As the legislative debate on the 2022 budget, which was presented to the joint session of lawmakers by President Muhammadu Buhari last week continued on Wednesday, members of the House of Representatives expressed concerns over the high rate of debt servicing.
While each lawmaker took turns to speak on the highlight of the budget which stood at N16.39 trillion, they maintained that the proposed budgetary provision for debt servicing was 25 per cent of the entire budget, saying it was on the high side.
Those who spoke extensively on the worrisome debt servicing was the Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Hon. Luke Onofiok who observed that the sum of N3.9 trillion for debt servicing representing about 25 percent of the whole budget was worrisome.
He called for a downward review, stating that Nigeria was too fragile to service debts at that high rate, given that the nation was still facing the COVID-19 challenges.
On the external and internal borrowing to service budget deficits, he posited: “Another source of concern is that the proposal before us has a deficit of N6.2 trillion and the government is proposing new borrowings to finance this deficit.
“What this implies is that the total public debt of Nigeria is expected to rise to N5 trillion in 2022 fiscal year. This is worrisome not only for today but generations unborn and the future of Nigeria.”
He called on lawmakers to reduce the borrowing or the executive should assure the parliamentarians that the borrowing was production and not consumption.
He argued that it would be inappropriate to borrow and leave debt for generations yet unborn, stressing that if it’s put into production with expected income, there won’t be any concern.
The lawmaker called for deliberate funding of power and road infrastructure, saying: “While we put the money borrowed to infrastructure three clear things come to mind. We have looked at security. We need to invest in power. Let us borrow to invest in power and roads. We have road challenges across the country. Let me use for instance Mr. Speaker, the Calabar-Itu road that area is being cut-off.
“People spend 8 hours on the road. And we have seen something less than a billion naira allotted to that road in the different lots that have been given. That is quite inadequate. We have to invest in our roads and in our public transportation.”
House Minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu, spoke on the high rate of debt servicing, noting that the nation can’t afford such at this time.
PUNCH Petitions IGP Over Seizure Of Correspondent’s Phone
The PUNCH Newspaper has petitioned the Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Usman Alkali Baba, over the attack on PUNCH correspondent, Toni Ufor, by some policemen attached to the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) on Wednesday.
The officers also seized Ufor’s phone and Identity card.
Editor of The PUNCH Ademola Oni in the petition described that action as unwarranted, provocative, uncivilised, crude and barbaric.
Ufoh, Oni said, was assigned to cover the case of some tenants, who allegedly defrauded by a developer, Adewale Tunde, at the Milverton Office of the SFU in Ikoyi.
He said: “The reporter’s offence was that he had the audacity to conduct interviews with the victims allegedly defrauded by the developer in front of the premises of the
“The power-drunk policemen descended on the helpless reporter, accusing him of recording the SFU office.
“After he was made to identify himself as a journalist, the overzealous policemen arrested the reporter, deleted all the interviews he had conducted on his telephone set and went ahead to seize the set and confiscated his ID card.
“These cops equally threatened to lock up the journalist when he demanded the return of his set and card which are his lawful property.
“The intervention of one of the crime reporter on the Metro Desk of the newspaper failed to assuage the flaming impunity of these policemen, who ensured they frustrated the coverage of the assignment for reasons best known to them.”
According to Oni, attacks on PUNCH reporters by officers of the Nigerian Police Force have become a recurring decimal, from Lagos to Imo, from Enugu to Kaduna in the recent past.
“I have the authority of the management of PUNCH Nigeria Limited to request that you use your good offices to direct that the errant policemen return the telephone set and the ID card of Ufor to him at the corporate head office of PUNCH Nigeria Limited, PUNCH Place, along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in Magboro before 6pm December 30, to ensure fairness.
“We also demand that these overzealous policemen be punished for taking the laws into their hands by attacking an innocent Nigerian, obstructing a journalist from carrying out his lawful duty, and dragging the image of the Force in the mud through their crudeness and brazen display of their self-imposed power,” he wrote.
Ijaw Youths Apologize To Sylva Over Misunderstanding With IYC
By Chris Ochayi
Concerned Ijaw youths residing in Abuja, the nation’s capital, have tendered an unreserved apology to the Minister for State Petroleum Resources, Chief Dr. Timipre Silva and his Chief Security Officer Mr. Muhammed Salisu Abdullah for the unplanned altercation with the IYC Abuja Chapter last week.
The group while calling for calm and tranquility in a statement, Tuesday by Taritimi Okoye urged members of IYC Abuja Chapter, the NPF/D S.S, attached to the minister to bask in spirit of the yuletide season to forgive each other and embrace peace.
According to the statement, “ The concerned IJAW youths residing in Abuja, would like to seize this medium to apologies to the entire family members of his Excellency, Chief. Dr. Timipre Sylva, the Honorable Minister for State Petroleum Resources and his Chief Security Officer, Mr Muhammed Salisu Abdullahi for the negatives incidents which occurred last week.
“In the spirit of the Yuletide season, we also use this medium to urge and appeal to injured IYC members and the NPF/D.S.S attached to the minister to forgive each other and embrace peace.
“While, there has been claims in the media as published on 24/ 12/ 2021 by the Ijaw youths council leadership headed by Mr Chief Diplomat Adam Ogomugu Marbo that Mr. Muhammad S. Abdullah who is the Chief Security Officer the minister, was the person who gave the order that led to violence and destruction of properties which occurred at the minister residence on the 21 / 12/ 2021.
“Besides that, we want to equivocally state here that the security operatives on duty on that faithful day, was only carrying out their official duty which is to protect lives and properties of Nigerians and our leader at their respective residence.
“ It is worthy to note, that the manner in which the IYC used it’s bus to barricade the minister’s gate was quite uncalled for and indeed provoking, the worst is that there wasn’t any known prior confrontations or grievances.
“However, because this is not a good conduct as such, it is therefore expected, that all well meaning Niger Deltans, the IYC leadership and Ijaws living both at home and abroad would and should speak against it.
“Generally, this incidents has brought a lot pains to the families of H/E Chief Timipre Silva and his C.S.O, and Injured N.P.F/ D.S.S on that day, as well as the IYC Abuja chapter members who got injured during their invading to the Minister residence, So it won’t be a nice action to make a fuss and categorize this issue as a political issue.
“In the light of the above, we are appealing and also calling on all parties involved to embrace peace and further restrain from all future planned attacks on the Mohammed and the Minister’s image; because the CSO, was only doing his job to protect Nigerians living in the neighborhood and working for the minister.
“Any further attempt to rubbish the image and career of Mr. Abdullahi, a very charismatic Nigerian Police Officer, who has diligently served the nation would be tantamount to amounting more pain for the minister.
“We therefore urge all parties to embrace a peaceful approach to resolve these sad incidents in other to heal wounds and engender prosperity for all Nigerians, “it added.
Lagos Bread Seller, Others Wins N1m In ALAT’s 5for5 Promo
Zainab Ayoola, a 37-year-old bread seller in Lagos has become the 1 million naira cash prize winner in the Bank’s December edition of Wema Bank’s ALAT 5for5 promo.
On Thursday, December 16, 2021, the Ilorin native joined five other millionaires who had won the monthly draw since July 2021, when the promo began across the country.
Zainab who sells bread in the Bariga area of Lagos, was close to tears as she attempted to explain the moment she won,
“I was shocked when I got the call that I had won a million Naira because I am just a petty trader. I have never done any transaction or sales worth that amount before.”
The single mother promised to use her winnings to train her teenage daughter. “I am grateful to the bank for blessing me this December, they have made my life and this festive period better,” she said.
Nneka Stephens, a 27-year-old medical doctor, also won N100,000. She heard of the promo on social media and was elated. ‘I am very grateful to the Bank for giving me this Christmas gift! Since I’ve been banking with ALAT, I have conducted multiple transactions and they have been seamless,” she stated.
Dotun Ifebogun, the Divisional Head, Retail Business, Wema Bank Plc stated the bank’s focus on actively spearheading financial inclusion while rewarding customers, ‘So far, the lives of our winners have changed because we are giving them an opportunity to make a difference. We are not only creating financial freedom, but we are also educating our winners on various ways they can operate their Wema account using functions such as the USSD code and the ALAT app rather than visiting a physical bank. It’s important that we encourage our customers to explore various possibilities.
Since the promo began in July, 426 customers across Nigeria have won over 21 million naira, by conducting transactions via the digital banking platform, ALAT, and using Wema’s USSD code – *945#. ALAT and Wema Bank will continue to reward loyal customers in the 5for5 promo till March 2022.
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