The details of the 2020 appropriation bill that was submitted by president Muhammadu Buhari revealed that a total N3.327bn will be by the president and vice president on foreign and local trips in 2020.
Major Nigerian Newspapers have more on these stories:
Punch Newspaper: Budget: Buhari, Osinbajo to spend N3.3bn on foreign, local trips
President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo will spend a total of N3.327bn on foreign and local trips in 2020. The figure is contained in the details of the 2020 Appropriation Bill that Buhari presented to a joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The item was tagged Travel and Transport (General) under State House (President) and State House (Vice-President). In the 2019 Budget, a total of N1.3bn was allocated for the foreign and local trips of the President and the Vice-President. While N1bn was allocated to the President, N301.03m was allocated to the Vice-President.
A breakdown of the N3.327bn allocated to travels for the two officials in 2020 shows that Buhari will spend N2.526bn on his trips while Osinbajo will spend N801m on his trips. A further breakdown shows that Buhari’s foreign trips will gulp N1.751bn while N775.6m will be spent on his local trips for the year. In the case of Osinbajo, his foreign trips will cost the nation N517m while his local trips will cost N283.97m. The figures are outside the N182.25m allocated for travels and transport in the budget of the State House Headquarters.
Foodstuffs for President, Vice-President to gulp N149m
Also in the bill, a total of N149m was allocated for foodstuffs and catering material supplies for both Buhari and Osinbajo. While the President is expected to spend N98.3m on the item, N50.88m was budgeted for Osinbajo.
Apart from the N149m foodstuffs and catering material supplies bill, the two government officials will also spend N43.916m on refreshment and meal. The President will spend N25.652m on the item while the Vice-President will spend N18.264m on the same item.
This is apart from the N135.668m budgeted for the same refreshment and meal in the budget of the State House Headquarters. For honorarium and sitting allowance, both of them will spend N184.438m. While N164.176m was allocated to the President, N20.262m was allocated to the Vice-President. N478.313m was allocated to the same honorarium and sitting allowance in the budget of State House Headquarters.
Still under the budget of the State House headquarters, a whopping N4.062bn was allocated to what was tagged “annual routine maintenance of mechanical/electrical installations of the villa.” The project is said to be an ongoing one. N526.234m was also allocated to what is called “phased replacement of vehicles, spares and tyres in the presidential, CVU security/police escort and State House operational fleets.” The project is also described as an ongoing project.
Apart from these, N389.64m was also budgeted for “outstanding liabilities on routine maintenance and other services for 2016.” N91.681m will also be spent on “purchase of tyres for bulletproof vehicles, plain Toyota cars, CCU vehicles, platform trucks, Land Cruiser and Prado Jeeps, Hilux, Peugeot 607, ambulances and other utility and operational vehicles.” N32.199m is budgeted for fuel and lubricants (general); N32.5m for wildlife conservation; and N45.4m for sewage charges.
Reps pass budget for second reading, adjourn to October 29
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives concluded the second reading of the 2020 Appropriation Bill on Thursday and adjourned plenary till October 29, 2019. During the continuation of the debate on the key assumptions of the budget, many lawmakers criticised various aspects and allocations in the financial proposal.
A member from Lagos State, Babajide Obanikoro, said the amount allocated to health was grossly inadequate, considering the over 180 million population of Nigeria. In his submission, Yusuf Gagdi, faulted the borrowing and debt servicing plan. He also stated that the total amount voted for education, about N160bn, was not comparable when considering other African countries. “The capacity of any government is dependent on its own educational system. As the Giant of Africa, education budget should supersede others in Africa,” he said.
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, who presided over the plenary, referred the bill to the standing committees, also known as Sub-Committees on Appropriations. Addressing journalists after the plenary, Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Benjamin Kalu, noted that the lawmakers had been working on the budget as scheduled.
Kalu also noted that contrary to the public outcry that the National Assembly had become a rubber stamp of the Buhari-led Presidency, the lawmakers had freely criticised the budget, showing that they were not an appendage of the executive. He said, “Today is Thursday and a lot has happened between Tuesday and today. I want to say that, just as we promised that we are going to support the executive in realising this goal of reversing the budget to a January-December calendar. We mentioned that we drew a road map towards achieving that. In our timetable which we announced here on Tuesday , we said we would start debate on Wednesday on the general principles of the budget estimates, that actually took place.”
Lawmakers vow to revamp maritime, agric, insurance sectors
In another development, the House Committee on Agriculture in Abuja on Thursday, said it was ready to assist the Federal Government in the diversification of the economy from petroleum to agriculture. The Chairman of the House Committee on Agricultural Production and Services, Mohammed Dandutse, stated that the panel was critical to the development and progress of Nigeria, stressing that the lawmakers would develop a plan to achieve the goal. “If you look at it, agriculture is the only substituted means that we can be realistic about to move this country forward, in terms of employment and industrialisation. If we can have a plan as a committee, I think we can move this country forward.”
In another development, the House assured Nigerians and business community of its resolve towards addressing the various challenges facing the country’s maritime sector, including oil theft, piracy and oil bunkering. The Chairman, House Committee on Navy, Shaaban Sharada, gave the assurance on Thursday at the inaugural meeting of the committee.
Sharada said the lawmakers were working towards “writing the names of members of the committee in the history of Nigeria by improving the security of the oil and maritime industries.” He added, “If you look at how the Navy committee in the past had been discharging its work, we have a lot of things to do to salvage this country from a lot of issues bedevilling it, ranging from the issue of oil theft, piracy and a lot of bunkering and other maritime security within our waterways. “By the special grace of God, we will do our best to ensure that we add value to the people of Nigeria and the Nigerian government, as well as Nigeria’s financial institutions in such a way that will reduce such menace to the barest minimum.”
Meanwhile, the House said it would revamp the insurance sector to meet international standards. Chairman of the House Committee on Insurance and Actuarial Matters, Darlington Nwokocha, after a meeting with some stakeholders in the sector on Thursday, said the lawmakers were ready to boost Nigerians’ confidence in insurance-related matters.
Nwokocha said, “The essence is interactive. We want to make sure that all the ministries, agencies and stakeholders that are involved in insurance – the insured and the insurer – we interact with them and engage them. The bottom line is that we want to re-jig everything concerning insurance in Nigeria. We want to make sure that we put the proper orientation, because so many people do not understand what insurance is all about. “So, we want to revolutionise insurance industry through the legislative arm. We have to make the necessary laws and to defend it as well. In that process, we will make sure that we spread the insurance awareness across the board. One major thing that we want to ensure is confidence in all aspects of insurance participation. We want to make sure that all claims, in all ramifications, will meet the global standards.”
Labour sets up team to study budget
Organised labour on Thursday said it had set up a team to study the 2020 budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly, saying that it was expecting the report of the committee tomorrow. President of the Trade Union Congress, Quadri Olaleye, told one of our correspondents that a statement would be released on it after the report is submitted on Saturday.
He said, “We are not making a comment now because we have a team that is doing the analysis of the Federal Government budget which President Miuhammadu Buhari presented to the National Assembly. On Saturday, we will have the full report of the analysis, that is when we will make general comment on the budget.” Meanwhile, Secretary of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council, Alade Lawal, said the Federal Government must show if the budget was workers’ friendly by accepting labour demands on the consequential adjustment arising from the new minimum wage of N30,000. He said, “Let me be frank with you, budget is annual ritual. If the budget is workers’ friendly, let the Federal Government demonstrate it through the consequential adjustment that we have been negotiating with it as a result of the new minimum wage.”
Guardian Newspaper: Senate defends N125b budget for National Assembly
The Senate yesterday justified the N125 billion proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari as the National Assembly budget for the 2020 fiscal year. “The National Assembly has a lot of staff to take care of in both chambers. The number of committees is large too because of the volume of work. So, there is no way we can operate with a small budget,” said spokesman of the Senate, Adedayo Adeyeye, in an interview with The Guardian.
His comment came as Italy’s parliament voted to cut down the number of legislators in both houses. While the Senate will now have 200 lawmakers from 315, the chamber of deputies will have 400 as against 630. “The bulk of this money is spent on issues that promote legislative operations. Unfortunately, many people believe that legislators take the largest chunk of the money. Our salaries are open for public scrutiny,” Adeyeye said. “The truth is: it is either we want to have a working and effective National Assembly that is properly funded or we do not. Running the system in the National Assembly is very expensive.”
The spokesman, however, failed to provide details on how the N125 billion would be spent, declaring that he was yet to get the specifics. The National Assembly has in the past come under intense criticism over its failure to release the details of its budget. Also, the Senate has reintroduced a bill seeking to establish the National Assembly Budget and Research Office (NABRO). The Eighth Senate passed the bill on May 3, 2019. Buhari, however, did not assent to it. The proposed office, among other functions, will report yearly to the Senate and House of Representatives all items funded in the preceding financial year for which no appropriation was made by the National Assembly, and all items contained in the Appropriation Act in the preceding financial year but which were not funded by the Federal Government.
Lawmakers, meanwhile, continued debate on the 2020 budget yesterday with Senator Emmanuel Bwacha saying the document does not reflect Nigeria’s readiness to diversify its economy. He also accused his colleagues of being insincere in their handling of the budget. “I’m saying this because, since 1999, budget implementation has not reached 70 per cent. This is very worrisome. We are discussing the 2020 budget estimates. Is it fair to say that we have a 2019 budget, which has not been implemented? As we speak now, nothing has been done. We have the 2019 Appropriation Act and we are discussing the 2020 budget proposal. “Oversight functions have become a ritual. We have to take it seriously as a parliament. We refused to address this aspect of our shortcomings. We are only prepared to speak from both sides of our mouths. We need to walk the talk if we really want to achieve significant growth in our economy,” he said.
Senator Christopher Ekpeyong said the planned increase in VAT was incompatible with the budget. He explained: “If you increase the VAT to 7.5 per cent today for an investor or a contractor, he will pay educational tax of one per cent, he will pay ITF of one per cent, he will pay NITTF of one per cent, and some times, he goes behind to pay some percentage to the ruling party. “These taxes are not mentioned. What is the result of the product the man will sell? For that reason, I am not in support of the VAT increase because already the VAT not mentioned is over 9 per cent and if you now add this to this, you will be having 10.5 per cent as VAT in the country.”
Similarly, the vice-chairman, Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFund, Ojang Sandy Onor, described Buhari’s attribution of low receipts in VAT to the general election as a cover-up. According to him, the real reason is that the economy is not performing well. He said: ‘If yesterday when VAT was five per cent we experienced lower levels of economic activities, today that VAT is 7.5 per cent, we risk not having economic activities at all, and the consequences are dangerous.”
But Senator Ajibola Basiru who seemed to support the proposal gave the reason for the lack of full implementation of the 2019 budget. “The budget was not fully implemented because it was passed and signed into law towards the end of the Eighth National Assembly. What struck me is that the revenue projections and infrastructure show a 70 per cent deficit in the 2019 budget, and in 2020, it has already been highlighted that N2.18 trillion will be the proposed deficit,’’ he stated. “People are looking at the allocation to key sectors and the revenue to fund the projects. For instance, when you talk of the N256 billion being allocated to Works, I have it on good authority that what is even required to take care of the outstanding in the Ministry of Works and Housing is in excess of N500 billion. Yet, many people are hailing the N256 billion allocated for Works, describing it as huge. We should also be looking at the aspect of progressive taxation.”
Sun Newspaper: Another Kaduna school principal abducted
The Kaduna State Police Command has confirmed the abduction of the principal of Government Technical College, Kajuru. The deputy police public relations officer, Suleiman Abubakar, said the command received information through the Divisional Police Officer Kajuru, yesterday that a group of armed men invaded the school, started shooting sporadically and abducted the principal of the school, Mr. Francis Maji.
He said: “On receipt of the information, a team of policemen was immediately mobilised to the area with a view to rescuing the victim and arresting the perpetrators.“The timely intervention of the police helped in preventing the hoodlums from gaining access to the students’ hostel. The command has also fortified security within the general area.”
He said the Commissioner of Police, Ali Aji Janga, assured the public that the command was working round the clock to tame the recent change of tactics by the enemies of peace who now resort to soft targets. “The CP called on the general public and particularly parents not to be deterred by the recent attack by hoodlums on schools as the command is making relentless efforts to prevent future occurrence of the unfortunate incident. “The command is further assuring the good people of the state that it remained resolute in its commitment to safety of all citizens as that is its onerous responsibility,” he said.
Exactly one week ago, six students of a private secondary school and two of their teachers in Kakau Daji village in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State were kidnapped by gunmen. The village is located behind the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemicals Company (KRPC) in the state capital.