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Monday, July 15, 2024

Nigerian newspapers headlines Friday morning

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Debts, salaries take 52.6% as FG budgets N13.08tn for 2021 [PUNCH]

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Thursday, presented to the National Assembly,  N13.08tn budget estimates for 2021  with N3.12tn (23.85 per cent) earmarked for debt servicing.

Buhari, who said the nation’s economy might relapse into recession, stated that  N3.85tn (29.43 per cent) was voted for capital projects, while personnel costs (salaries and allowances) would gulp    N3.76tn (28.75 per cent).

With 23.85 per cent allocated for debt serving and personnel costs gulping 28.75 per cent, it means  52.60 per cent of the budget or N6.88tn will be spent on both items next year.

Giving other highlights of the appropriation bill, Buhari said the budget was premised on daily crude oil production of N1.86m and oil price of $40 per barrel.

The President, who tagged the proposed fiscal document, ‘Budget of Economic Recovery and Resilience’,   assured Nigerians that his regime would do everything possible to take the economy out of recession in 2021.

The President said, “The Nigerian economy is currently facing serious challenges, with the macroeconomic environment being significantly disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Real Gross Domestic Product growth declined by 6.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2020. This ended the three-year trend of positive, but modest, real GDP growth recorded since the second quarter of 2017.

“I am glad to note that, through our collective efforts, our economy performed relatively better than that of many other developed and emerging economies.

“The GDP growth is projected to be negative in the third quarter of this year. As such, our economy may lapse into the second recession in four years, with significant adverse consequences.”

Giving a breakdown of the 2021 budget proposal,  Buhari put aggregate expenditure at N13.08tn,  which includes N1.35tn spending by government owned firms and grants/aid funded expenditures of N354.85bn.

He added that the proposed N13.08tn expenditure also comprised a non-debt recurrent costs of N5.65trn; personnel costs of N3.76tn; and pensions, gratuities and retirees’ benefits of N501.19bn.

The President said overhead would gulp N625.50bn; debt servicing,  N3.12tn;  statutory transfers N484.49bn; and sinking fund of N220bn meant to retire certain maturing bonds.

He said, “ The 2021 budget deficit,  inclusive of government owned enterprises and project – tied loans, is projected at N5.20tn, representing 3.64 per cent.”

The President added that  the fiscal document would be predicated upon the 2021 – 2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper already approved by the National Assembly

The assumptions, according to him,  include  an oil benchmark of $40 per barrel and daily oil production estimate of 1.86m barrels, inclusive of condensates of 300,000 to 400,000 barrels per day.

Buhari said the exchange rate would be based on N379 per dollar, GDP growth projected at 3.0 per cent and inflation closing at 11.95 per cent

He said the Federal Government revenue, based on the above fiscal assumptions and parameters was estimated at N8.433tn in 2021.

He, however, said the total revenue available to fund the 2021 federal budget  was estimated at N7.886tn.

This, according to him,  includes grants and aid of N354.85 bn as well as the revenues of 60 government-owned enterprises.

The President put the projected oil revenue at N2.0tn, and non-oil revenue at N1.49tn.

He noted that the country still faced the existential challenge of coronavirus pandemic and its aftermath, stressing that the development had provided a justification to exceed the threshold as provided for by the appropriation bill.

FG  plans N4.28tn new borrowings

According to him, the deficit will be financed mainly by new borrowings totalling N4.28tn;  N205.15bn  from privatisation proceeds and N709.69bn in drawdowns on multilateral and bilateral loans secured for specific projects and programmes.

He added that N484.49bn provided for statutory transfers in the 2021 budget represented an increase of N56.46bn or 13 per cent, over the revised 2020 provision.

The beneficiaries of the statutory transfers, according to him are   the North-East Development Commission, N29.70bn; the National Judicial Council, N110bn and the Universal Basic Education Commission, N70bn.


Ex-Alpha Beta MD sues firm, narrates rift with Tinubu [PUNCH]

A former Managing Director of Alpha Beta Consulting, Mr Oladapo Apara, has sued the company, a former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu; and the current Managing Director of the firm, Akin Doherty; before a Lagos State High Court, Igbosere.

In the writ of summons marked LD/7330GCMW/2020, Apara asked the respondents to appear within 42 days or judgment might be given in their absence.

Apara had in a petition addressed to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, accused the company of N100bn fraud but two years after, the EFCC had yet to take action.

In his statement of claim, the former Alpha Beta boss said Tinubu boasted that the then acting chairman of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu, would protect him.

He wrote, “The 2nd defendant (Bola Tinubu) also warned the claimant not to even think of exposing his involvement in the financial affairs of the 1st defendant (Alpha Beta) to the EFCC as the then acting chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, will always protect him (Tinubu).”

Apara also narrated how Alpha Beta was formed in 2002 when Tinubu was still the governor.

The claimant said he was the one who came up with the idea of a consulting firm helping the state government to track and reconcile taxes.

Apara said Tinubu accepted the proposal but gave many conditions including that his own people would own 70 per cent stakes in the company.

He stated, “The claimant avers that following the presentation of his proposal to the Lagos State Government, the 2nd defendant (Tinubu), who was at the time the governor of Lagos State, demanded that 70 per cent equity interest in the project be assigned to a certain Olumide Ogunmola before the 2nd defendant will approve the project.

“The claimant avers that he then met the said Olumide Ogunmola (who he had never met before) and it was agreed that a limited liability company be incorporated in which the claimant will hold 30 per cent shares while Olumide Ogunmola and his partners will hold 70 per cent of the shares of the company.

“The claimant avers that following the agreement alluded to above, Alpha Beta Consulting Limited was incorporated in 2002 with the following shareholders: Dapo Apara (30 per cent), Olumide Ogunmola (40 per cent) and Adegboyega Oyetola (30 per cent).”

He said Tinubu later directed that Oyetola’s shares be transferred to one Tunde Badejo.

Apara stated that Tinubu controlled the company which was receiving 10 per cent of tax collected on behalf of the state.

He said due to the technological innovation that was deployed by him, the Internally Generated Revenue of the state grew from N10bn per annum in 2002 to N300bn in 2019.

The claimant stated that in 2010 or thereabout, Tinubu directed that the incorporation structure of the Alpha-Beta Consulting Limited be changed from a limited liability company to a limited liability partnership under a newly promulgated law in Lagos State.

He said the aim of the move was to shield Tinubu’s involvement from public scrutiny.

He said Olumide Ogunmola was named the managing partner of the newly transformed company, while Apara became deputy managing partner.

Others are the Independent National Electoral Commission, N40bn;  National Assembly, N128bn;  Public Complaints Commission, N5.2bn;  Human Rights Commission, N3bn and the Basic Health Care Provision Fund,  N35.03bn.

He said, “In our efforts to enhance national security and human capital development, a major part of the 2021 recurrent cost estimate is allocated to paying salaries and overheads in MDAs providing the critical public services.

“These include, N227.02bn for the Ministry of Interior,   N441.39bn for the Ministry of Police Affairs, N545.10bn for Ministry of Education, N840.56bn for Ministry of Defence, and N380.21bn bn  Ministry of Health.

“Personnel cost is still our largest single item of expenditure. In the seven months to 31st July 2020, it accounted for 34 per cent of total Federal Government spending and is projected at 33 per cent of 2021 expenditure.


I’ll attend trial when doctor certifies my knee healed – Maina [PUNCH]

The Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, has said he will resume his trial only when his doctor gives him a clean bill of health.

Maina, who claimed to be suffering from knee injuries, spoke in a recorded video clip which circulated online on Thursday.

The about six-and-a-half-minute-long video clip showed him fielding questions from an unseen “journalist” who claimed to have embarked on an “independent investigation” to verify if Maina had jumped bail as being speculated in the media.

Maina was shown lying in a bed as he fielded questions, with his son, Faisal, who is also being prosecuted for separate charges, seated beside him.

The left knee, which he claimed was injured, was not shown in the clip.

Maina, who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for allegedly laundering N2bn, has been absent from court on seven consecutive occasions since September 29, 2020 when his trial was scheduled to have resumed.

On October 2, Borno South Senator Ali Ndume, who stood surety for Maina to enable him to get bail, told Justice Okon Abang that he could no longer find the defendant.

But Maina, who was in hiding for about two years before he was rearrested by the EFCC last year, said in the video clip that he had not absconded from his ongoing trial.

Asked when he would resume his trial, he said, “The doctors are here. You need to ask the doctors. But what they told me was that I would need six to seven weeks for recovery.”

But when asked further if he was ready for his trial, he said, “Of course I am ready, as soon as I am healed.”

“They told me that the next knee cap, they may not be able to do it here,” Maina added.

Asked to respond to specific allegations that he had jumped bail, Maina said, “You have done your independent investigation. You were able to get my location.

“Now you have seen me. You have seen the situation and you are able to tell whether or not I am running away from my trial.”


PTF releases fresh guidelines for school reopening [PUNCH]

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Thursday released fresh guidelines for the reopening of schools nationwide.

This followed the earlier directive by the PTF that schools were free to reopen as from October 12.

Addressing journalists at the Thursday’s briefing of the PTF in Abuja, the National Coordinator of the taskforce, Dr Sani Aliyu, said the fresh guidelines were developed by the PTF in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Education  and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

He added, “Schools and educational bodies that plan to reopen must have detailed communication protocols that include parents, school health teams, school authorities and local state officials.

“They must also have a system for providing regular updates for parents, staff and relevant authorities, as well as communicate changes to procedures effectively.

“Specifically, school authorities have the responsibilities to ensure that everyone gaining access to their schools is screened properly.

“Boarding schools must have identified areas for screening and putting positive students aside.

“There must be appropriate waste management systems.

“Health facilities that are within the schools that serve the schools should have the ability to cater for an outbreak and a response protocol must be in place for these schools for students who test positive.”

The PTF also said that the Independent National Electoral Commission would enforce no-face-mask-no-voting directive in the forthcoming governorship election which is to hold in Ondo State on Saturday.


Policeman flees after shooting lover in the mouth [PUNCH]

A yet-to-be-identified policeman is on the run after shooting his girlfriend in her mouth at Salvation Bus Stop in the Ikeja area of Lagos State.

It was gathered that after the policeman perpetrated the crime, he fled from the crime scene and abandoned the victim.

Footage of the incident, which had been trending online showed the lady grappling in pain as some good Samaritans rushed   her to the hospital for treatment.

In the footage, the lady’s chick had torn due to the impact of the bullet that pierced her mouth.

The lady was also seen sitting on the floor of a hospital wallowing in pain while waiting for a doctor to attend to her.

When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, said, “The policeman has been identified, not in Lagos command, but works in Lagos State.

“He is the lady’s boyfriend; we will get him. We guess they have a conflict that triggered the shooting. Policemen have been sent to the hospital to visit the lady and get some facts when she is stable.”


Depressed economy will bounce back, says Buhari [THE NATION]

NIGERIA’S economy which has been projected to go into recession this quarter will return to recovery next year, the President said on Thursday.

President Muhammadu Buhari raised the hope when he presented the 2021 budget estimates for Federal lawmakers consideration.

He tagged the N13.08 trillion estimates as Budget of Economic Recovery and Resilience.

Buhari said: “The Nigerian economy is currently facing serious challenges, with the macroeconomic environment being significantly disrupted by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

“Real Gross Domestic Product (‘GDP’) growth declined by 6.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2020.

“This ended the three-year trend of positive, but modest, real GDP growth recorded since the second quarter of 2017.

“I am glad to note that through our collective efforts, our economy performed relatively better than that of many other developed and emerging economies.”

According to the President, the economy may slip because the “GDP growth is projected to be negative in the third quarter of this year. As such, our economy may relapse into the second recession in four years, with significant adverse consequences”.

He added: “We are working assiduously to ensure a rapid recovery in 2021. We remain committed to implementing programmes to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty over the next 10 years.”

The President said liquidity of the economy will be boosted with the withdrawal of subsidy and the reforms of the electricity sector.

He said:  “The new petrol pricing regime has freed up resources that was allocated to subsidise petroleum products. Similarly, the ongoing IPPIS verification exercise has closed gaps that encourage ghost workers or pensioners. The service reflective electricity tariffs will help resolve liquidity crisis in the power sector and make the sector attractive to foreign investment.”

He noted that since skills’ deficits limit employment opportunities in the formal economy, various skills’ development programmes are being implemented simultaneously to address the problem frontally.

“For instance, the Government is implementing the Special Public Works programme to provide employment opportunities to 774,000 youths across the 774 local government areas of Nigeria.

“We have also recently introduced the N25 billion Nigeria Youth Investment Fund.

“We thank all Nigerians, for your perseverance and continued support during these difficult times. We remain unwavering in our commitment to actualise our vision of a bright future for everyone.”


1.4m voters to pick Ondo governor [THE NATION]

NO fewer than 1,478,460 voters will decide tomorrow’s governorship election in 203 electoral wards across 18 local government councils in Ondo State.

The State has 3,009 polling units.

Although 17 candidates are eying the Alagbaka Government House, Akure, the state capital, eyes are only on three standard bearers.

The three major candidates are Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), who is seeking re-election, Eyitayo Jegede(Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) and Deputy Governor Agboola Ajayi(Zenith Labour Party).

On poll day, the remaining 14 candidates running on the platforms of mushroom parties will pale into dignified spectators. Some of them have been endorsing either Akeredolu or Jegede.

Zoning may not be a core factor to shape the poll. The big three hail from the three zones: Akeredlu, a native of Owo, is from the North Senatorial District. Jegede, from Akure, is from the Central Senatorial District and Ajayi is from the South Senatorial District.

The analysis of Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) collection across the councils shows voters’ enthusiasm. The 1,478, 460 cards collected represent 81 per cent of the 1,822, 346 total voter population.

There are 343, 886 uncollected PVCs, representing 19.9 per cent of the total registered voters.

Akure South, which comprise of Akure city, has the highest number of PVC collection  put at 207, 238. The lowest is Akoko Southeast, which has 32, 763.

Yesterday, the umpire begun the distribution of sensitive materials.

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Prof. Mahmud Yakubu urged electoral officers to stick to ethics and maintain neutrality.

But the PDP rejected the appointment of the Obafemi Awolowo University ( OAU) Vice Chancellor Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede as Chief Returning Officer, saying he may not be neutral.


LASEMA confirms five dead in Lagos gas explosion [THE NATION]

EMERGENCY agencies yesterday confirmed five persons dead in the gas explosion on Candose Road, Baruwa in Alimosho Local Government Area, Lagos.

The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) and the Lagos State Fire and Rescue Service gave this figure. But, Lagos Police Command Public Relations Officer Olumuyiwa Adejobi, a Superintendent (SP), in a statement corroborated the figure. Residents and family members, who spoke with The Nation, identified them as Aishat Adebowale, a trader, and Baba Akeem, a guard.

The gas station, BestRoof Cooking Gas, residents said, started operating in the densely populated area about two years.

The gas station is situated a few kilometres away from a filling station named BestRoof Oil and Gas.

The late Aishat, whose house was near the gas station, was said to have alerted members of her family and other residents of the gas surge before she fell victim.

Eyewitnesses said she left her shop and quickly evacuated her family members to a safe place before returning to the house to pick an item.

“After picking the item, she was running away before the gas exploded and she was caught by the fire. Unfortunately, she lost her life to the inferno,” a neighbour told The Nation.

She has since been buried.

The Nation learnt that Baba Akeem, a guard, died of burnt in the hospital.

He was rescued by the crowd from the fire and handed over to the police. The officers later handed him over to the LASEMA officials, who took him to the General Hospital in Ikeja where he died.


Lawan, Gbajabiamila promise prompt action on budget [THE NATION]

THE N13.08 trillion 2021 Appropriation Bill would get prompt attention, federal lawmakers assured Nigerians yesterday.

President Muhammadu Buhari presented the draft estimate of the bill to the National Assembly yesterday at a joint session.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan and House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila gave the assurance in their opening and closing remarks. Sources said the second reading of the Appropriation Bill will likely begin next week.

Lawan and Gbajabiamila assured executive of the readiness and the determination of the National Assembly to pass the budget before the end of the year.

The Senate President in his opening remarks said: “Mr. President, a year ago, Tuesday, 8th October, 2019, when you presented the 2020 Budget Estimates to the first Joint Session of the ninth National Assembly, we promised you and Nigerians our readiness and determination to consider and pass the Budget before the end of the year.

“We considered that necessary in order to reverse the irregular and unpredictable budget cycle that had impacted adversely on our economy over the years, to the more desirable January – December cycle.”

Lawan recounted how the two-chamber assembly worked assiduously to process last year’s budget within the time frame they set, commending his colleagues’ sense of dedication to duty and patriotism.

“The eventual passage of the Appropriation Bill 2020 and signing into law in record time was a clear testimony of the benefits of the legislature and the executive working together for the good of the people,” he said.

He, however, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic changed some projections in the budget.

Lawan said: “Mr. President, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our plans, as it shut down economies and affected our income and expenditure projections.

“Its effect on the global oil market, which is central to our revenue outlay, was devastating. It necessitated a review of the entire budget, which we did with profound sense of purpose, duty and patriotism.

He said the situation informed a downward review of the budget.

The Senate President said: “We made necessary reductions, re-ordered priorities and changed sources of funds and loans given the grim realities from the pandemic. We were convinced that the steps we took went a long way in stabilising our economy and in ensuring that funds were provided for critical programmes.


Anti-SARS protests spread to FCT, Kwara, Edo [THE NATION]

PROTESTS for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) spread on Thursday in many parts of the country.

There had been a peaceful protest on Wednesday in Ikeja, the Lagos State capital, by some students and youths to make the government end the activities of the police unit.

In the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), scores of protesters on Thursday besieged the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters in Abuja, calling for the scrapping of the police squad.

The protesters caused traffic gridlock on the streets of the central area of Abuja, where the Force headquarters is located.

They dramatised the killings by police personnel by pouring red paint on the roads and chanted anti-SARS songs.

Among them was the Convener of the #RevolutionNow campaign, Omoyele Sowore.

The protesters said many SARS operatives and policemen had been indicted for rights violations, extra-judicial killings, extortion, illegal detention and other acts of misconduct.

Force Headquarters spokesman Frank Mba, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), had said SARS cannot be scrapped because it is still needed to combat armed robbery and other violent crimes across the country.

In Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, scores of youths on Thursday held a peaceful protest on major streets of the town.

They urged the police high command to end SARS.

The youths converged on the popular General Post Office area before marching on Ahmadu Bello Way to the headquarters of the state police command and then the Kwara State Government House.

They sang anti-SARS songs and carried placards with various inscriptions, such as: “End SARS now,”; “Say no to reformation of SARS”; “Police, protect us, police stop killing us”; “The only SARS we want is SARS on the beat”; “Stop killing our youth” and “Stop killing our male child.”

Convener of the protest, Miss Saadat Bibire, said the peaceful protest followed gross misconduct and atrocities committed by SARS operatives.

Another protester, Abdulsalam Abodurin, alleged that some of the unit’s officers extorted N50,000 from him because they could not understand the use of an application on his phone.

Abodunrin said he used the App to communicate with his clients as a creative writer.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Paul Omata lauded the peaceful and orderly conduct of the youths during the protest.

He assured that their grievances would be relayed to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu, whom he said had started taking steps towards addressing some of the issues they raised.

Former IGP Mike Okiro on Thursday said the SARS should be rebranded and refocused for effective service delivery, rather than scrap it.


We’ll defend Igboland, vows Ohanaeze [SUN]

The apex socio-cultural organisation of Igbo, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, yesterday, restated its readiness to defend Igbo land a against all perceived enemies. They also threw their weight behind calls for the restructuring of the country.

This was the resolution adopted after the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the youth wing of the group in Enugu.

In a communique by Uchenna Obiora, National President of the Ohanaeze youth wing; Kingsley Dozie, deputy president; Uchenna Madukibe, national secretary and Osmond Nkeoma, national publicity secretary, the group affirmed the support of Ndigbo for a united Nigeria “where peace, love, fairness, justice, equity and equality of opportunities are paramount regardless of creed, ethnicity, gender or political affiliation.”

They also said  Igbo youths were more united than ever and were in full support of the emergence of a competent and detribalised Igbo  as President of Nigeria in 2023 even as it demanded that the country be restructured.

“Igbo youth leaders lend their full support to the restructuring of Nigeria on the basis of fairness and equity. We, therefore, call on the Federal Government and all Nigerian leaders to commence a process of dialogue among Nigerians on the modalities of achieving this pressing question within a reasonable time frame.

“The leadership of Ohanaeze youths in consultation with the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by our able leader,Chief Nnia Nwodo  and other Igbo political leaders will engage the Federal Government on all areas of concerns to Ndigbo and to Nigeria as a whole,” the group said.

Meanwhile, following the Federal Government’s earmark of N654 million to monitor Radio Biafra and other stations in the South East, leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, yesterday, vowed to launch a station in Daura, hometown of President Muhammadu Buhari in Katsina.

A statement by Emman Powerful, in Owerri, said the government’s action confirmed it was afraid of IPOB.

“That the  Federal Government mapped out such a whopping amount of money  for this unreasonable project, despite the precarious economic state only confirms its jittery over the name IPOB. We thought they said we are miscreants; how come they are now losing sleep over miscreants. The Nigerian government and its agents have spent more than this amount in the past and nothing came out of it. We are expecting them to approve more money for the fight, because they must understand that they will try but cannot withstand IPOB and its Leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. Such attempts in the past amounted to efforts in futility, and this time, they will fail again,” Powerful said.


FG begs WTO members to endorse Okonjo-Iweala as DG [SUN]

The Federal Government Thursday appealed to members of the World Trade  organisation to endorse Nigeria’s nomination, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in her aspiration for the position of Director-General of the global body. Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs Mariam Katagum, made this call in a statement to news men in Abuja.

Katagum, who is also the Chairperson of the Okonjo-Iweala Campaign Team, described her as “the best choice for the job”.

She commended the Economic Community of West African States and the European Union for backing the Nigerian candidate.

The minister said, “These are excellent testimonies of her eminent qualification for the top job. The WTO as of today needs a DG with multiple skills to revive the challenged spirit of trade liberalisation worldwide. The WTO faces a lot of problems currently, and confronting these challenges necessarily requires building trust among the membership especially as the problems are not solely of a technical nature.

“Only a DG with the requisite political and negotiating skills coupled with multilateral experience can ensure deep engagement of the Members in order to restore trust and build a truly efficient organisation.

“Dr Iweala’s qualities and experience in managing multilateral issues, in trade facilitation and negotiation as well as brokering deals and agreements with high political stakes, put her in good standing.”

Earlier in her response to the show of affection on her quest for the WTO top job by stakeholders, Nigeria’s for Coordinating Minister for the Economy Dr Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in her verified tweeter handle said “Happy to be in the final round of the @wto DG campaign. Thanks, WTO members for your continued support of my candidacy. I could not have made it without the prayers and support of all Nigerians and friends around the world. Thank you @MBuhari and all my friends. Aluta continua!”

Ms Okonjo-Iweala, a former finance minister, had told the BBC that it was the ordinary African that she was most concerned with.

She said that she wanted to “figure out how to get women and youth, who are behind these engines of growth in Africa, to benefit more from world trade”. She was also keen to make sure that the continent moves away from exporting raw materials and instead “adds value to the goods or products we produce for the global market.

“For instance, we import 94% of pharmaceuticals on the continent while we can produce these locally in Africa.”


UBA pledges to improve customer satisfaction [SUN]

United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, said that its recent transformation process was to ensure that customer’ expectations are not only met but surpassed while enjoying seamless and world-class banking services.

To achieve the programme, the bank said it has embarked on some initiatives including the streamlining and automating of its processes, technology upgrade, training, and rewarding staff excellence all towards ensuring that customers enjoy the very best of services.

UBA’s Head of Operations, Alex Alozie, who explained this during a virtual media parley in Lagos to mark the 2020 Customer Service Week, said the bank has intensified its focus on putting the customer first whilst still reaffirming its leadership position. Alozie said that in line with this year’s theme, the ‘Dream Team’, which embodies UBA’s core goals, the bank has recorded considerable milestones in its journey.

He said, “In the last one year, we have embarked on an intensive drive to transform our services across all service touchpoints including but not limited to banking halls, channels – internet, mobile, USSD, among others in Nigeria, Africa, and territories where we operate. We have ensured that our customers enjoy self-service, where they can carry out their transactions seamlessly on their devices, without visiting the banking hall. This has further boosted customer’ confidence as the services provide ease and convenience, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.


APC Govs Mull 6-month Maternity Leave For Nursing Mothers [LEADERSHIP]

Governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have proposed to implement six-month of maternity leave as well as exclusive breastfeeding in a bid to promote child nutrition in their states.

The meeting equally noted the importance of information and how it affects the attitudes of citizens towards issues of nutrition. It, therefore, urged APC-controlled states to design a special communication strategy to raise public awareness on malnutrition and its consequences.

The proposal was contained in a communique issued at the end of a virtual meeting of Secretaries to State Governments of APC-controlled states held under the auspices of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF.

The meeting which had as its theme, ‘Developing Common Policy Initiatives on Maternal & Child Nutrition Promotion in APC States’, had the overarching objective of identifying salient and common initiatives of Maternal and Child Nutrition that can be replicated across all the APC-controlled States

Co-chairman of PGF Governance Programme Steering Committee, Governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State, declared the meeting open, while Gov. Mohammed Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State declared it close.

In the communique signed by Alhaji Adamu Fanini and Prof. Danladi Atu, SSGs of Jigawa and Plateau states respectively, participants said “in view of the importance of parental support for children at birth and the health of the nursing parents, the meeting recommended that APC controlled states should prioritise implementation of 180 days (6 months) maternity leave for women.

‘’The meeting observed the importance of exclusive breastfeeding to the growth and general health of a child and therefore recommended that APC controlled states should encourage and support women to practice six months exclusive breastfeeding for children from birth.”

“The meeting observed that there is no institutional framework for the implementation of programmes on food and nutrition in some states and therefore resolved that APC controlled states should set up State Committees on Food and Nutrition to relate with all FG programmes on Food and Nutrition and coordinate PGF’s implementation framework on child Nutrition in APC controlled state.

“The meeting equally encouraged each APC controlled state to continually give Status Report on what currently obtains in their state with a view to creating a template that reflects the current status of each APC state on Child Nutrition and each SGS should nominate the focal person for their state to relate with the PGF Secretariat on the implementation”, the communique stated further.

The meeting also adopted the PGF Secretariat’s proposal for follow up meetings with Commissioners of Health, Education and Agriculture of APC controlled States in order to develop sectoral work plans for the implementation of the approved framework on “Promoting Child Nutrition in APC states, Challenges and Opportunities for Action”.


2021 Budget: PMB Upbeat On Economic Recovery, Raises Health, Education Allocations [LEADERSHIP]

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday presented the 2021 budget proposal to a joint session of the National Assembly, where he expressed hope that even though the country may be heading for another recession, there will be windows for rapid recovery.

Buhari, who addressed the joint session of federal lawmakers at about 11.23am, unveiled a budget of N13.08trillion for the 2021 fiscal year with a projected deficit of N5.20trillion. Critical sectors such as health, education and the National Assembly (NASS) got higher allocations than in previous budgets.

In the same manner, Works and Housing received higher capital votes.

The president who was accompanied by some members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to the event, said that while the country was heading for a second recession in four years, the government has put in place plans to ensure rapid recovery in 2021.

He said that the government was working round the clock to ensure speedy recovery of the economy next year even as he affirmed his administration’s commitment to lifting 100million Nigerians out of poverty.

The budget deficit represents 3.64 per cent of estimated Gross Domestic Product (GDP), slightly above the three per cent threshold set by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 but for the threats of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Buhari, however, said that the deficit would be financed mainly by new borrowings totalling N4.28trillion, N205.15billion from privatisation proceeds and N709.69billion in drawdowns on multilateral and bilateral loans secured for specific projects and programmes.

LEADERSHIP Friday recalled that FEC proposed the same budget size for 2021 last on Wednesday last week ahead of the formal presentation of the estimates to the National Assembly.

The proposed 2021 budget is based on parameters earlier approved by the National Assembly as contained in the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).

The parameters include a daily crude oil production of 1.86mbpd inclusive of condensates of 300,000 to 400,000 barrels per day, $40 per barrel as oil price benchmark, and an exchange rate of N379 to the US dollar.

Inflation growth rate is projected at 11.95 per cent while Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate is fixed at three per cent, among other assumptions.

The aggregate N13.08trillion expenditure include non-debt recurrent costs of N5.65 trillion, personnel costs of N3.76 trillion, pensions, gratuities and retirees’ benefits of N501.19billion, overheads of N625.50 billion, debt service of N3.124 trillion, statutory transfers of N484.49 billion, and sinking fund of N220 billion.

Based on the above fiscal assumptions and parameters, total federally-distributable revenue is estimated at N8.433trillion in 2021 while total revenue available to fund the 2021 federal budget is estimated at N7.886 trillion.

Also, oil revenue is projected at N2.01trillion while non-oil revenue is estimated at N1.49trillion.

The sum of N484.49 billion provided for statutory transfers in the 2021 budget represents an increase of N56.46 billion (13per cent) over the revised 2020 budget.

The statutory transfers provisions are Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) – N63.51billion; North East Development Commission (NEDC) – N29.70billion; National Judicial Council (NJC) – N110.00billion; Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) – N70.05billion; Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) – N40billion.

Others are National Assembly – N128billion with an increase of N3billion; Public Complaints Commission – N5.20billion; National Human Rights Commission – N3billion; and Basic Health Care Provision Fund – N35.03billion.

The sectoral allocations in the budget are Power – N198 billion (inclusive of N150 billion for the Power Sector Recovery Plan); Works and Housing – N404 billion; Transportation – N256 billion; Defence -N121 billion; Agriculture and Rural Development – N110 billion.

Others are Water Resources – N153billion; Industry, Trade and Investment – N51billion; Education – N127billion; Health – N132billion; Zonal Intervention Projects – N100billion; Niger Delta Development Commission – N64billion; and Amnesty Programme = N65billion, among others.

“The 157 percent increase in the capital allocation to the health sector is to enhance the capacity to deliver healthcare services through the procurement of equipment, vaccines and other facilities. Two centres of excellence, as well as one Accident and Emergency Centre, will be equipped in Federal Teaching Hospitals in each geopolitical zone.

“The Ministry of Education’s capital allocation has been increased by 65 percent to improve the education of our children. Funds have been provided for the provision of scholarship awards to Nigerian students at home and abroad,” Buhari said.















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