Presidency battles to save Pantami as Reps plan debate
- The Presidency may have ruled out the possibility of sacking the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami.
- The Presidency said Pantami’s ordeals were not about his past utterances but about his current job as a minister.
- This is just as the House of Representatives said members were ready to debate the issues around the minister.
- The Presidency in a statement on Thursday said Pantami’s ordeal in the hands of those calling for his sacking was not about his past utterances but about his current job as a minister.
- The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, made the Presidency’s position known in a statement.
- The Presidency aligned itself with the submission of the embattled minister that he was young when he made those statements and that his position had since changed.
- However, the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, in a statement issued on Thursday said the house would debate the issues around Pantami when it was properly presented.
- Pantami has been in public space for his past comment supporting the violent cause of extremist Islamist sects and jihadist narratives of al-Qaeda and the Taliban before he became a minister in the cabinet of the President, Muhammadu Buhari.
Governors beg FG to postpone $2.1bn support repayment
- State governors on Thursday at the monthly meeting of the National Economic Council appealed to the Federal Government to postpone the repayment of the $2.1bn budget support facility to states which was scheduled to resume in May.
- But the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, kicked against the appeal and enumerated the technical challenges involved should there be a further postponement of the deductions.
- The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, disclosed these in a statement issued at the end of the council’s meeting presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
- Akande said the Vice President thereafter directed that a meeting be held where the issue would be properly considered and a decision reached.
- For long, Nigerian states have been depending on federal allocations as a result of low Internally Generated Revenues.
- The situation had been made worse with crash in revenues realized from the nation’s major export – crude oil.
- As a result, most states had resorted to borrowing with a recent report by the Fiscal Responsibility Commission indicating that the subnational governments had overstepped their limits.
FG rolls out 10 passport processing centres
- THE Federal Government on Thursday announced various measures to address passport scarcity and racketeering by Immigration officials and their collaborators at the nation’s passport offices.
- The government said 10 special passport centres would be opened in the coming weeks to fast-track booklets processing, noting that the goal was to have one in each local government, university campuses, institutions of higher learning and other places.
- The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who disclosed this in Abuja, after a meeting with the Comptroller-General of Immigration, Muhammad Babandede, and passport control officers, said undercover operatives wearing body cameras would also be deployed in all passport offices to detect and report any form of solicitations, inflation, improper communications, extortion, diversion, hoarding and other corrupt practices.
- He insisted that no applicant would be made to pay any illegitimate fee.
Cattle traders chase police with AK- 47 in Enugu market
- Tension enveloped Enugu on Thursday evening as Hausa cattle traders at the New Artisan Market attacked government officials and destroyed a police vehicle.
- Trouble started when officials of the state government went to demolish the New Artisan Market following an order of the State High Court, which was said to have declared the market a security threat because of its proximity to the Government House.
- However, an attempt to effect the execution was fiercely resisted by the Hausa traders, who reportedly went inside the market, brought several AK-47 rifles and chased away the officials and police detachment.
- An eyewitness, who gave his name as Sampson Okorie, told our correspondent that the gun wielding Hausa traders also seized two bulldozers the state government deployed to the market and destroyed police Hilux vehicle.
- The vehicle, according to him, was abandoned by the police, who ran for their life when they could not escape with it.
- The state Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Aliyu, confirmed the incident when contacted on telephone.
- Aliyu described the action of the traders as unfortunate, saying the traders had a meeting with the State Governor, Mr Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, on Wednesday night, when they agreed to move out of the market on Thursday.
Financial institutions will fund N1.8tn COVID-19 stimulus package – FG
- The Federal Government on Thursday said about N1.8tn of its N2.3tn COVID-19 economic stimulus package would be funded by financial institutions.
- It also disclosed that about N288bn from the N500bn of the package funded through the 2021 budget has so far been released, adding that it was currently in the process of releasing a second batch.
- The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba, disclosed this on the side-lines of the National Steering Committee meeting of the Nigeria Open Government Partnership in Abuja.
- Commenting on measures adopted to salvage the economy from collapse as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the minister said the N2.3tn stimulus package had to be deployed.
- The minister said the Federal Government also made provisions for the states, as it stopped the repayment of loans collected by the states.
- Agba said the measures eventually paid off, as the country posted a positive GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2020.
- Asked to state how much of the N2.3tn stimulus package had so far been injected into the economy, the minister replied, “For the N500bn which comes from the budget, we have released about N288bn to deal with those issues.
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