25 April 2015, Abuja – The House of Representatives yesterday approved N4.493 trillion as 2015 budget with an increase of N135.4 billion from the N4,357,960 trillion proposed by the executive in November 2014.
However, no provision was made in the approved 2015 Appropriation Act for fuel subsidy. However, a reduced amount of N21 billion was provided for the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P).
The National Assembly also slashed its own budget by N30billion as it reduced its allocation from N150billion to N120billion.
The 2015 budget passage followed the consideration of the budget report laid on the floor on Wednesday by the chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, John Enoh.
The House adopted $53 as oil benchmark, 2.2782mbpd, N190/US dollar as exchange rate, N1,075.303 trillion as fiscal deficit and 1.12 percent as deficit/GDP respectively.
According to the approved 2015 budget details, Niger Delta Development Commission’s allocation was earmarked as N46.720 billion, Universal Basic Education, N68.380 billion; National Assembly, N120 billion; Public Complaints Commission, N4 billion, and National Human Rights Commission ,N1.516 billion.
Meanwhile, the House retained the sums of N73 billion for the National Judicial Council (NJC) and N62 billion for Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
A breakdown of the final amount passed showed that N375.616 billion is for statutory transfer, N953.620 for debt service, N2,607,132,491,708 for recurrent (non-debt) expenditure, and N556,995,465,449 for capital expenditure in statutory transfer inclusive of N144.420 billion for contribution to the development fund capital expenditure.
From the N2,007,775,136,033 approved for recurrent (non-debt) expenditure, Education gets the highest allocation of N392,242,784,654, followed by Defence/MOD/Army/Air Force/Navy with N338,797,219,431 and Police Formations and Commands with N303,822,224,611.
Health got N237,075,742,847; Interior, N153,330,022,460; Youth Development, N69,423,427,479; National Security Adviser, N62,226,771,999; Petroleum Resources, N58,274,429,975; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, N48,389,942,264; Foreign Affairs, N41,649,382,166, Agriculture and Rural Development, N31,869,020,717.
The sum of N26,590,103,366 is for Science and Technology; N25,173,916,543 for Works; N23,682,420,241 for Information; N20,085,865,120 for the Presidency; N18,081,478,935 for Tourism, Culture and National Orientation; N15,559,334,341 for Environment; N10,941,859,480 for Trade and Investment while N10,592,048,381 is for Communication Technology.
From the N13,965,664,092 approved for the eight federal executive bodies, the sum of N5,293,800,054 is for National Population Commission; N1,935,767,344 for Code of Conduct Bureau; N493,656,088 for Code of Conduct Tribunal; N2,207,213,456 for Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission; N1,125,005,114 for Federal Civil Service Commission; N740,477,185 for Police Service Commission and N2,167,931,068 for Federal Character Commission.
From the sum of N231,058,494,343 approved for Service Wide Votes, the sum of N20.270 billion is for Zaman Lafiya; N22 billion for operations – Internal – for the Armed Forces; N9.6 billion for payment to Nigerian Army Quick Response Group, including arrears; N5 billion for payment of outsourced services; N2.3 billion for entitlements of former presidents/heads of state and vice presidents/chiefs of general staff; N5.5 billion for Employees’ Compensation Act – Employees Compensation Fund; N17.5 billion for general election logistic support; N17,397,993,277 for contingency; N6 billion for country’s contribution to West African Examination Council (WAEC); N4.5 billion for assessed contribution to African Union and others; N5 billion for margin for increases in costs; N11 billion for external financial obligations; N3,099,600,000 for recurrent adjustment; N38,987,017,746 for public service wage adjustment for MDAs (including arrears of promotion and salary increases) while N11.755 billion is for improved remuneration package for Nigerian Police.
The sum of 60,251,158,887 is for payment into the redemption fund (15% of total personnel cost); N18 billion for arrears of 33% increase in pension rates; N3.750 billion for arrears of police death benefits (2004-2010); N14,690,036,516 for Group Life Insurance for all MDAs, including DSS; N1 billion for Armed Forces enhanced retirement benefits of Commodores and above; N2.995 billion for severance benefits of Delta Steel Company/pension pay-off; N3,544,110,811 for NHIS (military retirees), and N36 million for administration and monitoring of (OHCSF) Group Life.
From the total sum of N63,281,093,786 earmarked for presidential amnesty programme, the stipends and allowances of 30,000 Niger Delta ex-militants is to gulp N23.625 billion; N5,502,447,783 is for presidential amnesty operational cost; N34,153,646,003 for reintegration of transformed ex-militants while reinsertion/transition safety allowances for 3,642 ex-militants (phase 3) got zero allocation.
According to the report, the sum of N498,428,999,699 was set aside for capital expenditure of various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in addition to the sum of N144.420 billion as capital expenditure in statutory transfers.
From the total sum of N953.62 billion approved for debt servicing, the sum of N894.610 billion is for domestic debt while N59.010 is for foreign debts.
Fuel Subsidy Removal, Booby Trap for Buhari’s Administration – Bamidele
Meanwhile, reacting to the 2015 budget passage, the chairman, House Committee on Legislative Budget & Research, Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele, expressed concern at the non-provision of funds for fuel subsidy and other subsidized welfare services in 2015.
He described the development as a “booby trap” for the incoming administration of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
The statement read: “The most worrisome for me is the absence of provision for continued fuel subsidy. The political economy if this development and its grave implications must not be lost on all stakeholders. This is more so when a new ruling party is coming into power by May 29, 2015.
“To my mind, this is definitely a booby trap for the incoming administration of Gen. Mohammed Buhari and I hope the All Progressives Congress (APC), as the incoming ruling party, will understand the full implications of this and take immediate steps to let Nigerians know where it stands on this matter.”
According to him, if the outgoing PDP administration removes oil subsidy, it must be made to accept responsibility for it rather than for the incoming APC administration to suffer what he described “a booby trap into which they and the Nigerian people are walking into”.
Senate Leadership: Choose Persons Of Integrity – Buhari
As the jostling for the leadership of the National Assembly gains momentum, the president-elect, Gen Muhammadu Buhari, has charged leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to ensure that only credible candidates are put in leadership positions in the National Assembly.
Buhari, who said this at a caucus meeting in Abuja, also used the occasion to reiterate his resolve to combat corruption in the country.
A Wednesday night meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) to decide how key positions in the National Assembly would be zoned ended in a stalemate.
Following the deadlock, the NEC, LEADERSHIP gathered, referred the matter Buhari and the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun “to meet and come up with unblemished candidates as our leaders in the National Assembly.”
A source who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “The general was so categorical at the meeting. He said that he was ready to fight corruption and should not be encumbered in prosecuting the war through the emergence of some tainted candidates in critical positions, particularly as it relates to the National Assembly.
“In fact, his marching orders to us was that anyone indicted by the anti-graft agencies or anyone who is currently being prosecuted by any of the anti-graft agencies should not be allowed to aspire to key positions in his government.”
He continued that if the party adheres to this advice from Buhari and the NEC, it would streamline the number of candidates interested in the seat as some people will automatically be disqualified to run.
Going further, he noted that of the top contenders for the Senate presidency in the North Central and the North East, “Senator Lawan is the only candidate that has an unblemished record as he does not have any corruption case handling on his neck.”
Reps Pass Bill Criminalising Torture, Inhuman Treatment
The House of Representatives yesterday unanimously passed a Bill criminalising torture and other inhuman treatment of individuals both at home and in public places such as offices and detention facilities.
This followed the passage of the Bill for an Act penalising the commission of acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishments, prescribing penalties thereof and for other purposes.
The Bill sponsored by Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (Abia/PDP), when passed into law, will penalise every act of high-handedness by individuals towards their subordinates, servants or people in custody in the case of criminal suspects under investigation.
Onyejeocha in her executive summary told federal lawmakers that the Bill seeks to, among other things, criminalise physical or mental torture and ensure that the rights of all persons, including suspects, detainees and prisoners are respected at all times.
*Adesuwa Tsan and Edegbe Odemwingie – Leadership