Weekly political notes
2018 Budget: NASS ‘Smuggled In’ N578bn Own Projects-Buhari
President Muhammmadu Buhari on Wednesday signed the 2018 budget and decried that lawmakers made cuts amounting to N347 billion in the allocations to 4,700 projects he submitted for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own, amounting to N578 billion.
While signing the budget at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Buhari noted that he had intended to use the fiscal document to consolidate the achievements of previous budgets and deliver on Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020.
He said it was in that regard that he was concerned about some of the changes that the National Assembly had made to the budget proposals he presented.
According to the president, “The logic behind the constitutional direction that budgets should be proposed by the executive is that, it is the executive that knows and defines its policies and projects.”
President Buhari is not saying anything new, because he cannot feign ignorance that budgets are padded. Nigerians least expected this complaint from him. Is President Buhari saying he is not aware that National Assembly is synonymous with budget padding?
Nigerians are aware that National Assembly relies on its constitutional powers to alter budgets to suit personal interest of its members. It is an age-long tradition. That is what is called budget padding. It has been ongoing since 1999 and it may not stop soon, especially when no lawmaker or lawmakers have been prosecuted for the offence.
It was the same thing that happened to the 2016 budget, which was later revealed by a vocal member of House of Representatives, Abdulmumin Jibrin, who was subsequently suspended by the House leadership. Till date, nothing meaningful came out of Jibrin’s shocking disclosure of budget padding. In short, the leadership of the National Assembly was quick to defend its action. That was how everything was swept under the carpet.
In her recent book titled “Fighting Corruption Is Dangerous” the immediate past Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala revealed how the 7th National Assembly allegedly took N17b before passing the 2015 budget. The story of National Assembly and budget scandal is endless. There is no sign that it will be over soon, unless there is punishment for it.
Ekiti 2018: Atiku Urges Fayemi, APC To Prepare For Defeat
A former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has told the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Kayode Fayemi, to prepare for his defeat at the July 14 governorship election.
Abubakar, who spoke in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, on Monday, said APC should be ready to accept defeat in Ekiti if it loses just as former President Goodluck Jonathan did in 2015.
The PDP presidential aspirant was in Ekiti along with members of the PDP Governorship Campaign Council. He expressed satisfaction with the level of the preparedness of his party in the upcoming election.
Atiku, you don’t need to tell Fayemi to prepare to accept defeat before he does so. After all, he accepted defeat in 2014 and should not do otherwise this time. But one wonders how Atiku knows that Fayemi will be defeated in the election. Atiku is neither a voter in Ekiti nor a major stakeholder in the state. His major concern ought to be how to win the PDP ticket in 2019 and possibly win the presidential election.
Atiku as an experienced politician should have known that if it was the presidency that facilitated PDP victory in Ekiti in 2014, that factor is at the disposal of APC today. So, obviously anything is possible. Nothing is cast in stone. It is a game of numbers and intrigues. PDP should avoid losing more of its prominent members to APC before the election.
One thing that is certain is that the election is a two-way race between PDP and APC. Victory of any of the party in the contest will definitely shape politics in Southwest ahead of 2019 elections.
Pastor Turned Politician Donates N1 Million For Completion Of Mosque
A senior Pastor with Peniel Church of God in Calabar, Essien Ayi, has donated one million Naira to help the Muslim community in the Cross River State capital, Calabar to complete its central mosque.
According to a media report on Tuesday, Ayi, who is also a lawmaker, said Nigerians should be their brothers’ keepers, irrespective of religion.
Ayi, who represents Akpabuyo/Bakassi/Calabar-South Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, made the cash donation at Gbogobiri, a Hausa settlement in Calabar.
He said the gesture was also to appreciate the support he has enjoyed from them.
“Every human being whether Christian or Muslim believes in God the creator irrespective of the religion. The mode of worship may be different, but it is all for the edification of one supreme being, which is God,” he said.
It will not be surprising to see Ayi’s action generating mixed reactions. To some Nigerians, Ayi’s gesture deserves condemnation, while to others, it is a mark of brotherhood and religious tolerance. It is also a promotion of unity in diversity. But whichever way one sees it, is immaterial because the deed has been done.
Of note is the fact that Ayi is not only a pastor, he is also a politician currently representing a constituency in the House of Representatives. It might not be wrong to say that his action has political undertone. This is considering that 2019 election is drawing close and Ayi, just like any other politician might like to seek re-election.
But one wonders when donating to complete a church or mosque becomes a constitutional responsibility of a representative of a constituency in the House of Representatives. But this is Nigeria for you. Everything is politicised, including religion that ought to be personal, spiritual and sacred.
Women Accuse EFCC Of Harassing Patience Jonathan
Some women on Tuesday, protested in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, against alleged harassment of wife of the immediate past president, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The women, who marched to the Government House, Port Harcourt, urged President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Assembly and the international community to prevail on the anti-graft commission to stop the perceived onslaught against Mrs. Jonathan.
Leader of the group, Eunice Igwe, accused the EFCC, which it said had been seeking to compel Patience Jonathan and six others to forfeit to the Federal Government the sum of $5, 316. 66 domiciled in a commercial bank in Nigeria, of sheer hatred of the former First Lady.
Hmmm, saying that Nigerians are very funny and gullible is like stating the obvious. What do these women protesting against the trial of Patience Jonathan mean by harassment? Are they saying that EFCC should not try her simply, because she is a former first lady? Somebody should let these women know that first ladies have no constitutional role, talk less of immunity within and outside office.
This protest appeared to be sponsored. It may be of no effect, considering that EFCC has not illegally arrested Mrs Jonathan or confiscated her properties. Perhaps, Mrs Jonathan has not denied ownership of the money and assets linked to her. What appears to be at stake is the means of acquiring the fund, assets linked to her and its genuineness. Maybe these women have forgotten that Mrs Jonathan once begged EFCC for out-of-court settlement. If the out-of-the-court settlement is what they are calling harassment, they need to be reminded that it is being done at Mrs Jonathan’s request.
Makarfi Visits Plateau, Vows To Unseat Buhari
The immediate past national caretaker chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Ahmed Makarfi, said that if he wins the PDP presidential ticket, he will defeat the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari.
Makarfi, who recently threw his hat into the ring, said the PDP will effectively tackle insecurity headlong and would not politicise security matters if allowed to return to the slot it lost during the 2015 presidential polls.
Makarfi, a former governor of Kaduna State, stated this Wednesday in Jos, at the Plateau State PDP secretariat. He said he was in the state to formally solicit the support of Plateau PDP delegates.
Makarfi needs to win the PDP ticket first, before bragging of his capacity to unseat Buhari in the election. It is surprising to see him talking with such confidence when he has not picked the party ticket. Who told Makarfi that the party ticket will be easily available to pick.
Or, has Makarfi forgotten how PDP governors influenced the outcome of presidential primaries in the party through the control of majority delegates. Not much has changed today, especially now that the party has lost power at the centre and the governors are fully in-charge. It is not out of place for the governors to insist that one of their own will pick the party’s ticket. Makarfi should brace up for the contest for the ticket of his party first. Defeating Buhari talk for another day.
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