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Buhari, National Assembly’s Fight over 2016 Budget Continues

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THE crisis between President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly over the 2016 budget has worsened as the executive has discovered fresh padding of the fiscal document by the lawmakers.

Sunday PUNCH reliably learnt on Saturday that only one minister did not have problems with the budget when it was discussed at the emergency Federal Executive meeting presided over by the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on Friday.

It was learnt that the lawmakers reduced amounts allocated to some major projects and inserted what was not originally included in the budget by the executive.

A top civil servant, who confided in Sunday PUNCH said, “Only one minister did not have any problem with the budget details the National Assembly submitted to the President.

“There are instances, where they completely removed projects and padded the budget by inserting theirs. The lawmakers should know that the budget is the document of the executive and it takes responsibility for it.”

It was learnt that at the FEC meeting that many key aspects of the budget on government’s infrastructural programmes were removed.

One of such, it was gathered, was the coastal railway project. Findings showed that Calabar-Lagos rail project was removed from the budget by the lawmakers.

The senior civil servant, who confided in Sunday PUNCH, said, “The coastal railway project is one of the reasons the President is in China. N60bn counterpart funding has been provided.

“We are working on two major rail arteries. The Lagos-Kano line and the Calabar – Lagos line. While the Lagos-Kano provision was left intact by the National Assembly, the Calabar – Lagos line was removed.”

The projects will be jointly financed by the Federal Government and China.

It was learnt that the FEC meeting noticed that the amount proposed for the completion of the Idu-Kaduna rail project, was also reduced by N8.7bn.

It was gathered that the executive observed that the reduction would make the completion of the project difficult.

The civil servant stated, “Another major area noticed was the completion of on-going road projects. While the executive in the budget provided for the completion of all major road projects, the National Assembly reduced the amounts budgeted for them and instead, inserted new road projects which studies have not even been conducted.

“The amounts allocated by the National Assembly for the projects can neither complete the ongoing projects nor the new ones. At the end of 2016, no significant progress would have been made.

“Another major flaw in the budget is in the health sector. Proposals made for the purchase of essential drugs for major health issues such as Polio and AIDs were removed by the National Assembly.”

The FEC also observed that certain provisions made for agriculture and water resources as part of the Federal Government’s diversification projects were either removed or reduced.

“The funds were moved to provision of rural health facilities and boreholes, for which provisions have been made elsewhere,” the top civil servants said.

It was gathered that the lawmakers made such provisions in their constituencies.

Investigations showed that the President had reached out to the leadership of the National Assembly as part of efforts to resolve areas of disagreement.

It was learnt that Buhari was determined to ensure that the budget was signed as soon as he returned from China and once the grey areas were resolved.

It will be recalled that the National Assembly had a few months ago detected errors in the budget. The lawmakers had also alleged that the budget was padded.

Asked to speak on the recent development, the House of Representatives advised the executive to appreciate the power of the legislature to appropriate funds as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.

The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs , Abdulrazak Namdas, who gave the House’ position, explained further: “The job of the executive is to initiate projects and spending heads, but it is the responsibility of the National Assembly to appropriate funds as necessary.”

On padding, Namdas said that it was actually the fault of the executive, which brought a budget that was already full of discrepancies to the National Assembly on December 22, 2015.

“Padding was an issue that the executive itself admitted even before the National Assembly started a thorough re-working of the budget to clean it up,” he said.

The senate spokesperson, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, neither picked calls to his mobile telephone nor responded to the text message sent to him on the issue.

Also the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje, had yet to respond to a text message sent to him after repeated calls made to his mobile line did not connect.

When contacted, the Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enag said, “What the Minister of Information said after the FEC meeting is the exact position of government on the issue. I have nothing more to add.”

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Perm Sec Denies Sexually Harassing Female Subordinate, Says, She Accused Me Because I Refused To Pay Her Bills.

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The permanent secretary of the federal ministry of foreign affairs, Ibrahim Lamuwa, says he is being accused of sexual harassment by Simisola Fajemirokun-Ajayi, an official of the ministry, because he refused her demands.

 

Recall that the minister of foreign affairs, Yusuf Tugga, had notified Folasade Yemi-Esan, the head of service of the federation (HoS), of the allegation.

 

In a letter to Yemi-Esan, the minister said it was necessary to communicate the development to her following the “gravity of the matter” after Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer, wrote a petition to him.

 

However, in response to the allegation, Lamuwa said his failure to pay Ajayi’s bills on an official trip to Davos and refusal to grant her access to policy files and financial records of the ministry were the reasons why she accused him of sexual harassment.

 

The permanent secretary said he has never sexually harassed her but has maintained a professional relationship with all his subordinates.

 

“I have served for nine years cumulatively in the State House, in the Office of the Vice President, Chief of Staff to the President, and the exalted Office of the President at various times under Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, Mr. David Edevbie, Amb. Abdullahi Gwary, and lastly, Amb. Lawal Kazaure,” Lamuwa said.

 

“I received three letters of commendation at various times from the State House for meritorious service.

 

“On allegations of female directors being harassed, I have never had any incident with any female director in any hotel room, nor have I ever removed any female officers’ names from trips or postings because they refused to comply with any sexual demands.

 

“No four women or any number could have shared any alleged ordeal with me with her, as no such incidents have happened in the past, and it is untrue that any such common knowledge exists in the Ministry, as there is no basis for it.

 

“From the foregoing, I believe Mrs. Simisola O. Fajemirokun-Ajayi’s action might not be unconnected with my failure to pay her Davos bills or give her access to the Ministry’s policy files and financial records.

 

“For example, on 12th January, 2023, while in Davos, on a WhatsApp chat, she tried to know what I and the DFA were doing about the payment of the outstanding Nigerian Mission’s 1st Semester Allocation of about N12,957,103,477, claiming to know the Minister has spoken to the CBN Governor on the issue.

 

“In my response, I told her that Missions’ funding should not concern her, as it was being handled at the highest level. Her response was ‘Noted Sir. As directed by the Hon. Minister sir, does it concern Me?’. I wrote back to say, ‘I sorted that out with the HMFA yesterday’. And she said ‘thank you’. I knew she was angry with me about that.

 

“It is clear that there are two issues that have been worrying Mrs. Simisola O. Fajemirokun-Ajayi and were therefore waiting for any opportunity to get back at me.”

 

The permanent secretary added that they had exchanged jokes on many occasions in

the presence of other people.

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Foreign Affairs Ministry Perm Sec, Lamuwa, Suspended Over Sexual Harassment Scandal

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The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ibrahim Lamuwa has been suspended over allegation of sexually harassing a married female staff of the Ministry.

 

Recall that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, wrote to the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Folasade Yemi-Esan, over allegation of sexual harassment levelled against the Permanent Secretary.

 

One of the Minister’s aides, Mrs. Simisola Fajemirokun Ajayi, stated that Lamuwa sexually harrased her.

 

Lamuwa had served as Nigeria’s ambassador to the Republic of Senegal with concurrent accreditation to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania before his appointment as Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 

He joined the foreign service in 1993, was born in 1967, and hails from Funakaye Local Government Area of Gombe State.

 

In a letter dated May 27, Tuggar said he was compelled to write to inform the Head of Service of a formal complaint against Lamuwa on allegations of sexual harassment.

 

“Bearing in mind the gravity of the matter, I feel it necessary to draw your attention to it and ask that you handle it accordingly.

 

“Please find attached a copy of the complaint I received via email. May I also assure you that I remain available to provide you with any assistance required in discharging your responsibilities,” Tuggar wrote.

 

Source squealed that Lamuwa had been asked to step aside by the Office of the Head of Service.

 

He was given till Friday last week to vacate office and the immediate past Nigerian Ambassador to Cuba, Benaoyagha Okoyen, assumed office on Monda

y in acting capacity.

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Globacom commits to Ojude Oba 2024

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Digital solutions provider, Globacom, has declared its sponsorship of the Ojude Oba Festival for this year. The event holds in Ijebu Ode on Tuesday, June 18, 2024.

 

At the pre-event press conference held on the grounds of the Awujale’s Palace in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, Globacom’s representative, Mr. Kazeem Kaka, stated that the company was dedicated to promoting Nigeria’s rich cultural legacy at all times.

 

He disclosed at the event that Globacom’s “sponsorship of festivals is aimed at identifying with the cultures and traditions of the Nigerian people, being an indigenous company. By sponsoring Ojude Oba and other Nigerian festivals with huge tourism potentials, such as Ofala of Onitsha Kingdom, Globacom is helping to promote the cause of tourism in the country”.

 

“Globacom’s collaboration with the custodians of this festival is in order to showcase the company’s interest in the cultural activities, traditions and events that bind the Nigerian people together as one geographic entity,” he stated, adding that Globacom is also showcasing other festivals with the vision of promoting the tourism potentials of Nigeria in that sector.

 

He stated that the company’s commitment to the nation’s unity is also expressed via the promotion of the customs and cultures of the people.

 

During the pre-festival press conference yesterday, Chief Olu Okuboyejo, the Chairman of the Ojude Oba Planning Committee, praised Globacom for its constant support of the historic celebration.

 

The event is mostly sponsored by Globacom, and this year’s edition, with the theme “Unity and Harmony in Ijebuland…The gift of Ojude Oba,” is the 18th. Glo is known for being the largest corporate supporter of traditional and cultural events in the nation.

 

Ojude Oba, which is celebrated yearly two days after the Islamic Eid El-Kabr celebration, is a social event that serves as a foundation for the promotion of the social, political, and economic growth of the Ijebu area.

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