President Buhari seems ready to sign the 2016 Budget by weekend.

Federal Government Wednesday outlined 34 projects and programmes which would be accorded utmost priority to ensure optimal performance of the 2016 budget. The development was in the anticipation of the presidential assent to the budget which may happen anytime soon.

 

The government said the action-plan was necessary to assist the present administration realize the objectives of the All Progressives Congress, APC embedded in the change agenda. The plan was announced by the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed after the Wednesday meeting of the Federal Executive Council, FEC presided over by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

 

Addressing State House Correspondents alongside her colleagues which included the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, Minister of state Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hajia Khadijat Buka Abba, Ahmed revealed that 34 priority areas earmarked by the federal government for urgent attention. The areas, she said, spanned through the economy, trade and investments, security, health, power, Oil/Gas and agriculture.

 

She hinted that the budget might also be signed into law by President Mohammadu Buhari any time soon. She said: “We discussed the strategic implementation plan for the 2016 budget‎. “Our ministry’s presentation was introducing to council for discussion priority economic activities that we need to undertake to ensure that the purpose for which the 2016 budget was made which is to stimulate the economy, to create jobs for our teeming youths and to extend support to the poor and very vulnerable is realized.

 

“We presented 34 strategic priority programmes that need to be realized within 2016. Each of these projects programmes has very clear deliverables and targets and indicators which will be measured to ensure that the respective Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) deliver on what we committed to implement. “These 34 specific areas are grouped into four major objectives. The first is policy, governance and security, second diversification of the economy, the third‎ is creating support for the poor and the vulnerable and the forth is reflecting our economy through investment. “The paper was well received by council. We got some very positive comments and the 34 priority projects were approved for implementation.

Buhari assures Biya of compliance on Bakkassi

Against an allegation that Nigeria was still accessing hydrocarbon from the oil rich Bakkassi Penunsula despite the judgement of the International Court of Justice, ICJ that ceded region to the Republic of Cameroon, President Mohammadu on Wednesday in Abuja told the country’s president, Mr. Paul Biya and his people to put their mind at rest.

 

Paul Biya of Cameron and Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria
Paul Biya of Cameroon and Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari (Right), and President of Cameroon Mr. Paul Biya, during a dinner in honor of the visiting President of Cameroon, at the Presidential Villa Abuja on Tuesday Night Answering questions at a joint press briefing which followed the signing of a bilateral agreement and security, amongst others, between Nigeria and Cameroon, the president stated that a committed had been set up with members from both countries to deliberate on the matter. He remarked that while the report of the committee was being awaited, the country needed not to worry as Nigeria would not go contrary to the decision of the ICJ. He said: “On this issue, I will like the government and people of Cameroon to keep their minds at peace.

 

Nigeria, we are an internationally respectful and abiding nation. Somehow there was a crisis between the two nations on Bakassi Penisula over the hydrocarbon exploitation. This issue is being dealt with by the International Court of Justice. “The technical part of the extent of international interest forms the second part of your question. On maritime resources, there is a committee of experts comprising Cameroon and Nigeria sides. I cannot fully answer that question until after the results of this committee report gets to us and when they submit the report, I expect that with a few of us that are still around, we shall sit together and see what is the best way for the two countries. So, feel secured and be at peace.”

 

Also reacting to a question of why Cameroon allegedly harboured suspected terrorists who ran to the country for safety, visiting president Pual Biya said that the allegation was unfounded. He maintained that Cameroon was committed to ending insurgency in lake Chad basin. “Yes I have had of this information. I heard it in New York during conferences that Cameroon serves as basis for Boko Haram but what can Cameroon benefit from that? Is it the ideologies? Are we going to benefit from finances? No. It was just bad press. Cameroon remains focused and committed to the fight against Boko Haram”, he said.

 

Meanwhile, president Buhari at a dinner and cultural night organized in honour of the visiting President of Cameroon and his wife, Chantal Biya at the Presidential Villa,on Tuesday night appreciated the government for giving protection to over 56,000 Internally Displaced Persons from Nigeria since July 2014. The president at the dinner that attracted the Senate President Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Chief Justice of the Federation, Mahmud Muktar and top private sector and government functionaries from Cameroon also thanked the United Nations, UN and other international donor agencies for their various assistances to IDPs across the country just as he condoled with the families of Boko Haram victims along the Nigeria/Cameroon border.

 

He said: “Our special condolences go to families of our fallen heroes who had sacrificed their lives to safe guard our territorial integrity and provide security of lives and property of our people “Permit me to use this occasion of your Excellency’s visit to Nigeria to once again extend my personal gratitude and that of the Federal Government for your country’s hosting of over 65,000 Nigerian refugees since July 2014. “We also appreciate the assistance of the United Nations System, International donors, local and international non-governmental organisations and the ordinary Cameroonian families who share their meager provisions with the refugees in the spirit of African brotherhood. We thank them all”.

CCB says it has verified PMB and Osinbajo’s assets, even without making it public.

The Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, said it has verified the assets that were declared by President Muhammadu Buhari and his Vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN. The Bureau, in a statement it issued in Abuja Wednesday, refuted a report alleging that it was yet to conclude the verification of assets that were declared by the duo. Aside Buhari and ‎Osinbajo, the CCB said it also verified the assets declared by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and other top officials of the present administration that came on board in 2015.

 

Debunking the report captioned “CCB still verifying Buhari, Osinbajo, Saraki, others assets”, which it said was published on April 30, the Bureau disclosed that so many public officers rushed to it and declared their assets after President Buhari assumed office. “The Bureau wishes to inform the general public that it has since concluded the verification of assets declared by those mentioned in the said publication. “Therefore, the said publication is another trick to misinform the public so as to undermine the ongoing trials of cases of false declaration of assets before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

 

“It could be observed that since the inception of the present administration under President Muhammadu Buhari, the rate of compliance by public officials in responding to assets declaration has greatly increased. “The Bureau will like to use this medium to appeal to those who are yet to declare their Assets to visit the Asokoro Head office of No 23, Halle Salasi Street Asokoro, Abuja to collect, fill and submit same to the office”, read the statement signed by the Assistant Director, Head, Press and Protocol Unit at the CCB, Mr. Mohammad Idris.

Naira becoming unstably stable at 321/U$Dx

The currency of the largest economy in Africa had been exchanging for N321 to the dollar for about four days running. The Naira also traded at N467 and N365 to the Pound Sterling and Euro respectively. Meanwhile, the nation’s currency had maintained N197 to the dollar at the official Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) rate. Traders at the market in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) expressed optimism that the passage of the 2016 budget may affect the market positively. They, however, urged the CBN to urgently halt the activities of currency speculators, adding that their actions were affecting the market negatively.

 

NAN reports that the PMI statistics is used as a health check for the nation’s manufacturing sector for a particular month. According to a composite PMI reading, above 50 per cent indicates that the manufacturing/non-manufacturing economy is generally expanding as 50 per cent indicates no change. A PMI of below 50 per cent indicates that it is generally declining. A data obtained from the CBN, showed that manufacturing PMI dropped to 43.7 per cent in April, compared to 45.9 per cent in the preceding month.

Brain drain and emigration of Nigerian Professional

CALABAR— Nigerian Vanguard
The World Health Organisation, WHO, has called on both the Federal and state governments to, as a matter of national interest, check the migration of trained health workers to other countries with a view to curbing its underlying negative effect on the health sector. File photo National Data Officer, WHO’s Code of Practice on International Recruitment of Health Personnel, Dr. Tony Udoh, made the call during the second stakeholders meeting on Project Brain Drain to Brain Gain, organised by African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation held in Calabar, Cross River State.

Udoh stated that the Federal and state governments should address the issue of health workers’ migration through appropriate policy and mutual bilateral relationship with affected countries. He said that the project was a culmination of concerns from Africa and some developing countries about the trend of loss of trained health workers moving from Africa to developed countries, a situation which he said needed to be stopped. On her part, Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Inyang Asibong, identified the migration of the health workforce as a complex issue created by source countries due to poor management, insufficient remuneration, low motivation and uneven performance of health workers.

Tinkering not yet over for Nigeria’s 2016 Budget

ABUJA — Nigerian Vanguard
FOR the third time, the 2016 Appropriation Bill has been returned as President Muhammadu Buhari was said to have picked holes in the re-worked budget and returned it to the National Assembly for further legislative work. File: Buhari during the 2016 budget presentation to the National Assembly. File photo: Buhari during the 2016 budget presentation to the National Assembly. It was reliably gathered that the re-worked budget was sent to the President at about 1.15 am, yesterday, but was returned to the National Assembly at about noon, yesterday.
It was also gathered that principal officers and members of the review committee from both legislative chambers met, yesterday, at about 3.20pm till about 5.30pm in the Senate wing to reconsider the observations made by the President on the budget. Vanguard’s attempts to get some of the principal officers and the review committee members to confirm or deny the story proved abortive as some of them switched off their phones, while those whose phones were active ignored calls and refused to respond to text messages.
A source close to the committee confirmed that the budget was actually submitted to the President but that he refused to touch it due to some issues he was not comfortable with. He said: “The budget got to the State House at about 1.10 am and Mr. President went through it early this morning (yesterday) and still had some issues with some of the figures. “I cannot tell you exactly what it was but I think the insertions made by the lawmakers were not significantly altered. “You know the lawmakers had moved some allocations for key projects that are dear to the President to other areas, especially to their constituency projects. “Of course, they have changed some but I believe Mr. President is not satisfied with the reconciliation they made. I think this is one of the reasons it was returned.” He also disclosed that the President would assent to the budget today should the lawmakers make all the corrections and transmit the document to him tonight (last night). He said: “I can assure you, Mr. President is desirous to sign the budget because he is aware and has acknowledged that Nigerians are going through hardship.
President Buhari with the 2016 Budget
President Buhari with the 2016 Budget

So, if the budget is cleaned up this night and sent to him, he will sign it as soon as possible. That I know very well.” Further probe into the matter revealed that the N500 million diversion of funds to constituency projects is “what is giving the president headache.” A lawmaker, who is not a member of the review committee but a member of the standing committee on appropriation, told Vanguard in confidence that the “President wants a situation where the insertions should be reduced to about N50 million before he will sign the budget.” The reviewed copy, which was sent yesterday morning did not cut substantially from the N500 million. At press time, the review committee meeting was still ongoing as the members struggled to ensure that all the observations of the President are put in order before presentation.

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