Buhari, APC governors meeting behind closed-door at Aso Rock

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President Muhammadu Buhari is currently in a closed door meeting with governors of the All Progressives Congress, APC, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The meeting has in attendance, the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, the Chairman of the APC Governors Forum, who is also the governor of Imo State, Chief Rochas Okorocha.
Others at the meeting include, governors from Ogun, Kogi, Kaduna, Edo, Zamfara, Benue, Sokoto and Kano.
Governors from Lagos and Nassarawa States are represented by their deputies.

Details later…

Buhari, VP, ministers, lawmakers, others earn N9.18bn yearly

Twelve months after the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission pledged to give the nation reviewed salaries and allowances for political office holders, lawmakers and key government officials still cart home about N9.18bn annually in salaries and allowances.

Investigation show that while RMAFC had completed work on the review of the emoluments of political office holders about November 2015, the new emoluments have not seen the light of the day due to the politics involved in the process.

As a result, key political office holders still earn the full packages they earned before the decision to reduce the earnings of political and judicial office holders.

The annualised salary and allowances of the president is N14,058,820, while that of the vice-president is N12,126,290.

President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo had announced their decision to take only 50 per cent of the salary and allowances approved for them, meaning that they take home N7,029,410 and N6,063,145 respectively.

However, most of the allowances and entitlements of the President and Vice-President are not monetised but fully provided by the state.

Apart from salary, the regular allowances that are monetised for the President are only hardship allowance, N1,757,350.50 per annum; and consistency allowance, N8,786,762.50 per annum.

For the Vice-President, the hardship allowance is N1,515,786.25 per annum, while the consistency allowance is N7, 578,931.25 per annum.

The irregular allowances for the President are the severance allowance – 300 per cent of the annual salary or N10,544,115 – and leave allowance – 10 per cent of the annual salary or N351,470.50.

The irregular allowances of the Vice-President are the severance allowance – 300 per cent of the annual salary or N9, 094,717.50 – and leave allowance – 10 per cent of the annual salary or N303,157.25.

Other allowances that the President and the Vice-President are supposed to enjoy which are not provided in monetary terms include motor vehicle fuelling and maintenance, special assistants, and personal assistants.

Others are domestic staff, entertainment, utilities, security and newspapers/periodical allowances.

These irregular allowances include accommodation, furniture, duty tour, estacode, medical, and severance/gratuity.

For a senator, the salary and allowances add up to N20,669,280 per annum. Those of a member of the House of Representatives add up to N17,271,347.75.

There are 109 senators and 360 representatives. With the exception of the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and his deputy whose allowances are provided by the state, lawmakers get a total of N8,397,965,454.5.

For a minister, the salary and allowances add up to N14,705,164 while those of presidential aide add up to N14,085,843.75. The Head of Service and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation are on the same salaries and allowances.

There are 36 ministers and 15 presidential aides. Their annual emoluments add up to N770,083,888.25.

RMAFC had in June 2015 set in motion the process for the downward review of the existing salaries and allowances of political, public and judicial office holders when it set up a committee chaired by Mr. Abdullahi Inde.

At the inauguration, returning Chairman of RMAFC, Mr. Elias Mbam, had urged the committee to be conscious of the prevailing economic situation and the need to reduce cost of governance so as to free more funds for development.

The current remuneration of public office holders is guided by the Remuneration Act of 2008. A review became imperative following dwindling government revenues occasioned by falling prices in the international oil market.

However, investigation showed that when Mbam left the commission following the completion of his first tenure in November 2015, the acting Chairman of RMAFC, Mr. Umar Gana, made a number of attempts to present the new packages to President Buhari but failed.

“The acting chairman could not get the green light from the Villa to present the remuneration package to the President,” an authoritative source told our correspondent.

“That is why the new salary structure has been stalled. The law requires that the President must get the recommendation from RMAFC who would table it before the Federal Executive Council for ratification. Then, it is presented to the National Assembly.”

The current allowances of lawmakers are in categories. Some are tagged regular allowances while others are tagged irregular allowances.

Regular allowances are those that are paid on monthly basis along with the monthly salaries while irregular allowances are paid at other frequencies ranging from annual to once in four years.

There are also other allowances not included in this calculation that are paid not at any fixed periods but as many times as they occur in the year.

The allowances are calculated as percentages of the annual salaries. While some are higher than the annual salaries; others are lower.

Basically, both senators and Reps are paid the same percentages of their salaries as allowances except in constituency allowance where senators are paid 250 per cent while Reps are 100 per cent.

Vehicle maintenance and fuelling alliance is 75 per cent; domestic staff, 75 per cent; entertainment, 30 per cent; utilities, 30 per cent; wardrobe, 25 per cent; newspapers, 15 per cent; house maintenance, five per cent; and personal assistants, 25 per cent.

The irregular allowances include housing allowance, 200 per cent of their annual salaries; furniture allowance, 300 per cent; recess allowance, 10 per cent and severance allowance, 300 per cent.

Housing allowance is paid once a year. Furniture allowance is paid once in four years and recess allowance is paid when the lawmakers are on recess and they go on recess four times in a year. Severance allowance is at the end of the four-year tenure.

There are other allowances that the lawmakers are not paid directly but provided and paid for by the government. These are special assistants, security and legislative aides. What this means is that those engaged in these capacities are paid directly by the government as the allowances cannot be claimed by political office holders. These allowances apply to senators and Reps.

Medical expenses are also borne by the government when they have need for the services.

The lawmakers are also entitled to tour duty allowance, estacode (when they travel).For a senator, the tour duty allowance is N37, 000 per night; the estacode is $950 per night.

For a member of the House of Representatives, the tour duty allowance is N35, 000 per night; while estacode is $900 per night.

Ministers and presidential aides also enjoy similar allowances.

Experts, however, are not worried by the official earnings of political office holders but by the unofficial ones. Lawmakers, for instance, are said to get some quarterly payment.

Buhari, Obama to meet in New York, says White House

President Barack Obama and Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari will meet on Tuesday in New York, on the sidelines of the US leader’s final appearance at the UN General Assembly session.

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The 71st UN General session opens on Monday. It will be President Buhari’s second appearance since he came to power on 29 May last year.

The meeting confirmed by White House was not on the itinerary of the Nigerian leader released on Friday.

Obama is also scheduled to meet with presidents of Iraq and Colombia.

Obama will discuss with President Buhari about continued U.S. support for security and economic changes in the country, as well the government’s efforts to counter the terrorist group Boko Haram.

Nigeria and the US have pending agreement over the sale of US military equipment, especially attack helicopters to fight the insurgents.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Friday by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, President Buhari would deliver Nigeria’s statement at the opening of the General Debate of the Assembly on “The Sustainable Development Goals: A Universal Push to Transform Our World.”

Adesina revealed that the president would also attend a high-level summit to be hosted by the UN, on “Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants’’.

He said, “The summit, which is the first of its kind organised by the General Assembly at the Heads of State and Government level, is expected to come up with a blueprint for a better international response to enhance protection of migrants and refugees.’’

He also said that Buhari would deliver a keynote address on “Taking Climate Action toward Sustainable Development in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin.”

The president’s aide disclosed that leaders of member-countries of Lake Chad Basin would attend the summit, organised by Nigerian government, to highlight the urgent need to mobilise international response to the situation in the Chad Basin.

“Over nine million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in the Lake Chad Basin.”

He said that while in New York for the annual gathering of world leaders, the president would attend series of meetings as well as side events, which were of significant interest to Nigeria.

Adesina said that the president would equally participate in an event hosted by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, on “Ending Need in the Lake Chad.’’

He said, “On the margins of the 71st UNGA, President Buhari will sign the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and participate in activities commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Declaration of the Right to Development.’’

He said that the Nigerian leader would attend the Clinton Global Initiative as well as the United Nations Private Sector Forum on Business and Global Goals organised by the Secretary General.

According to Adesina, the president will lead discussions at the United States-Africa Business Forum devoted to investing in Nigeria.

He said that the president would hold bilateral meetings with some world leaders in furtherance of his administration’s commitment in ameliorating the plight of Internally Displaced Persons in the country.

He said that the discussions would also focus on the president’s longstanding commitment to returning peace and security in the North-East of Nigeria.

Adesina stated that the discussions would also focus on restoring calm to the Niger Delta, and attracting more investments to develop critical infrastructure and revamp the Nigerian economy.

According to a statement from the White House, Obama has also scheduled meetings with leaders of Iraq and Columbia .

Buhari, others seek votes for Obaseki

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday assured Nigerians that the nation would soon be out of economic recess and become great again.

President Buhari disclosed this in Benin, Edo State, during the grand rally of the All Progressives Congress for the governorship election scheduled to hold in the state on Saturday.

The event, which was held under tight security at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, was witnessed by APC governors, former and servicing National Assembly members, leaders of the party, including the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, and serving ministers.

Present at the rally were Governor Adams Oshiomhole and the governors of Lagos, Kaduna, Sokoto, Kogi, Adamawa, Niger, Plateau, Kebbi and Jigawa states.

Also present were the deputy governors of Edo, Benue and Ogun, a former Governor of Adamawa, Murtala Nyako, and an ex-Governor of Edo State, Prof. Oserhiemen Osunbor.

Buhari, who had earlier paid a courtesy visit to the palace of the Edaiken N’Uselu and crown prince of Benin Kingdom, His Royal Highness, Eheneden Erediauwa, where he extolled the contributions of the departed Oba of Benin, noted that the youths have a critical role to play in uniting the nation.

He said, “We are a nation of great human and natural resources, especially the youths. Please, sit down, reflect and remember what I said 30 years ago. We have no other nation like Nigeria. We must all remain and salvage it together.

“I assure you we are going to get out of our economic doldrums. We are almost out of our insecurity problems and we are going to make Nigeria great again. We are going to be very proud of our country once again and our resources will not be for nothing; we will continue to be.”

While endorsing the candidate of the APC, Godwin Obaseki, the president described him as a man of experience.

He also commended the incumbent governor for the rehabilitation and building of schools and roads in the state.

“I congratulate Mr. Obaseki, a seasoned person. I assure you and I recommend him to you, so that you will continue to grow. You have a credible team,” Buhari added.

The national chairman described the forthcoming election as a day for the voters to take a decision on the future of the state.

Odigie-Oyegun, who noted that Obaseki had been found worthy and competent by the national leadership of the party, stated that voters had the decision to choose between the performance of the APC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.

”It is not done yet. Let us learn to appreciate when somebody performs. Let us learn to say thank you when somebody performs.

“Let us not be guided in our decision on September 10 by anything but what we can see with our own eyes,” he added.

Oshiomhole described the “Change the Change” slogan of the PDP as an attempt to return the state to underdevelopment.

According to him, the opposition party denied the citizenry the dividends of democracy when it governed the state from 1999 to 2007.

On his part, Obaseki explained that his decision to contest the election was inspired by the emergence of President Buhari as the winner of the 2015 presidential poll.

The APC candidate noted that the opposition party failed to provide critical infrastructure during its 10 years in government in the state.

He, however, promised to construct more roads, schools and provide economic empowerment for the youths and women, through the creation of 200,000 jobs.

Buhari, PDP lack solution to economic problems –SPN

The Socialist Party of Nigeria has said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government and the Peoples Democratic Party lack the solution to the economic challenges confronting the country.

The party said many Nigerians did not expect the present economic hardship under a government that one year ago rode into power on the promise of change.

Addressing journalists in Lagos on Wednesday, the National Chairman of the SPN, Segun Sango, said the Buhari government had caused inflation and growing poverty in the country.

He said Buhari would not meet the aspirations of Nigerians because of the capitalist policies and programmes of the government.

Sango said that civil unrests and militants’ activities had brought to the fore the undemocratic nature of the country and the unresolved nationality questions since the amalgamation of 1914 under Lord Lugard.

He said, “What the sordid state of affairs has so far revealed is that the Buhari-led Federal Government and the respective state governments controlled by the APC, the PDP, and the All Progressive Grand Alliance lack the capacity to resolve the myriad of economic problems and hardship confronting the country.

“In view of all these, we wish to reiterate our stance that only a nationalised, planned economy under a democratic management of workers and consumers could develop the economy and create massive jobs. Otherwise, the collective resources of the society will continue to go into private pockets.”

The SPN chairman called on the organised labour to demand the “nationalisation of the commanding sectors of the economy including oil and gas, solid mineral resources, banking, etc. to be placed under people and public ownership.”

The party said it had become expedient that the Nigeria Labour Congress organised a sustained mass action in response to the unpaid salary crisis starting with a one-day warning public sector strike.

Sango said, “The NLC should begin the struggle for an increment in workers’ salaries across board to enable workers to meet the challenges posed by the rising cost of living. The N18,000 minimum wage is not only a poverty wage; it is an aberration.

“The NLC must ensure that any wage template that must be agreed upon should be a living wage and must be increased in line with subsequent inflationary trend.

“The NLC should demand the reduction of unjustified jumbo allowances by political office holders across board as we do not see the logic wherein an extreme few will earn jumbo salaries while the vast majority are condemned to poverty wages.”

Buhari, National Assembly leaders resolve grey areas

President Muhammadu Buhari and leaders of the two chambers of the National Assembly on Tuesday night rose from a 10-minute meeting, saying all grey areas in the 2016 Budget had been resolved.

Buhari, National Assembly leaders resolve grey areas
Buhari, National Assembly leaders resolve grey areas

The meeting which was held inside the the First Lady’s Conference Room started at about 9.20pm and ended around 9.30pm.

Those who attended the meeting included Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu; Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Lasun; Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio; House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila; and other leaders of the National Assembly.

The Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari; Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma; the Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang; and the Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives), Samaila Kawu, also attended.

At the end of the meeting, Saraki told State House correspondents that the lawmakers came to inform the President and his team of the solutions they had found to the budget impasse.

Tuesday night’s meeting followed an earlier meeting between Buhari and Dogara at the Presidential Villa.

Saraki explained that both sides agreed on the way forward and assured Nigerians that the process would be completed in a matter of days.

He said, “We just finished a meeting with the President and the Vice-President. We came to let them know some of the solutions that we found in moving the budget process forward  and we are happy to say that we have agreed on the way forward.

“We believe that this process will be completed in matter of days rather than weeks.

“So it is good to Nigerians and all of us, we have found a way forward and in a matter of days, the budget will be ready for the President’s assent.”

When asked to be specific on the way forward that they arrived at, Saraki said, “We have committees that have been set up on our side and also on the Executive side.

“We will engage over the next few days to just tidy up a few loose ends and here and there and the outcome will be satisfactory to everybody.”

When also asked to be specific of the budget would be signed this week, he said, “You heard what I have said. I said it is a matter of days and not weeks. So, you can start counting the days which means that between now and Monday or Tuesday, I’m hopeful that the budget will be signed.”

Udoma also confirmed to reporters that the Executive had agreed with the Legislature to resolve all grey areas and the modalities of doing so in the next few days.

The minister said, “We have agreed to work together to resolve all issues in the next few days and we have also agreed on the modalities of or doing so.

“It was a very good meeting, very positive and within the next few days all issues will be resolved.