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Reps Scrap Presidential Yacht Budget, Increase Student Loan To N10bn

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Following public outcry over the allocation of N5.095 billion for the purchase of a presidential yacht in the 2023 supplementary budget, the House of Representatives, on Thursday, said it had scrapped the budgetary allocation.

Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Abubakar Bichi, disclosed this in an interview with journalists on Thursday. He said the budgetary allocation for student loans was also increased from five billion to N10 billion.

He said the committee also increased the budgetary allocation of Ministry of Defence from N 476 billion to N546 billion.

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Bichi also disclosed that the minimum wage for workers was considered and approved for onward transmission to the executive. He promised proper legislative oversight to ensure 100 per cent implementation.

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In the supplementary budget sent to the National Assembly by the President, the Federal Government had allocated N5 billion to purchase a presidential yacht.

The proposed sum was under the capital expenditure of the Nigerian Navy’s budget.

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According to the breakdown, the Navy will require N62.8 billion for its operations, with recurrent expenditure and capital expenditure gulping N20.4 billion and N42.3 billion, respectively

But Bichi said the five billion naira for the presidential yacht has been yanked off from the budget.

He said: “Actually We have submitted our reports to the House and after a careful consideration, the House has approved our submissions and the breakdown is as follows.

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“As you know, the budget is about N2.1tn and the ministry of defence has about N456bn but currently ministry of defence has the largest share because we know how important our security is. As you aware, we have interaction with them yesterday. Currently, we have increase their budget from N456bn to N546, 209,099,671 billion.

“For Police formation and command, we gave them N50bn while the FCT has about N100bn. You know FCT is very important to us, so we want to make sure that FCT can compete with any state in the world. That is why we gave them N100bn.

“On the office of national security, their initial budget was N27bn but currently we have increase their budget to N50bn. For the state house, their initial budget was N28bn and we maintained that.

“On ministry of Agriculture and food security, you know how important that ministry is, we maintained their initial figure of N200bn as well. For ministry of housing, you know we have serious housing deficit in the country and Mr. President agenda, he wants to build as much as he can, so we have approve N100bn for housing.

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“Service wide votes initially was N615 but currently we reduced to N515bn.

“For INEC, initially their budget was N18bn, and yesterday we had an interaction with the INEC Chairman and he convinced us with his submissions and we maintained their N18bn.

“So far, we have approved N2,176, 791, 286, 33 trillion. We will continue to support the goverment so we can deliver democracy.

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On the presidential yacht, Bichi said: “Actually, as far we are concerned, we don’t have that anymore. We have increased the student loan. Initially, student loan was N5bn in the budget but we have increased it to N5bn so that our students can access that facility in order for them to go to school. We don’t have the Yatch anymore in budget.”

He assured that lawmakers would ensure adequate oversight over the way the funds are spent, saying that “our members especially those standing committees oversight those project and ensure the money are used judiciously. From now to three months we are going to call them and ask them what they have done with the money. “

 

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Tinubu Appoints New MD, Board Chairman For NPA

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President Bola Tinubu has approved the appointment of a new Managing Director and Board Chairman for the Nigerian Ports Authority.

This is contained in a statement issued on Friday by the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, titled “President Tinubu appoints new Managing Director and Board Chairman for the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).”

Tinubu appointed Dr. Abubakar Dantsoho as the Managing Director of the NPA while Senator Adedayo Adeyeye was appointed the Board Chairman.

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Dr. Dantsoho holds a Doctorate in Maritime Technology from Liverpool John Moores University, United Kingdom, and a Master’s degree in International Transport from Cardiff University of Wales, United Kingdom.

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“Before his appointment, he had served in various roles in the Nigerian Ports Authority as assistant General Manager; Technical Assistant to the Managing Director; Port Manager, Onne Port; and Principal Manager, Tariff & Billing,” the statement partly read.

Adeyeye, a seasoned lawyer, journalist, and politician, was a former Minister of State for Works and former Senator representing Ekiti South Senatorial District.

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The statement added that “the President expects the new leadership of this pivotal agency to deploy excellence in the discharge of their duties to enable efficient port services and improved industry outcomes.”

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Politicians Must Allow NDDC To Breath – Jonathan

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The former President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has urged politicians not to over stretch the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, as this could adversely affect execution of projects and retard development in the Niger Delta region.

Jonathan noted that as an interventionist agency for the oil producing states, the NDDC holds the mandate of bringing development closer to the people and that the agency came as a child of necessity with a strategic role to improve the environment, provide infrastructure and improve the livelihood of the people of the region.

He recalled that the first leadership of the NDDC led by Onyeama Ugochukwu as MD and Chief Timi Alaibe as the executive director finance and administration, EDFA, showed some clear leadership and that the people of Niger Delta began to see some clear direction.

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Speaking at a 3-day Niger Delta Stakeholders Summit 2024 organized by NDDC in Port Harcourt on Friday, former President Jonathan who was the chairman of the occasion said that after that leadership, the activities of the Commission began to slow down and its impact was not well noticed.

READ ALSO: Travellers Suffering On East-West Road, Diri Tells Tinubu

“But with the present leadership, people from the Niger Delta have seen some light. Having listened to the conversation of this summit from Wednesday interrogating issues, I was impressed that things have taken a different look in the Niger Delta. It shows clearly that the current leadership intends to move NDDC to a proper direction.

“I will request for us who are the political class not to over stretch the NDDC so that they can perform. I am happy that Godswill Akpabio is here. He is the most senior politician. He has to work with others so that NDDC is not under too much of stress. I know what I am talking about”.

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Jonathan expressed delight over the present management of NDDC, adding that one of the greatest problems of the NDDC is the issue of abandoned projects. “Infrastructure projects that were done by NDDC and were abandoned have become a curse. NDDC must have a way of managing its infrastructure when completed.

“They can on their own continue to maintain their roads. Alternatively, they can liaise with the governors for the states to take over the maintenance of the roads. We should begin to see how to build the Niger Delta without hydrocarbon”, he said.

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On his part, the Senate President, Dr. Godswill Akpabio blamed some Niger Delta stakeholders from the Ogoni extraction of Rivers state for frustrating the completion of work on the East West road through a petition to the then President, Muhammadu Buhari.

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Akpabio said that the Ogonis led a delegation to the President when he was the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs and told him that the East/West road project should be removed from the Ministry to the Ministry of Works.

According to the Senate President, about N75billion was procured from the Sukuk funds for work on the project but since it was transferred to the Ministry of Works which had no funds to work on the project, the money could not be utilized for the purpose it was secured.

Akpabio expressed satisfaction with the work the leadership of the current NDDC is doing to move the region forward. “We in the national Assembly

 

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Travellers Suffering On East-West Road, Diri Tells Tinubu

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Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, has lamented the collapse of the East-West road, calling on President Bola Tinubu to hand over the reconstruction of the road to the Niger Delta Development Commission if the contractors engaged by the Federal government would fail in delivery.

Diri, who acknowledged the President’s approval of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road project, said that though the approval was commendable, the reconstruction of the East-West Road was a priority.

“Our region is in dire need of development. Everything has been said by everybody here, and for me, there is just one thing that I would say.

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“Prior to today, the journey between Yenagoa and Port Harcourt is either one and a half hours or one hour. For those of us who even come with the convoy, one hour you are in Port Harcourt, but today, I travelled four hours between Yenagoa and Port Harcourt. Our people are suffering. That road has collapsed.

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“So, while we appreciate Mr. President for the coastal road, there is a need to immediately go into the East-West road. If that contractor does not have the capacity, please Mr. President, hand over that road to the Niger Delta Development Commission,” Diri said in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on Friday at the 2024 Niger Delta Stakeholders Summit themed “Renewed Hope for Sustainable Development in the Niger Delta Region”.

Diri, who said he was devastated by the experience of travellers along the road, said he chose to shelve aside his planned trip by air from Yenagoa to Port Harcourt for the summit to personally witness the nightmare of users of the road.

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“I was arranged to travel by air and I told myself ‘those who are traveling on that road are Rivers people, are Bayelsa people and Niger Delta people and if they are suffering, let me go and see their suffering’ and I couldn’t believe what I saw today.

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“Some people have been there for one week. Some have been there for two days. That is not the Niger Delta that we want to be. That is not the Niger Delta our forefathers dreamt about. And so I appeal particularly to our own son who is here representing Mr. President to take this message to Mr. President and let them act fast on the East-West road,” Diri said.

The President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, represented Tinubu at the summit on Friday.

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Diri, however, appreciated the President for “prioritising the Niger Delta by appointing a board on time and a management team on time.”

He called on Tinubu to ensure that there is a complementary approach to the execution of the project to ensure there is concurrent construction from both ends in Lagos and Calabar.

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“We have also witnessed recently the construction of the coastal road that is going to run from Lagos to Calabar. And we want to appreciate and thank the President for that.

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“However, I would like to appeal that as the construction is commencing from Lagos, let it also have a concurrent commencement from the Calabar axis of the road,” he said.

The Lagos-Calabar Coastal road project will traverse nine states along Nigeria’s coastal shoreline while linking the A1, A2, A3, and A4 highway corridors vertically crossing the western, central and eastern regions of the country, north to south.

Starting from Lagos and terminating in Cross River State, the over N15 trillion highway project will include a spur to the north-central part of the country.

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