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Nigeria Runs An Expensive Government, There’s Need For National Debate – Yemi Osinbajo

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The Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, has said Nigeria needs a national debate to examine the issues around the size and cost of governance, which has often been described as expensive and unsustainable.

He explained that it could be difficult for the government to do something about its cost by itself but that it is something that must be done.

Osinbajo said these while fielding questions by a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and immediate past Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi, during a webinar organized by the Emmanuel Chapel, themed, ‘Economic stability beyond COVID-19’, on Friday.

Sanusi, who had on Friday last week pointed out that the governance structure in the country had set it up for bankruptcy, asked the vice-president what the current regime would do differently to address the perennial problem.

The former CBN governor said, “The greater Atlanta (in the United States) has a Gross Domestic Product that is higher than that of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Atlanta is not the richest city in the United States.

“I don’t want to be disrespectful, but the annual sales of Tesla exceeds the budget size of our country, so should we not begin to cut our coat according to our cloth; should we not begin to look at all these costs and the constitution itself; maybe turn the legislators to part-time lawmakers, have a unicameral legislature instead of bicameral, have the local governments run by employees of the Ministry of Local Government Affairs? We just need to think out of the box to reduce structural cost and make government sustainable over the long term.”

In his response, Osinbajo said, “There is no question that we are dealing with large and expensive government, but as you know, given the current constitutional structure, those who would have to vote to reduce (the size of) government, especially to become part-time legislators, are the very legislators themselves. So, you can imagine that we may not get very much traction if they are asked to vote themselves, as it were, out of their current relatively decent circumstances.

“So, I think there is a need for a national debate on this question and there is a need for us to ensure that we are not wasting the kind of resources that we ought to use for development on overheads. At the moment, our overheads are almost 70 per cent of revenues, so there is no question at all that we must reduce the size of government

“Part of what you would see in the Economic Sustainability Plan also and several of the other initiatives is trying to go, to some extent, to what was recommended in the (Steve) Oransaye Report, to collapse a few of the agencies to become a bit more efficient and make government much more efficient with whatever it has.”

He explained that government had been able to cut waste when it detected some ghost workers.

The event, which was attended by other panelists, was moderated by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Prof Konyinsola Ajayi, and Dr. Chinny Ogunro.

Politics

I’m leaving PDP for APC – Gov Umahi of Ebonyi State

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The Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, told the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party in Abuja on Tuesday that he was leaving the party.

He said he would join the ruling All Progressives Congress which he claimed would protect the interest of the South-East in the 2023 elections.

Our correspondent gathered that Umahi told the members of the National Working Committee of the PDP that his decision to join  the APC was irrevocable.

The members of the PDP NWC, who were led to the meeting by its National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, were said to have tried in vain to convince the governor not to abandon the party.

Apart from Secondus, among those that were at the meeting at the Ebonyi Governor’s Lodge in Abuja were Deputy National Secretary, Agbo Emmanuel; National Organising Secretary, Austin Akobondu; Financial Secretary, Abdullahi  Maibasira;  National Women Leader, Mariya Waziri  and Senator Sulieman Nazif.

The governor was said to be friendly when he received the PDP delegation, but stuck to his decision to leave the PDP when the issue came up.

It was gathered that the PDP delegation impressed it upon the governor that there was no need leaving the PDP for the APC, which they argued had become unpopular.

Sources at the meeting, however, said the governor was not convinced, insisting that  the APC was planning to zone the 2023 Presidency to the South-East.

He was said to have promised to stay in the PDP if the party could make a pronouncement that it would zone the Presidency to the same zone.

One of the sources said, “I think his (governor’s) mind was made up. We told him there was no need for him to abandon the party that had made him a deputy governor, state chairman of the party, two-time governor and all that. But he refused.

 “He wanted us to unilaterally zone the office of the Presidency to his area. We cannot do that. Parties are not run that way. He told us he was leaving. That is what we got from him.’’

When contacted, Secondus confirmed that the party’s leadership met with Umahi.

 He, however, refused to declared the details of the meeting, insisting that the meeting was on ‘‘national issues.’’

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Crime

We Spent ₦2.2 Billion On Prayers Against Boko Haram – Adariko

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An Economic and Financial Crimes Commission investigating officer, Adariko Michael, on Tuesday, alleged that N2.2 billion was spent on prayers in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia to win the war against Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria.
Mr. Michael was giving evidence as the first prosecution witness (PW1) in the trial of Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser (ONSA) to President Goodluck Jonathan, in the alleged two billion dollars arms deal fraud.

Others charged with Mr. Dasuki, a retired colonel, are a former General Manager with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Aminu Baba-kusa, Acacia Holdings Limited, and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited.

The EFCC charged them with 32 counts bordering on misappropriation, criminal breach of trust, dishonest release and receiving various sums of money before Husseini Baba-Yusuf.

Led in evidence by the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, Mr Micheal said N750 million was allegedly transferred from the ONSA special account to Reliance Referral Hospital Limited’s account with First Bank.

He added that N650 million was also transferred to Acacia Holding Limited’s account with EcoBank, while another N600 million and N200 million were transferred to the company’s account with UBA.

“Between September 27, 2013, and April 16, 2015, N50 million was credited to Reliance Referral Hospital’s account.

“Based on responses from the banks involved, as investigating officer, we found out that money was transferred to several individuals and companies.

“When we went through the account statement, we asked the second defendant (Aminu Babakusa) the reason for this.

“He informed us that the money was used to hire clerics to pray for the nation as regards Boko Haram crisis.

“When we asked him to provide the names, contacts and phone numbers of the clerics he hired to pray for the nation, he mentioned only two,” he said.

Mr Dasuki spent four years in detention, following his arrest in 2015 over alleged misappropriation of N2.2 billion meant for arms purchase during his time as National Security Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan

After the Federal Government had consistently failed to honor court orders granting him bail, including an ECOWAS court judgment in 2016, he was finally released on December 24, 2019

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This is why we froze accounts of 20 EndSARS protesters – CBN reveals

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) sought an ex parte order to freeze the account of 20 members of the EndSARS movement in what has been generating a whirlpool of reaction. The reason for the action has now been unraveled as contained in a case with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1384/2020, filed before Justice A. R. Mohammed of Abuja Federal High Court Legit.ng reports

The affected individuals have been identified as Bolatito Racheal Oduala, Chima David Ibebunjoh, Mary Doose Kpengwa, Nicholas Ikhalea Osazele, Ebere Idibie, Akintomide Lanre Yusuf, Uhuo Ezenwanyi Promise, and Mosopefoluwa Odeseye.The affected individuals have been identified as Bolatito Racheal Oduala, Chima David Ibebunjoh, Mary Doose Kpengwa, Nicholas Ikhalea Osazele, Ebere Idibie, Akintomide Lanre Yusuf, Uhuo Ezenwanyi Promise, and Mosopefoluwa Odeseye. Others are Saadat Temitope Bibi, Adegoke Pamilerin Yusif, Umoh Grace Ekanem, Babatunde Victor Segun, Mulu Louis Teghenan, Mary Oshifowora, Winifred Akpevweoghene Jacob, Victor Solomon, Idunu A. Williams, Gatefield Nigeria Limited, Bassey Victor Israel and Wisdom Busaosowo Obi.

Read Also: #EndSARS Protest, a fallout of COVID-19 Pandemic, says UN

It has now been revealed that the apex bank, while requesting the court order, argued that the funding of the EndSARS movement might have emanated from terrorist activities, The Punch reports.

CBN said the money flow into the account of the EndSARS protesters was found ominous following investigation by head of the economic intelligence unit, Joseph Omayuku. “There is a grave allegation that the defendants are involved in suspected terrorism financing via their bank accounts in contravention of the provisions of extant laws and regulations. The aforesaid transactions undertaken by the defendants, using their bank accounts, can cause significant economic and security harm to the public and the Federal Republic of Nigeria if left unchecked.”

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