Human rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court in Abuja to stop the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), from spending “N26bn in the 2022 presidency budget on local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, ‘sitting allowance’, ‘welfare package’, and office building.”
This was contained in a suit with number FHC/ABJ/CS/1361/2021 filed last Friday.
In the suit, SERAP is pursuing “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to cut the N26bn presidency budget on local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, and to send a supplementary appropriation bill to the National Assembly to reflect the reduction.”
SERAP is also seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to publish spending details on the State House Medical Center since May 29, 2015, to date; and to redirect some of the money on travels and meals to improve public healthcare facilities across the country.”
The rights group is arguing that “the government would continue to borrow to fund the country’s budget until there is a substantial cut to the cost of governance. It is in the public interest to stop the government from spending so much money on these items. Persistent borrowing is neither sustainable nor fair to the Nigerian people.”
According to SERAP:
“The huge spending by the presidency is neither necessary nor in the public interest, especially in the face of the country’s dire economic position, the scant allocations to education and health, and the growing level of borrowing by the Federal Government to fund the 2022 budget.”
“The Buhari administration has constitutional and fiduciary duties to ensure a responsible budget spending and the well-being and prosperity of Nigerians. Some of the proposed spendings could be better allocated to improve access of poor Nigerians to basic public goods and services.”
Furthermore, SERAP said:
“Any spending of public funds should stay within the limits of constitutional responsibilities, and oath of office by public officers, as well as comply with Chapter 2 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution [as amended] relating to fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy.”
“Unless the reliefs sought are granted, the Federal Government will continue to benefit from the breach of the law, and the proposed spending of N26bn would leave the poorest and most vulnerable people without access to essential public goods and services, and burden the next generation.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Adelanke Aremo read in part:
“Cutting waste and apparently, unnecessary spending would go a long way in addressing the budget deficit and debt problems.
“Stopping President Buhari from spending the proposed N26bn on travels and meals would ensure that the government is spending the country’s maximum available resources to respect, protect, and promote the rights to basic needs of the poor and marginalized groups.
“The proposed spending is unsustainable and would take away critical funding to provide access to quality healthcare and education.
“Public officers are mere custodians of public records. Nigerians are entitled to know how the commonwealth is being utilized, managed, and administered in a democratic setting.
“According to reports, the proposed N26bn on travels, meals, refreshments and the presidential wing of the State House Clinic is more than the proposed allocations for ongoing and new projects in 14 teaching hospitals combined. N19.17 billion is allocated to the following teaching hospitals:
UNILAG Teaching Hospital—N1.69bn; ABU Teaching Hospital—N2.38bn; University College Hospital, Ibadan—N1.49bn; and UNN Teaching Hospital—N1.38bn.
“UNIBEN Teaching Hospital—N1.35bn; OAU Teaching Hospital—N1.35bn; UNILORIN Teaching Hospital—N982m; UNIJOS Teaching Hospital—N908m; University of Port Harcourt—N1.14bn; UNIMAID Teaching Hospital—N986m; Dan Fodio University Teaching Hospital—N987m; Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital—N2.49bn; UNIABUJA Teaching Hospital—N1.90bn; and ATBU Teaching Hospital—N947m.”
A date is yet to be fixed for the hearing of the suit.
Kill Bandits And Bring Their Corpses – COAS Order
Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Farouk Yahaya Commissioning TRADOC Officers’ Transit Accommodation in Minna. He ordered troops to gun down bandits and criminals terrorizing the state and bring their corpses and weapons.
Giving the order during his visit to the 31 Artillery Brigade and Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Minna, and the commissioning of the TRADOC Officers’ transit accommodation, on Sunday.
“I am here in Niger today as part of my operation visit to 31 Artillery Brigade and TRADOC.
“I commend the troops for the job they are doing. Don’t relent but continue and be more resolute and more decisive in dealing with criminals.
“When we engage the criminals and bandits, we kill them and bring their corpses and their weapons and that is what we will continue to do.”
Lieutenant General Yahaya said the visit enabled them to have first-hand relations with the troops and know their challenges and motivate them to put in their best for the betterment of Nigeria.
Appeal citizens to provide the Army and other security agencies with valid information to enable them to deal with the criminals.
“I urged all to lay their helping hand in the passage of accurate information to the Army and other security agencies.
“These criminals, many of them live with us. I want the public to operate and take it that security is everybody’s business. With synergy, we will be able to improve in what we are doing.”
Nigerian Professors Earn Less — UNILAG ASUU Chairman
The Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, University of Lagos chapter, Dr Dele Ashiru, has revealed that Nigerian professors do not earn more than N416,000 as monthly salary.
“No Nigerian professor earns more than N416,000 in a month as the total package. We are saying let us renegotiate this agreement so that people’s conditions of service will improve.
“As I speak to you, our members have been earning the same salary since 2009 till date. I don’t think there is any section of the Nigerian economy and society that has been so treated.
“The highest-paid professor which means that if he remains in the university system for the next 10-15 years will not earn more than the same amount he’s been earning since 2009.”
On Monday, ASUU issued a 21-day ultimatum to the federal government to implement the agreement that they had reached in 2020 following their strike action that lasted for nine months.
The federal government and ASUU had reached an agreement to enhance the welfare and remuneration of university lecturers, settle unpaid allowances, and supply a fund to revitalize Nigeria’s universities.
Ashiru, however, noted that the federal government had not signed the Memorandum of Agreement since May, despite a renegotiation.
GOVERNMENT DECLARES TUESDAY PUBLIC HOLIDAY
Tuesday, November 16, 2021, has been declared a work-free day in Anambra in honour of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first president who was born on November 16, 1904.
This is the third consecutive year Anambra State is celebrating the birthday anniversary of the man who led Nigeria to independence on October 1, 1960, and is popularly known as The Great Zik of Africa because of his extraordinary Pan-African vision and commitments.
“It was the Great Zik of Africa who inspired such outstanding Pan-African leaders as Dr Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana who led his country to freedom from colonial rule on March 6, 1957”, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State declared in a statement signed on his behalf by the state Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C. Don Adinuba.
“Zik, who was born in Zungeru in Niger State and grew up in Calabar and Lagos, studied various disciplines in the United States and remains the most urbane, cosmopolitan and intellectually engaging of all Nigerian leaders.
“He remains an unrivalled trailblazer, having established Nigeria’s first indigenous bank, African Continental Bank and Nigeria’s first indigenous university, University of Nigeria at Nsukka, among other monumental and farsighted achievements”.
Governor Obiano reiterated his call on the Federal Government to declare November 16 a national holiday in memory of The Great Zik of Africa.
After all, argued Chief Obiano, the Ghanaians observe the birthday of Dr Nkrumah as a national holiday, just the way Tanzanians observe President Julius Nyerere’s birthday as a national holiday .
“It is a huge national embarrassment”, observed the Anambra leader, “that Nigeria has yet to declare November 16 a national holiday”.
C. Don Adinuba
Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment
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