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Senate Declines Passage Of N22.7trn Ways and Means Restructuring

*Nigeria risks additional N1.8trn debt

*Adjourns to Feb 28 after Presidential/NASS elections

Refusing to toe it’s earlier stand , Senate on Wednesday failed to pass the N22.7trillion Ways and Means Restructuring request forwarded to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari in December 2022 for expeditious consideration.

Precisely 3 Weeks ago, while assenting to the N21.83trillion 2023 budget, President Buhari warned of the grevious consequences not to pass the request , part of which would put Nigeria at the risk of incurring additional N1.8trillion debt.

However, at Senate plenary yesterday ,the request was neither listed on the Order Paper used for plenary on Wednesday nor mentioned by the Senate Leader, Senator Abdullahi Gobir, who is the chairman of the special committee set up for that purpose.

Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, had on Tuesday last week, declared that the Red Chamber was ready to approve the request, provided required details of the spendings were made available by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed and the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele.

Lawan said if not for restructuring of N22.7trillion Ways and Means request, the Senate and by extension, the House of Representatives would have adjourned plenary on Thursday last week till after the Presidential and National Assembly election.

“We must have necessary information for passage of the N22.7trillion Ways and Means Restructuring request as time is not on our side in the Senate now in view of coming general elections.

“If there is need for the Senate to sit up to Friday (last week) for thorough consideration and passage of the request, it will be done but the affected officials from the executive must also expedite action on provision of required information as regards documents authorising approval and disbursement of the monies totalling N22.7trillion,” he had said.

But the Senator Gobir-led committee did not present any report for consideration by the Senate on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, making the Senate to adjourn without approving it as earlier planned.

Sources close to the committee said the expected details from the executive arm of government on how the N22.7trillion was expended within 10 years were not provided.

President Buhari, while warning against non-approval of the request by the National Assembly, had said: “Balance of N22.7trillion Ways and Means, has accumulated over several years and represents funding provided by the CBN as lender of last resort to the government to enable it to meet obligations to lenders, as well as cover budgetary shortfalls in projected revenues and/or borrowings.

”I have no intention to fetter the right of the National Assembly to interrogate the composition of this balance, which can still be done even after granting the requested approval.

”Failure to grant the securitization approval will however cost the government about N1.8 trillion in additional interest in 2023 given the differential between the applicable interest rates which is currently MPR plus 3% and the negotiated interest rate of 9% and a 40year repayment period on the securitised debt of the Ways and Means.”

Meanwhile, the Senate has adjourned plenary to Tuesday, February 28 after the Presidential/National Assembly elections slated for Saturday, February 25 to enable lawmakers participate actively in the ongoing campaigns by various political parties across the country.

The Senate President announced this shortly before they adjourned plenary on Wednesday.

*Senate Task IGP To Probe
Disappearance of NSCDC Boss Posted To Bayelsa

Senate has asked the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Alkali Baba to investigate the sudden disappearance of the Deputy Commandant of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Raymond Gaadi, who was meant to assume office at the Bayelsa State Command.

The upper legislative chamber also urged the Commandant General of the NSCDC to direct an internal investigation into the matter without further delay.

Gaadi, who was reportedly posted from Enugu to Bayelsa State was in Yenagoa, the state capital to resume but never assumed office as he was allegedly went missing.

The resolution of the upper legislative chamber to probe the incident followed a motion by Senator Emmanuel Orker-Jev, who stressed the need for urgent action by the police to intensify efforts in unravelling the whereabout of the security officer.

According to the Benue lawmaker, the missing deputy commandant had raised alarm that the officer he was meant to take over from in Bayelsa was not only resisting to handover, but was allegedly threatening him.

Senator Orker-Jev added that two days after the deputy commandant raised alarm over threat to his
his life, he went missing.

He lamented that the authority of NSCDC has displayed little or no concern over the matter since October 29, 2022.

Senators, in their contributions, urged the IGP to direct full criminal investigation into the disappearance of the deputy commandant of the Corps.

43 Years Since Inception,
Senate Now Moves To Give PRODA Establishment Law*

After 43 years in operation, a bill seeking to give the Project Development Agency, PRODA under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology in Enugu State, legal backing is in the works.

The Bill which will enable PRODA function optimally, has also passed second reading in the Senate.

The piece of legislation would further strengthen the agency with the broad function of generating and catalyzing industrialization by carrying out industrial research from the laboratory stage to the pilot plant stage, and by rendering consultancy services to government, industry and individuals in the country.

Sponsor of the bill, Senator Frank Ibezim (APC lmo North), said once PRODA have a legal backing it required, it would be very effective and rain out the right functions in research and development in the South East where they have lots of need to showcase natural products.

He said: “For PRODA that has been established for 43 years in Enugu, South East of Nigeria to function optimally, we have to give it a legal backing. So, coming to the Senate and realizing that it has no legal backing, l felt like, there is no reason why we should not give it a legal backing because once PRODA have a legal backing, it would be very effective and functions the way it ought to do.

“You know the importance of research and development in the South East where we have lots of needs for us to showcase the natural products over there. And for PRODA that was established all these years to do that and function optimally, l have to come up with the bill to give it legal backing and make it to function as expected.

“A lot of people were shocked to hear that PRODA do not have legal backing, so l have no doubt that the chairman of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology which I am also a member would be happy to do the necessary work to call a public hearing for all stakeholders to contribute to the bill so that the required relevant works would be done for its passage.”

Senator Ibezim further told journalists that when passed into law, the bill would enable the research institute perform under international best practices.

PRODA, formerly known as the Research and Production Department of the old Eastern Region, the institute was the manufacturing engine room for the prosecution of the civil war for the defunct Biafra Republic.

One of the most notable inventions of the institute during the civil war was the “Ogbunigwe” bomb, a self-propelled rocket with an 8-kilometre range that could wipe out a company of enemy troops.

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FG Approves N24.2bn For Free Internet At Airports, Schools, Markets



THE Federal Government has approved free internet services worth N24.2 billion naira at 20 selected airports, 43 universities and six markets across the country.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Isa Pantami, disclosed this after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday

Pantami said that the airports were selected from the six geo-political zones.

“Certain intervention projects are going to be implemented by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Nigerian Communications Commission of providing Internet in 20 selected airports in Nigeria and higher institutions of learning and also some markets to support micro small and medium enterprises.

“In each geopolitical zone, you have around three airports. In the South-West, we have Lagos and Ondo. For the South-East, we have Anambra and Enugu.

“For the South-South, we have Port Harcourt and Akwa Ibom. For the North-Central we have Abuja and Ilorin. In the North-West, we have Kano, Sokoto and Kebbi. For the North-East we have Yola, Maiduguri and Gombe.”

The minister said the markets and 43 institutions which include universities and polytechnics were also drawn from the six geopolitical zones, adding that it will ease e-learning in schools and also enhance the transition to a cashless economy.

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Buhari Approves Appointment Of 6 New Perm Secs



President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday approved the appointment of six new permanent secretaries in the Federal Civil Service

The appointments followed after a recent conducted selection process.

The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HOCSF),Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan, made this known in a statement by Mohammed Ahmed, Director of Communications of the Office of the HOCSF,

The appointees and their states of origin are Esuabana Asanye (Cross River), Mahmud Kambari (Borno), Richard Pheelangwah (Taraba), Lamuwa Ibrahim (Gombe), Yakubu Kofar-Mata (Kano) and Oloruntola Michael (Ogun).

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DSS Confirms Plot To Install Interim Govt



The Department of State Security Service has said that the plot to Instal interim government was real

DSS noted that the plot was “by some key players” to install an interim government and stop Bola Ahmed Tinubu from being inaugurated as president.

A statement on Wednesday, by Peter Afunanya, the public relations officer of the secret police, said: “The Department of State Services (DSS) has identified some key players in the plot for an Interim Government in Nigeria.

“The Service considers the plot, being pursued by these entrenched interests, as not only an aberration but a mischievous way to set aside the constitution and undermine civil rule as well as plunge the country into an avoidable crisis.

“The illegality is totally unacceptable in a democracy and to the peace loving Nigerians. This is even more so that the machination is taking place after the peaceful conduct of the elections in most parts of the country.”

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