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PDP Reps in protest as APC members talk down 2018 budget

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Debate on the 2018 budget which commenced Tuesday in the House of Representatives failed to galvanize any significant support across the two major parties as it was characterized by complaints over non-implementation of 2017 appropriation act and concerns of violation of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) staged a subtle protest by vacating the minority seats at the front roll. Most members of the party also refused to make contributions on the budget except Dennis Agbo (PDP, Enugu).

While presenting the budget for consideration, the Leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos) appealed to the members to overlook the ‘minor’ issues and focus on the bigger issues of economic diversification and reflating of the economy.

Noting that he has some reservations about the budget estimates submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 7, Gbajabiamila however urged his colleagues to consider the bill and make relevant suggestions.

He said: “The revenue projection is audacious but lofty. The budget as it stands is in our lap; I expect some criticism, but no budget anywhere in the world is perfect same with this one.

“I have one or two reservations about the budget, such as the dedication of about 22% of our budget to debt servicing; however as we look at some of the negative aspect of the budget, let us not lose sight of the many positives and the bigger picture of this 2018 budget. The bigger picture of infrastructure development, job creation, succor to the less privileged, and the long term sustainability of our economy.”

In his submission, Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), raised the issue of violation of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, on the ground that the House is yet to approve the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).

Mr. Chinda stressed that having not passed the MTEF, it was wrong for the debate on the budget to occur, a point countered by the presiding officer and deputy speaker, Lasun Yusuf who appealed to members that since the question on the budget shall not be put until Thursday and by which time the MTEF would have been passed, the debate on the budget was not wrong.

Speaking on the budget, Muhammed Monguno (APC, Borno) lamented the low implementation of the 2017 budget against the claims that the government has generated 18% above the oil benchmark.

According to Monguno, “it’s easy to pass the budget, but when it comes to implementation, there is problem, there is a need for the National Assembly to take the bull by the horn.

“According to a publication by Daily trust, it was reported that the country has generated 18% above the 2017 oil benchmark; by this report, implementation should have exceeded 60%, this means there is a problem somewhere. There is a need for legislative intervention in budget implementation.

Also speaking, Isiaka Ibrahim (APC, Ogun) condemned the composition of the budget, noting that as far as he was concerned, there is nothing significant in the budget while criticizing the low implementation of the 2017 budget and abandonment of projects across the country.

He said: “With the little I have seen, there is nothing tangible to write about, Ogun/Osun RDBA is in the 2017 budget, but nothing has been done there but I can’t find it in 2018 budget, people are still sleeping on Ifo/Sango/Abeokuta road despite the fact that it was in 2017 budget and I can’t see it in 2018 budget.We currently have abandoned projects across the country.”

Mr. Ibrahim also queried the need assessment contained in the MTEF, saying “who conducted the need assessment of our various constituencies?”

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JUST IN: FG suspends Nigeria Air indefinitely – Minister

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The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Wednesday, announced the suspension of the planned national carrier, Nigeria Air.

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I will contest Lagos governorship election – Jimi Agbaje

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The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2015 gubernatorial election in Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, on Wednesday, September 19, finally announced that he has an ambition to lead the state on the platform of the same party in 2019.

There had been speculations on whether Agbaje, who narrowly missed the chance to govern the state in 2015, would still seek election.

Agbaje reportedly told journalists in Lagos that he would seek election in the state in 2019.

“It is true that initially I did not want to re-contest, but I had so many people urging me to run,” he said.

Agbaje, the 2015 governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos state, on Monday, September 3, urged the party to conduct free, fair and credible convention to avoid rancor ahead of the 2019 elections.

A statement by Fidelis Soriwei, a spokesperson of Seriake Dickson, quoted Agbaje as having stated this when he paid a condolence visit to the state governor, Seriake Dickson, in his Toru Orua country home.

The visit was to condole the governor over the death of his mother, Goldcoast Dickson, who died of lung cancer at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre, Houston, Texas, in the United States at the age of 72.

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Lagos APC members protest James Faleke’s re-election bid

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Some members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in Ikeja Federal Constituency, Lagos State, on Monday staged a peaceful protest against the re-election bid of Rep. James Faleke.

Faleke, member representing Ikeja Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives is positioning himself for re-election in 2019 elections. He had in 2016 gone to contest the deputy governorship seat in Kogi, his state of origin.

The protesters, who chanted different solidarity songs against Faleke, a two-term member of the House of Representatives, said that he had not represented the constituency well.

They carried placards with inscriptions such as “Faleke, go back to Kogi, Ikeja say no to you”, “90 Shops in Kogi, Go back to your Kogi”.

Others read: “16 years of representing Ikeja with no constituency benefit”, “Dear Tinubu, the People of Ikeja, Ojodu, and Onigbongbo say no to Faleke” among others.

One of the leaders of the protesters, Solomon Johnson, said that there were so many capable and vibrant youths, men and women that could represent the constituency.

Johnson, a leader in Ikeja APC said that the protest was to tell the leadership of the party that the residents would not support the re-election of Faleke to the House of Representatives.

“He has been in power in the last 18 years and we feel he has done enough,” Johnson said.

According to him, since the lawmaker has gone to contest Kogi Deputy Governorship Election in 2016, the legislative seat should be given to another individual in the person of Mrs Toke Benson.

He urged Faleke to concentrate on strengthening APC in Kogi rather than seek re-election by transferring his voter register back to Lagos.

“It will be a slap on the people of Ikeja Federal Constituency if Faleke is forced on residents, we have able youths that can represent the constituency and we have found Mrs Toke Benson.

“Since the party is interested in promoting women participation, Toke Benson is qualified, she is a lawyer and well known. Enough of impunity. Give us Toke Benson and we will deliver Ikeja for APC,” Johnson said.

Another leader of the protesters, Hope James said, “The entire people of Ikeja want a change. The attention of Faleke has been in Kogi. Our people have not been benefiting from that office.”

James, one of the APC stalwarts from Onigbongbo Local Council Development Area, alleged that the lawmaker had not been representing the constituency well.

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