South-East Senators, Ijaw Youths Council, CACOL Reject Budget Cuts


President Buhari signing 2018 budget

John Ameh, Sam Awoyinfa, Olaleye Aluko, Leke Baiyewu and Theophilus Onojeghen

The South-East Caucus in the Senate, the Ijaw Youth Congress, the Centre Anti-Corruption and Open Leaders and an Afenifere chieftain, Femi Okurounmu, have opposed the alterations made by the National Assembly to the 2018 budget.

While the South-East caucus faulted the reduction in the funds allocated for the Second Niger Bridge and the Enugu Airport projects, CACOL said the National Assembly did not follow due process.

The IYC, on its part, berated the lawmakers for cutting budgetary allocations for the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, and the East-West Road projects.

Enugu airport, 2nd Niger Bridge votes manipulated – S’East senators

The Senate South-East Caucus expressed surprise over the slashing of the N2bn allocated to the Enugu Airport Terminal to N500m.

The Chairman, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, told journalists in Abuja on Thursday that members of the caucus were shocked to hear that the initial amount, which was jointly adopted by the Committees on Aviation at the Senate and House of Representatives, had been reduced.

Abaribe, who is representing Abia South Senatorial District, said an emergency meeting by senators from the South-East had been called to unravel who made the cut and at what point was it made.

The lawmaker, who is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy, said the caucus was set to meet to find out what went wrong especially at what point the cut in the allocation was made.

He pointed out that budget documents were verifiable and “we are committed and determined to find out who made the cut.”

The senator recalled that the South-East lawmakers lobbied for the allocation to the airport to be increased to N3.5bn but were told by the Ministry of Aviation that it had an envelope budgetary plan, which would not allow an increment beyond the N2bn.

Abaribe alleged that N30bn was smuggled into the power budget without his committee’s knowledge.

According to him, the money was listed for expansion and re-enforcement of infrastructure in the distribution companies to reduce stranded firms.

The allocation, he said, “never passed through the Senate Power committee.” He asked, “Where did such huge sum of N30bn come from?”

“Let the Budget Office and other relevant bodies conduct a self-examination. Such self-examination will go a long way to clear certain grey areas,” Abaribe stated.

He added, “In the case of the Enugu Airport Terminal and the Second Niger Bridge, we want to find out at what point the cut was made.”

Abaribe said members of the caucus were collectively agitated. According to him, the geopolitical zone, which hardly receives a fair share of the national projects, had the little that came its way reduced.

He stated that no right thinking Igbo man would support slashing of allocation to projects in the South-East.

N’Assembly’s action, condemnable, says IYC

The IYC  said the National Assembly showed that it was selfish by reducing the budget allocations to developmental projects including the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko and the East-West Road,  and increasing its allocation.

IYC noted that a similar reduction in allocations to developmental projects was done under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. This, it stated,  led to the non-completion of the East-West Road.

The IYC, in a statement on Thursday by its President, Mr Eric Omare, described the reduction in allocations to major projects as retrogressive.

Omare, “We consider the action of the National Assembly as insensitive and retrogressive to the development of the country. It is utter selfishness for the National Assembly to reduce funds allocated to key developmental initiatives and increase its budget.”

He recalled the establishment of the Nigerian Maritime University, Delta State was one of the agreements reached between the leaders of the Niger Delta and the Federal Government to ensure peace in the region.

Omare stated that it was in furtherance of the agreement that N5bn was budgeted for the establishment of the university.

The youth leader called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately send a supplementary budget to the National Assembly to enable it to correct the anomaly in the interest of the Niger Delta.

He said, “The IYC is compelled to ask if the members of the National Assembly were elected to serve the interest of the generality of Nigerians or their personal interest.  There is no single reason why members of the National Assembly would reduce funds allocated for key projects such as the Maritime University, East-West Road, Mambilla Power Project and the completion of Enugu International Airport and increase their own budget. This is, to say the least condemnable.”

N’Assembly’s action fraudulent says Okurounmu

Also, an Afenifere chieftain, Senator Femi  Okurounmu has described the action of the National Assembly as fraudulent.

He said this in Abeokuta on Thursday while fielding questions from journalists on the sidelines of an event organised by a Yoruba socio-cultural group, Omoluabi.

Okurounmu noted that the lawmakers usually hide their allowances and other expenses.

Okurounmu, a former senator, said, “They are fraudulent; not only do they do a lot of budget padding, they introduce a lot of extra-legal amounts just to meet all those illegal allowances that they are getting.

“To now accommodate their own demands, they inflate the budget. The President doesn’t know how to deal with the National Assembly; so there is always a stalemate between the National Assembly and the Presidency and the President is always going along with them because every budget the National Assembly inflates must accommodate their own demands or needs.

“These are the things that people cry about; about the horrible, extraneous allowances of legislators – senators and members of the House of Representatives. This is where it comes from.”

He noted that there was a lot of corruption to be fought in the National Assembly, arguing that it was immoral for those who were corrupt to be making laws for the nation.

He, however,  said the President had no choice but to sign the budget because there was a stalemate.

He said, “The National Assembly blackmailed him; he cannot dismiss all of them and he doesn’t have the courage to fight them. If he has the courage to fight them he can fight them but he doesn’t have the courage because he’s surrounded by corrupt people himself.

“So, just as the National Assembly can blackmail him, he too can blackmail the National Assembly. So, it’s a game of mutual blackmail.”

N’Assembly didn’t follow due process – CACOL

Also, a civil society organisation, the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, blamed the National Assembly for not following due process.

It said the padding of the 2018 budget was due to the power tussle between the legislative and executive arms of the government.

The CACOL Director, Debo Adeniran,  in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “The legislature has not followed the right procedures. The executive is supposed to put the budget estimates together. What one expected was that during the budget preparation, there should have been room for the legislature to send their projects to the appropriate ministries, departments and agencies, but there has been power tussle between the executive and the legislature.

“This tussle has left Nigerians in limbo because the interests of the people are not the reason why the two arms are quarrelling. This is a kind of power show which should not be accommodated. What ought to have been done was for the legislature to go back to their constituencies to carry out a needs assessment. The legislature is also to blame for delaying the budget.”

Senators, Reps clash over inserted 6. 403 projects

Meanwhile, some senators and members of the House of Representatives have expressed different views on the issues raised by the President.

The lawmaker representing Yobe East Senatorial District, Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim, pointed out that Buhari should not be condemned if the 2018 budget was not fully implemented as it had always been impossible for successive administrations to do so.

Ibrahim stated this while addressing journalists in Abuja on Thursday.

Ibrahim asked, “When in Nigeria have we implemented a budget 100 per cent.” It will take us another 100 years, maybe, to do that. So, irrespective of whatever we put in there, he doesn’t necessarily have to implement all of them. Every year we talk about 50, 60, 70 per cent budget implementation; we have ever had 80 per cent. So, does it really matter if certain things were inserted?”

But Senator Dino Melaye said Buhari only tried to whip up sentiments against the National Assembly with his criticisms.

He pointed out that the legislature was not expected to be a rubber stamp to the executive proposals.

Melaye said, “I notice that PMB is trying to whip up sentiments against the National Assembly again by alleging that the 2018 budget was padded.

“What the President is authorised to do constitutionally is to present a bill to the National Assembly.  A bill is a work in progress and not a finished work. The reason the constitution directs the bill to be submitted to the National Assembly is that it expects the National Assembly to vet it and make inputs into such a bill before passing it as the Appropriation Bill.

“The National Assembly is not just expected to rubberstamp whatever bill the President presents. If this was the norm, then there would have been no need for the constitution to direct that the bill is submitted to the National Assembly in the first place.”

The lawmaker stated, “ Mr President should, therefore, refrain from playing to the gallery and milking the naivety of the masses on the issue.

“In any event, he reserves the prerogative of refusing to append his signature to the bill passed if it meets with his displeasure. He is also free to return the bill to the National Assembly unsigned, with a note indicating his areas of disaffection.

“Therefore, Mr President should halt his chicanery and smear campaign against the National Assembly.”

On Wednesday night, Senator Shehu Sani said the National Assembly made adjustments to the 2018 Appropriation Bill to ‘slim fit’ the budget with his administration.

He said, “Baba took his cloth to the tailors and asked them to make agbada for him. They measured his frame and after six months, they made a kaftan for him. He angrily complained that they shortchanged his fabric (sic), made a wrong design and wasted his time. The tailors replied that the delay was because ‘you have been travelling a lot all this while’ and the size was because ‘you lost so much weight and now you have a slim fit.’

In the House of Representatives, some members, who spoke with The PUNCH also expressed different views.

The Majority Leader of the House, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, told The PUNCH that the matter was not for the two arms of government to take extreme positions, but to resolve it through a middle course.

He argued that the proper thing to do was to first examine the President’s observations.

Gbajabiamila stated,  “The President has made some observations.  The two arms of government will work it out in a way that is most beneficial to the Nigerian people for whom the budget is for.

“That is what democracy is all about.”

But, the Deputy Minority Whip, Mrs Binta Bello, disagreed with Gbajabiamila’s “diplomatic approach”, saying that the budget had become a law which Buhari was bound to implement.

She asked why in every budget year, the Executive would raise questions over the power of appropriation “vested in the National Assembly by the 1999 Constitution.”

Bello noted that the executive rarely admitted blame or accepted failure for non-implementation of the budget.

She added, “I think what the President is doing is to pit the National Assembly against Nigerians. He knows that elections are coming in 2019.

“When people ask him why there is non-implementation of the budget by his administration, he will blame it on the National Assembly or use insertions as the excuse.

“My advice to him is that he should implement the budget.”

The Chairman, House Committee on Financial Crimes, Mr Kayode Oladele, said under section 14 of the constitution, government’s primary responsibility remained the security and welfare of the citizenry.

He explained, “Government here means both the Legislature and the Executive, both contributing to the budget to address the security and welfare of the citizenry.

“The power of appropriation belongs to the legislature. In the US, it is called the power of the purse, where there is also frequent debates over insertions.

“However, at the end of the day, what becomes the budget is the law that should be implemented, else there will be government shut-down

We’ll speak on inserted projects worth N578bn today – N’Assembly

Meanwhile, the National Assembly will on Friday explain the 6,403 projects worth N578bn allegedly inserted by the lawmakers into the 2018 budget.

This was made known in a statement by Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, in Abuja on Wednesday night.

“It should also be noted that the leadership of both chambers have directed the chairmen of our Committees on Appropriations to provide item by item, detailed explanations on all points raised by the President for the benefit of members of the public. They will, therefore, address a press conference on Friday, June 22nd, 2018,” the statement read in part.

Journalists at the National Assembly were on Thursday informed that there would be a joint press conference by the Chairmen of the Senate and House of Representatives’ Committees on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje and Mr Mustapha Dawaki.  (Punch)

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Calls For BBC To Drop Lord Sugar Over Racist Tweet About Senegalese Football Team

By Helena Horton and Anita Singh
a man looking at the camera         © Provided by The Telegraph


Lord Sugar could be dropped by the BBC and face a parliamentary investigation after he tweeted a “joke” comparing the Senegal football team to beach hawkers in Spain.

The businessman, who has appeared in The Apprentice since 2005, posted a doctored image of the team posing with sunglasses and counterfeit handbags and wrote: “I recognise some of these guys from the beach in Marbella. Multitasking resourceful chaps.”

Embarrassingly for the BBC, his tweet coincided with the publication of the corporation’s ethnic diversity report, which called for a “substantial culture change” and recommended that managers be given compulsory cultural awareness training.

a screenshot of a cell phone © Provided by The Telegraph The cross-bench peer and former chairman of Tottenham Hotspur was initially bullish when Twitter users called his comment offensive, saying: “Frankly, I can’t see that. I think it’s funny.”

Babita Sharma, an anchor for BBC World News, wrote that his tweet was “vile”, to which Lord Sugar replied: “You make me sick.”

But an hour later, having perhaps taken some advice from the BBC, he issued a contrite statement that read: “I misjudged my earlier tweet. It was in no way intended to cause offence, and clearly, my attempt at humour has backfired. I have deleted the tweet and am very sorry.”

Dawn Butler, Labour’s shadow secretary for women and equalities, promptly wrote to the House of Lords commissioner for standards and to the BBC, calling for an immediate investigation.

She said: “Racism has no place in Parliament or society. Swift action must be taken.”

The row overshadowed the launch of the BBC’s report into how it plans to reflect the UK’s ethnic diversity within its workforce.

Among the report’s recommendations are that two members of the 15-strong executive committee must be from a black or minority ethnic (BAME) background by 2020, and that shortlists for all jobs at middle management level and above must include at least one BAME candidate.

Cultural awareness training should be compulsory for all team managers, in addition to the currently mandated unconscious bias training.

The report canvassed staff who said that recent on-air blunders could have been avoided if the BBC had a more ethnically diverse newsroom. They included an obituary of Shashi Kapoor, the Bollywood star, is illustrated with footage of the wrong actor.

In a second gaffe, a BBC reporter asked Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, if his visit to Pakistan was “like coming home”.

Mr Khan replied: “Home is south London, mate.”   (The Telegraph)

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Buhari Weeps In Bauchi |The Republican News


President Muhammadu Buhari was, on Thursday, in Bauchi State, moved to tears by the devastation caused by the fire incident that gutted no fewer than 750 shops in the central market in Azare.

President Buhari, who visited the state, said he was in the community to see things for himself and assess the damages suffered by traders in the area.

His words,  “I am here to personally sympathise with traders in Azare in the aftermath of the unfortunate fire incident in the market last week,” he said.

The President noted that the fire incident was a natural disaster, and expressed federal government’s sympathy for the victims.

He assured that the federal government will critically look into the matter through NEMA with a view to assisting the victims.

“Federal Government is committed to economic development and the market fire disaster is a great setback to our genuine commitment to economic recovery.”

On his part, Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar and Emir of Katagum, Alhaji Umar Faruk,  described President Buhari’s visit as ‘ very timely’.

According to them, the president’s visit demonstrated his concern to the citizenry of the state especially victims of fire disaster in Azare market.   (The Sun)


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ISIS Smuggling Jihadists Into Nigeria From Syria – Report |RN



Adelani Adepegba, Leye Aluko with agency report

Leaders of the terrorist group, Islamic State, are sneaking battle-hardened jihadis from Syria into Nigeria to train terrorists for possible attacks in Britain.

Fanatics, including Boko Haram insurgents, were also being sent to the Middle East for training in a chilling “exchange programme,” The UK SUN reported on Monday.

The paper said there were fears that strong links between Nigeria and the UK would make it easier for IS to send its killers to Britain to orchestrate terror attacks, death and destruction.

It noted that more than 150 British troops are conducting counter-terror training with Nigerian forces in an attempt to stem the bloody tide — and stop IS from taking hold in the West African region.

At one training mission in Kaduna, a senior Nigerian Air Force commander revealed how local jihadi groups were learning from IS after swearing allegiance to its black flag.

Group Captain Isaac Subi, 46, who has been fighting terrorism across Africa since 1991, said, “They come and train their fighters here and some of our insurgents too are granted access to their training in Yemen and Syria, acquiring those skills and they come back and teach others.

“They have this exchange programme of fighters.”

The report stated that the poisonous influence of the fighters had already ended in horror attacks on British streets, citing the stabbing to death of Fusilier Lee Rigby in 2013 in London by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, both of Nigerian descent.

The Nigeria Immigration Service spokesman, Sunday James, said the agency has strengthened border security to ensure that “no foreign entity is allowed by whatever means into the country by land, air or waterways.”

He added in a statement that NIS operatives have been proactive, “going by the several arrests in recent past around the country by the Special Border Patrol Corps operatives of the NIS trained and deployed to carry out reconnaissance patrol.”

James admonished Nigerians to report suspicious individuals or groups to the Immigration Service or other security agencies for necessary action.  (Punch)

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Elizabeth Holmes, Founder Of Theranos, The World Youngest Billionaire May Spend 10 Years In Jail

Avery Hartmans

Air Force Begins Bombardment Of Zamfara Bandits |The Republican News



The Nigerian Air Force commenced aerial bombardments on Monday, in a joint military offensive to end the banditry in Zamfara communities.

The Commander of the 207 Quick Response Group of the Air Force, Group Capt. Caleb Olayera, disclosed this while speaking with newsmen in Gusau.

He spoke after taking delivery of two aeroplanes deployed for the operation.

Olayera described the operation as part of a joint military operation involving the Air Force, Army, Police and civil defence to flush out the bandits.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Zamfara in Nigeria’s northwest has seen intense banditry in recent times that has left hundreds dead and displaced thousands in various communities.

The Federal Government has since been battling the jihadist Boko Haram group in Nigeria’s northeast in a low-intensity war that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions since 2009.

Olayera said that two helipads had already been constructed by the Air Force for the Zamfara security operation.

“We told you that the helipads will be used as the base for our fighter jets to neutralise any group of criminals and their hideouts.

He assured that peace would soon return to troubled communities in Zamfara with the commencement of the military operation.

The governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, in an apparent frustration over the banditry in the state, recently renounced his position as chief security officer of the state.

He cited his inability to take charge of security agencies in the state to end the banditry.


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INEC Registering Foreigners To Vote In 2019 – Southern, M’Belt Leaders



Friday Olokor, Eniola Akinkuotu, Okechukwu Nnodim and Olaleye Aluko

The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum has raised the alarm that the Independent National Electoral Commission has embarked on the registration of foreigners,  especially from the Niger Republic,  to pave the way for electoral malpractices in 2019.

The forum, which stated this in a communiqué made available to journalists on Sunday, alleged that registration of foreigners could be one of the reasons why the Federal Government was in a haste to construct a rail from Kano, through Dambatta, Kazaure, Daura, Mashi, Katsina, Jibia and terminate in Maradi in the Niger Republic.

The leaders from the Middle Belt, South-South, South-East and South-West had met in Lagos on Friday and issued the communiqué titled, “Our case against 2019 elections preparations” on Sunday.

The communiqué was signed by  Yinka Odumakin (South-West);   Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South);  Prof. Chigozie Ogbu (South-East) and Dr Isuwa Dogo ( Middle Belt).

The leaders, who expressed concern about the 2019 general elections, restated their demand for the suspension of the current Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, pending the investigation of the underage voter scandal in Kano.

They restated their lack of confidence in the INEC chairman “whose conduct over the scandal of underage voters in Kano has shown a gross betrayal of public trust.”

The leaders alleged that intelligence report at their disposal had shown that INEC was registering Nigeriens and other foreigners for the purpose of voting in the 2019 elections.

They stated, “Equally worrisome is the intelligence report at our disposal that a large number of mercenary voters have been registered from neighbouring  countries especially from the Niger Republic under the continuous voter registration which could have been one of the reasons why the Federal Government is in a haste to construct a rail from Kano, through Dambatta, Kazaure, Daura, Mashi, Katsina, Jibia and terminate in Maradi, Niger Republic. Money has been appropriated for this in the 2018 budget.”

The leaders also recalled that the INEC chairman assured Nigerians that alleged underage voter scam in Kano would be fully investigated.

The forum also recalled that the INEC boss promised to look into the voter registers nationwide in order to purge them of any possible ineligible registrants.

According to them, Yakubu promised to make the findings of the investigation public.

They said, “Five clear months after the promise and prompt conclusion of the assignment by the team he set up, the INEC chairman has refused to release the report which would necessarily have necessitated a nationwide interrogation of the voter registry.

“Information at our disposal is that the report of the committee is so damning and that is the reason why he is doing a macabre dance on it. How on earth can we trust a man doing such over an issue of public knowledge to be fair on matters relating to free and fair elections that would not be in the public glare?

“We demand the immediate release of the INEC report on the Kano underage voter’s scandal and interrogation of the voter registry by a judicial commission with representatives from international and local elections observers to check cases of underage voters and foreign mercenaries before the 2019 elections. This is very necessary as INEC cannot be a judge in its own case.”

To ensure equity, they also demanded that President Muhammadu Buhari should “rejig the nation’s security apparatus now…and reconstitute the security apparatus so as to earn the confidence of all communities in Nigeria.”

Provide evidence, INEC challenges SMBFL

In his response, however, the INEC Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, said anyone who had evidence should come forward.

He told one of our correspondents on the telephone that there was no cause for alarm since the voter registration would be displayed before Permanent Voter Cards would be issued.

Osaze-Uzzi said in the event that any alien was spotted on the voter register, he or she would immediately be removed.

The INEC director said, “If anyone is alleging that there is irregular registration, we display the register and they should furnish us with evidence of such illegality. If someone who is not entitled to be in the register is on the register, we will have the opportunity of removing that person.

“So, if they can furnish us with details, I think we will be able to properly look into it because the voter register is exclusively for eligible Nigerian citizens. If there are non-Nigerians on the register, they should help us by providing us with details such as location, pictures especially since there is an opportunity to do so when the register will be displayed next month.”

Allegations serious – TMG

But the Chairman of Transition Monitoring Group, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, in an interview with The PUNCH, said that the allegations of the leaders were serious and called on them to provide evidence.

She said, “The allegation on registration of mercenaries is a serious indictment. The TMG ad hoc observation has not revealed this development. We, therefore, call on the group to provide more evidence on this allegation…

“However, TMG opposes the call for suspension of INEC chairman, as an unnecessary demand. What we need now is to strengthen INEC and not distraction capable of truncating 2019 elections agenda.”

SERAP, CACOL demand FG’s investigation

Also,  two civil society organisations, the Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project and the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, asked the Federal Government to investigate the allegations of voter registration in the Niger Republic, noting that the groups must also come forward with pieces of evidence to their claims.

The SERAP Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said, “I hope that these groups are altruistic in their position and they are not raising the alarm for political purposes. If it is indeed true that such exists, we demand that 2019 elections must be free, fair and credible. Such elections start with the proper registration of voters.

“The Federal Government has to ensure that it looks into this matter immediately and see that nothing untoward happens to the electoral process. This is because if the 2015 election was not free and fair, President Muhammadu Buhari would not be the President of this country. So, what he must do is to ensure that the tradition of credible elections takes root in the country.”

Also, the CACOL Director, Debo Adeniran, said, “The authorities of INEC have meetings regularly and if there is anything suspicious, the groups ought to come forward with petitions. Otherwise, their claims will be like a storm in the teacup. They need to provide adequate witnesses and pieces of evidence. If such secret voter registration is ongoing, it is going to affect the whole country and this is not good for our electoral process. The groups must come forward with evidence and witnesses.”

Rail project not for such venture – NRC

But when contacted to comment on the rail allegation, the spokesperson for the Nigeria Railway Corporation, Mahmood Yakubu, said the NRC was not aware of such thing.

He said, “I am not a politician and don’t comment on political issues. I am a civil servant. You should contact the Minister of Transportation because I don’t have any idea about that as the NRC spokesperson.”   (Punch)

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