Paris Club Debts: FG Stops Deductions From 36 States’ Accounts
By Tony Obiechina, Abuja & Alfred Babs, Ilorin
Following years of servicing the Paris Club debt from the state account, the Federal Government (FG) through the Ministry of Finance has agreed to stop deductions from the state governments accounts.
In a Communique signed on Wednesday, at the end of the 7th Emergency meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) held on Tuesday, the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal revealed that the Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed has approved the refund of previous deductions from the respective states’ accounts.
The outgoing chairman NGF, Tambuwal disclosed this during the meeting while briefing governors across the 36 states of the country.
Recall that there had been controversy surrounding the accumulated sum of $418 million from the Paris Club refund.
Relating to the refund, Tambuwal said “the Minister of Finance has granted the request of our Forum to immediately stop further deductions from the accounts of States to meet Local Government Councils London Paris Club obligations and the monies so far deducted be paid back to the states.”
Also, at the meeting the outgoing chairman disclosed that the Governor of Kwara State, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq is the new Chairman and the Governor of Oyo State Seyi Makinde is now the Vice-Chairman.
Tambuwal noted that the emergence of leadership was done through Consensus.
He also revealed that members of the NGF expressed satisfaction with the success of the just concluded induction for new and returning Governors that took place between the 14th and 19th of May, 2023.
The Governor added that members are committed to sustaining collaboration among the States through enhanced peer review, learning at the sub-national level, and deepening the relationship with the FG and other institutions.
Kwara Gov Pledges Cordial Relationship
The governor of Kwara State and new chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Mallam Abdulraman Abdulrazaq has said that the body will continue to maintain a cordial relationship with the President, the National Assembly and other Federal and state institutions in the country.
Abdulrazaq in a statement issued in Ilorin, Kwara state on Wednesday, promised to uphold the ideals and vision of NGF as a most credible institution for promoting peace and development of the country.
He said, “I want to thank Allah, exalted is He, for the historic event in which my brother Governors bestowed upon me the Chairmanship of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF). The significance and the huge responsibilities of this office are not lost on me.
“I hereby pledge to uphold the ideals and vision of the NGF whilst recognising and appreciating the eminent track record of the institution as a most credible, authoritative, influential and effective inter-party platform for consensus building and peaceful resolution and advancement of pan-Nigeria goals, interests and aspirations.
“l will ensure regular consultation with all members in order to arrive at consensus on all issues for the advancement and promotion of national interest, peace, progress, and stability of the nation.
“As a body, we will also continue our tradition of maintaining a close and cordial relationship with His Excellency the President, the National Assembly, all Federal and State institutions, the business community, the civil society, media, and development partners.
“Finally, l wish to thank my dear colleagues for the confidence reposed in me as the new Chairman of NGF”, Abdulrazaq said.
Kwara APC Hails NGF Chair
Meanwhile, Kwara State branch of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the state House of Assembly have congratulated governor Abdulrazaq on his new feat of appointment as the Chairman of NGF.
The chairman of APC, Prince Sunday Fagbemi in a statement said, “On behalf of the State, Local and Ward Executive Members of APC, Kwara State Chapter, and in extension, on behalf of all loyal members of our dear the party, I want to congratulate our amazing and number leader, HE AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on his emergence as the Chairman, Nigeria Governor’s Forum.
“Your clean and clear victory is a testimony of the confidence repose in you by your colleagues and you have a lot of work to do in the current national government which no doubt, you will make us proud.
“With you at the helms of affairs, I believe you will properly reposition the forum to contribute positively to national development.”
The Speaker, Kwara State House of Assembly Rt. Hon.Yakubu Danladi-Salihu in a congratulatory message noted that the emergence of Mallam AbdulRazaq to lead his brother-governors across the 36 states in the country is a testament to his leadership skills, competence and experience as Governor of Kwara State.
“Hearty congratulations to Your Excellency Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on your emergence as the NGF Chairman, indeed this is a recognition of the trust and confidence that your colleagues have in you to lead and represent them at the national level”, the Speaker noted in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Abdulkadir Yusuf.
He expressed confidence that Governor AbdulRazaq would lead and work with his colleagues to address common challenges facing the 36 states and ensure that the interests of all Nigerians are well represented.
“On behalf of my colleagues at the Ninth Assembly, I wish Governor AbdulRazaq all the best as he takes on this new responsibility, and I have no doubt that he will bring his wealth of experience, leadership skills, and commitment to the service of the people to bear in this new role.”
Both the state branches of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and the Gamji Members Association (GAMA) have also congratulated the governor on his emergence as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum.
Senate Defers Valedictory Session to Saturday
Trailed by unresolved wrangling over the election of its principal officers in the 10th assembly, the Senate yesterday postponed its earlier announced valedictory session.
The Green Chamber is yet to agree on who occupies what position in the incoming Senate principal officers’ election, following the All Progressives Congress (APC) to allocate the positions to the six geo-political zones of the country.
The APC National Working Committee (NWC) had zoned the Senate Presidency of the forthcoming 10th National Assembly to the South-South; and the Speakership of the House of Representatives to the North-West.The party also zoned the Deputy Senate Presidency to the North-West, and Deputy Speakership to the South-East.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, announced yesterday that the Senate has rescheduled its valedictory session to Saturday.
On the other hand, the House Representatives yesterday held its Valedictory Session.
Lawan had announced on Tuesday that the Upper Chamber would hold its valedictory session on Thursday.
The Senate President told members of the Senate Press Corps that the shift in the date was due to a scheduled meeting of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu with the lawmakers of the incoming 10th National Assembly on Thursday.
The Senate held plenary on Tuesday as well as yesterday.
“By the grace of God, we will still hold plenary today and then our valedictory session will be on Saturday.
“It is because tomorrow, Mr President, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu will be meeting with the Senators-elect and members-elect at 2pm.
“And we believe that a session as significant, important, historical and memorable as valedictory session of the Senate requires a whole day. Not one, two, three hours. And therefore we pushed it to Saturday,” Lawan said.
The Ninth Senate officially ends its four-year tenure on 11th June, 2023.
Lawan hinted that the 10th Senate would be inaugurated on Tuesday, 13th June, 2023.
Memories, Emotions as Reps Dissolve 9th Assembly
By Eze Okechukwu & Ubong Ukpong, Abuja
Memories and emotions went high yesterday during the valedictory session of the House of Representatives, as Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila officially dissolved the 9th assembly.
Rep. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, the Majority Leader of the House, had moved a motion to commence the valedictory session, while Rep Ndudi Elumelu, the Minority Leader seconded the motion.
Gbajabiamila, in his valedictory speech, said: “I will miss all of you and miss this house, you have enriched my life and I cannot express how much you have impacted the house.
In an emotion laden speech, Gbajabiamila said the joint efforts in nation building by members were to ensure that the dreams of the nation’s founding fathers did not die.
“We have come, we have seen and while we are yet to conquer, my enthusiasm to serve remained undiminished,” he said.
According to him, it has been the honour of his life to serve the people of the country.
“I thank my constituency and I express gratitude to my colleagues for the privilege to serve.”
He said since he assumed office, the house had changed drastically in such a manner he had not witnessed, adding that the change came with speed as witnessed in the last four years.
He said the 9th House of Reps had governed well with some interventions, including COVID-19 pandemic, Police Reform Bill, Electoral Acts Amendment Bill, Constitutional Review, among others.
“We have worked to take advantage of social and economic transformation that benefit us; we have left our mark on every sectors of our national life,” he said.
He said the House was able to introduce discipline on the Appropriation Act that now commenced from January to December of every year.
According to him, the 9th House of Reps has ended and the 10th will commence.
“I urge you to ensure that you are not found wanting by man or God in the final judgment.”
Also, Rep. Julius Ihovhre (APC-Edo), said he would forever cherish the friendship he made in the 9th assembly, adding that such relationship would last forever.
He commended the speaker for leading the house well and perfectly and demonstrated that he could manage a diverse group of people.
“In your new roles as the Chief of Staff to the President, the challenges you will face are more than here, we plead with you not to abandon the spirit of excellence,” he said.
He said Nigeria required the kind of leader with a sense of mission, while urging Gbajabiamila to ensure the Federal Government paid attention to basic education.
Rep. Luke Onofiong (PDP-Akwa-Ibom) said members had made relationships that would last forever and commended his constituency for giving him the privilege to serve.
He commended the speaker for accommodating members and relaxing the rules to give new members a voice, noting that the speaker was gentle enough to accommodate their errors.
He urged the house to take the judiciary seriously with salary review.
Rep. Yusuf Gadgi (APC-Plateau) on his part said, “In my constituency, Muslims are 30 per cent while Christians constitute 70 per cent but they have always sent me here and for using me as a good example of how Nigeria should behave.
“What I want to say is the message of forgiveness, I want, on your behalf and other members, to forgive one another. In this assignment, we must have offended one another.
His comment on forgiveness generated some uproar, as members grumbled endlessly.
Unperturbed, Gagdi said “irrespective of the grumbling, what is right is right and people must learn to forgive others”.
Rep. Aisha Duku (APC-Borno) expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve as the first woman to represent her constituency.
“Mr Speaker you have blessed me to bless others, I have changed the perspective of politics in my area because this is the first time that a Fulani woman and a Muslim will come out from that area.
“I have been able to enlighten people and bring out the women to vote, which hitherto they had not.
“I have participated in Bills assented to by the president and today they are laws, I commend my committee as the Chairman, House Committee on INEC, for supporting me.
Duku said she was now a better Nigerian, as she traveled to a lot of places in the country but her only regret was that no gender bill was passed.
In attendance at the session of the 9th assembly were former speakers, House Leader such as Gali Na’abba, Patricia Etteh, Mulikat Akande and some former clerks of NASS.
Tinubu Directs NEC to Work on Subsidy Removal Palliatives
By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
President Bola Tinubu, yesterday directed the National Economic Council (NEC) led by Vice President Kashim Shettima to device an approach and begin the process of working on interventions to mitigate the impact of subsidy removal on the Nigerians.
Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, stated this after leading some major oil marketers on a courtesy visit to the President at the State House in Abuja.
Addressing correspondents after the meeting, Abiodun, who was a former chairman of the oil marketers association, stated that the marketers expressed solidarity with the President for removing the N4trn subsidy burden, a move that can enhance the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) allocation to states.
The group of marketers subsequently announced their intention to donate to 50 to 100, fifty-seater mass transit buses that would run on CNG, costing N100m each and N10bn cumulatively, to cushion the effect of the removal within the next 30 days.
They are hoping other corporate bodies can emulate their action.
The President’s meeting with the oil marketers comes amid the controversy and protests trailing the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit known as petrol.
President Tinubu, during his inaugural speech on May 29 at the Eagle Square in Abuja had announced the removal of subsidy payment on petrol. The President said that the immediate past administration of Muhammadu Buhari did not make provisions for subsidy in the 2023 budget beyond June.
Many Nigerians had expected that the new price regime would come into effect by July 1 but almost immediately after the presidential pronouncement, queues resurfaced at filling stations across the country even as retail outlets hoard the product and increase prices.
Already, a litre of petrol is being sold at over N500 across the country following NNPC price adjustment and the presidential pronouncement on subsidy removal.
Fuel queues have since surged for the vital commodity, compounding the traffic situation in parts of the country, even as transportation cost skyrocket to more than 100% increment.
The Organised Labour had resolved to embark on a nationwide strike beginning Wednesday but was restrained by a court order of Monday, June 5, 2023. The Organised Labour subsequently shelved its planned strike after a meeting with the Federal Government late Monday.
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