Akinwunmi Ambode,of Lagos state,on Monday presented the Year 2018 Budget proposal of N1.046trillion to the House of Assembly, with a pledge that his administration will make every effort to complete all ongoing projects as well as initiate new ones to consolidate on the development recorded in the last 30 months. Governor Ambode, who christened the 2018 Budget as “Budget of Progress and Development”, said it would be used to consolidate on the achievements recorded in infrastructure, education, transportation/traffic management, security and health sectors. He said the Budget would also focus on mandatory capacity building for civil servants, all teachers in public secondary/primary schools, officers in the health service sector and women & youth empowerment alongside Medium and Small/Micro Size Entrepreneurs (MSMSE’s). Outlining the key components of the budget, Governor Ambode said capital expenditure would gulp N699.082billion while N347.039billion would be dedicated to recurrent expenditure, representing a Capital/Recurrent ratio of 67 percent to 33 percent and a 28.67 percent increase over Y2017 budget. The Governor said that despite the modest achievements recorded in 2017, there was still much work ahead, assuring that Government would not relent in its efforts to give Lagosians the best by way of continuous and efficient service delivery. “Lagos has always been a trailblazer and we must consolidate on the economic gains made so far by initiating people-friendly programmes and projects that will attract more economic improvement in Y2018. “It is our resolve in Y2018 to strive and complete all on-going projects in order to meet their specified completion period and embark on new strategic projects. We intend to improve on our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the face of the dwindling accruable revenue allocation from the Federal Government, sustain our vision on wealth creation and poverty alleviation,” Governor Ambode said. The Governor also listed key projects captured in the 2018 Budget to include the Agege Pen Cinema flyover; alternative routes through Oke-Ira in Eti-Osa to Epe-Lekki Expressway; the 8km regional road to serve as alternative route to connect Victoria Garden City (VGC) with Freedom Road in Lekki Phase I; completion of the on-going reconstruction of Oshodi International Airport Road into a 10-lane road and the BRT Lane from Oshodi to Abule-Egba. On infrastructural renewal, Governor Ambode said his administration remains committed to sustaining the tempo of continuous construction, rehabilitation, upgrading and maintenance of network of roads across the State including those within the boundary areas of Lagos and Ogun States and that the bus reform initiative would be consolidated with the introduction of high and medium capacity buses, construction and completion of bus depots at Oshodi, Anthony, Yaba and many others. He also said the movement of Mile 12 market to Imota had reached an advanced stage and would be completed in good time to pave way for relocation next year, while the 181 Local Government Roads will be commenced as contractors will be mobilized immediately, as well as continuous gridlock resolution, junction improvement, construction of more laybys and advancement of signalization that will improve traffic congestion especially along the Lekki-Epe corridor. In the area of job creation, Governor Ambode said the Government would construct an ICT Focus Incubator Centre in Yaba, commence the development of Imota and Igbonla Light Industrial Park as well as the provision of additional small scale industrial estate at Shala, while the State Employment Trust Fund will disburse more funds to Lagosians to support business and stimulate the economy. Governor Ambode also assured that his administration will vigorously pursue its planned direct intervention in the power value chain towards generating 3,000MW Embedded Power Programme within a three-year plan to achieving 24/7 power supply for the State, stressing that the challenge of inadequate power supply must be resolved for the economy to perform optimally. He said within the 2018 fiscal year, the Government would continue to rekindle its efforts in the area of Tourism, Sports, Arts and Culture as well as embark on some major projects that would ensure that the State emerges as the hub for tourism, sports and entertainment. He listed some of the projects to include completion of the five new Art Theatres; establish a Heritage Centre at the former Federal Presidential State House recently handed over to the State Government; build a world class museum between the former Presidential Lodge and the State House, Marina; fast-track construction of the proposed four new stadia in Igbogbo, Epe, Badagry and Ajeromi Ifelodun (Ajegunle) and complete the on-going Epe and Badagry Marina projects. On Housing, Governor Ambode said that all on-going projects especially those at Gbagada, Igbogbo, Iponri, Igando, Omole Phase I, Sangotedo and Ajara-Badagry would be completed for delivery under the Rent-to-Own policy. While acknowledging the cooperation and support received from Lagosians, members of the Business Community, Professional Bodies, Non-governmental Organizations and the State Civil Servants in years past, the Governor noted that the modest achievements by his administration within a short period couldn’t have been possible without residents who have been paying their taxes willingly and faithfully. Besides, Governor Ambode urged residents to embrace the Public Utility Levy as the Cleaner Lagos Initiative aimed at ensuring a cleaner and healthier environment would commence in 2018. Governor Ambode also commended members of the House of Assembly for their selfless service and support, saying that they have proven themselves to be dynamic and robust lawmakers and partners in progress. Giving a sectoral breakdown at a press briefing in Alausa, Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akinyemi Ashade said General Public Services got N171,623bn, representing 16.41 percent; Public Order and Safety, N46.612bn, representing 4.46; Economic Affairs, N473,866bn, 45.30 percent; Environmental Protection, N54,582bn, representing 5.22percent while Housing and Community Amenities got N59,904bn, representing 5.73 percent. Ashade also told journalists that Health sector got N92.676billion, representing 8.86percent; Recreation, Culture and Religion got N12.511billion, representing 1.20 percent; Education got N126.302billion representing 12.07percent, while Social Protection got N8.042billion representing 0.77percent. Receiving the budget, Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon Mudashiru Obasa commended Governor Ambode for faithfully executing the year 2017 budget, saying the positive impact of such had been felt across the State with various projects such as the Abule Egba, Ajah and Pen Cinema Flyovers, among other numerous projects in various sectors. Obasa, who specifically lauded the fact that the 2018 budget estimate had provision for continuous infrastructural development in various sectors such as transport, security, environment, housing, health and capacity building for all public servants including teachers and health workers, however assured that the House would scrutinize it and ensure that the budget delivered on its promises to stimulate the economy of the State by focusing on infrastructure development, delivering inclusive growth and prioritizing the welfare of all Lagosians. The event was attended by dignitaries in the State including members of the State Executive Council led by the Deputy Governor, Dr Idiat Adebule, former Speakers of the Lagos State House of Assembly, members of the National Assembly from Lagos State, former Deputy Governors of the State, party chieftains, traditional rulers, religious leaders, among others.
INEC registers 23 new political parties, extends CVR to Aug. 31
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday announced the registration of 23 new political parties, raising the number of registered parties in Nigeria to 91.
The Commission in a statement issued by Mohammed Haruna, its National Commissioner and Member, Voter Education and Publicity Committee, in Abuja stated that the registration was one of the decisions taken at its regular meeting held on Tuesday.
The Commission said it received 144 applications from political associations seeking registration as political parties.
“After a rigorous process of evaluation in accordance with the Constitution and Electoral Act which included assessment of the constitutions and manifestos of the intending parties and verification of membership of their executive committees and offices, the 23 associations met all the requirements and so have been registered as political parties.
“This brings the number of political parties to 91 and will be the last round of registration of parties until after the general elections on 16 Feb. 2019.
“This suspension is in line with Section 78 (1) of the Electoral Act, which requires all applications for registration as political party to be concluded latest six months to a general election.”
The Commission added that the new parties would receive their Certificate of Registration on Thursday at its headquarters.
The new parties are Advanced Alliance Party (AAP), Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP), African Action Congress (AAC), Alliance for a United Nigeria (AUN),
Alliance of Social Democrats (ASD), Alliance National Party (ANP) and Allied People’s Movement (APM).
Also registered were Alternative Party of Nigeria (APN), Change Nigeria Party (CNP), Congress Of Patriots (COP), Liberation Movement (LM), Movement for Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD), Nigeria Community Movement Party (NCMP), Nigeria for Democracy (NFD) and Peoples Coalition Party (PCP)
Others are Reform and Advancement Party (RAP), Save Nigeria Congress (SNC), United Patriots (UP ), United Peoples Congress (UPC), We The People Nigeria (WTPN) , YES Electorates Solidarity (YES), Youth Party (YP), and Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).
The Commission also approved the extension of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) to Aug. 31 from Aug. 17 it had earlier announced.
Recall that a civil Society Organisation on Wednesday, Aug. 8, had urged INEC to extend the deadline for CVR to enable more Nigerians to register.
The Commission said it decided to extend the exercise which commenced on April 27, 2017, truly continuous for the first time by opening permanent registration centres in all 774 Local Government offices and 672 other centres.
It said the decision was to ensure that all-year round, Nigerians who turned 18 years would have the opportunity to register.
“Consequently, the current CVR has been going on for 16 months. As at 11th August 2018, the Commission has registered an additional 12, 139,061 new voters.”
It said that in order to have enough time to clean up the provisional register and print the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) in good time for the elections, it decided to suspend the exercise on Aug. 17 to resume after the elections.
It however noted that many Nigerians had appealed for the extension of the exercise and as a result the decision to extend the CVR to Aug. 31 was taken.
“The exercise will continue in all the designated registration centres every day, including weekends, but excluding public holidays, between 9a.m. and 5p.m.
“The Commission wishes to inform the public that the on-going collection of PVCs will not end with the exercise. Collection of PVCs will continue until close to the general elections. ”
The Commission said that it would issue Notice of Election for 2019 general elections on Friday, Aug. 17, as “the first of 14 activities in the timetable in accordance with Section 30 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
The issuance of notice will kick-start the countdown to the 2019 general elections, which timetable was issued on Jan. 9, the Commission stated.
NUJ, MURIC, others demand immediate release of Premium Times reporter
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC have asked the police to release Samuel Ogundipe, a Premium Times reporter, with immediate effect.
The police arrested Ogundipe on Tuesday over a report the organisation published on the sack of Lawal Daura, former director-general of the Department of State Services (DSS).
Copies of the letter Ibrahim Idris, inspector-general of police, wrote to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on the interrogation of Daura were obtained by the media.
The police had reportedly asked Ogundipe to disclose how he obtained the letter used for a story but the journalist declined in line with the ethics of the profession.
In a statement, NUJ lamented the frequent harassment of journalists by security agencies.
“The Nigeria Union of Journalists condemns in the strongest terms the arrest and detention of Premium Times Reporter, Samuel Ogundipe today by the police and his detention at the facility of the Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS in Abuja,” the statement read.
“Samuel Ogundipe was arrested for reporting on the report sent to the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbanjo by the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris on the sacked and detained DG of SSS, Malam Lawal Daura.
“The NUJ is horrified by the constant harassment and molestation of journalists by the police and other agents of the state and requests that such should abate forthwith.
“It should be noted that confidentiality of sources is necessary for good journalism to flourish and journalists should not be coerced into revealing such sources.
“We call for the immediate and unconditional release of Samuel Ogundipe and an end to all forms of impunity against the media.”
Also, MURIC, in a statement by its director, Ishaq Akintola, said “We strongly condemn any attempt to coerce journalists performing their legitimate duties. The police know the rules. The Fourth Estate of the Realm deserves a conducive atmosphere to carry out its daily routine of informing and educating the people about government’s activities.
“The impression must not be created that we are in a police state. A Gestapo-style intimidation of journalists stifles freedom of expression. The police can still carry out its duties in a professional manner without curtailing freedom of movement and without undermining freedom of speech. Democracy comes under threat when reporters work in an atmosphere of siege.
“We therefore demand the immediate release of Samuel Ogundipe and an apology for the manhandling of the Editor-in-Chief of Premium Times.”
Senators sue AGF, DSS, police for alleged plot to remove Saraki
Two lawmakers, Senator Rafiu Adebayo and Senator Isa Misau, have sued the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the police, the Department of State Services, the Senate and seven others in order to stop the attempts to remove Senate President Bukola Saraki.
Senators Adebayo and Misau, who are supporters of Saraki, instituted the fresh court action marked FHC/ABJ/CS/872/2018 before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Monday.
Other defendants in the suit are: the majority and deputy majority leaders of the Senate, the Clerk of the Senate, the Deputy Clerk of the Senate, the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President and the Deputy Minority Leader.
In the originating summons filed on their behalf by Mahmud Magaji (SAN), the plaintiffs want the Federal High Court to determine whether in view of the provisions of Section 50(1) (a) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution, Saraki, who defected to another political party as a result of the division in his former party, can be made to vacate his office other than in accordance with Section 50 of the constitution.
Adebayo and Misau, who represent Kwara South and Bauchi Central senatorial districts respectively, also want the court to determine whether Saraki can be compelled to vacate his office on the grounds that he is not a member of the political party with a majority of senators in the Senate in view of the combined reading of Section 50 of the constitution and Order 3 Rule 8 of the Senate Standing Orders.
The court was also urged to determine whether the Senate President could be said to have vacated his office by virtue of Section 50(2) of the constitution when he had not ceased to be a member of the Senate or the Senate dissolved.
In a motion on notice filed along with the originating summons, the plaintiffs prayed the court for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining all the defendants (except the Senate, Senate President and Deputy Senate President) jointly and severally either by themselves, their agents, servants and privies from unlawfully removing the Senate President pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
They also prayed the court for another order of interlocutory injunction restraining the AGF and the Inspector-General of Police from unlawfully interfering with the lawful legislative duties of the Senate President pending the hearing and determination of their originating summons.
Besides, the plaintiffs asked for an order of interlocutory injunction stopping the IG and the DSS from harassing, intimidating, arresting or detaining the President of the Senate in respect of the lawful exercise of his duties pursuant to Section 50(1) of the constitution and another order directing parties in the case to maintain status quo pending the determination of the substantive matter.
The motion was predicated on seven grounds amongst which were that the agents of the IG and DSS had taken steps to flagrantly breach the provisions of Section 50 by employing their agents to disrupt the plenary of the Senate without recourse to the said provisions.
Another grounds were that the constitutional provision of removal of the Senate President does not empower the AGF, police and DSS to unlawfully interfere with the legislative duties of the Senate by causing a blockade at the premises of the National Assembly complex or using their agents to disrupt the lawful duties of the Senate.
In a 13-paragraph affidavit in support of the motion on notice and deposed to by Senator Isah Misau, he averred that the Senate was a body recognised and established by the 1999 Constitution vested with powers of making laws for the good governance and well-being of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The deponent averred that the Senate held a plenary sitting between July 24 and 27 and that it was presided over by its President and that at the end of the sitting members adjourned till September 25.
Misau claimed that the All Progressives Congress as a platform for the Senate President had been bedevilled by crises resulting in divisions and factionalisation at the federal, state and local government levels.
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