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33 states have no portals for budget monitoring – Report

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About 33 out of 36 states in Nigeria do not have portals to enable members of the public to monitor and scrutinise their annual budget performance, a civic organisation, BudgIT, has discovered.

This was revealed during a virtual workshop on ‘Advocacy and Budget and Project Monitoring’, organised by the organisation recently.

In his paper presentation on ‘Advocacy for Fund Disbursement and Improved Service Delivery,’ Mr Tolulope Agunloye of BudgIT said only Kaduna and Edo States have portals where their budget performance could be monitored by members of the public, while Lagos State operates partial opening of its budget to the public.

Agunloye, who explained that accessibility to such fiscal documents would promote transparency in governance, noted that before an organisation or an individual could advocate transparency in budgets, there must be objectives, which include planning and clear specific that must be achievable.

He said, “For budgets to work, we need revenues. Without revenues, implementation of budgets would be very low. Most of the states in Nigeria except Kaduna, Edo and Lagos have portals for citizens to assess their budgets. In fact, Lagos has partial openings.

“If you want the 36 states in Nigeria to open their budgets, you have to have realistic objectives, and the people will key into it gradually. With this, we will have good governance at all levels.

“However, the current leaderships in the National Assembly have refused to open their budgets to the public, while the eighth Assembly led by Dr. Bukola Saraki did partial opening for us.”

On his part, the Programme Officer, BudgIT Foundation, Mr Henry Omokhaye, in his paper titled: ‘Budget Monitoring/Tracking for Improved Service Delivery’, was of the opinion that budget implementation starts from electioneering process, emphasising that the quality of a leader determined the direction of budget performance.

The group revealed that it was tracking budget implementation in 32 states of the federation, except in Jigawa, Zamfara, Yobe and Borno States, as 16,000 projects had been tracked by the group in the last few years, while it had held 9,000 town hall meetings

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Lagos will begin Fourth Mainland Bridge construction this year – Sanwo-Olu

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The foundation for the proposed Fourth Mainland Bridge will be laid before the end of year 2021, Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said.

He made this known on Friday in Lagos during the 16th Executive/Legislative Parley, with the theme: ‘A Consensus Agenda for Rebuilding Lagos’, which was organised by the Office of Civic Engagement.

He said that the government was determined that execute the Fourth Mainland Bridge, as it would improve movement in the state.

“We did not politically promise Fourth Mainland Bridge but we are going to do Fourth Mainland Bridge.

“With your prayers and by the grace of Almighty God, we shall turn the sod and lay the foundation for the building and construction of that Fourth Mainland Bridge before the end of this year.

“We are on course and I am sure that the 37km ring road is on track, which will change the face of transportation and movement in Lagos,” the governor said.

He said that his administration was on course to complete the two rail projects started several years back, both the Blue Line and the Red Line.

According to him, before the end of the administration, the project will be completed and trains will move on the two rail lines.

”It is a commitment that we have given to Lagosians and it is a commitment that we will see will come to fruition because we have finished the financial closure and we are excited about that project,” he said.

Sanwo-Olu also spoke on the theme of the parley, saying it came up as a result of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the EndSARS protest mayhem on the state.

He said that with the level of destruction, there was no alternative to start rebuilding Lagos.

The governor stressed that all stakeholders in the development and growth of Lagos State would have to come together to share experiences and proffer solutions.

“In the next 48 hours, we shall be sharing ideas on how best to reposition Lagos, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic, and of EndSARS destruction on one hand, and developing strategies to forestall youth restiveness on the other hand.

“We are working steadily towards achieving a Greater Lagos that will be a pride of all. As a government, we need to scale up our activities and work as a team so that we can continue to discharge our responsibilities with the ultimate goal of meeting the yearnings and aspirations of our people.”

Special Adviser, Office Of Civic Engagement, Princess Aderemi Adebowale, said the discussion around the theme in the next 48 hours would help to fast-track the rebuilding of the state.

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Don’t block food trucks from North, military warns

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The military high command has warned those obstructing trucks conveying agricultural products from North to the southern parts of the country.

A video trending on social media showed that trucks and other similar vehicles conveying agricultural products from the North heading towards the Southern were being turned back along Kaduna-Jebba road.

Defence Headquarters (DHQ) said joint troops of the military and other security agencies had been deployed to clear the Jebba-Kaduna road and had since restored normalcy with free flow of traffic along the axis.

A statement issued by Director, Defence Information, Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachukwu, said such those engaging in such unpatriotic acts should desist or face the consequences of their action.

It stated, “Members of the public, commuters and residents are please urged to go about their normal business.

“This is also to give a stern warning to any unscrupulous group or persons who are aiming at disrupting legitimate economic and commercial activities by preventing free flow of traffic and movement of goods in a bid to generate clashes along ethnic divides to desist from such unpatriotic acts or face the wrath of the law.”

The DHQ urged members of the public to promptly report anyone found engaged in such atrocious activities to security operatives.

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Osinbajo disagrees with CBN over cryptocurrency ban

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  • Urges proper regulation
  • CBN welcomes Osinbajo’s counsel

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) has disagreed with the position of the Central Bank of Nigeria over the ban on cryptocurrency, saying the monetary authorities should only provide the required regulatory regime that will address concerns on its use.

The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, had on February 5, 2021 issued a directive asking banks to close all accounts linked with cryptocurrency.

The CBN governor, citing instances of investigated criminal activities that had been linked to cryptocurrencies, stated that the legitimacy of money and the safety of Nigeria’s financial system was central to the mandate of the CBN and declared that “cryptocurrency is not legitimate money” because it was not created or backed by any central bank.

However, Osinbajo, who spoke on Friday at the Bankers Committee Vanguard in Lagos, said no fear should be applied in terms of cryptocurrencies.

The Vice President advised the monetary authorities to provide a “robust regulatory regime” that would address the concerns about cryptocurrencies.

Osinbajo said, “Some of the exciting developments we see call for prudence and care in adopting them, and this has been very well articulated by our regulatory authorities.

“But we must act with knowledge and not with fear. We must ensure that we are in a position to benefit and prevent any of the adverse side effects or any of the possible criminal acts that may arise as the consequence of our adopting or taking any of these options.

“I fully appreciate the strong position of the CBN, SEC, and some of the anti-corruption agencies on the possible abuses of cryptocurrencies and their other well-articulated concerns, but I believe that their position should be the subject of further reflection.

“There’s a role for regulation here, and it is in the place of our monetary authorities and SEC to provide a robust regulatory regime that addresses this serious concerns without necessarily killing the goose that might lay the golden eggs.”

Osinbajo said in the coming years cryptocurrency “will challenge traditional banking, including reserve banking, in ways that we cannot yet imagine.”

CBN welcomes Osinbajo’s counsel

Meanwhile, the CBN has acknowledged the Vice President’s counsel in support of the regulation of digital currencies which has sparked some controversies among Nigerians after an order from the apex bank to commercial banks to restrict cryptocurrencies related transactions.

The CBN said via its official twitter handle, @cenbank, that it had noted Osinbajo’s knowledge-based advice.

The tweet read, “#Osinbajo advises #CBN to put in place a thoughtful & knowledge based regulation, cautioned on the need to ensure that we are in a position to prevent any of the adverse side effects or even possible criminal acts that may arise as a consequence of adopting blockchain technology. “The banking sector plays a crucial role in promoting increased & inclusive growth in Nigeria, VP #Osinbajo commended #CBN for the forward looking support for growth related initiatives, especially under the economic sustainability plan.

“The VP #Osinbajo also commended the DMBs for their patriotic contributions to sustain growth but called for the need to further deepen the provision of capital that would allow businesses to grow over the long term.”

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