Experts differ on National Assembly’s increase of 2019 budget by N90b

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The raising of the Federal Government’s 2019 budget deficit financing level by N90 billion in the just-approved fiscal spending plan by the National Assembly has drawn different reactions from some economists in Abuja.

An economist and presidential candidate of the Abundant Renewal Party of Nigeria (ARPN) in the last general elections, Mr. Tope Fasua, said increasing the size of the budget was desirable but not for “unproductive spending.”

“The disturbing issue is the purpose for this additional spending, which has already increased the fiscal deficit. It is for unproductive ventures like the settlement of National Assembly severance packages and allowances and security support to Zamfara State. Why should the Federal Government single out a state for additional spending when such a state is an autonomous entity? This is not spending that can catalyse growth and development.”

Economist and public commentator, Mr. Odilim Enwegbara, also criticised the planned spending of additional revenue by the National Assembly members, saying: “I won’t worry myself if the N90 billion increase was targeted at addressing national security. But I am worried that some people simply generate some level of insecurity and then the national budget takes care of it. Secondly, for how long will our federal lawmakers just increase their upkeep spending?

“I will still continue to argue that our budget to GDP ratio is the lowest among peer economies. And that this is happening because our tax to GDP ratio, along with our tax to budget ratio, is embarrassingly the lowest among peer economies. This is the reason our recurrent spending has remained always over 80 per cent of our overall fiscal spending. As a result, our infrastructure deficit has been dangerously growing at such a geometric progression while infrastructure investment, at best, remains stagnant.”

But a consultant to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Prof. Ken Ife, sees the National Assembly’s action differently. According to him, “The addition of N90 billion by the National Assembly seems justifiable given the breakdown in security in Zamfara, Katsina and Kaduna States. Some of that money should also go to conditional cash transfer, the TraderMoni initiative and youth employment and empowerment programme. At N1.9 trillion plus N90 billion, we are well within our fiscal responsibility legal limits of three per cent fiscal deficit to GDP ratio and within the benchmark of 40 per cent debt servicing to govt revenue ratio. There has been additional borrowing of bond that was four times over-subscribed. Some of these proceeds would go to retire long-outstanding debt to the private sector to stimulate the economy.”

Meanwhile, Prof. Segun Ajibola, also an economist, said the low allocation of N2 trillion for capital expenditure in the budget shows pressure on the economy.

The budget’s statutory transfer stands at N502 billion; fiscal deficit is N1.9 trillion; special intervention, N500 billion; recurrent expenditure N4 trillion; capital expenditure, N2 trillion and Deficit to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 1.37 per cent.

The cost of governance is high and it is making the capital expenditure drop, Ajibola said.

Recall that the provision for capital expenditure in the 2018 budget was N2.8 trillion.

“We have a lot of pressure on the budget. We have debts to service. It is the capital budget that will bear the brunt. I believe we will be able to moderate the allocation to capital budget by the time we generate sufficient returns from the investment from ongoing projects. If we are able to recoup the initial expenditure on the projects, then the burden on capital budget will be down,” he said.

Ajibola, a former president of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, however, insisted that the implementation of the budget is feasible.

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Drama as Gowon slumps, recovers at late David Ejoor’s burial

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The remains of Gen. David Ejoor, former Military Administrator of Mid-west region and Chief of Staff Nigeria Army, was committed to mother Earth yesterday in his home town, Ovwor-Olomu, in Ughelli South council, Delta State, amid tears, but not devoid of a mild drama.

Midway into the interment oration, however, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, former Nigerian Head of State, suddenly slummed by Ejoor’s graveside and was immediately rushed to a nearby shed by military officers where an ambulance was stationed.

After first aid treatment was administered to the former head of state he recovered and was allowed to rest awhile.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa was rattled by the development that he left his seat and joined the resuscitation team in the canopy to observe how Gowon fared. He was also joined by a few other eminent personalities including former Governor James Ibori.

Gowon in his speech rained praises on late Ejoor describing him as a good soldier and family man.

He also pleaded with Nigerians to make sacrifices for the peace and unity of the country.

Gowon said “I thank you all for coming to this ceremony, we served in the Nigerian Army so many years ago and I am delighted with the encomiums poured on the deceased who was a good soldier and a good family man,” Gen. Gowon said, adding that Nigerians should continue to make sacrifices for the peace and unity of the country.

Rev. Fr. Greg Umukoro, remarked that the deceased, “lived a good life of service to the nation and humanity.”

Governor Okowa thanked Nigerians from far and near for attending the burial ceremony, saying “we referred to Gen. Ejoor as Daddy, he was a distinguished elder statesman and if we believe in the thoughts that he had, we will have a great nation, a nation that is peaceful and United.”

“He had all the attributes a man should have; a quality human being who cared for his family and the nation and those of us that lives should emulate the qualities that he had to make our country better”, Okowa said.

His Edo State counterpart, Governor Obaseki, said Ejoor’s spectacular contributions to the unity of Nigeria will continue to be acknowledged.

Obaseki said as a former Military Administrator of Midwest State comprising Delta and Edo States, the deceased deserved to be honoured for erecting structures for future leaders of the two states to build on.

The ceremony was also attended by the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, Service Chiefs, Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, several retired military officers, politicians, captains of industry and chiefs from the Urhobo ethnic nationality attended the burial ceremony.

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Fani-Kayode debunks defection rumours

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Former Nigeria aviation minister and member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Femi Fani-Kayode, has debunked rumours that he has defected to the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC).

“Reports that I said I am “proud of Buhari” and that I have “dumped PDP” and “joined APC” are false,” Fani-Kayode said in a tweet on Friday.

Fani-Kayode, a staunch critic of the President Muhammadu Buhari led government, said he only commended the president for ensuring the release of Zainab Aliyu from Saudi Arabia prison.

Aliyu was detained in Saudi Arabia for allegedly trafficking banned drug substances. She would have been killed if found guilty of the crime according to Saudi Arabia laws but was released after the intervention of the Nigerian government.

Fani-Kayode, however, said his commendation was misinterpreted as a sign of leaving the PDP for the APC.

“I commended Buhari for getting the young lady (Zainab Aliyu) in Saudi Arabia out of prison but it stops there.”

The former aviation minister under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, however, said, “those that are peddling such vile mendacities and perfidious falsehood are insane.”

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Man City override Man Utd as most valuable Premier League club

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Manchester City has overtaken Manchester United as the Premier League’s most valuable club, with higher wages and lower profits hurting the Old Trafford powerhouse, according to a football finance survey published Friday.

Premier League champions City is valued at £2.364 billion ($3.07 billion) in 2017/18, up £385 million, according to the study by the University of Liverpool’s Centre for Sports Business, while United are valued at £2.087 billion, down £376 million.

The report said United still had the highest revenue of any club in the Premier League but increased costs meant they relinquished top spot in the valuation table.

The pair are the only two Premier League clubs valued at more than £2 billion.

“Manchester City’s value increased in 2018 due to a combination of higher revenue and lower wages,” the Liverpool University report said.

“The ownership model of Sheikh Mansour which effectively means that the club is debt-free means that there are no loan interest costs and no dividends are paid to shareholders either.

“Critics of Manchester City will point out that it is part of a multi-club ownership model and that there are commercial deals with related parties which might not apply should the club be sold and therefore a prospective owner might not be willing to pay this value.”

The value of Premier League clubs decreased by 1.6 percent overall to £14.7 billion, with the ‘Big Six’ of United, City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs making up £10.9 billion — 74 percent of the total.

The gap between the bottom club in the Big Six and the next highest valuation is now nearly £1 billion.

Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs show major increases, and Arsenal and Leicester show large falls due to non-participation in the Champions League.

The report’s model takes into consideration revenue, profits, non-recurring costs, average profits on player sales over a three-year period, net assets, wage control and proportion of seats sold.

United came third behind Real Madrid and Barcelona in Deloitte’s list of the world’s richest clubs published in January, which ranks clubs according to how much revenue they earn.

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More reasons why Nigeria must increase funding to the agricultural sector

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In the last few years, the Nigerian agricultural sector has not received adequate funding to catalyze a transformative growth in the sector. Recently, the amount to the sector as a percentage of the total budget revolves around 2 percent and less. Meanwhile, it has been widely noted that public spending in the agricultural sector is a recipe for growth and development of the sector and critical to achieving the objective of food security and job creation in the country. This article is centering on the 2019 budget for the Agricultural sector and making a case for increased investment for the sector.

The 2019 budget proposal of 8.8 trillionNaira was presented to the joint session of the National Assembly on December 19, 2018with the allocation of 137.9 billionNaira to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and 46 other MDAs under her. This amount allocated to the agricultural sector is approximately 1.6 percent of the total budget. It is against this background that I argue that the public spending in the agricultural sector is low and should be increased. It has been severally stated that the agricultural sector is the key driver of the Nigerian economy contributing between 22% to 26% to GDP and employing over 40% of the population and almost 90% in rural area. Most importantly, fresh demands have been placed on agriculture as part of the government’s vision of diversifying the economy away from oil.

For a sector with such humongous responsibilities, there is the need for adequate resource allocation for the achievement of her objectives. Firstly, the entire budget process has become a yearly ritual that follows the same pattern with little consideration for the recommendations of stakeholders on improvement. For example, the presentation of the budget proposal was very late in the year when official activities were winding down and the general elections became the priority of members of the National Assembly. Since the elections has come and gone, members of the National Assembly should expedite action in passing the budget in view of the fact that some capital appropriations will affect farmers as the raining season is setting in. It must be noted that the late passage of the budget has its negative toll on the implementation of the capital projects. Going forward, it would be good if the Budget office of the federation can start the budget process of a succeeding year at the beginning of the preceding year. For example, the budget process for 2020 should begin now.

Looking at the allocation to the agricultural sector, the amount 137.9 billion Naira (1.6%) percent falls short of the CAADP benchmark. You would recall that in 2014 at Malabo, African Heads of State signed to commit at least 10 percent of their national budget to the agricultural sector. Unfortunately, Nigeria has been trailing with regards to fulfilling this commitment. For the past 5 years or more, the budget to the agricultural sector have not exceeded 2 percent. Empirical evidences have shown that the greater the resources committed, the greater the output. This implies that huge investment results to huge outputs. Nevertheless, recent emphasis is on the quality of investments rather than the quantity of investment as well as how the investment will affect the targeted beneficiaries.

In the 2019 Agriculture budget, the capital expenditure 80.3 billion equals to 58% of the budget while the recurrent expenditure 57.7 billion is 42%. In as much as this looks like a plus as capital is higher than recurrent, and based on the assumption that more capital spending translates to higher contribution to the economy in terms of jobs and product output, most of the capital line items are ongoing projects related surfacing of some kilometers of roads and the development of various crop value chain. However, some of the line items will need further explanation for citizens to understand. For example, the line item ERGP30105281, titled Green Alternative Implementation which is an ongoing project of 155,182,587 Naira will need further explanation and rationality for the amount. This is because the Green Alternative is the same as the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP), which is being implemented and every activity in the sector is geared towards achieving the APP, so what is the rationale for spending funds to implement the APP except if it has a different meaning.

Also, it was noted that some capital project appropriated for do not have stated locations to expedite transparency and effective monitoring and evaluation. It is important that Irrigation, dam and water projects in the budget must have location. For instance, about 8 billion Naira is budgeted for Rural roads and Water Sanitation (ERGP5105180), however, there was no further information regarding the locations and length of road that would be constructed with the fund.

Another important thing to note is that out of the 137.9 billion, about 64.1 billion (46%) is allocated for the main Ministry headquarters in Abuja while the over 40 agencies under her, including the 3 Universities of Agriculture shares 73.8 billion (54%). Although the ratio has improved compared to what it used to, many stakeholders still think that the implementing agencies still need more funds owing the fact that the Ministry headquarters roles is fundamentally regulatory and supervision. Meanwhile, it appears that the other MDAs have not learnt to create quality capital projects, a careful perusal of some of the line items of the MDAs under the Ministry of Agriculture shows high level of repetition of projects proposed in previous years. We expect that research institutions should have innovative proposals on developing new varieties and transferring current technologies to farmers. It would be important for the Civil Society searchlight to shine on them too.

Looking back over the years, budget performance has been very poor especially in the release of funds to carry out implementation, only about 20% of the capital budget is being release and almost 100% of recurrent expenditure is used. This means that the salaries and emoluments paid to staff does not match their outputs. It is like having a fully equipped factory that produces at 20% capacity, obviously running at a loss but the manager still finds a way to pay everyone their salaries. This is not a sustainable way to run a system, one day the system will definitely collapse.

By and large, I think the budget document has tremendously transformed in terms of quality with less frivolous items and repetitions. What will matter for us now for the National Assembly to expedite action and pass the budget on time so that implementation can commence. Stakeholders will also want to see and improved budget performance in 2019.

Aguiyi is Associate Program Officer-Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa

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How not to play ‘God’ in service to the people – Ibikunle Amosun

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When Senator Ibikunle Amosun took the reins of government in Ogun State, having won election on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), it was an ascension celebrated by the elite within and beyond the confines of the state. So widespread was the celebration that his ilk in the accounting profession specially celebrated the feat.

The word in many quarters at the time was that a thoroughbred professional and visionary had been put in the saddle. And not a few looked forward with bated breath to what he would do differently.

Amosun, a chartered accountant with a Masters in International Finance, had first been elected as the senator representing Ogun Central Senatorial District in 2003 on the platform of now defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP). After a failed attempt for the governorship in 2007 on the platform of ANPP, by 2011, he had morphed into a member of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and enamoured the likes of former Governor Olusegun Osoba and a few other power brokers. Of course, like a beautiful bride, he soon waltzed to Government House.

Like the essential Nigerian politician out to achieve his ambition by all means, Amosun had sojourned through virtually all parties alive at the time just to see his dream come to fruition. From ANPP, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) to ACN, he romanced with tact. He formed alliances and had friends of convenience. And unknown to many, alongside the newly elected governor of the state, Dapo Abiodun, he once was in the same camp with former governor, Gbenga Daniel.

Beyond election blues, however, on assumption of office in 2011, Amosun moved to bridge gaps – gaps that his emergence had created across the state and obvious gaps in the development and infrastructure landscape.

Not only did he reach out to mend fences across board, his administration also began to make giant stride in different sectors. He began transforming the state with his focus on development of infrastructure. New road networks sprang up just as old ones got expanded. Education and job creation were also top on his agenda.

Leveraging Ogun’s proximity to and with the rising cost of living and doing business in Lagos, he made conscious efforts to position the state as an alternative to Lagos State in investment calculations. Within the first three years of his administration, he was said to have attracted over 100 companies to the state.

Amosun created a ‘New City’ in Ogun State, which cuts across the three local council areas of Ogun Central Senatorial District, namely Obafemi/Owode, Ifo, and Ewekoro. He turned most parts of the state into construction sites, what with such infrastructure development in border communities such as Arepo, Ibafo, among others.

In an attempt to improve transportation and commerce in the state, he signed a N1.2 billion Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a Chinese company for the construction of a rail system. Upon re-election in 2015, now on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Amosun continued in his industrialisation drive with the construction of airport and aggressive rail transportation project, all with a view to boosting commerce.

Though a number of the projects are not near completion, and most Ogun residents find it difficult to relate with the advantages of Amosun’s development efforts yet other than for political expedience, his supporters share a different view.

Speaking of Amosun stride’s, one of his fans said, “irrespective of political leaning, citizens and visitors to the state agree that the governor has, in the last eight years, delivered an expansive transformation agenda that has seen the state capital and several other cities and major towns in the three Senatorial zones greatly remodeled.”

According to him, “From being one of the states with high notoriety for armed robbery, kidnapping, ritual killings and other sundry crimes, Ogun has been largely transformed under Amosun’s watch into a peaceful state where citizens’ safety and protection of business facilities are great priorities of government. That Ogun has become peaceful today owes largely to an effective governance style that promotes selfless and unbiased commitment to all segments of the state, fairness in deployment of state resources and a clear infrastructure re-modeling mission blueprint.”

Amosun simplified policies on investment-generation and the ease of doing business, hence the massive interest of industries to make it their home. A Commonwealth Forum later validated his claim when it disclosed that the state had 75 per cent of the Foreign Direct Investment that came into the country.

As he noted, “If any state or nation is going to develop, it must be private sector-driven; it must be in active support of the private sector. As a government, all that we have been striving to do is to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.”

During the recent electioneering campaign, Amosun further declared that his administration has developed a 50-year plan for the sustainable development of the state. He said the plan was one of the reasons why his government approached the World Bank for a $350 million grant at one per cent interest rate and a five-year moratorium. The loan is to impact largely on the master plan and cover majorly education and infrastructure, among other areas.

“Before we came in, there was Ogun State master plan but that one which covers about 30 years ended and what we did was to invite some development partners including World Bank, GIZ and we did what we called sustainable development plan. We have envisioned where we want Ogun State to be in the immediate, short term, medium term and long term, and that is why the World Bank is collaborating with us. And the next government will reap massively from this.”

But Amosun finished his race and still wanted to continue by other means. He anointed Adekunle Akinlade. The stakeholders, however, felt otherwise. Party elders in the state and indeed the party hierarchy at the national level, rebuffed the imposition and queued behind the alternative, Dapo Abiodun. It was a comedy of errors. Abiodun was a former ally of Amosun now turned foe. And interestingly, the arrowhead of the rebellion against Amosun’s succession plan was his former sponsor and greatest fan, former governor Osoba, who in the run-up to the gubernatorial election, had declared that he regretted sponsoring Amosun to become the governor of the state.

But Amosun felt insulated in his own reasoning. His choice of Akinlade was in furtherance of the principle of equity, justice and fair play. He wanted all the ethnic groupings in the state the opportunity to taste power. And so, overall, his was a question of good intention but poor execution of vision. He arrogated too much to himself and didn’t engage properly before springing his candidate on the people, hence the resistance.

Since the creation of Ogun State, the Yewa-Awori people of Ogun West have yet to produce a governor, a situation that has bred rancour and feeling of marginalisation. To placate the people in that axis and also help to address whatever infrastructural deficit they might have suffered over the years, Amosun magisterially settled for Akinlade.

He had reasoned that Akinlade’s ascendance would balance the political scales. But party bigwigs in APC kicked against it, stating their preference for Abiodun who hails from Iperu-Remo in Ogun East zone.

Since losing out with his succession plan and succeeding with his bid to return to the Senate, Amosun is said to be very sober. He has directed members of the Allied People’s Movement (APM), a party he formed after the acrimonious primaries, to go back to APC. But it is not going to happen so fast. There is resistance from some leaders of APC who say Amosun took too far his plot to play God.

Has Amosun betrayed the goodwill he had in the state when he overreached himself and attempted to hold together both the present and the future? Aside his suspension by the party, what other consequences await him from his people? Meanwhile,the backlash has begun. Only recently, Amosun employed over 1,000 persons and promoted 5,000 government workers. But that action has been greeted with muffled protests. In fact, a competent source, who is close to the governor-elect, said most of Amosun’s latest actions would be reversed or scrutinized. He also said some of his elephant projects may be discontinued.

All said, Amosun is not a newcomer in politics. He is also not strange to epic political battles. He’s been around for long. He has only suffered a tactical set-back. It is now left for him to deploy his robust arsenal, including his personal relationship with President Buhari to relaunch himself into reckoning in Ogun politics. For now, he seems down but not out.

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Lil Wayne Reveals His Pick For The GOAT & It’s Not Himself

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Lil Wayne reveals the Greatest of All Time as puts Jay Z above himself .

When some rappers are asked about who they genuinely believe is the greatest of all time, they’ll deliver an obvious choice: themselves. In the past, Lil Wayne has made sure that everybody knows that he believes he’s up there with the best of them because, let’s be honest, he is. When his Bumbu video first aired last year, he established that fact by hanging with a bunch of goats and referring to himself as the GOAT. Now that he’s been partnered with the alcohol brand for over a year, he felt like sharing the same video and offering some additional thoughts on who might actually be better than him.
Tunechi surely knows that he’s possibly the best rapper alive but he decided to show some love to another artist who could legitimately hold that crown: Jay-Z. Asking his loyal following who their favourite rapper of all time is, he came clean on his own pick, revealing that Hov is on top of everybody else. As you would expect, the comments section is full of fans reminding Weezy that he’s the best. Honourable mentions include Tupac, Ice Cube, Nas, The Notorious B.I.G, and others in the comments.
This week, Wayne started to tease what many believe could be his next album, posting a coffin emoji and bringing us back to the initial announcement of his Funeral LP. It was also revealed that he will be featured on Chris Brown’s upcoming album Indigo. Who is your favourite between Jay-Z and Lil Wayne?
 

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1 yr later…@originalbumbu🐐 Who’s the GOAT to you? I got Jay! Drop names in my komments⚰

A post shared by Lil Wayne (@liltunechi) on May 1, 2019 at 5:41pm PDT

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Justin Bieber Calls Out Eminem For Lil Pump & Lil Xan Disses

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Justin Bieber says he likes Eminem’s flow but doesn’t agree with his criticism of new rappers.

Eminem is widely viewed as one of the greatest of all time and usually, when somebody decides to criticize him, they’re bound to get a few bars on Marshall’s next project. It’s unclear when (or if) Eminem is thinking of dropping his next album but after this, Justin Bieber may see his name included in some diss lyrics.

The pop star took to Instagram to voice his opinion on Slim Shady, telling fans that he’s a fan of his music but not of how he’s spoken about newer rappers. Posting a screenshot of himself listening to “The Ringer” off of Kamikaze, Biebs decided to put in his two cents. “I just like Em’s flow but don’t like that he’s dissing new rappers I like the new generation of rap he just doesn’t understand it.”

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In the song, Eminem calls out a few rappers by name, like Lil Xan and Lil Pump. It quickly became one of the more popular songs from the album because of the topics Em explored, dissing mumble rap to shreds. Bieber has already been mentioned in Em’s lyrics and he may earn himself another mention after this.

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