Showing posts with label Politics. Show all posts

Governor of Anambra state, Willie Obiano, on Sunday, took a sly dig at his opponents during the governorship debate organised on Sunday by Channels Television.

Obiano aimed digs at Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Mr Oseloka Obaze and United Progressive Party candidate, Osita Chidoka.

Obiano, who is seeking a second term in office on the platform of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) argued that none of those out to boot him out of power were competent to be governor and that they were better off doing something else.

He also accused them of lacking facts about the state even though Obaze, a former diplomat at the United Nations, served under him as Secretary to the State Government for more than a year.

“By the way, what Anambra requires is somebody that can drive the process and I am the only guy here that can do so. Tony (Nwoye) doesn’t have the executive capacity, he hasn’t worked in his entire life.

"My good friend Oseloka Obaze worked in the UN, but the best place for him to work now is in Syria – to be distributing relief materials,” he said.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has described ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo as the boss of bosses in the Nigerian political space.

Jonathan said any “politician who ignores Obasanjo does so at its own peril,” advising ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar to find a way of courting his former boss, if he (Atiku) must realise his presidential ambition.

He maintained that it would be impossible for Atiku to realise his presidential ambition on the platform of the All Progressives Congress.

According to Jonathan, Atiku’s chances of becoming President in 2019 would be bright if he contested on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party.

He, however, stressed that Atiku must do everything to get Obasanjo’s endorsement, who, he said, had the magic wand and remained respected home and abroad.

Jonathan was quoted as saying this in an interview he recently granted the Ovation Magazine, published by Dele Momodu.

“He (Atiku) can’t get the APC ticket. If Atiku gets our party (PDP) ticket, he would compete well,” Jonathan reportedly said.

“He’s always a passionate politician. But he would have to reach out to our boss, Baba OBJ, the boss of all bosses.

“We’ve all learnt at different times that you ignore OBJ at your own peril. OBJ has the magic wand, respected at home and abroad,” Jonathan said.

Atiku, who served as Vice-President during Obasanjo’s eight years administration, fell out with his former boss towards the end of the administration.

The rift was believed to have stemmed from Atiku’s antagonism to Obasanjo’s alleged third-term bid.

Atiku had recently said given the chance to lead the country, he would fight corruption even better than President Muhammadu Buhari, who enjoys public opinion as a man of integrity and hater of corruption.

Atiku lashed out at those he said were regurgitating corruption allegations against him, without bringing any proof forward.

He said, “It is sickening to continue to regurgitate allegations of corruption against me by people who have failed to come forward with a single shred of evidence of my misconduct while in office.

“Despite previous desperate efforts to link me with corruption, the William Jefferson trial in the United States ended in 2009 without indicting me or linking me to corrupt activities,” Atiku added.

Senator Ali Ndume

The Senate will challenge the Nov. 13 judgment of the Federal High Court ordering it to pay all salaries and allowances of Sen. Ali Ndume, who has been on a six-month suspension.

The senate made this known in a statement by its Counsel, Mr Mike Ozekhome, on Sunday.
The Upper Chamber said it disagreed with the said judgment.

”For the records, the Senate had challenged the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to entertain the matter on several grounds, portions of which are outlined hereunder for the purpose of emphasis, as follows:

”That the Plaintiff wrongly joined several causes of action in his Originating Summons.
”That an action for the enforcement of fundamental rights to fair hearing can only be brought against a court or a tribunal, established by law as held by the Supreme Court in several current cases, and not against Committee of a legislative body.

”That by the provisions of sections 3 and 30 of the Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act, the trial court lacked requisite jurisdiction to hear the suit of the Plaintiff.

”The Senate’s argument is supported by various and current decisions of the apex court, it noted.
The Senate expressed optimism that the decision of the trial court would be overturned by the Court of Appeal.

It said it had instructed the law firm of Mike Ozekhome’s Chambers to file an appeal against the judgment.

”The notice of appeal is ready and would be filed unfailingly by Monday morning.
”An application for a stay of execution of the orders of the court will also be filed same time

Alex Ekwueme
Alex Ekwueme: Buhari orders treatment abroad

The Second Republic Vice-President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, was on Sunday airlifted abroad for further medical treatment.

Ekwueme was hospitalised at Memfys Hospital of Neurosurgery, Enugu, for chest inflection on Oct. 29.

 Reports  have it that the elder statesman departed the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, around 8:30 a.m. on Sunday in a white air ambulance with registration number N605AJ.

However, Memfys Hospital ‎and family sources did not disclose the country where the former vice president would be receiving treatment.

Some reports also have it that some family members accompanied Ekwueme on the medical trip, while others came to bid him farewell. President Muhammadu Buhari had last week approved that Ekwueme should be flown abroad for treatment.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday in Abuja assured religious leaders, and all Nigerians, that his administration will address rising concerns of corruption, insecurity and injustices in various parts of the country.

President Buhari gave the assurance when he received a Christian delegation led by the President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle and a Muslim delegation led by the Secretary General of Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, in separate meetings at the State House.

The President told the CAN delegation that he had already given instructions for the submission of all the names of heads of parastatals in order to address the allegations of lop-sidedness in appointments.

“On the question of one-sided appointments, we will look at it. I have given instructions that a list of all heads of parastatals be submitted to me and I know they will not delay in doing that,’’ he said.

President Buhari said his administration would ensure reform of the police and judiciary, describing both institutions as critical for the security and stability of the nation.

“There is no way we can be comfortable in our country unless we are lucky to have a good police force and judiciary.

“We need a good police force and judiciary to really maintain the legitimacy and the confidence of the populace in governance,’’ the President added.

On the fight against corruption, the President assured both CAN and the JNI leaders that his administration would always be guided by the rule of law and constitutionality in prosecuting all those that had been accused of corruption.

President Buhari explained to the JNI delegation that corruption in the country had taken a cultural dimension, urging all religious leaders and Nigerians to join in the fight in order to reverse the trend.

“When something becomes a culture, it is more difficult to stop, but collectively we will prevail,’’ he assured the leaders.

In his remarks, Rev. Ayokunle commended the President’s achievements in the fight against corruption, empowerment of the military to flush out Boko Haram terrorists and the recovery of some of the kidnapped Chibok girls.

The Secretary-General of JNI appealed to the President to pay more attention to the yearnings of Nigerians, urging him to continually walk in the fear of God.

Anambra State politics has become a personalised game where the standard bearers are used as a weapon of war. And at the centre of it all is late Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu who has become a kind of perennial victim. In Part 1 of an in depth interview with his first son Emeka Ojukwu Jnr, he spoke on how his father’s name and image have been abused.

Question: Former Anambra State Governor Mr. Peter Obi saw your late father as his political mentor and APGA (All Progressives Grand Alliance), as a political party, made Ikemba the leader. In the 2010 Governorship election, your late father raised Obi’s hand as his last wish that he should be elected for the second term. And this has caused controversy. Are you comfortable with this?

Emeka Ojukwu Jnr: I do not think it will be wrong for anybody to say that Mr. Obi’s emergence as a political force is directly linked to the backing he received from my late father. I know what you are referring to and I would not want to go into the issue of who raised whose hands because we all know he was ill at the time. The fact still remains that Obi was Ezeigbo’s choice for that election.

On whether I am comfortable or not, I am not. This is as a result, amongst other things, of statements being made by Bianca (Odumegwu Ojukwu) and others at Governor Willie Obiano’s campaigns.

Is that why you have chosen not to join Obiano in his campaign for the second tenure even when, according to my sources, he had severally invited and approached you to join him, and a lot of activities are ongoing during Ezeigbo’s (post-humous) birthday celebration?

It is one of the reasons. In the last three years, has Anambra State celebrated Ezeigbo’s birthday? Have they celebrated the anniversary of his death? Have any memorials been put up in his honour? Have any edifices or institution been named after him? Now on the eve of the election, it has become expedient to celebrate his birthday. To be honest with you, the stench of the hypocrisy has become nauseating. I was hitherto once an unwilling participant in this charade and I can no longer abide by it. You have a situation where my father’s memory was invoked to help usher him into office and once elected, all things Ezeigbo where promptly set aside. Billboards with his pictures were taken down, new party clothes and materials were printed without his image, while the incoming Governor was focused on creating his own identity. Now, three-and-a- half years later, Ezeigbo’s pictures are back in full effect in an attempt to use his image yet again for some people’s personal political ambitions.

Yes, I am aware of the invitations and I shall take my time in choosing to take a stand with the candidate of my choice. The truth is, I cannot go on a campaign with Obiano for one final reason, and that is because of some of the people he has chosen to associate himself with; people who speak from both sides of their mouth as long as it serves their own interests.

Who are these people or such people that you are talking about?

I know that you are aware of what Bianca has been saying and I do not want to associate myself with her. This is a woman who wants to create an impression that she loved Ezeigbo, but while Ezeigbo was sick she chose not to take care of him and rather pleased herself until she got tired of waiting for him to die. She had made many disparaging remarks about former Governor Peter Obi in an attempt to curry favour with Obiano, forgetting that when Ezeigbo was gravely ill, Obi, with the help of his friends, was able to get a private jet and took my father to England so that he could get the medical attention he received. She forgets also that it was Peter Obi and other well-meaning folks who were instrumental in persuading the then President Goodluck Jonathan to accord my father what was, in essence, a state funeral. I remain grateful for what he did for Ezeigbo and for the family. Keep in mind that regardless of whatever support my father might have given to him, it was not mandatory that he extend himself in that manner. After all his name is Obi and not Ojukwu.

What do you mean by she chose not to take care of Ezeigbo?

When Ezeigbo had a stroke, he was being “treated” at home. He was neither given a CT scan, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) nor subjected to any of the standard procedures applicable to a stroke victim. She insisted on having him treated in his bedroom by her doctor, against the wishes of the family for two weeks! At some point, family members were stopped at the gate from inquiring about Ezeigbo’s condition. On several occasions, I had to force myself in to see him. So all this grandstanding that Bianca is putting up is just to create a false impression about her relationship with my father and unsuspecting members of the public are buying into it.

But we understand that Bianca was with your father when he was flown to England and made efforts at taking him from Wellington Clinic to another hospital known as Lynden Hill Therapeutic Centre.

All the evidence is available and well documented. First of all, the air ambulance provided only had room for one family member and it was decided that she should go with him in the ambulance.

You are right. Certain changes were made in terms of treatment centres. Lynden Hill Clinic was the third place he was moved to. We were dismayed by the decision, because you have to understand that throughout his treatment, he required 24-hour nursing care, and that particular centre was ill-equipped to handle a patient in his condition, even with 24-hour nursing. That was why he was transferred, yet again, to the Royal Berkshire when his health, predictably, deteriorated. Several members of my father's immediate and extended family, including myself, made a concerted effort to have him moved to a neurological rehabilitation centre, where he would receive the sort of treatment he needed. But again, Bianca blocked our efforts, and on the 25th of November, 2011, a date I will never forget, without reference to the family, she had him discharged from the Royal Berkshire and transferred to yet another ill-equipped nursing home, this time in London, where he died a few hours later.

Coming back to politics, for a minute, I remember that she was allied with the former Governor while he had problems with (Victor) Umeh, the former National Chairman of APGA. And now she is on the side of Umeh against Obi?

Your question itself speaks volumes. Perhaps, this seeming flip-flop is due to the expediency of the moment. What I can tell you, again, is that it seems that at a point, it became expedient to her, for Ezeigbo’s treatment to be discontinued. As far as I am concerned, I know a man must die sooner or later. But in the case of my father, but for her actions, he would not have died that day. In fact, his remains were not immediately released to us until an investigation was conducted, because the circumstances of his death were deemed worthy of further investigation. We were told that because he had been ill for so long, a specific cause of death could not be ascertained and the result of the investigation was therefore inconclusive. But as far as we are concerned, she is directly responsible for Ezeigbo’s death. I wish to say that out so that my father’s spirit will allow me to rest. And that is why I have refused to show up, in any event, to do with Obaino’s re-election campaign in which she features prominently. I do not want to be associated with a person whose hands are soiled with blood.

Going by your statements, would you subscribe to supporting APGA in this election?

A political party is like a vehicle and the essence of joining a vehicle is to get to your destination. If the driver is not going to your destination, or if you are not comfortable with the passengers, then it’s either you have no business in that vehicle or you work hard to effect a change in leadership and attract the new members and or disenchanted people who left.

When Peter Obi left APGA, I spoke up against his move publicly. However, having said that, I was not in the meetings and discussions that led to his leaving the party. So in retrospect, I have to admit that you must walk in a man’s shoes before you know where it pinches him. So my support for APGA is not automatic. It depends on what APGA stands for. If it turns out that the party has been hijacked by some people due to personal interests and their ideals are not in tandem with those of my father and the original direction set for the party and change cannot be effected, then perhaps it is time to look elsewhere.

Do you think that Ojukwu’s image even in death would better the fortunes of APGA presently?

Most people who are using his image these days did not know Ezeigbo. Obiano did not know Ezeigbo personally. As I said before and I say it again, there comes a time when the stench of hypocrisy around the use or rather the misuse of his name and image becomes nauseating. The notion that Ezeigbo is the property of APGA is wrong. Ezeigbo is not and was never the property of APGA. He saw himself rather as the property of Ndigbo in particular and Nigerians in general. Ezeigbo did not fight the war for APGA. He fought the war for Ndigbo and for Nigeria.

You will recall that when Ezeigbo came back from exile, he did not join the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP), which was popular in the Southeast at the time. Rather he joined the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). This was because his underlying goal had always been to bring Ndigbo into the centre. So, APGA is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

Back to the 2010 campaign, your father at a time endorsed Emeka Etiaba instead of Peter Obi. Can you speak on that?

What happened was that Emeka Etiaba and his group reached out to Bianca and had an agreement with her which made her support them. Obi reached out to me about what happened and he sent me with his convoy to my father. When I got there, Bianca was upstairs and I asked Ezeigbo why he had abandoned me and he asked me what I meant by that.

I told him that he asked me to go and work with Peter Obi as his eyes and ears and without reference to what he told me, he endorsed Emeka Etiaba. I knelt down at his feet and said why did you abandon me. He asked me to get up and I did and he asked, “where are my shoes?”, and Col. Emma Nwobosi helped us find them. We got up and left with the convoy provided by Peter Obi. We were at Dubem Obaze’s office and had a press conference where Ezeigbo endorsed Peter Obi for the second tenure. This was one of the reasons among others that I started having problems with Bianca.

It appears that you had a running battle with Bianca from when Ezeigbo was alive to his death and even during the funeral?

Actually, she and I had a good relationship earlier which later deteriorated and then severed to a point of no repair after the circumstances of my father’s death. At the funeral, Bianca did not want me to bury my father. She claimed to be the chief mourner; a claim which I rejected outrightly and it took the intervention of elders, especially Prof. A. B.C. Nwosu, former Minister for Health, who stood by me saying that such a thing will be an abomination in Igboland, and she had to accept her role as the griever, while I buried my father as the first son.

Even when my mother, Njideka Odumegwu-Ojukwu died, Bianca insisted that she will not be buried in my father’s compound and asked Ezeigbo to get a place outside our compound to bury my mother, but my father and I refused. Again the same elders intervened and that was why I built a guest house and buried my mother in front of it next to the main house.

Shortly after your father died, issues of your family property became a problem and Bianca is presently in court with the Ojukwu family.

When you hear about Bianca being in court over our property, people do not know the story. The property in question belongs to my grandfather, not my father. Ojukwu Transport Limited (OTL) belonged to my grandfather.

Sir Odumegwu, my grandfather, has a surviving wife, Lady Virginia and she is therefore still alive. He had children, Joseph, the elder one; Emeka, my father; and Lotanna, the youngest. Joseph, my father and Lotanna all have children. I am in my 50s and some of these grandchildren of Sir Odumegwu are older than me. So for Bianca to show up to lay claim to certain choice property in Ikoyi as having been handed over to her and her young children by Ezeigbo is ridiculous and I wonder how that could be possible, given that Sir Odumegwu left all the property in question under OTL. OTL has a Board of Directors. My father was a director before he died and I am now a director. Being a director of OTL does not constitute having ownership of OTL property. A man cannot bequeath what he does not own.

It is being alleged that every time, Bianca pushes forward one Robert Okonkwo, either to take a position you have recently vacated such as when you resigned as Commissioner, or one you are aspiring to. What is the nature of Bianca’s relationship with Mr. Okonkwo?

I resigned from Peter Obi’s government for my own reasons. In the case of Robert Okonkwo, who is a cousin to the Ojukwu family, Bianca has always wanted to bring him up at all times and that explains why he came into Peter Obi’s government after I left. Bianca and Robert are in a better position to explain the exact nature of their relationship. Certainly though, if he is still living in the house she shared with my father, then she can only blame herself for all the rumours.

But why is it that you do not see the wives of late Obafemi Awolowo or late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and their likes get involved in such political controversies, but Bianca appears to be different?

I am not them and I am not her. But I can hazard a guess and say that in the other cases, the people involved understood the significance of their husband’s legacy and the need to protect it, rather than to try to assume the role of their late husbands. Even as his son, I am always careful and understand that the love and respect shown to me by many is as a result of the love and respect they have for my late father, not because of anything I did. And I am therefore always careful not to cross that line and assume that I am him.

My late father served his people and his country well and made an indelible mark in the world evidenced by the outpouring of love shown by all during his funeral. It is time to allow Ezeigbo to rest.

To be concluded

President Muhammadu Buhari's aide on social media, Lauretta Onochie has said Pro-secession group, the Indigenous people of Biafra(IPOB) and its leader, Nnamdi Kanu were 'contracted' to destroy the hard work of the Igbos.

Onochie, in a Facebook post, also reacted to the endorsement of president Buhari for Second term by Ebonyi state governor and member of opposition party, PDP, Engr. Dave Umahi. The outspoken woman wrote;

"The Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, has led the people of his state to key into the policies of the Buhari Administration.

It’s an open secret that Ndigbo are very hard-working. The application of their hard work has continued to make millionaires especially in agriculture and manufacturing, a success story IPOB was contracted to drown.

Gov. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State has experienced first hand, the fairness and the fatherly disposition President Muhammadu Buhari extends to all governors, irrespective of party affiliations.

He is one of the governors who will not play dirty politics with the future of the people of his state, neither will he have a former president, whose hands are soiled with corruption, to commission projects meant for the good people of Ebonyi State."


Google logo
Google logo
The rumour about death of former Vice President Alex Ekwueme and the online shopping site’s Jumia Black Friday dominated searches on the internet search engine — Google, this week.

Mr Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, Google’s Communications and Public Affairs Manager, Anglophone West Africa, made this known in a dispatch to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos.

According to Kola-Ogunlade, this week’s top trending search terms on Google Nigeria are dominated by shopping, entertainment and some bad news from U.S.

He said “rumour about Alex Ekwueme’s death made people to search for information on the wellbeing of the former vice president.

“The rumour sparked when it was reported that Ekwueme collapsed and was admitted at the Intensive Care Unit of Memfys Hospital for Neurosurgery, Enugu State.

“The death rumour had, however, been debunked.”
The Google manager said Jumia, an e-commerce platform in Nigeria, had announced its biggest sales event of the year tagged “Jumia Black Friday 2017.”

He added that this year’s event would run from Nov. 31 to Dec. 13 and would offer amazing deals and discounts of up to 80 per cent off items.

Kola-Ogunlade said excited shoppers raced to Google Search to read more about offers at the upcoming Jumia Black Friday.

He said that on the international scene, the Texas Church shooting got people’s attention online.
He noted that “sadly, one of the trending searches this week included the mass shooting in the

“Last Sunday, a man opened fire inside the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, South Texas, killing 26 people and wounding over 20, before being taken down by Texas authorities.
“The 26-year-old gunman was later identified as Devin Patrick Kelley who was said to have escaped from mental health centre in New Mexico in 2012,” he said.

Kola-Ogunlade said that an American hip hop recording artist, Robert Rihmeek Williams popularly known as Meek Mill had been told by U.S.. judge that he was likely to spend two years in prison for violating his probation.

“The rapper was previously sentenced over charges of drug and gun possession from when he was a teenager. The sentence drew outrage from celebrities who said the prison term was harsh.
“Fans of the rapper turned to Google to find out more about Meek’s situation, making him a top trending search,” he said.

Google Trends launched in May 2006 allows one to see how popular search terms and its demography have been over time on Google.

The Governor of Lagos State, Akinwumi Ambode, has sacked the Lagos State Sports Commission boss, Deji Tinubu as reported by Premium Times.

Mr. Tinubu has been at the helm of affairs of sports since the inception of the Ambode administration; but his reign ended abruptly late Thursday.

Mr. Ambode on Thursday made sweeping changes in the administration of sports in the state with new appointments.

Kweku Tandoh, a former Director of Sports, Lagos State Sports Council, is to take over as the new head of the Lagos State Sports Commission.

A new Director General of the Commission has also been appointed by the governor. He is Babatunde Bank-Anthony.

Mr. Anthony was the former Executive Secretary, Lagos State Sports Endowment Funds.

It is also understood that some other changes have been approved by Mr. Ambode in the board of Lagos State Sports Commission. ‎Details of such have not been made public.

Senator Andy Uba, Chairman Senate Committee on Interior at a Fire conference in Abuja
Senator Andy Uba, Chairman Senate Committee on Interior at a Fire conference in Abuja
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Interior, Sen. Andy Uba, says Nigeria has lost over N6 trillion worth of goods to fire disasters in the past five years.

Uba made the disclosure at the International Fire Conference and Exhibition, organised by the Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee on Interior, held on Tuesday in Abuja.

According to him, nationally, direct and indirect reported and unreported losses to the economy have been put conservatively at about N6 trillion.

“Alarming as these numbers are, they could be significantly higher if all the fire incidents in rural areas were recorded by an efficient operational fire statistics database.

“There is a general consensus on the need to mitigate this trend to stopping the fire before they start,” he said.

The lawmaker told the Federal Government to reposition fire service delivery to make it modern and efficient.

Senator Andy Uba, Chairman Senate Committee on Interior  (L) with Minister of Interior Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazau (RTD.)
Senator Andy Uba, Chairman Senate Committee on Interior (L) with Minister of Interior Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazau (RTD.)
Uba, who noted that less than two per cent of Nigeria’s population was fire safety literate, called for media partnership on creating awareness on the issue.

Declaring the two-day event open, the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said that fire outbreaks were preventable given the necessary equipment and manpower.

The vice-president was represented by the Minister of Interior, retired Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau.

He said that with support from the legislature and backing from the presidency, the Federal Fire Service would be one of the best in the world within the next five years.

“The effort by the National Assembly in the 2016 budget to procure five fire equipment is encouraging. This did not happen in the last 30 years or more.

“We are doing our best to ensure that Nigeria remains safe. There is a correlation between climate change and conflict,” he said.

The President of the Fire Disaster Prevention and Safety Awareness Association of Nigeria, Mr Badanga Lamidi, commended the senate for its effort in ensuring safety of Nigerians.

President Buhari presents 2018 budget
President Buhari presents 2018 budget
Delivered by:
His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari
President, Federal Republic of Nigeria
At the Joint Session of the National Assembly, Abuja
Tuesday, 7TH of November 2017

1. I am here to present 2018 Budget Proposals. Before presenting the Budget, let me thank all of you Distinguished and Honourable Members of the National Assembly, and indeed all Nigerians, for your support and prayers for my full recovery while I was on medical vacation.
2. I am very pleased to address this Joint Session of the National Assembly, on the revenue and expenditure estimates, and related matters, of the Federal Government of Nigeria for the 2018 fiscal year.
3. The 2018 Budget will consolidate on the achievements of previous budgets and deliver on Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2018 – 2020.

4. 2017, so far, has been a year of uncertainty on many fronts across the world. Whether it is Brexit, the crisis in the Korean Peninsular, or indeed, the political uncertainty in key oil producing nations of the Middle East and South America, we can all agree that these developments have in one way or another impacted Nigeria’s economic fortunes.

5. By all accounts, 2018 is expected to be a year of better outcomes. The tepid economic recovery is expected to pick up pace and the global political terrain is expected to stabilize. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is anticipating global GDP growth of 3.7 percent in 2018. Emerging markets and developing economies are expected to lead with GDP growth of 4.9 percent, while advanced economies are projected to grow at a slower rate of 2 percent.

6. Nigeria’s journey out of the recent recession was a revealing one. We heard many opinions from within and outside Nigeria on how best to address our economic woes. We listened carefully and studied these proposals diligently. Our belief has always been that the quickest and easiest solution may not necessarily be the best solution for a nation as diverse as ours. We took our time to create a balanced and equitable response, keeping in mind that only tailored Nigerian solutions can fix Nigeria’s unique problems.

7. And from the recovery that we are seeing today, it is clear that we made the right decisions. Distinguished and Honourable Members of the National Assembly, I am now asking you to continue to support our economic policies in order to consolidate and sustain on the success achieved so far. We simply cannot go back.
8. In the non-oil sector, crop production has been one of the main contributors to non-oil growth, which rose to 0.45 percent in the second quarter of this year. This was primarily driven by our ongoing financial, capacity building and infrastructure development programs.

9. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, working with development partners and the private sector, have embarked on numerous capacity building projects. We have also completed over 33,000 Hectares of Irrigation Projects that have increased water availability in key food producing states. We shall continue to intensify our interventions through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme and the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative to ensure that this momentum is sustained. We have also made provisions in the 2018 Budget to complete ongoing Irrigation Projects at Ada, in Enugu State; Lower Anambra, in Anambra State; and Gari, in Jigawa State. In 2017, many factories and projects in the food and agricultural sectors were commissioned in Kebbi, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Anambra, Edo, Jigawa, Rivers, Niger, Ogun and Ebonyi States, to mention a few. This is a clear statement that our economic diversification and inclusive growth ambitions are coming to fruition.

10. Significant progress has also been made in the Solid Minerals development sector. In Ondo State, for instance, work is ongoing to fully exploit the bitumen resources to meet the 600,000 MTs of asphalt imported per annum for roads and other construction projects. To consolidate on these efforts, we have also established a 30 billion Naira Solid Minerals Development Fund to support other minerals exploration activities across the country.

11. In the oil and gas sector, the relatively higher crude oil prices supported our economic recovery. Our mutually beneficial engagement with oil producing communities in the Niger Delta contributed immensely to the recovery in oil production experienced in recent months. We would like to thank the leadership and communities in the Niger-Delta for their continued support and to also reiterate our assurances that this Administration will continue to honour our commitments to them. We cannot afford to go back to those dark days of insecurity and vandalism. We all want a country that is safe, stable and secure for our families and communities. This means we must all come together to address any grievances through dialogue and peaceful engagement. Threats, intimidation or violence are never the answer.

12. We are working hard on the Ogoni Clean-up Project. During the year, we engaged 8 international and local companies proposing different technologies for the mandate. To enable us select the best and most suitable technology for the remediation work, we asked each company to conduct Demonstration Clean-up Exercises in the 4 Local Government Areas of Ogoni Land. These Demonstrations were recently concluded and the results are being studied by the Governing Council of the Ogoni Clean-up Project. Although the Project will be funded by the International Oil Companies, we have made provisions in the 2018 Budget for the costs of oversight and governance, to ensure effective implementation.

13. On the international front, I would like to thank our friends and partners in the Joint OPEC / Non-OPEC Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) who graciously granted Nigeria an exemption from the output cuts imposed on OPEC Member Countries in January 2017. This exemption, which was extended in September 2017, significantly helped during our most challenging time. We shall continue our positive engagement with other oil producing nations to ensure that the momentum generated is sustained.

14. Permit me, Mr. Senate President and Right Honourable Speaker, to state that despite the downturn in oil prices and our challenging economic circumstances, this Administration was able to invest an unprecedented sum of over 1.2 trillion Naira in capital projects through the 2016 Budget. This is the highest ever in the history of this country. This is a clear demonstration of our commitment to consolidate on our economic diversification reforms and lay a stronger foundation for future growth and development.

15. Our Sovereign Wealth Fund, which was established in 2011 with US$1 billion, did not receive additional investment for 4 years when oil prices were as high as US$120 per barrel. However, despite record low oil prices, this Administration was able to invest an additional US$500 million into the Fund. This further demonstrates that in our struggle to have a stable and secure nation today, we have not, and will not, lose sight of the need to lay a solid foundation for the future prosperity of successive generations.

16. We have asked the Sovereign Wealth Fund to look inward and invest locally. Some of the successes we are seeing today in the agricultural sector are driven by this new investment approach by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA). The NSIA also has a very strong pipeline of local investments that will support our inclusive and diversified economic growth plan.

17. Stability has been restored to the foreign exchange market due to the interventions by the Central Bank of Nigeria to improve access to liquidity, discourage currency speculation and increase net foreign exchange inflows. As at the 30th of October, 2017, our external reserves had increased to US$34bn. This stability has supported our efforts to provide the enabling environment and interventions needed to empower Micro, Small and Medium-Sized enterprises, investors, manufacturers and exporters, to sustain and in some cases, grow their operations. Indeed, by the second quarter of 2017, exports significantly outpaced imports, resulting in a trade surplus of 506.5 billion Naira.

Ease of Doing Business Reforms
18. One of the targets we set for gauging our progress in creating an enabling environment for business was to achieve a positive movement in the World Ease of Doing Business Index. You would recall Nigeria experienced a decade-long decline in this ranking. In 2008, Nigeria was ranked 120th. By 2015, our situation had deteriorated to 169th of the 189 countries surveyed. Our very simple, logical and user-friendly reforms are reversing this trend. A recently released World Bank business ranking report announced that Nigeria had moved 24 places to 145th position in 2017. I am delighted that we have met and even surpassed our target of moving at least 20 paces up this global ranking. The same World Bank report also stated that Nigeria is among the top 10 reforming countries in the world.
19. To ensure these reforms are institutionalized, Executive Order Number #1 on the Promotion of Transparency and Efficiency in the Business Environment was issued in May 2017. The Order contained measures that ease the process of business registration, approval of permits, granting visas and streamlining port operations. We are committed to continuing and accelerating the Ease of Doing Business reforms, which are critical to attracting new investments, growing the economy and creating jobs for our people.
Improved Tax Administration

20. Although the economy is diversified with non-oil Sector accounting for over 90 percent of total Nominal GDP, the Government’s revenues are not as diversified yet. Our Tax-to-GDP ratio of about 6% is one of the lowest in the world. This situation is not consistent with our goal of having a diversified, sustainable and inclusive economy. Accordingly, we are stepping up efforts to ensure all taxable Nigerians comply with the legal requirement to declare income from all sources and remit taxes due to the appropriate authorities.
21. Already, we have introduced the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) on the 1st of July, 2017. The Scheme provides non-compliant taxpayers with a nine-month window to regularise their tax status relating to historical periods. In return, overdue interest and penalties will be forgiven. In addition, no investigations or criminal charges will be brought against participating taxpayers. We expect that this Scheme will widen the tax net for both the Federal and State Governments. I am therefore, asking all Nigerians to seize this opportunity and do right thing. Let us not shy away from our duty to build a better Nigeria.

Optimising Efficiency in Expenditure
22. In 2016 this Administration adopted a policy of allocating at least 30 percent of our annual budget to capital expenditure. This was entrenched in the ERGP to unlock further growth in the economy. This tradition was maintained in the 2017 Budget and has been reflected in the proposal for 2018, in which 30.8 percent of total expenditure has been set aside for the capital vote.
23. To support these efforts, you would recall that an Efficiency Unit was set up under the Federal Ministry of Finance to reduce wastage, plug leakages and foster greater fiscal transparency. We have intensified the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) across government MDAs to automate personnel records and salaries’ payment process, with the goal of eliminating ghost workers. 461 Federal MDAs have been captured on the system, so far. Our target is to enroll all MDAs. I have directed the military and other security agencies to ensure total compliance without further delay.

Increased Investment in Infrastructure
24. Mr. Senate President, and the Right Honourable Speaker, we shall continue to develop our infrastructure across the country. Although a lot of progress has been made, the huge contractor liabilities we inherited have adversely impacted our infrastructure development timetable. Indeed, contractors were owed trillions of Naira when this Administration came into office. In some areas, we have made payments so projects may be completed; while in others, we are reconciling the liabilities to identify and settle legitimate claims. As a responsible and accountable Administration, we decided that clearing this backlog was an important priority.
25. For instance, at the outset of this Administration in 2015, the Abuja Metro-Rail Project, which began in 2007 was only 50% completed, after 8 years. Today, in just 18 months, we have pushed the project to 98% completion. This was achieved as the Nigerian Government was diligently able to meet its counterpart funding obligations for the Chinese loans.
26. We have also continued work on key strategic Roads. Over 766 kilometres of roads were constructed or rehabilitated across the country in 2017. For instance, work is at various stages of completion on these strategic roads with immense socio-economic benefits:
a. Rehabilitation of Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa-Birnin-Gwari-Kaduna Road;
b. Dualization of Oyo-Ogbomosho-Ilorin Road;
c. Rehabilitation of Gombe-Numan-Yola Road;
d. Dualization of Kano-Maiduguri Road;
e. Rehabilitation of Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega Road and Kotangora-Makera Road that transverse Sokoto, Kebbi and Niger States;
f. Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Enugu-Port-Harcourt Road;
g. Rehabilitation of Enugu-Onitsha Dual Carriageway Road;
h. Rehabilitation of Aleshi-Ugep Road and the Iyamoyun-Ugep Section in Cross River State;
i. Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Expansion of Lagos-Ibadan Dual Carriageway Road;
j. Construction of Loko-Oweto Bridge over River Benue in Nasarawa and Benue States; and
k. Construction Gokanni Bridge along Tegina-Mokwa-Jebba Road in Niger State.
27. Under the Federal Roads Development Programme, we recently completed a Data Collection Exercise on the 7,000km Federal Road Network which was funded by the World Bank. This information is enabling us to make informed decisions regarding the planning, budgeting and management of the Federal Road Network. Going forward, we will be working based on facts rather than subjectivity.
28. Furthermore, we have also invested a lot of time and effort in identifying alternative means of funding new projects. For example, the recent 100 billion Naira Sukuk Financing will cater specifically for the development of 25 roads across the country. We also developed different structures that empower private investors to contribute to the development of roads of significant national importance. Already, we are seeing results. For example:
a. The Bonny-Bodo Road is being jointly funded by the Federal Government and Nigeria LNG Limited. This project was conceived decades ago but it was abandoned. This Administration restarted the project and when completed, it will enable road transportation access for key communities in the Niger- Delta region; and
b. The Apapa Wharf-Toll Gate Road in Lagos State is also being constructed by private sector investors in exchange for tax credits.
29. Distinguished Members of the National Assembly, our Power Sector Reforms still remain a work in progress. Although we have increased generation capacity significantly, we still have challenges with the Transmission and Distribution Networks. That said, I am pleased to announce that since 2015, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and Niger-Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) have added 1,950 MVA of 330-132kV transformer capacity at 10 Transmission stations, as well as 2,930 MVA of 132-33kV transformer capacity to 42 substations nationwide. With these additions, the Transmission Network today can handle up to 7,000 Mega Watts (MW).
30. The key bottleneck now is the Distribution Network where the substations cannot take more than 5,000 MW. This is constraining power delivery to consumers. We are working with the privatized Distribution Companies to see how to overcome this challenge. Nigerians should be rest assured that this Administration is doing all it can to alleviate the embarrassing power situation in this country.
31. Furthermore, to sustain the continued expansion of generation capacity and enhance evacuation, we approved a Payment Assurance Guarantee Scheme which enabled the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader (NBET) to raise 701 billion Naira. This assures the Generation Companies of up to 80% payment on their invoices. This intervention has brought confidence back into the sector and we expect additional investment to flow through, particularly in the gas production sector.
32. Distinguished Members of the National Assembly, this Administration is committed to the development of Green Alternative Energy Sources. To date, we have signed Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) with 14 solar companies. We also approved:
a. The completion of the 10 MW Wind Farm in Katsina State, a project that was abandoned since 2012; and
b. The concession of 6 small hydro-electric power plants with a total capacity of 50 MW.
33. To enable the successful take-off of these, and future Green Projects, I am pleased to inform this Distinguished Assembly that the Federal Government will be launching the first African Sovereign Green Bond in December 2017. The bond will be used to finance renewable energy projects. We are very excited about this development as it will go a long way in solving many of our energy challenges, especially in the hinterland.
34. On Rail, we recently received 2 additional locomotives and 10 standard gauge coaches for the Abuja-Kaduna Rail Line. These will be deployed for the new non-stop express service between the two cities that will only take one hour and fifteen minutes. This new service will complement the existing service currently in place. We plan to commission this by December 2017.
35. We have also kick-started the abandoned Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri Rail Line. This project has been on for over 17 years. We had to take some drastic measures but I am pleased to announce that work is ongoing and we expect to commission this service by September 2018. This service will start with 7 standard gauge coaches.
36. The situation at the Apapa port complex is a top priority for this Administration. The delays due to congestion and their adverse impact on business operations and costs is a key concern to our Government. As I mentioned earlier, we are partnering with the private sector to fix the road. We shall do the right thing considering. We will not cut corners.
37. In addition to the road, we have also commenced the extension of the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Rail Line to connect Apapa and Tin Can Port Complexes. This project will significantly ease the congestion at the ports and enhance both export and import operations. This project shall be completed by December 2018. Already, working with the private sector, we have repaired the Apapa Port Narrow Gauge Line which is currently being used to evacuate goods from the port, thereby easing congestion.
38. As we all know, sometimes doing the right thing takes time and requires sacrifices. I am therefore appealing to all stakeholders to work with us in ensuring we deliver a solution that we will all be proud of.
39. Certainly, the infrastructure requirement to reposition Nigeria for the future is huge and our resources are limited. Government, therefore, will pursue private partnerships to maximise available capital and developmental impact. In the next fiscal year, we will also establish 7 tertiary health institutions across the country through partnership with our Sovereign Wealth Fund and other private sector investors.
Agricultural Development
40. The agricultural sector played a crucial role in Nigeria’s exit from recession. Today, it remains the largest employer of labour and holds significant potential to realise our vision of repositioning Nigeria as a food secured nation.
41. We will consolidate on existing policies and develop new ones to ensure the numerous value chain challenges in the agricultural sector are addressed. As I mentioned earlier, several investors have deployed significant capital in the production and processing of rice, sugar, maize, soya, cassava, yams, tomato, oil palm, rubber and poultry, to mention a few. We are also seeing increased investment in the agro-inputs manufacturing sector such as fertilisers.
42. We are determined to protect these investments and encourage more. Food Security is an important aspect of this Administration’s National Security agenda. Any person involved in smuggling of food items is a threat to our National Security and will therefore be dealt with accordingly. A Committee chaired by the Vice President is working on this matter. A key part of their work will be the reactivation of the Badagry Agreement signed between Nigeria and the Republic of Benin in 2003. This agreement, which was abandoned by previous Administrations, established a mutually beneficial framework for the two neighbours and allies to partner in tackling smuggling and other cross border crimes. I would like to assure investors in the agricultural value chain that the menace of smuggling will be handled decisively.
43. To further support investors and State Governments, we will accelerate the establishment of at least 6 Staple Crop Processing Zones, in the first phase. This initiative will develop infrastructure for the production, processing and storage of strategic commodities. The focus is on backward integration for grains, horticulture, livestock, fisheries and sugar; as well as exportable commodities such as cocoa, cassava and oil palms.
Health Sector Developments
44. During 2017, the country had a number of disease outbreaks such as Meningitis, Yellow Fever, Monkey Pox and Lassa Fever. I would like to commend the Federal and State Ministries of Health for their selfless service and timely responses to contain these outbreaks. I would also like to thank the World Health Organisation, the Global Fund and UNICEF, for their continued support during these trying times. This collaboration was a key factor in the low mortality rates experienced. To further improve our response to such outbreaks, we are working to upgrade our Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response System. This will further enhance the efficiency of our diagnostic and clinical management processes.
45. In this respect, I urge this Distinguished House to expedite the passage of the Bill for the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to enable us consolidate on the successes recorded to date.
Implementing the Social Investment Program
46. I am pleased to inform you that we have recorded tremendous success in the implementation of the Federal Government’s Social Investment Program. Specifically,
a. Over 4.5 million Primary 1 to Primary 3 pupils in public schools are being fed under the School Feeding programme;
b. Over 200,000 unemployed graduates have been employed under the N-Power Scheme in education, health and agricultural sectors;
c. Over 250,000 enterprises have benefitted from the sum of 12.5 billion Naira, which has been disbursed to entrepreneurs to expand their businesses; and
d. Over 110,000 households are currently benefitting from the Conditional Cash Transfer programme across the country.

47. The 2017 Budget of Recovery and Growth was based on a benchmark oil price of US$44.5 per barrel, oil production of 2.2 million barrels per day, and a Naira-to-US Dollar Exchange Rate of 305. Based on these assumptions, total revenue of 5.084 trillion Naira was projected to fund aggregate expenditure of 7.441 trillion Naira. A projected fiscal deficit of 2.356 trillion Naira was to be financed mainly by domestic and external borrowing.
48. On revenue performance, collections were 14 percent below target as of September 2017, mainly due to the shortfall in non-oil revenues.
49. A key revenue shortfall was from Independent Revenues; only 155.14 billion Naira was remitted by September 2017 as against the projected pro-rated sum of 605.87 billion Naira. This represents a 74 percent shortfall, which is very disappointing.
50. This recurring issue of under-remittance of operating surpluses by State Owned Entities is absolutely unacceptable. You will all recall that in September 2017, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) announced that they were ready to remit 7.8 billion Naira back to the Government. The shocking discovery was that in the last decades, JAMB only remitted an aggregate of 51 million Naira. This clearly illustrates the abuses that occur in State Owned Entities as well as their potential for increased Independent Revenues, if only people would do the right thing. We all need to play our role to ensure the right thing is done. I would also like to remind Nigerians that the Whistle Blower lines are still open.
51. Accordingly, I have directed the Economic Management Team (EMT) to review the fiscal profiles of these agencies, to ensure strict compliance with the applicable Executive Orders and Financial Regulations. There may be a need to consider a review of the Fiscal Responsibility Act and the Executive will be approaching the National Assembly on this issue in due course.
52. On the expenditure side, a total of 450 billion Naira of the capital vote had been released as at the end of October 2017. With your support for our funding plan, our target is to release up to 50% of the capital vote for MDAs by the year’s end. We have prioritised payments of our counterpart obligations on our concessionary loans, as well as funding of critical infrastructure and other projects with socio-economic benefits. Furthermore, MDAs have made provisions to carry over to the 2018 Budget, capital projects that are not likely to be fully funded by year-end 2017, to ensure project continuity.
53. Regrettably, the late passage of the 2017 Budget has significantly constrained budget implementation. As you are aware, the 1999 Constitution authorized necessary Federal Government expenditures prior to the 12th of June, 2017 when the 2017 Appropriation Act was signed into law. This year, we have worked very hard to achieve an earlier submission of the Medium-term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP), and the 2018 Appropriation Bill. Our efforts were to avail the National Assembly with sufficient time to perform its important duty of passing the Appropriation Bill into law, hopefully by the 1st of January, 2018. It is in this spirit that I solicit the cooperation of the Legislature in our efforts to return to a more predictable budget cycle that runs from January to DecemberPRIORITIES FOR THE 2018 BUDGET OF CONSOLIDATION
54. The 2018 Budget Proposals are for a Budget of Consolidation. Our principal objective will be to reinforce and build on our recent accomplishments. Specifically, we will sustain the reflationary policies of our past two budgets. In this regard, the key parameters and assumptions for the 2018 Budget are as set out in the 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP). These include:
a. Benchmark oil price benchmark of US$45 per barrel;
b. Oil production estimate of 2.3 million barrels per day, including condensates;
c. Exchange rate of N305/US$ for 2018;
d. Real GDP growth of 3.5 percent; and
e. Inflation Rate of 12.4 percent.
Federally-Collectible Revenue Estimates
55. Based on the above fiscal assumptions and parameters, total federally-collectible revenue is estimated at 11.983 trillion Naira in 2018. Thus, the three tiers of Government shall receive about 12 percent more revenues in 2018 than the 2017 estimate. Of the amount, the sum of 6.387 trillion Naira is expected to be realised from oil and gas sources. Total receipts from the non-oil sector are projected at 5.597 trillion Naira.
Federal Government Revenue Estimates
56. The Federal Government’s estimated total revenue is 6.607 trillion Naira in 2018, which is about 30 percent more than the 2017 target. As we pursue our goal of revenue diversification, non-oil revenues will become a larger share of total revenues. In 2018, we project oil revenues of 2.442 trillion Naira, and non-oil as well as other revenues of 4.165 trillion Naira.
57. Non-oil and other revenue sources of 4.165 trillion Naira, include several items including: Share of Companies Income Tax (CIT) of 794.7 billion Naira, share of Value Added Tax (VAT) of 207.9 billion Naira, Customs & Excise Receipts of 324.9 billion Naira, FGN Independently Generated Revenues (IGR) of 847.9 billion Naira, FGN’s Share of Tax Amnesty Income of 87.8 billion Naira, and various recoveries of 512.4 billion Naira, 710 billion Naira as proceeds from the restructuring of government’s equity in Joint Ventures and other sundry incomes of 678.4 billion Naira.
Proposed Expenditure for 2018
58. A total expenditure of 8.612 trillion Naira is proposed for 2018. This is a nominal increase of 16 percent above the 2017 Budget estimate. In keeping with our policy, 30.8 percent (or 2.652 trillion Naira) of aggregate expenditure (inclusive of capital in Statutory Transfers) has been allocated to the capital budget.
59. We expect our fiscal operations to result in a deficit of 2.005 trillion Naira or 1.77 percent of GDP. This reduction is in line with our plans under the ERGP to progressively reduce deficit and borrowings.
60. We plan to finance the deficit partly by new borrowings estimated at 1.699 trillion Naira. Fifty percent of this borrowing will be sourced externally, whilst the balance will be sourced domestically. The balance of the deficit of 306 billion Naira is to be financed from proceeds of privatisation of some non-oil assets by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).
61. The proposed 8.612 trillion Naira of 2018 Aggregate Expenditure comprises:
a. Recurrent Costs of N3.494 trillion;
b. Debt Service of N2.014 trillion;
c. Statutory Transfers of about N456 billion;
d. Sinking Fund of N220 billion (to retire maturing bond to Local Contractors);
e. Capital Expenditure of N2.428 trillion (excluding the capital component of Statutory Transfers).

Statutory Transfers
62. 456.46 billion Naira was provided in the 2018 Budget for Statutory Transfers. The 5 percent increase over last year’s provision is mainly due to increases in transfer to Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), which are related directly to the size of oil revenue.

Debt Restructuring
63. We are closely monitoring our debt service to revenue ratio. We shall address this ratio through our non-oil revenue-generation drive and restructuring of the existing debt portfolio. Presently, domestic debt accounts for about 79 percent of the total debt. Our medium-term strategy is to reduce the proportion of our domestic debt to 60% by the end of 2019 and increase external debt to 40 percent. It is noteworthy that rebalancing our debt portfolio will enhance private sector access to domestic credit. In addition, annual debt service costs will reduce as external debts are serviced at lower rates and repaid over a longer period than domestic debt.

Recurrent Expenditure
64. A substantial part of the recurrent cost proposal for 2018 is for the payment of salaries and overheads in key Ministries providing critical public services such as:
a. N510.87 billion for Interior;
b. N435.01 billion for Education;
c. N422.43 billion for Defence; and
d. N269.34 billion for Health.
The allocation to these Ministries represent significant increases over votes in previous budgets.

Personnel Costs
65. Personnel costs is projected to rise by 12 percent in 2018. Although we have made substantial savings by registering MDAs on the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) platform, the increase is mainly due to provision for staff promotion arrears, and recruitments by the Military, Police Force and para-military agencies. Furthermore, I have directed agencies are not to embark on any fresh recruitment unless they have obtained all the requisite approvals. Any breach of this directive will be severely sanctioned.
Overhead Costs
66. Overhead costs is projected to rise by 26 billion Naira in 2018, a modest increase of about 12 percent reflecting inflationary adjustments. MDAs are required to adhere to government regulations regarding cost control.
Capital Expenditure
67. To consolidate on the momentum of the 2017 Budget’s implementation, many ongoing capital projects have been provided for in the 2018 Budget. This is in line with our commitment to appropriately fund ongoing capital projects to completion. By allocating 30.8 percent of the 2018 Budget to capital expenditure, the Federal Government is also demonstrating its strong commitment to investing in critical infrastructure capable of spurring growth and creating jobs in the Nigerian economy.
68. Key capital spending allocations in the 2018 Budget include:
a. Power, Works and Housing: N555.88 billion;
b. Transportation: N263.10 billion;
c. Special Intervention Programmes: N150.00 billion;
d. Defence: N145.00 billion;
e. Agriculture and Rural Development N118.98 billion;
f. Water Resources: N95.11 billion;
g. Industry, Trade and Investment: N82.92 billion;
h. Interior: N63.26 billion;
i. Education N61.73 billion;
j. Universal Basic Education Commission: N109.06 billion;
k. Health: N71.11 billion;
l. Federal Capital Territory: N40.30 billion;
m. Zonal Intervention Projects N100.00 billion;
n. North East Intervention Fund N45.00 billion;
o. Niger Delta Ministry: N53.89 billion; and
p. Niger Delta Development Commission: N71.20 billion.
69. As I had previously indicated, we aim to consolidate on our achievements in 2017. We shall meet our counterpart funding obligations. We shall complete all ongoing projects. And we shall carry forward all strategic projects that were budgeted for but which we were unable to kick start due to liquidity challenges, late passage of the budget, prolonged contractual negotiations, and other matters.
70. Specifically, I would like to bring your attention to the following key projects and programmes that we are determined to implement in 2018:
a. N9.8 billion for the Mambilla hydro power project, including N8.5 billion as counterpart funding;
b. N12 billion counterpart funding for earmarked transmission lines and substations;
c. N35.41 billion for the National Housing Programme;
d. N10.00 billion for the 2nd Niger Bridge; and
e. About N300 billion for the construction and rehabilitation of the strategic roads mentioned earlier.

Consolidating on the Social Intervention Programme
71. This Administration remains committed to pursuing a gender-sensitive, pro-poor and inclusive growth. We are keenly interested in catering for the most vulnerable. Accordingly, we have retained the 500 billion Naira allocation to the Social Intervention Programme. Under the programme, 100 billion Naira has been set aside for the Social Housing Programme.
72. Government will also continue to implement the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme, as well as the National Home-Grown School Feeding programme in 2018. These initiatives are already creating jobs and economic opportunity for local farmers and cooks, providing funding to artisans, traders and youths, as well as supporting small businesses with business education and mentoring.
Regional Spending Priorities for Peace, Security and Development
73. To maintain peace and security in the Niger Delta for economic and social activities to thrive, the provision of 65 billion Naira for the Presidential Amnesty Programme has been retained in the 2018 Budget. In addition, the capital provision for the Ministry of Niger Delta has been increased to 53.89 billion Naira from the 34.20 billion Naira provided in 2017. This is to further support the development in the region. We will complete all critical projects, including the East-West Road, which has a provision of about 17.32 billion Naira in 2018.
74. Across the nation, and particularly in the North East region, our commitment to the security of life and property remains absolute. We will ensure that our gallant men and women in arms are properly equipped and well-motivated. The result of our efforts is evident in the gradual return to normalcy in the North East. It is in this spirit that I recently assented to the North-East Development Commission Bill that was passed by this Distinguished House. We expect that this development will consolidate on our ongoing efforts to combat insurgency, reintegrate Internally Displaced Persons and rebuild communities in the North East Region, which have been adversely affected by the insurgency.
75. Similar attention is being given to efforts to reduce violent crime across the country. The Nigerian Army was recently deployed to combat the growing scourges of cattle rustling and banditry that have plagued our communities in Kaduna, Niger, Kebbi, Katsina and Zamfara States. We will also continue to arrest the incidence of Armed Robbery, Kidnapping and other Violent Crimes across our nation.
76. We have also increased our focus on cyber-crimes and the abuse of technology through hate speech and other divisive material that is being propagated on social media. Whilst we uphold the Constitutional rights of our people to freedom of expression and association, where the purported exercise of these rights infringes on the liberties of other citizens or threatens to undermine our National Security, we will take firm and decisive action.
77. In this regard, I reiterate my call for Nigerians to exercise restraint, tolerance and mutual respect in airing any grievances and frustrations. Whilst the ongoing national discourse on various political issues is healthy and welcome, we must not forget the lessons of our past. I trust that the vast majority of our people would rather tread the path of peace and prosperity, as we continue to uphold and cherish our Unity in Diversity.

78. Distinguished and Honourable Members of the National Assembly, you will recall that in my 2017 Budget Speech, I promised a new era for Nigeria and an end to the old ways of overdependence on oil revenues. The statistics and initiatives I mentioned clearly show that this new era has come and the old Nigeria is surely disappearing. We must, therefore, all work together to protect and sustain this CHANGE to create a new Nigeria:
a. A Nigeria that feeds itself;
b. A Nigeria that optimally utilizes its resources;
c. A Nigeria with a diversified, sustainable and inclusive economy.
79. Mr. Senate President, Mr. Speaker, Distinguished and Honourable Members of the National Assembly, this speech would be incomplete without commending the immense, patriotic and collaborative support of the National Assembly in the effort to move our great nation forward. I wish to assure you of the strong commitment of the Executive branch to deepen the relationship with the Legislature.
80. Nigeria is currently emerging from a very difficult economic period. If we all cooperate, and support one another, we can consolidate on our exit from the recession and firmly position Nigeria for economic prosperity. All the projects presented within this Budget have been carefully selected and subjected to extensive consultations and stakeholder engagements. As a Government, we are determined to bring succour to our people, improve their lives, and deliver on our promises to them. 2018 is a crucial year as we strive to ensure that we consolidate our successes and institutionalize the policies and practices that drove this turnaround.
81. I appeal to you to swiftly consider and pass the 2018 Appropriation Bill.
82. It is therefore with great pleasure and a deep sense of responsibility, that I lay before this Distinguished Joint Session of the National Assembly, the 2018 Budget Proposals of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
83. I thank you most sincerely for your attention.
84. May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture in this interview with select journalists in Lagos spoke on efforts being made by the Muhammadu Buhari administration to revamp the economy, Mainagate scandal and the recent threats by Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) to resume bombing of oil installations. Excerpts:

What is your perspective on this Mainagate scandal. Don’t you think it is a major dent on this government especially on the anti-corruption war?

The fact that Mr. President, immediately the issue came to his knowledge ask for Maina’s disengagement is the most important thing. That to me is a clear signal that we do not condone corruption. There is no better way to handle the issue than this.

What is the federal government doing to revamp the economy and ensure the ordinary man on the streets feel the impact of our exiting recession?

As you are very much aware, this administration’s contract with Nigerians sits on a tripod: the fight against corruption, tackling insecurity and reviving the economy. Even our worst critics acknowledge the progress we have made in fighting corruption and tackling insecurity. But one area in which they have consistently criticised us is the economy. Right from the inception of this administration, we chose the path of seeking a lasting solution to the economic crisis plaguing the nation instead of engaging in a quick fix that may attract accolades but will not endure. We chose to be painstaking instead of engaging in palliatives. I am happy to inform you today that we are winning! As you are very much aware, this administration’s contract with Nigerians sits on a tripod: the fight against corruption, tackling insecurity and reviving the economy. Even our worst critics acknowledge the progress we have made in fighting corruption and tackling insecurity.

But one area in which they have consistently criticised us is the economy. Right from the inception of this administration, we chose the path of seeking a lasting solution to the economic crisis plaguing the nation instead of engaging in a quick fix that may attract accolades but will not endure. We chose to be painstaking instead of engaging in palliatives. I am happy to inform you today that we are winning! Our well-thought-out policy, encapsulated in the administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), launched on April 5th 2017, is working and the results are beginning to show. In September, we exited recession and returned to the path of growth, after five consecutive quarters of contraction. As we said then, taking Nigeria out of recession did not happen by accident. It was the culmination of months of hard work by the administration and fidelity to its well-articulated economic policies. This administration will not relent in its determined effort to usher in a new dawn for Nigeria. We are winning the battle to revive the economy. We are fighting corruption like never before. We are tackling insecurity with a renewed vigour. While the naysayers, who are obviously in the minority, persist in their pastime of acting as a distraction, discerning and well-meaning Nigerians will continue to appreciate and encourage the good work of our administration.

You are the face of APC and the mouthpiece of the federal government. How do you feel when you say something and issue statements and people keep saying ‘It is a lie?

I have two burdens. The first is that I happen to be the face of the opposition and PDP has not forgiven me and they will never forgive me. I think they look at the magnitude of what has happened to them and they hold me solely responsible; which is not fair. But, I did my bit. Now becoming the face of government again, so it is automatic that whatever comes from Lai Mohammed, we must shoot it down as fake news and a lie. Unfortunately, my father gave me the name Lai also. So, it makes it very easy for them. But what I challenge them every time is please, give me one thing I said that is not true. Emotionally, you may not agree with me but in terms of facts and figures, I have never said anything which they can dispute. You don’t have to like it but you can’t deny that they are facts.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday uncovered what he called incredible things, which he said, happened in Nigeria a few weeks before the 2015 general elections.

The vice president spoke in Abuja at the legislative economic summit themed "Legislative Framework for Economic Recovery and Sustainable Development".

He said under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria witnessed barefaced stealing and waste of resources unprecedented anywhere in the world; the situation, he alleged, caused the recent economic recession.

He said between 2013 and 2015 with oil prices averaging up to $110 per barrel, "sometimes going to as high as $150, the government of the day somehow contrived to increase national debt from N7.9 trillion to N12.1 trillion; while reducing external reserves from $45 billion to $28 billion as of May 2015."

The vice president said under Jonathan's watch, there was also inflation of contracts and other procurements which, he noted, always made the cost of infrastructure necessary for development unaffordable.

"Of course, we all know that there was very little by the way of investment in infrastructure and capital projects. In fact in 2015, capital spend was less than 11%. So there was very little to show for where this money went.

"I don’t want to keep repeating some of the incredible things that happened, a few weeks before the last elections; how large sums of money, a 100billion in cash ostensibly for security. Another $289million in cash was paid out in the same period.

"No country can survive that kind of unbridled waste and corruption. We must never forget, that corruption is perhaps, the most outrageous cause of our economic decline.

"Aside from barefaced stealing or waste of resources, the inflation of contracts and other procurements ensures that the cost of infrastructure necessary for development will always be unaffordable.

"So if what we should spend on building a 200km road ends up being spent on a 20 km road, there is no way we are going to make any progress and there is no way we won’t end up in some kind of economic decline or the other," Osinbajo stated.

He recalled: "In 2015, oil prices fell to as low as $28 at some point. But worse still, throughout 2016 we lost almost a million barrels a day in oil production due to vandalization and sabotage of oil facilities and pipelines. We lost something in the order of about 60% of our revenues. Yet we could have survived without going into a recession, I think Dr. Teriba so ably stated that, we could have survived if we had savings. But we had no savings only debt.

"As economists would say, and as Dr. Teriba had said, we did not have the fiscal buffers to enable a counter-cyclical approach. In other words, we lacked the savings to see us through the lean times. Why? Why did we lack savings, when so much money was being made? This is the elephant in the room.

'Today, we can say that despite the 60% or even more reduction in revenues from oil, we are bailing out the States and our capital spend in 2016 was close to N1.3trillion, the highest yet in the country's history. So with more prudent management, it is possible to do more with far less money."

Ibrahim Magu
Ibrahim Magu, EFCC Acting chairman

Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)¸ Mr Ibrahim Magu, on Monday in Austria said his major preoccupation now was to leave a better Nigeria for the next generation.

Magu stated this after the opening ceremony of the 7th Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCA) holding at the U.N. House in Vienna, the capital.

In a statement, spokesman of the commission, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, said the EFCC boss made the remarks while speaking with a group of fellow participants who approached him to ask what had been his driving force in the anti-corruption fight in Nigeria.

Among members of the EFCC boss’ audience was Gilean Dell, the Coordinator of UNCAC Coalition, a Global anti-corruption movement, Uwujaren said.
“I have conscience, in spite of the deliberate act to annoy me and make me think of throwing in the towel.
“My conscience tells me that I should not give up. I shall continue to fight the corruption war until my last breath.

“My dream is to leave a better Nigeria, free of corruption to the next generation. We cannot continue the way we are going; otherwise, there will be no Nigeria for the next generation.

“This rubbish called corruption was caused by my generation, so it is our duty to fight it and annihilate it. We must leave a better life for the next generation,’’ he reportedly said.

The anti-graft czar also said he was encouraged by the political will of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government.

“We have a President who has a zero tolerance for corruption. I, therefore, have no excuse not to take advantage of the situation to make an indelible mark in the fight against corruption in Nigeria,” Magu said.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has detained the immediate past governor of Kogi State, Idris Wada.

The anti-graft agency traced N500m to the former governor’s account on Monday.

The money, it is understood, was said to be part of the N23bn allegedly disbursed by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, through the then Director of Finance of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation , Senator Nenadi Usman.

He arrived the EFCC office around 12pm and was still in custody around 9 pm.

More to follow…


The moment Tony Nwoye came down from the boat that crossed him to that community, all the villagers gathered together and burnt all APGA cloths that they used to deceive them.Nzam community has no road.

Tony Nwoye took the message of hope to them. The community will be developed with modern amenities.

 APGA Cloths On Fire

 APGA Cloths On Fire

 Cloths On Fire

Amnesty Boss Paul Boroh
Boroh urges Niger Delta Avengers to maintain existing peace

The Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), has urged members of the militant group, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), to maintain the existing peace in the region.

Boroh, also Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Matters, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) on Monday in Abuja.

He said the planned resumption of hostilities would be devastating to the nation’s economy.
He said the appeal by the Ijaw elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark to the NDA to maintain peace was in the interest of the region.

He said the appeal followed a crucial meeting with government delegation.
According to him, violence sometimes may have cleared away obstructions quickly, but it never had proved to be creative.

Boroh urged the avengers to be desirous of a peaceful society; adding peace was paramount for national development.

“If we desire a society without discrimination, then we must not discriminate against anyone in the process of building this society.

“If we desire a society that is democratic, then democracy must become a means as well as an end. So let’s all give peace a chance to enable us enjoy democracy,” the coordinator said.

The presidential aide said peace could only be achieved by understanding and not by force.
“Peace comes from being able to contribute the best we could to create a region that supports everyone.

“But it is also securing the space for others to contribute and that’s what President Buhari’s administration is doing.

“The new vision for the Niger Delta will provide mass job opportunities for the youths and help fasten the development of the region,” he added.

He, however, advised the group to make a difference and halt the violence that would devastate the nation’s economy.

The Coordinator appealed to the group to adopt dialogue instead of violence.
He lauded the group for the ceasefire five months ago and appealed it should be sustained no matter their grievances.

The presidential aide appealed to the group not to blow up pipelines and oil installations in the region; adding that it would be an economic sabotage against the nation.

NAN, recalls that the militant group, which halted attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta region, last year, following various appeals from the Niger Delta leaders, has renounced the ceasefire.
The group in a statement by its spokesperson, self-styled: “Maj.-Gen. Murdoch Agbinibo,” disowned the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, who are intermediaries between it and the government.

The group is led by the former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark, who had also appealed to the group to maintain the existing peace

ABUJA – The Federal Government has suspended Chief Okoi Obono-Obla as Chairman of the Special Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, in a statement on Sunday, said that recent actions of Obono-Obla who is equally an aide to President Muhammadu Buhari on prosecution, ran contrary to the enabling act that established the panel.

Consequently, the AGF directed Obono-Obla to “henceforth desist from carrying out any operation in his capacity as head of the panel”.

Obono-Obla was notified of his suspension via a letter dated November 1 with file number HAGF/SH/2017/VOL/1/60, which was signed by the AGF.

In the letter, Malami maintained that activities of the panel contravened established administrative procedures and protocols in the nation’s civil service structure.

He warned Obono-Obla to strictly comply with FG’s directive that he should hands-off from further presiding over any activity in the name of the panel.

Obono-Obla was also barred from further granting press interviews without firstly securing permission to speak on any official matter.

“Obla is also instructed to henceforth seek clearance from the AGF before granting any media interview or making press releases on official matters, while he is directed to promptly provide a detailed up-to-date report on the activities of the panel to the Minister for onward transmission to the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

Malami’s letter titled, ‘RE: Directive In Respect of Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, Chiarman of the Special Investigation Panel on the recovery of public property’, was said to be a follow-up to a previous letter from the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

According to the statement, Malami’s letter to Obono-Obla read: “I have received a letter Ref. SH/OVP/DCOS/FMJ/0424 dated 20thOctober, 2017 in respect of the above subject from the Office of the Vice President.

“In the said letter, the Vice President expressed his concerns on the activities of the Special Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property which runs contrary to the enabling Act establishing it. He also noted that the activities of the Panel run foul or contrary to established administrative procedures and protocols in the Federal Civil Service structure.

“In view of the foregoing coupled with the directives contained in the letter under reference, you are hereby directed to refrain from any further action or taking any step in your capacity as the Chairman of the Special Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property with immediate effect until directed otherwise by His Excellency, the Vice President.

“While you are to await further instructions in respect of the Panel’s mandate, you are hereby directed to promptly provide a detailed up-to-date report on the activities of the Panel to the undersigned for onward transmission to the Vice President.

“Furthermore, you are required to henceforth seek clearance from the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice before granting any media interview or making press releases on official matters.

“While appealing for immediate and strict compliance with the contents of this letter, please, accept the assurances of my warm regards and best wishes”.

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