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Senate suspends plenary to begin budget defense

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Chamber Senate
Senate in Session
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…Adjourns till Nov. 9  

 
The Senate on Wednesday adjourned plenary till November 9, 2021, to enable its Committees begin budget defense sessions with Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

The upper chamber suspended sitting after concluding debate on the 2022 Appropriation Bill.

Lawan, in his remarks moments before the chamber adjourned, tasked committees to thoroughly scrutinize budget estimates in the 2022 Appropriation Bill before the National Assembly.

He said, “The Senate has hereby suspended plenary in order to consider the budget.

“There will be budget defense from Monday until November 9, when we resume plenary.

“Like we did before, we must remain very critical of the proposals presented to us by the executive arm of government.

“We must ensure equity in the distribution of projects. We must ensure economy in the application of funds. We must question any possible overpricing of items.

“[And] we should be able at the end of the day to have a budget that covers the interest of all the communities that we have in this and all parts of the country.”

Earlier, a total of 42 Senators took turns to make their contributions during the second and final day of debate on the 2022 Appropriation Bill.

Among those who spoke are Senators Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, Adelere Oriolowo, Patrick Akinyelure, Ibrahim Gobir, Smart Adeyemi, Ibrahim Abdullahi, George Thompson Sekibo, Christopher Ekpenyong, Betty Apiafi, Mohammed Musa, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, Michael Nnachi, and Yahaya Oloriegbe.

Others are: Matthew Urhoghide, Francis Fadahunsi, Mukhail Adetokunbo Abiru, Anayo Rochas Okorocha,  Oyelola Ashiru, Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, Hezekiah Dimka, Binos Dauda Yaroe, Chukwuma Frank Ibezim, Olalekan Mustapha, Chukwuka Utazi, Abba Patrick Moro, Danladi Sankara, and Isah Jibrin.

Contributing to the debate on the 2022 Appropriation Bill, Senator Ibrahim Danbaba (PDP, Sokoto South), underscored the need for the federal government to include Public-Private Partnership as a way to fund the provision of critical infrastructure needed for economic development.

Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC, Kogi West), called for the urgent diversification of the economy through mining, adding that there are abundant mineral resources yet to be exploited by the federal government.

Senator George Thompson Sekibo (PDP, River East) advised the Central Bank of Nigeria to come up with policies that would help stabilize the country’s exchange rate over a period of time.

He also lamented that the implementation of capital projects in the 2022 budget proposal were tied to borrowing.

Senator Christopher Ekpenyong (PDP, Akwa Ibom North West), called for the scrutiny and tinkering of the budget estimates by the National Assembly, to ensure that it reflects the needs and meets the expectations of Nigerians.

Senator Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers West), protested the exclusion of some states as beneficiaries of the loan to be sourced by the federal government.

According to the lawmaker, some states such as Rivers State do not stand to benefit from the loan through projects, but are among those to repay the loan obtained by Nigeria.

She also called on the federal government to give special attention to the power sector, adding that doing so would attract and promote private investments.

On his part, Senator Sani Musa (APC, Niger East) described the 2022 budget outlook as “good”, noting that “Nigeria’s debt level is sustainable”.

The lawmaker urged the federal government to ensure that borrowed funds are applied to critical projects.

According to him, focus must also be given to revenue generation, as well as the examination of the country’s tax framework.

He noted that doing so would ensure strict compliance by taxpayers and boost Nigeria’s revenue collection.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, referred the 2022 Appropriation Bill after scaling second reading to the Committee on Appropriations for further work.

The Committee which is chaired by Senator Jibrin Barau was given four weeks to report back to the upper chamber.

The Senate President, in his concluding remarks said, “I want to join all those that have commended Mr. President for presenting the Appropriation Bill 2022 in good time.

“This is one of the very important reasons why we are able to have sufficient time to consider the budgets (2020 and 2021) before the 2022 Appropriation bill was presented.

“I want to also Senators for the sacrifice in processing, consideration and passage of the 2020 and 2021 Appropriation Acts.

“That devotion, commitment and dedication certainly saw us succeed in passing the previous bills.

“I’m sure that we are ready to repeat the feat of passing the appropriation bill 2022 before the end of December.

“Distinguished colleagues, I agree with those of us who raised the issue of revenue generation, collection and remittances to the coffers of the federal government.

“The agencies that are supposed to collect and remit revenues would have to be tasked, and this 2022 appropriation bill shows we have over 400 billion coming especially from these agencies as additional revenues. We need to do better.

“Government agencies must remit revenues that they generate. We need to also invest in our people, dedication for our youth particularly and, of course, health.

“Distinguished colleagues, borrowing like most of us here said, is not bad. What we need to do is to ensure that what we borrow is prudently deployed in those areas of capital infrastructural development.

“The two or three committees that are oil related – Petroleum Upstream and Petroleum Downstream and Gas – need to be very alert to the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act.

“This is very important  because this Act that we passed here is to transform the Petroleum Industry, and at this formative age of the transformation, there is need for us to be very vigilant and oversight very closely to ensure that the taking off is successful.

“Our oversight as Committees must be very purposeful and at all times for the sole reason of ensuring that government funds are properly and prudently applied to the projects appropriated for.

“Finally, I want to commend the entire National Assembly for ensuring that the previous budgets were passed in good time and, of course, the assent was also the same.

“The implementation of 2020 budget was 100 percent. Today, the implementation of the 2021 is about sixty percent. We want to see a repeat of the 2020 implementation, so that we also have 100 percent at the end of the day in December.

“This is very important because we know that Nigeria came out of recession, and in fact achieved a GDP growth of over five percent because of the implementation of the 2020 funds appropriated.”

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Buhari Pledge to Rescue Kaduna Train Attack Hostages

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President Muhammadu Buhari
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President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday assured to rescue 31 hostages taken in a train attack and return them “safe and unhurt”, his office said, five months after their abduction.

Gangs of bandits with no ideological or religious motives are known to kidnap for ransom in northwest and central Nigeria.

On March 28, armed men blew up a train travelling between Abuja and Kaduna and opened fire, killing eight people, wounding 26, and taking an unspecified number of passengers hostage.

A week later, they freed one hostage — a top bank executive — as a goodwill gesture for Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, because of his “advanced age”.

Dozens of hostages have already been freed following negotiations, but 31 remain in the kidnappers den.

“I have been informed that at last count, there remain about 31 people in the hands of the kidnappers,” Buhari told representatives of the families of the hostages in Abuja on Thursday.

He said his government would ensure the safe return of the remaining hostages to their families.

“My primary concern is to get everyone released safe and unhurt,” he assured.
The president commended the security forces on recent successes against kidnappers and “terrorists”.

“In the past couple of days, you must have heard about the number of terrorists neutralised by the military, and a number of hostages freed. These efforts will not stop, or reduce,” he said.

“We must take the fight to the terrorists and demonstrate that there is no hiding place for them within the borders of our country,” he said.

“Each one of them will be hunted, and pursued and spoken to in the language that they understand,” he added.

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Five Guards Brigade Killed By Bandits Buried In Abuja

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Five Guards Brigade Killed By Bandits Buried In Abuja
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The Nigerian Army on Thursday buried five members of the Guards Brigade killed by bandits during a clearance operation in the Federal Capital Territory recently.

The soldiers were laid to rest at the Guards Brigade Cemetery, Maitama , Abuja, according to a statement by Guards Brigade spokesperson, Captain Godfrey Anebi Abakpa

Among the deceased was Captain Attah Samuel.

“Until their demise, the gallant soldiers were serving with 7 Guards Battalion, Lungi Barracks Maitama and 176 Guards Battalion Gwagwalada in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja respectively,” the statement said.

“While reading the funeral oration of the deceased officer and soldiers, the Commanding Officers of 7 Guards Battalion Lt Col Salim Yusuf Hassan and Commanding Officer 176 Guards Battalion, Lt Col Joshuah Kolowale Adisa described the late Captain and Soldiers as thoroughly bred Infantrymen who were genuinely committed to their duties in defence of Nigeria and whose contribution and services would be greatly missed.

“They asked God to console the families left behind stressing that while the Brigade and the Nigerian Army mourns, the families should take solace in the fact that they have fought a just fight and their souls shall continue to rest with the lord till the resurrection morning.

“Highpoint of the event was the presentation of accoutrements by the representative of the Chief of Army Staff, Maj Gen James Alilu Ataguba to the next of kins of the deceased personnel and lowering of the remains of the fallen heroes.

There was also the blowing of the last post and gun salute to bid the departed heroes fair well

“The burial process started with Christian wake keep and funeral service held in honour of the fallen heroes at St John’s Military Church (Protestant) before the final Internment at the Guards Brigade Cemetery Maitama Abuja.

“The solemn ceremony was witnessed by senior officers of the Nigerian Army, Commanding Officers, Staff Officers of the Brigade, Bwari Area Council Chairman, Hon John Gabaya as well as family members and the barracks community.”

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Two More ISWAP Terrorists Linked To Owo Church Attack Arrested – DHQ

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Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor
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Two more Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists linked to the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo state, have been arrested.

Gunmen had on June 5 stormed the Catholic church, killing over 40 worshippers and injuring others.

The incident drew widespread condemnation, with President Muhammadu Buhari ordering security agencies to arrest the attackers.

On June 9, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, blamed the attack on ISWAP, but the claim was countered by Ondo state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu.

Just yesterday, the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor, announced that the gunmen behind the attack on the church have been arrested.

But in a statement on Wednesday, the Director of Defence Information, Jimmy Akpor, said the two suspected ISWAP fighters were arrested through the collaborative effort of the military and the Department of State Services (DSS).

“Recall that the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, during his parley with media executives and editors yesterday, Tuesday 9 August 2022, informed of the arrest of 4 terrorists among those who carried out the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo on 5 June 2022,” Akpor said.

“They were arrested through a combined operation by military and DSS personnel at Eika, Okehi LGA, Kogi State on 1 August 2022.

“Those arrested include Idris Abdulmalik Omeiza (a.k.a Bin Malik), Momoh Otohu Abubakar, Aliyu Yusuf Itopa and Auwal Ishaq Onimisi.

“Barely few hours after the disclosure by the CDS of the arrest of 4 of the Owo Catholic Church attackers, 2 additional ISWAP terrorists, who were also connected to the attack on the church were apprehended at Omialafara (Omulafa), Ose LGA, Ondo State yesterday, 9 August 2022.

“The arrests were made through the collaborative effort by military and DSS personnel. The suspects are Al-Qasim Idris and Abdulhaleem Idris.

“It is instructive to note that Abdulhaleem, alongside other high profile ISWAP commanders, had also previously coordinated attacks on military targets in Okene, Okene LGA, Kogi State resulting in casualties.”

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