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Reps authorise Buhari to spend N208 billion on new projects



The House of Representatives has increased the N180 billion virement sought for by President Muhammadu Buhari to fund critical recurrent and capital items by N28 billion, taking it to N208.821 billion.

The president had written the National Assembly on Oct. 26, seeking for the approval of the legislature to vire N180.8 billion from the funds appropriated for special intervention in the 2019 budget.

The intervention is to fund critical recurrent and capital items.

The report of the House Committee on Appropriation was presented to the House on Wednesday by its Chairman, Rep. Mustapha Dawaki (APC- Kano).

In the report was the request for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (foreign missions), increased from N14billion to N16.34 billion.

Also, increased was the request for statutory transfer (Public Complaints Commission), which had been increased from N1.2 billion to N2.5 billion. All other items were retained as requested.

While presenting the report to be debated and approved on Thursday, Dawaki disclosed that the committee, on Nov. 17 and Nov. 21, met with the relevant stakeholders and brainstormed on the proposal.

He said it was established that the affected MDAs justified the need for intervention and approval of the virement for their respective agencies.

“The committee observes that there are other areas of critical needs with potential for development and stimulating the economy and for which additional funds could be provided through virement from the Special Intervention Programme”

Details of the recommended proposal for approval showed that under Recurrent, the Service Wide Vote: Public Service Wage Adjustment (PSWA) takes N71.80billion, Service Wide Vote: Contingency N1.20billion.

Similarly, Service Wide Vote: Margin for increase in Cost (MIC) N2billion, Ministry of Interior: Cadet feeding-Police Academy, Wudil, Kano N932,40million, Service Wide Vote: Amnesty Programme N35billion.

Also,Service Wide Vote: Internal Operations of the Armed Forces N5.20billion, Service Wide Vote: Operation Lafiya Dole N13.93billion, Ministry of Youth and Sports Development: NYSCN19.79billion.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Foreign Missions N16.34billion, Federal Ministry of Education: Augmentation of Meal Subsidy/Direct Teaching & Laboratory Cost N900million.

Also recommended for approval under Statutory Transfer is Public Complaints Commission N2.5billion.

Under Capital items, the Ministry of Defence: Nigerian Air Force (NAF) is allocated N12.70billion, Capital Supplementation: Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE) N1.50billion, Payment of local Contractors Debts/Other Liabilities N25billion.

The total amount of amount to be vired is now N208.82billion, which is N28 billion higher than the N180.8 billion requested for by the president.

The committee also recommended that the sum of N300 million appropriated in the 2016 budget under the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) for the construction of 132 KVA Substation at Gwaram, Jigawa be vired for the Reconstruction of Fallen Towers, Replacement of Glass Insulators, for Gagarawa, Jigawa (TCN01B021775).

When the motion for the laying of the report, which was seconded by Rep. Saheed Fijabi (APC-Oyo) was tabled, it received unanimous approval from the plenary presided over by Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara

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Army withholds salaries of 45 soldiers in Borno



Authorities of the 7 Division Nigerian Army, Maiduguri, have withheld the salaries of 45 soldiers, according to sources.

The soldiers, who were among the 149 troops of the 153 Task Force Battalion withdrawn from Marte, Borno State, after spending three years in counterinsurgency operations, were accused of for abandoning their duty posts.

The battalion came under attack on three occasions during which several soldiers were killed while a range of weapons, equipment and vehicles were either carted away or destroyed.

The battalion was overhauled after the last attack in February.

A source said necessary changes were made and troops who served with the battalion were moved to different formations in Maiduguri before a new deployment was made.

“Some of the soldiers who were not seen at their new units were believed to have gone on AWOL (Absence Without Leave). Their salaries accounts were not credited in April,” he said.

But one of the affected soldiers said the allegation of desertion against them was untrue.

“We were not given our salaries and when we asked our supervisors in the 7 Division, we were shocked to hear that we had forfeited all our entitlements over desertion.”

Attempts to get the response of army authorities were not successful.

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EFCC goes after top officials of PDP over N10bn scandal



The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has invited officials of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for questioning over alleged criminal conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of funds and fraud.

This is coming barely a month after a chieftain in the PDP, Kazeem Afegbua, petitioned the anti-graft agency to scrutinise the Secondus-led National Working Committee on financial misappropriation.

In the letter of invitation dated May 17, 2021, and addressed to the Prince Uche Secondus, the EFCC said the need to obtain certain clarification from the party has become imperative.

The agency, however, requested the party’s National chairman to release the National Auditor, National Organising Secretary and Director of Finance to report at the EFCC headquarters from May 19th to 21st 2021.

The agency also requested the national officers to honor the invitation with relevant documents relating to sole of forms into the party’s elective positions from January 2017 to date.

Kazeem had in his petition alleged that much of the financial transactions of the PDP under Prince Uche Secondus has been shrouded in mystery, accusing the leadership of deliberate attempt to shortchange the party in the build up to the 2023 general elections.

However, Secondus had since denied the allegation and filed a N1 billion suit against the petitioner, Kazeem Afegbua.

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Nigeria’s drug control agency approves new COVID-19 vaccine



The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has granted approval for the conditional emergency use of Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria.

Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is the third vaccine recommended for administration in the country.

The director-general of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojiola Adeyeye, in a statement on Tuesday, said information on the vaccine shows it met the criteria for efficacy, safety and quality.

She said, “The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is administered as a single dose. Results from a clinical trial involving people in the United States, South Africa and Latin American countries found that Janssen COVID-19 vaccine was effective at preventing COVID-19 in people from 18 years of age.

“The Phase III clinical trial involved over 44,000 people. Half received a single dose of the vaccine and half were given placebo (a dummy injection). People did not know if they had been given Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine or placebo.

According to her, the trial showed a 67 per cent reduction in the number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases after two weeks in people who received Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine.

The most commonly reported side effects were pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and nausea. Most of these side effects were mild to moderate in severity and lasted 1-2 days.

On the vaccine safety, Adeyeye said NAFDAC, in line with its pharmacovigilance and safety monitoring plan for COVID-19 vaccines, will closely monitor and subject the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine to several activities that apply specifically to COVID-19 vaccines.

The AstraZeneca vaccine which Nigeria has been giving out has garnered many sceptics internationally after some recipients of the vaccine died.

At least 16 countries including Germany, France and Sweden have suspended the use of AstraZeneca, which put on the Nigerian government to suspend it.

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