2018 Budget Proposal, investigation into deaths of 26 Nigerian women at sea, import duty revenue, non-remittance of tax by MDAs weekly highlights from the House of Reps

Plenary began with the laying of budget estimates by President Muhammadu Buhari. At subsequent sittings, bills were passed and motions adopted on burning issues such as the deaths of 26 Nigerian women, whose bodies were discovered aboard a ship on the Mediterranean. A new Member was also sworn in.

Highlights are presented below;

1.   Laying of 2018 budget estimates: President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, presented 2018 budget estimates before a joint sitting of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Tagged the “budget of consolidation”, it presents an N8.6 trillion estimate; an increase of approximately 16% from this year’s N7.4 trillion. Speaker Dogara, in his address, stressed the importance of cooperation between arms of government, and commended the President for honouring provisions of the 2016 Appropriation Act, which requires the budget to go through a 12-month cycle. This, he said, enabled the Executive to report an accomplishment of over N5 Trillion expenditure out of the N7.4 Trillion budgeted for 2016, a feat he described as an “unprecedented record”, and called for fiscal discipline and the full implementation of the 2017 budget before its retirement in January 2018, or roll over of projects in the budget to a new one.

He also warned of a possible delay in the consideration and passage of the 2018 budget over lack of adequate consultations between the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the government and various over-sight Committees of the National Assembly during preparations, and called for more work to ensure the translation of the technical economic terms into reality and the full implementation of the “well-crafted” Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP).

2.   Reps to investigate circumstances surrounding the deaths of 26 Nigerian women at sea: House Majority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, on Thursday moved a motion of urgent public importance on the suspected murder of 26 Nigerian women and girls, which occurred as they were attempting to cross the Mediterranean. The House resolved that the Committees on Foreign Affairs and Human Rights liaise with the Italian and Libyan embassies and governments, to ascertain the true circumstances surrounding this most unfortunate incident.

3.   Kware/Wammako gets new Rep: Hon. Abdullahi Kalambaina was sworn in on Thursday. He now represents Kware/Wammako federal constituency of Sokoto State in the House of Representatives. He emerged victorious at the bye-election which was held to replace Hon. Muhammad Wammako, who passed away in July.

4.   House Moves to Tackle Climate Change: The House passed through third reading, A Bill for an Act to Provide a Legal Framework for the Mainstreaming of Climate Change Responses and Actions into Government Policy Formulation, Implementation and the Establishment of the National Council on Climate Change; and for Related Matters (HB.1020). What this (third reading) means is that the bill will now be forwarded to the Senate for concurrence.

5.   House looks into management of import duty revenue: Following the adoption of a motion by Hon. James Abiodun Faleke (and 14 others) on the need to investigate the handling of import duty revenues, waivers and bonds on import duties collected by the Nigeria Customs Service from 2010 to date, the House Committee on Customs and Excise has been mandated to;

i.   determine the nature and extent of abuse of the Customs Pre-Arrival Assessment Reports (PAAR) by importers and officials of the Customs Service in order to recover the revenues due to the Federal Government but were not paid;

ii.   investigate the abuse of import duty waivers granted by the Federal Ministry of Finance and its effects on the economy; and

iii.   identify the companies or individuals that have refused to redeem the Bonds even after clearing their imports, and report back in Ninety (90) days for further legislative action.

6.   House to investigate allegations of non-remittance of N155bn tax liabilities by MDAs: The House adopted a motion by Hon. Jerome Amadi, on the need to investigate the allegations that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government owe ₦115 billion tax liabilities and that some taxes collected by banks were not remitted to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), and resolved to mandate the Committees on Finance and Public Accounts to investigate the allegations with a view to determining the amount each Ministry, Department or Agency (MDAs) is owing and for how long the amount had been withheld, make recommendations on how to prevent re-occurrence. A report is expected within six weeks.

7.   House to investigate Customs Duties remitted by banks to CBN: Following the adoption of a motion moved by Hon. Jerry Alagbaoso, the House mandated the Committee on Customs and Excise to conduct an investigation into the Customs duties remitted by commercial banks to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from January 2014 till date with a view to obtaining proofs of such remittances from the CBN. The Committee is to carry out this assignment within eight weeks.

8.   House calls on the Nigerian Army and Air Force to secure Madagali: Hon. Adamu Kamale moved a motion drawing attention to the need to prevent insurgents from retaking Madagali Local Government Area in Adamawa state. Madagali LGA, which is located near Sambisa forest, was the first of seven LGAs in Adamawa state to be taken over by the terrorist group in 2014. Hon. Kamale expressed concern about the increase in attacks on villages in the LGA in recent times, especially that of November 6, 2017, during which the insurgents tried to retake Gulak town but were repelled by security forces. In a bid to prevent loss of lives and destruction of property, and the humanitarian crisis which would ensue if the terrorists’ bid proves successful, the House called for better surveillance and intelligence gathering/sharing between security forces, urged the Army and Air Force to urgently deploy more troops and equipment to Madagali Local Government Area to forestall the retaking of the area by the insurgents, and mandated the Committees on Defence, Army, and Air Force to ensure implementation and report back in four weeks for further legislative action.

9.   Diversifying the Army’s Revenue Base: The House adopted a motion of urgent public importance by Hon. Sani Zoro, calling for the full utilisation and engagement of the service of the Nigerian Army in nation-wide provision of infrastructure, particularly in the physical reconstruction and provision of security in the North-East. While moving the motion, he stated that the Army Corp of Engineers – if their services are properly deployed – could accelerate the provision of infrastructure nationwide, especially in the North-East. He said the Army already has a track record of doing just this, with the (re)construction of bridges, roads, emergency hospitals, shelters, barracks, and schools, among others, and listed job creation as one of the benefits that such a policy would engender. After extensive debate, the House urged the Executive to direct its relevant MDAs to dedicate a substantial part of their annual budgetary appropriation for civil engineering contracts for award to the Nigerian Army based on competitive bidding and urged the board of the North East Development Commission, when inaugurated, to partner with the Nigerian Army to deliver on civil construction works in the conflict zones of the region on build, maintain and secure basis.

10. House to investigate gross human rights abuses, alleged sexual harassment and shooting of 17yo girl by a Soldier: Hon. Istifanus Gyang and Hon. Edward Pwajok informed the House of an incident which occurred on 19 October, 2017; indigenes of Sopp in Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State embarked on a protest against soldiers manning the checkpoint in the community who had earlier caused the death of two boys. During the course of this protest, one of the soldiers shot Simi Danladi, a 17-year-old SS1 female student of Government Secondary School, Sopp, for allegedly refusing his lustful advances. Two other people, namely Danjuma Kaze and his son, Irimiya, were also shot and are currently receiving treatment at the Plateau Specialist Hospital, Jos. The House, therefore, mandated the Committees on Human Rights, Defence and Army to investigate the matter and report back in three (3) weeks for further legislative action.

Via Rinsola Abiola, SA (New Media) to Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara.

Ms. ‘Rinsola Abiola

SA (New Media) to the Speaker,

House of Representatives

President,

APC Young Women Forum (APC-YWF)

Board Member,

Young Women in Politics Forum (YWiPF)

Youth Representative,

APC Board of Trustees

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