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Nigeria Governors Forum vows to implement fiscal sustainability plan

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The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has resolved to put the necessary legal frameworks and institutions in place for States Fiscal Transparency Accountability, and Sustainability (SFTAS).

SFTAS is a World Bank support and intervention designed to support Nigerian states implement a Fiscal Sustainability Plan.

The forum said this in a communiqué issued on Wednesday night after its 30th teleconference.

It also agreed on the need for states to meet their SFTAS obligations.

It noted that the governors at the meeting received presentations from the World Bank team led by the Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, on the Nigeria Covid-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus – Programme for Results (Nigeria CARES) and SFTAS.

It stated that the World Bank team commended the commitment and actions of state governors for establishing and resourcing CARES programme State Coordinating Units under their ministries of Planning.

It stated that the bank, however, requested the governors’ additional support in areas such as the adoption of a fund release policy for improved predictability of resources flow to CARES delivery MDAs.

The bank also called for governors’ support on adoption and institutionalisation of protocols for reporting, management and investigation of fraud and corruption in MDAs implementing CARES.

Other areas of expected supports includes the release of 2021 State budgets to MDAs for the commencement of CARES-related activities.

“The Bank also urged the support of governors to ensure that their ministries of finance and ministries of justice fast track the execution of subsidiary agreements for the CARES programme,” said the communique.

It noted that updates on the SFTAS programme showed that targets for results and disbursements on the 2018 and 2019 Annual Performance Assessments (APA) and new COVID-19 2020 Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs) had been exceeded.

“For the SFTAS 2020 APA and new COVID-19 DLIs, all 36 states are on track to fully meet the eligibility criteria of having National Chart of Account (NCOA) compliant FY2021 budget published online by Jan. 31, 2021.

“Under the SFTAS Programme for Results, 23 States have already passed strong state-level debt legislation,” it said.

The legislation stipulates the responsibilities for contracting, recording/reporting state debt; as well as state fiscal and debt rules/limits.

The forum, however, said a strong collective commitment was made for the remaining 13 States to pass such state-level debt legislation by Dec. 31.

This was to help Nigeria successfully meet the World Bank Sustainable Debt Financing Policy (SDFP) by strengthening debt management, debt transparency and fiscal responsibility at the state-level.

The communiqué added that NGF SFTAS Programme Lead, Olanrewaju Ajogbasile, provided key lessons that accounted for the success of performing states in the implementation of the SFTAS programme.

These, according to Olanrewaju, included the institutionalisation of a steering committee, high level monitoring and ownership.

It also included regular briefings to the state governor or state executive council; dedicated budget under the Ministry of Finance to support SFTAS operations.

It also includes an incentivised environment for state government officials working on SFTAS activities, and provision of basic ICT infrastructure arrangements for focal MDAs to ensure that they are able to access remote technical assistance and meet reform actions in time.

The communiqué added that NGF Chairman, Gov. Kayode Fayemi, briefed the forum on an ongoing consolidation exercise between NGF and the Budget Office of the Federation to consolidate public finance data of the federal, states and local governments into a national budget portal.

Fayemi urged his colleagues to share details of their local government budgets and financial statements in addition to State government data already published.

It added that the forum received presentation from Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Nanono, on the second phase of farmer enumeration for the Agric for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP).

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Defence and Security

Army Has No Desire To Truncate Nigeria’s Democracy — COAS

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Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja
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The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja, on Tuesday, restated the commitment of the Nigerian Army to defend the nation’s choice of government, democracy.

Addressing participants at a seminar on career planning and management organised by the Army headquarters, the COAS said the Army has no plans to truncate democracy in the country.

He charged officers of the Nigerian Army to remain above board in the discharge of their professional duties.

“Permit me to seize this opportunity to reiterate that the Armed Forces of Nigeria, particularly the Nigerian Army has come to terms with the country’s choice of democracy as the preferred system of governance,” he said during his address to officers.

“We are therefore agents of democracy and have no desire to truncate it. The Nigerian Army will continue to defend our constitution and not suspend it for whatever reason.

“It is the duty of our elected leaders to lead while the military does its job as enshrined in our constitution. Nigerian Army personnel must therefore remain professional and be above board as they discharge their constitutional duties.”

The commitment by the COAS followed the series of putsches in West and Central Africa which have experienced at least seven military takeovers in the last four years.

Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and most recently, Niger Republic — all members of the Economic Community of Western African States ( ECOWAS) — have pulled out from the regional bloc in last four years. Outside of West Africa, Chad and Sudan also experienced military coups in 2021.

 

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Economic: Defence Chief Warns Coup Advocates

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The Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa, has warned against advocating for a coup due to economic hardship, emphasizing patience and the superiority of democracy.

He made this known on Thursday while speaking with journalists at the Nigerian Army 6 Division Headquarters in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, after commissioning some building projects.

General Musa urged individuals promoting military takeover to cease such statements.

The Chief of Defence Staff had earlier commissioned the newly constructed Entrance Gate and Officers Transit Accommodation at the 6 Division Headquarters.

Protests have occurred in Ogun, Oyo, Kano, Niger and some parts of the country in the last few weeks over the hardship experienced in the country as Nigerians lament food inflation, high cost of living, amongst other harsh living conditions occasioned by the removal of petrol subsidy, forex crisis, amongst others.

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Security: Bill To Introduce State Police Scales Second Reading

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Federal House of Representatives
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A Constitution Amendment Bill to introduce state police has scaled second reading in the House of Representatives.

The bill, which was sponsored by 13 members of the House, enjoyed support from majority of the lawmakers in the green chamber who believed that concerns of political victimisation by state governors, should take the backseat to the current state of insecurity across the country.

Last week, President Bola Tinubu and 36 state governors considered the creation of state police as solution to the menacing security challenges like kidnapping and banditry ubiquitous in the country.

State police has been a subject of controversy since the Seventh National Assembly and has failed to make it through the amendment phase.

Governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had recently restated their position on state policing, as the solution to the country’s worsening security situation, lamenting that Nigeria is “almost on the road to Venezuela”.

Also, regional socio-political groups such as Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Middle Belt Forum, and the Northern Elders’ Forum, have repeatedly called for state police as solution the myriad of increasing security challenges confronting the nation.

Already, states in the South-West geopolitical zone have formed the Amotekun while their counterparts in the South-East also created state-owned security outfit Ebube Agu. The Benue Guards has also been operational in Benue State in the North Central while states like Katsina, Zamfara and other bandit-prone sub-nationals have also come up with similar state-established outfits.

However, these outfits have not been effective as anticipated as they don’t have the backing of the Federal Government or the Presidency while states continue to demand that Amotekun, Ebube Agu and others are granted license to bear assault rifles like AK-47 to confront lethal gun-toting marauders.

 

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