Friday, April 11, 2008

N'Assembly Confirms Truce with Yar'Adua on Budget - This day

As exclusively reported by THISDAY yesterday, the Senate has confirmed that President Umaru Musa Yar�Adua will give his assent to the 2008 Appropriation Bill by weekend while a supplementary budget will be presented to the National Assembly later to address areas of differences between the two arms of government.
Also, as part of the truce reached at the last Tuesday�s night parley between the President and the leadership of the National Assembly, Yar�Adua successfully persuaded the House of Representatives to defer their invitation to Finance Minister, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman over the N103 billion capital expenditure allegedly made by the executive without appropriation. Full Story

Budget: Yar'Adua Gives N'Assembly Conditions

As President Umaru Musa Yar�Adua and the leadership of the National Assembly meet this week over the 2008 Appropriation Bill, there are indications that the President may give assent provided the lawmakers address the areas critical to the attainment of the administration�s socio-economic goals.
President Yar�Adua withheld his assent from the harmonised Appropriation Bill following the failure of the National Assembly to furnish him with details of the budget as he had requested.
The President had opted for a detailed budget instead of the summarised document, as was the practice in the previous dispensation.
A Presidency source told THISDAY weekend that the President would use the meeting with the legislators to clearly raise his objections to the document sent to him for signing.
According to the source, �Yar�Adua�s grouse is that the National Assembly may not have taken into account some of the President�s priorities in line with overall national plan, macroeconomic stability and sector strategies, which made him to place emphasis on completing new projects rather than start new ones which could end up being abandoned. Full Story

Aviation workers issue ultimatum on airports privatisation - Business Day

Still worried that the proposed partial privatisation of the four international airports in the country will cause loss of job and disaffection, members of the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) have given a 21 day ultimatum to the Federal Government.

The association has demanded that government reverses it intention to sell or privatise the airport across the country or be ready to face whatever action to be rolled out by them.
This ultimatum is coming barely one week that the National Union of Air Transport Employees NUATE issued its own ultimatum.
It would be recalled that minister of state 1, transportation, Felix Hyat disclosed recently that the Federal Government was going to privatise the airports.
In the petition to President Umaru Yar’Adua signed by Benjamin Okewu and Sunny Aiyede President and secretary respectively, made available to Business Day, ATSSSAN expressed concern over the seeming threat that was being posed to security and safety of the aviation industry as a result of the proposed concessioning and selling of airports.
The petition they claimed became necessary on the premise of the grave dangers ahead of Nigerians in the aviation sector. Full Story

Business leaders decry budget delay - Business Day

Business leaders are concerned over the impact the delay in the signing of the 2008 budget would have on entrepreneurship and investment in the country. They are also worried about the open acrimony between legislators and the executive arm.
The fact that both arms openly traded divergent views on the version of the budget that was appropriate and acceptable has sent disturbing signals on the nature of the working relationship between both arms on crucial policy issues.
The compromise will eventually see the signing of the budget on Monday by President Umaru Yar’Adua. According Olusegun Adeniyi, presidential spokesman, the budget will be signed in its present state.
Subsequently, however, an amendment to accommodate the president’s stance will be forwarded to the National Assembly with a guarantee of prompt passage.
Despite the compromise position which business leaders consider belated, some damage has been done to the economy and the investment climate in the country, they said.
For Biodun Shenjobi, president, Money Market Association of Nigeria (MMAN), the development is disturbing. In his view, since virtually every business activity revolves round the budget, all most business plans are stuck until the budget is passed.
The impact is worst felt in the area of infrastructural development such as roads, among others since these are captured in the capital votes, he added.
Clinton Uranta, managing director, Niger Insurance plc said the situation has been very frustrating and has negatively affected the entire economy.
For him, since company budgets emanate from that of the country, many establishments have not been able to define their policy thrust for the year.
Uranta pointed out that following the delay, government has not been able to release the pension funds under insurers’ management and this has greatly inflicted injury on the life and welfare of pensioners.
He hopes that the presidency would sort its difference with the National Assembly and make sure subsequent years do not suffer similar delays.
Stakeholders on the power sector, who spoke on budget delay, said the power sector was not adequately provided for in the 2008 budget.
A chief executive of one of the new power stations, who spoke on condition of anonymity said President Yar’Adua has not made public his financial plans for the power sector.
He however, pointed out that if the budget had been passed earlier in the year, the president might have unveiled his plans for the power sector.
Operators in the oil and gas sector have also decried the delay in the passage of the budget.
A Shell source said the delay has made it impossible for the multinational companies to receive cash calls from the government.
He stated that government provided for payment of cash calls to the exploration and production companies, but regretted that the delay in approving the budget has affected early disbursement of the funds. Full Story

'Corruption's Nigeria's Biggest Devt Hurdle' Thisday

Analysts have identified official corruption as the single greatest impediment to Nigeria's rapid progress since independence in 1960. Elizabeth Donnelly, Africa Programme Coordinator of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), underscored this in a recent interview with Mike Sidwell of the Transparency Watch, which focused on Nigeria

Transparency Watch (TW): Is corruption evident in Nigeria and what are its effects? Elizabeth Donnelly (ED): I think most visitors to Nigeria come away with stories of their experience of corruption, whether it is being asked to pay an 'entry fee' at the airport, or to pay to pass a police roadblock. I think the most obvious way in which corruption is evident in Nigeria is the clearly staggering wealth of a handful of people in the face of the poverty of the majority.

It manifests itself in other ways also, the regular power cuts and lack of infrastructure and basic services. Billions of naira are ploughed into promised improvements on roads, power supply and so on, but the tangible changes that these promises would deliver are often very slow in coming.

The effects of corruption in Nigeria are considerable. Of course Nigeria faces great challenges to its development, but the biggest hurdle is the corruption. Nigeria is not a poor country; it is not aid dependent and has all the components necessary to be more developed and more successful. Yet an estimated 70 million Nigerians live below the poverty line. There are however even more profound effects than those physical ones such as lack of basic healthcare and education.

Full Story

Yar'Adua is Not Probing Obasanjo - Leadership

Uba Sani was the special adviser {public affairs} to former president Olusegun Obasanjo. In this interview, he discussed the unfolding political events in the country, the role he played during president Obasanjo's regime and the seeming current probe of the regime. He spoke with Iyobosa Uwugiaren..

In the last few weeks, the unfolding political events appear to be suggesting that President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua-led administration is probing your former boss, former President Obasanjo. What is your take on that?

Those who are insinuating that President Yar'Adua is probing Obasanjo don't understand the true situation and the dynamism of politics. Because, so far there is nothing to suggest that President Yar'Adua is probing the immediate past president of the country. What has President Yar'Adua done that will make people think that way?

Looking at the on-going public hearing on power sector by the House of Representatives, is that not an indication that this government is probing Obasanjo?

No. You cannot connect what is happening in the House at present with President Yar'Adua. Under a democracy, the legislature has every right to conduct public hearing on any issue, in line with its oversight function and responsibility to determine the wrong or otherwise of government's policies and programmes. The legislative arm of government is different from the executive. I think we need to be very careful in drawing our conclusion. We should not be in a hurry in drawing our conclusion on the current public hearing because until now there is no logical reasoning or evidence linking Obasanjo to wrong doing, as far as the issues are concerned. Most of the people who have been linked to the issues have been invited; they have made their submissions; I am sure more people will be invited to give evidence or testify. So, let us wait for the outcome of the investigations; let's not rush into conclusion in saying that Obasanjo has committed the worst crime, concerning the matter. It may be Obasanjo today and it may be somebody else tomorrow. As a leader, there were many people who worked under Obasanjo; they had responsibility in taking certain decisions that were related to their ministries or agencies. Those who are trying to connect the public hearing with President Yar'Adua are not fair to him. And those who are also insinuating that Obasanjo has done something are not being fair to him because the House is still investigating the matter. Full Story

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Obasanjo and his critics 2 - Vanguard

Last week I argued that former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his critics are part of the hunchbacks that have been weighing the country down since the end of the civil war.

I also stated that unless these morally primitive men and others like them are rendered impotent in the geopolitical power equation of this country, our legitimate aspiration for a better future in Nigeria would be an exercise in futility.

Now, I wish to enlarge on some of the issues I broached last time in order to bring into bold relief the problem of mediocre leadership that has retarded Nigeria ’s evolution to a great country.

I would like to begin our analysis with Chief Obasanjo. Clearly if the former president is honest to himself, he must accept that his eight year tenure was characterized more by failures than by successes.

Taking the power sector first because the on-going probe by the House of Representatives committee on Power and Steel has thrown the sordid happenings in that sector from 1999 to 2008 to the front burner of public discourse, Obasanjo’s failure is heart-rending.

ow can 13.28 billion dollars be spent on power and yet the energy situation in the country presently is worse than what obtained during the much inveighed regime of late Sani Abacha? Can the former president, in moments of solitary silent meditation, sincerely accept that he did a good job in the energy sector? Full Story