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Tinubu Presents N27.5trn Budget to NASS with N8.25trn for Debt Servicing

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By Ubong Ukpong & Johnson Eyiangho, Abuja

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Wednesday, presented a budget of N27.5 trillion for the 2024 fiscal year to the joint session of the National Assembly.

The newly adopted parameters in the budget estimates showed that N9.

92 trillion was allocated for non-debt recurrent expenditure, while debt service was projected to be N8.
25 trillion, and capital expenditure pegged at N8.7 trillion.

Addressing the joint session of both chambers, President Tinubu disclosed his administration’s resolve to adopt the “revised 2024-2026 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP)” as the parameters for the 2024 budget, yet to be presented to the National Assembly.

After the presentation in the National Assembly, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun insisted that the President Tinubu-led government will focus less on borrowing and pay more attention to raising revenue from taxes.

Edun said, “The budget deficit is being brought down from about over 6.11 percent of GDP to over 3.88 percent of GDP.

“That is a huge change in direction from unlimited and limitless borrowing to refocusing on revenue and expenditure management to give value for money.

“We heard that the key target is to increase tax-to-GDP from roughly under 10 percent now to 18 percent in a couple of years time. That target is a hugely ambitious one, which clearly we need to meet to reduce reliance on borrowing.”

He emphasised that the budget would position the economy for foreign investment to come into the country through private partnerships.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) swiftly reacted, saying Tinubu’s 2024 Budget is deceitful, strangulating and hopeless.

The party was miffed by the rendition of Tinubu’s presidential campaign in the chamber of the National Assembly saying it is unacceptable.

Tinubu disclosed the administration’s plan to grow the economy by a minimum of 3.76 percent, above the forecasted world average, with inflation expected to moderate to 21.4 percent in 2024.

 “After a careful review of developments in the world oil market and domestic conditions, we have adopted a conservative oil price benchmark of $77.96 per barrel and a daily oil production estimate of 1.78 million barrels per day. We have also adopted a Naira to US Dollar exchange rate of N750 per US Dollar for 2024.

 “Accordingly, an aggregate expenditure of N27.5 trillion is proposed for the Federal Government in 2024, of which the non-debt recurrent expenditure is N9.92 trillion while debt service is projected to be N8.25 trillion and capital expenditure is N8.7 trillion.

“Nigeria remains committed to meeting its debt obligations. Projected debt service is 45% of the expected total revenue.

“Budget deficit is projected at N9.18 trillion in 2024 or 3.88 percent of GDP. This is lower than the N13.78 trillion deficit recorded in 2023, which represents 6.11 percent of GDP.

“The deficit will be financed by new borrowings totaling N7.83 trillion, N298.49 billion from Privatization Proceeds, and N1.05 trillion drawdown on multilateral and bilateral loans secured for specific development projects”, the President stated.

While reiterating his administration’s resolve towards broad-based and shared economic prosperity, he disclosed that plans are ongoing to review the social investment programmes to enhance their implementation and effectiveness. In particular, the National Social Safety Net project will be expanded to provide targeted cash transfers to poor and vulnerable households.

“In addition, efforts will be made to graduate existing beneficiaries toward productive activities and employment.

“We are currently reviewing our tax and fiscal policies. Our target is to increase the ratio of revenue to GDP from less than 10 percent currently to 18 percent within the term of this Administration. The government will make efforts to further contain financial leakages through effective implementation of key public financial management reforms.

“In view of the limited resources available through the federal budget, President Tinubu disclosed that his administration is exploring Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements to finance critical infrastructure.

“We, therefore, invite the private sector to partner with us to ensure that our fiscal, trade, and monetary policies, as well as our developmental programs and projects, succeed in unlocking the latent potential of our people and other natural endowments, in line with our national aspirations.”

While giving an update on the 2023 budget performance, he disclosed that an aggregate revenue of N11.045 trillion was projected to fund the 2023 budget of N24.82 trillion with a deficit of about 6.1 percent of GDP.

As of Sept. 30, the Federal Government’s actual aggregate revenue inflow was N8.65 trillion, approximately 96 percent of the targeted N8.28 trillion. Despite the challenges, we continue to meet our obligations.

In his remarks, Speaker Tajudeen Abbas lamented the impacts of the economic hardship on millions of Nigerians and called for urgent intervention to alleviate their sufferings.

He said, “Mr. President, it is a well-known fact that millions of our constituents are living through incredibly difficult times. For this reason, they also look to the Tinubu-led government to provide quick and sustainable solutions. The antecedents of the President and your track record in governance inspire a lot of hope in Nigerians.

“Mr. President, it is for this reason that we cannot afford to fail Nigerians. If anyone can change the rot and chart a new course for Nigeria, IT IS YOU! I have no doubt whatsoever that we can measure up to the expectations of Nigerians through your visionary leadership and the commitment of the National Assembly.

“Accordingly, the budget laid before us today should not be seen as a mere financial document but a reflection of our collective resolve to address the most critical needs of our long-suffering citizens. In order to promote economic growth and development, the 2024 Budget should prioritize social welfare programs to help reduce poverty and inequality.

“Mr. President, let me, on behalf of my colleagues in the National Assembly, assure you that we will give this bill the utmost priority it deserves. While we would give it accelerated consideration, we will diligently scrutinise it alongside Nigerians to ensure that when it is passed, it will be a budget that best addresses the most critical needs of our people,” he said.

The National Publicity Secretary of the opposition PDP Debo Ologunagba said in a statement that the rendition of Tinubu’s campaign tune amidst proceedings in the chambers of the National Assembly by government’s security band further confirmed the apprehensions by Nigerians of creeping totalitarianism and fiefdom.

He noted that an individual is being elevated as a Sovereign in clear undermining of the Legislature and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“This condemnable episode validates the concerns of the PDP as expressed on several occasions, the latest being on Wednesday, November 15, 2023 where our party raised alarm and cautioned that our nation is dangerously sliding into cronyism and totalitarianism under the Tinubu-led APC administration.

“The National Assembly is the symbol of the collective sovereignty of the Nigerian people which cannot be appropriated by or surrendered to any individual or cabal under any guise or circumstance whatsoever.

“Moreover, the PDP is appalled by President Tinubu’s description of Nigerians in his budget presentation as the ‘ordinary people out there’; a statement which further exposes the disdain and utter disregard for the sensitivity of Nigerians as reflected in the formulation of polices, programmes and implementation by the APC administration,” Ologunagba said.According to him, this apparently explains why the 2024 budget as presented by President Tinubu heavily provided for luxury appetite of the privileged few in the Presidency and APC leaders with no corresponding positive plan for the wellbeing of other Nigerians.

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Insecurity: State Police Bill Passes Second Reading in Reps

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By Ubong Ukpong, Abuja

A bill seeking to alter the provision of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to provide for the establishment of state police passed through second reading in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Entitled “A Bill for an Act to Alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Provide for Establishment of State Police and for Related Matters (HB.

617),” the proposed legislation was sponsored by the Deputy Speaker Benjamin Okezie Kalu and 14 other lawmakers.

Leading the debate on its general principles, one of the co-sponsors, Hon.

Tolani Shagaya noted that the primary purpose of government as enshrined in Section 14(2)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Altered) is the security and welfare of the citizens.

He noted that in recent times, the nation’s collective security has been greatly challenged and state policing is not only inevitable, but urgently desired to tackle the mounting challenges of insecurity.

The lawmaker explained that the establishment of State Police is a clarion call for a tailored, community-centric policing system; and an acknowledgment that our states are uniquely positioned to address the security challenges within their borders.

Listing some of the key innovations of the proposed alteration, he said, “the transfer of “Police” from the “Exclusive Legislative List” to the “Concurrent Legislative List”, a move that effectively empowers States to have State controlled policing; the introduction of a comprehensive framework to ensure cohesion as well as accountability and uniform standards between the Federal Police and State Police; the provision of prescribed rigorous safeguards preventing unwarranted interference by the Federal Police in State Police affairs, emphasising collaboration and intervention only under well-defined circumstances.

Others included: “the establishment of State Police Service Commissions as distinct from the Federal Police Service Commission with clearly defined roles and jurisdictions; a re-calibration of the National Police Council to include the Chairmen of the State Police Service Commissions, emphasising the collaborative and consultative nature of policing in our federal system, a recognition of the possible financial challenges which may be faced by States Police, by empowering the Federal Government to provide grants or aids subject to the approval of the National Assembly, thus ensuring adequate resources for effective policing, etc.”

Shagaya added that the alterations proposed in the Bill are not just alterations to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but also the building blocks of a more secure, accountable and resilient Nigeria.

Contributing in support of the bill, Hon. Ahmed Jaha stated that the bill is timely as security is the responsibility of all and everybody’s business.

He noted that with community policing and Nigerian police working in tandem, they will rid our communities of all forms of crime.

Also, Hon. Babajimi Benson supported the bill, commending the Deputy Speaker for initiating it.

On his part, Hon. Awaji-Inombek Abiante in supporting the bill noted that Nigeria has had enough of insecurity and establishing state police is a way to improve the situation.

The bill when put to vote got the support of the majority of the members.

It was later referred to the Committee on Constitution Review by the Deputy Speaker who presided over the session.

He urged members who have further inputs on the bill to channel such concerns to the committee.

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MOFI Launches N100bn Fund to Stimulate Investments

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI) has launched a N100bn project preparation fund to stimulate investments in Nigeria.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive of MOFI, Mr Armstrong Takang disclosed this at the Public Wealth Management Conference in Abuja on Tuesday.

The conference which was declared open by Vice President Kashim Shettima had in attendance the Minister of Finance Wale Edun, the Chairman of the MOFI Board Dr Shamsudeen Usman, a former Finance Minister Dr Olusegun Aganga, Chairman of Heirs Holdings Tony Elumelu and other top officials in the public and private sectors of the economy.

As part of a broader strategy to deal with these challenges, Takang said MOFI, as the trusted custodian and the shareholder for the Federal Government of Nigeria’s investment assets is executing a number of initiatives aimed at contributing towards building a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

According to him, the conference would foster collaboration among stakeholders, facilitating the exchange of insights, experiences, and best practices in managing public assets.

He said by working together, stakeholders can find innovative solutions to the challenges the economy is currently facing.

He explained that efficiency and transparency and accountability are at the heart of effective public wealth management, pointing out that the conference will be used as an avenue to optimize the performance and returns from federal government’s assets under MOFI’S management, ensuring that they deliver maximum value for the Nigerian people.

He stated that given the importance of public wealth in rebuilding the economy, especially at a time when there is a need for more focus on domestic resource mobilisation, now is the time to encourage the exploration of innovative mechanisms such as public-private partnerships and alternative financing models.

By unlocking hidden value in public assets, Takang said the country can attract investments and drive economic growth for Nigerians.

He also disclosed that the conference would provide potential investors with data-driven insights on federal government assets, noting that by presenting compelling investment opportunities, MOFI can attract the capital needed to fuel economic development and create jobs for Nigerians.

Speaking also at the event, Usman said MOFI will leverage and explore innovative strategies that will unlock the full potential of the government’s public assets.

He said, “We are starting a journey that other nations such as Singapore or Sweden, or more recently Saudi Arabia have undertaken before.

“We will blend the lessons learnt from such country’s experiences with the unique circumstances of Nigeria. We are committed to working collaboratively with all stakeholders to achieve our project.

“From the 10 year plan, we have in line with Mr. President’s emphasis on delivering results, identifying a number of key deliverables, and setting specific key performance indicators to track and report our performance.

“We aim to maximise returns, attract investment, and guarantee sustainable economic growth.”

Foreign Investment Drops by 80 Percent

Meanwhile, foreign investment into Nigeria dropped by 80 percent to $3.9bn in 2023 from the $5.3bn that was invested in the country in 2022, analysis of a report of Capital Importation into Nigeria has shown.

The report which was released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that Nigeria attracted $1.1bn in Q1 2023, $1.03bn in Q2, $654.6m in Q3 and $1,08bn in Q4.

In 2022, $1.57bn was imported into the country in Q1, which reduced to $1.53in Q2. It further went down to $1.15bn and $1.06bn in Q3 and Q4 respectively.

However, the report said the S$1.08bn that was imported into the country in Q4 2023 was slightly higher than the $1.06bn recorded in Q4 2022, indicating an increase of 2.62 per cent.

“In comparison to the preceding quarter, capital importation rose by 66.27 per cent from the $654.6m in Q3 2023,” the report added.

It said other investments ranked top accounting for 54.64 per cent ($594.7m) of total capital importation in Q4 2023, followed by portfolio investment with 28.46 per cent ($309.76m) and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) with 16.90 per cent ($183.9m).

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Wike Gives Ultimatum to Illegal Land Owners in FCT Communities

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja

Minister Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Nyesom Wike on Monday gave ultimatum to illegal settlers in Chika Aleita Abuja Science and Technological Village to leave.

Wike stated this during an inspection tour of the technology village in company of his counterpart in the Ministry of Science and Technology, Uche Godfrey Nnaji, in Abuja.

Issuing the order, Wike said the fast encroachment was aided by inability of the past administration to take action and stop individuals from building illegally despite the payment of compensation.

He noted that the money expended in providing infrastructure to the village will not be a waste.

“I will give Development Control a go ahead to demolish because I heard they have been compensated since 2018.

“We want to take over the place so that infrastructure can come in. It will even attract investors. I can tell you that they have been compensated.

“No amount of propaganda can stop us from doing the right thing,” The FCT Minister said. .

Earlier, the Minister of Science and Technology, informed Wike that leaving illegal settlers that have encroached the buffer of the village constitutes a big risk and loss to the country’s investment drive to the village that is a the replica of London technology village.

He said the government of Great Britain was able to generate 6 billion pounds in six years.

Nnaji noted that the country stands the chance of making more if right environment is put in place.

The Abuja technology village was the creation of Federal Government during the return of democracy to the country.It is a Free Trade Zone expected to incubate science and technology but subsequent administrations failed to execute the project.

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