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Economy

Buhari, Jonathan, Obasanjo, Babangida, Abdusalami, Osinbajo, Atiku, others to spend N13.8billon from N27.5 trillion 2024 budget 

Tinubu presentation of 2024 budget to the National Assembly

The Eyewitness Reporter

The Federal government has earmarked the sum of N13.8 billion in the 2024 budget as the cost of upkeep of
former presidents, vice presidents, heads of state, Chiefs of General Staff, retired heads of service, permanent secretaries, and retired heads of government agencies and parastatals.

The beneficiaries include former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari, ex-vice-presidents Atiku Abubakar, Namadi Sambo and Prof Yemi Osinbajo.

Also expected to benefit from the windfall are ex-military Heads of State, General Yakubu Gowon and General Abdusalami Abubakar, as well as a former dictator and self-styled military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, and a former Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (retd.).

Also, N1tn was provisioned for the public service wage adjustment for government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (including arrears of promotion and salary increases, and payment of severance benefits and minimum wage-related adjustments).

A breakdown shows that the entitlements of former presidents/heads of state and vice presidents/chief of general staff will cost N2.3bn. At the same time, N10.5bn is proposed as benefits for retired heads of service, permanent secretaries and professors.

The payment of severance benefits to retired heads of government agencies and parastatals is proposed to cost N1bn.

Other allocations include N65bn for the Presidential Amnesty Programme for the reintegration of transformed ex-militants; N1bn for the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Energy; and N108bn for unnamed special projects.

The government is also proposing the sum of N40bn to offset electricity debts owed to power distribution companies by all MDAs.

President Bola Tinubu unveiled the N27.5 trillion budget estimates for the 2024 fiscal year.
The budget was presented to a joint session of the National Assembly on Wednesday, where it is currently undergoing scrutiny and deliberation for final approval.

In his presentation, he declared, “The 2024 Appropriation has been themed the Budget of Renewed Hope.

The proposed budget seeks to achieve job-rich economic growth, macro-economic stability, a better investment environment, enhanced human capital development, as well as poverty reduction and greater access to social security.

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Economy

News Alert! CBN revokes operational licenses of 4,173 Bureau De Change operators for breach of regulatory guidelines

CBN Governor, Olayemi Cardoso

The Eyewitness Reporter

In its continuous efforts to sanitize the foreign exchange market and halt the frightening slide of the naira in exchange for the dollars, the Central Bank of Nigeria has revoked the operational licenses of 1,173 Bureau De Change operators.

In a press release issued Friday, March 1st, 2024 and signed by Mrs. Sidi Ali Hakama, the Acting Director, Corporate Communications, the apex bank said the axed BDCs failed to observe at least one of the following regulatory provisions which include payment of all necessary fees, including license renewal within the stipulated period in line with the Guidelines, rendition of returns in line with the Guidelines, compliance with guideline, directives and circulars of the CBN, particularly Anti-Money Laundering(AML), countering the Financing of Terrorism(CFT)and Counter-Proliferation Financing(CPF) regulations.

The apex bank said it relied on the powers conferred on it under the Bank and Other Financial Institutions Act(BOFIA)2020, Act n0.5 and Revised Operational Guidelines for Bureaux De Change 2015(the Guidelines).

“The CBN is revising the regulatory and supervisory guidelines for Bureau de Change operations in Nigeria. Compliance with the new requirements will be mandatory for all stakeholders in the sector when the revised guidelines become effective.

‘Members of the Public are hereby advised to take note and be guided accordingly”, the statement concluded.

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Economy

Anxiety in public service over massive job loss as Tinubu set to implement Steve Oronsaye panel on civil service reform

The Eyewitness reporter
There is palpable tension among the public service workers as President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has approved the full implementation of Steve Oronsaye’s public service reform.
Their anxiety stems from massive job loss that will result from the implementation of the recommendations of the report which seeks the scrapping, subsuming and merging of some Ministries, Departments, and the Agencies of government whose functions are overlapping.
The report also seeks to enhance efficiency in the Federal civil service and reduce the cost of governance.
The Oronsaye report was submitted in 2012 to the Jonathan administration.

In 2014, the Jonathan government released a white paper on the report. The Buhari administration after re-examining the white paper also released a second white paper in August 2022, but did not implement the report.

According to Bayo Onanuga,Special Adviser Information and Strategy to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the  Tinubu administration has decided to confront the monster of high governance cost by implementing elements of the report.

According to him, an eight-man committee has a 12-week deadline to ensure that the necessary legislative amendments and administrative restructuring needed to implement the reforms are effected efficiently.The committee comprises the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Head of the Civil Service, Attorney General and Justice Minister, Budget and Planning Minister, DG Bureau of Public Service Reform, Special Adviser to the President on Policy Coordination, Special assistant to the president on National Assembly. The Cabinet Affairs Office will serve as the secretariat.

Some of the key recommendations of the report for implementation include the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission to be subsumed under the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission.

The National Assembly will need to amend the constitution as RMAFC was established by the constitution.
Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission to be merged with Bureau of Public Enterprise and be rechristened as `Public Enterprises and Infrastructural Concession CommissionNational Human Rights Commission to swallow Public Complaints Commission

The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate(PTAD) is to be scrapped and functions to be taken over by the Federal Ministry of Finance

NEMA and National Commission for Refugees to be fused to become the National Emergency and Refugee Management Commission

Border Communities Development Agency to become a department under National Boundary Commission

NACA and NCDC to be merged

SERVICOM to become a department under the Bureau for Public Service Reform(BPSR)

NALDA to return to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.

Federal Ministry of Science to supervise a new agency that combines NCAM, NASENI and PRODA

National Commission for Museums and Monuments and National Gallery of Arts to become one entity that will be known as the National Commission for Museums, Monuments and Gallery of Arts.

National Theatre to be merged with National Troupe.

Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa and Directorate of Technical Aid Corp to be merged under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 Nigerians in Diaspora Commission to become an agency under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Federal Radio Corporation and Voice of Nigeria to be one entity to be known as Federal Broadcasting Corporation of Nigeria

National Biotechnology Development Agency(NABDA) and National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology to be emerged into an agency to be known as National Biotechnology Research and Development Agency(NBRDA).

National Institute for Leather Science Technology and National Institute for Chemical Technology to become one agency.

 Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency and National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development to become one agency.

The National Metallurgical Development Centre and National Metallurgical Training Institute will be merged.

National Institute for Trypanosomiasis to be subsumed under the Institute of Veterinary Research in Vom, Jos.

The list is inexhaustive.
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Business

“You lied” – FG lambasts cement manufacturers over hike in product price

Ahmed Dangiwa
The Eyewitness reporter 
The Federal Government has picked holes in the reasons proffered by the cement manufacturers for the sudden jump in the price of the product.
It could be recalled that a few days ago, cement recorded an astronomical increase in price as the 50kg of the essential building materials climbed from  N5000 to between N10,000 to N15,000, depending on the location in the country.
Concerned by the sudden hike, which has elicited uproar among already depressed Nigerians, the Federal government summoned the major cement manufacturers and other merchants of building materials in the country such as Dangote Cement, BUA and Lafarge, to an emergency meeting.
Addressing the manufacturers at the meeting, the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Ahmed Dangiwa, dismissed the reasons given by the cement manufacturers, describing them as untenable.
Whereas the manufacturers blamed the cost of gas and mining equipment for the hike, Dangiwa said key input materials for cement production such as limestone, clay, silica sand, and gypsum, sourced within the nation’s borders, should not be dollar-rated.
He said the price of gas that manufacturers are using as an excuse was not tenable because gas is a raw material found within the country.

The minister further declared that the excuse of an increase in mining equipment should not come up because equipment bought by the manufacturers has been used for decades and not purchased every day.

He however threatened that the federal government may be forced to throw open the borders and allow importation of cement to flood the Nigerian market in a bid to crash the prices of the community should the manufacturers refuse to reduce their prices.
He warned that the cement manufacturers should not push the government into taking this decision which he believed would push them out of business.
The minister said the border was closed to the importation of cement to help local manufacturers.

However, he noted that if the government decides to open the border for mass importation, prices of cement would crash and local manufacturers would be gravely affected.

The minister, who called on the manufacturers to be more patriotic, said BUA Cement, for instance, has been willing and is still willing as at the last time he spoke with them, to crash the price of their cement, lower than the N7000, N8000 agreed by the manufacturers and he sees no reason why the others should not do same.

“The challenges you speak of, many countries are facing the same challenges and some even worse than that but as patriotic citizens, we have to rally around whenever there is a crisis to change the situation.

“The gas price you spoke of, we know that we produce gas in the country. The only thing you can say is that maybe it is not enough.

“Even if you say about 50 percent of your production cost is spent on gas prices, we still produce gas in Nigeria. It’s just that some of the manufacturers take advantage of the situation.

“As for the mining equipment that you mentioned, you buy equipment and it takes years and you are still using it,” he said.

Earlier, Group Chief Commercial Officer of Dangote Cement, Rabiu Umar blamed the high cost of gas and mining equipment for the hike in cement price.

He said: “It is safe to say we are all Nigerians and we are all facing the current head weight that is happening.  I would like to speak on the popular belief that most of the raw materials to produce cement are available locally.

“While we have limestone and in some cases, we have gypsum and some cases coal, the reality is that it takes a lot of forex-related items to produce cement.

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