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Army got N1.08tn in 28 months, finance minister tells Senate

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Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, says the Army got N1,008.84 as budget releases between January 2019 and this year’s first quarter.

She disclosed the amount to the Senate on Tuesday when she appeared before the Senator Ali Ndume-led Senate Committee on Army.

Citing a letter from the Chief of Defence Staff last week, Ndume said the military authorities complained that they had a shortfall of over N50 billion in funds releases by the finance ministry.

Ahmed, however, gave the breakdown of how her ministry disbursed N1,008.84 to the Army in the past two years as follows: N129.69 billion (Capital Expenditure);  N39.76 billion (Overhead Cost); N681.79 (Personnel Cost); and N157.6 billion (Special Releases).

She said that the ministry had been “responsible and responsive” in providing funds for the Nigerian Army.

Ahmed said, “The Ministry of Finance and National Planning, and indeed, the President, priorities are given to funding for the Armed of Forces of Nigeria.

“Apart from the fact that we try best efforts to fund what is provided for in the budget by almost 100 per cent, there has also been a lot of instances where the security service go to the President, get special approvals and we still provide funds.

“So, perhaps what we are providing is not enough, but the fact is we provide what is budgeted and we provide what is approved.

“Maybe, the thing to do in the meantime is to take stock of the real needs of the Nigerian Army. You have an opportunity in the supplementary budget that is coming in so that we can address some of that.”

On capital funding, the minister said, “In 2019, what was budgeted for the Nigerian Army was N19.6 billion, adding that N12.84 billion was released, representing 64.37 per cent.

“In 2020, the total capital budget for the Nigerian Army was N34.37 billion and this amount was released 100 per cent.

“In 2021 (that is this current year), the total budget for the Nigerian Army is N29 billion as at April. We have released N17.98 billion of that, which is 68.92 per cent. It means we are on course to also release 100 per cent.

“There was an outside-of-budget spending because the need was higher than what was provided for in the budget. There was a total provision of N64.5 billion for procurement of military equipment that was provided for through special approval of Mr President.

“In terms of overhead cost, in 2019, what was budgeted as was N15.64 billion out of which we released N14.299 billion representing 91.01 per cent.

“In 2020, what was budgeted for overhead was N20.634 billion and N20.471 billion was released, representing 99.21 per cent.

“In 2021, which is the current year, the total budget for the year is N20.63 billion and three months releases that we have done so far on overhead totaling N4.99 billion representing 96.75 per cent of the prorated budget for the three months because the year is still running.”

On personnel cost, she said, “In 2019, what was budgeted as personnel cost for the Nigerian Army was N192.155 billion but because of the adjustment that we have had to make for the minimum wage, the release was 122.91 per cent over the budget at N237.42 billion.

“Apart from the releases that were directly done in the budget by adjustment for the minimum wage, there was also an additional release of N45.195 billion from the Public Service wide adjustment also meant to be augmentation of salaries due to the shortfall in the budget.”

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JUST IN: Old naira: IMF asks FG, CBN to extend February 10 deadline

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called for the extension of the February 10 deadline to phase out the old naira notes.

The International monetary body made the call just after the Supreme Court had restrained the Federal Government and Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) from enforcing the deadline.

The IMF, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday by Laraba Bonet, said the plea was on the hardship Nigerians were exposed to over the issue.

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It said: “in light of hardships caused by disruptions to trade and payments due to the shortage of new bank notes available to the public, in spite of measures introduced by the CBN to mitigate the challenges in the banknote swap process, the IMF encourages the CBN to consider extending the deadline should problems persist  in the next few days leading up to the February 10, 2023 deadline”.

The IMF is the first international financial organisation to openly call for extension of the deadline for the deposit of old Naira notes.

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Cash crunch: Protesters defy police in Abeokuta, make bonfires on major roads

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Residents of Abeokuta, Ogun State, took to the streets on Tuesday protesting the scarcity of cash and the attendant pains.

Major streets affected by the protests are Aladesanmi, Fajol and Somorin in Obantoko area of Abeokuta as the protesters made bonfires and chanted anti-CBN songs
The Sapon branch of First Bank was also vandalised and the protesters tried to set it ablaze.
Ogun Police spokesman, Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed the protest, saying police officers were on the ground to monitor the situation and prevent the destruction of property and loss of lives.
He said some group of boys were involved in the crisis.
The police later came to disperse the protesters but they regrouped as soon as the operatives withdrew from the scene.
The situation affected vehicular movement as motorists and pedestrians ran in different directions to avert being caught up in the chaotic situation.

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Court frees Diezani associate Omokore of $1.6bn fraud

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An Abuja federal high court on Tuesday discharged and acquitted Jide Omokore, chairman of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited, of $1.6bn fraud allegations.

Omokore, an associate of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with Victor Briggs, Abiye Membere, and David Mbanefo on a 15-count charge on July 4, 2016.

They were accused of fraudulently diverting the $1.6bn said to be part of proceeds of sales of petroleum products belonging to the Federal Government.

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