2016 Budget impasse: Presidency & lawmakers meet to resolve issues; Court gives EFCC permission to arrest Ex-Gov Kalu May 16; 2016 Budget: How National Assembly Shortchanged South to Favor the North . . .
2016 Budget impasse: Presidency & lawmakers meet to resolve issues
A government delegation led by Minister of National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo-Udoma had talks with Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and National Assembly leaders to resolve the 2016 Budget impasse.
Senate President Bukola Saraki is expected to join the reconciliation team today (Monday) after cutting short his trip abroad.
Reports say that: “the Presidency and the National Assembly leaders on Sunday started talks on how to address the eight grey areas in the budget details sent to Buhari.
“I may not be able to give you the full list of those at the session but I know that the government delegation was led by the Minister of National Planning and the National Assembly’s team headed by Speaker Yakubu Dogara.
“The two arms of government are trying to resolve all issues raised by the Executive amicably before the President returns from China.
“Certainly, the discussion so far on Sunday has been cordial. The President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who travelled abroad has decided to cut short his trip in order to join the harmonisation talks.”
The areas of talks are as follows:
Removal of the Coastal Railway project after N60b counterpart funding was provided
Expunging of the Calabar – Lagos rail line
Reduction of votes for the completion Idu-Kaduna rail project by N8.7b
Drastic reduction of allocations for the completion of all major road projects,
NASS inclusion of new roads by which studies have not even been conducted.
Proposals made for the purchase of essential drugs for major health campaigns like Polio and AIDs removed
Allocations for diversification projects under Agriculture and Water Resources to were either removed or reduced
Court gives EFCC permission to arrest Ex-Gov Kalu May 16
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Monday, gave the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the nod to arraign the former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu on May 16.
Kalu who was hitherto answering to a 107-count corruption charge, will enter fresh plea to an amended 112-count charge dated February 11, 2008.
Trial Justice Anwuli Chikere granted EFCC the leave to re-arraign the former governor after she was furnished with judgment of the Supreme Court, which on March 18, held that the defendant has a criminal case to answer.
Kalu will be arraigned alongside his firm Slok Nigeria Limited and his alleged accomplice Mr. Udeh Jones Udeogu.
Shortly after the trial court was served a copy of the apex court verdict, EFCC lawyer, Mr.Oluwa Leke Atolagbe, applied for an adjournment to enable the agency to effectively “prepare for the case”.
His application was not opposed by Kalu’s lawyer, Chief Awa Kalu, SAN, and that of the 2nd and 3rd defendants, Chief Solomon Akuma, SAN.
Basically, the charge against the defendants borders on money laundering and illegal diversion of public funds to the tune of N5.6billion.
The fraud was allegedly perpetuated while Kalu held sway as the governor of Abia State between 1999 and 2007.
2016 Budget: How National Assembly Shortchanged South to Favor the North
Fresh reports have exposed how the National assembly cancelled development projects in southern Nigeria then divert the money for more development projects in the north.
According to ThisDay, in a shocking move, the lawmakers scrapped the N80 billion earmarked Lagos-Calabar rail project diverting N40 billion from the earmarked Lagos-Calabar rail project to the Lagos-Kano rail project. Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari has insisted that he will review the 2016 Appropriation Bill passed by the National Assembly.
Buhari said he would check if passed bill is in-line with his agenda for the country.
The balance of N40 billion was then distributed to projects located in the north, mainly roads – many of which are located in the constituencies of the appropriation committee chairmen in the senate and House of Representatives, Senator Danjuma Goje and Hon. Abdulmumini Jibrin, respectively.
The Lagos-Calabar rail project is joint project between Nigeria’s federal government and the government of China.
It was also reported that the project is one of the reasons why President Buhari is visiting china.