Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi on Friday, presented a budget of N178.1 billion for 2020 to the state House of Assembly.
The budget was lower than the 2019 figure of 188.4billion.
Umahi while presenting the budget, tagged ‘budget of growth, consolidation and transformation, expressed appreciation to the House and other critical stakeholders who ensured the effective implementation of the 2019 budget.
The governor said that the budget has a recurrent expenditure of N46.08 billion representing 25.8 per cent and capital expenditure of N132 billion representing 74.1 percent.
“The increase in the capital expenditure is due to the borrowing from the African Development Bank (ADB) for the construction of the state ring road.
“It is pertinent to state that the fund is still with the ADB and not paid into the state’s accounts as the contractors will generate certificate and get paid directly from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),” he said.
Umahi said personnel cost in the budget was N18.4billion with provisions for payment of the new minimum wage for workers in the state.
“I use this opportunity to urge the organised labour to hasten its negotiations with government on the minimum wage for its implementation.
“I have maintained that the minimum wage starts with the Local Government Areas (LGAs) because a chain is as strong as its weakest link.
“Whatever is agreed at the LGA level is what we will pay and I maintain that no LGA should spend more than 60 per cent of its earning on paying salaries.
“The World Bank has instructed that citizens must be part of budgeting which means that they must be accommodated in it with every fund of the state belonging to them,” he said.
Umahi noted that works and infrastructure has been allocated N54.1b (30.8 per cent) education—N27b (15. 21 per cent) health—N15.4b (8.6 per cent) human capital development and commerce and industry—N8.b (4.5 per cent).
“Agriculture will receive N3.7b ( 2.1 per cent) security—N2.6b (1.5 per cent) as the government desires to enhance the agricultural capabilities of the state and improve its general hospitals,” he said.
Mr Francis Nwifuru, the Speaker commended Umahi for painstakingly implementing the 2019 budget and its preceding ones and assured of the House continued collaboration for the good of the state.
“I urge my colleagues to ensure expeditious passage for the governor to consolidate on his infrastructural and other dividends of democracy bequeathed on the people,” he said.
Edited by: Ali Baba-Inuwa
Nigerian youths appreciate FG’s N75bn Investment Fund
Nigerian youths on Monday presented letter of appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari
through the Minister of Youth and sports, Mr Sunday Dare, for the approval of 75 billion investment fund for them.
Mr Sukubo Sara-Igbesukubo, the President of National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), who presented the letter in Abuja,
thanked the president for the laudable act of establishing the Nigerian Youth Investment Fund with an initial capital of N75 billion.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Federal Government in July approved the establishment of N75 billion
Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) for three years, following a memo presented by the Minister of Youth and Sports Development.
The NYIF is to serve as a sort of youth bank that will fund and support the innovative ideas, skills, talents and enterprise of the Nigerian youth.
Sara-Igbesukubo said that the fund was a special window for the Nigerian youths to access financial facilities for their entrepreneurial ideas,
innovations and projects.
He added that “the laudable milestone has shown that the present administration has the interest of Nigerian youths at heart.
“Today, the hope of millions of talented, hardworking and creative young Nigerians is being restored.”
Dare, who was represented by Mr Gabriel Aduda, the Permanent Secretary in the youth and sports ministry, said that
the fund would enable the country to go beyond empowerment to investment.
He said that the fund would help to boost youth investment in the country, noting that the ministry would work with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)
to evolve modalities that would ensure that the fund was used for the investment it was meant for.
“The youths will be involved in the decision making as they will be in the forefront to achieve the goal of the fund,’’ he said.
Dare said that Nigerian youths did not lack ideas but have not had enough opportunities to utilise the talents.
He said that “we are hoping that with the fund, the youths will put every effort to get it running.”
The minister advised youths to be more involved in social media to be abreast with current developments in the world.
Edited By: Gregg Mmaduakolam/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu (NAN)
We ‘ve yet to feel impact of Gov. Ayade’s agricultural revolution – AFAN Chairman
Mr Etim Nakanda, the Chairman of All Famers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Cross River Chapter, says farmers in the state have yet to feel the impact of Gov. Ben Ayade’s agricultural revolution programme.
Nakanda made the assertion in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria in Calabar on Monday.
He said AFAN members in the state had not been supplied farm inputs such as fertilisers and improved variety of cassava stems as well as equipment.
The chairman said the state government should show more care about the plights of the farmers in the state and what they experienced on daily basis.
Nakanda, however, said some farmers in the state had benefited from the Federal Government’s intervention through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Anchor Borrowers Programme for rice and cassava farming.
According to him those members who had not benefitted from the anchor borrowers programme have gone back to the primitive farming system of using hoes and machetes.
“Every time, we hear about agricultural revolution in Cross River. I think what they have is government revolution and not agricultural revolution because it has not yet touched down.
“It is the many small holder farmers in Cross River that feed this state and they are really the ones in dire need of assistance from the state and federal governments.
“There is no supply of improved variety of cassava stems for farmers as we used to have.
“We need day-old chicks, fingerlings, fertilisers, oil mills, fishing nets, storage facilities across the 18 Local Government Areas in the state as well as a micro finance bank with realistic demands,” he said.
Nakanda, who is also the Chairman AFAN in the South-South, added that some of the items that they needed could be given to them free while others should be supplied to them to be paid for in instalments.
“Governments really needs to come to the aid of farmers. I say so because as the chairman of farmers in the state, I can say we have not felt the impact of government, except on radio and television,” he said.
Contacted, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Okon Owuna, said that he was not aware of the farmers ‘s complaint.
“Non of them has come to my office to make a case. We are doing our best as a state to attract both national and international intervention to get the farmers to be better off.
“So, as much as I know, all farmers are carried along in our agricultural revolution.
“Today we are having a town hall meeting to kick off the agricultural development scheme project in the state and all stakeholders are invited.
“It is in this town hall meeting that complaints of various value chains are addressed ” he said.
Edited By: Ejike Obeta (NAN)
Taxi drivers withdraw services in Calabar, protest illegal taxation
Commercial taxi drivers in Calabar on Monday withdrew their services to protest alleged illegal taxation by some thugs and local government officials in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria , reports that due to the protest a lot of commuters were stranded at bus stops in Calabar while many trekked to their different destinations.
The protesters who carried placards with inscriptions such as “stop harassing us”, “illegal taxation is a crime in Cross River” among others.
The protesters alleged that some people were often harassing drivers in the metropolis to pay some taxes and levies against the tax exemption law of the state.
Gov. Ben Ayade had constituted the Cross River Anti-Tax Agency to ensure that all low income earners in the state including taxi and tricycles operators were exempted from paying all forms of taxes and levies.
Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria, the representative of the protesting drivers, Mr Edem Asuquo, said drivers were caught on a daily basis for dropping and picking passengers at different spots in the city.
“They take you to their Centres and collect N25,000 or N15,000 from you, which is the least.
“So we decided to march to the governor’s office to protest and hear from him directly and know if he is the one sending these people to harass us or not.
“This is why we withdrew our services today,” he said.
In his response, Bishop Emmah Isong, Chairman, State Anti-Tax Agency, said the protest was good and a welcome development.
“The governor exempted these classes of people from taxation and, then, some politicians and local government officials kept taxing them.
“We, the Anti-Tax Agency have tried everything to tell the local government authorities not to tax them.
“So the people should take their destinies in their hand by protesting for their right, it is good for the state, so long as they are peaceful and do not destroy any property.
“They have been using security agencies to harass the drivers, security agencies that refused to cooperate with the Anti-Tax Agency are cooperating with politicians to harass and exploit the poor,” he said.
He advised residents of the state to know their tax exemption rights and pursue them vigorously adding that it must not be the job of the Ant-Tax Agency alone.
NAN reports that due to the protest, a lot of commuters were stranded at bus stops in Calabar while many trekked to their different destinations.
When contacted on telephone, Nkese Emeyo, the media officer, Calabar South Local Government Area, said that the LGA had nothing to do with the extortion.
“My Chairman placed a revocation notice to all contractors collecting taxes for the LGA. So, there is nothing like tax from our Council.
“We are not getting anything from anybody and we have not sent anybody to get tax from drivers.’’ She said.
Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Donald Ugwu (NAN)
Agro expert wants ban on maize importation beyond economic benefits
An agriculture expert, Mr Ismail Olawale, has advised the Federal Government that the ban on maize importation should go beyond economic benefits.
The expert speaking in reaction to the recent ban on importation of maize by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said the government should have considered the ripple effects of the ban before its commencement.
“The question we are asking is what is the actual basis for the ban on importation of maize? Are we banning because we have large quantity of maize in stock or because of the quality of our local maize?
“Has the government considered all the variables affecting local maize production like quality and quantity produced before implementing the ban on importation?
“If they have, what has the government come up with to salvage the ripple effects of the ban on the importation of maize?
“We should not just consider the economic impact of the ban but also consider how it borders on the quality and health of our local maize.
“If the ban is just for economic reasons alone without factoring in the substitutes if they are healthy enough, if they have the best quality and other favourable factors to the end users, then it is not fair,” he said.
Olawale reiterated that the ban should not just be about increasing the nation’s Gross Domestic Product but also about improving the local value-chain of the crop.
In addition, he said a balanced communication on the reasons for the ban should be communicated to the consumers, producers and also the farmers.
“If we are serious about banning the importation of maize, then we need to improve our production value-chain line.
“Is the ban on maize importation just about not allowing the cost imported maize affect the patronage of local maize?
“The banning has come, so how well have we marketed local maize production, because most producers and consumers of maize product are used to the imported ones.
“We need to do an analysis of the ripple effects of the ban beyond our farmers having the competitive capacity of the imported maize and their ability to make more money.
“What have we done to convince the consumers on patronizing locally grown maize or else we should be expecting an increased level of maize smuggling into the country,” Olawale said.
The expert also added that the first effect of maize importation ban is the hike in the price of maize in the local market, if the ban is mainly for maximization of GDP, as soon as the ban takes off, the effect reflects on the local price.
“Also because of the ban on maize importation, most local farmers begin to hoard the stock they have so that after sometime they can have good market value for it.
“We need a deep analysis on how the ban on maize importation and how it affects the local farmers, consumers and producers,” the expert said.
Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Ekemini Ladejobi (NAN)