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Revised budget: FG gives National Assembly N27bn for renovation, cuts health, UBE votes

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FG Budget N27.7bn renovation National Assembly

Revised budget: FG gives National Assembly N27bn for renovation, cuts health, UBE votes

The Federal Government of Nigeria has reduced the N37bn budget for the renovation of the National Assembly complex to N27.7bn.

The Federal Government, in the 2020 revised budget proposal, according to documents obtained by our correspondent on Tuesday, cut N9.3bn from the budget for the renovation of the National Assembly complex.

The renovation of the complex at the initial cost of N37bn, which is to be executed by the Federal Capital Territory Administration, attracted criticisms from a large section of Nigerians last year.

However, following the drop in the price of crude oil and a fall in the projected government revenue, it was learnt that the Federal Government decided to reduce the budget for the renovation.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had on Thursday presented the 2020 Appropriation Act (amendment) Bill to the National Assembly, which both the Senate and the House passed for second reading same day.

Buhari explained that the amendment became necessary in view of the sharp decline in crude oil prices and the cut in Nigeria’s crude oil production quota occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Basic health care slashed by 42.5 per cent

In the proposed revised budget, while the National Assembly complex renovation budget was reduced to N27.7bn (a reduction of 25.1 per cent), the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, which is meant to cater for all the primary healthcare centres across the 774 local government areas in the country, was significantly reduced by N44.4bn to N25.5bn, a decrease of more than 42.5 per cent

The BHCPF is made up of one per cent of the Federal Government Consolidated Revenue from international partners such as the World Bank, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development.

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It is the fundamental funding provision under the National Health Act and was appropriated for the first time in the 2018 budget since the Act was signed in 2014.

UBE fund reduced by over 54.25%

The Universal Basic Education fund was also reduced significantly from N111.7bn to N51.1bn, by more than 54.2 per cent, according to documents obtained by Dataphyte, an open data organisation.

The UBE is a reform programme aimed at providing greater access to quality basic education throughout Nigeria.

It seeks to ensure an uninterrupted access to nine-year formal education by providing free, and compulsory basic education for every child of school-going age.

N’Assembly, NJI’s allocations cut by 10%

Incidentally, the budget for the National Assembly which was N128bn was cut by only 10 per cent, bringing its revised total budget to N115.2bn.

The same calculation was applied to the National Judicial Council as its N110bn original budget was reduced by just 10 per cent, bringing it down to N99bn.

Cut in critical sectors’ allocations, a setback – Dataphyte

Speaking with The PUNCH on Tuesday, the Founder, Dataphyte, Mr Joshua Olufemi, described the cuts in critical sectors like education and health as a setback to Nigeria’s quest for development.

Olufemi said, “But the bigger dilemma borders on Nigeria’s priority. While budgetary allocations to the National Judicial Council, National Assembly, Independent National Electoral Commission, and other agencies of government have been reduced only by about 10 per cent respectively, budgetary provision for education is reduced by close to 55 per cent.

 

“Similarly, provision for basic health care fund is reduced by over 42 per cent. With the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, reduction in budgetary share for education and healthcare does not reflect the prioritisation of the citizen’s real needs.

With the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the country, an increase in budget share to the health sector is expected. To expand education access to the teeming Nigerian schoolchildren who are deprived of education during this period, additional budgetary commitment is also required. This is to cover up the cost of setting up virtual learning alternatives.”

It’s shameful, says CACOL

In his comment, the Executive Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Debo Adeniran, said it was unfortunate that Nigeria, which is the poverty capital of the world, would relegate the health and education sectors.

Adeniran said Nigeria had one of the highest maternal and mortality rates in the world as well as out of school children and the government ought to give priority to health and education.

He said, “Why should we waste N27bn on building that is not showing any sign of distress? It is a misplaced priority and a total waste. The National Assembly doesn’t need repainting let alone renovation.

“Nigeria is the poverty capital in the world despite being one of the most endowed countries. It is the misplaced of priorities that brought us to this sorry state we found ourselves.

“Nigerians are dying from treatable and preventable diseases and the government thinks it is right to slash the health budget while maintaining the N27bn for renovation? It is a shame.”

N27bn allocation for N’Assembly renovation, injustice to Nigerians – HDA

Also speaking to The PUNCH, the Executive Director of Human and Development Agenda, Lanre Suraj, said Buhari could not claim not to be aware of the injustice being done to Nigerians.

Suraj said reducing the health budget showed that the government had not learnt any lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said, “It will be very difficult to absolve the President of the blame. This is a disservice to young people and Nigerians in general. It is obvious the government doesn’t have the interest of the masses at heart.

“The pandemic has exposed the poor state of the public health centres as they have failed to meet up to standard in the pandemic. To reduce the basic health care fund by almost 50 per cent and then maintain the budget for National Assembly complex renovation which has no bearing on the people is a betrayal of trust and all citizens must reject it.”

When contacted on the telephone, the Special Adviser on Media and Communications, Yunusa Abdullahi, asked our correspondent to send a text message so he could respond appropriately. He had yet to respond as of press time.

In December last year, there was outrage over N37bn budgeted for the renovation amid dwindling allocations to important sectors.

Curiously, before the budget was reviewed, while N37bn was budgeted for the repair of the National Assembly complex, N36.6 billion was allocated for the repair of federal roads.

But the Senate had said the outrage was misplaced on the grounds that the National Assembly leadership played no role either in the approval, the execution or the cost of the project.

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Immigration Recruitment Exercise Commences

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The Nigerian Immigration Service has announced the commencement of their recruitment exercise.

In a press release on Monday, the Civil Defense, Correctional Fire, and Immigration Services Board approved the commencement of the NIS 2019/2020 recruitment exercise.

Of all the 45,323 persons that sat for the Computer Based Test, 6,105 persons have been shortlisted by the board to attend the final screening of credentials and physical fitness.

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The shortlisted candidates will be invited for the screening via text and emails on Monday, May 10, 2021.

Applicants are advised to check the official website of the NIS for their names and screening details: exam location and guidelines for the recruitment exercise.

Selected applicants are to print out their invitation slips which will be used to admit them into the screening venue.

According to the release, the screening will commence on May 24, 2021, and does not attract any fee.

Applicants are also advised to tender any complaints and report to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Crimes Commission (ICPC) or the NIS website.

The release signed by Aisha Ahmed Rufai, the Director/Secretary of the CDCFIB, stressed that applicants whose names do not appear on the website should not visit the venues of the screening exercise.

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Nigerian Tweeps Mourn As Adeboye Loses 42-Year-Old-Son

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Nigerians have taken to Twitter to mourn Dare Adeboye, the son of the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye.

It had earlier reported that the third surviving son of the 79-year-old general overseer died in his sleep on Wednesday, at Eket, Akwa–Ibom. He was 42 years old.

Following the incident, many Nigerians have taken to social media to express sadness and condole Adeboye and his wife.

A member of the House of Representatives from Ondo East-West Constituency, Biola Makinde, commiserated with the Adeboye family on the death of their son.

Makinde tweeted, “I commiserate with Pastor Enoch Adeboye, his family and entire members of Redeemed Christian Church of God, on the demise of his son, Dare Adeboye. I send warm embrace to you to give peace and comfort at this difficult moment. You equally have my prayers and positive wishes.”

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The Nigerian Baptist Convention, via its Twitter page, also sent condolences to the family.

“Our prayer and thoughts are with the family of the General Overseas (Pastor E A Adeboye) and the entire member of RCCG for the loss of his son (Pastor Dare Adeboye). May the Lord console the family and the church of God.”

A tweep, Ugoh Benny, also mourned with the family. “My thoughts and prayers are with Papa E.A Adeboye and the entire RCCG family on the demise of their son. It’s a sad day indeed and may God by his Spirit supply the fortitude to bear this loss,” Benny tweeted.

@damilare4peace tweeted, “No father or mother deserves to bury their child, Daddy and Mummy G.O.’s faith in God is being tested right now. Losing a son at 79 is the most heart-wrenching experience. May Dare Adeboye’s soul find rest and May God comfort Daddy and Mummy G.O.”

@OjoAjinde also sympathised with the entire RCCG family as he tweeted, “I and my family sympathise with the entire Redeemed Family and most especially to Daddy G.O. on the loss of his son (Pst. Dare Adeboye) to eternal bosom of his Master. May God continue to uphold the Adeboyes.”

“May Dare Adeboye’s soul find rest. May God comfort Daddy and Mummy GO,” @truthwiththegods tweeted.

According to @startop30, “My sincere condolences to the family of Pastor Adeboye on the loss of his son, Pastor Dare.

Meanwhile, some tweeps still haven’t come to terms with the fact that Adeboye lost his son.

@kennygee_70 wrote, “Just read that Pastor Adeboye lost his son (still praying it’s a wrong message). May God comfort and console him and the entire family of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, may the hand of death be stayed.”

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Doctors to discontinue strike, FG begins payments Friday –Gbajabiamila

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The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said Following an exhaustive meeting with members of the National Association of Resident Doctors, they have hinted that they are ready to suspend their planned resumption of strike on Friday.

A statement issued by the Office of the Speaker said the doctors, at the resumption of the meeting with Gbajabiamila, which began last week, said they would suspend the planned resumption of the strike as soon as they got payment for their salary arrears, ranging from one to five months.

The statement issued by the Special Adviser to the Speaker on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, said the doctors took the position after the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said funds were available for the payment, while assuring that her ministry would pay immediately a verified list of the beneficiaries was received.

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According to the statement, when the Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Mr Ben Akabueze, who was one of the stakeholders at the meeting, confirmed that his office was in receipt of the list, the minister gave her word that payment would be made by May 7.

The statement was titled ‘Resident doctors hint at suspension of planned strike…after exhaustive meeting with Gbajabiamila.’

The resident doctors had on April 1, 2021, embarked on an indefinite strike, making demands that included non-payment of house officers, abolishment of bench fees, non-payment of national minimum wage, salary shortfall for 2014, 2015 and 2016, residency training allowance, and payment of resident doctors on GIFMIS platform.

All the issues raised by the doctors were resolved, except that of salary shortfall for 2014, 2015 and 2016. The issue involves all health workers with a cost implication of about N23bn, which the Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora, described as “huge and complicated.”

Also, there were claims that a case on the matter was before a court, which the Speaker asked the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, to produce the relevant court papers to back the claim as the resident doctors said their checks revealed there was no pending court case anywhere on the matter.

It was then agreed jointly by the doctors, the House led by the Speaker and officials of the ministry of health that the matter should be set aside until court papers were provided.

Others present at the meeting, which lasted up to late Tuesday evening, were the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu; Minority Whip, Gideon Gwani; Chairman, House Committee on Healthcare Services, Tanko Sununu, among others.

On the part of the Executive arm were Dr Ehanire; Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs Folasade Yemi-Esan; Chairman of the Committee of CMDs, Dr Jafaru Momoh; the NARD President, Dr Okhuaihesuyi Uyilawa, among others.

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