The passing of the 2021 national budget by lawmakers of both the Senate and the House of Representatives topped major headline stories last week.
Both legislative chambers in a special plenary on Monday passed a total of N13.6 trillion as the approved budget for 2021 at a benchmark of $40 per barrel of crude oil.
The lawmakers also approved N496 billion in the budget for statutory transfers to agencies such as the National Assembly and INEC.
While about N3.3 trillion was approved in the budget for debt service; N5.6 trillion went for recurrent (Non–Debt) expenditure and N4.1 trillion for capital expenditure.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in October presented the 2021 budget estimates before a joint session of the National Assembly.
The proposed expenditure was put at N13.08 trillion with a crude oil benchmark price of $40 per barrel and a daily oil production estimate of 1.86 million barrels (inclusive of condensates of 300,000 to 400,000 barrels per day).
But in the approved version, the lawmakers jerked up the budget by about N500 billion.
On politics last week
The leadership tussle between chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the southwest region, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State and a former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, continued to generate controversy.
While a faction of the PDP in Ekiti loyal to a senator, Biodun Olujimi, said it remains loyal to the leadership of Mr Makinde in the southwest, other PDP members in Ekiti, especially national and state assembly members, sided with Mr Fayose.
A delegation led by two-serving senators, Nicholas Tofowomo, who represents Ondo South district, and Ayo Akinyelure who represents Ondo Central district in the National Assembly, had on Tuesday visited Mr Fayose’s Lagos residence and passed a vote of confidence on him.
The former Ekiti State governor, who was said to have pushed for an ex-commissioner for information in Ondo State, Eddy Olafeso, to be the next PDP National Vice Chairperson (West), insisted Mr Makinde is not a leader of the party in the south-west region.
According to him, the decision to make Mr Olafeso the party leader was earlier agreed in Mr Makinde’s home in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
However, while receiving the delegation, Mr Fayose described himself as a senior politician while he chided Mr Makinde describing him as a “baby governor”
He said, “Governor Makinde is not my leader. He is my follower. Respect should beget respect. I have been a warrior. They thought I would be with EFCC now. But, I am surviving,
“Tell the baby governor that the way up is the way down. Let Makinde put feeding bottles in the mouth of his dogs. You are called a leader because you earned it, not your title,” Mr Fayose added.
Meanwhile, in a prompt reaction to the delegate visits, the Ondo State PDP chapter in a statement on Wednesday, announced the indefinite suspension of five of its members who accompanied Messrs Tofowomo and Akinyelure led-delegation, describing them as “Impostors.”
The suspended members include a former party state chairman, Ebenezer Alabi; former party state secretary, Oyedele Ibini; a former National Assembly member, Lad Ojomo; former Zonal Publicity Secretary of the party in the south-west, Ayo Fadaka; and the minority leader in the state assembly, Rasheed Elegbeleye.
But the leadership of the party, however, failed to suspend the two senators that led the delegation to visit Mr Fayose at his residence in Ikeja, Lagos State.
Before the Ondo State governorship elections in October, Mr Fayose had accused Mr Makinde and a former Deputy National Chairperson of the party, Bode George, of masterminding the assault on him at the party’s final campaign. They both denied the allegations.
The PDP candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, lost the election scoring 195,791 votes to the incumbent governor, Rotimi Akeredolu who polled 292,830.
Still on Ondo State PDP, the party’s governorship candidate, Mr Jegede, on Tuesday, urged party members to work in unison for the success of the party.
While speaking at the commissioning of the rebuilt state party secretariat in Akure, the senior lawyer also assured party supporters that the party would soon take over power in the state.
On his part, Mr Makinde said the South-west leaders of the party would continue with efforts aimed at uniting its members to ensure a stronger party in the zone.
He called on members to support the reconciliation committee headed by former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun State.
He said the Oyinlola-led reconciliatory team will work with the committee set up by the national leadership of the PDP to unite the party in the region.
Niger Presidential Elections
About 7.4 million Nigeriens, in the West African country, are expected to cast their votes in the presidential and legislative elections on Sunday, December 27, amid their 60 years-long war against a jihadist insurgency that has ravaged parts of the country.
The election would field about 30 candidates excluding the incumbent President, Mahamadou Issoufou who voluntarily stepped down from contesting the polls – having served two five-year terms, starting in 2011 after the country’s last coup in 2010.
The forthcoming presidential election will usher in Niger’s first democratic transition of power between two democratically elected presidents since the country’s independence in 1960 from France.
Meanwhile, a video obtained by PRNigeria, circulated across social media, showed a Nigerian, Katsina State billionaire, Dahiru Mangal, who allegedly donated over a 100 campaign vehicles to support a Nigerien former minister, Mohamed Bazoum in the presidential elections.
According to the report, the vehicles were all branded with “Mohamed Bazoum, 2021” with a conspicuous photo of the presidential candidate on them.
Mr Mangal is a businessman who founded Max Air Limited in 2008.
The video generated a lot of debate amongst Nigerians on social media who asked questions why a Nigerian billionaire would seek to support and donate resources for a neighbouring country’s presidential candidate.
Mr Bazoum, a 60-year-old former interior minister, is the favourite for the elections under the ruling Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism. He is also perceived to be the handpicked successor by President Issoufou.
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