Senate, yesterday, gave the revenue generating agencies of the Federal Government a one-week ultimatum to submit details of their 2018 budget proposals for consideration or face severe sanctions from the chamber.
The ultimatum followed a point of order raised by the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, in which he drew the attention of the Senate to the fact that out of 64 agencies, only the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) had complied by submitting its fiscal estimates to the chamber as required.
His words: “Mr. President submitted the national budget as well as the summary of the budgets of the agencies and, by so doing, he has completed his work. What is required of the agencies is for them to present the details of their budgets to the National Assembly for consideration.
“My office has been working closely with the Office of the Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang and we have insisted that the details of the budget must be presented to the Senate.
“This is necessary so that it would be considered alongside the 2018 budget and be passed as quickly as it can and together. I want this Senate to recognise that only the NCC presented and submitted what is required.
“I want this Senate to give an ultimatum of one week to all the agencies to submit the details of their budget to our committees to consider for appropriation.”
Responding to Lawan’s submission, President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, accused the MDAs of disregarding due process by failing to submit details of their budget proposals to the parliament for approval.
He lamented that the agencies were taking the leniency of the Senate for granted or weakness, threatening that the Chamber might be compelled to invoke its constitutional powers; including asking the Ministry of Finance to stop further releases to the defaulting government establishments.
“This has been a matter we have been talking about for a very long time and these agencies continue to have total disregard for due process. I think it is very clear that the mandate we give to them is one week.
“Our cooperation should not be misread as weakness or not knowing what to do. Definitely, we can mandate the Ministry of Finance to ensure that they do not further order releases because they are breaking the law,” the senate President said.
Saraki cautioned that after the one-week deadline, the Red Chamber would be left with no other option than to punish the MDAs through withholding of funds.
“If after the one week and they don’t, then we will take necessary actions to show that they need to comply with the law,” Saraki said.
Reps move to amend revenue sharing formula
The House of Representatives, yesterday, initiated a legal framework for restructuring distributable revenue to the three arms of government.
The resolution came following passage through second reading of a bill for an act to amend allocation of revenue (Federation Account etc), Act Cap., A15 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to establish the excess revenue fund account and for other related matters (HB. 1277).
The bill was sponsored by Hon, Lovette Idisi (PDP, Delta). It came on the heels of criticism over the legality of the proposed withdrawal of $1 billion from Excess Crude Account (ECA), for the procurement of arms to fight Boko Haram. Leading debate on the bill, Idisi noted that the “allocation of revenue Act was established in 1982 to prescribe the basis for distribution of revenue accruing to the Federation Account between the Federal and state governments and Local Government councils in the states; the formula for distribution amongst the states; the proportion of the total revenue of each state to be contributed to the state joint Local Government Account.”
Bed sharing raises risk of baby deaths
Scientists have raised the alarm over the number of babies dying of suffocation, occasioned by an increase in the number of parents sharing beds with their infants.
According to the findings of a report published in ‘Paediatrics,’ babies are safest sleeping on their backs in their own cribs without any pillows, toys, blankets or other loose bedding. From 1999 to 2015, the suffocation death rate for babies younger than one year climbed from 12.4 to 28.3 fatalities for every 1,000 United States (US) infants.
Similarly, the study shows that in 2015 alone, this translated into 1,100 infant deaths that were entirely preventable.
The majority of these suffocation fatalities occurred while babies were in bed. Although, there is lack of data to show the trend of these activities in Nigeria where bed sharing between mothers and newborn is very common among low income and the poor, it is believed that this practice might also be impacting negatively in the country.
However, going by the guidelines from the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP), if babies do sleep in parents’ beds, parents should have a firm mattress, remove soft objects such as pillows, and move the bed away from the wall, as part of measures to ensure the safety of the babies.
Similarly, the AAP said parents should also be aware that bed sharing is most dangerous for newborns, less than four months old, premature babies and underweight infants, or if babies were exposed to tobacco during or after pregnancy.
Study co-author, David Schwebel, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said: “It may be that parents are not following `safe sleep’ recommendations to place infants in beds without stuffed animals, soft blankets, pillows, and other items that could cause suffocation.
Suffocation and strangulation deaths increased across the board for boys and girls, regardless of race, ethnicity or whether they lived in urban or rural communities, the study found. At least some of the increase in suffocation deaths might be due to a change in how these fatalities are categorised, researchers note.
Some fatalities that were attributed to sleep-related causes like sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) at the start of the study might have been categorised as accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed by the end of the study period.-
Proscribed IPOB blames FG for members’ plight in prison
The outlawed Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) yesterday expressed dismay over a move by a lawyer representing Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, one of the sureties for Mazi Nnamdi Kanu in the ongoing case to release some of its members in prison custody to adjourn the case to a later date.
IPOB listed the members in prison custody to include Benjamin Madubugwu, David Nwawuisi, Bright Chimezie Ishinwa, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, among others.
A statement made available to journalists in Awka by IPOB’s media and publicity secretary, Emma Powerful, the group noted that seeking another adjournment on the ongoing matter in court was a clear indication that the blackmail machinery of DSS and presidency was fully at work.
The statement reads: ‘We have no doubt that this adjournment was instigated by the Federal Government of Nigeria as another way to delay and deny justice to those who have now spent more time in jail than those convicted of similar offences.
“Information reaching IPOB now from Federal High Court Abuja with Justice Binta Nyako presiding is that Abaribe’s lawyer has written to the court asking for an adjournment.
“The Government of Nigeria has succeeded in pressuring Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe to ask for adjournment of the ongoing case of treasonable felony between Nnamdi Kanu and three others who have so far spent more time in prison than those convicted of similar offences.
“DSS and Aso Rock knew they had no choice than to release David Nwawuisi, Benjamin Madubugwu and Bright Chimezie Ishinwa so they decided to blackmail and intimidate Senator Abaribe into getting his lawyer to write to the court seeking yet another adjournment.”
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