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2023 Budget approval: Buhari frowns at injection of N770.7bn projects

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…Signs 2023 budget

…Budget rises to N21.83 trn

…We’re not rubber stamp, it’s all for the good of the country — Gbajabiamila

…Says no padding

By Moses Adeniyi

Although President Muhammadu Buhari signed the 2023 Budget passed by the National Assembly to him on Tuesday, yet he noted with critical attention  the injection of projects that further raised the budget.

President Buhari on Tuesday signed the 2023 Appropriation Bill of N21.83 trillion along with the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Bill into law at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He critically noted that the National Assembly introduced new projects into the 2023 budget proposal he submitted, allocating the sum of N770.72 billion.

The President also said that the parliament increased the provisions made by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) by N58.55 billion.

Speaking at the signing of the eighth and final annual budget of his Administration, the President said the aggregate expenditures of N21.83 trillion, is an increase of N1.32 trillion over the initial Executive Proposal for a total expenditure of N20.51 trillion.

Buhari explained that the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Act would enable the administration to respond to the havoc caused by the recent nationwide floods on the infrastructure and agriculture sectors.

As is customary, he said the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning will subsequently provide more details of the approved budget and the supporting 2022 Finance Act.

“We have examined the changes made by the National Assembly to the 2023 Executive Budget proposal.

“The amended fiscal framework for 2023 as approved by the National Assembly shows additional revenues of N765.79 billion and an unfunded deficit of N553.46 billion.

“It is clear that the National Assembly and the executive need to capture some of the proposed additional revenue sources in the fiscal framework. This must be rectified.

“I have also noted that the National Assembly introduced new projects into the 2023 budget proposal for which it has appropriated N770.72 billion. The National Assembly also increased the provisions made by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) by N58.55 billion,” he said.

Buhari said his decision to sign the 2023 Appropriation Bill into law as passed by the National Assembly was to enable implementation to commence without delay, considering the imminent transition process to another democratically elected government.

He, however, directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to engage with the Legislature to revisit some of the changes made to the Executive budget proposal, expressing the hope that the National Assembly will cooperate with the Executive arm of Government in this regard. He urged the National Assembly to reconsider its position on his proposal to securitise the Federal Government’s outstanding Ways and Means of balance at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He said, “As I stated, the balance has accumulated over several years and represents funding provided by the CBN as lender of last resort to the government to enable her to meet obligations to lenders, as well as cover budgetary shortfalls in projected revenues and/or borrowings.

“I have no intention to fetter the right of the National Assembly to interrogate the composition of this balance, which can still be done even after granting the requested approval.

“Failure to grant the securitisation approval will however cost the government about N1.8 trillion in additional interest in 2023 given the differential between the applicable interest rates which is currently MPR plus 3 per cent and the negotiated interest rate of 9 per cent and a 40-year repayment period on the securitised debt of the Ways and Means.”

To ensure more effective implementation of the 2022 capital Budget, President Buhari thanked the National Assembly for approving his request for an extension of its validity date to 31st March, 2023.

The President directed the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to work towards the early release of the 2023 capital votes to enable Ministries, Departments and Agencies to commence the implementation of their capital projects in good time to support efforts to deliver key projects and public services as well as improve the living conditions of Nigerians.

Reiterating that the 2023 Budget was developed to promote fiscal sustainability, and macroeconomic stability and ensure a smooth transition to the incoming Administration, the President said it was also designed to promote social inclusion and strengthen the resilience of the economy.

He pledged that adequate provisions have been made in the Budget for the successful conduct of the forthcoming general elections and the transition programme.

“As I mentioned during the presentation of the 2023 Appropriation Bill, the Budget was developed to promote fiscal sustainability, macroeconomic stability and ensure a smooth transition to the incoming Administration.

“The Budget was also designed to promote social inclusion and strengthen the resilience of the economy. Adequate provisions have been made in the 2023 Budget for the successful conduct of the forth-coming general elections and the transition programme,” he said.

On achieving revenue targets for the budget, the President directed MDAs and Government Owned Enterprises (GOEs) to intensify their revenue mobilisation efforts, including ensuring that all taxable organisations and individuals pay taxes due.

To achieve the laudable objectives of the 2023 Budget, the President said relevant Agencies must sustain current efforts towards the realisation of crude oil production and export targets.

“To augment available fiscal resources, MDAs are to accelerate the implementation of Public Private Partnership initiatives, especially those designed to fast-track the pace of our infrastructural development.

“This, being a deficit budget, the associated Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly shortly.

“I count on the cooperation of the National Assembly for a speedy consideration and approval of the Plan,” he said.

On the Finance Bill 2022, the President expressed regret that its review as passed by the National Assembly is yet to be finalised.

“This is because some of the changes made by the National Assembly need to be reviewed by the relevant agencies of government. I urge that this should be done speedily to enable me to assent into law,” he said.

Present at the signing of the budget were the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

The President thanked the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and all the members of the National Assembly for the expeditious consideration and passage of the Appropriation Bill.

“As I mentioned during the presentation of the 2023 Appropriation Bill, early passage of the budget proposal is critical to ensure effective delivery of our legacy projects, a smooth transition programme and effective take-off of the incoming Administration.

“I appreciate the firm commitment of the 9th National Assembly to the restoration of a predictable January to December fiscal year, as well as the mutual understanding, collaboration and engagements between officials of the Executive and the Legislative arms of government.

“These have made the quick consideration and passage of our Fiscal bills possible over the last four years,” he said.

The President expressed the belief that the next Administration would sustain the early presentation of the annual appropriation bill to the National Assembly to ensure its passage before the beginning of the fiscal year.

“I firmly believe the next Administration will also sustain the current public financial management reform efforts, further improve the budgeting process, and particularly maintain the tradition of supporting its Appropriation Bills with Finance Bills designed to facilitate their implementation.

“To sustain and institutionalise the gains of the reforms, we must expedite action and conclude work on the Organic Budget Law for it to become operational before the end of this Administration,” he said.

“As this Administration draws to a close, we will accelerate the implementation of critical measures aimed at further improving the Nigerian business environment, enhancing the welfare of our people and ensuring sustainable economic growth over the medium- to long-term,” he added.

Speaking after, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan assured that the National Assembly will work to ensure increase in funds for the government and reduce the rate of deficit in the budget.

“But that is not to say that, we should raise taxes that will be out of the roof to cause problems for our citizens. But I believe that as a National Assembly, in the next five months, we must be looking at increasing the funds available to the government and also ensuring that the deficit budget is minimised in the next assembly by the grace of God,” he said.

…We’re not rubber stamp, it’s all for the good of the country – Gbajabiamila

On his part, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila denied any ‘act of padding or jerking up’ the budget, explaining that the lawmakers have done very well in meeting their constitutional mandate, as they don’t want to be seen as a “rubber stamp to the executive.”

“If you understand constitutional democracy, there are different layers of government and it’s called separation of powers. Ours is for us to receive proposals and that’s why they’re called proposals anywhere in the world.

“The National Assembly has done very well in meeting its constitutional mandate. It takes all arms of government to be on board to give a true working document for the country. The executive did everything they could; and we have even a wider view, a bird’s eye view of what’s going on in all the agencies. And we have also complemented what the executive has done. It’s all for the good of the country and that’s what we’ve done.

“It is now for the National Assembly or the legislature to collate all those proposals and look at what’s on the ground in the various constituencies. During the budget defense, we have ministries, departments, and agencies that come to talk to us and we looked at the reality on the ground and what they have before them. And whether or not they can actually execute their mandate as per their ministries and departments.

“It now behooves the National Assembly, where it dims to adjust figures, either downwards or upwards. And that’s exactly what we have done. The problem with the National Assembly is that you can’t win to lose. If you return the budget the exact way it is you’re called a rubber stamp. If you do what you’re supposed to do and adjust figures for the good of the country. You call it jacking up or inflation or padding,” Gbajabiamila said.

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Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund hits $2.5bn

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…As NSIA grows income by 1,122% to N1.18 trillion in 2023

Latest statistics from the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) has revealed that the Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Fund has hit $2.5bn.

The NSIA was initially allocated an initial sum of US$1 billion in seed capital in 2013.

The record N1.184 trillion Total Comprehensive Income recorded by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) in 2023 was largely driven by four tactical strategies, including cost efficiency, efficient balance sheet management, infrastructure investment and a focus on projects that yielded sustainable earnings.

This was disclosed by Aminu Umar-Sadiq, NSIA Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer who spoke to the media on Thursday, on the Authority’s recently released financial result.

NSIA’s total Comprehensive Income surged 1,122 percent to N1.18 trillion in 2023, relative to N96.96 billion reported in 2022. Total Comprehensive Income (excluding foreign exchange gains) equally rose from N21.39 billion in the previous year to N164.69 billion, marking a 670 percent growth.

Presenting the Authority’s 2023 financial performance to the media in Abuja, Umar-Sadiq explained that the renewed focus of the Authority which manages the country’s $2.5bn played a key role in delivering such impressive results.

According to him, the focus area on efficient balance sheet management ensured the timely availability of both local and foreign currency investments, thereby optimising currency utilization. This strategy also ensured optimal asset allocation and utilisation and retained a substantial portion of the balance sheet in foreign currency.

Also, with the focus on sustainable earnings, the NSIA directed efforts towards swiftly stabilising infrastructure projects. This, according to him, entailed engaging with instruments that guarantee consistent and reliable returns, further bolstering the Authority’s financial stability.

Umar-Sadiq further disclosed that the NSIA pioneered investment initiatives, particularly in environmentally sustainable ventures, with notable successes achieved through partnerships in green climates with organisations like CarbonVista.

It also prioritised cost efficiency, striving to transition towards digitised, streamlined operations that effectively addressed prevailing challenges. This shift, he said, optimised resources and enhanced operational effectiveness, further contributing to NSIA’s “excellent” financial performance.

As contained in its financial statement, NSIA in the last 10 years has continued to show resilience and growth in asset performance while creating value within the economy. Its net assets have grown from N156 billion ($1 billion) in 2013 to N1.189 trillion, an equivalent of $2.47 billion as at 2023.

In 2023 alone, Total operating income rose substantially from n101.1 billion in the previous year to N1.176 trillion, representing a 1,064 percent year-on-year increase.

NSIA strategically optimised its asset allocation, resulting in a Total Comprehensive Income of N1.184 trillion for 2023 – a remarkable 1,122 percent growth from N96.96 billion in 2022.

Amidst a challenging global financial landscape, the Authority’s core Total Comprehensive Income (excluding foreign exchange gains) rose from N21.39 billion in the previous year to N164.69 billion, marking a 670 percent increase attributable to the Authority’s robust strategic asset allocation and adherence to best-in-class enterprise risk management processes.

“I think a combination of our strategic and tactical activities is what helped us transition from N96 billion net returns in 2022 to over N1 trillion in net returns in 2023,” Umar-Sadiq told journalists.

“Whilst of course there is a component of foreign exchange gains in this, you will see that even on the core basis, we actually grew our returns by over 650 percent, to 160 billion,” he added.

Besides, the NSIA embarked on several infrastructure-focused activities in 2023, and “largely achieved what it set out to do in the financial year.”

Some of those projects include the 10MW Kano solar project which is the largest grid-connected solar PV plant in Nigeria; launch of strategic platforms including $202m MEDSERVE and $63m Equilease; $50mn launch of Renewables Investment Platform for Limitless Energy (RIPLE) and a strategic partnership agreement with the IFC, among other initiatives.

In addition to its financial performance, the NSIA boss informed that the Authority emerged tops at the 2023 Global SWF Governance, Sustainability, and Resilience Ranking, after scoring a perfect 100 percent, with esteemed SWFs like Temasek and NZ Super Fund.

Umar-Sadiq explained that the GSR Scoreboard analysis reflects the Authority’s substantial progress from a previous score of 84 percent, showcasing its enhanced sustainability practices including improved policies, a robust framework, climate investment leadership, and impactful reporting.

For 2024, the Authority will lay strong emphasis on enhancing fiscal responsibility within the institution to maintain stability and credibility, as well as attracting foreign investments.

The MD was confident of an excellent financial performance in 2024, noting over $500 million investments in domestic infrastructure which has created some 545 direct and indirect jobs.

He also underscored commitment to operationalising existing platforms to effectively attract foreign capital to complement its existing resources and emphasized the need for scalability to maximise the Authority’s impact within its operational sphere.

NSIA strategic priorities in 2024 are outlined in four key areas – operationalising its subsidiaries; broad and ambitious digitisation strategy and cost-efficiency strategy in place; focus on pioneering initiatives in new sectors, driving innovation and strategic growth to stay at the forefront of economic development; and building strong relationships with regulators, strategic partners, and development finance institutions (DFIs).

NSIA Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, Bisi Makoju, further shed light on the organisation’s financial performance, emphasising efficient fiscal management within the Authority,

According to her, a significant indicator of NSIA’s fiscal discipline is its core income ratio analysis for the year 2023 which showed a remarkable drop to 8.6 percent, as against 30.2 percent in 2022.

“This signifies that NSIA is spending significantly less than what it is earning and kept expenses below the inflationary rate,” she emphasised.

“Despite a challenging economic environment with inflation reaching approximately 28 percent by the end of 2023, the Authority’s year-on-year change in expenses stood at approximately 18.4 percent.”

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Mixed reactions trail Adeleke’s proposed new logo for Osun state

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By Ismail Azeez, Osogbo

Following the condemnation that trailed the unveiling of a new logo for Osun state, Governor Ademola Adeleke has directed the holding of a logo crafting competition between April 19th and 26th.

Governor Adeleke had on Wednesday, assented to a bill adopting a new logo for the state.

Adeleke, through a statement signed by his spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed, said the new symbol is a signal of a new rebirth for Osun state.

However, the opposition party has condemned the new Logo, describing the bill on creating a new logo for the state as a waste of the taxpayers money which at the end will not make any impact.

A statement signed by the chairman of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), Wale Adebayo, in Osogbo, Osun state capital, said that the whole idea about the new logo project was misplaced, as it amounts to climbing a tree from the top.

“We at the APM align with the critical mass of the state to say we are not impressed with the new logo project, it’s simply a waste of taxpayers’ money.

“The people need leadership that can transform their lives and concerns, provide employment opportunities for them and not logo. What has the administration given to the masses since it was sworn in? Absolutely nothing, people need the leadership of the state to solve their problems. The quality of leadership, the contentment of your citizens and the level of security in your state is what should matter.”

But, in another press statement issued on Thursday, signed by Governor’s Spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed, said, “those submitting a design are to take into account the prototype logo in terms of its contents and style.

“The submission can be made in person both soft and printed copy to the Office of the Commissioner, Ministry of Information and Public Enlightenment.

“Entries can also be submitted online via [email protected] or [email protected], with bio data and contact details of the designer. The subject should be with the subject ‘OSUN STATE LOGO.’

“The best design will be announced on April 28 and will be  unveiled on April 30th during the new edition of Ipade Imole.

“Commenting on the one week competition, Governor Adeleke noted as follows:

“As a listening leader,  I have asked that we open the change of logo to more public input through this one week competition.

“The best three designers will be invited and compensated,” the statement added.

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PDP NEC endorses Damagum-led NWC

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The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at its 98th meeting in Abuja, yesterday gave a nod for the Amb. Umar Damagum-led National Working Committee (NWC) to continue in office.

Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum and Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, while fielding questions from journalists after the NEC meeting, expressed delight that contrary to expectations of the party’s enemies, the meeting was held in s peaceful atmosphere.

The camp of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, had moved to have Damagum return to his position as Deputy National Chairman (North) to let the North Central produce a substantive National Chairman to complete the truncated tenure of former Chairman, Dr. Iyiorchia Ayu.

Bala said, “You can see there was no dissension and rancour. It was planned that the party will have an implosion. PDP is more than that, we have given beyond all these.

“This party is a united party that is guided by experience and constitutionality. There were a lot of permutations and mischievous thinking outside there.

“But we looked at all the issues and we worked along our guidelines and constitution. There is no problem or dissension among members.”

On the issue of a new chairman from North Central, the PDPGF Chairman said, “In the next two months we will see a lot of activities.”

“Leadership is a responsibility. We said in September we would have come out from our congresses.

“We will look at the issue of leadership and look at the issue of our constitution where it will be. And we will do it with no rancour.”

Also speaking shortly after the NEC meeting, Damagum told reporters that the position he occupies is not a matter of life and death for him.

He said, “This is not a matter of life and death. I am still an elected member of this NEC. Even If I revert to deputy national chairman I’m still a member of NWC. The issue of surviving or not does not emerge.”

National Publicity Secretary of the party, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, who read the communique after the NEC meeting, said, “The NEC of our great Party, at its 98th meeting today, Thursday, April 18, 2024, thoroughly assessed the State of affairs of the Nation and the Party and resolved as follows:”

“NEC commends all the Organs of the Party for their collective resilience, steadfastness and commitment towards the unity, stability and sustenance of our great Party despite daunting challenges.

“NEC also commends members of the PDP, with particular reference to the youths and women for their courage in resisting the antics of the divisive and anti-people All Progressives Congress (APC), especially, its desperation to emasculate the opposition and foist a one-Party State on our nation.

“NEC expresses concern over the ill-implemented policies of the insensitive APC administration, leading to worsening insecurity, harrowing economic hardship, soaring unemployment rate, high cost of food and other necessities of life with pervading misery and despondency across the country.

“NEC expresses serious apprehensions over the spate of acts of terrorism and violence including the escalated cases of mindless killings, mass abduction of innocent Nigerians and marauding of communities in various parts of the country.

“NEC condemns the insensitivity, nonchalance, incompetence and arrogance in failure of the APC administration which continues to conduct itself in a manner that shows that it has no iota of interest or commitment towards the wellbeing of Nigerians.

“NEC also condemns the creeping totalitarianism and tendencies towards a One-Party State which is inimical to the peace, stability and corporate existence of our nation as well as the development of Democracy and good governance in the country.

“NEC, after due consideration demands that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu should urgently convene a special National Security Council meeting to proffer a holistic solution and measures to curb the disturbing insecurity with its attendant negative consequences on our national life.

“NEC also demands that President Tinubu should immediately rejig his Economic Team to bring in persons of proven integrity and competence without bias and vested interest to assist in repositioning the economy.

“NEC further demands that the Federal Government should review all policies and programmes which are stifling the economy with a suffocating effect on the lives of citizens; including the increase in price of fuel without cushioning measures, hike in electricity tariff, increased taxation and implementation of adverse fiscal policies.”

According to him, it was also agreed at the meeting that all Organs, leaders, critical stakeholders and indeed all members of the PDP should close ranks, put aside every personal or group interests and work together in the overall effort to reposition and return the PDP to power at the center in the interest of the Nigerian people.

Other key decisions taken include the consideration and approval of the Timetable for Party Congresses across the country.

It  also  approved the Reconstitution of the Party Disciplinary and Reconciliation Committees to further ensure the stability of the Party.

The body also approved the extension of the life of the Party Constitution Amendment Committee to allow it to receive new amendment proposals for inclusion in its deliberation and final report for consideration by NEC.

Ologunagba equally announced that “NEC commended the efforts of the National Working Committee in its effort towards rebranding the Party including the new look PDP Logo which is widely accepted by Party members and Nigerians in general.”

Earlier, in his opening remarks the BoT Chairman, Sen. Adolphus Wabara, expressed concerns about the attitude of party leaders toward observing constitutional provisions and conventions with respect to party leadership positions.

He cited the controversy surrounding the position of the Ag. National Chairman as well as the National Secretary.

Wabara said, “We cannot ignore the fact that our party is facing internal strife, fueled by inactions, disagreements and misunderstandings that threaten to undermine the very foundation upon which the PDP stands.”

“The recent events have brought to light the urgent need for reconciliation, unity, and collective action to steer our party back on course.

“As the custodians of our party’s values and principles, it is incumbent upon us to address the crises that have arisen from the recent challenges surrounding the leadership and actions of the National Working Committee.”

Also in his opening remarks at the beginning of the NEC meeting, Damagum gave an account of his stewardship since he assumed office about one year ago.

He said, “Let me specially welcome you to this all important meeting, the first of its kind coming after the 2023 general elections.”

“As you are all aware that the last general elections came with lots of unexpected challenges that robbed us of victories.

“These challenges were both internal and external. However, the outcomes of the general elections were appropriately challenged by our well selected legal teams in all the Election Petition Tribunals down to the final Court where the final verdicts were delivered.

“As a law abiding party, we accepted the verdict of the final Court but not without many reservations.However, we must give kudos to our legal team for their tenacity and professionalism while the case lasted and our party faithful who were always physically available during each sitting to give moral support to the party.”

He congratulated all elected governors and legislators of the party for winning their elections, especially those who were returned by various electoral tribunals.

Presenting his report on off-cycle elections under his watch, Damagum said, “NEC will also recall that there have been off-cycle elections that have been concluded.

“The outcome of the off-cycle elections in the trio states of Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi have come and gone with our party retaining Bayelsa state.

“Preparation is also on in Edo and Ondo governorship elections. With the support of all concerned we are confident that soon we will congratulate ourselves.”

On the state of the nation, the PDP Acting National Chairman said, “It is no longer news that Nigerians are suffering under the hard and unfriendly APC-led government.

“The rate of unemployment, poverty, insecurity is so high that most Nigerians go to bed without food in their stomach. Our farmers can no longer go to their farms because of fears of being killed.

“Industries are closing down and moving to neighbouring countries as a result of unstable power supplies, unfavourable government economic policies.

“Young Nigerians and professionals of various fields now sleep in various embassies so as to procure their papers and JAPA.”

He also spoke of efforts being made to reconcile and unite aggrieved members in the overall interest of the party.

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