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Budget of Progress and Development! Inside Gov Ambode’s N1.046Trn 2018 Budget

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Akinwunmi Ambode,of Lagos state,on Monday presented the Year 2018 Budget proposal of N1.046trillion to the House of Assembly, with a pledge that his administration will make every effort to complete all ongoing projects as well as initiate new ones to consolidate on the development recorded in the last 30 months. Governor Ambode, who christened the 2018 Budget as “Budget of Progress and Development”, said it would be used to consolidate on the achievements recorded in infrastructure, education, transportation/traffic management, security and health sectors. He said the Budget would also focus on mandatory capacity building for civil servants, all teachers in public secondary/primary schools, officers in the health service sector and women & youth empowerment alongside Medium and Small/Micro Size Entrepreneurs (MSMSE’s). Outlining the key components of the budget, Governor Ambode said capital expenditure would gulp N699.082billion while N347.039billion would be dedicated to recurrent expenditure, representing a Capital/Recurrent ratio of 67 percent to 33 percent and a 28.67 percent increase over Y2017 budget. The Governor said that despite the modest achievements recorded in 2017, there was still much work ahead, assuring that Government would not relent in its efforts to give Lagosians the best by way of continuous and efficient service delivery. “Lagos has always been a trailblazer and we must consolidate on the economic gains made so far by initiating people-friendly programmes and projects that will attract more economic improvement in Y2018. “It is our resolve in Y2018 to strive and complete all on-going projects in order to meet their specified completion period and embark on new strategic projects. We intend to improve on our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the face of the dwindling accruable revenue allocation from the Federal Government, sustain our vision on wealth creation and poverty alleviation,” Governor Ambode said. The Governor also listed key projects captured in the 2018 Budget to include the Agege Pen Cinema flyover; alternative routes through Oke-Ira in Eti-Osa to Epe-Lekki Expressway; the 8km regional road to serve as alternative route to connect Victoria Garden City (VGC) with Freedom Road in Lekki Phase I; completion of the on-going reconstruction of Oshodi International Airport Road into a 10-lane road and the BRT Lane from Oshodi to Abule-Egba. On infrastructural renewal, Governor Ambode said his administration remains committed to sustaining the tempo of continuous construction, rehabilitation, upgrading and maintenance of network of roads across the State including those within the boundary areas of Lagos and Ogun States and that the bus reform initiative would be consolidated with the introduction of high and medium capacity buses, construction and completion of bus depots at Oshodi, Anthony, Yaba and many others. He also said the movement of Mile 12 market to Imota had reached an advanced stage and would be completed in good time to pave way for relocation next year, while the 181 Local Government Roads will be commenced as contractors will be mobilized immediately, as well as continuous gridlock resolution, junction improvement, construction of more laybys and advancement of signalization that will improve traffic congestion especially along the Lekki-Epe corridor. In the area of job creation, Governor Ambode said the Government would construct an ICT Focus Incubator Centre in Yaba, commence the development of Imota and Igbonla Light Industrial Park as well as the provision of additional small scale industrial estate at Shala, while the State Employment Trust Fund will disburse more funds to Lagosians to support business and stimulate the economy. Governor Ambode also assured that his administration will vigorously pursue its planned direct intervention in the power value chain towards generating 3,000MW Embedded Power Programme within a three-year plan to achieving 24/7 power supply for the State, stressing that the challenge of inadequate power supply must be resolved for the economy to perform optimally. He said within the 2018 fiscal year, the Government would continue to rekindle its efforts in the area of Tourism, Sports, Arts and Culture as well as embark on some major projects that would ensure that the State emerges as the hub for tourism, sports and entertainment. He listed some of the projects to include completion of the five new Art Theatres; establish a Heritage Centre at the former Federal Presidential State House recently handed over to the State Government; build a world class museum between the former Presidential Lodge and the State House, Marina; fast-track construction of the proposed four new stadia in Igbogbo, Epe, Badagry and Ajeromi Ifelodun (Ajegunle) and complete the on-going Epe and Badagry Marina projects. On Housing, Governor Ambode said that all on-going projects especially those at Gbagada, Igbogbo, Iponri, Igando, Omole Phase I, Sangotedo and Ajara-Badagry would be completed for delivery under the Rent-to-Own policy. While acknowledging the cooperation and support received from Lagosians, members of the Business Community, Professional Bodies, Non-governmental Organizations and the State Civil Servants in years past, the Governor noted that the modest achievements by his administration within a short period couldn’t have been possible without residents who have been paying their taxes willingly and faithfully. Besides, Governor Ambode urged residents to embrace the Public Utility Levy as the Cleaner Lagos Initiative aimed at ensuring a cleaner and healthier environment would commence in 2018. Governor Ambode also commended members of the House of Assembly for their selfless service and support, saying that they have proven themselves to be dynamic and robust lawmakers and partners in progress. Giving a sectoral breakdown at a press briefing in Alausa, Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akinyemi Ashade said General Public Services got N171,623bn, representing 16.41 percent; Public Order and Safety, N46.612bn, representing 4.46; Economic Affairs, N473,866bn, 45.30 percent; Environmental Protection, N54,582bn, representing 5.22percent while Housing and Community Amenities got N59,904bn, representing 5.73 percent. Ashade also told journalists that Health sector got N92.676billion, representing 8.86percent; Recreation, Culture and Religion got N12.511billion, representing 1.20 percent; Education got N126.302billion representing 12.07percent, while Social Protection got N8.042billion representing 0.77percent. Receiving the budget, Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon Mudashiru Obasa commended Governor Ambode for faithfully executing the year 2017 budget, saying the positive impact of such had been felt across the State with various projects such as the Abule Egba, Ajah and Pen Cinema Flyovers, among other numerous projects in various sectors. Obasa, who specifically lauded the fact that the 2018 budget estimate had provision for continuous infrastructural development in various sectors such as transport, security, environment, housing, health and capacity building for all public servants including teachers and health workers, however assured that the House would scrutinize it and ensure that the budget delivered on its promises to stimulate the economy of the State by focusing on infrastructure development, delivering inclusive growth and prioritizing the welfare of all Lagosians. The event was attended by dignitaries in the State including members of the State Executive Council led by the Deputy Governor, Dr Idiat Adebule, former Speakers of the Lagos State House of Assembly, members of the National Assembly from Lagos State, former Deputy Governors of the State, party chieftains, traditional rulers, religious leaders, among others.

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$200m Scandal: Reps declines to reinstate contract of Atiku’s Intels

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The House of Representatives on Tuesday rejected the recommendation of its committee that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) reinstates its contract with Intels, a logistics maritime operator.

The House said the company which reportedly made infractions on the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of the federal government, disrespected the legislature by shunning the probe instituted in 2017.

Recall that the House of Representatives had in October 2017 set up an ad-hoc committee with a mandate to investigate the process that led to the termination of the contract between NPA and Intels, a company substantially owned by Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the impending general elections.

The committee chaired by the Deputy Chief Whip of the House, Mr. Pally Iriase (APC, Edo) had laid the report of its investigations on the 12th December 2018.

During consideration of the report today, it was found out that the committee, among others, recommended that “the notice of termination of contract agreement should be formally withdrawn since Intels Nigeria Limited have complied with the Federal Government Policy on Treasury Single Account (TSA).”

Other recommendations include: “that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and INTELS Nigeria Limited should sign the new Standard Operating Procedure in the Supplemental Agreement, which should be in the best interest of Nigeria;

“That a schedule for the repayment plan for the amortization policy should be proposed and signed by both parties within one month upon the adoption of this recommendation;

“That NPA should henceforth adhere strictly to the provisions of the Nigerian Ports Authority Act in the administration and management of its operations; and

“That the Ad-lzoc Committee and the Committee on Legislative Compliance should ensure strict implementation of the above recommendations.”

But speaking against the report, Mr. John Dyegh (APC, Benue) said Intels is owing the federal government over $200million and that executives of the company also failed to appear at the hearing. He therefore called for the rejection of the report.

He said: “Intel is owing the federal government $200million and we have not seen any evidence that they have paid the money, according to the report, everyone came for the public hearing, except Intels.

“You don’t have respect for the House, for the committee, but you want benefit from the House, I urge the House to reject this generous report.”

Also opposing the report, Sodiq Ibrahim (APC, Adamawa) said “the contract was terminated on the principle of not remitting $200million, and the committee is recommending that Nigeria should go back into agreement with them?

“I think the House should step down the report, and rework it, a pro Intel report.”

In his reaction to the contributions on the report, Mr. Iriase agreed that the report should be reworked adding that the House committee with legislative oversight over NPA should join his panel to conduct a holistic investigation into the relationship between NPA and Intels.

Recall that when the motion on the contract termination was moved in 2017 the debate was politicized as some PDP members viewed it as a political attack on Atiku. During today’s proceedings however the report was rejected unanimously.

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2019 elections: Danjuma raises alarm over plots to rig polls

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A former  Minister of Defence  Lt Gen Theophilus Danjuma on Tuesday raised the alarm over an alleged plot to rig next month’s general elections.

Danjuma made the allegation while inaugurating a medical laboratory at the Rufkatu Danjuma Maternity Hospital in his Takum hometown in  Taraba State.

The former Chief of Army Staff also described democracy in the country as primitive.

He claimed there was a plan to cause unrest that would make some states ungovernable in order to manipulate the elections.

Danjuma warned the people of Taraba to protect their votes to prevent electoral fraud.

The retired general said, “We must work hard for peace in addition to just registering and obtaining our Permanent Voter Cards.

“There is no need to fight one another because they will use the police and soldiers to destabilise us and rig the elections.

“It is in our best interest to ensure there is peace. Those behind this plot know that they will not win elections if there is peace. I want to call on you not to sell your votes because you will be selling your birthright if you do so.”

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Interior Minister, Dambazau blasts ex-IGP Idris

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Minister of Interior Lt-Gen Abdulrahman Dambazau

The Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau,  said the Nigeria Police Force did not get any major project from the Federal Government in the past three years because the immediate past Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, did not relate well with his ministry.

He stated that the ministry had a cordial relationship with former IG Solomon Arase, but the situation changed when Idris took over.

The minister, who revealed this when the acting IG Mohammed Adamu paid him a courtesy call at his office in Abuja on Tuesday, commended the police boss for taking the right step to mend the strained relationship.

“I want to first congratulate you on this position you are elevated to and add my prayers that God grants you success. I also want to appreciate your coming here on a courtesy visit, recognising the significance of the Ministry of Interior in terms of its supervisory mandate to the police and other agencies including its mandate in terms of internal security and public safety,” the minister said.

“We are happy that you took this step because since early 2016, shortly after I came in as Minister in November 2015, I had a very cordial relationship with the then IGP, Solomon Arase, but when Arase left, there was the severance of relations between the police and the Ministry of Interior.

“It was not completely though because most of our dealings in terms of internal security and public safety were with the DIG Operations and because we must do everything possible to ensure that we not only carry our supervisory mandate in terms of policy but also to ensure that police as an institution does not suffer,” he noted.

Speaking further, the minister said: “We are indeed glad that you came in with an absolutely different idea regarding this relationship. Throughout three years, we have presented more than 25 memoranda to FEC that have to do with policies concerning the country, but none of them involved the police except few that came from Police Academy, Wudil.

“So, this is the kind of thing that we must be able to avoid because you need the parent ministry to represent you at the FEC. That related with us here. We need to work together with the kind of security challenges we are experiencing in this country as you mentioned. I will appreciate the idea and concept of community policing. There are so many things in terms of policy you can drive from here.

“Ours stop at making policies because the implementation is absolutely yours. We will not interfere in that area at all. We have capable and experienced hands in the ministry that can make lots of inputs, particularly in this democratic environment that you need this process. I want to reassure that this ministry will give you all the support you need to succeed.

“We will not pretend about it; there are security challenges in the country, but they must be tackled and we must put heads together to ensure we succeed in providing for Nigerians, the security they deserve. We do hope that this is just the beginning of our working together to ensure that you succeed,” he promised.

Speaking earlier, the acting IGP pleaded for forgiveness, promising that, having retraced their steps, they would not want to be left out of the activities of the ministry.

“It is really a privilege to be received today. Since my appointment as the new acting IGP, my thought was to first visit the Ministry of Interior which is the parent ministry where Nigeria Police belongs. I have not gone anywhere on courtesy call except this one and now that I have been here; I am now free to go to other places.

“We are aware of the fact that most of the policy issues concerning police operation come from the Ministry of Interior. We don’t want to be left out. We want to be deeply involved in the activities of the ministry. We want the minister to know that we are 100 per cent ready to participate in every activity of the ministry that involves security.

“We do have challenges involving security within the country. They are challenges that can be surmounted and we can easily overcome them with the full support of the parent ministry. If we were not participating in the past the way we should, we have now retraced our steps to return and do the needful for the benefit of the country and benefit of everybody. That is the reason for our coming,” he said.

In his entourage included seven deputy inspectors generals of police (DIGs) and an assistant inspector general of police among others.

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