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SERAP opposes sale of govt property to fund 2021 budget

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, to urgently review the 2021 appropriation legislation to stop the President Muhammadu Buhari from selling public property to fund the 2021 budget.

SERAP also urged them to identify areas in the budget to cut such as salaries and allowances for members of the National Assembly and the presidency to address the growing level of deficit and borrowing.

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, had last week confirmed that the federal government would sell some government-owned property to fund the 2021 budget.

SERAP in a letter dated January 16, 2021, signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said the National Assembly has a constitutional oversight responsibility to protect valuable public property and to ensure a responsible budget spending.

The organisation opined that allowing the government to sell public property, and to enjoy almost absolute discretion to borrow to fund the 2021 budget would amount to a fundamental breach of the constitutional and fiduciary duties.

SERAP maintained that selling valuable public property to fund the 2021 budget would be counter-productive, as it would be vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement.

The statement read in part: ‘’The time is now for the leadership of the National Assembly to stand up for the Nigerian people; stop the rush to sell public property; push for a responsible budget, and support efforts to have the government spend responsibly. Other areas to propose cutting include constituency allowance, wardrobe allowance, recess allowance, and entertainment allowance.

“SERAP urges the National Assembly to promptly work with the presidency to fix the current damaging budgeting process and address systemic corruption in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). Tackling corruption in MDAs, and cutting waste and salaries as well as allowances of high-ranking public officials would go a long way in addressing the budget deficit and debt problems.

“SERAP also urges the National Assembly to stop approving loan requests by the federal government if it continues to fail to demonstrate transparency and accountability in the spending of the loans so far obtained. The current level of borrowing is unsustainable, which means that the National Assembly under your leadership can play an important role to limit how much the government can borrow in the aggregate. The National Assembly should urgently seek assurances and written commitment from President Buhari about his government’s plan to bring the country’s debt problem under control.”

It added: “We would consider the option of pursuing legal action to stop the federal government from selling public property, and we may join the National Assembly in any such suit. The budget deficit and debt problems threaten Nigerians’ access to essential public goods and services, and will hurt future generations. If not urgently addressed, the deficit and debt problems would seriously undermine access to public goods and services for the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.’’

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Flaunting wealth in public a serious security risk, DSS official warns

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An official of the Department of State Services (DSS) has warned that the public display of wealth constitutes a great security risk.

Paul Oduh, the deputy director, security enforcement, DSS Kwara command, gave the warning on Friday in Ilorin, capital of the state.

 

He said the deliberate exhibition of affluence and a flamboyant lifestyle attract kidnappers, bandits, and other criminals.

 

The comment comes in the wake of the extravagant display at the much talked about funeral of the mother of Obinna Iyiegbu, the nightlife promoter popularly known as Obi Cubana.

The DSS deputy director said given the security challenges in the country, Nigerians should avoid showing off in public.

 

“People must adopt moderate lifestyles, so as not to fall prey to these criminal elements,” Oduh said.

 

Oduh said a boastful attitude and maintaining a “habitual daily routine” can also make people prone to attacks.

“The country is ravaged by insecurity on daily basis. However, people should not despair, security should be concern of all people and they must be enlightened on it,” he said.

 

“Security can never be 100 percent everywhere in the world. People should be knowledgeable enough on those things they can do to protect themselves.

 

“Security denotes free from danger and protection of lives and property where individuals can pursue their lawful activities.

 

“There is need to accept that threats exist and people are targets of these threats. This is why people should put in place measures to safeguard themselves from such threats.”

 

 

 

 

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PHOTOS: Nigeria dazzles in Tokyo Olympic opening parade

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I don’t need your cheques, Buhari tells contractor

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday charged contractors who have enjoyed government patronage as well as other privileged citizens to use their resources to support less privileged members of society.

 

President Buhari gave the charge when he paid a visit to the Emir of Daura, Dr Umar Faruk Umar.

 

He said passing gifts and ‘cheques’ to people in authority or already comfortable to buy favour is not the right approach.

 

According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, President Buhari challenged beneficiaries of government patronage to go to their respective communities and engage in corporate social responsibilities.

 

The President said: “I don’t want your cheque. Go and assist our communities” instead of trying to return kickbacks to public officers, including his office.

 

“We don’t want cheques from anyone or organisation as returns or influence of any kind. Let them remember their Corporate Social Responsibilities,” he said.

 

The President noted he would love to visit Daura more frequently but for the high cost of presidential movements and exposing security personnel to the weather, assuring his heart remains with the people.

“We are known for farming and I have my farm here. I could come every two weeks and no one can stop me.

“But the cost to the movement is high. I would rather that it be used to better our schools, clinics and hospitals,” said the President.

The President said the grace of God had kept Nigeria together as a country in spite of differences that led to a 30-month civil war

 

“We want to thank God always for keeping us together as a country. From January 15, 1966, the country was thrown into political crisis. We had a 30 months civil war that resulted in the loss of about a million lives.

 

“We still thank God for keeping us together. We remain grateful to all those who showed interest in our unity and progress. May God continue to bless them,” he added.

 

The President, who recalled fond memories of visiting the Palace as a military Head of State, expressed happiness that the warmth and hospitality of the traditional institution had been sustained over the years.

 

At the meeting, the Emir publicly announced conferment of the title of Talban Daura on Yusuf Buhari, son of President Buhari.

 

He said a date would be announced for the turbaning ceremony of the President’s son, which might likely be before his marriage.

 

The Emir also announced creation of a District in the community of the President, with headquarters in Dimurkol.

He said the turbaning of younger Buhari and creation of the District was to further extend and deepen the long relationship between the Palace and the family.

 

He said the decision was in agreement with the kingmakers in Daura Emirate Council.

 

During the visit, the Palace used the opportunity to clarify the difference between two titles, Talban Hausa, given to Alpha Conde, the President of Guinea and Talban Daura designated for Yusuf, the President’s son.

 

The Palace explained that Daura, as the linchpin of the Hausa society had conferred titles that have bearing on the Hausa Kingdom and those that are specific to the Emirate.

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