Fashola presents N489.69bn 2015 budget proposals

Governor Babatunde Fashola of  Lagos State yesterday presented a 2015 budget proposal of N489.69 billion to the state house of assembly for consideration.

The amount was the same as that of 2014.

The breakdown shows that education got N82.11 billion or 16.6 per cent as against N77.42 billion or 15. 81 per cent recorded in 2014.

Environmental protection got a vote of N34.95 billion or 7.1 per cent instead of N39.72 billion or 8.11 per cent it was allocated in 2014.

Recreation, culture and religion got N3.12 billion or 0.6 per cent as against N3.48 billion or  0.71 per cent in 2014.

Housing and community amenities got N49.03 billion or 10 per cent  as against N50.54 billion or 10.32 per cent in 2014, while health was allocated N44.62 billion or 9.1 per cent instead of N37.81 billion or 7.72 per cent it was voted in 2014.

Public order and safety got N15.55 billion or 3.2 per cent instead of N17.98 billion or 3.67 per cent it got in 2014, while social protection recorded N1.59 billion or 0.3 per cent as against N2.47 billion or 0.50 per cent in 2014.

Fashola said that the budget size was retained in order to keep zero deficits for the incoming government.

Fashola will be leaving office in May 2015 after completing two terms.

“We have retained the same budget size of 2014 to keep zero deficits.

“This will give the administration the room to start up very quickly,” he said.

He said that the 2015 budget would focus on payment of contractors’ liabilities to enable the government to complete as many projects as possible before handing over to the next administration.

“For example, out of the 400 roads that we promised, we have completed over 190 in the last three years, with 210 at various advanced stages.

“The on-set of dry weather provides the opportunity to complete all of them,” he said.

Fashola said that the government had started compiling a list of another 400 roads that would be handed over to the next administration for consideration, adoption and implementation.

He said that this would help to accelerate reconstruction of inner city roads.

The governor said that the highlight of the budget would be settlement of outstanding pension liabilities.

“Without consultation with the states, the Federal Government has reviewed pensioners’ entitlements upwards by 142 per cent without a corresponding 142 per cent upward review of states’ revenues.

“Our government’s compassion for these pensioners has weighed more heavily on our minds than the legal misfeasance of the Federal Government.

“Our government now budgets for the 142 per cent arrears in addition to 12 per cent and six per cent recent reviews.

“This is the least that we think these public servants deserve.

“Apart from this, our contributory pensions have been largely up-to-date except for a few parastatals for which we are also making provisions.

“We want to substantially reduce pension difficulties in Lagos before the next administration comes in; even if we cannot totally solve them, we intend to leave behind a sustainable plan for their final resolution,” Fashola said.

Mr Adeyemi Ikuforiji, the Speaker of the assembly, said that when passed into law, the 2015 Budget Bill would receive strong and consistent fiscal management.

Ikuforiji noted that Nigeria was experiencing a fall in oil price.

“As legislatures, we recognise that some economic externalities greatly affect socio-economic growth and are sharp enough to influence budget re-prioritisation,” he said.

The event had in attendance various personalities such as the First executive Governor of the state, Alhaji. Lateef Jakande and his deputy, Alhaja Rafiu Jafojo.

Others were Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu; All Progressives Congress, APC, members and stalwarts led by party chieftain, Chief Henry Ajomale; Senators Anthony Adefuye and Olorunnimbe Mammora.
 
Lawmakers approve N2b small scale enterprises loan 
Earlier, the House through a resolution granted an approval to Governor Fashola to access the sum of  N2 billion loan for small scale enterprises out of the N220 billion intervention fund made available for states by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN in response to an earlier request from Governor Fashola.

As each state in the federation has opportunity to access a maximum of N2 billion of which Delta state has benefited.

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NFF to send Keshi on refresher course abroad

President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick has given a hint that Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi won’t be fired by his board, but rather would send him for a refresher course abroad.

Upon announcing the sacking of Keshi a month ago, Pinnick revealed the coach and his assistant turned down the opportunity to go for refresher courses to be sponsored by the board.

However, events took a different turn when an order from the country’s president, Goodluck Jonathan forced the NFF to reinstate the coach and his technical crew.

According to Pinnick, his board is fully focused on ensuring the Eagles prepare well for the 2017 AFCON and 2018 World Cup qualifiers by sending the team handlers to new courses abroad to broaden their scope and knowledge.

“In the short term package to reposition our football we will send some of our coaches and ex internationals to England for refresher courses in match reading,” said Pinnick.

“They will also receive orientation abroad on crisis management and other related courses that would help us improve on the quality of information to be given the coaches before, during and after games.”

He also confirmed the Eagles will play most of their friendly games at home starting with the 25 March 2015 friendly against Brazil at the Uyo township stadium.

The idea of playing most of the proposed friendly games in Nigeria is to showcase the county’s huge tourism potential and culture as a way of putting the country on a positive footing in the eyes of the world.

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Invasion of Data Centre: APC blasts DSS

The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday lampooned the Department of State Service (DSS) for invading the data centre of the party in Lagos on Saturday.

It, however, described as “plainly implausible and a witless afterthought” the reasons given by the DSS, calling the security service a shameless apologist of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

Similarly, the APC in Lagos challenged the DSS to produce copies of the cloned cards and show Nigerians the copies of the cards it claimed that APC was cloning in its Data Office in Lagos.

In a statement by its Lagos State Publicity Secretary, Joe Igbokwe, the party said the present leadership of the DSS has “turned what should be a viable state security outfit to an attack dog willing and ever ready to do the dirty biddings of the PDP.”

Operatives of the DSS and soldiers attached to the security unit code-named Operation MESA on Saturday stormed the APC data centre in Lagos and arrested 25 data agents and three security guards.

Addressing a press conference in Lagos after conducting journalists round the office, APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed wondered why a self-respecting intelligence gathering agency will rely on beer parlous gossips in carrying out its onerous responsibility, especially in a politically-charged environment like what prevails in the country at present.

He also called on Nigerians and the country’s international partners to condemn the “primitive action.”

Mohammed said: “The spokesperson for the DSS said the organisation had put the building housing the data centre under surveillance, and that it only acted after it was convinced that ‘unwholesome activities’ were taking place. What hogwash! If indeed they put the place under surveillance, would they not have been able to establish that it is an APC data centre? Even if they were not sure, what prevents them from obtaining a court order permitting them to enter and search the building instead of carrying out a Gestapo-like operation? Are security agencies above the law?”
 
Suspends membership registration

The APC spokesperson said following the damage done to the equipment at its data centre in Lagos, it has been forced to suspend its membership registration.

He explained that “the viciousness and barbarism of the attack on the data centre and the arrest of 26 innocent workers, which put a lie to the DSS claim, have disrupted and corrupted the continuous offline and online membership registration across the country.

“The over 50 security men who invaded our offices not only vandalised the offices, they pulled out and carted away the server and computer systems. Their activities have, therefore, affected the process of online/offline registration and data capture of APC members across the country, hence we are left with no choice than to suspend the process.”

While calling for an independent inquiry into the invasion, which he alleged has taken the impunity of the Jonathan administration to its worst level yet, he said it would determine the identity of those who sent the invading force and “meting out the necessary punishment to them, irrespective of their political status.”

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Sultan, Oritsejafor differ on war against Boko Haram

Two prominent Nigerian religious leaders the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, and the National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, yesterday, openly differed on the war being waged against Nigeria by the Boko Haram insurgents.

Although the two religious leaders agreed that the Boko Haram sect had committed serious havoc against the country and its people, they disagreed sharply on why the sect has continued to unleash unabated violence on the nation.

The two men of God spoke at a roundtable meeting with special advisers on religious affairs drawn from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory held at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The programme with the theme “Toward synergising and interfacing in the religious sector for national development” organised by the Offices of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Islamic and Christian Matters was declared open by Vice President Namadi Sambo.

In effect, Abubakar had insisted that Islamic leaders had done their best to dissuade the sect from committing further destruction of lives and property while the CAN President punctured the claim, saying that the Islamic leaders had not done enough in that regard.

Muslim leaders have tried so much—Sultan

According to the Sultan, Islamic leaders have “tried so much” to preach against the activities of the sect but Oritsejafor said such effort was not strong enough to prevent the insurgents from further mayhem.

The Sultan maintained that there was no problem between Islam and Christianity in Nigeria, pointing out that if there was any problem between the two major religions, it would have been dealt with at that level.

Abubakar, however, blamed the rising level of insurgence on lack of education about religions which breeds lack of trust and sincerity.

He regretted that while Islamic leaders have continued to condemn the insurgents, they are still being accused of not doing enough. This, he said, was not fair to the religious leaders.

He said, he had personally gone across the globe to preach peace and uphold the fact that there is no problem between Islam and Christianity.

In his quest for peaceful relationship between adherents of the two religions, the Sultan said he had written two separate lengthy letters to the Catholic Pope and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

He said when people were asking Islamic leaders to sit with insurgents and discuss, they fail to note that the current situation could not be compared to the activities of militants in the Niger Delta.

Abubakar said: “In a situation where Muslim leaders condemn insurgents and they will still be told they have not done enough. That is not fair. We don’t tell ourselves the truth. Followers are not telling the leaders the truth, and the leaders will think they are doing the right things.

“If the governor in Sokoto is told that he should sponsor four people to Christian pilgrimage, so be it. It is government’s fund. If a land is needed in Kano for a church, they should get it after following the due process.

“Muslim leaders have tried so much. I have gone across the globe to say that there is no problem between Islam and Christianity.

We are not going deep enough —Oritsejafor

Oritsejafor said: “But if we would come together there must be sincerity, equality, fear of God and genuine love for one another. The problem with gatherings like this is that if we are not careful it becomes an occasion for good photographs, we shake hands, we talk very nicely, we are all politically correct. We don’t want to offend each other.

Please let’s offend each other, we need to. Because if we don’t offend each other, we will not tell each other the truth and that is part of Nigeria’s problem.

“If you come out to say certain things, there are those who feel you are rocking the boat, but God is in the boat, the boat will not sink. Let us talk to each other, let’s tell the truth to each other and let’s not sweep it under the carpet. When we finish the opening ceremony and you go into the close door session, lay all the cards on the table.

“It is truth your Eminence that Christianity and Islam have no problem but I’m glad you said, there could be problem between Christians and Muslims and the reason is because probably we are not going deep enough.”

Likening Nigeria to the boat in the Holy Bible that wanted to sink with Jesus Christ on board but did not sink, he noted that many things have happened in Nigeria that have rocked the boat, but the boat has remained standing.

He said: “Some are religious, political, tribal, but different things have happened that have rocked the boat. But let me still thank the Lord that the boat is still floating.”

Querying why a church in the North in the last 30 years have not been able to get a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) for land, he said any mosque or church should be able to get C of O anywhere in the country.

Letter to Boko Haram

He charged the Sultan to also write a letter to Boko Haram to stop their attacks and not just the letter to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

He said: “His Eminence said he wrote a letter to ISIS, I have to truly congratulate you for that because that was a very good move. I didn’t know about it until today and I am so glad it happened. But I want to appeal that you also write to Boko Haram because Boko Haram is worst than ISIS. They have killed more people than ISIS, they have caused more atrocities than ISIS. They need to be written to as well, it is very important it will help.”

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PDP blasts N700m budget for Aregbesola’s inauguration

Osun state chapter of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, queried what it called “bogus budget” for the inauguration of Osun state governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola for a second term.

Governor Aregbesola is due to be inaugurated for another term on Thursday, November 27, but the opposition party in a statement issued in Osogbo by Prince Diran Odeyemi, the party’s spokesperson, said the budget of N700 million for the swearing-in ceremony “amid hunger by workers, who have not been paid salary in the last three months tells much about the kind of leaders holding the reigns in Osun at the moment.”

The party reminded the governor on what he said in November, 2012, while addressing some bankers that “I can pay workers salary every 25th day of the month without monthly allocation from the federation account and I will not owe them a penny” but regretted that just two years after, the governor has found it hard paying workers, even when statutory allocations due to the state are still being given to him.

In another development, the Chairman, Osun State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Ganiyu Olaoluwa has condemned the All Progressives Congress APC led government in the state for what it described as its lackadaisical attitude towards the plight of teachers in the state.

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Ebola: Ministry Warns Against Smuggling Of Frozen Chicken

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has warned Nigerians involved in the smuggling  frozen chicken to desist  from doing so as it could bring back the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) .

The warning was contained in a statement issued in Abuja by the Federal Department of Animal Production and Husbandry Services.

The statement noted that the importation of poultry and poultry products had continued to find their way into local markets through several land borders despite the ban on such products.

It quoted the USAID Agricultural Information Network as reporting that 90 per cent of frozen chicken in  come through Benin Republic and other West African countries.

It  also blamed the decline in the consumption of local chicken, loss of jobs provided by the poultry industry and decrease in national income generated from the poultry sub-sector on the illegal trade.

Although the statement acknowledged that the sale of frozen chicken had become a means of livelihood for some Nigerians, it stated that its continuous consumption posed a great health risk.

Some factors adduced by nutritionists for its health risk include the length of storage of frozen chicken before reaching Nigeria.

According to the statement the quality is usually very low due to the break in cold chain during several hours of land journey in Nigeria through illegal routes.

The statement also identified the absence of quality certification or standard of instruments used as another source of health risk.

Besides the above factors, the recent outbreak of EVD in some West African countries had shown that the handling of these products could transmit the disease, the statement said.

It said that people handling these frozen chicken were not known and as such, there were no checks on the storage facility and the mode of transportation.

The statement also claimed that the deaths caused by the EVD and burial places, may not have been properly reported in some of these West African countries.

It warned that Nigerians should not assume that all affected West African countries had achieved 100 per cent tracking and control of EVD as Nigeria had done.

“It is on this note that the Federal Department of Animal Production and Husbandry Services is calling on Nigerians smuggling chicken to desist from doing so.

“The department is also calling on the Nigerian Customs Service to step up surveillance to further curb this illegal trade.

“Similarly, agricultural and health watchdogs must keep a vigilant eye on poultry product to prevent contaminants in the product”, the statement further said.

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Court Frees Oguche, Suspected Mastermind Of Nyanya Bomb Blast

A federal court in Abuja has freed Aminu Oguche, the suspected mastermind of the Nyanya bomb attack in Abuja.

The court struck out a two-count terrorism charge against Ogwuche on Monday, after months of trial for the April 2014 attack which killed more than 70 people.

The court hinged its decision on lack of diligent prosecution by the state.

Ogwuche, a suspected Boko Haram member, was accused by the Nigerian government of being behind the attack.

The blast at the Nyanya Motor Park occurred during morning peak hours as residents were hurrying to work.

The government said Ogwuche fled to Sudan after coordinating the attack.

He was later repatriated to Nigeria to face charges.

More details soon..

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