Buhari to sign 2018 budget next week

President Muhammadu Buhari will assent to the N9.1 trillion 2017 Appropriation Bill next week.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, announced this on Wednesday while briefing State House Correspondents on the outcome of Wednesday’s meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by the President.

However, the presidential aide could not say when exactly next week the president will sign the budget.

He said: “I can assure you that the bill will be signed next week, but l do not know the exact day. You will be informed of the day it will be signed.”

Adesina also announced FEC’s approval of 14 roads for rehabilitation and reconstruction contracts worth N185. 276billion, listing the roads as Gwoza – Damboa – Goniri – Ngamdu Road in Yobe/Borno States to be handled by Hajaig Construction Nigeria Ltd, the Mayo Belwa – Jada – Ganye – Torngo Road in Adamawa by Messrs Triacta Nigeria Ltd.

Also among the roads approved are the Ado – Ifaki – Otun – Kwara State border in Ekiti State as well as the Makurdi bridge in Benue State awarded to Messrs AG Visio Construction Ltd and the Ihugi – Korinya -Wuse -Ankor in Benue State Datum Construction Ltd.

Similarly approved were the Gbagi – Apa – Owode in Badagry Lagos State by Messrs Smithcrown Nigeria Ltd, construction of Ijebu Igbo – Ita Egba Owonowen in Ogun and Oyo states Messrs DC Engineering.

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FEC also approved dualisation of the Jattu – Fugar – Agenebode in Edo Phase II by Mothercat and Makurdi – Gboko – Wannune – Yander Section 1 in Benue State to Messrs Rockbridge Construction Ltd.

Others are the – Enugu – Poth Harcourt Road at Agbogugu – Abia border Spur by Messrs Setraco Ltd, rehabilitation of Umulungbe – Umoka road and the Amokwu – Ikedimkpe – Egede – Opeyi Awhum Road in Enugu State to Messrs IDC Construction. The Nkwu Inyi – Akpugoeze in Anambra State was awarded to Anbeez Services and construction of Sabon Birnin – Tsululu – Kuya – Maradi Junction road in Sokoto by Messrs China Zhonghao Nigeria Ltd.

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Also speaking, Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole said FEC approved Draft Food Safety and Quality Bill as well as the Food Safety Institutional Reform working document.

He said: “ it is expected that with the formal approval of these two documents, will have a reduction in the incidence of food born illnesses through so many preventive controls that are already contained in the bill and will also help us to support achievements of sustainable effective food trade that will boost and enhance the economy”

“Thirdly, it will also help to strengthen institutional capacity for food safety and quality as well as improve information and communication system for food safety in Nigeria.

“The bill could actually be appreciated when one considers some happenings in the past when food export from Nigeria was banned in Europe.”

It will also strengthen institutional framework that will enable various agencies of government to work together.

The minister added that bill will also establish an inter-ministerial committee that will handle food management as well as food safety in Nigeria.

This will comprise of ministers of claimant departments, agriculture, environment, science and industry, trade and investment and so on and so forth together with several agencies.

Council also approved a Draft National Tobacco Control Regulation bill following previously announced increases in Tobacco taxes as well as alcohol.

“We believe that once this is approved by National Assembly we will start seeing a lot of changes, an effective ban on smoke areas in the country and also you will notice different warning labels on tobacco product in Nigeria,” Adewole said.

In his remarks, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami said FEC also approved Payment of N500m professional fees to lawyers who worked for the government to recover N330billion for the government from the MTN.

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He noted that the N500million to be paid to the lawyers as professional fee out of the N330billion paid by the MTN was less than 1 per cent of the money recovered

The payment of professional fees to lawyers engaged by federal government relating to the MTN case instituted against the federal government in pursuance of the penalty of over N1 trillion imposed by the government on MTN.

Malami said FEC approved a memorandum to strengthen prevention measures and institutions on the part of implementations of the. President’s London commitment on anti-corruption and Open Government Partnership.

He said: “You will in 2016 during the anti-corruption summit President gave a commitment to the implementation of Open Government Partnership. In pursuance of that commitment, Nigeria has indeed registered as a member of the World Open Government Partnership which is to give a commitment to transparency, accountability and access to the citizen governance.

“Arising from that commitment, Mr. President has also given approval sometimes back approved the national action plan on Open Government Partnership.

Malami also reported on the global forum on assets recovery which paved the way for the payment of $320million from the Abacha loots

On the global forum on assets recovery, Malami noted that government had in December 2017, participated in global forum on asset recovery in Washington DC and during that forum, Nigeria and Switzerland signed agreement that paved way for the repatriation of $322 million relating to looted assets and on the account of that the amount was eventually repatriated back to Nigeria.

According to him, “Not only about the signing of the agreement but the report of the eventual repatriation of the amount of money that was signed and agreed to be repatriated during the forum.

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“Nigeria has also engaged other countries including the UK, US, France and others in further negotiations relating to repatriation and I am happy to report that we are almost concluding the processes relating to the repatriation of additional $500 million

Malami also explained that the declaration of June 12 as a public holiday was a mere declaration of intention.

He made the clarification yesterday when asked whether the presidential declaration did not contravene the Public Holiday Act.

The minister stated: “As it relates to public holidays, there is truly a Public Holiday Act; but it is about the process and process of amendment. At any rate, the Act can be amended and the process of an amendment has been put in place. So, when the Act has been fully amended, the declaration of the President will come into effect. It is a declaration of intention, a declaration of desire and that will eventually be given effect with the act of amendment of the existing law.”

On whether the President could single-handedly award post-hummus recognition on any Nigerian, the Attorney General explained “The other question relating to posthumous awards. I think we need to make distinctions between the Nigeria National Merit Award Act and the Nigerian National Honours Act. They are two distinct and different applicable laws as far as National honours awards are concerned.

“You have the National Merit Award on the strength of which we have the law of the governing board comes into effect and then as it relates to the National Honours Act, the Board does not have any relevance in terms of processing of the Honours.

“For then, above all, we equally have in existence precedence as it relates to the award of posthumous Honours. I can recall that a former head of state, General Murtala Mohammed was equally honored posthumously amongst others.”

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