preserve certain historical monuments like Oloibiri, adding that the conversion of the airstrip to an airforce base would make Oloibiri a national monument, given its contribution as the first oil well in Nigeria.

He said the conversion would also ensure further economic prosperity for the nation.

President of Senate, Godswill Akpabio said efforts should be made to preserve historical monuments, like the Oloibiri Shell airstrip via its conversion to an airforce base.

He also said the conversion to an airforce base would also ensure improved security in terms of emergency, given its closeness to the golf of guinea.

Akpabio expressed hope that the government would see the need for the reconstruction of the airstrip to an airforce base to forestall challenges in the event of any mishaps.

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