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THE NATION

Budget won’t be ready before March – Reps

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The leadership of the House of Representatives has urged the citizenry not to expect the final budget in less than three months.

Chairman, House Committee on Media, Abdulrazak Namdas hinted while speaking with journalists in Abuja that the budget may not get to the President at the time he envisaged.

He added that the National Assembly must consider the fine points of the bill and make necessary adjustments that reflect the realities of the constituencies and the nation in general.

According to him, the Green Chamber cannot return the document as it was presented.

“When the president presented his speech on the budget presentation day, he expressed the wish that the budget is approved by January 1st.

“We are saying that we will work faster, since the 2018 Appropriation Bill was brought a little bit earlier, we should also be able to approve the budget a little earlier.

“But I cannot be specific about a date, since we are few weeks to the end of December. This is about 20 siting days. So, if I sit here in the comfort of my office to assure Nigerians that the budget will be passed by 1st of January, you and even them will know it’s not feasible.

“For the budget process, you should be looking at a minimum of three months. We will deliberate on the basic principles of the budget, it will be committed to committees to work on it, meet with MDAs and they now send their report to the Appropriation Committee. All of these processes take time.

“I think people should be more concerned about the National Assembly and the executive coming up with an implementable budget, rather than focusing on a January date.”

Namdas added that the house has put checks in place to forestall incidences of padding in the 2018 budget.

The measure put in place by the Green Chamber, he said, was to ensure that the type of controversies witnessed in the past does not recur.

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THE NATION

NYSC to investigate Finance Minister’s exemption certificate

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The National Youth Service Corps, NYSC said on Monday that it has launched an investigation into an alleged fake exemption certificate in possession of Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun.

The organisation, in a three paragraph statement issued on Monday by its Director, Press and Public Relations, Adeyemi Adenike, confirmed that the minister applied for an exemption certificate from the NYSC.

The statement reads: “Our attention has been drawn to the issue of the alleged forgery of an NYSC Exemption Certificate by the Honorable Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun.

“Checking our records, Mrs. Adeosun did apply for an Exemption Certificate. We shall investigate the origin of the purported Exemption Certificate in question.”

An online publication, Premium Times had reported that the Minister skipped the mandatory one year national service and obtained a forged exemption certificate.

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THE NATION

NNPC kick-starts 7 critical gas projects to support 15GW power generation

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A major stride in the attainment of national energy sufficiency was achieved in Lagos on Mobday with the commencement of technical framing workshop and subsequent project signing ceremony of the seven Critical Gas Development Projects (7CGDP) to deliver about 3.4 billion standard cubic feet of gas per day (bscfd) to bridge the foreseen medium term supply gap by 2020 on an accelerated basis.

The 7CGDP is an integral leg of the gas development strategy designed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to leverage the full potential of gas to meet the target of generating at least 15 gigawatts (GW) of electricity by 2020.

In a presentation at the event, Group Managing Director of the Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru enthused that the projects would not only bridge the projected shortfall in supply upon completion, but would also signal the beginning of the process of closing demand-supply gap in the domestic gas market.

He said NNPC had engaged two World Class Project Management Consultants namely Delta Afrik/Worley Parson & Crestech/Penspen who will work with NPDC and NNPC JVPartners and other stakeholders to achieve set project deliverables. He listed some of the responsibilities of the project consultants to include: working with NNPC and partners to revalidate and carry out relevant technical studies to proposed development plans, provide financial advisory services for project funding/financing strategy and appraise the fiscal requirements for viability and advice on interventions that may be required.

The PMT are also expected to study and recommend fast-track tendering process for fielddevelopment and project implementation, establish realistic cost benchmark(s) for identified projects and develop project schedules and cost estimates for the respective projects among others.

Dr. Baru explained that in addition to the above, the NNPC Project Management groups would strengthen oversight function on the seven (7) critical gas development projects by ensuring prompt decision making and timely approvals in line with international best practices. The NNPC GMD said the Corporation was working closely with other agencies like the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Nigerian Content Monitoring and Development Board (NCMDB), among others, to ensure timely approvals for the project and also ensure that lease renewals requests related to these projects were supported for renewals by relevant agency.

Osagie Okunboe, Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company(SPDC) which is handling three out of the seven projects, pledged the commitment of the company to the successful execution of the 7CGDP, noting that Shell was fully aligned with Nigeria’s gas strategy and aspirations.

Highpoint of the event was the formal execution of agreement for the development of the 6.4 trillion cubic feet unitized gas fields (Samabri-Bisseni, Akri-Oguta, Ubie-Oshi fields by NNPC/Shell and NAOC JV.

The 7CGDP include: development of the 4.3 trillion cubic feet (TCF) Assa North/OhajiSouth field; development of the 6.4 TCF Unitized Gas fields (Samabri-Biseni, Akri-Oguta, Ubie-Oshi and Afuo-Ogbainbri); and the development of 7TCF NPDC’s OML 26,30 &42.Others include: development of 2.2 TCF Shell Petroleum Development Company(SPDC) JV Gas Supply to Brass Fertilizer Company; cluster development of 5 TCF OML13 to support the expansion of Seven Energy Uquo Gas Plant; and the cluster development of 10 TCF Okpokunou/Tuomo West (OML 35& 62).

Meanwhile, the NNPC on Monday provided insight into the fire incident which ravaged parts of the PPMC Depot in Minna, Niger State. Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the 7CGDP launch in Lagos, the GMD said the fire incident which started late Saturday night after the collapse of the floating roof of one of the Petrol storage tanks had since been brought under control.

He thanked members of the neighbouring communities, the security agencies and emergency services for their support and prompt response.

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THE NATION

What Buhari said about Saraki’s Supreme Court victory

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President Muhammadu Buhari says the country’s judicial system, no matter the challenges it faces, is truly working and no one should be allowed to undermine or break it.

The President’ Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement in Abuja on Saturday, said Buhari made the statement while reacting to Friday’s Supreme Court verdict on Senate President Bukola Saraki.

The Supreme Court had, on Friday, set free the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, of charges in the case of false assets declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

President Buhari said: “I have seen many instances where individuals and groups seek the destruction of the judicial institution in the foolish thinking of saving their skin, instead of going through the painstaking process of establishing their innocence.

“In the case of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, I have seen him take the tortuous path of using the judicial process.

“He persevered, and in the end, the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court, says he is not guilty as charged.

“This is what I have done in the three elections in which I was cheated out, before God made it possible for me to come here the fourth time I ran for the office.”

The president said the Senate President’s journey from the lowest to the highest court of the land provided an important example for Nigerians to emulate.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Supreme Court had upheld the Code of Conduct Tribunal’s ruling, clearing Saraki of all 18 count charges bothering on assets declaration.

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