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Mohammed Bello Adoke chronicles years in public service

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Former Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke Bello: writesabout  his years as attorney-general of the Federation

 

By Reuben Abati

The Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Administration in Nigeria (2010 – 2015) has generated quite a number of post-tenure publications which significantly, in varying degrees of articulation, veracity and delivery shed light on key developments during that momentous phase in Nigerian politics. The books under reference offer accounts of individual experiences or outsider perspectives, but altogether, they stand out as remarkable contributions to the growth of the bibliography on governance, politics, democracy and sociology in Nigeria. They include, in this particular regard, Reno Omokri, Facts vs. Fiction: The Story of the Jonathan Years, Chibok, 2015 and the Conspiracies (2017); Olusegun Adeniyi, Against the Run of Play: How an incumbent President was Defeated in Nigeria (2017); Bolaji Abdullahi, On A Platter of Gold (2017);Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: The Story behind the Headlines (2018)and Goodluck Jonathan, My Transition Hours (2018).

There is in addition a number of pamphlets, scores of hack writing (which I do not consider worthy of mention) and essays in academic journals around the world which subject the Jonathan Years to scrutiny. The review of a President’s tenure, or the telling of stories by both insiders and outsiders in a government ultimately provide hitherto unavailable information, beam a searchlight on history and provide a platform for engaging specific questions of governance and accountability. That this tradition, taken for granted in advanced democracies is beginning to gain ground in Nigeria, is a welcome development. The outpouring of books on the Jonathan administration in Nigeria from both participants and observers alike should be understandable given the historic and controversial circumstances of that administration and its exit.

Mohammed Bello Adoke’s book Burden of Service

The latest contribution in this regard is the publication of Mohammed Bello Adoke’s Burden of Service: Reminiscences of Nigeria’s former Attorney-General (London/New York: Clink Street, 2019), 270 pp.The book is due for official release on September 16/24, but copies are already in circulation through Amazon.com internationally and locally, through Roving Heights Books in Lagos. It is a semi-autobiographical book, a reflection by Adoke on his role as Attorney General and Minister of Justice (2010 – 2015) during the Jonathan administration, his take on his own legacies in that role and his ideas about the reform of the justice administration system as well as governance in Nigeria. In this book, Mohammed Adoke also practically writes back, and I use that term advisedly, in relation to the major issue that seems to have hovered around his service to Nigeria, namely his role in the controversial OPL 245 dealings, ordinarily known as the Malabu Scandal. In Burden of Service, Adoke tells his own side of the story in a far more comprehensive and detailed manner than he has done hitherto. He pleads his innocence, and accentuates his undiluted commitment to Nigeria’s national interest contrary to the yet unproven allegations against him.

In Burden of Service, Adoke tells his own side of the story in a far more comprehensive and detailed manner than he has done hitherto. He pleads his innocence, and accentuates his undiluted commitment to Nigeria’s national interest contrary to the yet unproven allegations against him.

When the Buhari administration assumed office in 2015, it reminded Nigerians that the new government was determined to take measures to strengthen the Nigerian economy, fight corruption and address the menace of insecurity in the country. Exactly as promised, the government reinvigorated the war against corruption as it launched an onslaught on persons who had served in the Jonathan administration. It was in this context that Mohammed Adoke’s name was mentioned in connection with the probe into the management of the dispute over Oil Prospecting License 245 (OPL 245), one of Nigeria’s most fertile and enormously endowed oil fields, which had been in dispute from the Obasanjo administration to that of Jonathan. The state’s allegation was that national interest had been subverted on the altar of personal gains. Adoke went to court in Nigeria to argue against charges that he had betrayed his country and to insist that the state was out to witch-hunt him, whereas he had done no wrong.

In 2018, the Federal High Court, Abuja presided over by Honourable Justice Binta Nyako ruled that insofar as Adoke was carrying out the lawful directives/approvals of the President acting in accordance with his executive powers under Section 5 of the Constitution, he could not be held personally liable for his role in the implementation of the OPL 245 Settlement Agreement of 2011 and therefore had no case to answer. Adoke kept explaining his own side of the story in newspaper interviews and comments. But he remains in exile ostensibly out of fear for his life. After he left office, he proceeded to the Netherlands to study for a degree leading to the award of an Advanced LLM in Public International Law at the prestigious University of Leiden. While he was on that programme, a group of international investigators, under a Mutual Legal Assistance framework, working with the Nigerian authorities kept him under watch as a result of all the allegations made against him by the authorities in Nigeria. He felt haunted.

He tells us in the Introduction to this book that as Christmas 2016 approached, he thought of ending it all. “Being hunted for what I did not do felt like a death sentence on its own. It is time to force my exit from this world, I told myself, …Death, rather than life, seemed very attractive to me now…. (But) then I came to my senses” (p. 1). In other words, he eventually changed his mind and refused to commit suicide. He decided that rather than help his traducers to get away with negative stories about him, he would live to tell his own story by himself. This is the motivation for this book. Adoke submits that public service comes with a burden, a burden he understands and is willing to carry no matter the odds. “I did my best for my country”, he declares. This book, Burden of Service is the product of that resolve, a kind of cathartic, ameliorative therapy; that is: his conviction that whereas public service may come as a burden, and there may be persecution designed by traducers, telling the truth heals all wounds and the truth invariably outdistances and exposes falsehood.

For readers who may be in a hurry to read Adoke’s side of this story with regard to OPL 245, see Part II of the book, devoted fully to “The OPL 245 Conundrum” at Chapter Six, appropriately titled: “The Facts of the Matter” (pp. 53 – 67); Chapter Seven: “The Witch-Hunt” (pp .68-78); Chapter Eight: “The Witch-Hunters” (pp. 79-87), and Chapter Nine: “The Mischief” (pp. 88-102). In these chapters, Mohammed Adoke lays bare the manner and details of his travails. He talks about his role in the OPL 245 Settlement Agreement, and the role played by a certain Mohammed Sani Abacha and his collaborators, or rather the Abacha family, the Obasanjo government, arbitral proceedings leading to a Settlement Agreement, the role of the Dutch and the Italians, his harassment by the Nigerian authorities – raids on his houses and the home of his brother, the destruction of his practice, and the hostility towards him by security operatives and others. In Chapter Eight, he identifies those he calls the “witch-hunters”. This is a chapter that should be read by the EFCC as an organization, Senator Ali Ndume, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Abachas and someone Adoke refers to as a “diminutive lawyer… who is a darling of the Nigerian media.” In Chapter Nine, Adoke says he seeks to “ask pertinent questions and set the records straight.” This Chapter is essentially a response to all the charges levelled against him by Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). In Chapter Ten, Adoke writes about “My Vindication”. He says: “I have won my case against the Federal Government in court…not a dime has been traced to me” (p.113). Thus, Adoke’s book is in these parts, lawyerly; it reads in part like a summary of evidence and a brief of argument.

But this is not a book entirely about self-advocacy, OPL 245 and allegations of fraud and bribery. Adoke uses the book to give an account of his stewardship as Nigeria’s Chief Law Officer – beyond the controversies. But before he does so, he takes us, very early in the book, on a journey to see how he emerged as Attorney General and Minister of Justice, through a call of destiny –what he calls “a missed opportunity” at first and then in Chapter Two, “The Appointment”. And in Chapter Three, “The Baptism”. In Chapters Four and Five, in a strictly autobiographical tone, he offers us a glimpse into the journey of his life, from humble beginnings to the ascending heights of senior advocate and public life. Adoke calls himself “The Boy From Nagazi (p. 39)”. Nagazi is an Okene village in Kogi State in Nigeria’s North Central region. Ethnically, the author is of the Ebirra ethnic stock, one of Nigeria’s many ethnic minorities. Adoke tells quite a bit of his personal and family story in a humble tone and with details that many young persons will find motivational.

Students of recent Nigerian history would perhaps be more interested in Part III of the book which deals with major highlights of the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan administration, specifically the internal controversies within the government and the PDP, the politics of Jonathan’s interest in a second term in office, the 2015 Presidential election and Jonathan’s transition out of power. Chapter Twelve is titled “The Buhari Test”, dealing with the same familiar questions that are still in the public domain in Nigeria: “Did Gen. Buhari really obtain a secondary school certificate? Should he be disqualified from participating in the presidential race?” (p. 125). Adoke reports tellingly: “In the fullness of time, though, President Buhari would come to realise and accept the whole truth: that God used me, and two other high-profile Nigerians whom I will not name for confidential reasons, to make sure he was not disqualified by the courts from running in 2015. The two individuals have like me, also suffered indignity in the hands of Buhari and his men. It must be emphasised here, though that I did not oppose the disqualification because I wanted to help Buhari. Rather, I was being faithful to the Constitution”. (p. 126). Subsequently, hawks within the Jonathan Presidency insisted that Buhari should be given the “Pinochet treatment” and be put on trial for his past “misdeeds” in order to stop him from contesting the 2015 Presidential election. President Jonathan rejected that suggestion outright and opposed the idea of playing “bad politics”.

In other post-Jonathan publications, many accounts have been given of how and why President Goodluck Jonathan conceded victory to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. In Chapter Thirteen: “The Historic Concession”, Muhammad Adoke offers what I, as a participant in all of that drama myself, consider the most truthful and authoritative account that has yet been written so far on the matter. Part IV of the book: “The Challenges, The Controversies” is devoted mainly to Adoke’s interventions as Attorney General and Minister of Justice. The issues covered include- “The Impeachment Menace” (Chapter 15) dealing with whether or not the Federal Government should support the plan by the PDP-dominated House of Assembly in Nassarawa state to impeach Tanko Al-Makura (APC) as Governor of Nassarawa State; (2) whether or not the President after declaring a state of emergency in some local governments in the Northern Eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states in May 2013, should have gone ahead to remove the Local Government Chairmen and Governors in the affected States (Chapter 16); (3) the judgment debt scam that the author observed as an established tradition in the Ministry of Justice and how he addressed it (Chapter 17); (4) the Halliburton and Siemens bribery scandals (Chapter 18); (5) the Bakassi Handover (Chapter 19) and a number of other controversies – “Pardon for Alamiyeseigha”; “the Justice Salami Saga”; “The Gulf War Windfall”; “the Azura Power Project”; and “The Oyinlola and Aregbesola Saga”.

In Part V, titled “The Footprints”, Adoke embarks on a bit of “advertisements for myself” to borrow Norman Mailer’s phrase or as Africans would put it, “a lizard-like act of self-congratulation” – if nobody will praise me, I will praise myself! And so he outlines how as Attorney General and Minister of Justice, he functioned strictly as a constitutional purist and defended both the rule of law and the national interest. The specific episodes on which he reflects include the recovery of the Abacha loot, the Ajaokuta Steel Settlement; reforming the justice system, the Evidence Act 2011, the Freedom of information Act 2011; The Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011; the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and other reform laws (2011- 2015). Adoke brings this book to a close in the remaining two chapters by drawing attention, as he looks back and forward, to specific steps that may still need to be taken to strengthen the justice administration and delivery process, and the constitutional framework for Nigeria’s system of government.

Were it possible to insist that every senior public officer must write a book after office, I would insist that this should be a compulsory pre-condition for appointment to office. Adoke remarkably is the first Attorney General and Minister of Justice in Nigeria to give this kind of account, to the best of my knowledge. And it is a refreshing contribution, an even-handed, authoritative, compelling, and well-written account of his stewardship and experience. The controversies and the responses in kind that this book may generate can only further enrich our understanding of what transpired in Nigeria’s recent politics. Burden of Service is packaged like a supermarket, with something in it for every reader. The compelling take-aways for me, are the issues of service, leadership, friendship and loyalty, governance, the rule of law and Nigeria’s peculiar politics, and I am reminded, reading it thematically, of James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership (2017). Whereas Comey, former US FBI Director, had difficulties working with President Donald Trump, Adoke as Nigeria’s Attorney General seems to have had an excellent working relationship with a President Goodluck Jonathan who believed in the rule of law.

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ZENITH BANK REAFFIRMS MARKET LEADERSHIP AS PAT CROSSES N200BILLION MARK

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In a clear show of its resilience and market leadership, Zenith Bank has announced an impressive result for the year ended December 31, 2019, with profit after tax (PAT) of N208.8 billion, achieving the feat as the first Nigerian Bank to cross the N200 billion mark.

According to the bank’s audited financial results for the 2019 financial year released in Lagos on Friday, profit after tax rose by 8% to N208.8 billion from the N193 billion recorded in the previous year.

The Group also recorded a growth in gross earnings of 5% rising to N662.3 billion from N630.3 billion reported in the previous year. This growth was driven by the 29% increase in non-interest income from N179.9 billion in 2018 to N231.1 billion in 2019. Fees on electronic products continues to grow significantly with a 108% Year on Year (YoY) growth from N20.4 billion in 2018 to N42.5 billion in the current year. This is a validation of the bank’s retail transformation strategy which continues to deliver impressive results.

Profit before tax also increased by 5% growing from N232 billion to N243 billion in the current year, arising from topline growth and continued focus on cost optimisation strategies. Cost-to-income ratio moderated from 49.3% to 48.8%.

The drive for cheaper retail deposits coupled with the low interest yield environment helped reduce the cost of funding from 3.1% to 3.0%. However this also affected net interest margin which reduced from 8.9% to 8.2% in the current year due to re-pricing of interest bearing assets. Although returns on equity and assets held steady YoY at 23.8% and 3.4% respectively, the Group still delivered an improved Earnings per Share (EPS) which grew 8% from N6.15 to N6.65 in the current year.

The Group increased its share of the market as it secured increased customer deposits across the corporate and retail space as deposits grew by 15% to close at N4.26 trillion. Total assets also increased by 7% from N5.96 trillion to N6.35 trillion. The Group created new viable risk assets as gross loans grew by 22% from N2.016 trillion to N2.462 trillion. This was executed prudently at a low cost of risk of 1.1% and a significant reduction in the non-performing loan ratio from 4.98% to 4.30%. Prudential ratios such as liquidity and capital adequacy ratios also remained above regulatory thresholds at 57.3% and 22.0% respectively.

In demonstration of its commitment to its shareholders, the bank has announced a proposed final dividend pay-out of N2.50 per share, bringing the total dividend to N2.80 per share.

In 2020, the Group remains strategically positioned to capture the opportunities in the corporate and retail segments, while efficiently managing costs and expanding further its retail franchise employing digital assets and innovation.

Consistent with this superlative performance and in recognition of its track record of excellent performance, Zenith Bank was voted as the Best Commercial Bank in Nigeria 2019 by the World Finance and the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria 2019 by The Banker. The Bank was also recognized as Bank of the Year and Best Bank in Retail Banking at the 2019 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BOFI) Awards, and was ranked as the Best Digital Bank in Nigeria 2019 by Agusto & Co. Most recently, the Bank emerged as the Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the Thisday Awards 2020.

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How Lagos govt flouted its own law in enforcing Okada ban

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On February 3, commuters in Lagos wore long faces as they came to terms with the impact of the state government’s decision to restrict the movement of commercial motorcycles (popularly called Okada) and their tricycle (Keke) counterparts from major roads and highways in the state.

Hundreds of people, stranded at bus stops, were forced to trek long distances in the absence of their usual means of transport.

The Lagos State government on February 1 began the enforcement of the Lagos State Transport Sector Reform Law 2018, banning the use of motorcycles and tricycles on major highways within the state.

What the law says
The Lagos State government, under the administration of former Governor Babatunde Fashola, enacted The Lagos Road Traffic Law in 2012 which, among other things, restricted the operations of commercial motorcycles in at least 492 roads across the state. Section 3(1) of the law stated that ‘No person shall ride, drive, or propel a cart, wheelbarrow, motorcycle or tricycle on any of the routes specified in Schedule II to this law.’

There were protests to the law, followed by a massive crackdownon commercial motorcyclists in the days and weeks that trailed the enactment of the law. However, a few years later, and with another election cycle – the general elections in 2015 – in the horizon, the enforcement of the 2012 law petered out.

In 2018, and in a bid to provide solution to the chaotic transportation system, the Lagos State House of Assembly passed the Transport Sector Reform Bill. The bill harmonised the Vehicle Inspection Office (offences and penalties), traffic offences and penalties, and the Lagos Bus Services Limited among others.

Three weeks later, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode signed the bill into law.

The new law has clear provisions aimed at maintaining sanity on Lagos roads and enhancing the safety of commuters. It also included punishments and fines applicable to various traffic offences.

In Section 15(1), it amended the earlier law thus: “Subject to the provisions of Section 46 of this Law, motorcycles above 200cc engine capacity are exempted from the restriction on the use of motorcycles on the state highways.”

According to Section 46(1) of the law, “As from the commencement of this Law, no person shall ride, drive or propel a motorcycle or tricycle on a major highway within the state.” It further says that any person who violates the law – the passenger is also culpable – is liable on conviction to three imprisonment and his motorcycle or tricycle forfeited to the state government.

What the lawyers say
A Lagos-based human rights lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, said the partial restriction on motorcycles and tricycles in some areas of Lagos state is in accordance with the extant traffic laws of the state.

“The law has been in force and what has just happened is the enforcement of the law,” said Mr Adegboruwa, a senior advocate of Nigeria.

Although the law exempted motorcycles with engine capacity of 200cc (cylinder capacity) and above from restriction, Mr Adegboruwa said there was no part of it that permits hailing bikes.

“In fact, these hailing-bike companies came after the law was promulgated, they are the ones contravening the law, it is not the law that is contravening them,” he said.

Another lawyer, Abdul Mahmud, said if the law as enacted by the Lagos State House of Assembly prevents the state government from implementing restriction around certain motorcycles with 200cc capacity, then there is a problem with the regulation.

“What we have is a state that enacts laws and goes ahead to break its own laws and this act does not show responsibility.”

Mr Mahmud said the traffic laws are very clear and that if one puts a motorcycle on the road, the law provides safety mechanisms such as riding with a helmet, not carrying more than one passenger and others.

He urged the transport unions to approach the courts and challenge the ban.

“It is irresponsible of any state government to ban the means of transport in a mega city like Lagos where the public transport system is almost non-existent.”

Another Lagos-based lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, said the restriction is clearly illegal and constitutes an infringement on the constitution and also an infringement on the rights of the people concerned.

Mr Ogungbeje said since the law provided conditions for exemption, enforcing the law against those that have met the conditions is illegal.

“That restriction is a clear violation of the rights of Nigerians,” he said.

“You cannot restrict people’s freedom of movement. If any law is at conflict with the constitution, that law will be declared null and void according to Section 1, sub-section 3.”

The bike-hailing business
To manoeuvre the law’s specification on the engine capacity of motorcycles allowed on the highways, bike-hailing companies launching in Lagos rolled out their operations with motorcycles above 200 cylinder capacity. The first to arrive was Max.Ng, around 2015, followed by Gokada, Safeboda, and O’Ride.

Ridwan Olalere, the Senior Director of Operations at O’Pay (O’Ride’s parent company), told PREMIUM TIMES that they ensured their riders complied with all government laws as well as traffic laws and all safety precautions.

“Our motorcycles are above 200cc capacity and the riders undergo training for two weeks before they are tested for riding,” Mr Olalere said.

“O’Pay is in conversations with the government and relevant stakeholders. We believe the Lagos State government will make the right decision by supporting businesses that have employed thousands of Nigerians and provided a solution for safe and secure transportation in the city.”

State government reacts
On Gokada’s website, the company states that ‘Unlike regular Okadas, Gokada bikes are all above 200cc. This means they are allowed to travel on all major roads, bridges, and highways.’

But Gboyega Akosile, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, insisted that the government had not violated any part of the law.

“There were individuals that sat down at that time to write that law at that time based on the prevailing circumstance at the time,” said Mr Akosile.

“Based on circumstances that we find ourselves, the government also has a responsibility to make pronouncements especially in the interest of the safety of the people.”

When asked about the section of the law that exempted motorcycles with 200 cylinder capacity and above from the restriction, Mr Akosile said that part of the law was not meant for commercial motorcycles.

“We are not addressing non-commercials, those that use their motorcycles for dispatch are exempted. But commercial motorcycles are not exempted,” he said.

Mr Akosile said the pronouncement was carefully considered by the government with the help of an attorney general who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and other learned colleagues.

“No responsible government will fold its arms and watch a group of people come to Lagos with no means of livelihood than bring in Okada as they are coming in, thousands of them every day.”
Source: Premium Times

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With Buhari approving N268 billion for National Assembly, health, education suffer

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Aside from other unstated allowances that Nigerian federal lawmakers have allocated to themselves, a total of ₦268 billion has been earmarked for the National Assembly in this year’s budget.

This figure covers the legislature’s ₦128 billion recurrent expenditure; ₦100 billion Zonal Intervention/Constituency Projects; ₦1 billion for constitution review; ₦37 billion for the renovation of the National Assembly complex; and N2billion for the construction of National Assembly Library.

An analysis of the budget shows that approximately half of all that Nigeria plans to spend on health this year (₦463.7 billion) will go to the National Assembly. This means that for every ₦2 spent on Nigerians’ healthcare, ₦1 goes to the National Assembly.

It also means that the National Assembly gets about one-third of the total budget of the Ministry of Education (₦706.8 billion). This is the same for the ministry of works and housing which has a ₦343.5 billion budget.

But the legislators’ budget is about twice the money budgetted for each of the ministries of agriculture (₦183.1 billion), power (₦134.9 billion) and transport (₦134 billion) will go to the legislature.

National Assembly against health
Analysis of the 2020 budget by BudgIT shows that a total of ₦463.7 billion (4.37 per cent of this year’s budget) is meant for health. It means about ₦2,300 (or ₦6 per day) is all that has been budgeted for each of the 200 million Nigerians for everything medical in 2020.

Statutorily, the health sector should get more. Nigeria is a signatory to the 2001 Abuja Declaration, an agreement made by Nigeria and 19 other African countries in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, to commit 15 per cent of federal budgets to healthcare. While Botswana, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Togo and Zambia have all met the Abuja target, the closest Nigeria has come was the 5.95 per cent of 2012.

Nonetheless, further examination of this year’s allocation to health shows that 73 per cent of the ₦336.6 billion is for recurrent expenditure as against the ₦59.9 billion for capital projects.

And while these amounts are subject to the finance ministry’s discretionary releases, only the Basic Health Care Funds, BHCF (₦44.5 billion), and the ₦22.7 billion for GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations), both statutory payments, have certainty of being released.

National Assembly against education
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Education for All Global Monitoring Report recommended in 2015 that between 15 and 20 per cent of government spending through national budgets should be for education in developing countries.

But the country’s ₦706.8 billion — which is almost about thrice the NASS budget — allocation to the sector is a paltry 6.6 per cent of this year’s budget.

With the recommended target not met, 69 per cent (₦490.3 billion) of the amount earmarked to the sector is for settling bills, paying of salaries and so on.

That aside, a significant cut of the capital spending of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), which stands at ₦84.7 billion, is for a flurry of controversial projects that have the stamps of lawmakers on them.

The ministry of education will get statutory transfer of ₦131.7 billion. This is split between the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Commission Funds (N111.7billion) and University Fund pegged at ₦20 billion. That total is just N3.7billion more than the N128billion statutory allocation to the National Assembly.

National Assembly against agriculture
The National Assembly’s budget is also double that of the ministry of agriculture and rural development. Agriculture gets ₦183.1 billion, no fraction of which contains statutory funds.

By earmarking this, which is 1.7 per cent of a total budget ₦10.6 trillion, Nigeria again flouted the Maputo Declaration it signed in Mozambique in 2003 that it should give 10 per cent of its budget to agriculture. Were the 10 per cent agreement fulfilled, ₦1 trillion would be for agriculture this year. Nigeria has never complied with the terms of the declaration, two decades on.

Although unlike education and health, recurrent expenditure takes only 32 per cent (₦58.7 billion) of agriculture’s budget. The ministry’s ₦124.4 billion capital allocation has a slew of projects, some of which are for capacity-building programmes that the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) has said are impossible to track and always ended in the pockets of federal lawmakers.

For instance, the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), rather than see to the mitigation of post-harvest loss of crops in Nigeria, would construct “ICT centres” and provide “equipment in selected secondary schools in Lagos,” under the guise of constituency projects. It would repeat this same project three times this year, all at a total cost of ₦768 billion — first for ₦255 million, then ₦256 million and ₦257 million.

National Assembly against works and housing
Like agriculture, this ministry will spend 92 per cent of its budget on capital projects (₦315.6 billion), as against ₦28 billion for recurrent expenditure.

With its total allocation pegged at ₦343.5 billion, it has been found that FERMA, an agency under the works ministry, will get less to maintain federal roads when compared with the ₦37 billion to be used to renovate the National Assembly complex.

Both Godiya Akwashiki and Benjamin Kalu, respective spokespersons of both the Upper and Lower Chambers, on multiple occasions, declined to comment on this. But Bamidele Salam, a member of the House Committee on Works, said in an interview: “I feel this is unjustifiable in any way.”

Also, due to shortage of funds accruing to the ministry, it plans to build only 2383 homes, although the country needs to build 700,000 homes per year to bridge its 17 million housing deficit, as estimated by the World Bank.

National Assembly against transport
The transport ministry has a total budget of ₦134 billion, a large chunk — ₦121.4 billion — of which goes to capital projects. Only ₦12.6 billion (9 per cent) is for its recurrent expenditure.

Scaling this with NASS budget shows that not only will the ministry get exactly half of what the National Assembly will get, it has no allocation for statutory payments.

National Assembly against power
In the face of incessant collapse of the national grid, and various administration’s failed promises to bring stable electricity to the country, ₦134.9 billion is what the government intends to use to try and solve the challenges of power in the country this year. Of this, ₦129.1 billion (96 per cent) is for capital spending.

As it is for transport, apart from its budget being almost half of that of the NASS, the power ministry too has no statutory funds to its name.
Source: Premium Times

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