After expressing deep concern about changes effected on the 2022 budget by the National Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday reluctantly signed the N17.127 trillion 2022 Appropriation Bill into law.
The presidency had submitted a N16.391 trillion proposal to the national assembly but the lawmakers increased the budget size to N17.127 trillion.
The President, who also assented to the 2021 Finance Bill at a brief ceremony at the Council Chambers of the State House, Abuja, further hinted of the readiness of his administration to submit an amendment to the 2022 Appropriation law to the legislative arm early in 2022 to take care of the alterations by the National Assembly.
Buhari, while signing the two documents in the presence of Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), expressed strong reservations about the ‘‘worrisome changes’’ to the budget.
Buhari said the lawmakers reduced the amount allocated to some projects, but added 6,576 projects of their own to the 2022 budget.
He announced that he would revert to the National Assembly with a request for amendment as soon as the Assembly resumed, to ensure that critical ongoing projects cardinal to the administration did not suffer a setback due to reduced funding.
The President said: ‘‘I signed the 2022 Appropriation Bill into law to enable its implementation to commence on 1st January 2022. ‘‘It is in this regard that I must express my reservations about many of the changes that the National Assembly has made to the 2022 Executive Budget proposal.
“Some of the worrisome changes are as follows: Increase in projected FGN Independent Revenue by N400 billion, the justification for which is yet to be provided to the Executive.
‘‘Reduction in the provision for Sinking Fund to Retire Maturing Bonds by N22 billion without any explanation.
‘‘Reduction in the provisions for the Non-Regular Allowances of the Nigerian Police Force and the Nigerian Navy by N15 billion and N5 billion respectively.
‘‘This is particularly worrisome because personnel cost provisions are based on agencies’ nominal roll and approved salaries/allowances;
‘‘Furthermore, an increase of N21.72 billion in the Overhead budgets of some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) while the sum of N1.96 billion was cut from the provision for some MDAs without apparent justification.
‘‘Increase in the provision for Capital spending (excluding Capital share in Statutory Transfer) by a net amount of N575.63 billion, from N4.89 trillion to N5.47 trillion.’’
President Buhari also expressed concern about the reductions in provisions for some critical projects, including N12.6 billion in the Ministry of Transport’s budget for the ongoing Rail Modernisation projects; N25.8 billion from Power Sector Reform Programme under the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning; N14.5 billion from several projects of the Ministry of Agriculture, and introducing over 1,500 new projects into the budgets of this Ministry and its agencies.
The President expressed his reservations about the ‘‘Inclusion of new provisions totaling N36.59 billion for National Assembly’s projects in the Service Wide Vote which negates the principles of separation of powers and financial autonomy of the Legislative arm of government.
He said: ‘‘The changes to the original Executive proposal are in the form of new insertions, outright removals, reductions and/or increases in the amounts allocated to projects.
‘‘Provisions made for as many as 10,733 projects were reduced while 6,576 new projects were introduced into the budget by the National Assembly.
‘‘Reductionbin the provisions for many strategic capital projects to introduce ‘Empowerment’ projects.
‘‘The cuts in the provisions for several of these projects by the National Assembly may render the projects unimplementable or set back their completion, especially some of this Administration’s strategic capital projects.
‘‘Most of the projects inserted relate to matters that are basically the responsibilities of State and Local Governments, and do not appear to have been properly conceptualised, designed and costed.”
According to the President, the 2022 Budget provides for aggregate expenditures of N17.127 trillion, an increase of N735.85 billion over the initial Executive Proposal for a total expenditure of N16.391 trillion.
The President explained that N186.53 billion of the increase however came from additional critical expenditures that he had directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to forward to the National Assembly.
‘‘The Minister will provide the public with the details of the budget as passed by the National Assembly, and signed into law by me,’’ he said.
Buhari announced that as the 2023 Budget is going to be a transition budget, work would start in earnest to ensure early submission of the 2023-2025 Medium-Term
Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper, as well as the 2023 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly.
He, therefore, directed Heads of MDAs to cooperate with the Ministry of Finance,
Budget and National Planning, more specifically with the Budget Office of the Federation, to realise this very important objective.
On COVID-19 and budget implementation, the President said despite the lingering adverse effects of the pandemic, he was happy with the success recorded in the implementation of the 2021 Budget.
President Buhari commended the understanding and speedy action of the National Assembly on this matter.
To achieve the laudable objectives of the 2022 Budget, President Buhari pledged that the federal government would further intensify revenue mobilisation efforts.
He expressed optimism in the ability of the government to finance the budget considering the positive global oil market outlook and the continuing improvement in non-oil revenues.
Buhari said: ‘‘I also appeal to our fellow citizens and the business community at large to fulfill their tax obligations promptly.
‘‘However, being a deficit budget, the specific Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the
National Assembly shortly.
‘‘I count on the cooperation of the National Assembly for a quick consideration and approval of the Plan when submitted.
‘‘All borrowings will be judiciously utilised and invested in our future growth and prosperity.’’
Ferdinand Marcos Jr sworn in as Philippines president
Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of the Philippines’ late dictator, has been sworn in as the country’s new president.
Marcos Jr’s inauguration on Thursday marks a stunning political comeback for one of Asia’s most famous political dynasties, 36 years after the elder Marcos was toppled and forced into exile in a popular uprising.
Known as “Bongbong”, the 64-year-old Marcos Jr won a rare landslide victory in last month’s presidential election, helped by what critics have said was a years-long campaign to whitewash his family’s image.
He succeeds Rodrigo Duterte, who gained international notoriety for his deadly drug war and has threatened to kill suspected dealers after he leaves office.
The new president, in a speech that echoed his campaign slogans of unity, promised to take the country far on his watch with policies benefiting everyone, and thanked the public for delivering what he called “the biggest electoral mandate in the history of Philippine democracy”.
“You will not be disappointed, so do not be afraid,” he said at the inauguration ceremony, surrounded by his immediate family and with his sister Imee, a senator, and 92-year-old mother Imelda, a former four-time congresswoman, seated close by.
Marcos Jr also praised his late father’s rule, but said his presidency was not about the past, but a better future.
“I once knew a man who saw what little had been achieved since independence …. but he got it done sometimes with the needed support, sometimes without,” he said. “So will it be with his son. You will get no excuses from me.”
The late Marcos ruled the Philippines for two decades from 1965, almost half of it under martial law, helping him to extend his grip on power until his overthrow and his family’s retreat into exile during the 1986 People Power Revolution. Thousands of Marcos opponents were jailed, killed or disappeared during his rule, and the family name became synonymous with cronyism, extravagance and the disappearance of billions of dollars from state coffers.
The Marcos family has rejected accusations of embezzlement.
2023 Sallah: Sultan declares July 9 Eid al-Adha
The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, on Wednesday, declared July 9 as Eid al-Adha.
Also known as Sallah, Eid al-Adha will feature the slaughtering of ram during the period known as the “festival of sacrifice”.
This is the second significant celebration in Islam.
The first is Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.
In a statement issued by the National Moonsighting Committee, the Sultan urged Muslims to intensify prayers during the period.
It also declared Thursday, June 30, as the first day of Dhul Hijjah.
“Eidul Adha will be on Saturday, 10th Zul-Hijjah 1443H (9th July 2022) In Sha Allah,” the statement read in part.
Abducted wife of Zamfara NULGE chairman gives birth in captivity
A woman identified as Ramatu Yunusa with nine months of pregnancy, abducted at Damba area of Gusau, the Zamfara State capital, has reportedly given birth at the bandits’ camp.
According to the husband, Mr. Yunusa, Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Zamfara State chapter, the woman delivered at about 3 am on Wednesday, June 29, 2022 at the bandits’ camp.
He said he was not even allowed to see his wife and the baby.
“As I am talking to you now, I don’t know whether the new born baby is a boy or a girl but all I know is that my wife has given birth to the baby,” he lamented.
According to him, the bandits demanded any amount as ransom, stressing that the situation was very worrisome to him and the family.
It was gathered that the woman, Ramatu Yunusa, is a nurse with the Federal Medical Center in Gusau, the State capital.
She was kidnapped in the early hours of Tuesday, 28 day of June, 2022, at her Damba residence in Gusau, the State capital.
All efforts by journalists to get reaction from the State Police command proved abortive as the State police spokesman, SP Mohammed Shehu did not respond to calls.
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