Connect with us

News Feed

‘Okonjo-Iweala Is Deceiving Nigerians’

Published

on

Hon. Samson Osagie represents Orhiomwon/Uhunmwode Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. Last Tuesday, he moved the motion which led to the House summoning the Minister of Finance, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, over the alarm she allegedly raised that the nation  could be shut down by September if the National Assembly refused to pass President Goodluck Jonathan’s 2013 Budget Amendment Proposal.

NGOZIIn this interview, Osagie throws  light on how the issue of constituency projects remains the bone of contention in the current face-off between the National Assembly and the Presidency.

What do you have to say about media reports that the current stand-off between the Executive arm of government and the National Assembly over the 2013 Budget arose due to the fact that the Presidency refused to execute  the constituency projects  in the Appropriation Act?

I am not surprised because the issue of constituency projects has been the source of conflicts between both arms of government. I insist that due to our level of development as a country, lawmakers  better understand the problems of the people. As such, we have every right to insist that development projects must be executed. We have no apologies to anybody for taking that position.

Our problem with the Executive stems from the undue tardiness that they always exhibit in implementing capital projects in general; not just constituency projects. Apart from constituency projects, which constitute less than 20 % of the approved capital expenditure of the budget, there are so many other capital projects that were initiated by the Executive arm itself which they are not executing. It was only recently that the Federal Ministry of Works has been seen everywhere trying to look at the roads.

What about the other sectors like health, education and power? The constituency projects are not just for members of the National Assembly. They are projects meant for the development of our people. The budget is not segmented as to say there is an aspect  devoted to only constituency projects. They are all capital projects introduced into the budget by members of the National Assembly.

We know the problems confronting our people and they include lack of basic amenities like electricity, potable water, good roads and schools. During our  electioneering campaigns,  we made promises to our people that we would provide these amenities to them when elected.

No Minister has ever  visited the nooks and crannies of this country to solicit for the support of the people during the electioneering period. It is the legislators that visited every hamlet and village to interact with the people. So we are properly placed to ask for development projects for our people.

But going by the letter President Goodluck Jonathan sent to the National Assembly two weeks ago, which could be referred to as 2013 Budget Amendment proposal, he gave the impression that the National Assembly diverted funds from certain top priority capital projects like the Lokoja-Abuja Highway, Kano-Maiduguri Highway and several others like that. Can you give your perspective on that?

Let me also tell you that it is an anomaly to ask for an amendment to an Appropriation Act. The best approach should have been for the President to present a supplementary budget proposal. A supplementary budget is meant to address the revenue shortfall for a particular project in a particular fiscal year. In order to address this problem, the President ought to come with a supplementary budget proposal to make up for the projects that need to be executed. On the issue of moving  funds from one budget sub-head to another, only the Committee on Appropriation can speak about that.

Even at that, what about the initial funds appropriated for various capital  budget heads?  How much of those funds have been released? If, for instance, you requested for N10,000 for a project, and only N8,000 was appropriated, the question that needs to be asked first is whether you have spent the initial N8,000 allocated for the project?  The answer to that question is no. So, what they ought to have done is to first utilize the funds that have been appropriated and then come by way of supplementary budget to ask for  additional funds to cover the ground that needs to be covered.

So, the idea of hiding under an amendment budget, to renew the entire budget is unacceptable and is unknown to our constitution in terms of budgeting. That is the problem on ground.

Even the Senate has said that given the nature of the so-called amendment proposal which is so voluminous, it is unlikely that the senators can consider it before embarking on vacation. Do you know that the Executive asked for an additional N40 billion in the amendment proposal they brought? So, what the Executive is trying to do is to blackmail us and cite that as excuse for their failure to implement the 2013 Budget.

How do you mean?

This is because most sectors of the economy are not working. Those who are handling the economy are causing confusion by giving the impression that economic growth has no relationship with job creation and other concrete indices of development.

Nigerians are being deceived about the state of the economy.

How can they say there is economic growth when the people cannot feed or get jobs?

But there’s SURE-P and they also claim to have data showing that they’ve been creating jobs?

They said they are creating jobs here and there under the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P). How many people do you know who have secured jobs under the SURE-P ? You can’t just assemble 30 young unemployed people and pay them N10,000 and  repeat that in another three months and you call that job creation.

The handlers of our economy think that Nigerians are fools who don’t know what they are doing. The people cannot see the impact of what the handlers of our economy are doing; it is not being felt despite all the propaganda. That is why we in the National Assembly are saying “we are no fools”. If you say we have tampered with some of the budget heads, we have the right to do so for good reasons.

They have not released the funds we appropriated for capital projects. As a result of this, ministries, departments and agencies of government (MDAs) are crying over non-release of funds to them.
What can you say was the reason for the slash in the recurrent expenditure projections of the budget?

The Committee on Appropriation is working out the details on that. However, there was an issue pertaining to that which has been confirmed by the Ministry of Finance. You may  recall that after the 2013 Budget was passed by the National Assembly, the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation came out to tell Nigerians that they discovered over 450,000 ghost workers in the civil service. But  the salaries and allowances of those ghost workers had already been appropriated for in the 2013 Budget. What happened was that both personnel and overhead expenditure proposals were unreasonable in most cases.

There are agencies which exist on paper but which are not on ground and budgetary provisions were made for them.

Really?

So, if in an effort to exercise the role of acting as checks and balances on the Executive, we decide that such agencies do not require bloated allocations, you cannot blame us. It is left for them to come forward with convincing arguments to tell us these are the total statistics of the work force they have. But when they who are making the proposal to us telling  us that they have ghost workers in the service, it means they don’t even know how many  actual workers they have.

It is the same people that appropriate money for both real and ghost workers. Until they are sure of how many workers they have in the service, we cannot be certain if what we appropriated for workers salaries is not even more than what is required.

The unnecessary alarm that the Minister of Finance, Dr (Mrs) Okonjo Iweala, has raised was designed  to blackmail and stampede the National Assembly into doing what they want. It is for this reason that we have said that the picture the Minister has painted about the budget is not correct.

Continue Reading
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. tos

    July 7, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    mr. hourable armed rubber, you people should better release the funds you people connered to later share among yourselves. enough is enough. your explanation makes no sence to me. bring back the funds for the economy to keep running

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News Feed

‘We counted 15 dead bodies’ – DJ Switch breaks silence on Lekki shooting (video)

Published

on

'We counted 15 dead bodies' – DJ Switch breaks her silence on Lekki shooting (video)

 

Popular Nigerian DJ, Switch, has opened up on what happened in Lekki on Tuesday night.

Known as Obianuju Catherine Udeh, Switch said she counted 15 dead bodies during the shoot-out.

 

 

 

In a video she posted on her Instagram page, Switch asked the authorities not to insult the intelligence of Nigerians when giving their own account of what happened on that day.

According to her, the military aimed at endsars protesters as they fired gunshots. She also said that SARS officers came in after the military had left and also attacked them.

According to Switch she and others present counted over 15 bodies.

‘‘I just want to clear a few things that I have been seeing online. To our leaders, I urge you please do not minimize the suffering of families. Do not insult the grief of Nigerians, do not insult the intelligence of Nigerians. Do not insult the pains the families are facing.

People were falling left and right. Yes there were soldiers there. Another part that people are not talking about is that the police also came. The SARS people we are talking about, they also came, some maybe 40-45 minutes after the soldiers left.

We were teargassed. The teargass was like Cotonou pepper mixed with acid. We were running. We would run and we would come back and the only thing we fought with was our flags. We would sit on the floor and we would raise or hands up, raising our flags and singing the national anthem. That was all we had.

They put off the lights. Even if there was no power in that axis, there was always light at the tollgate. There was no lights. The street lights were off. It was pitch black.” she said

Speaking further, she said

”A boy jumped on me and was shouting cover her, cover her. I didn’t even understand why he did that. They shot that boy on my back. I fell and while the soldiers were picking their shells, we were running around and picking their shells too because we wanted proof.”

She showed photos of bullet shells picked from the ground. She showed the one that was fired close to her ears and the one that was removed from someone’s lap.

The military, they were there on Nigerian soil, killing Nigerian citizens. The police and their SARS like people came doing the same thing, aiming and shooting. They were pointing the gun at us and shooting live bullets. Who takes live bullets to a protest?

To our leaders, I urge you to please not insult the intelligence of Nigerians and the families.”

DJ Switch expressed regrets that she and others allowed the military to take the bodies of the deceased persons.

”Something I think of in hindsight I wish we hadn’t done it but we carried dead bodies and dropped at the feet of the soldiers so that they could see what they did to us. When I asked their unit commander why are you killing us? I wish we didn’t do that because they ended up throwing the bodies in their van. This was up until the next morning.” she said

She dissociated herself from the social media accounts claiming she said 78 persons died. She said she and others counted 15 dead bodies.

”I never said 78 people died. What I do know is that when I was doing the live, 7 people had died. When my phone died, we had counted about 15 people. I don’t know if it was more than that. We had a lot of people stray bullet wound, gunshot wounds, and all that.

People did die. It wasn’t photoshopped. I must be a tech genius to photoshop a live feed.” she said

She dismissed reports that her cousin died in the incident.

Thanking everyone for their prayers and support, DJ Switch said

”We must continue to move. We must continue. If we stop I fear it will probably be the next 60 years before we talk about this again. We must continue peacefully. I condemn any sort of violence. I condemn the burning of buses and peoples livelihood. ”

Continue Reading

News Feed

Nigeria still needs SARS, Zamfara gov, Matawalle insists

Published

on

Nigeria still needs SARS, Zamfara gov, Matawalle insists

Zamfara state governor, Bello Matawalle says that the recently dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit was important and useful in the state.Nigeria still needs SARS, Zamfara gov, Matawalle insists

The Governor who made this known while fielding questions from newsmen, called for the deployment of officials of the disbanded police unit to Zamfara.

Matawalle said;

“We have recorded tremendous development in the area of peace building the Zamfara state with the commitment and professional contribution and support of the FSARS of the Nigeria Police.

“I will personally seek audience with Mr President on this issue. We need the FSARS or its equivalent in Zamfara state because we have seen their positive impact in spite their alleged excesses.”

Continue Reading

News Feed

If End SARS protest doesn’t work then it might be over for Nigerian youths – Burna Boy

Published

on

If End SARS protest doesn’t work then it might be over for Nigerian youths – Burna Boy

If End SARS protest doesn’t work then it might be over for Nigerian youths – Burna Boy

Popular music entertainer, Burna Boy has stated that if the recent end SARS protest by Nigerian youths doesn’t yield any positive result, then the future holds nothing for the teeming youths in the country.

The ‘On the low’ crooner stated this in an interview with foreign media, Sky News.

The interview comes two weeks after protests began, sparked by a video showing a man being beaten, apparently by police officers from SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad).

Burna Boy, who spoke to Sky News from London, said: “It is shocking when you see it happen in that place, in such a place, that was the landmark of everything.

The Lekki Toll Gate, that was the most peaceful place to protest, the most peaceful venue in the whole country and then that is the place where [the shootings] happen. It is not something that you can just wrap your head around.”

The best-selling Afrobeats artist, who has mixed rap, funk and dancehall influences on international hits like On The Low and Ye, said nationwide protests against SARS have changed the nature of politics in his homeland.

This is the most important moment in Nigeria’s history… that is what we are witnessing right now because if nothing changes after this, if this doesn’t work, then it is over.”

When asked what he meant by this, he replied: “Look at what is going on right now: the youth have come together, like something unexplainable (sic), something that no one man could have possibly organised or led, the youth of the largest black nation in the world came together, said enough is enough and this was triggered by police brutality.

“It’s not like it was triggered by all the other things that it should have been triggered by all these years.”

Sky News

Continue Reading

Trending