Buhari Presents 2018 Budget Today

President Muhammadu Buhari will today, Tuesday present the 2018 budget proposals to a joint session of the National Assembly.

The president had in a letter on November 2 formally informed the Senate and the House of Representatives of the presentation of the appropriation bill.

The president is billed to address the members of the National Assembly at 2 p.m. to present the N8.6 trillion Appropriation Bill for 2018.

“In pursuant to Section 81 of the 1999 Constitution, may I crave the kind indulgence of the National Assembly to grant me the slot of 1400 hours on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, to formally address a joint session and lay before the NASS the 2018 budget proposal,” the president said..

Mr. Buhari had earlier sent the 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper to the National Assembly.

The submission of the documents usually precedes the presentation of the budget estimates to the National Assembly in pursuant to provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.

Lasun’s Aide Confirm OSUN DEFENDER Report, Say NASS Responsible For Non-Payment of Security Details

The Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Speaker of House of Representative, Mr. Wole Oladimeji has confirmed that National Assembly Management is responsible for non-payment of the Duty Tour Allowances to security details attached to his principal and not Hon. Lasun Yusuff.

OSUN DEFENDER had reported that the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Lasun Yusuff owed DTA allowances of his security aides amounting to N15, 360,000, as those incurred during his governorship ambition consultation where 32 officers comprising of men of the Nigerian Police Force and Department of State Services DSS were drafted for the assignment.

A statement by Mr. Oladimeji late on Thursday, stated that the National Assembly was responsible for the payment of monthly allocations of the principal officers including allowances of the security details attached to them.

Oladimeji said, “Nonpayment of Duty Tour Allowances for security officers attached to the Deputy Speaker is not only limited to the security officers but rather it is an experience which Legislative Aides are also bearing’

Oladimeji in his reaction however alleged that the story is malicious to his principal.

He said, “It is the National Assembly that pays Duty Tour Allowances and monthly allocations of the principal officers, Honorable members, Legislative Aides and Security officers of the National Assembly.

“Within the last one year or so the National Assembly has not been able to regularly pay the DTA of its officials including the Legislative Aides and security officers of the National Assembly. This is receiving a serious attention from the management of the National Assembly.

“Therefore non-payment of DTA for security officers attached to the Deputy Speaker is not only limited to the security officers but rather it is an experience which Legislative Aides are also bearing.  Non-payment of DTA does not have anything to do with governorship consultation of Rt. Hon Lasun Yussuff.

“Moreso that his security attachments are engaged 24 hours daily and everywhere he goes he is not detached of his security. This is a part of the benefits associated to his office as Deputy Speaker and National Assembly bears the responsibility.

“Whenever the Deputy Speaker is out of Abuja, his security attachments are lodged in suitable hotels where they are accommodated and cared for. To the best of my knowledge there has been no question so far raised about the welfare of the security aides attached to the Deputy Speaker”, he concluded.

Investigations by OSUN DEFENDER revealed that the National Assembly actually pays the allowances but this is made to the account of the principal officers for onward disbursement to the concerned aides.

It was learnt that it is only Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives that is caught in the act of not paying as at when due even when the NASS has released the allocations.

Sources within the National Assembly informed OSUN DEFENDER that there has been uneasy calm within the federal lawmaker’s camp as some men of the DSS are willing to address the press on the issue.

NASS Is Committed To Strengthening Intra-Africa Trade Relations – Saraki

Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, on Monday, re-echoed the determination of the National Assembly to work towards strengthening trade relations between Nigeria and Ghana as well as other African countries.

Saraki made the commitment during a bilateral meeting with the Speaker of Ghanaian Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, on the sidelines of the 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The president of the senate lamented that little was done by political leaders to harness the numerous opportunities in the continent, particularly in the area of trade.

He assured that the National Assembly would work out modalities to strengthen the relationship between the Nigerian and Ghanaian parliaments for further dialogue on the matter.

“When we get back we will try and create an opportunity to ensure that this dialogue continues and we will see how we can improve intra-trade within the continent.

“Trade within the continent is very weak and we as parliamentarians have to find a way to strengthen it.

“There will be a need to create enabling an environment that will allow us to dialogue.

“So, on my part, I will commit that when we get back to Nigeria, I will ensure we create an opportunity to see to a visit to Accra or the Accra parliament visiting us,’’ he said.

Saraki said it was the time the two parliaments collaborated more in view of the fact that they had many things in common.

According to him, the foundation for a relationship between the two countries has been laid, the parliaments only needed to build on it.

Saraki further said beyond trade relations, it was important for the two countries to build parliamentary relations as well as discuss issues relating to Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

He noted that “Nigeria sees Ghana as a very close ally and a brother and as such it will be good for us to be on the same page and provide leadership in our sub-region.

Responding, the Speaker of Ghanaian Parliament said it was necessary for the two parliaments to work together in bringing about the changes required.

He pointed out that economic emancipation and economic rights of individuals, particularly Africans should not be taken for granted.

He called for a paradigm shift from relying on Western policies on trade to formulating trade policies that would be more beneficial to African countries.

“We should create our own economic family in our part of the world and it takes sharing ideas, comparing notes, exchanging ideas and developing something tangible for the benefit of our people.

“If we are to trade effectively among ourselves, it will be a big advantage but now it looks as if other people are defining the paradigm for trade.

“If we demand a new world economic order and demand reforms where we believe certain policies are not in our interest, it will be more beneficial to us,’’ he said.

Oquaye said the time for the change was now, adding that basic economic history held that no country in the world developed economically without a certain protectionist policy.He said if nothing was done in that regard, the culture of new colonialism would continue.

“We cannot exchange one’s independence for another by way of dependence on the West.“If we are economically viable, the rate at which our citizens travel out of the country to trade will be minimised.’’

 

Lasun Faults Neglection Of Women In Nigeria Development 

By Toba Ajisafe

 

 

Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Lasun Yussuff has advocated for women to be part of Nigeria development.

 

 

Lasun stressed the need to accord women their rightful place in the nation’s development through a statement issued on Tuesday by his Chief Press Secretary, Wole Oladimeji.

 

 

The statement reads “‎What is missing in development efforts in Nigeria is the neglection of women as basis for Nigerian development.  Women are more than ordinary beings who can just be pacified with an unrealisable affirmative percentage of engagement.

 

 

“Women are more prudent than men and they can manage resources far more than men, therefore, for any‎ society to grow or develop, women factor should be taken seriously.

 

 

“Women need just a little, which they will naturally manage to spur themselves to wealth. Whereas if men are given such resources it will be spent on frivolity.”

 

 

The statement also noted that Lasun Yusuff has embarked on consultation tour around the state to make known his gubernatorial ambition.

NASS Still Underfunded With N125 Billion- Sabi-Abdullahi

A member of NASS’ COmmittee on Appropriations and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi in an interview with ‘The Punch’ has lamented that despite a budget of N125 billion, the legislature still lacked adequate financial resources. Excerpts:

The 2017 budget was raised from N7.298tn to N7.441tn. Does the National Assembly have the power to do that?

It is within the power of the National Assembly. In the course of discussions, whatever that is brought (presented) by the executive in line with Sections 80 and 81 is actually a proposal. The Constitution calls it “estimates” and when you say estimates, it is like a suggestion or proposal. So, in this case, in line with its constitutional mandate, what the National Assembly did was to first look at the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper under Fiscal Responsibility Act. It is at that level that we look at the various assumptions – benchmark, crude oil price, exchange rate and the output of the major source of our revenue, which is oil. We retained the exchange rate of N305 (to the dollar) and the oil output of 2.2 million barrels per day as suggested. But in terms of the exchange rate, we saw that there was a huge disparity in the prices of crude oil. We saw that the prices were hovering between $50 and $53 (per barrel) for almost half of the year. We felt that it was soothing enough and rather than adopt the proposal by the executive, which was $42.5, we added $2 to make it $44.5. The portion accruable to the Federal Government as a result of the $2, is the reason why we increased the budget.

The National Assembly, in the course of engaging the ministries, departments and agencies and legislative interventions, realised that there were critical areas that had not been captured in the proposal submitted to the National Assembly. It was in that context that we decided to make allocations for those critical sectors, notably the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport’s second runway, knowing that we had just concluded the emergency repair of the (only) runway with all the attendant noise and inconveniences with relocating passengers to Kaduna (airport). We decided that we didn’t have to wait for another emergency situation; it was time we put on board the second runway arrangement and we made provision for it – about N15bn. We also realised that there were issues with the National Youth Service Corps and the scheme is very important to national integration and the unity of this country. We decided to fill the shortage in terms of the emolument and mobilisation. You will agree with me that there are a lot of youths still waiting for mobilsation. I think about N5bn was allocated to that. There is also the Aladja Rail Line from Itakpe (Kogi State) that was supposed to transport steel and iron ore. The rail line has been abandoned since the 90s. Now that the government is talking about diversification of the economy and the fact that the government is looking at alternative mineral resources, we decided to fund the project.

The other aspect is that the infrastructural deficit is so huge. In terms of road, it is on record that there is a deficit of N1tn in terms of pending and abandoned projects. We decided to add N25bn to road projects. There is also the issue of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation; there is a particular fund that the government is supposed to pay to UNESCO to attract certain benefits. It is like a counterpart fund. That was also budgeted for. There are other issues I cannot remember now. Even the Nigerian military is a beneficiary of extra funding for security.

Overall, what the National Assembly did was patriotic, sensitive and we cannot sit down and claim that we have money when we have issues to address with the money.

The National Assembly increased its budget from N115bn to N125bn. Why is the legislature jacking up its budget at a time the government is talking about austerity measures due to economic recession?

What are the austerity measures? Is it an austerity budget? How much was the country’s budget in 2016 and how much is it this year? What is the inflation rate? People need to understand this. Even when people are saying that we have jacked up the budget; in nominal terms, we did but when you look at the actual terms, the budget is still below the budget that the National Assembly had some years back. If you look at the value of the currency today, then you will know that what has happened is not meeting the requirements of what the economy dictates. If other people’s budgets have been increased, why should ours not be increased to face the reality that our economy brings to us? Are they saying that we are not entitled to carrying out our duties? Are they saying that we are not entitled to spending government funds in the course of carrying out our responsibilities?

Why then has it been difficult to raise the minimum wage from N18,000 to N56,000 being demanded if the civil servants are also working for government and they are facing same economic realities?

The minimum wage (fixing) is not by us. The issue of minimum wage is not as simple as people think and that is why it is always a tripartite thing. People should not forget that the government is just one of the partners; the organised private sector and labour are there. That is why it is called national minimum wage.

And the National Assembly has always stood by the people; we have never been averse to it. It is not our duty to do the negotiation; it is the duty of the Federal Government and I think we have intervened several times and urged the parties to engage one another. To God be the glory, the parties have started the process of the engagement.

Simply because we have added N10bn to our budget, somebody is sitting somewhere crying blue murder. Like I told you, out of the N148bn (added to the budget), it means that over N130bn is going to various critical areas that, we, in our wisdom, thought national requirements that should be upgraded. Sometimes, it is a disservice and, in fact, I make bold to say that from what I have seen here, the National Assembly is actually underfunded.

With a budget of N125bn?

Yes, it is underfunded. Let me tell you: people like to borrow what suits them. If you want to borrow, borrow completely. People have been saying we are the highest paid legislature, which is a lie. Studies have been conducted by the National Institute for Legislative Studies and they show that we are not. In 2015 when we went for a climate change conference in Paris – we had the GLOBE, which is a platform for legislators in support of the climate change (campaign) – the senators from the United States who came had five professors/experts each on the subject matter. For that alone! From the research I have carried out, I am aware that they have very solid provisions for consultants on every subject matter.

I am a senator and when you bring an issue concerning petroleum, I should be able to contribute to the debate as it affects my constituents and the country generally. Who is supposed to advise me when I am not a petroleum engineer? The best you can ever be is to have insights into three professions. How many professions do we have within the context of the economy? And you must legislate, and you cannot legislate in ignorance; you must legislate from a very solid standpoint of knowledge with fact – well proven facts – so that by the time you legislate, it will work in the real world. You will not create problems for the people, you will not stifle them but give them the opportunity to express themselves and reach the peak of their innate potential that God has given to them. How can you do that without sound knowledge? If we legislate and the legislation goes wrong, Nigerians will blame us. Yet, when it comes to spending money for us to get the facts… When you think that knowledge is expensive, try ignorance. Even the legislative aides we are given are just to help us carry out the routine jobs we do. They do not and cannot provide for the heavily technical areas that we require people to give us expertise ideas in carrying out our mandate. The people who even make this noise, who are they?

NASS to Pass Whistle-blowing Bill

Rep. Abiodun Olasupo (APC- Iseyin/Iwajowa/Kajola/Itesiwaju Federal Constituency) says the bill on whistle blowing is at an advanced stage of being passed by the National Assembly.

Olasupo also said the National Assembly was working hard to ensure that all enabling laws protect the identity of whistle blowers and strengthen the principle.

The federal lawmaker spoke in Iseyin during a routine tour of his constituency to inaugurate projects and brief constituents.

“You should not be surprised that all the measures used in the anti-corruption crusade today were developed by President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

“The Jonathan administration developed the policies of whistle blowing, Bank Verification Number (BVN), Treasury Single Account (TSA) but lacked the political will to implement them.

“You can see that the implementation by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is bringing the desired results,’’ he stated

Reacting to the N125 billion National Assembly Budget for 2017, he said that the budget was only N10 billion above that of 2016.

The lawmaker stated that the increment in the budget was not limited to the National Assembly alone, but also affected the State House, Judiciary, Nigeria Customs Service and other parastatal agencies.

“When the 2017 Appropriation Bill is signed into law by the president or Acting President, it would be accessible to all and you will see that it was increased across board.

“When you look into the budget and do the analysis properly, I am sure you will believe that the National Assembly is one of the most poorly funded arms of this government.

“For the first time in the history of the nation, the eighth National Assembly made the details of the budget public and you will see a budget of economic recovery.

“The old, present and future National Assembly members should know that legislatures the world over cannot win popularity contest when it comes to budgeting,’’ he said.

NAN

#OpenNASS: National Assembly Opens Its Budget For The First Time In History

Nigeria’s National Assembly for the first time in recent history has made public, its yearly budget.

This was revealed during the passing of the 2017 appropriation bill by the Nigerian Senate.

Recall a special assistant on New Media to the Senate President, Bankole Omisore has stated penultimate last week that he would resign his job if the national assembly fails to open its budget in 2017.

Recall the National Assembly had budgeted N125,000,000,000 for 2017, but failed to reveal details of its spending to the public.

See a copy of the line by line distribution of the 2017 national assembly budget below:

 

National Assembly 2017 budget
2017 National Assembly budget

In a copy of the proposed budget seen by this paper, the House of Representatives got the largest chunk with a personnel cost of 4,923,743,127, an overhead cost of 39,635,756,179 and capital budget of 4,493,244,677.

The total budget of the House of Representative led by Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara equals 49billion naira.

In a similar vein, the Nigerian Senate which got the second largest vote, had a personnel cost of 1,856,510,517, an overhead cost of 25,111,332,147 and capital budget of 4,430,923,222 making a total of 31,398,765,886 budget for 2017.

Credit: The Paradigm

Is It Time To Occupy The National Assembly Until…, By Ilesami omabomi

Given the nuisance, sources of irritation and disrespect that Nigerian politicians have constituted themselves into, coupled with the palpable anger in the land over worsening economic conditions, I believe the time has come for a systematic people-oriented approach to subject our public officials to the authority of the people as envisioned by the 1999 Constitution.

The national Assembly is not the only instruction that is corrupt in Nigeria but the critical position occupied by the institution in our fledging democracy requires that it be subjected to stringent examination. Consequently, I am inviting my fellow Nigerians and lovers of Nigeria to open a debate as to the urgency of occupying the National Assembly and keeping the lawmakers in the building until we get the following:

Full and absolute disclosure of the salaries and benefits earned by each lawmaker. The records should go back to 1999 and include every lawmaker that ever served in the institution.

Full and absolute disclosure of the Assets Declaration form of every lawmaker since 1999.

Full and absolute disclosure of the institutions budget since 1999 with every item broken down to at least N1m.

Any law preventing the National Assembly from providing the required information should be amended while they are barricaded in there. Excuses will not be accepted

As mentioned earlier the National Assembly is not the only corrupt institution in Nigeria. Their colleagues at the state level are just as corrupt as those at the federal level. There is corruption in the Presidency and every Governor’s Office across the country. However, we must channel our energy properly to achieve maximum efficiency. We must start from the point where the message will be clearest and trickle-down effect maximized. Once the National Assembly meets our demands only suicidal lawmakers at local state level will continue resisting.

I propose that this peaceful occupation proceeds notwithstanding the following:

In the event that the Police receive information that the occupation or demonstrations will be “hijacked by unscrupulous elements to foment trouble,” the Police should do its job to fish out such elements, provide enough security for the demonstrators to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed rights to demonstrations.
The occupation will continue until the demands are met. Promise to comply will not be accepted.

This invitation is for everyone who cares about this country, groaning under the current harsh economic conditions. This is our chance to reassert our authority over our politicians.

We are at liberty to remain, slaves of our politicians, if we chose to but do not sit down there thinking that the problem is for somebody else to solve. It is your problem and together we can solving by becoming an unstoppable hurricane. Remember:

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims. They are accomplices”- George Orwell

Anti-Buhari Protesters Storms NASS In Solidarity With Saraki

Anti-Buhari protesters in support of Senate President Bukola Saraki on Thursday stormed National Assembly, asking the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Executive to allow Senate perform its duties.

They carried placards and banners to demand that charity should begin from Aso Villa.

One banner read: “Only fascist don’t want excesses checked by the legislature. Get rid of Executive “Grasscutters” First. Charity should begin from Aso Villa. #DontKillNASS”

Photo Credit:  Tunde Itodo

It’s Time For NASS To Publicly Answer Questions About Funding – @SpeakerDogara

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has said that it high time the National Assembly publicly answered questions about its activities and funding.
 
A statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media & Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, said the speaker made the remark  on Friday at a roundtable conference on Civil Societies and Development Partners organised by the House Committee on Civil Societies and Development Partners in collaboration with Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) and Department for International Development (DFID) in Abuja.
 
“Permit me to observe that this conference with the theme: “Bridging the gap between elected representatives and their constituents” is timely and apt. It comes at a period when constituents of parliamentarians are increasing interest in the activities of public officials, especially the performance of their elected representatives. It is also coming at a time in our nation when there is a genuine misunderstanding of the duties, responsibilities and activities of elected representatives and their desire to attract projects and services back to their constituencies, by way of constituency intervention projects.”
 
“There can be no effective representation if an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion exists as to the intentions and rationale for the actions of elected persons. The desire of elected representatives to make an impact in their constituencies is borne out of the need for service. No elected person worth his salt would be satisfied if he is unable to point out at the end of the day, what he has been able to accomplish within the period of his mandate.”
 
“This roundtable is particularly important because there is a yawning gap between the activities of representatives and the recipients of his services. To bridge this gap, greater effort should be made in communicating effectively the activities of elected representatives. We should have regular town hall meetings, regular consultative processes and regular media engagement, if this problem is to be solved. Time has also come for democratic institutions like the National Assembly to communicate better, its processes and activities to the public. Time has come for the National Assembly to publicly answer any questions relating to its activities and funding.”
 
“It seems to us that over the years the legislature has adopted the policy of non-response when its activities are called to question. Most often, a simple explanation is what is required but when none is forthcoming, mischief makers, ignorant and misinformed pundits are left to fill the public space with lies, falsehood and misinformation.”
 
“This roundtable should therefore discuss and recommend the ways and means of bridging the gap between parliament and the citizenry. The legislature is the most maligned arm of government even though it works very hard to fulfill its constitutional mandate.”
 
“The legislature is often misunderstood because its role is unappreciated. The work of the legislature is mainly intangible but the public hunger and measure of performance relates to tangible things. If a legislator works on a bill and gets it passed, the constituent may not take note; if a legislator speaks “big Grammar” and makes meaningful contributions in plenary or committee, it is hardly noticed by constituents. It therefore behooves on the media and Civil Society Organisations to step up the work of information dissemination and informed appraisal of activities of elected representatives.”
 
“Elected representatives like those in the National Assembly must also institutionalise co-operation, consultation and involvement of CSO’s in parliamentary activities such as oversight, public hearings, constituency activities and committee functions.”
 
“The House of Representatives – in its legislative agenda – committed itself to institutionalizing mechanisms that will facilitate more effective engagement with various stakeholders including constituents and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). It is time to activate this commitment.”