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Borrowing to fund infrastructure development, a necessity – Lawan

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NASS to lay PIB report Tuesday, amend Electoral Act before recess

 By Abdullahi M. Gulloma, Abuja
The President of the Senate Mr Ahmad Lawan has justified borrowing by the federal government, saying the country is poor and has no option but to borrow to fund infrastructure development.Lawan said this Thursday while fielding questions from State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.


“Our options are really very limited as a country. First, we don’t have the necessary revenues, Nigeria is poor, we shouldn’t deceive ourselves. Nigeria is not rich, given the circumstances we live in, given the challenges we have; our resources are so low, our revenues are so low and therefore, the option of not doing anything, just to sit because we have no money, we shouldn’t go for infrastructure development, is not even an option worthy of consideration. You cannot keep the economy stagnant.

“Two, you cannot, in my view and judgement, tax Nigerians further for you to raise the money for infrastructure development. Other countries do that, but we have serious situation across the country, so you cannot put taxes on people. 

“The other option is public private partnership. You need to create the environment to attract investors to come into our country because of the security challenges we face today. Not many investors would like to come to Nigeria. In fact, even those inside Nigeria may not like to invest properly in this sector of infrastructure development.

 “So, the only option left is for us to borrow, borrow responsibly, utilise prudently and economically, and ensure that the projects are self-sustaining that they can pay back the loans that Nigerian economy will benefit from the implementation of such infrastructure development.“So, that is the only option we have and I believe that Nigerians will understand. Of course, it’s not desirable, it’s not something that we like too, no Nigerian would like to have,” he said.He said the National Assembly would not be frivolous in approving requests for loans by the executive arm of government.


He said requests to obtain loans would be subjected to thorough scrutiny to ensure that they are necessary.
“We’ll also have the loan request from Mr. President. The loan request is to fund the 2021 Appropriation Act and of course, this is not a new request. It’s something that we had passed in the MTEF and it’s something that when we pass the budget 2021, we also passed that. “So, it’s only to give the necessary legislative approval for the administration to go further and collect the funds. What I want to assure Nigerians here is that we are not going to be frivolously supporting or approving loans for the executive arm of government. “Whenever we have to approve any loan, we have to insist on the details of what projects will be funded by those loans. We’ll have to look at the conditions that are attached to the loans.


“They must be favourable conditions before we approve and we will be up to date with our oversight to ensure that what we have approved is directly deployed and on those projects that we have also approved for implementation. So, we will not be frivolous and will not take it lightly to just approve any loan,” he said.The
The Senate President also that the two chambers of the National Assembly would receive the joint committee’s report on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and consider passage of the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill. “I’ve come to update Mr. President on the activities that are lined up in the in the Senate, particularly, and the National Assembly in general. “You’ll recall that we have several bills, very important ones at that, that are pending and we are working around the clock. At the moment, we are dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s on the PIB; the Petrol Industry Bill, and by the grace of God, our committees, the joint committees, will finish their work on it by the end of the week, hopefully. The reports would be laid on Tuesday in both chambers. This is what we have planned and this is what we’re working towards. “You also know that President, the executive arm of government, had submitted a Supplementary Budget request. In the Senate, we have had the second reading yesterday and we have given the Appropriations Committee, particularly to deal with it with the relevant committees of Defense related and other security agencies related committees and of course.“For COVID-19 vaccines that we have to procure, we need the Health Committee and, of course, the Primary Healthcare Committee as well to work on the Supplementary Budget request for Mr. President. 

“We’re expecting report on this by Tuesday, by the grace of God and we may consider that report on Wednesday next week, so that we’re able to pass the request because of the urgency and the need for us to hit the ground running. “We need to give so much attention to our security agencies because of the situation across the country and of course, the COVID-19 vaccines, procurement is also an essential thing that we need to do. “We also have some work to do on the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill. Our committee in the Senate and indeed, in the House, have worked jointly and we have very little to do really, to get the reports and consider in the two chambers. 

“We expect that we’ll do that before we go on our annual summer recess, which comes up on the 15th of July, by the grace of God. So, before we go on summer recess, we should be able to pass the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill. “We also have outstanding confirmation requests for National Commissioners of INEC, we’ll do that, we’ll consider those confirmation requests from Mr. President before we go.

”The Senate President applauded  Buhari’s constant support and respect for the National Assembly expressing  the hope that other members of the executive branch do the same,” he said.


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Commissioner empowers 3,000 people in Kogi

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Kogi state commissioner for works, Dr. Abubakar Ohere
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The Kogi State commissioner for works, Dr. Abubakar Sadiq Ohere on Sunday empowered over 3,000 men and women across Kogi Central District.

The gesture according to the commissioner is part of the Kogi State government’s efforts to support small scale traders as well as artisans in the state. Each person got N20,000.

The event which took place at Ahogede, Bariki ward of Okene Local at the residence of Alhaji Jimoh Karaku , had in attendance , Alhaji Yahaya Karaku , a former chairman of the local government and a leader of the APC in Kogi Central as well as many party leaders and supporters from across Okene Local Government.

The commissioner said the empowerment was also part of Governor Yahaya Bello’s, inclusive government and the need to to spread dividends of democracy to people at the grassroot.

Many of the recipients expressed gratitude to the commissioner. They said the cash donations will help their various businesses .


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Pro-Putin party wins majority in Russian elections despite declining support

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Mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin addresses supporters of the United Russia party. Photograph: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images
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Partial results show ruling United Russia party will retain power in parliament after winning over 45% of the vote

Russia’s ruling United Russia party, which supports president Vladimir Putin, retained its majority in parliament after a three-day election and a sweeping crackdown on its critics, despite losing around one fifth of its support, partial results on Monday showed.

With 33% of ballots counted, the Central Election Commission said United Russia had won just over 45% of the vote, with its nearest rival, the Communist party, at around 22%.

Although that amounts to an emphatic win, it would be a weaker performance for United Russia than the last time a parliamentary election was held in 2016, when the party won just over 54% of the vote.

malaise over years of faltering living standards and allegations of corruption from jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny have drained some support, and a tactical voting campaign organised by Navalny’s allies appears to have inflicted further damage.

Kremlin critics said the vote was in any case a sham and that United Russia would have fared much worse in a fair contest, given a pre-election crackdown that outlawed Navalny’s movement, barred his allies from running and targeted critical media and non-governmental organisations.

The result looks unlikely to change the political landscape, with Putin, who has been in power as president or prime minister since 1999, still dominating ahead of the next presidential election in 2024. Putin has yet to say whether he will run.

The 68-year-old leader remains a popular figure with many Russians who credit him with standing up to the west and restoring national pride.

Partial results showed the Communist party finishing in second place, followed by the nationalist LDPR party with around 9%. Both parties usually back the Kremlin on key issues.

At a celebratory rally at United Russia’s headquarters broadcast on state television, Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin, a close ally of the Russian leader, shouted: “Putin! Putin! Putin!” to a flag-waving crowd that echoed his chant.

Allies of Navalny, who is serving a jail sentence for parole violations he denies, had encouraged tactical voting against United Russia, a scheme that amounted to supporting the candidate most likely to defeat it in a given electoral district.

In many cases, they had advised people to hold their noses and vote Communist. Authorities had tried to block the initiative online.

The election commission was slow to release data from online voting in Moscow, where United Russia traditionally does not fare as well as in other regions. Pro-Kremlin candidates were leading in the majority of the city’s 15 districts before the online votes were tallied.

Golos, an election watchdog accused of being a foreign agent by authorities, said it had recorded thousands of violations, including threats against observers and ballot stuffing, blatant examples of which circulated on social media, with some individuals caught on camera depositing bundles of voting slips in urns

The Central Election Commission said it had recorded 12 cases of ballot stuffing in eight regions and that the results from those polling stations would be voided.

The Kremlin denies a politically driven crackdown and says individuals are prosecuted for breaking the law. Both it and United Russia denied any role in the registration process for candidates.

One day we will live in a Russia where it will be possible to vote for good candidates with different political platforms,” Navalny ally Leonid Volkov wrote on Telegram messenger before polls closed on Sunday.

One Moscow pensioner who gave his name only as Anatoly said he voted United Russia because he was proud of Putin’s efforts to restore what he sees as Russia’s rightful great power status.

“Countries like the United States and Britain more or less respect us now like they respected the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 70s. The Anglo-Saxons only understand the language of force,” he said.

There was also widespread apathy, with official figures showing turnout at around 47%.

“I don’t see the point in voting,” said one Moscow hairdresser who gave her name as Irina. “It’s all been decided for us anyway.”

Source: (The Guardian)


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Kogi: Gunmen invade church, kill one worshipper, abduct two

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Gunmen invaded a church in Kabba, Kogi, on Sunday, killed one person and abducted two worshippers.

The church located at Okedayo Area on Kabba-Okene Road was invaded at about 10.15 a.m. as the day’s worship went underway.

Police’s spokesman in Kogi, William Aya, confirmed the incident.

He described the invasion as unfortunate, saying that the police would go after the perpetrators and ensure that they face justice.

Kayode Akanbi, a worshipper who was present when the gunmen arrived, said service was barely underway when the incident happened.

Mr Akanbi told newsmen on the phone that the gunmen, numbering six, were armed with guns and cutlasses and did not mask up.

“We were trying to commence the normal service.

“We just started the call to worship and I was interpreting the pastor’s message when suddenly the gunmen entered from the main entrance and raised their guns.

“They shot sporadically and everybody started scampering to safety.

According to Mr Akanbi, two of the oldest members were abducted and taken away by the gunmen.

He said also that the gunmen killed a 45-year-old worshipper in the process, adding that the spouse of one of the two abducted worshippers and another male worshipper sustained gunshot injuries.

Mr Akanbi said police later visited the scene to take the dead to the mortuary at the General Hospital, Kabba while the two injured persons were taken to Lokoja for treatment.

Newsmen recall that the Nigeria Correctional Service facility in Kabba was invaded by yet to be identified gunmen in the late hours of Sunday, 12 September

During that invasion, 240 inmates were forcefully released by the gunmen while 114 have so far been rearrested.

Source: (NAN)


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